Eclipse d20 – Fuyuha (“Winter Blade”) Zhang.

And here we have another example of a highly optimized martial character – in this case an eastern-themed Samurai / Chinese knight type. She’s very powerful for her level – but a large part of that is that she’s a bottleneck design and that – being Atherian in general and from HuSung (the Elemental Domain) in particular she gets to buy up attributes at half the normal cost and buy a wealth level. She has has taken advantage of that to focus entirely on dexterity, using it for attacks, damage, hit points, and most of her skills. If she should happen to take damage to her dexterity she’d be pretty much crippled. Bottleneck designs can be very effective – but if someone targets their critical point, they’re virtually out of action.

Fuyuha (“Winter Blade”) Zhang.

Level Five Jinyiwèi (Noble Guard) of the Imperial Academy.

Racial Template: Atherian Human, Elemental Magic Birthright:

Natives of HuSung gain an innate knack with elemental magic, using the Theurgy system. Since the power for their spells comes from Improved Occult Talent and Inherent Spell, their inherent casting level is equal to their base level. Those who opt to develop their abilities can become fairly formidable. In general, natives of HuSung will have Two primary elements (Adept, +3 bonus), two secondary elements (Adept, +1 Bonus) – and one they’re weak in (+1 Bonus only).

  • Skill Bonuses: +1 each in Creation, Control, Destruction, Healing, Transformation, and Understanding. Specialized: only for use with the Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and Spirit nouns (3 CP).
  • Adept: Choice of four from among Fire, Air, Earth, Water, and Spirit (6 CP).
  • Skill Bonuses: +1 in each of three elements, +3 in each of the two remaining elements (these must be among those chosen as Adept skills) (4 CP). As part of a template, these bonuses do not count against the normal skill limits.
  • Improved Occult Talent: 5 x L0 and 3 x L1 spell slots. Specialized: no inherent spells, only usable for theurgy, Corrupted, Elemental Magic only (4 CP).
  • Inherent Spell: 2 x L2 spell slots per day. Specialized: only to power Theurgy. Corrupted: Elemental Magic only (2 CP).
  • Immunity/Elemental Damage: Very Common/Major/Trivial (5 points of damage), (5 CP).
  • Fast Learner(May be specialized, 6 CP). In her case, it is indeed Specialized in Skills, for double effect (+2 SP/Level).
  • Fuyuha’s Adept affinities are Earth and Spirit (+3) and Water and Fire (+1). Those only cost 1/2 SP to raise by +1. Air costs her 1 SP per point.
  • Available Spells are 5xL0 (DC 5), 3xL1 (DC 10), and 2xL2 (DC 15), Her current check bonus is [Verb (1) + Noun (1 or 3)] – so she is pretty much all right on Cantrips, but will often fail trying for anything more. In her focus on her martial capabilities, she has – at least so far – gravely neglected her magical skills.

Available Character Points: 144 (L5 Base) +10 (Disadvantages ) +18 (L1, L2, L4 Bonus Feats) +10 (Duties to her Clan and Husband) = 182 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 8, Dex 16 (+2 Level, +2 Wealth, +6 Purchased +4 Enh = 30), Con 10, Int 14, Wis 14 (+4 Enh = 18), Cha 12. (3.5 28 Point Buy).

Wealth Level: Well Off (3 CP) plus Military Dedication: Upgrade to Wealthy, but Specialized and Corrupted / only for Training and Weapons Purposes (3 CP).

  • Armor, Shields, and Weapons: Katana, Wakazashi, Longbow, and Yari. All gain +2 Wealth Bonuses and are considered Adamantine.
  • Three Charms (Elfinstone, Hidden Pocket, Stone Or Purity) and One Talisman (Shimmermail,
  • Mounts and Pets: Warhorse, Hawk.
  • Retainers: Squire, Contingent of 12 Guards.
  • Skill Bonuses: +2 Wealth Bonus to Speak Language and Ride. (+4 since both are Tier 2 Skills).
  • Training Bonuses: +2 to an Attribute, +2 SP/Level Gained, +1 HP/Level Gained.

Basic Purchases (94 CP):

  • BAB +6, Specialized / only with Oriental Weapons in which she has a Martial Art at at least +6 (18 CP).
  • Hit Points: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +17 (L2-5d6, 8 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +70 (Cha Mod x 7) +5 (Wealth) = 110 HP
  • Evasive Combat: Finesse II: Uses (Dex Mod) in place of (Con Mod) when calculating hit points (12 CP).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +0 Con +1 (Res) = +3
    • Ref +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +10 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +12
    • Will +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +4 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +7
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Proficiencies: All Simple and Martial Weapons, Corrupted / Weapons of HuSung only (6 CP).
  • Skill Points 13 (13 CP) +16 (Int Mod x 8) + +16 (Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, from Birthright) +10 (Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, 6 CP) +10 (Wealth) = 65 SP.
    • Adept (Martial Art/Yarijutsu, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival, 6 CP).
    • Martial Mastery: The first skill point spent on a Dexterity-based martial art counts as four. Built as Immunity / The Skill Point Costs of Dexterity-Based Martial Arts (Common, Major, Minor, Corrupted / user must spend at least 1 SP on each martial art, although that then suffices to purchase a +4 in it (4 CP).
  • Move: 30′ (Base) +30′ (Enhancement) +30 (Circumstance) = 90′
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +10 (Dex) +4 (Shimmermail) +4 (Shield) = 28 (Plus current Martial Arts modifier, if any).
  • Initiative +10 (Dex)

Usual Weapons:

  • Kaiyuan (Spirit Weapon Composite Longbow): +19/+19/+14 (+6 BAB +10 Dex +2 Wealth +1 Enh, Haste), 1d12+13 (M. Art, Dex, Wealth, Enh) (Lethal or Nonlethal as desired), Crit 20/x3, 110′ Base Range. Treated as Adamant.
  • Katana (Eastern Bastard Sword): +20/+20/+15 (+6 BAB +10 Dex +2 Wealth +2 MA, Haste), 1d12+12 (MA, Dex, Wealth), Crit 19-20/x2, 5′ Natural Reach, Quick Draw, Whirlwind Attack, attacks on the weapon are treated as normal attacks against her. Treated as Adamant.
  • Naginata (Guisarme): +21/+21/+16 (+6 BAB +10 Dex +2 Wealth +2 MA, +1 Enh, Haste), 2d4+13 (MA, Dex, Wealth, Enh) +1d6 (Shock), Crit 20/x3 plus automatic trip, 5′ Reach + 5′ Natural Reach, Whirlwind, +4 AC when used. Treated as Adamant.
  • Petal Blades (Unique): +21/+21/+16 OR +19/+19/+19/+14 (+6 BAB +10 Dex +2 Wealth +2 MA +1 Enh, Haste, optional Rapid Shot), 1d8+13 (MA, Dex, Wealth, Enh), Crit 20/x2. 20′ Range Increment, Treated as Adamant.
  • Unarmed/Wuxing Shadow Palm: +16/+16/+11 (+6 BAB +10 Dex, Haste), 1d8+10 (MA, Dex, Lethal or Nonlethal as desired), Crit 20/x2, Improved Disarm, Blind Fight, and Prone Combat.

Other Abilities (82 CP):

  • Self-Development/+6 Dex (36 CP).
  • Ki Focus: 2d6 (8) Mana with Unskilled Magic, Specialized for Increased Effect (only costs a base of one Mana per spell level) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for Unskilled Magic, only to produce long-term weapon and personal enhancements, requires at least one hour of meditation to “cast” a spell (8 CP). It costs two Mana per Spell Level to create an effect that lasts until released or dispelled, half of which cannot be recovered until the effect ends. So it costs 6 Points to cast a third level effect and reduces the pool by 3 until the effect is released. Thus she can cast and maintain a L3 effect (6 Mana to cast, 3 to maintain), recover to at least four Mana and create a L2 spell effect (4 to cast and 2 to maintain), recover to at least 2 Mana to create a L1 effect (2 to cast and 1 to maintain), and create a trio of cantrip-level effects (1 to cast, 1/2 to maintain).
  • Immunity / the need for extra rest and meditation to regain 2 Mana per day instead of 1 (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2 CP). (Sadly, Rite Of Chi is not normally available on Atheria).

She usually maintains Focused Mind (L3 Enhance Attribute, +4 to Dex and Wis), Storm Blade (L2 Eldritch Weapon, on her Naginata, making it +1 Shocking), L1 Light Foot, and three level zero effects of choice.

