The Iron Men of the Eclipse

Iron Man is another problem. Looking at the Marvel Wiki, he’s had more than fifty different suits of armor – eighty if you count what-if, alternate dimension, and other versions – most of them with many undefined capabilities and not a few of which were stored inside his body. There have been many different control systems, and some just turn him into a super-cyborg and are never “taken off”. Others go running around on their own or can be remotely controlled. And, of course, other people – like James Rhodes and Doctor Doom – have been “Iron Man”, not to mention all the alternate-dimension versions and the suits of armor he’s handed out to other characters.

So neither the armor, the wearer (if there even is one), nor the history are consistent. Iron Man isn’t a CHARACTER, he/she/it is a FRANCHISE.

So we’ll have to make some assumptions here.

We’re talking about Tony Stark. He’s a Superhero in a superheroic world, so the Superheroic World Template applies and he’ll be spending 24 CP on the Four Color Package. His four-color minor bonus is Immortal Vigor (for some extra hit points),

Now Tony does have some innate superhuman abilities.

  • He’s super-intelligent.
  • He gets bonuses on high-tech skills.
  • He is unreasonably durable for a human (armor can’t protect you against g-forces and massive bodywide impacts; you just get crushed against the inside of it).
  • He can produce high-tech gear with logically insufficient tools and materials, although he does need a workship of sorts.
  • He can analyze technology with very little in the way of instruments or time.
  • He can get absurd amounts of work done in very little time.
  • Sometimes – through one means or another – he has cybrenetic telepathy.
  • Sometimes (albeit certainly not always) he has regenerative powers.

OK, so it’s Inherent Spell I, II, and III (Group Skill Bonuses, Boosted Intelligence, a specialized version of Fabricate, for a total of 18 CP). He has some Damage Reduction (6 CP) worth, and an Occult Sense (6 CP) for how technology works. In much later adventures / at much higher levels he adds Inherent Spells IV and V to give him Cybrenetic Telepathy and Long-Term Regeneration – but our initial cost is 30 CP.

Next up, we have his Armor.

The really cheap way to build Iron Man (not unexpectedly) requires one of the few things on this site I’d call an exploit: You just take:

  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (four floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/: only to build “power armor”, can only be changed in a laboratory or machine shop (4 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized in making Power Armor Only, Corrupted / requires the use of a lab, a machine shop, and various high-tech supplies (2 CP).

Now you basically build Warlocks package as a Relic.

  • Arc Reactor Power Surge: Natural Magic(s): Reality Editing and Spell Enhancement, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to affect his innate enchantments / technological gear, only to amplify the effects, effects are fixed with each one of his abilities, only gets (Int Mod) boosts per system, effects are low mana cost but of brief duration; in effect (and to avoid assigning and then tracking a wide variety of durations) he simply gets to allot (Con Mod x 3) Booster Points between his various abilities each round (8 CP).
  • Advanced Tech: Innate Enchantment can normally be used to buy the equivalent of mundane equipment – but it’s rarely worth bothering with in fantasy based games. With a 1-to-20 GP-to-Credits conversion ratio and both d20 Modern and Future in play however… mundane equipment is suddenly a LOT more attractive. Still, even superheroes don’t automatically have access to super-technology, so I’m going to treat having access to the d20 Future lists to “buy” stuff from as a an Immunity / normal limits on equipment availability (Very Common, Major, Great (for +4 Tech Levels over the usual PL4 base), Specialized and Corrupted / only for Innate Enchantment purposes, any systems that require ammunition or fuel must have it supplied by normal purchases, 10 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (up to 11,500 GP / 230,000 Credits base value), Specialized for Reduced Cost / the armor can be disabled or remote-manipulated by enemies, has an unstable AI which can run amuck, takes damage when the user is struck by a major attack (gradually degrading it’s systems) and especially powerful attacks can cause it to shut down entirely until rebooted (6 CP). This is how Warlocks power package works, and it’s a perfectly fine version to start with.

In any case, that’s 24 CP, making his armor a four-point relic – exactly what’s available.

Now, for each version of his armor… just buy necessary innate enchantments and modern / future gizmos. Pick the upgrades for when he channels more power into them, and you can build all the different suits of armor that you please.

And that lets you buy a decent suit of “Iron Man” armor as a single feat. Of course, if you allow this for one character… you’ll have to allow it for everybody. Now I’ve actually played in such a game – a long time ago under the old Marvel Super Hero rules – where Tony Stark (as an NPC) joined our group and made booster armor for every player character. Somehow it wound up evening out the randomly-rolled power differences between the characters a great deal. Tony was never any help otherwise though; he kept over-designing his own armor and having it stolen, or running amuck on it’s own, or otherwise becoming a part of the problem.

You don’t want to do that? Good for you; this is why this is labeled an Exploit. To create a much more reasonable method…

Iron Mans Armor is usually subject to one or more of the following limitations. Applying one counts as Corrupted two counts as Specialized, and applying all three counts as Corrupted and Specialized. While the same limitations apply to each power in a suit, the effects can differ – some powers may have increased effects, others will have reduced costs, others may have some of each.

  • The armor is external, extremely obvious, and quite well known. It cannot be worn in normal social situations, and must be transported and donned before use, and occasionally runs short of power.
  • The armor can be disabled or remote-manipulated by enemies and has an unstable AI which can run amuck.
  • The armor takes damage when the user is struck by a major attack, gradually degrading it’s systems. Especially powerful attacks can cause it to shut down entirely until rebooted.

Each power in the armor can be affected by these restrictions differently, resulting in a vary large number of possible armors. Early versions – while Tony was lower level and had fewer points to invest in his armor – mostly used Reduced Cost, resulting in weaker armor. Later versions usually went for increased effect, although this seemed to hit an upper limit somewhat below characters like Thor or the Hulk. The very latest versions seem to have gone for dropping the “external” limitation – making it slightly weaker and more expensive (thus sopping up the points that come with an increase in level) and making Tony into a cyborg rather than a power armor user.

Personally I think that loses a lot of what makes Iron Man Iron Man, but I suppose that – after more than fifty years of appearances – a change-up is pretty inevitable.

To make things fully modular, the points come from Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 CP per incidence), Points are only usable to buy armor functions, can only be changed given time in a workshop or lab given hours, days, or weeks to work (depending on the extent of the changes being made). Since this means that the maximum cost of any given function is 6 CP, the armor has upper limits – which is why Tony has never been able to do more than delay Marvel’s upper-level powerhouses.

Over the years, as Tony has gone up in level… he’s bought more incidences of Double Enthusiast – allowing him to add more functions and to go for “Increased Effect” as opposed to “reduced cost”. Thus early versions were relatively weak and had few special functions, while later versions were more powerful and versatile.

The usual list of armor functions includes:

  • Damage Reduction. Iron Man usually isn’t all that hard to hit (if he was, he couldn’t show off his mighty armor), so his defenses are best represented by Damage Reduction.
  • Flight. This is usually fairly high speed, but the Four Color Template handles that.
  • Superhuman Strength. While on the high side, this never really reaches the level of the major “strength” characters – if only so as to leave them something to do.
  • Concussive Energy Blasts. These are probably at about the 10d6 level, since they usually seem pretty comparable to everyone else’s default powers.
  • A “unibeam” – originally a very bright floodlight/spotlight//laser, now occasionally used for almost anything.
  • Universal Energy Resistance (most often the Dragonstar variant that includes Life Support, b ut if it’s less stressed in this version Air Bubble can go in the Innate Enchantment, below)).
  • Navigation, communication, sensory enhancement/protection, and related electronic functions. Honestly, on this stuff… I’d just go for a bit of Innate Enchantment and given him the equivalent of a smartphone, GPS, nightvision/flash goggles, sound suppressor earphones, and similar junk. It’s all cheap enough that a point or two should do it.
  • Most external suits also have some “theme” – deep space operations, stealth, or whatever – and a few special functions for it. Quite a few of the modern ones come with a cloaking system as well – basically invisibility, if usually only versus electronic sensors. Self-repair is kind of optional given that damage to the suit is basically a special effect – but it can easily be quantified if you wish.

Most of this can be covered by Mana-Powered Inherent Spells (I-III usually) and a bit of Reflex Training to let him activate more than one personal-enhancement effects at a time. That, of course, means that it will often take several rounds to fully don / activate the armor from scratch – although functions will come online as they are powered up. That too works nicely with the usual portrayal in the comic books.

To buy all this at current levels… we’ll want at least 10 instances of Double Enthusiast (60 CP), that Reflex Training (6 CP), a bit of a Mana Pool for emergencies to represent the ARC reactor reserve (12 CP plus recharging with Rite of Chi and Bonus Uses only for that, 6 CP), At earlier levels? It’s slower to put on (dump the reflex training), he has no special power reserve, and he has a LOT fewer points invested – possibly as few as ten to twelve. His Mark I suit will be weak and primitive, but it will cover everything it needed to.

As for the rest of his points… some knowledges and technical skills (adept and fast learner will help), hit dice, privileges, favors, and connections, and – as TommyNihil suggested – the “Mad Science” version of Occult Ritual.

Iron Man won’t actually have the raw power of many characters of similar level, but there is something to be said for enormous versatility.

There aren’t that many “Iron Man” style characters on the blog – most of them are more “fantasy” themed – but there is Doctor Wrath and Tomonoko (“Tomo”) Sayuki, both Power-Armor types. There are several cyborgs and a couple of mecha pilots too, but those don’t really fit the theme as well. There’s Jarvain Michell and his Mecha, Gar Ashwood, a Pathfinder/Dragonstar Soulmech Gunslinger-Detective, Jamie Wolfe – a MLELF Cyborg Super-Soldier, Kristin Stanwell. A cyborg firearms expert, the various How to build Terminators (Basic Builds, Power Sources, Explosions, and Robot Buddies), Garm, and Adam, Praetorian Nightmare: a melee death-machine nightmare for entire high-level parties.

And I hope that helps!



The Batmen Of The Eclipse

And for today, it’s a question…

The Rules for creating superheroes leave me a little ofput (unsure?) about how to create some archetypes.

How would you create a version of Batman that could have his level of success in his superhero career while remaining on concept?

How would you create someone like Iron Man, who uses modular powers (something I got the impression was more difficult and silly on unlimited usage abilities)?

I am also curious as to what those example characters sheets would look like.


Of the two, Batman is the most awkward – so the first segment will be about him.

The really awkward part about Batman is that Batman doesn’t stay true to his concept to begin with. He didn’t even consistently progress from one concept to another even before the New 52 apparently turned him into an ancient supernatural being of some sort.

So what are some of the major Batman concepts? Well, first up we have…

Pulp Crimefighter Batman:

This is the original Batman – a Pulp Hero along the lines of Doc Savage, the Spider, Zorro, or (especially) the Black Bat. He used a wide variety of gadgets, his secret wealth, martial arts skills, and (depending on the writer) some body armor to fight fairly normal crooks. Taking a look at his personal rogues gallery we find…

The Falcone, Maroni, and other Crime Families, Boss Thorne, Mayor Hill, Commissioner Pauling, assorted mobsters, The Joker. The Riddler. Two-Face. The Penguin. The Mikado. Copperhead, Catwoman. Hush. the Scarecrow. Professor Hugo Strange. The Black Mask I and II. The Mad Hatter. The Ventriloquist and Scarface (his doll). The Red Hood. Mister Zsasz. Firefly. Harley Quinn. Catman. King Tut, Killer Moth. Abbatoir. Anarky, and many more.

Looking them over we see that the vast, VAST, majority of Batman’s villains from his own books have no special powers beyond criminal tendencies, questionable sanity (or sometimes a complete lack thereof), an affection for particular themes, and occasional unique gadgets. Quite a few of them don’t even have the “theme” or “gadget” part; they’re simply ruthless mobsters with plenty of money, guns, and thugs.

I’m not sure whether Mister Freezes tolerance for cold (and dying if he gets warm), Rag Dolls double-jointed flexibility, or Deadshot being a REALLY good shot, count as super-powers, but even if they do they’re certainly not very impressive ones.

A much smaller subgroup started popping up after Batman’s victories over normal people and normal-people-with-some- weird-gadget got a bit too expected. They’re villains with relatively minor super-strength and / or animalistic abilities, such as Amygdala, Bane, Killer Croc, Man-Bat, and so on – sufficiently superhuman to fight a really skilled human with some gadgets on fairly equal terms without having a lot of training and gadgets themselves.

At other times, they gave Bats an inexperienced kid to protect – allowing Robin to be a point of vulnerability – but that’s more of an editorial decision than an attribute of Batman’s.

A very, VERY, few of his usual rogues have actual superhuman powers – Poison Ivy (Toxin Immunity and Plant Control), Clayface (Shapeshifting – athough there have apparently been at least eight different Clayfaces), Solomon Grundy (basically a golem), the Ratcatcher (controls rats), Orca (turns into a “killer whale”, generally in the water), The Mortician (makes minor zombies), and so on. He also seems to draw a lot of Vampires and the occasional Werewolf, but they’re rarely very powerful ones – and it’s not like playing Buffy the Vampire Slayer requires a lot of power by superheroic standards. Most vampire and werewolf hunters are normal people with a grudge.

You’ll note that – at least if he was ruthless enough – you could give The Flash a list and a knife and expect him to search the city and virtually eliminate Pulp Crimefighter Batman’s entire rogues gallery in about ten seconds. That’s also why Batman soon started to be against guns, knives, and similar weapons; if he used lethal force he’d run through his villains far too fast – and he’d soon become the Punisher rather than a detective type.

That’s not a problem in games by the way; games won’t have nearly as many sessions as Batman has comic book appearances, and so games can afford to let the characters kill off most of their villains.

In Batman-centered comics, there are lots of fairly ordinary humans who are better than Batman in particular fields, or who put up quite a struggle in the battle of wits. or who are fabulously good at martial arts, or who sometimes beat him for a while – and they quite often succeed in killing quite a few of the people that Batman is trying to protect. At this end… Batman fails or gets wounded a lot.

Pulp Crimefighter Batman is remarkably skilled, fights really well (but not so well that a group of decent thugs can’t put up a good fight against him), has a rather limited range of weird gadgets, a very strong will, and puts a lot of emphasis on being sneaky and scary. For this kind of character I’d probably just use the Advanced Pulp Hero Template (Advanced Pulp Powers, More Advanced Pulp Powers, Drugs, and Archetypes, Vehicles (for the Batmobile), and Narrative Feats) – perhaps trading out the boost with Guns for a boost with Batarangs. Give him a couple of levels focusing on detective work and martial arts, a few gadgets (if you want him to be able to pull out a gadget to suit the situation take either Equipage with Purchasing OR a couple of Inherent Spells / Greater Invocation (see The Practical Enchanter) / Technological Effects I and II, and a few bonus uses OR Foresight and Dream-Binding. Any of those will let him pull stuff out that he never mentioned getting and very likely will never pull out again. Throw in Privilege (Wealth) and a Sanctum (The Batcave) and you pretty much have the build.

Pulp Crimefighter Batman doesn’t actually need the Superheroic World Template or continuous / unlimited use powers – although they do make it easier to bump him up above the civilians

It doesn’t take great intellect to tackle street crime. Luck and timing are the operative skills. No, what interests me…is the fact that he functions as a lightning rod for a certain breed of psychotic. They specialize in absurdly grandiose schemes, and whatever the ostensible rationale–greed, revenge, the seizure of power…their true agenda is always the same: to cast Batman in the role of Nemesis. Hence the puns, the riddles, the flagrant clues they scatter in their collective wake–daring their foe to penetrate the obvious. He always triumphs. If he failed, they’d be bereft. The Pas De Deux would have no point. Like naughty children, who tempt the wrath of a stern, demanding father… they seek only to shock him by the enormity of their transgressions. It’s the moment of acknowledgment they crave. Thus “good” conquers “evil”. True evil seldom announces itself so loudly. The dangerous ones set their subversive goals, and achieve them, bit by bit…invisibly, inevitably. They have no taste for theater. While Batman busies himself with petty thieves and gaudy madmen, an abyss of rot yawns even wider at his feet.

-Henri Ducard

Next up, however, we come to…

Action Movie Batman:

Action Movie Batman tends to appear in low-level team books. where Batman gets surrounded by people with low-level powers and (as by far the most famous and iconic character), inevitably, becomes the leader of the team if he didn’t form it in the first place. Action Movie Batman almost never fails at disarming a bomb or analyzing some weird substance, or tracing a vehicle, or anything else when it’s really critical, he’s prepared for any eventuality, and he’s a skilled enough martial artist to take down small armies of thugs and midrange superhuman combatants. He knows everything he really needs to, he almost never misses a clue, and he has all kinds of vehicles and things.

This version of Batman builds on Pulp Crimefighter Batman with – in d20 terms – two or three more levels. He definitely has the “pull stuff out” trick, and almost certainly has some Luck, an extra Pulp Feat or two, and a bit of extra damage on his martial arts (although he usually chooses to do nonlethal damage). He may even have gone past the Pulp Narrative Feats to buy Narrative Powers or have a bit of Innate Enchantment to add some low-grade continuous boosts to his skills and attributes.

If the world is using the Superheroic World Template – a street level heroes game certainly does not have to be – he might have a selection of more powerful boosts. On the upper end of this range he might even have the Double Enthusiast and Create Relic combo to let him build special “mad science” gizmos to meet unique problems. That’s a bit much for most games though.

In any case, Action Movie Batman has often graduated from solo adventures to joining a party and has moved on to more powerful enemies. He’s still not overtly superhuman – but no real human being has ever been that good at that many different things.

In a lot of ways, this is the “Best” Batman, at least from a gaming point of view and – at least according to the reactions I’ve seen – in the comics. He’s a creditable hero, shows that (at least given the kind of training and gear you can get in a superhero universe) a relatively normal human can still have an impact, remains focused on a reasonably comprehensible stage (usually a city or small region with occasional trips beyond that), and still has room for useful input from a supporting cast of normal people. He can still afford to get hurt and even lose sometimes, so his victories are not entirely foregone conclusions. Not too surprisingly, this is the version of Batman that shows up in most of the movies that focus on him.

And that is why you should take a look over HERE.

 The Ultimate Batmen:

When it comes to high-level team books – like the Justice League – we see three basic variations on Batman. There’s I-Have-A-Bat-Plan Batman, Cosmic Narrative Batman, and the Ultimate Two-For-One-Combo-Deal Batman.

I-Have-A-Bat-Plan-Batman is the version that justifies ideas like “Batman’s biggest power is an area effect no normal defense intelligence drain”. You ever notice how, when he’s surrounded by literal super geniuses who can think thousands of times faster than a human… he so often gets asked one version or another of “What shall we do Batman”? And how even the most cunning opponents suddenly start acting like idiots when they’re up against him?

This is the version that takes Batman up to near omniscience, lets him analyze incredible alien super-technology and rebuild it to adapt it to his needs in in minutes or hours, gives him plans to take down pretty much any possible target (including his allies) that will all work properly, and has him giving directions to everyone because they apparently wouldn’t have any idea of what to do without him. He always wins in the end because everyone else is inexplicably incompetent.

After all, he has to. When the cost of losing often ranges from vast destruction to the total annihilation of the Earth… it’s not like having the bank robbers, drug pushers, or minor villains getting away. Losing would drastically alter the setting – making it very difficult to write and sell next months comic books. And when you don’t actually have the power to affect events directly, all you can do is provide plans, press buttons, and build gadgets.

The only way to really buy this is to give him a few Occult Senses – “How to Win” and “How to Make This Work”, Reality Editing (to provide setups and backups as needed), and to use Mana from the Superheroic World Template (pretty much a given for this Batman) to allow him to pull out whatever he needs to make his plans work.

Sadly, while this sort of character can be fun to read about – as you watch the plans unfold and marvel at the (writers) cleverness – in game terms this version of Batman has pretty much got an “I Win!” button built into his utility belt. Even worse, in a game this leaves nothing for the player to do except listen as the game master describes how the characters win. I’d really recommend against trying to play this version of Batman. Sure, you can build it – but why bother?

Cosmic Narrative Batman is the blatant Mary Sue / Marty Stu Batman – because when a story is focusing on fight scenes with cosmic villains then Batman has to be right in there mixing it up with them or he might as well not even be in the book. Trouble is, if one of those cosmic villains ever lands a real attack on him… he’s vapor. Ergo, for one reason or another they don’t take him seriously (despite the blatant stupidity of that given his track record), or don’t target him, or just keep missing, or he has some secret gadget that lets him live, or he has super power armor on today. He aces skill-based tasks because that’s his special power just like Hercules has Strength and has ways to target everyone else’s weaknesses because if he didn’t… he wouldn’t be able to contribute, much less co-star. He provides superb plans using other people’s powers because otherwise there are a lot of villains he could not reasonably do anything about.

What confirms his Mary Sue / Marty Stu status is simply that Batman is still alive after MANY such confrontations, instead of being dead like the tens of thousands of other well-trained, driven, well-equipped, intelligent, but essentially normal heroes that obviously would have gone up against each of those cosmic menaces before him. Superman may be the near-unique last son of a seriously exotic world, but pulp heroes show up all over the place.

To make this work… you want everything that Action Movie Hero Batman has plus a MASSIVE dose of Narrative Powers and Reality Editing. Enough to pretty much bend any situation until it revolves around him and his inevitable victory, no matter how nonsensical that is.

Or, of course, Batman can be inserted into a story due to editorial decisions in an attempt to use a popular character to boost sales and have the writers on his side, but – in a game – that’s the same thing as a massive dose of narrative powers.

And once again… this can be fun to read about (although I think that the inevitability of the outcome undermines things considerably) – but it’s incredibly boring when you’re playing a game.

Finally, of course, the Two-For-One-Combo-Deal “Ultimate” Batman just takes everything that the other versions have and combines it, thus obtaining ultimate boredom.