Light Foot (Not the same as the “Light Foot” Martial Art ability):

  • Transmutation, L1 Druid, Ranger, Sorcerer/Wizard, Components: V, S, Casting Time: One standard action, Range: Touch, Target: Creature Touched, Duration: 1d6+2 Rounds, Save: Reflex Negates (Harmless), Spell Resistance: Yes

Light Foot makes the user extremely light on his or her feet, gaining a +30 circumstance bonus on his or her ground movement speed a +10 circumstance bonus on jump checks, as well as DR 10 versus Falling Damage [only]. The user is, however, considered one size category smaller in a Bull Rush, Grapple, Trip, or Overrun situation.

  • Reflex Training / Combat Reflexes Variant (6 CP).
  • Finesse: Uses (Dex Mod) in place of (Str Mod) for attacks (6 CP).
  • Finesse: Uses (Dex Mod) in plave of (Str Mod) for damage (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (12 CP):
    • Resistance: +1 Resistance bonus to Saves, Personal-Only, 700 GP. .
    • Personal Haste (2000 GP).
    • Force Shield I (Personal-Only, 1400 GP).
    • Immortal Vigor I (Personal-Only, 1400 GP).
    • Rugged Metabolism: Fast Healing I for 18 Rounds 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day, all Personal-Only (1400 GP).
    • Skill Mastery I/+3 Competence Bonus to all Wisdom-Linked Skills, Personal-Only, 1400 GP).
    • Skill Mastery I /+3 Competence Bonus to all Martial Art Skills, Personal-Only, 1400 GP)
    • Masters Parry: Block 15 points of damage as an Immediate Action 4x/Day (1600 GP).
  • Occult Sense / Danger (6 CP). Picks up ambushes, assassins, poison, and incoming attacks.

Tier One Skills (40 SP):

  • Martial Arts:
    • Cherry Petal Wind Kung Fu: +8 (5 SP) +10 (Dex) +3 (Comp) = +21
    • Shining Waters Kenjitsu: +8 (5 SP) +10 (Dex) +3 (Comp) = +21
    • Thousand Leaping Flames Style: +8 (2 SP*) +10 (Dex) +3 (Comp) = +21
    • Unity Of Divine Wind: +8 (5 SP) +10 (Dex) +3 (Comp) = +21
    • Wuxing Shadow Palm: +8 (5 SP) +10 (Dex) +3 (Comp) = +21
  • Move Silently: +8 (4 SP*) +10 (Dex) = +18
  • Spot: +8 (4 SP*) +2 (Wis) +3 (Comp) = +13
  • Survival: +8 (4 SP*) +2 (Wis) +3 (Comp) = +13
  • Tumble: +5 (5 SP) +10 (Dex) +2 (Sy) = +17

Tier Two Skills (18 SP):

  • Intimidate: +8 (4 SP) +1 (Cha) +4 (Sy) = +13
  • Listen: +8 (4 SP) +2 (Wis) +3 (Comp) = +13
  • Ride: +8 (4 SP) +10 (Dex) +4 (Wealth) = +22
  • Sense Motive: +8 (4 SP) +2 (Wis) +3 (Comp) = +13
  • Speak Language: +4 (2 SP) +2 (Int) +4 (Wealth) = +10

Tier Three Skills (7 SP):

  • Craft Paper Art: +7 (2 SP) +2 (Int) = +9
  • Profession/Bodyguard: +7 (2 SP) +4 (Wis) = +11
  • Profession/Legist: +4 (1 SP) +4 (Wis) = +8
  • Profession/Tactician: +7 (2 SP) +4 (Wis) = +11

Known Martial Art Techniques:

  • Cherry Petal Wind Kung Fu (11): Power 2, Attack 2, Synergy/Tumble, Rapid Shot, Imbuement (Petal Blades), Inner Strength II, Wrath (Force), and Paralyze.
  • Shining Waters Kenjitsu (11): Attack 2, Power 1, Quick Draw, Reach, Unity of Steel, Whirlwind Attack, Inner Strength x2, and Ki Focus (+4 BAB).
  • Thousand Leaping Flames Style (11): Attack 2, Defense 4, Mighty Blow, Reach, Whirlwind, Inner Strength II, and Iron Skin.
  • Unity Of Divine Wind (11): Power 2, Synergy/Intimidate, Spirit Weapon 2, Imbuement, Battlecry, Inner Strength 2, Resist Pain, and Wrath.
  • Wuxing Shadow Palm (11): Strike, Power 2, Improved Disarm, Blind Fight, Prone Combat, Inner Strength 2, Ki Block and Vanishing.

Note that Fuyuha is using the “separate pool for each art” option – and so has a reserve of 12 Con/”Ki Points” to power each arts special disciplines with. Sadly, each pool only recovers at one point per day, two with full rest.

Eclipse d20 – Saelocfeax Of The Calamitous Eye

And here we have a requested character for the Atheria Campaign – where one noble mage-lord happens to be seeking a wife and another player is interested in bringing along some complications with the role.

Saelocfeax (Silken Hair), She-Who-Weaves-The-Darkness, The Accursed Exile

ECL 5 Host Of Parath, Exiled Would-Be Queen, and Mistress Of Banes

Saelocfeax tasted spite and cultivated bitterness. The tribes pride-king had chosen her (now-) hated older sisters to be his wives – but not HER – when SHE was stronger and more beautiful then either of them! Merely because she had been born to the Panther Totem rather than the Lion! Already their sons grew tall and strong. But that would change! Her power grew, and her treacherous sisters would regret how they had betrayed her! She would claim her rightful place and see them grovel before her!

And the heritage of Parath flowed within her veins, her desire to overthrow the order of the tribe calling forth its links to The Dragon, the ultimate power of chaos. Fueled by the Blood Of The Dragon, her minor magics grew strong, focused and channeled by rage and malice.

Her nephews she twisted with her dread curses, beguiled, and ritually bonded to herself – making them mere property, branded and gelded slaves bound to her will when she called them from the tiny pocket plane that held her possessions and permitted them to manifest to serve her. Her sisters, cursed more subtly with illness and sterility, and mourning the mysterious disappearance of their sons, grew wan and sick.

But – rather than turning to her as he should have done! – the pride-king unexpectedly called upon a seer and investigator, a fox-shaman who pierced her veil of shadows – and her “cover” as a minor healer. – and laid bare her schemes. A hunt was called upon her. She slew several of her pursuers and escaped of course – beneath the canopy of the forest the shadows that she called upon lay thick and ready to hand whether or not the sun was high – but her plans lay in ruins, pursuit was sure to follow, and the situation was intolerable. They DARED to turn upon her!

She passed into Dernmarik, where she might easily lose herself amongst its maze of paths. There, perhaps, she would find someone worthy of her beauty and power. But while she has found a fair number of minor adventures and useful things… she has not found that person – yet.

Description: While Saelocfeax can shift her appearance at will within the limits of the Disguise Self effect, she is – at base – a Black Jaguar Barbarian of Atheria. She’s a beautiful black-furred catgirl with green eyes, a voluminous fur cloak from one of the great predator-beasts of the Totemic Realm, and gold-and-emerald jewelry. She fairly often wears a loincloth and may or may not wear a breastband if the situation is very formal and she feels like accommodating that.

Birthright (No Cost): Atherian Totemic (“Barbarian” Birthright (Black Panther Barbarian, 30 CP / +0 ECL Racial Template): All abilities Corrupted (induces obvious animalistic features, powerful instincts according to their tribal totems, and difficulty in dealing with complex organizations and advanced societies).

Given that the Half-Price Attribute rule is in play in the Setting halve the attribute bonuses in settings that are not using that rule.

  • Attribute Bonuses: Str +2 (4 CP), Dex +4 (8 CP), Con +4 (8 CP), Ch +2 (4 CP).
  • Natural Weapons (Claws and Bite, Claws Primary, 1d4 base, 2 CP)
  • Occult Sense / Low-Light Vision (4 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Scent (Specialized: -2 on saves versus scent-based effects, 2 CP).
  • Birthright Disadvantages: Compulsive (Fastidious); Black Panther Barbarians – like most of the Feline Barbarians – are extremely intolerant of dirt and mess, and will insist on grooming, bathing, and being combed and pampered whenever possible (-2 CP).