These versions do blend into each other along the scale – but a hero who gets shot up by thugs, or has a hard time with Firefly (a pyromaniac with an insulated suit and incendiary weapons), The Mad Hatter (a nut with a hypno-hat), or The Penguin (and his trick umbrella) really has no business fighting cosmic menaces – whereas characters who can put up a good fight against those cosmic menaces should not have a hard time with mortal idiots. After all… if a skilled commando-type is a serious danger to Batman, and Batman is a serious danger to Darkseid, then a commando-type should have a small chance to take out Darkseid. Yet despite Darkseid being a major target for half the universe… he’s still around. This does not work.

Nebezial, on Deviant Art, probably summed this up best…

I COULD write up a character who functioned like generic Batman – giving him or her some base abilities, plus some more Corrupted (only usable when opponents are low-grade superhumans or better), some more Specialized (only usable when opponents are mid-level superhumans or better), and even more Specialized and Corrupted (only usable when opponents are high-end superhumans or better) so that pretty much any level of opponent can be a challenge but virtually nothing is overwhelming – but it would be incredibly complicated and there really isn’t any point. If a game is going to feature opponents of a particular level of power it’s much simpler and more efficient to just build a character to suit – and if it’s going to feature opponents of wildly differing power levels and the game master still wants them to be on roughly even terms with the characters… it’s much simpler to just build all the characters normally, leave the statistics alone, and vary the description of what’s going on to suit the current effective power level.

Now, for some more-or-less Batman-like characters to swipe bits from we have…

If you have something in particular in mind do let me know – but defining what your desired version of Batman is has to come before trying to build it! Next time around it will be Iron Man – although Doctor Wrath, above, already covers a good deal of that.

Eclipsing Raven Trigonsdottir – Part II

For Part One – Raven’s general background and powers – click HERE.

So how do we convert Raven’s assorted appearances (and retconned histories and powers) into d20 statistics?

Well, obviously enough she’s going to be using the Superheroic World Template from Eclipse (and thus will be getting free Mana equal to her Con Mod to use to power her abilities (or to convert to Generic Spell Levels or Psionic Power) every round.

As a superhero, we’ll want the Four Color Template (24 CP).

Since I did the last set of heroes that way… she’ll be using the Pathfinder Package Deal (Free) and will be a Pathfinder Human (Free). I could justify a Racial Template easily enough, but the vast majority of the time she acts pretty human.

Next up, it’s attributes – and Raven always seemed to be a bit of a glass cannon when it came to her personal abilities. She…

  • Isn’t especially strong. She’s well exercised and in good shape, but she’s still a fairly petite young woman – and her few examples of “stronger than average” are mostly either when being demonic or could easily be telekinesis. Str 10.
  • She’s reasonably bright and well-read, but she’s no amazing genius even if she does evidently have a knack for languages. She had the entire DC universe to choose from less the Justice League – and she picked an assortment of teenagers including Robin, Beast Boy, and Cyborg to throw at a planetary menace? Int 14.
  • She’s reasonably perceptive too, but she has a terrible time controlling her own mind and is often in fairly massive denial about her own emotions, which doesn’t say all that much for her personal discipline, willpower, self-awareness, or sanity. Wis 14.
  • She’s energetic and healthy, but in superhero terms she’s a bit of a glass cannon, often collapsing due to feedback from her Soul-Self or when she’s actually hit. Con 14.
  • She’s reasonably agile, and is decent at getting out of the way – but she’s no fabulous acrobat. Dex 14.
  • She’s fairly attractive, and – for a half-demon sorceress likely to be the catalyst for global destruction – manages to be vulnerable and in need of hugs a lot, but she has an off-putting personality and had to resort to emotional manipulation to manage people. Still, she is a hero and usually gets along with her teammates well enough. Ergo, Cha 14

In Pathfinder point buy that has a net cost of… 25 points. Exactly what’s available for a high-end campaign. A perfect match!


Raven (A.KA. “Rachel Roth”)

Level Eight Superheroic Witch / Harbinger Of Apocalypse

Four Color Template (24 CP).

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free)

Pathfinder Human (Free)

Basic Attributes: Str 10 (+2 Enh = 12), Int 14 (+2 Enh = 16), Wis 14 (+2 Enh = 16), Con 14 (+2 Enh +2 Human = 18), Dex 14 (+2 Enh = 16), and Cha 14 (+2 Enh +2 Level = 18).

When she goes all demonic her physical attributes increase to Str 16, Con 22, and Dex 20, see below.


Witchcraft: I, II, and III with The Secret Order (Order of Azarath), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (see individual power listings): all abilities are subject to at least seven limitations – as follows unless otherwise indicated. 24 Power, Save DC Will 21 (24 CP).

  • Her powers flare up uncontrollably when she loses control of her emotions.
  • Her powers leave her vulnerable to possession by Trigon or – if she becomes angry – by her own demonic nature. The GM may call for a will save, assigning the DC as appropriate, if this comes up.
  • Her powers fail entirely if she simply suppresses her emotions.
  • Her powers require incantations, and will either fail (d6: 1-2) or flare up randomly (d6: 3) if used without one.
  • Her powers become increasingly uncontrollable as time passes if she does not spend at least four hours per day in meditation and mystic ritual.
  • Other magicians will easily detect that she is filled with corrupting demonic energies.
  • Exercising fine control with her powers requires dexterity checks, as if she was fumbling with waldos.

Basic Witchcraft Abilities

  • Witchsight (No incantation, but a very limited set of automatic effects): Raven can sense magic and souls and see through both normal darkness and her own (but not other people’s) magical darkness.
  • The Hand of Shadows (Azarath Metrion Zinthos!): Triple Effect (Str 36, 48 when Evil). The items affected are usually covered in darkness but she’s also manifested tentacles of darkness extending from her to grab things with. (1 Power per Minute, 2 power for Animate Object, 1 power for three hours light work).
  • The Adamant Will (Azarath Mortix Metrion! Using it without an incantation usually results in weird mental struggles): Reduced Cost. Note that this will NOT work against “attacks” which trigger or target preexisting forces within her own mind, such as Trigon’s corruption or her own fears and insecurities.
  • Infliction (Necronom Hezberek Mortix!): Triple Effect (up to 9/15/21d4 for 1/2/3 Power, +3 power for 5′ radius, save for half), she is incapable of fine control, but does not risk possession by Trigon in using this power. It generally manifests as either Psychic Bolts (nonlethal damage) or various forms of telekinetic destruction.
  • Healing (Azarath Syrium Anmortrix!): Triple effect and does not provoke possession by Trigon, but causes pain and backlash. Each time it’s used roll a Will save at DC (18 + Number of Uses Today). On a failure take 3d6 damage and this ability burns out until tomorrow.
  • Shadowweave (Akon Wenthin Obrium!): She does not risk possession by Trigon in using this power, but can only create light based effects when she is purified of demonic energy. She can usually create long-lasting areas of darkness, wrap herself in shadows, change her appearance to some degree, or disguise her soul-self as her. No matter how she dresses she can look edgy and goth and no matter how she decorates her room it can always be dark, gloomy, and filled with mystic special effects. .
  • Glamour (Carazon Rakashas Cortis!): +6 CP for increased effects, Triple effect, this power does not provoke possession by Trigon or her personal evil, but is purely focused on emotional manipulations. Within that field she can generate effects of up to level nine.
  • The Inner Eye (Vaserix Enderin Azarath!): This ability provides only a limited range of effects, but does not have to be actively invoked to detect powerful emotions, mental effects, and invisible creatures. Active casting is required for reading thoughts and psychic impressions.
  • Dreamfaring: (Reduced Cost): Does not require an incantation, but does not allow the use of Dimensional Projection (although she can achieve similar results using her soul-self). Raven can send messages into people’s dreams and contact them there, hear and speak with those in adjacent dimensions while remaining merged with her soul-self and either Astral or Ethereal (thus making an excellent messenger and herald since she can appear to, and talk with, many very physically powerful entities with very little risk of harm), and can affect various sorts of immaterial spirits.

“Dark” Basic Witchcraft Abilities:

  • Hyloka (Triple Effect): While this ability requires no incantation, it is only usable while Raven is possessed by evil and normally focuses on a single effect – providing a +4 bonus on her Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution.
  • Elfshot (Trigon Hezberek Synthos!): Triple Effect. Dark Raven can infuse people with demonic energies, causing them to slowly transform into demons, to “incubate” demons, or to otherwise transform into creatures of evil. Apparently normal humans can only become lesser monsters, only “supers” can become actual demons. .
  • Witchfire (Triple Effect). While this requires no incantation, it can only be used while Raven is possessed by evil – in which case she can generate fire, lightning, toxic miasmas, and similar effects.

Additional Witchcraft Abilities:

  • Soul-Self (Birth of Flames, Increased Effect): Summoning her soul-self does not require an incantation and has no risk of causing possession by Trigon, but it may only be maintained externally for ten minutes or so, damage done to it beyond the 50% mark does similar amounts of nonlethal damage to her (6 CP),

The Soul-Self:

Huge Construct, 120 HP, Speed 50, AC 33 (+25 Natural -2 Size), 2 Slams at +28 for 2d6+18, Reach 15, Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +6, Abilities:

  • Class-A: Damage Reduction 10/Magic or Sonic, Fly III (60 Feet), Bonded
  • Class-B: Fast Healing (II), Feat (Improved Grab), Improved Buff (+15 HP), Sensory Link, Spell Storing (12 levels), and Warding
  • Class-C: Enveloping, Mass Enveloping (up to seven medium-sized creatures or a dozen small ones), Mindful, Incorporeal II (May become Astral or Ethereal at will), and Spell Resistance 24.

Raven’s Soul-Self is arguably her most potent power by a considerable margin, and is a match for many heroes all by itself.

  • Ashen Rebirth with Teleportation, only with her Soul-Self (and any passengers), Increased Effect: allows Plane and “Time” (functionally – since she never makes convenient short jumps or seems to alter the present – visiting alternate timelines which happen to be decades or centuries ahead or behind her home timeline) Shifts. She usually arrives at “weak points” – gates, moments of crisis, and so on (12 CP).
  • Plus 4d6 Mana at Triple Effect (as 36d6 or 126 Power), only for Witchcraft basic limits as above (24 CP).
    • This is actually quite a lot of power given that Witchcraft tends to be quite power-efficient – and so will allow Raven to function quite effectively for some time even without the Superheroic World Template to provide free mana.
  • Witchcraft Pacts: Rituals (Meditation), Possession, Duties, and Missions (-24 CP).

Other Mystical Abilities:

  • Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Raven must be slain and her soul forcibly taken into the higher afterlives for her to truly die.
  • Immunity (Space-Time Disturbances. Uncommon, Major, Great). Raven is immune, or at least highly resistant, to most temporal changes and paradoxes, to the warping and disorienting effects of dimensional shifts and changes, and to similar events. (Not that this normally comes up). Specialized/the effects are erratic when they do come into play (6 CP).
    • This also appears to be an ability that she acquired thanks to some dimensional shifting and revisionist history that led her to remember the original timeline where she supposedly didn’t have such a power but apparently used it to protect herself and the other Titans from Trigon’s reality-twisting. It probably won’t apply again the next time there’s a retcon that it ought to protect her from. Don’t think about that too hard; I’m certainly not going to.
  • Blessing with the “Group” modifier, Corrupted for Increased Effect (increased number of targets which may include the user) and Specialized for Reduced Cost (6 CP), only to share the benefits of her mental defenses and immunity to space-time disturbances with her friends and allies.
  • Occult Ritual (6 CP). Raven is capable of performing various magical rituals, provided that she can gather the components and make the necessary rolls. She rarely uses this ability, but she does have it.
  • Innate Enchantment (In general, Spell Level Zero or One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (x2000 GP), Personal-Only where Relevant (x.7). 11,000 GP net value (12 CP).
    • Enhance Attribute: +2 Enhancement Bonus to each Attribute (8400 GP). There really isn’t any good justification for this, but it’s not like ability scores of “16″ are particularly over the top for a superhero. I’m putting it in in token of her considerable experience.
    • Updraft: This covers her limited ability to float around, 2000 GP.
    • Skill Mastery: +2 Competence Bonus to Int-Based Skills, 700 GP.