Template: Saelocfeax has the Host Of Parath +1 ECL Acquired Template. As such, she gains:

  • Some Attribute Boosts (which she has expended on tapping into the Blood Of The Dragon).
  • The ability to claim creatures and objects under her control and store them in her personal pocket-realm.
  • An extended lifespan of youthful vigor.
  • Some personal enchantments – Speak With Animals, Surefoot, Immortal Vigor I, Endure Elements, and Fast Healing I – as long as she is below one hit point but still alive.

So how much stuff has Saelocfeax managed to tuck away? It would be simple in most settings – however much gold she’s invested in stuff – but Atheria not only lacks normal magical items but runs on Wealth Levels instead of counting gold pieces. So she can have what she wants for personal gear within the limits of her wealth level as usual. Ergo she can easily afford normal weapons and armor, common animals from Dernmarik, general supplies, and her listed retainers – but for things like buildings she’s got Action Hero / Crafting, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to “buy” mundane, large-scale, items (using Pathfinder’s downtime rules as a general reference). She has 25 AP so far). (2 CP)

  • A well-established camp, complete with a thorn boma, sweat lodge, tarp-covered infirmary area, various tents and light shelters, a smaller pen for animals (and slaves), and a portable forge (3). She used this before acquiring Aweyrgantorr (below), when it would be difficult to explain the sudden appearance of a fortified tower, or when she wishes to appear as a more-or-less normal traveling healer.
  • Three thick Thorn Walls – although one of them was on fire when she “put it away”, and will still be on fire (for the few minutes until it’s destroyed) when she pulls it out again. She usually uses these to block off attackers while she escapes (3).
  • Defensive Wall (Stone). This stone wall helped safeguard a small town before it was abandoned. It was a good deal of work to bind it to herself, but you never know when a chunk of wall will be handy (6).
  • Alchemists Shop (Alchemy Lab, Bedroom, Garden, Kitchen, Lavatory, Sitting Room, Storage, & Storefront) (3). This is used when she’s visiting a town, and wishes to do a little business without drawing TOO much notice. After all, everyone knows (at least in Dernmarik, the realm of reality shifting) that mysterious shops, selling alchemical potions and curses and such, tend to just appear and disappear again anyway.
  • Aweyrgantorr (The Cursed Tower), The abandoned tower was easy enough to consecrate to herself, for who would contest her claim save a few (rather tasty) nesting birds? It needed some serious work of course, but what else were slaves FOR when they weren’t waiting on you? (10 AP – most of her supply since level three when she acquired the ruin).
    • Base Construction: Defensive Walls (Stone), Fortification.
    • Basement: Cells, Forge, Torture / Slave Processing Chamber, Lavatory, Laundry / Slave-Baths, Storage, and Well.
    • First Floor: Gatehouse (with gauntlet and iron door), Artisans Workship (general tools, so no +2 bonus), Kitchen, and Bunkroom (Slaves and Servants),
    • Second Floor: Upper Floor of Gatehouse, Saelocfeax’s (luxurious) Bedchamber, Sitting / Dining Room and Nursery, Sauna / Bath, Audience Room, and Trophy Room.
    • Third Floor: Alchemy Lab / Magical Workroom, Infirmary, Greenhouse, Shrine (to herself), Armory, Spare Rooms (the original owners had a library and scrying room and such, but Saelocfeax – who’s magic is basically innate – has little interest in such things.
    • Roof: Watch-post, spaces for Ballistas (although none have been added yet; she knows nothing about siege engines and has no slaves or employees who know more).

Aweyrgantorr may still need some finishing up and various (skilled) repairs – but at the moment there are plenty of abandoned villages and such around to lift supplies and building stone from.

Available Character Points: 120 (L4 Base) + 10 (Disadvantages: Compulsive (luxury-seeking), Hunted (Sisters), Unarmored) +18 (L1, L2, L4 Bonus Feats) = 148 CP

Basic Attributes (28 Point 2.5 Point Buy): Str 10 (+2R = 12), Dex 12 (+4R +2 Level +4 Al = 22), Con 12 (+4R = 16), Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 14 (+2R = 16).

Wealth Level (3 CP):

  • Starting: Poor (0 CP):
    • +4 (8) Wealth bonus to Craft/Alchemy
    • +2 Wealth Bonus to Bluff and Gather Information
    • +3 SP in Craft/Alchemy, +1 SP in Profession / Forester.
  • Current: Well-Off (Acquired at level three, 3 CP).
    • Charms (3): Alchemists Flask, Bracers Of Force, and a Seeing Crystal.
    • Talisman (1): Barbarian Great Beast Fur Cape / Shimmermail.
    • Aide: L2 Minor Diviner / Bodyguard Fox-Barbarian (M).
    • Slaves: Seven L0-L1 Nephews (assorted youthful cat-barbarian eunuchs), Fox Maidservant, neutered Lab Assistant / Pageboy (Order Birthright), Otter-Barbarian Cook (F), Gelded Horse-Barbarian Masseur and (thanks to his being allowed the use of an Amulet Of The Stallion charm) her occasional lover, since horse-barbarians are very good at that and – as a gelding – there are no worries about her bearing a child by her pleasure-toy even if she forgets to use a contraceptive charm), and a Jackal-Barbarian Tanner/Leatherworker (F).
      • Yes, several of the local cultures routinely neuter male slaves – although it’s actually fairly readily reversible as well if they obtain their freedom or their masters decide to have it undone. 

Basic Purchases (70 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +2 (12 CP)
  • Hit Points: 10 (L1d10, 6 CP) +15 (L2-4d6, 6 CP) +5 (2d4 Bonus Dice, 16 CP) +18 (6 x Con Mod) +18 (Immortal Vigor) = 66
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +3 (Con) = +4
    • Reflex +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +6 (Dex) = +7
    • Will +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Wis) = +4
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Shields (3 CP).
  • Skill Points: 12 SP (12 CP) +14 (2 x Int Mod) +16 (Fast Learner) +4 (Leveling while Poor, Craft and Profession Only) = 46 SP.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Shimmermail) +6 (Dex) +2 (Martial Art) +4 (NA) = 26
  • Initiative: +6 (Dex).
  • Movement: 30′.

Usual Attacks:

  • Touch/Ray Bestow Curse, Blindness/Deafness, Contagion, or Poison: +8/+8 Touch Attack (Twin Ray, +2 BAB +6 Dex), 1d6+4 Damage (Crit 20/x2) plus DC 18 Will (Bestow Curse) or Fort (other effects) Save to negate magical effect. Medium Range. May use Expertise to reduce her AC and raise her BAB or vice-versa.
  • Vampiric Touch/Ray: +8/+8 Touch Attack (Twin Ray, +2 BAB +6 Dex), 4d6+4 Damage, grants the user temporary hit points equal to the damage done for one hour, medium range, Crit 20/x2, no save. May use Expertise to reduce her AC and raise her BAB or vice-versa.
  • Claws and Bite:: Two Claws at +3 (+2 BAB +1 Str), for 1d4+1 (Str), Crit 20/x2. In theory she could also bite at -2 for 1d2+1 – but she certainly isn’t likely to bother when she can use her powers in melee without difficulty.