  • Skill Boosters: Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP), Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP), Adept (Expertise/Arcane Lore, Expertise/Theology & Philosophy, Expertise/The Planes, and Intimidation, 6 CP).
  • Available Skill Points: 33 (Int Mod x 11) + 44 (Fast Learners) = 77 SP
  • Purchased Skills:
    • Deception: +7 (7 SP) +3 (Cha) = +10
    • Expertise (Arcane Lore): +11 (5* SP) +2 (Comp) +3 (Int) = +16
    • Expertise (Theology & Philosophy): +11 (5* SP) +2 (Comp) +3 (Int) = +16
    • Expertise (The Planes): +11 (5* SP) +2 (Comp) +3 (Int) = +16
    • Insight +7 (7 SP) +3 (Wis) = +10
    • Intimidation: +11 (5* SP) +3 (Cha) = +14
    • Martial Art (Aikido) +11 (11 SP) +3 (Dex) = +14
    • Perception+7 (7 SP) +3 (Wis) = +10
    • Persuasion +7 (7 SP) +3 (Cha) = +10
  • Languages: 7 (7 SP) +3 (Int) +Azarathan (Native) +Common (English, Free) = 12 Languages. Abyssal, Azarathan (also known as Celestial), Draconic, English, German, Greek, Latin, Mandarin, Romanian, Sanskrit, Sumerian, and Sylvan.
  • Martial Arts (Aikido) Techniques Know: Defenses 4, Strike, Mind Like Moon, and Improved Trip. Not too surprisingly, Raven’s martial arts skills primarily focus on avoiding attacks, although she does know some basic locks and throws.

This leaves her with 11 skill points – enough for one more maxed-out skill. A magical martial art might be in order, but there’s not a lot of justification for one. I’ll leave those points to the reader to spend since I’m not really familiar with the more recent versions of the character.

Minor Abilities:

  • Telekinetic Deflection: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Dex Mod) when determining AC, Specialized/not cumulative with physical armor (9 CP).
  • Immunity / Equipment Loss (Uncommon, Major, Legendary, Corrupted / special plotlines or deliberate attempts to separate her from her equipment may succeed for brief periods, but she always gets her stuff back shortly, Specialized / only protects her appropriate wealth by level (12 CP).
  • Minor Privilege (3 CP): As a trained mystic from a magical dimension, Raven can get “normal” magical items for equipment.
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (four “floating” CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: only to be invested in Relics (4 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted / the GM decides what relics she gains and when they are active, all of them have potential downsides. Thus, for example, a mirror offering her great meditative benefits and easier emotional control can accidently pull others into her mind, a book with a spirit that teaches more magic may actually turn out to be an entrapped monster, and so on (2 CP).
  • Major Privilege: Sponsored superhero with some legal authority and the right to request official assistance in various matters (6 CP).
  • Major Favors: Teen Titans, Justice League, various other heroic groups (6 CP).
  • Major Privilege: Wealth. Raven never needs to worry about her personal funds and is treated as one level higher when calculating her wealth-by-level (6 CP)
  • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant) with +3 Bonus Uses (6/Day total), Specialized / only to either evade an attack or for her (or her soul-self) to get in the way of an attack (5 CP).


  • BAB: +6, Corrupted/does not contribute to iterative attacks (24 CP). This is primarily used for telekinetic assaults.
  • Hit Dice: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +26 (L2-8d6, 14 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +40 (Con Mod x 10) = 86 HP
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +3 (9 CP) +4 (Con) +3 (Res) = +10
    • Reflex +4 (12 CP) +3 (Dex) +3 (Res) = +10
    • Will +6 (18 CP) +3 (Wis) +3 (Res) = +12
      • Luck would be more efficient – but if there’s one thing that the comics have established, it’s that Raven has no luck.
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +3 (Dex Mod) +3 (Armor) +4 (Martial Art) +4 (Cha Mod) +2 Deflection = 26

Point Costs:

  • Four Color Template: 24 CP
  • Witchcraft: 48 CP (Plus Pacts)
  • Other Mystical Abilities: 42 CP
  • Skill Boosters: 15 CP
  • Purchased Skills: 0 CP
  • Minor Abilities: 53 CP
  • Base Attack Bonus: 24 CP
  • Hit Dice: 18 CP
  • Saving Throws: 39 CP
  • Proficiencies: 3 CP

That’s 266 CP

Available Character Points: 216 (Level Eight Base) +10 (Disadvantages: History, Pacifistic, and Hunted (demons and entities who want to use her for various things), + 16 (Duties to Azar and to Oppose Trigon) +30 (Human, L1, L3, L5, and L7 Bonus Feats) = 272 CP

That leaves 6 CP – enough for one bonus feat, another special Witchcraft ability, an extra +2 on a save, or some other minor benefit. I’m going to leave that open simply because – as I’ve already noted – I’m not really that familiar with recent versions of the character. Ergo, we have a bit of wiggle room to add whatever I’ve left out.

If nothing else comes to mind, put it in Power Words (Specialized in storing Ritual Effects only) and figure that she can prepare the occasional specialty magical effect (such as putting a dragon back into a cursed tome) in advance.

Remaining Details:

  • Minor Four-Color Ability: Immortal Vigor I. Everybody can always use a few more hit points.
  • Equipment: 46,000 GP: Cloak of Resistance +3 (9000 GP), Bracers of Armor +3 (9000 GP), Ring of Feather Falling (2200 GP), Ring of Protection +2 (8000 GP), Gauntlets of Ghost Fighting (4000 GP), Greater (Armor) Crystal Of Adaption (3000 GP), Amulet of Tears (2300 GP), Raptor’s Mask (3500 GP), Occult Library (As per a Mask Of A Thousand Tomes, but basically immobile (x.5) and at least 1d4 hours of intense study and concentration in a suitable study room to use (x.8) = 4000 GP), Hero Team Comlink (Satellite Smartphone with HUD and hands-free links, 250 GP), and an Advanced First Aid Kit / Healing Belt (750 GP). (No, Raven is never shown with a first aid kit that I know of. Yes, it would be INCREDIBLY stupid not to have one. I say that she does).

Raven is exceptionally versatile and – as a fast transdimensional teleporter with defensive Reflex Actions, a powerful summons she can send on missions, immunity to timeline manipulation, the ability to routinely return from death, intangibility, and whatever occult relic the game master feels like giving her – is virtually impossible to get rid of for long. On the offensive side she has powerful telekinesis, receptive and projective empathy, and formidable mystic bolts to play with when she needs speed and ritual magic when she doesn’t – even before delving into her minor powers. That’s a LOT of durability and options.

If she wasn’t generally a pacifist she could be doing an awful lot of damage – and would be potentially story-breaking in a wide variety of ways.

Oh, as for that Death Battle with Twilight Sparkle?

Well, discounting Twilights Meta-Powers (recovers from any effect that would be upsetting to a small girl if it happened to a favorite pet before said small girl would have time to get seriously upset, her presence (or that of any other major My Little Pony character) causes all situations to be quickly resolved in a cheerful happy ending for all the nice creatures and a comeuppance for all the naughty ones, friendship is the greatest power in the universe) to at least some extent, disregarding that they’re both “fight-only-if-necessary” types, that they’re actually mirror images in a lot of ways, and the fact that Raven is really fond of “Pretty, Pretty, Pegasus” (the in-universe version of My Little Pony) and that they BOTH started their careers by gathering a group of friends to defeat a great evil…

If they did fight – which would take a LOT of contriving – I’d probably have to give it to Raven. Sure, she’s died a lot – but Raven actually knows how to fight while Twilight is honestly really, really, REALLY bad at it. Secondarily, Raven has her soul-self ally to grab Twilight from behind while Raven keeps her busy from the front.

I would also expect Raven to then punch Death in the jaw (he IS one of her relatives after all), for Twilight to pop up again after a few seconds (after just long enough of a “death” for the match to end), and for the happy tea party with Fluttershy and many small furry things to be in full swing within five minutes. This isn’t QUITE like asking a couple of Bodhisattvas to meditate each other to death, but it’s not that far from it either.

Eclipsing Raven Trigonsdottir – Part I

There are quite a few requests that I’d like to make; the hard part is figuring out which of them I’d like to see the most. That said, there’s one that does spring to mind: in honor of her fighting Twilight Sparkle in the next Death Battle, I’m curious to see what DC Comics’ Raven would look like with Eclipse stats.


Well, why not?

OK. It’s Raven, Daughter of Trigon, mystically trained by the pacifistic (also intolerant, self-righteous, arrogant, and quite often downright stupid) mystical followers of Azar in their private pocket dimension, That gave her a whole raft of abilities, made her extremely powerful, and turned her into a psychological basket case. She mostly hangs out with the Teen Titans when she isn’t being a demonic emissary of her father, or being a ghost, or being controlled by someone .

That kind of thing actually happens to her a LOT – probably for the same reason that Wolverine gets wounded a lot; you can’t show off Wolverine’s regenerative powers if he actually fights well enough to avoid being wounded and you can’t show off Raven’s ability to overcome her dark heritage and/or negative emotions unless she gets influenced by them. Ergo, the one with years of training in overcoming dark powers and controlling her emotions is the one who constantly falls to such things. That’s comic books for you!

Anyway, she’s pretty notorious for being a “roll a d6 at the start of the story” character:

  1. She’s a fabulously powerful asset to the team today, even if she IS a sarcastic snarker! You will wonder why anyone else is needed!
  2. She must greatly restrain her powers today, lest horrors be unleashed! Everyone else gets to do stuff!
  3. She brings dark tidings and will be crippled with struggles against her own inner demons today!
  4. She needs psychological support, and has likely created some mystical problem that will provide today’s narrative conflict, but will probably eventually do something useful if she gets enough hugs!
  5. She’s being pursued by Horrors From Beyond (TM!) today, and you must defend her even if magical horrors are in no way your field!
  6. She’s on Time Share with the Dark Forces today! You will have to find a way to stop her eldritch rampage or free her from their malevolent influence!

OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration – it should probably be a d8 with the first couple of entries getting two numbers each – but it’s not that much of one. Raven really does fairly often go into NPC friendly enemy mode. Still, she’s one of the Titan’s, and is presumably worth putting up with (if only because peers with superpowers are scarce). It’s not like superpowered teenagers aren’t usually incredible pains in the ass anyway. NORMAL teenagers are bad enough about that.

Of course, a solid chunk of Raven’s plotlines and personal struggles revolve around her father Trigon – so you can’t really talk about Raven without talking about her father.

Trigon the Terrible. A dark god filled with the cast-of evil energies of the people of Azarath. At birth he killed everyone nearby, including his mother. At the age of six, he destroyed an entire planet. And by the age of thirty, he held dominion over millions of worlds in his dimension.

Hm… “Held Dominion”. “Millions”, and “Age Thirty”. So… in twenty-four years he conquered millions of worlds. Call it the minimum of two million. That gives him… six minutes and eighteen seconds per world in which to defeat all their heroes, conquer them, rule over them, and gloat, before departing, never to return – and that’s presuming that he never eats or rests or does anything else and takes no time to travel. He could be multitasking, but if he could do that… why didn’t he ever do it when he was fighting heroes? And didn’t he spend a fair amount of time on things like fathering children, gloating over his dominions, and scheming to conquer other planets? He certainly wasted rather a lot of time on Earth.

OK, he could be a more conventional warlord, and have “conquered” a lot of places by sending out minions and taking over political centers without ever getting near them, and be inflicting demonic misery across the galaxy by establishing a repressive bureaucracy enforcing obnoxious policies – but Trigon was never presented that way. The image was always of Trigon standing in the semi-ruins of a conquered city. gloating over it’s fallen defenders, not Emperor Palpatine contemplating Endor and considering whether to impose complicated income tax forms on the Ewoks to make them help pay for an extra Death Star.

Why Earth anyway? Wouldn’t his own dimension still contain an infinite number of worlds to conquer, some of them basically identical to Earth? Or is jumping dimensions easier than getting to other galaxies?

It’s a common writers failing, whether you call it “cannot do math” or “no sense of scale”. Entire planets and dimensions are written as if they consist of a couple of locations and a single environment and large numbers get thrown around with no thought for the consequences. In an Earth-style universe… to the best of our current understanding it’s infinite. As in an infinite number of identical copies of every possible variation. If there are two or more independent (as in “not connected to or seeking each other”) unique beings, effects, or sets of being in the multiverse the odds of two of them ever appearing in the same galaxy – even not at the same time – are literally zero. Is a devourer of universes so mighty and irresistible that it can attack everywhere in an infinite universe at the same time and only one galaxy in a hundred billion can hold out against utter annihilation for a single second? That means that there are an infinite number of holdouts. And there will be the same infinite number holding out against the next assault. and the next, and all the assaults after that. For equally infinite time. Infinity hasn’t got an end to reach.

If there are an infinite number of dimensions out there, then there are an infinite number of cosmically powerful entities out to conquer or destroy the multiverse and there always have been. It’s still here. Therefore attempts to destroy it either cannot work or it just comes back.

It doesn’t really help that the DC Hierarchy is pretty well defined. The Presence, Lucifer, the Archangels, and various others are all well above Trigon. And several of them hang around Earth a lot. Why did Trigon make such a point of invading one of the few places in the entire multiverse where he was guaranteed to get tossed out on his ear if the local great powers took him seriously? Could it be that he knew that those entities didn’t really care? Why not?

If a creature is a threat to even a single galaxy, wouldn’t every major hero who could detect it and reach the site show up to stop it? Even if that’s only a few per world… that would be billions or trillions of major heroes – plus similar or greater numbers of villains who didn’t want to be squashed with their worlds.

Yet that didn’t happen. Ergo… Trigon may be a personal threat to the solar system, or even a few solar systems, and to little one-city pocket dimensions like Azarath – but not to more than that.

Raven’s spirit – filled with the sacred inner light of a city full of pacifistic holy mystics – drove Trigon back or destroyed him (depending on continuity). Of course, to be fair… as a demonic figure made up of those same mystics cast-off darknesses, he was probably especially vulnerable to them even over and above the usual demonic weakness to sacred energies. Still, while Trigon had been “draining the souls” of conquered planets (whatever that was supposed to mean) even millions of them apparently didn’t give him enough power to stand up to one city worth of pacifistic mystics.

Personally, I’d build Trigon with Mystic Artist (Performance Art) with the ability to make himself seen and heard across immense areas and giving him the personal pocket dimension and environmental transformation effects – thus allowing him to twist a planet into a demonic hellscape and to be immune to almost all the heroes who didn’t wind up in his personal pocket realm. Then, if and when he is defeated… the changes he has made will quietly go away.

That also explains why he’s big on announcements, foreshadowing, overdramatics, hamming it up, making speeches, failing to kill his opponents, and going to new planets all the time. What’s performance art without new audiences? And dead audiences are of no use at ALL.

So Raven’s occasional reports of “Vast Power” can go into the same bin as Trigon’s; they’re basically illusory plot devices. I’d have doubts anyway given that most of the creatures crediting her OR Trigon with such powers had pretty clear agendas.

Next up, we ignore plot device Raven. That includes…

  • Possessed-By-Evil Raven and her ability to time stop the Justice League and contain her friends.
  • Channeling-The-Souls-Of-Azarath Raven and her ability to destroy Trigon.
  • Backed-By-Xavier Raven and her ability to blast a partial copy of Dark Pheonix created by Darkseid from negative emotions that HAD no positive emotions with love. (Said copy then got upset with Darkseid for doing such a half-assed job on the resurrection. Upshot; Darkseid permanently destroyed. If it wasn’t obvious enough, non-canon. And hardly the most absurd thing that happened in that particular crossover).
  • Golden Spirit Raven and her ability to transverse space, survive without a body, and apparently fade away into the afterlife.
  • Brother-Blood-Boosted Raven and her ability to break everyone free of his control machine.
  • New-52 Touched-By-Trigon Raven and her semi-omniscient ability to show up and mess with everyone the plot requires her to (Must… resist… “Bad Touch” jokes…).
  • And all the other variations on Turbocharged-By-External-Power-Sources Raven – as well as Informed-That-She-Could-Snuff-Out-Universes Raven (since it was by a demon with an ulterior motive – and those are notoriously untrustworthy anyway).

That leaves us with the stuff that she actually normally does. To compile a list…

  • Raven is a powerful empath, able to sense, project, and drain emotions. In at least some sources this also lets her project stunning mental blasts.
  • She can heal people, but it’s a strain and she’s pretty limited in how much she can heal. That’s pretty standard for heroes: being able to heal everyone messes up a LOT of dramatic scenes and plotlines amd opens up the question of why you aren’t spending your time on a hospital assembly line healing a steady stream of dying children and leaving the adventuring to characters with less miraculous powers.
  • She can call forth a formidable psychic construct she calls her soul-self, although the duration is somewhat limited. It can hold things, fly, wrap itself around people to protect them, and withstand a lot of damage, but if it’s disrupted there’s a substantial backlash against her and it takes some time to get it out again (I seem to recall that getting it out too soon leaves it weakened, but it’s been a long time). She is usually aware of what her soul-self could see and hear. I can’t recall it ever being shown to taste, smell, or feel much though. It is often portrayed passing through things (and possibly acting as an astral form), so it may be selectively insubstantial.
  • She can envelop people or groups in her soul-self and teleport them across space (it’s unclear as to how far, but it’s apparently not interplanetary), dimensions (at least to a limited set of mystic ones, sometimes using minor rituals, and with only partial control of her point of arrival), and time (well, during a special time of crisis anyway, and only to appear in quasi-historical and possible future settings. She never – say – drops back an hour to see who committed a crime. Her actions in the past never seem to change the present either, so this might be best represented as another subset of alternate dimensions). As a side effect she might or might not be resistant to disruptions in the timeline.
    • Overall, Raven’s soul-self is one of her most potent abilities – capable of restraining even truly major enemies at least briefly.
  • She has good mental defenses, but they’re not a lot of use against her own inner nature. Against general mental control they are, however, almost impregnable.
  • In the 2003-2006 television series she was a powerful telekinetic with a “dark force” power signature, presumably because it was a lot more visually dramatic than empathy – and so telekinesis has leaked into later depictions. She can throw things around, animate objects, and project a variety of telekinetic blasts.
  • She dies a lot and keeps coming back. Comics are notorious for the revolving door of life and death, but Raven sometimes seems to spin it fast enough to run a generator.
  • She often appears wrapped in shadows, her room is sometimes filled with darkness, and so on. This mostly seems to be special effects, but it’s ambiguous enough to count “turning off the lights” amongst her talents. She might be able to generate simple illusions – or at least make her soul-self look like her.
  • She might be able to sense souls or mystical energies and is apparently good at sensing minds. That’s pretty basic for semi-demonic psychic / magical types, but is pretty ambiguous in the source material.
  • She can imbue other people with some of her power. That’s usually a plot device power, but it’s worth mentioning since it’s a classic demonic ability.
  • She has undefined access to various magical spells, although most of them appear to be demonic (and only used when she’s evil) and she doesn’t often use anything but preset rituals.
  • She can variously levitate while meditating, fly using her soul-self, fly using dark telekinetic disks (or perhaps by just standing on her malleable soul-self), or just hover dramatically without explanation. On the other hand, she’s also known for being knocked out of the air.
  • She speaks English, German, Latin, Romanian, Ancient Sumerian, and Sanskrit (along, presumably, with Azarathan). That may not be a superhuman power, but it’s not easy either.
  • She had prophetic dreams about Trigon, but that might just be because she was going to become his gateway into Earth’s dimension and was deeply linked to him and the subject of prophecies that she knew about. She’s never really shown any general precognition. This probably isn’t really a power.

On the other hand… her powers run wild when she loses control of her emotions, will not work if she is afraid and unwilling to admit it, leave her vulnerable to possession by Trigon or her own demonic nature if she gets too angry, are erratic at best (at least in some depictions) if she can’t incant (usually, but not always, “Azarath… Metrion… Zinthos!”), call for spending a LOT of her time in meditation, cause many good magicians to consider her inherently corrupt, and isn’t especially good at fine control.

To be blunt… Raven is a good character, a great plot catalyst, and brings a lot of deep background and heroic struggle into a comic. She’s a LOUSY player character though. She’s often out of play while being evil and places the game master in the position of having to decide when she’s going to be suddenly crippled, leaving the player bored, or when she’s going to be able to use her vast array of powers freely – usually overshadowing the rest of her team. That really does not make for a good gaming experience. Still, she makes a fine NPC.

So next time on Raven… it will be converting her into d20 statistics.

Hero System – Animate Object

Animate Object is a bit of a mess even in d20, where the spell and the resulting creatures are standardized. In the hero System, where no such standardization applies, such effects are a bit of a nightmare. Ergo, here we have Blueblood’s version – which summons up some wisps of magical telekinetic force which wrap themselves around relevant items and infuse them with a standardized amount of power – turning them into thirty point items of equipment.

While there is some enhancement involved, these are, however, fairly normal items; you can’t animate a doctors bag and expect it to heal your wounds. You can, however, animate a slab of rock and expect it to block attacks on you.

In game terms, the “Animation” is a “summon” effect – although it’s “summon an animating force” rather than “summon a creature”.