Other Abilities (73 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (+2 SP/Level, 6 CP).
  • Adept (Sword Of Rey Martial Art, Move Silently, Survival, and Knowledge / Nature, 6 CP)
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).
  • Evasive (Shaping) (12 CP). Her shaping effects do not provoke Attacks of Opportunity.
  • Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (L0 Effects) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: Can only produce (Cha Mod + 2) specific L0 effects at Caster Level = Hit Dice (4 CP). Enhanced choices cannot be changed, the two basic cantrips can be given a few days. The Save DC is Con-Based.
    • Folmseronid, The Hand Of Treachery (L5, Reduced to L0 through the Blood Of The Dragon. Produces any one of the following effects as a touch or short-range ray attack: Bestow Curse, Blindness / Deafness, Contagion, Poison, and Vampiric Touch. (This is a fairly basic flexible magic effect – add +1 level to that of the highest level amongst a group of four to six at least vaguely-related lesser effects to get a spell that can produce any one of the lesser effects).
      • Split Ray Metamagic, Specialized and Corrupted / only applies to the rays generated by Folmseronid, the Hand Of Treachery (2 CP).
      • Streamline, Specialized for Increased Effect (-2 Spell Levels on Split Ray) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / can only be applied to the rays generated by Folmseronid, the Hand Of Treachery (4 CP).
      • Metamagic Theorem; Extension, Specialized and Corrupted / only to extend rays by one range category, only for the effects generated by Folmseronid, The Hand Of Treachery (2 CP).
      • Streamline, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to pay for extending rays one level, only enhances Extension and only by one level, only for the effects generated by Folmseronid, The Hand Of Treachery (2 CP).
    • Swicdomeage, The Eye Of The Deceiver (L5, reduced to L0 through the Blood Of The Dragon, Produces any one of the following effects: Shadow Guise, Greater Invisibility (SRD), Greater Mirror Image (3.5), Hound Of Doom (3.5), Shadow Dragon Aspect (Pathfinder), and Shadow Step (Pathfinder). (This is a fairly basic flexible magic effect – add +1 level to that of the highest level amongst a group of four to six at least vaguely-related lesser effects to get a spell that can produce any one of the lesser effects).
      • Reflex Training: May automatically recast Shadow spells when they run out without it requiring an action, Corrupted/Shadow Guise only (4 CP).
    • Nothrepian, The Healing Touch (L1, reduced to L0 through the Blood Of The Dragon, produces any L0 healing effect, any particular effect will only work on a given target seven times per day. (This is a minor “Anyspell” effect, restricted to a specific type of low-level effects).
    • Two basic cantrips – most often Prestidigitation and Mage Hand since they’re both generally useful.
  • Leadership with Beastlord, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Animals Only, treating CR as Level (6 CP, Current 16 CR, two Barbarian Great Leopards (4), Dernarkian Timedancer Light Warhorse (1), 3 Dernmarkian Merchant’s Mules (3), Two Barbarian Rage Wolves (2), 6 CR of various minor creatures).
  • Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted / relies on must drain targets using her Vampiric effect to trigger it (8 CP).
  • Shapeshift, Specialized and Corrupted / Full Panther Form Only, reliant on Shadow Guise (2 CP).
  • Skill Emphasis: Sword-Of-Rey Martial art (3 CP).

Tier One Skills (27 SP):

  • Diplomacy: +4 (4 SP) +3 (Cha) = +7
  • Knowledge / Nature +7 (3* SP) +2 (Int) = +9
  • Knowledge / Religion +3 (3 SP) +2 (Int) = +5
  • Martial Art – Sword Of Rey Style: +7 (3 SP*) +6 (Dex) +2 (SE) = +15
  • Known Techniques (8): Defenses 2, Strike, Power 1 (+1d6 damage with Rays), “Sneak Attack” 2 (+4 Damage with Rays), Mind Like Moon, and Inner Strength.
  • Move Silently: +7 (3 SP*) +6 (Dex) = +13
  • Spot: +6 (6 SP) +2 (Wis) = +8
  • Survival: +7 (3* SP) +2 (Wis) = +9
  • Tumble: +2 (2 SP) +6 (Dex) +10 (Tem) = +18

Tier Two Skills (13 SP):

  • Balance: +3 (1 SP) +6 (Dex) +10 (Tem) = +19
  • Bluff: +7 (3 SP) +3 (Cha) +4 (Wealth) = +14
  • Climb: +2 (1 SP) +1 (Str) +10 (Tem) = +13
  • Craft / Alchemy: +7 (3 SP) +2 (Int) +8 (Wealth) = +17
  • Gather Information: +7 (3 SP) +3 (Cha) +4 (Wealth) = +14
  • Listen: +5 (2 SP) +2 (Wis) = +7
  • Speak Language: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Int) = +2
  • Languages Known: Ikunn (Native), Havril, and Illerian

Tier Three Skills (6 SP):

  • Jump: +7 (2 SP) +1 (Str) +11 (Tem) = +19
  • Profession / Seductress: +7 (2 SP) +2 (Wis) = +9
  • Profession / Forester: +7 (2 SP) +2 (Wis) = +9

Martial Art – The Sword-Of-Rey Style (Dex)

The tales of Rey speak of his legendary radiance during the day – and whisper of his shadow-self, the dark radiance of the night. The Sword-Of-Rey style seeks to emulate and tap into that fearful power, turning magical might into a corona of power and even the weakest of rays into powerful weapons. Students may take the right-hand path of light or the left-hand path of darkness, but both lead to the same destination in the end.

  • Requirements: Unlimited use of Rays, knowing of Rey’s existence and the tale of the fall of the Ancient World.
  • Basic Abilities: Attack (with Rays) 4, Strike (+1d4, may inflict Lethal or Nonlethal Damage with Rays), Synergy +2 (4) Alchemy, Defenses 4., and Power 1.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Mind Like Moon, Expertise (BAB and AC), Sneak Attack II (Modified: simply adds +2/+4 damage with Rays, for a bonus of 1d6+4).
  • Occult Techniques: Healing Hand, Inner Strength x2, and Light Foot.

Saelocfeax sees herself as a demigoddess. As such…

  • It is her right to have servants, be brought tribute, and live in luxury without having to go to the bother of managing a realm. She should be pampered and her whims indulged, not burdened with rulership!
  • It is her right to be deferred to, to be feared for her power, and to enslave her enemies!
  • She wants a worthy mate. Preferably a powerful, virile, hero-mage ruling a realm, who will give her many strong children and stand as her equal. She will want those children to do well and become great in their own right – but if a runt shows up… well, slave-collaring one or two along the way is only to be expected. Every realm in Atheria has a fairly high rate of child-failures for one reason or another. She’s used to the Totem Realms “died fighting or got eaten by a predator”, but she’s quite familiar with the Order realms “enslaved for being disruptive” (if only somewhat familiar with Hojin’s “killed in a magical accident”) and it’s really not much different. At least slaves get to live.
  • As long as SHE is dominant and gets plenty of attention, her children have the highest status and first call on resources, and her mates concubines are kept firmly subordinate to her, the larger the household – and thus the greater her mates display of dominance, power, wealth, and virility – the better. If her mate should bring home forty newly-enslaved young nobles… the more quickly the boys are castrated, the girls are spread and bred, and they are all installed in the harem and obediently saying “yes master/mistress!”, the better she will be pleased.
  • Selfrica – the Pride-King (well, leader of one of the more respected feline tribes) scorned her. She wishes to acquire both him and enough extra healing magic to skin him alive repeatedly. She’d like enough of his pelts for a chair cover, throw rug, and bedcover. After that… his genitals, tail, and claws can go on display in her trophy room and he can take up a lifetime career as her footstool and watch his neutered sons serve her.
  • She’d like to have her sisters as slaves as well, and her nieces by Selfrica to give out to followers as rewards – but has considerable less animosity towards them. They simply need to recognize her greatness and their proper place as her slaves, at which point her sisters will probably be permitted to join her husbands pride / harem as concubines.

Saelocfeax is a fairly-focused specialist; she has a limited range of powers, but she can spam them indefinitely, rather like a WOTC-style Warlock. Within her limits she is powerful and effective – although she’s also at the limits of the magical power that Atheria allows. Sadly, and despite what she believes, she’s not a particularly clever manipulator (spending more attribute points to gain another multi-use spell that – say – could produce the minor telepathic effects of Detect Thoughts, Glibness, Hold Person, and Enthrall could help with that a lot, but would be quite expensive). Worse, while she does realize that she can use a string of cumulative curses to bind her victims into slavery as she did with her nephews and/or make their lives extremely miserable, there are quite a lot of gaping loopholes in her abilities. She can probably slowly remove the conditions she inflicts by spamming healing cantrips to gradually weaken them, but she has no way to do it quickly. She will be hard-pressed to affect more exotic targets, she has no Reflex Training to escape bad situations, her physical combat skills are pretty poor, her self-healing is quite limited, and more – and being entirely self-trained she is almost entirely unaware of those weaknesses.  Still, a few levels gained in play – and the guidance of someone who actually knows that they’re doing (whether or not she’s consciously aware that she needs that) – may fix that.

Oddly enough, she’s not actively evil. There isn’t any philosophical underpinning to her actions, she doesn’t value pain and suffering for it’s own sake, and she prefers not to harm random innocents – but she is extremely self-centered, entitled, vengeful, and greedy, rather like a scaled-down version of a Greek Goddess. 

Apex Campaign, Star Fleet Timeline Cluster, Augment Victory Timeline. The Augment IV Racial Package

The human mind is built on ancient neural patterns – deep instincts, systems that process sensory information, logical and emotional feedback loops that keep it running, and even the patterns of motor neurons that operate the body. If you change any of those too much… the mind warps and changes, taking on a new form. The result is unpredictable, often no longer functional at all, and never much like a normal human being even when it still functions – and, so far, it has never been sapient. No one is quite sure why that’s true, but (at least in the Apex setting) there seems to be a component beyond mere physical reality.

So there are limits. You can transfer an existing mind into a mostly-artificial body – but if you want a NEW mind to develop properly… there has to be a childhood. You can make the senses sharper, or even very slightly expand their range – but not much past the limits of normal human potential or even an existing mind will soon go mad. There need to be bones, and muscles, and various internal organs. You can boost intelligence and reaction time somewhat, and you can enhance durability and strength considerably – but not too much or instabilities will soon develop.

And, at least so far… redesigned humans only develop more-or-less normally if they are born to existing redesigned humans. Trying to leave out a recognizably-human set of parents, infancy, and childhood, leads to failure at best and rampaging monsters at worst. At least the first generation (no second generation births have yet occurred) have to have transferred minds.

That need for growth, development, and maintenance along human lines is pretty limiting for the engineering too. You can’t just install bigger parts; they have to GROW in situ – for which you need something analogous to a circulatory system to transport materials, as well as something analogous to a metabolism and to both taste and smell (and eating thanks to those copied-over instincts). Sure, most of the bone structure can be magnetically-reinforced nanotubes and diamond with reinforcing magnetic fields instead of calcium – but it still has to grow and be filled with channels to integrate it into the circulatory system. The electro-contractile muscles and tendons may be stronger (and powered by the electrical energy delivered by the “nerves”), but the layout – and ways in which the arrangement doesn’t bend – is much the same. Joint locks work almost as well (given that they are generally stronger and tougher) on augmented humans as they do on regular ones. The skin may incorporate tougher polymers and resist chemicals a lot better, but it still has to grow, stretch, heal, and shed itself.

Fourth generation Augments were little more than speculations at the beginning of the Eugenics Wars (A.K.A. WWIII). While prototypes of limited parts of the technology where in testing, no complete design (let alone implementation) was available. Thanks, however, to an open-ended time loop engineered by one or more members of the so-called Q Continuum, development of the Type IV design continued – albeit with only a single sample and a small research team that spent most of their time catching up on what they did last time – through 281,223 iterations of the relevant several-year section of the loop before Armand, Blueblood, and Scotty intervened to prevent further looping. While progress – especially during the later loops – was infinitesimal each time, that many loops eventually resulted in a fully-developed design. Combining a through understanding of the physical side of the human brain, advanced genomic and proteomic systems, computers, cybernetics, and nanotechnology, researchers were eventually able to complete a full rebuild of the human body – including a virtualized and optimized brain replacing the old-style natural neural network, am optically-based peripheral nervous system, and superconducting energy storage system fed by a high efficiency fuel cell.

Unfortunately, attempting to generalize from the original single test case has left the basic design in the “open beta-testing” phase as bugs and issues are worked out.

Perhaps worst of all, Type IV Augmentation only seems to work on Star Fleet Timeline Terrans – the “reality-manipulating” homid subspecies – and cuts off all access to magic, psionics, temporal manipulation, and all the other natural-law-violating tricks of the “natural” races.

Name: Type IV Augment

Val Char Cost
8/30 STR -2
13/20 DEX 9
9/20 CON -2
7 BODY -6
8/30 INT -2
11 EGO 2
10 PRE 0
15 COM 2
7 PD 1
7 ED 3
3/4 SPD 0
10 REC 0
0 END -20
32 STUN 0

Characteristic Rolls: STR: 11/15-, DEX: 12/13-, CON: 11/13-, INT: 11/15-, EGO: 11-, PER: 19/23-. Run: 6″, Swim: 2″, Jump: 6″, Lift: 76kg/1600kg

Cost Powers END/Roll

6 Elemental Control: Artificial Body (15-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (User may not develop Psionic or Magical Abilities): -½; Generic Limitation (Cannot alter or improve these abilities): -1

  • a-10 3d6 Aid to Attributes (Fade/5 min., Max. 22); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Generic Limitation (Str, Dex, Con, Body, Int, and Spd Only.): -1; Generic Limitation (Does not heal damaged attributes.): -½; Generic Limitation (Effect does not stack with buying up base attributes above “10” or with buying up speed at all, cannot take speed above 4 in any case.): -½. 5 End when activated.
  • b-5 Power System: END Reserve (180 END, 12 REC/turn); Side Effects (When an Augment takes BODY damage, a roll of 15+ will detonate their power reserves, causing a 3d6 physical killing explosion centered on them. ): 60/All,
  • c-4 Armor (8 PD/8 ED); Always On (User is immune to normal medical techniques and healing powers.): -1; Hardened: ×1, ¼; Linked (To Attribute Enhancement): -½.
  • d-6 Life Support (total); Generic Limitation (Technological Limitations: Provides high resistance and duratbility, not immunity.): -½; Costs END: -½; Reduced END: Half, +¼.
  • e-5 Enhanced Perception (all) (+8 to PER); Linked (To Augmented Attributes): -½; Champions Advantage (Can record sensory input. ): +¼.

Integrated Electronics; Linked (To augmented attributes): -½

  • (2) Absolute Time Sense
  • (2) Ambidexterity
  • (2) Bump of Direction
  • (7) Eidetic Memory
  • (2) Lightning Calculator
  • (2) Perfect Pitch
  • (2) Speed Reading

Package Disadvantages

  • 5 Distinctive Features: Android; Concealability: Easily, 5; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
  • 20 Normal Characteristic Maxima
  • 10 Unable to interbreed with normal life forms, greatly reduced fertility even with other Augment IV’s, usually need “repair” effects rather than “healing” effects (Infrequently, Greatly)
  • 10 Cannot buy off restrictions on magical and psionic powers. (Infrequently, Greatly)
  • 5 Cannot buy up Body (Infrequently, Slightly)
  • 30 Susceptibility to Technology Nullifying Effects (1d6 STUN and BODY/Phase); Condition: Uncommon, +5. Note that this drastically restricts the range of universes that they can function in.

As normal for Apex racial packages, the “package” disadvantages are only counted at half value – leaving the Augment IV baseline “Race” with a grand total of zero points, just like the other races.

OCV: 7; DCV: 7; ECV: 4; Mental Def.: 0; Phases: 3, 6, 9, 12, PD/rPD: 15/8; ED/rED: 15/8

As perhaps befits a superhero campaign, the Apex game currently involves the primary timeline (consisting of several merged timelines, with – courtesy of Blueblood – the Astral Vortex that the Ethereal Cataclysm had left in place of the lost pacific continent of Mu replaced by Equestria and a scattering of other cartoon and anime locations), the Primary Mirrorverse, traces of an alternate Timeline and Mirrorverse that are proving difficult to remerge with their primaries, a timeline where the planet was collapsed into a Black Hole (the ongoing efforts to get rid of that thing are apparently giving rise to a likely future Shadow Universe), the High Astral (a source of mystical energy), an assortment of Afterlives in the Middle Astral, the Lower Astral domain of the Elder Ones, the Exile pocket realm (apparently located between the Middle and Lower astral), and Mars. Kicking around those areas (and wandering back and forth in time) the group has revived the Rolassin and the Ethereals, brought the Freshwater and Saltwater Lemurians, out of hiding, and restored the Hyberboreans to go with the existing Atlanteans, and the Africaans species, as well as several relic species of presapient Homids. Mars, of course, has it’s five sapient species as well, all now revived from extinction or near-extinction.

In the Star Trek universe next door there are several alternate timelines, including one where the Augments won the Eugenics Wars (courtesy of the player characters) and one where they lost – both with Elder Martians, possibly with something on Venus, and with the full selection of Star Trek aliens.

Eclipse – The Arctic Barbarian

Today it’s a fairly simple request: a mighty barbarian from the frozen north.

Well, originally, “barbarian” was simply a word for someone who couldn’t speak greek. It soon t acquired pejorative associations – a “barbarian” was childish, effeminate, violent, primitive, and cruel. Of course, the disrespect was – inevitably – mutual. What the “barbarians” saw was a bunch of untrustworthy incompetents who tried to get ahead by cheating everyone around them – and were too cowardly to face the consequences.