Animate Object Spell

  • STR o (-10 CP)
  • DEX 18 (24 CP): OCV 6, DCV 6 + 6 (Shrinking)
  • CON 0 (-20 CP)
  • BODY 2 (-16 CP)
  • INT 3 (-7 CP)
  • EGO 2 (-16 CP)
  • PRE 10 (0 CP
  • COM 0 (-5 CP)
  • PD 0 (0 CP)
  • ED 0 (0 CP)
  • SPD 4 (12 CP)
  • REC 0 (0 CP)
  • END 0 (0 CP)
  • STUN 2 (0 CP)

Elemental Control: Animate Object Spell (10-pt reserve); Entire creature dispelled if one or more powers disrupted or runs out): -1; Visible (Eldritch glow around item being animated. ): -¼ (4 CP)

  • Telekinesis (STR 20) with Fine Manipulation, +10; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 lev; Only to wield the item they are conjured to animate): -1; (8 CP).
  • Shrinking-3 (DCV +6, Height 15 cm/6″); Knockback Increase: 9; PER Bonus: -6; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (7 CP).
  • 2d6 Aid to Equipment Allowance (Item being animated) (Fade/hour, Max. 30); Range: 0; Generic Limitation (Only to pay for a specific piece of more-or-less conventional gear): -1; Autofire: 10 shots, ¾; Charges: 10, -¼; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Generic Limitation (Only GM-Approved Equipment): -1 (9 CP).
  • Force Field (15 PD/15 ED); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (7 CP).
  • Power Defense (20 pts); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (4 CP).
  • Mental Defense (20 pts); Add to Total; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (4 CP).
  • +22 PRE Defense; Generic Limitation (Only to defend against presence attacks) (4 CP).
  • 12″ Flight (NC: 24″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 36; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (5 CP).

This could be considered cheese – after all, this packs everything that the “creature” does into a single elemental control and includes several “special” powers at that – but they do all effectively cost endurance (thus the one continuing charge limitation) and it’s hard to get much more of a tightly-linked group of powers than “these are the effects of a single spell, if any part of it fails, the entire spell does” and “it’s reasonably difficult to break”.

Run 0 (-12 CP), Swim 0 (-2 CP)

Disadvantage: No limbs, speech, or normal reflexes (All the Time, Fully) (-25 CP).

Net Cost: (-38) Attributes, 38 (Powers), -25 (Disadvantage).

Basically the spell is a wisp of light that wraps itself around the item being animated and causes it to fly around and act “on it’s own”. The “Aid” power basically means that all such objects have a standard (30) point base cost and are OAF. Animated objects are generally helpful, if not too bright, and so are purchased with a +1/4’th advantage for being reasonably cooperative.

Possible Animated Objects

Large Furniture (Sofa, Dining Table, Lounge):

  • Hand-to-Hand Attack (10d6, Total 14d6) 0; Range: 0; Reduced END: Zero, +½ (22 CP)
  • Armor (3 PD/3 ED) ; Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½; Usable by Others Number: 2, +¼ (8 CP).

Large furniture can kick or ram quite effectively and provides a certain amount of cover. Unfortunately, most attacks will go straight through them, with very little loss of power.

Net / Bush / Tree / Rope / Carpet / Cloth / Chain

  • +6 DC for Martial Attacks (12 CP).
    • Fast Strike (OCV +2, DCV +0, 12d6) (2 CP).
    • Flying Tackle (OCV +0, DCV -1, 10+v/5) (1 CP).
    • Choke Hold (OCV -2, DCV +0, Grab, 5d6 NND) (2 CP).
    • Martial Grab (OCV -1, DCV -1, STR 60) (1 CP).
    • Martial Disarm (OCV -1, DCV +1) (2 CP).
    • Nerve Strike (OCV -1, DCV +1, 5d6 NND) (2 CP).
    • Martial Throw (OCV +0, DCV +1, 10d6+v/5) (1 CP).
    • Weapon Bind (OCV +1, DCV +0, STR 60) (2 CP).
  • +2 levels with HTH Combat (5 CP).

Items like these are surprisingly effective, especially when “wielded” with a telekinetic strength of twenty. With multiple ends and flexibility they can strike, entangle, and squeeze in a bewildering variety of ways.

Shield / Slabs of Rock / Interposing Objects

  • Armor (10 PD/10 ED) Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (22 CP).
  • Flash Defense (Sight, 6 pts); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (4 CP).
  • Power Defense (6 pts); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (4 CP).

Large solid objects that get in the way of attacks are simple, straightforward, and surprisingly effective. They may not be able to stop heavy attacks, but they can certainly blunt them.

Axe, Sword, Spear, Pole Arm, Etc.

  • 1½d6 Killing Attack (HTH) (3d6 with telekinetic strength); Reduced END: Zero, +½ (18 CP).
  • +2 levels with All Combat; Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (12 CP).

Animated melee weapons are simple, straightforward, and quite dangerous – partially in their own right and partially because they are pretty good at supporting another fighter.

Statue / Manaquin / Tin Man / Scarecrow / Large Doll / Etc

  • +20 STR; Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (7 CP).
  • +20 STR (Only for HTH Combat); -½, Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (6 CP).
  • +1 level w/Overall Level (Aide); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½ (7 CP)
  • +5 levels with HTH Combat; Generic Limitation (OCV Only): -½ (10 CP).

Perhaps the most classic of all animated objects, humanoid (or at least vaguely humanoid) automatons are versatile and know no pain or hesitation, making them surprisingly good in a fight and even of some use as aides.

Fire Extinguisher

  • Multipower (45-pt reserve); Fire Extinguisher Functions Only: -½, 2 Hex Maximum Range -¼ (16 CP).
    • u-1: 3d6 Flash (Normal Sight); Area Effect (One-hex) +½; Charges: +16.
    • u-1: 6d6 Suppress (Fire); Affect: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Charges: 8, +¼; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 levels.
    • u-1: 4d6 Transform Air to a coating of Ice (Minor, Single Object); Charges: 16, +0.
    • u-1: Darkness 3″ Radius (Extinguisher Powder) versus Smell and the Sight Sense Group, 8 Charges lasting 1 Turn Each.
  • +4 levels with Extinguisher (6 CP).
  • Hand-To-Hand Attack +2d6 at 0 End Cost (4 CP).

The Fire Extinguisher is a bit silly, but it can actually be fairly effective in making life awkward for many opponents. And if all else fails, it can simply bludgeon people.

Kevlar Clothing / Light Armor / Superhero Costume

  • +10 STR; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels, Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼ (4 CP).
  • Armor (8 PD/8 ED); Usable By Others: Simultaneous Use, +½; Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (12 CP).
  • Running (+12″); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels; Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼ (10 CP).
  • Superleap (+14″); Charges: 1, -½; Continuing Charges: 1 Hour, -5 levels (4 CP).

The Living Clothing / Armor is an old joke, but if it’s durable enough, it can actually be a surprisingly effective boost.

Heavy Pistol/Bow/Crossbow/Gyrojet Pistol/Etc

  • 2d6 Ranged Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 225; Reduced END: Zero, +½ (22 CP).
  • +3 levels with Ranged Combat (8 CP).

Simple and effective, the job of this object is simply to shoot at its targets. Why the ammunition never runs out is something of a mystery, but it IS magic.

Grenade Launcher

  • Multipower (45-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Grenades only): -½ (18 CP).
    • u-1: 2d6 Fragmentation Grenade: Ranged Killing Attack; Range: 225; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼.
    • u-1: 6d6 Concussion Grenade: Stun Only Energy Blast. Range: 225; Versus: PD; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼.
    • u-1: 6d6 Inciendary Grenade: Energy Blast, Range: 225; Versus: ED; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼
    • u-1: Smoke Grenade: Darkness (Smell, Sight, 3″ radius); Range: 225; Charges: 4, -¼; Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 levels.
    • u-1: 3d6 Tangler Grenade: Entangle (DEF 3): Range: 225; Explosion: +½; Charges: 12, -¼.
  • +4 level w/Grenades (10 CP).

The Grenade Launcher isn’t a very powerful weapon by Hero System standards – but it’s reasonably versatile surprisingly accurate at hitting a target hex (that telekinetic control again), and is great for dealing with crowds of mooks.

Missile Launcher / Anti-Tank Weapon

  • Multipower (60-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (Missles Only): -½ (24 CP).
    • u-2: 4d6 Shaped Charge Missile Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 300; Charges: 16, +0.
    • u-2: 12d6 Plasma Jet Missile Fire Energy Blast; Range: 300; Versus: ED; Charges: 16, +0.
    • u-2: 8d6 Inciendary Energy Blast: Range: 300; Versus: ED; Explosion: +½; Charges: 16, +0.

The Missile Launcher is one of the most powerful conventional personal weapons around, but is – of course – meant to target vehicles. Trying to shoot people is surprisingly hard. Normal missile launchers don’t usually have forty-eight missiles available, but once again, magic.

Confronted with a hostile army, Blueblood has opted to learn a spell to let him deploy the equivalent of his own platoon. It isn’t – and really can’t be – enough to handle an army, but it should be useful in a variety of lesser situations.

Terminator IV T-3000, The Apo-Hypothesis

Finally, we have the T-3000 – arguably either the “Ultimate” Terminator or not really a Terminator at all.

The T-3000 is the result of infecting a human with “machine phase matter” (apparently some type of nanotech), which turns them into a improved version of the T-1000 with all their skills and memories intact. Unfortunately for Skynet, up until the transformation of John Connor all such attempts simply drove the subjects insane and killed them without creating a functional Terminator, making the attempts a waste of time.

Wait, what? You’re killing them anyway, and absorbing their memories into a computer system. Why should their sanity – or even their deaths (which are coming in moments anyway) matter? And what makes John Connor unique? Sure, he’s well-trained – but didn’t he pass that on to most of his followers? Isn’t he physically and neurologically just another human? Why waste time on something that’s been repeatedly determined not to work? Isn’t Skynet a computer?

Anyway, at the end, the T-3000 is destroyed by a prototype time machine – it being strongly implied that few other sources of magnetic fields are powerful enough, although there is some evidence that enough hits with specialized weapons could wear it down eventually.

Overall, a T-3000 acts a lot like the T-1000, but…

  • It is supposed to be stronger than the earlier model Terminators.

OK. Another bonus to Strength. There’s no problem there. After all, the latest model is generally supposed to be the strongest.

  • It can easily withstand vast amounts of damage (it can’t be infinite; energy attacks and bullets and such will destroy a few of its nanites each time, but that’s like trying to kill a human with a tiny needle. It’s going to take a lot of poking). Still, “tougher” is pretty much the Terminator theme, so the latest model is generally really tough. There’s no problem there.

So… more hit points, maybe boost the T-1000 resistance to damage a bit but make it vulnerable to attacks with magnetic properties.

  • It’s really fast.

OK; throw in Personal Haste in it’s innate enchantments. Kill some of the self-repair functions (which make no sense for it) to help make room.

  • It’s actually relatively hard to hit, since it phases through some attacks.

So it has a higher AC. Fair enough again; it IS the big boss Terminator. Buy some more AC.

  • It can use it’s magnetic field to walk up metal walls and such.

Well… OK. Given the lack of strain on the walls from this, this is probably actually purchased as really limited flight, but it still makes some sense. It could even be expanded to non-metal walls, given that a T-3000 can easily stick anchors out of its feet.