In later periods “barbarians” generally come from a relatively isolated tribal societies – from groups where everyone knows everyone else, where your personal reputation is all-important, where the rules of life are fairly uncomplicated, and where personal prowess is vital (if only because a small group in a difficult environment can’t support too many specialists or unproductive members). Places where the margin of survival is relatively thin. How do we know that? We know that because civilizations tend to take over areas where the environment will easily support dense populations.

In short? They come from lands without police or lawyers.

As such, of course, barbarians…

  • Tend to enforce their own rights, since no one else will do it for them.
  • Take pride in self-sufficiency, since those who are not will often die.
  • Treat attempts to use clever words, laws, and fees to take advantage of them as an attempt to kill them, because – in a society of scarcity – it often IS.
  • Do not wish to rely on things they cannot do themselves, since – if such a thing fails them – they cannot fix it and may well die.
  • Treat their families, oaths, and bonds of companionship as sacred, for without family and reliable allies both they and their legacy will die.
  • Despise “civilized” pursuits, for wasting time on them (instead of working towards survival) endangers the entire tribe.
  • May call upon the gods, for they run the world – but will not rely on them if there is any other choice. The fortunes of nature are as fickle as the gods that control them.
  • Have little or no respect for pampered children or for “civilized” adult weaklings who cannot fend for themselves.
  • Rarely see those who do not follow their ways as people to be respected instead of prey to be exploited.
  • Consider cities to be filthy, overcrowded, and full of parasites – both human and other. (With considerable justification in history; a fair number of sources claim that the remains of rich men and tribal warriors from ancient Greece show signs of being 2-3 inches taller and far healthier and stronger than poor laborers from the same period. Perhaps it isn’t too surprising that such obvious strength, health, and vigor was often taken for a sign of divine parentage).
  • Aren’t much for large-scale organization, since – after all – leading by force of personality and raw physical strength suffices for a small village.

Of course, real barbarians tended more towards being thin and wiry (like the Huns) than huge guys with flawless skin and bulging muscles (thank Frank Frazetta for the flawless skin part), but we’ll be going to go with the “big bruiser” stereotype set by Enkidu, Hercules, Thor, Conan, Fafhrd, Slaine, William Wallace (at least in the Braveheart version), Achilles, Riddick, the Beastmaster, Xena, and far, FAR, too many movie, RPG, saga, and other literary examples to list.

So here we have:

Ulr Stormcutter, He-Who-Despises-Lawyers

Level Two Northern Barbarian, Human Scion of The Northern Gods

Tribal Barbarian Warrior Package Deal (Free)

  • Enduring The Wilds / Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only through level six (6 CP).
  • Dolorous Stroke / Trick: Three times per fight you may strike to inflict grievous harm, adding an injury effect equivalent to Bestow Curse or Blindness / Deafness on the creature struck if it fails to save (Will DC 10 + Level/2 + Cha Mod). Such injuries go away in 1d10 days thanks to the remarkable healing abilities of d20 characters or can be removed immediately by Healing effects of level three or more or in 1d4+1 rounds by a Heal check against the original save DC (6 CP).

Basic Attributes: Str 17 (+2 Enh +1 Sac = 20)/+5, Dex 14/+2, Con 14/+2, Int 10/+0, Wis 10/+0, and Cha 14/+2

Available Character Points: 72 (L2 Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Broke, History, and Uncivilized) +4 (Duties; his tribe keeps sending him on missions) +2 (Restriction: no medium or heavy armor or advanced weapons – like Crossbows) +2 (Restriction: Barbarian Code) +2 (Restriction, arcane magic) +18 (Human and L1) = 110 CP.

Basic Purchases (29 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +2, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (+6) / only for Melee Combat Unarmed or with Barbarian Weapons (12 CP)
  • Hit Points: 14 (L1-2d8, 8 CP) +12 (2d6 Immortal Vigor) +28 (4 x [Con Mod + Str Mod) = 54 HP. (+24 Temporary HP when Berserk). DR 2/-, 4/- when using Greatsword).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Con) = +4.
    • Reflex +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) +2 (Dex) = +2.
    • Will +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +0 (Wis) = +1.
  • Proficiencies: See Below.
  • Skill Points: 25 (5 x [Int Mod + Str Mod]) + 20 (Fast Learners) = 45
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Bearskin Cloak) +2 (Dex) = 16
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex).
  • Movement: 30 (Base) +30 (Enh) = 60′.

Attacks:

  • Greatsword (Two-Handed): +15 or +15/+15/+10 (+6 BAB +5 Str +3 Comp +1 Enh), 3d8+9, Crit 17-20/x2, 10′ Reach, 3 AoO. Quick Draw.
  • Unarmed Bear Style: +11 or +11/+11/+6 (+6 BAB +5 Str), 1d10 +5 (Normal or nonlethal as desired), Crit 20/x2, 10′ Reach, Improved Grapple, Improved Bull Rush. Gains automatic Trip (“Throw”) on a critical hit when grappling, considered armed when unarmed. Extra +4 to attack(s) when Grappling.

When Berserk:

    • Greatsword: +18 or +18/+18/+13, 3d8+14, otherwise the same.
    • Bear Style: +14 or +14/+14/+9, 1d10 +8. Still an extra +4 to attack(s) when Grappling, otherwise the same.

Scion Of The Northern Gods (18 CP):

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Divine Blood / Innate Enchantment, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / must maintain barbarian lifestyle, diet, and regular intensive exercise. Up to 8500 GP value, 6 CP. All spell effects Spell Level 1/2 or 1, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (x2000 GP), Personal-Only (x.7) where applicable.
    • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP)
    • Master’s Touch (Only covers Barbarian Weapons and Armor, x.7 = 1400 GP)
    • Personal Haste (2000 GP)
    • +2 Str (1400 GP)
    • +3 with Barbarian (all his Adept) Skills (1400 GP)
    • +3 Competence Bonus to BAB with Greatswords (700 CP)
    • Weather Tolerance / Cold Weather Clothing (10 GP), Tough Feet / Boots (2 GP) (6 CP).
  • Action Hero/Crafter, Specialized and Corrupted / only to pay the XP cost of the above Innate Enchantments (2 CP).
  • Immunity / Antimagic and Dispelling, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect his Innate Enchantments (Common, Minor, Minor – currently protects through L3 countereffects, 4 CP).

Self-Sufficient (27 CP):

  • Divine Tutelage: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Int Mod) for SP purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only through level six (6 CP).
  • Upgrade Human Fast Learner to Double Effect (3 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect (6 CP).
  • Adept x2 (Two Martial Art Styles, Acrobatics, Athletics, Perception, Survival, Handle Animal, Background, 12 CP).

Other Abilities: (36 CP):

  • Companion (Animal Companion, 6 CP). Whether mighty steed, faithful wolf, powerful hawk, or great cat, Ulr is never without assistance.
  • Berserker with Odinpower, Enduring, and +2 Bonus Uses (15 CP). +6 Str, +6 Con, +1 Will for 5 Rounds (L/3 +4) times daily. Does not suffer fatigue afterwards.
  • Use of Charms and Talismans (6 CP).
    • Current Talismans:
      • Rune Weapon: Large Greatsword is a +1 Keen Weapon.
      • Bearskin Cloak (Shimmermail): Provides a +4 Armor Bonus with no penalties.
      • Torc (Helm) Of War: 7 Charges, regains one per week, may spend one charge to reduce the effect of an attack as per Heavy Fortification. This does not cost an action.
    • Current Charms:
      • Sovereign Ointment: 30 doses, each cures 1 point of damage, maximum of 1d4+1 doses can be used on any one target per day.
      • Wardstones versus Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing Damage (Resulting in DR 2/-).
      • Bearclaw Necklace: Provides a +1 Sacred Bonus to Strength
      • Resounding Horn: The sound of this horn carries an exceptionally long way and is easily recognized. If the user is desperate or expends 1D4 temporary Con points their family and any close companions will hear an echo of its sound wherever they may be in the world.
      • The Ocean’s Arms: This engraved shell makes the user very bouyant, rather like a life preserver.
  • Grant Of Aid with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Points Only (9 CP).

Skills (0 CP, 41 of 45 SP): (Ulr is using a condensed skill list)

  • Acrobatics: +6 (3* SP) + 2(Dex) +3 (Comp) = +11
  • Athletics: +6 (3 SP*) +5 (Str) +3 (Comp) = +14
  • Background: +6 (3* SP) +0 (Int) +3 (Comp) = +9
  • Background: +6 (3* SP) +0 (Int) +3 (Comp) = +9
  • Bear Style: +6 (3* SP) +5 (Str) +3 (Comp) = +14
  • Handle Animal: +6 (3* SP) +2 (Cha) +3 (Comp) = +11
  • Linguistics: +1 (1 SP) +0 (Int) = +1 (Speaks his tribal language and Common).
  • Northern Storm Style: +6 (3* SP) +5 (Str) +3 (Comp) = +14 (+3 with Personally-Forged Blades)
  • Perception: +6 (3* SP) +0 (Wis) +3 (Comp) = +9
  • Survival: +6 (3* SP) +0(wis) +3 (Comp) = +9
  • Thievery: +6 (6 SP) +2 (Dex) = +8

*Half cost due to Adept.

  • Background Skill Choices: Swordsmith, Leatherworker, Hunter / Trapper, Storyteller, Exhibition Matches, Brewer, Miner, Woodsman, Carpenter, and Oratory.
  • Skill Specialities (1 SP Each): Northern Storm Style / Personally-Forged Greatswords, Bear Style / Grappling (1 SP), Survival / Winter, Oratory / Putdowns and Taunts.
  • Specific Knowledges: Tribal Traditions (1 SP), The Local Area (1 SP), and Tribal Legends (1 SP).
  • Bear Style Wrestler (Unarmed, Str): Power 3 (1d10 Base), Strike (1d4 base, considered armed), Reach, Improved Grapple, Improved Bull Rush. Gains automatic Trip (“Throw”) on a critical hit when grappling.
  • Northern Storm Style (Greatsword, Str): Toughness 2, Power 3. Monkey Grip (use Large Greatsword – 3d6 base – without penalty), Reach, Combat Reflexes, and Quick Draw. Using Large Greatsword: 3d8 base damage.

Other Equipment: Dagger, Handaxe, Bedroll, Rations, Waterskin.

Ulr basically wades into battle, smashes down all opposition, and lives through it. He’s actually very good at that, and has some wilderness skills to fall back on – but at the moment he’s something of a specialist. He’ll probably want to buy some Witchcraft (for “Rage Powers”) later on and pick up some Luck to confirm more criticals – but he’s really quite capable already.

Eclipse D20 – The Noble Pioneer

For today, it’s another sample character – and an example of fitting a character to a specific setting, rather than ignoring it. Yolande‘s husband Darius is a character for a realm-building game in the Atheria setting. He’s a noble of the Alarian Imperium who is attempting to found a colony / domain in the northern wilderness, with his wife, their followers, and a motley assortment of random people / refugees who think that they’d be better off deep in the wilderness than in an ancient, prosperous, and well-established civilization.

It might be best not to ask them why.

Darius is thus designed to operate in a “party” of two, taking on the roles of commander (both strategic and frontline), colonial governor, monster hunter, court magician, diplomat, and more That’s somewhat eased by Atheria’s world laws which limit spellcasting to a maximum level of three, restrict various powers, reduce the cost of the less-useful skills, and don’t support normal magical items – although they do provide attribute boosts and feats every two levels. That makes it a LOT easier to handle what little magic will be available and what exotic skills will be needed. Thus Darius is a reasonably good warrior (with a focus on defense and evasion), a very flexible mage (albeit with very limited power reserves), and a pretty good politician and leader. It’s still not going to be easy, and he’ll have to do a lot of negotiating when something is simply far beyond his power – but if he’s cautious and clever, his odds of founding a realm and a dynasty are pretty good.

Darius De Tanga

L5 Pioneer-Noble of the Alarian Imperium, Atheria.

Order Birthright Racial Modifiers:

  • Assistant (“Aid Another” actions provide a +4 bonus, 6 CP).
  • Privilege/Imperial Patron (6 CP. Exiles may substitute a bonus feat).
  • Innate Enchantment. Specialized: only works with a high-ranking in-empire patron to channel the magic of Order to the user, double effect (6 CP/10,000 GP).
    • Enhance Charms and Talismans (L2 spell effect, increasing the effects of Charms to L1 and those of Talismans to L2. Caster Level Three, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (x2000 GP), Personal charms only (x.7) = 8400 GP).
    • Inspiring Word (Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (x2000 GP), Personal only (x.7), +1 Morale bonus to Saves, Attacks, Checks, and Weapon Damage, 1400 GP).
  • Fast Learner (may be (is) specialized in Skills, 6 CP).
  • A bonus feat worth 6 CP.

Available Character Points: 144 (L5 Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Compulsive (prove that he is a worthy scion of his family), History, and Valuable) +10 Duties (to the Imperium) +24 (L1, L2, L4, and Birthright Bonus Feats) = 188 CP.

Wealth Level (3 CP): Affluent, Specialized for Reduced Cost / this is contingent upon maintaining support from the Imperium and his family and is only fully available within the Imperium; replacements and hard cash may not be easy to get in the north.

  • His armor, shields, and weapons are all considered “masterwork” where this is relevant.
  • He gets a good deal of leeway about things like the use of deadly force against an “attacker,” carrying armor, shields, and weapons, or riding in the city streets, and will virtually always get the benefit of the doubt unless the other side is even richer.
  • He may use five charms and two talismans.
  • He may have exotic pets, like fine hawks and rare imported animals. Trained warbeasts, chargers, and packtrains are at his disposal.
  • He may have a few competent and loyal guards and assistants, know various spellcasters and rare specialists, and have quite a few employees and general gofers.
  • He gains an extra skill point each time he levels while “Affluent”.

Basic Attributes: Str 14, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14 (+2 L2 and L4 Boosts +4 Enh = 20), Wis 12, & Cha 14 (+2 Enh = 16). (3.5 28 Point Buy).

Basics (74 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +1 (6 CP), additional +2 Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (Melee Only, Swords Only) (+6, 12 CP).
  • Hit Points: 35 (L1-5d8, 20 CP) +5 (Con Mod x 5) = 40 (DR 1/- due to Martial Arts).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +2 (6 CP) +1 (Con) +1 (Mor) +1 (Res) = +5
    • Reflex +2 (6 CP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +1 (Res) = +4
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +1 (Res) = +5
  • Skill Points: 40 (Int Mod x 8) +24 (Cha Mod x 8) +40 (Double Fast Learner since L(-2), both Specialized in Skills for Double Effect, 6 CP) +8 (Wealth) = 112 SP
  • Proficiencies: All Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP), Light Armor (3 CP).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +6 (Augmented Shimmermail) +4 (Shield) +5 (Int Mod) +4 (Martial Art) = 29
  • Move: 30′ (Base) +30 (Enh) = 60′.

Usual Attacks:

  • Baelrigor (Greatsword) +15/+15/+10/+5 (+7 BAB +4 Competence +2 Str +1 Mor +1 Mas), 2d6+2 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 19-20/x2.
  • Unarmed: +10/+10/5 (+7 BAB +2 Str +1 Mor), 1d4 +2 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 20/x2.

Theurgic Mastery: (39 CP).

  • +5 Base Caster Levels, Specialized in Theurgy (15 CP).
  • 3d6 Mana as 6d4 (18) Generic Spell Levels, Corrupted / only usable to power Thaumaturgy (12 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus (Uses Int Mod as a Base for Theurgy Skills, 6 CP).
  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Add Cha Mod to Int Mod for calculating skill points, Specialized and Corrupted / only through level six, 6 CP).

Darius is – for Atheria – a powerful and extremely versatile mage – but his supply of magical power is quite limited, even with some pretty good rolls for his daily supply. He’ll have to choose his spells wisely if he wants to be effective with his magic.

Political Advantages: (19 CP)

  • Major Privilege: Noble Of The Imperium, Specialized / is of limited utility outside of the Imperium (3 CP).
  • Leadership: Specialized and Corrupted / Characters other than generic guards/farmers/etc must be sought out and recruited – and are designed (and played) by the GM, rather than by the player (2 CP).
    • Currently 16 Levels Worth, individual max ECL of 3.
  • Major Favors (6 CP): Through his family and other political backers.
  • Contacts – an Imperial Scholar and a Merchant (2 CP).
  • Adept (Diplomacy, Starblade Style, Spot, and Nobility, 6 SP).

Combat Tricks: (24 CP)

  • Finesse / Adds (Int Mod) to AC instead of (Dex Mod) (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Three Actions Per Day Variant) (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).