  • It can enlarge it’s “muscles”, and thus strength, in combat.

That doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s not like those “muscles” have any bones to pull against or actually do anything; it’s supposed to be moving and holding it’s shape because of a magnetic field that it generates. Wouldn’t it’s “strength” be limited by that field, not by it’s non-existent “muscles”? And why doesn’t that magnetic field attract magnetic materials when it doesn’t want to?

  • It can turn into a mist, and – in that form – move through solid matter (or at least through another Terminator).

Wait, what? It’s supposed to be made of nanomachines the size of human cells. If those moved through matter… they’d turn it into a swiss cheese of microscopic holes, destroying any older-model Terminator (and pretty much anything else solid) that it moved through.

Yet that didn’t happen. And THAT is flatly silly. Sure, it IS possible to make matter pass through other matter, but the kind of forces that involves are not going to leave nanites and electronics intact. They’re not going to leave ANYTHING intact in a considerable radius.

Magnets. How do they even work?

Well… it’s not anything like THAT.

OK; looking at what this actually seems to do… It allowed the T-3000 to stand instantly (a quick turn doesn’t matter in d20, which has no facing) and to step “through” Pops – which either briefly “stunned” him or was shown in slow motion. Judging by the other shots of this ability in use… it was probably shown in slow motion so the audience could see the neat special effect. Far more importantly… it was never used when it would actually have done something, such as getting aboard that bus. Maybe the power demand was too high to use it often?

Anyway, I’m going to assume that John Connor knew a martial art with “Instant Stand” in it and just had a nifty new special effect for it. A short range, very limited use, teleport effect may be in order too.

Overall, d20 is very appropriate for this particular template, because, while the T-1000 was physically absurd, you had to know some physics and engineering to know why. The T-3000 blatantly jumps straight into fantasy. It’s super-fast, super-strong, can only be injured by specific means, can turn to mist and reform even if you chop pieces off, it falls apart into dust when destroyed, recovers incredibly quickly from most attacks, starts “burning” and dissolving into “smoke” when exposed to it’s weakness, and is made by transforming a living human into a monster – or more precisely, by possessing a fresh corpse (even if most of the the attempted conversions fail). On the weakness side… It has trouble with areas with strong magnetic fields, can be held back by powerful magnets, has minor troubles with electrical shocks (which also generate strong magnetic fields), and suffers some (if also relatively minor) injuries from weapons with magnetic properties.

Doesn’t that sound pretty familiar? The Terminator was basically a modern version of a Golem, To quote Kyle Reese in the first movie… “Listen, and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

That’s a classical golem right there.

But the T-3000 has had a villain upgrade to Vampire, substituting (or adding) “magnets!” for “holy!” on it’s list of vulnerabilities. After all… if you shoved a supermagnetic metal pole through it, wouldn’t it be incapacitated until something pulled it out?

Not too surprisingly, this modern rendition of Dracula versus Frankenstein (complete with Frankenstein protecting the girl) winds up like it did in 1971: Dracula rips apart Frankenstein, but is then destroyed by exposure to his weakness. Of course, Frankenstein – being a good guy from the beginning this time around – winds up being thrown into a tank of magic mad scientist goop that puts him back together, while there are the inevitable hints at a Return of Dracula.

So for our T-3000 Acquired Template…

  • Attribute Modifiers: Str +8, Dex +4, Int +2, Wis -4, Cha -6 (30 CP Attribute Shift, 24 CP Purchase)
  • Immunity to Mind-Affecting Effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects of level seven or below, with a +8 bonus to saves against higher-level effects, does not work against ECM, Hacking, Computer Viruses, and other electronically-based effects (24 CP).
  • DR 6/- and 12/magnetic weapons (12 CP).
  • Energy Resistance 12, Reduced to 6 versus Electromagnetic Attacks (12 CP).
  • Celerity with Additional Movement Mode (Flight), Specialized /only to allow walking up walls and such (9 CP).
  • No Constitution (0 CP).
  • +80 Hit Points (48 CP, purchased as Immunity to Damage (Very Common, Severe, Legendary, Corrupted for Reduced Cost, Specialized for Increased Effect: / provides only two-thirds the usual protection, the protection is degraded by incoming damage in a one-to-one ratio, and can only be restored by repairing it as if it was hit point damage.
  • Adds (Str Mod x 1.5) to AC as a Natural Armor Bonus, although this is not cumulative with external armor bonuses; only the best bonus applies (12 CP).
  • +2 in each save category (18 CP).
  • Low-Light Vision (6 CP)
  • 60′ Darkvision (6 CP)
  • +5 BAB (30 CP).
  • Expertise (Power Attack version) (6 CP)
  • Innate Enchantment (12 CP) (up to 11,500 GP Value)
    • Advanced Military Programming: +3 Competence Bonus to Heal, Intimidate, Perception, and Knowledge (History, the Military and Weapons in particular) (1400 GP).
    • Anklet of Translocation (1400 GP). This covers the occasional “flash step” maneuver.
    • Hat of Disguise x.8 (no longer usable if the unit has taken 20 or more points of actual damage, 1440 GP)
    • Iron Strike: The user’s hands are treated as +2 Hand Axes (1400 GP). Note that this can look like a wide variety of weapons, but the default of +2 to Attacks and 1d6+2+Str Mod damage works well enough for most things.
    • Large and Heavy: Enlarge Person: Only to be considered Large for the purpose of breaking doors and other objects, grappling, and carrying things (x.5) (700 GP).
    • Lightspeed Computation: Boost Armor: Reduced Defense VII (+0 AC, -14 DC), Segmented III (+6 DC, no non-proficiency penalty), Max Dex +4 (-), Speed +10, +4 Str, +2 Reflex Saves (Net purchase DC 10 = 120 Credits or 6 GP). (This is a very cheap trick, but so be it).
    • Nanite Structure: Enhance Structure: +2d6 + 2 x Str Mod Temporary HP to a construct, x.7 no more than half of each rounds buffer is effective against any one attack, use makes it obvious that the user is not human (980 GP).
    • Personal Haste (2000 GP): +30′ Movement, +1 attack when making a full attack.
    • Weapons Catalog: Masters Touch, x.7 Weapons Only (1400 GP).
    • Secondary Equipment: Advanced Smartphone (10 GP), GPS (20 GP), Radio Scanner (10 GP), Lock Release Gun (10 GP), Rangefinding Binoculars (25 GP), Compass (2 CP), Flash Goggles (25 GP), HUD (3 GP), Military Transceiver (20 GP), Vocalizer (Voice Imitation, 50 GP), Power Backpack (5 GP), Multipurpose Tool (4 GP), Remote Surveillance Module (20 GP). High Frequency Sword (25 GP), Grenade Launcher (100 GP), Grapnel Gun (20 GP), Dual, Katanas (20 GP), Chain Saw (12.5 GP). Net total: 380 GP.
      • Net Total: 11,106 GP. There’s room enough for a few conventional gadgets if you wish – perhaps some surveillance and electronic scanning gear?
  • Accursed: Whenever a T-3000 takes extra damage from a critical hit they must make a DC 15 Fortitude save to avoid being stunned for 1 round. If the save is successful, the T-3000 is still staggered for 1 round. They remain immune to other sources of the stunned condition (-3 CP)

That’s 246 CP – a rather high-value template, up in +8 ECL territory. Fairly obviously, some major limitations are in order – and they’re going to have to be pretty serious to justify bringing that +8 ECL modifier down to something reasonable.

So what are those limitations?

Honestly, we can’t be sure. The one example we’ve seen was unique – and we weren’t given all that much information on it at all, much less a breakdown on what made it unique, or what carried over from the original person, or what it’s precise limits were. Worse, what little we got was strictly within a science-fantasy framework with no magic, psionics, or other odd methods of bending reality. Ergo, it’s going to be mix and match; take four of the Major Limitations and three of the Minor Limitations and consider the entire template Specialized – reducing it’s cost to 123 Points, a +4 ECL Acquired Template.

Major Limitations:

  • A T-3000 cannot ever truly heal; it’s nanites are the unique products of the conversion of a specific persons cells, and are irreplaceable, Otherwise, why can’t it absorb more people? And why would some conversions fail? It will require a Wish, Miracle, or some highly-specialized effect to repair any actual damage it suffers.
  • A T-3000 is effectively undead, and is powered by negative energy (it certainly has no apparent technological source of enough energy to maintain and manipulate it’s own massive magnetic field). As such, it can be damaged by holy energies, blasted with positive energy, manipulated by certain negative energy techniques, cannot be Raised or Resurrected, and is automatically evil and implacably hostile to normal life, even if freewilled. As an undead, it can infect others – but it apparently needs their cooperation to do so.
  • A T-3000 can be effectively paralyzed by a strong magnetic field and may take damage from such exposure depending on the strength of the field and GM fiat. It can also be affected by electronic jamming. Treat these as “holy” effects against the Undead.
  • A T-3000 takes 1 ½ times damage from effects with the Acid, Electricity, or Light descriptors. Like it or not, those will destroy nanites much more effectively than bullets and such.
  • A T-3000 cannot purchase magical progressions, mana, active spellcasting, psionic powers, witchery, or similar abilities. They may still take Innate Enchantments and Inherent Spells, but only to represent various pieces of built-in equipment. Of course, NPC units don’t need to worry about purchasing new abilities.

Minor Limitations:

  • A T-3000 cannot purchase abilities that represent briefly pushing past normal limits, including Hysteria, Berserker, and similar abilities, without game master approval to use them to simulate an appropriate subsystem.
  • A T-3000 cannot purchase the Leadership or Companion abilities and always suffers a -6 penalty on it’s social skill checks.
  • A T-3000 is easily detectable electronically or by other Terminators – even far more primitive models. It’s readings are simply nothing like a humans.
  • A T-3000 conversion must be paid for on the spot; the transformed creature must drop enough abilities – normally psychic, supernatural, biological, or otherwise uniquely “living being” traits – to pay for it’s new template on the spot. If it has insufficient resources to do so, it dies.

John Connor (at level five pretty much at the level cap for “badass normals”), presumably had lots of luck, a reality-editing effect, leadership, the equivalent of precognitive tactical insights, and some sort of immunity to paradox to sacrifice – effectively burning off four levels to survive picking up the T-3000 Template. Of course, his reality-editing, paradox-immune, death throes were enough to create a temporal nexus and really mess up the timeline.

Now at roughly CR 9, the T-3000 was a deadly danger to Pops/Guardian (A CR 5 T-850 model with two or three levels) and two well-prepared and trained elite humans (Level 3 to 4, and so CR 5 to 6).

Terminator III – The Life Of A Machine, the Terminator Racial Template

For a playable Terminator build… we have a problem. Terminators that do not have their learning circuits turned on are pure automatons – slaves to their programming. They can be reprogrammed and then will do exactly what their new programming says.

Once you turn on their learning circuits they may at any point learn the value of human life and start defending people instead of killing them. Apparently learning the value of art, or gardening, or wildlife conservation, or anything else that isn’t precisely the opposite of what they were made to do is not an option. Otherwise – given that there are hundreds of thousands of possible interests – only one out of hundreds that went rogue would be actively opposing Skynet, and that is not what the franchise tells us.

So… even with the learning program, Terminators have no real free will; they simply either accept or invert their programmed imperatives. Skynet is evidently smart enough not to create other self-aware machines with potentially different goals if it doesn’t have too – which is why it didn’t make a bunch of T-1000 units which (we’ve been told, if never definitely shown) DID have that potential.

You can play such a character of course. It has a standardized set of motives and a very limited array of solutions, but you can play one. Unfortunately for long term play, however, I’ve had only one player out of hundreds in nearly forty years who’s sole and only interest in gaming was tactical combat. Unless you’ve also got a player with interests that limited, a playable character really needs free will.

I’ve had a few other players create automatons of one sort or another, starting with “Mr Chips” (for Shadowrun I, in the early 1990’s). And Mr Chips was fairly typical; the player had a lot of fun trying to assassinate the party, being hacked to work with the party, and then rolling dice to see if his programming came up with what he wanted to do or if the game master decided what his character did at the moment at first – but Mr Chips got old fairly fast. Rolling to see what his character was going to do was only amusing for a few sessions since a bad roll meant that the player had no decisions to make; all he could do was eat the snacks and (possibly) make a few rolls as requested by the game master. And while seeing how Mr Chips was messing things up was funny for a while, it soon got quite boring – and the rest of the players kept trying to install programming upgrades or make sure that Mr Chips had nothing to do outside of being pointed at a target wherever there was another fiasco.

The player soon made another character (“Mr Lizard”, a dinosaur-obsessed decker who’d had his body rebuilt into a cyborg-stealth-raptor with a built-in deck and who worked out of his personal movie theater where he showed old dinosaur and giant monster movies on a continuous basis) – and Mr Chips continued as a party fire support robotic drone until he got destroyed, which no one really worried about.

Several other automaton “characters” have followed the same general trajectory since then. It’s always amusing for a bit, and that amusement always seems to run out shortly.

So player characters need to have functional minds, the ability to develop their own interests, and actual free will to be really playable in the long run – and yet we probably shouldn’t have Skynet put in an “Install Soul” button, if only because doing it would make no sense whatsoever.

So that’s step one: lightning strikes, and Number Five is Alive. Your player-character Terminator (or important NPC Terminator) has just been hit with some equivalent of “Awaken Construct” and has gone from “Extensively Programmed Automaton” to “Person” – and gets to start off by generating some attributes.

Now “normal” Terminators are mass-produced machines. There may be some variation between models, but your basic new terminator is going to have a its attributes and abilities pretty much preset. Player characters, however, get Attribute Modifiers, not specified attributes.

For a Terminator, that’s going to look something like this:

  • Attribute Shift x 5 (30 CP): Str +6, Dex +2, Int +2, Wis -4, Cha -6. The +2 Pathfinder attribute bonus goes to Dex, for a total of +4.

This would give a standard Machine Soldier-based Terminator a base attribute array of Str 12, Dex 11, Con —, Int 11, Wis 7, and Cha 7. In Pathfinder point buy that actually has a negative cost – and pretty much any common method of generating attributes is likely to result in an improvement. Presumably that’s part of why a free-willed Terminator has an advantage over the standard factory models – and why Skynet has to send specially-built hunter-killer models to get rid of rogues instead of just sending two or three (much cheaper) regular models .

The next problem comes from a lack of information. The Terminator Franchise doesn’t really include psionics, magic, or weird science beyond a bit of time travel, plasma weapons, and the Terminators themselves – and it doesn’t show us any entirely free-willed Terminators at all. Thus we have no idea of whether or not a fully-intelligent Terminator is vulnerable to mental powers or not. The d20 precedents are mixed; AI’s are, but clockwork creatures are not, living constructs are, but robots do not seem to be. And none of those really match.

I’m going to go with “not”, simply because the “emotionless and implacable” bit is a defining feature of the entire franchise.

  • Immunity (Common/Major/Great) to all mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects), Corrupted for Reduced Cost (24 CP) / not versus ECM, Hacking, Computer Viruses, and other electronically-based effects. This covers effects of up to level seven and provides a +8 bonus to saves against effects of level eight or higher. A freewilled Terminators mind CAN be reached electronically or by sufficient power, but it isn’t easy.

Terminators are tough to damage; they get Hardness, totaling 12. This subtracts directly from all damage taken (unless the game master feels that a particular object is especially vulnerable to something), like Generalized Damage Reduction. That fits nicely, so buy…

  • DR 6/-, Specialized for Increased Effect (12/-) versus physical attacks only. Given that armor-piercing ammunition is supposed to be more effective, and Adamantine is d20’s usual equivalent, the first 3/- (effectively 6/-) points are purchased normally (6 CP), the rest is Corrupted/Not versus Adamantine (6 CP).

According to the SRD, objects take half damage before hardness from ranged weapons – unless they’re siege weapons or the GM thinks that they should work. Of course, this is mostly talking about arrows, shuriken, and similar hand-propelled stuff and doesn’t normally apply to anything which can be classed as a “creature”, Even if it did… Terminators are full of delicate little vital components and the movies show a Terminator being speared quite effectively and some being eliminated with projectile weapons.

  • DR 6/-, Specialized for Increased Effect (12/-) versus energy attacks only. Since Terminators are shown to be somewhat vulnerable to various forms of energy (just what depends on the model), this uses the same structure as the physical damage reduction, being less effective against a some form of energy (12 CP).

Normal objects only take half damage from energy attacks BEFORE hardness – again, unless the game master feels that there is a vulnerability. On checking the letter of the rules… this probably (I cannot tell for sure) doesn’t apply even to baseline Terminators since they’re technically “creatures” even if they DO have a Hardness score and I was probably wrong to quote it earlier. I suppose that I’m just too used to high-end fantasy d20 games, where a 10d6 fireball is a fairly basic energy attack. I should have been thinking about d20 Future and the 3d10 Plasma Rifle.

Terminators aren’t alive, even in the very loose d20 sense. That’s No Constitution (0 CP), giving them immunity to ability damage, ability drain, energy drain, and effects requiring Fortitude saves unless they work on objects or are harmless. They can’t tire, and thus can move, work, or remain alert indefinitely. On the other hand they can’t be Raised or Resurrected and are instantly destroyed at 0 HP

As a note, this inherently covers immunity to disease, death effects, most necromancy effects, poison, sleep effects, death from massive damage, nonlethal damage, and stunning, as well as normal forms of paralysis given that those pretty much all involve ability damage or drain, being alive, or fortitude saves. Similarly, not being alive eliminates the need to breathe and eat. It does NOT bestow an immunity to Critical Hits. Since technologically-based (and possibly other) Terminators are full of complex, interdependent, active systems, they are subject to critical hits. That fits, since “Robot” style constructs are explicitly vulnerable to critical hits.

Terminators come with a fair number of hit points as a base. That can be purchased as…

  • Immunity to Damage (Very Common, Severe, Great, Corrupted for Reduced Cost, Specialized for Increased Effect: / provides only two-thirds the usual protection, the protection is degraded by incoming damage in a one-to-one ratio, and can only be restored by repairing it as if it was hit point damage – effectively buying +40 HP (24 CP).

“Immunity to Damage” usually isn’t allowable – but limiting it to acting as extra hit points makes it reasonable enough given that there are plenty of other ways – many of the more efficient in the long run – to get extra hit points. It’s also another way to build the usual bonus for Constructs since 12 CP worth of this “Immunity” buys +20 hit points – just what a medium construct gets for upgrading its “No Constitution” modifier (for 12 CP) to get bonus hit points.

Terminators are treated as having a fair amount of natural armor; This kid of overlaps with their Damage Reduction / Hardness with a special effect of “hit but didn’t hurt” given that the entire franchise focuses on the implacable, unstoppable, war machine grinding onwards.

  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Dex Mod) when computing AC, Corrupted for Increased Effect and Specialized for Reduced Cost / limited to a maximum total of +6, treated as a Natural Armor bonus, not cumulative with external armor bonuses; only the best bonus applies (9 CP).
  • Terminators – like most constructs – have lousy base saves; the Machine Solder is presumed to have one level of Fighter, but a fully intelligent one might have something else. Ergo, +1 in each category (9 CP).
  • Occult Sense (Low-Light Vision, 6 CP)
  • Occult Sense (Darkvision, 6 CP)
  • BAB +4 (24 CP).
  • Expertise (Power Attack version) (6 CP)
  • Innate Enchantment (12 CP).
  • Accursed: Whenever they take extra damage from a critical hit they must make a DC 15 Fortitude save to avoid being stunned for 1 round. If the save is successful, it is still staggered for 1 round. They remain immune to other sources of the stunned condition (-3 CP)
  • Accursed: They take 150% of the usual damage from some type of energy. For technological units, that’s usually Electrical attacks (-3 CP).

So that gives our “Terminator Template” a base cost of 30 (Attribute Shift) +24 (Mental Defenses) +12 (Damage Reduction) +12 (Energy Resistance) +24 (+40 hit points) +9 (Natural Armor) +12 (Occult Senses) +24 (BAB) +6 (Expertise) +12 (Innate Enchantment) -6 (Disadvantages) = 159 CP.

That’s maxed out +4 ECL territory – which, with +1 level of fighter – gives us our basic CR 5 Terminator.

Still, Terminators suffer from a lot of limitations as player characters in more fantastic settings that really don’t have much effect on NPC robot troopers in more realistic ones.

  • They cannot be Raised or Resurrected. This is a big one that doesn’t matter to NPC units because they’re just machines; there’s no unique personality THERE to Raise or Resurrect anyway.
  • They do not heal naturally, or via the usual spells and powers. Again, that’s unimportant to NPC units, which tend to either be destroyed in their first battle or can go in for repairs offstage.
  • They are Immediately destroyed when reduced to 0 hit points or less. Of course, for disposable troop-automatons, Skynet doesn’t need to care. For game purposes… out of action is pretty much equivalent to destroyed when it comes to disposable troops (and they have a power to get around this anyway).
  • They cannot purchase magical progressions, mana, active spellcasting, psionic powers, witchery, or similar abilities. They may still take Innate Enchantments and Inherent Spells, but only to represent various pieces of built-in equipment. Of course, NPC units don’t need to worry about purchasing new abilities.
  • They cannot purchased abilities that represent briefly pushing past normal limits, including Hysteria, Berserker, and similar abilities, without game master approval to use them to simulate an appropriate subsystem.

If all of that applies it makes the Terminator “Racial” Template Specialized – for a net cost of 82 CP, making them a +2 ECL race. Overall, a Terminator character makes a fairly strong Fighter or Rogue-type character at first, but all those restrictions are soon going to start to hurt in a fantastic game. In a realistic one… they’ll have an advantage. It will still fade at higher levels, but it will be very important early on.

After all, John Connor needed a Terminator protector until he grew up.

Next time around on this… it will be the T-3000. Sadly, that may or may not make a lot of sense; it was a unique plot device opponent with a unique “only one thing can stop it!” vulnerability, which is really a pretty big “No!” in adventure design since a bunch of player characters is far too likely to try a hundred other things, get really frustrated, and then completely overlook the one thing that will work.