Mystic Knacks: (20 CP)

  • Mindspeech (6 CP). May send and receive thoughts with willing (or at least not unwilling) targets within a 60′ radius
  • Mystic Link (Yolande) with Communications and Power Link (9 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (3 floating CP) / Points can only be used for 1 CP Relics (3 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted / only usable to create a limited selection of one-point relics (2 CP).

Innate Enchantment: (9 CP)
All effects SL 0 or 1, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, Personal-Only where applicable, up to 8500 GP Value.

  • Enhanced Attribute (+2 Charisma, 1400 GP).
  • Force Shield I (+4 Shield Bonus to AC, 1400 GP).
  • Martial Mastery (+4 Competence Bonus to BAB with Greatsword, 1400 GP).
  • Personal Haste (+1 attack at full BAB when making a Full Attack, +30′ Movement, 2000 GP).
  • Resistance (+1 Resistance Bonus to Saves, 700 GP).
  • Skill Mastery (+2 Competence Bonus to All Skills, 1400 GP).

Skills:

Tier One Skills (Full Price) (38 SP):

  • Diplomacy (Cha): +8 (4* SP) +3 (Cha) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Disable Device (Int): Unskilled.
  • Fly (Dex): +0 (0 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +3
  • Hide (Dex): +0 (0 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +3
  • Knowledge (Always Int):
    • Arcana: +8 (4* SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +16
    • Architecture And Engineering: +3 (3 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +11
    • Geography: +3 (3 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +11
    • History: +3 (3 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +11
    • Nature: +3 (3 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +11
    • Nobility and Royalty: +8 (4* SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) = +2 (Com) +16
    • Planes: +3 (3 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +11
    • Religion: +3 (3 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +11
  • Martial Art (Starlight Blade Style) +8 (4*SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +16
  • Move Silently (Dex): +0 (0 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +3
  • Profession/Occult (Wis): Unskilled.
  • Search (Int): +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +4
  • Sleight of Hand (Dex): Unskilled.
  • Spellcraft (Int): Unskilled.
  • Spot (Wis): +8 (4* SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +12
  • Survival (Wis): +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +4
  • Swim (Str): +0 (0 SP) +2 (Str) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +5
  • Tumble (Dex): Unskilled.

*Half Cost due to Adept.

Theurgy Nouns: (12 SP).

  • Air: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Body: +1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Earth: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Fire: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Illusion: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Magic: +1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Mind: +1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Plant: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Space: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Spirit: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Time: +1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Water: + 1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8

Theurgy Verbs: (36 SP)

  • Control: +6 (6 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Creation: +6 (6 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Destruction: + 6 (6 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Healing: +6 (6 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Transformation: + 6 (6 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Understanding: +6 (6 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14

Tier Two Skills (Half Price) (20 SP).

  • Appraise (Int): +8 (4 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +16
  • Balance (Dex): +0 (0 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +3
  • Bluff (Chr): +0 (0 SP) +3 (Cha) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +6
  • Climb (Str): +0 (0 SP) +2 (Str) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +5
  • Concentration (Con): +0 (0 SP) +2 (Con) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +5
  • Control Shape (Wis): +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +4
  • Craft/Exotic (Int)*: Unskilled
  • Escape Artist (Dex): +0 (0 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +3
  • Gather Information (Cha): +8 (4 SP) +3 (Cha) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Handle Animal (Cha)*: Unskilled.
  • Heal (Wis): +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +4
  • Intimidate (Cha): +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +4
  • Open Lock (Dex)*: Unskilled.
  • Perform (Specify) (Cha): +0 (0 SP) +3 (Cha) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +6
  • Profession/Complex (Wis)*: Unskilled.
  • Psicraft (Int)*: Unskilled.
  • Ride (Dex): +8 (4 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +11 (+13 with Tethered steed).
  • Listen (Wis): +8 (4 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) +4 (Torc) = +16
  • Sense Motive (Wis) +8 (4 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +12
  • Speak Language (Int): +0 (0 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8.
  • Speaks Havril, Illerian, Ikunn, Draconic, and Chordath.
  • Use Magic Device (Cha)*: Unskilled.

Tier Three Skills (One-Third Cost, can’t be Corrupted or Specialized) (6 SP).

  • Autohypnosis (Wis): +6 (2 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +10
  • Burrow (Wis)*: Unskilled.
  • Craft/Mundane (Int): +0 (0 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +8
  • Decipher Script (Int): +6 (2 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +10
  • Disguise (Cha): +0 (0 SP) +3 (Cha) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +6
  • Forgery (Int): +6 (2 SP) +5 (Int) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +14
  • Jump (Str): +0 (0 SP) +2 (Str) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +5
  • Profession (Simple): +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +4
  • Sense of Touch (Wis): +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +4
  • Use Psionic Device (Cha)*: Unskilled.
  • Use Rope (Dex): +0 (0 SP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Mor) +2 (Com) = +3

Martial Art – The Starlight Blade Style (Int)

Starlight Blade focuses on predicting the patterns of an attack and exploiting any opening which appears, hopefully allowing the user to deal with an opponent without leaving any opening in his or her own defense. While it’s certainly preferable to have a weapon, Starlight Blade doesn’t neglect unarmed techniques either. Depending utterly on a weapon is itself a flaw.

  • Requires: Weapon Focus/Greatsword or point-buy equivalent.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 4, Strike 1, and Toughness 3.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Deflect Arrows, Mind Like Moon, Prone Combat, and Unarmed Kata.
  • Occult Techniques: Healing Hand, Inner Strength, Iron Skin, and Vanishing.
  • Known Techniques: Defenses IV, Strike 1, Toughness I, and Unarmed Kata.
  • Bonus Techniques from Baelrigor: Deflect Arrows, Mind Like Moon, Prone Combat, Healing Hand, Inner Strength, Iron Skin, and Vanishing.

Equipment:

Current Relics:

  • Baelrigor (Greatsword) (1 CP Relic). This blade grants +9 points worth of a sword-based martial art, corrupted for increased effect / only while using the blade (provides an effective +14 or seven extra martial abilities in total)
  • Ruby Tongue of the Sorcerer (1 CP Relic): A ruby amulet granting Improved Power Words, Corrupted/only for storing spells the user personally supplies. Since theurgy is slow, this allows him to have a few fast spells on hand.

Order Birthright Charms:

  • Captain’s Torc: +4 to Listen checks, can make the user’s voice very loud, -1 on saves versus sonic attacks, can cast your voice up to sixty feet.
  • Helm of War: Grants six as-needed uses of Heavy Fortification, regaining one use each week.
  • Hidden Pocket: Holds 15 Lb of stuff with no noticeable weight or bulk and a mere slit for access.
  • Mage Tether: Lets the user call for the animal whose hair was used to make it. If it’s within two miles it will come as quickly as it reasonably can. As a side effect the user gets a +2 bonus on ride and handle animal rolls involving the animal in question.
  • Sunstone: Stores 25 minutes worth of sunlight (recharging five minutes worth per day in the sun), and can illuminate a 10′ radius with full sunlight and dimly illuminate some distance beyond that. Can discharge ten minutes worth as a ray of Searing Light (at CL5). Since this is stored natural sunlight spell resistance does not apply.

Order Birthright Talismans:

  • Greater Scholars Eye: +4 Enhancement Bonus to Intelligence.
  • Shimmer Mail: +6 Armor Bonus with no penalties or effective encumbrance.

Personal Steed: Ajatantsija, Light Dernmarkian Warhorse.

Basic Information:

  • Attributes: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 18, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 8
  • Initiative +2, HP 32, Speed 90′
  • Armor Class: 17 (-1 Size, +2 Dex +2 Leather Barding, +4 Natural).
  • Attack: +4/1d4+3 (Hoof), Full 3 Hooves, Bite (-1, 1d3+1).
  • Senses: Low-Light Vision, Scent.
  • Saves: Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +2
  • Skills: Listen +4, Spot +4
  • Feats: Endurance, Run.

Timedancer Horse Birthright (18 CP):

  • Reflex Action, 3/Three Actions Per Day Variant, with +4 Bonus Uses (for a total of seven), Specialized/only usable for movement, whether natural or magically-assisted (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (Personal Haste, from The Practical Enchanter), CL1, SL1, At-Will Use-Activated, 2000 GP effective value) (3 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (Lightning Step (from The Practical Enchanter), with +2 Bonus Uses, 9 CP).

Darius is – as usual for an Eclipse character (and one with an exceptionally powerful base “race” at that) roughly equivalent to a baseline d20 character of several levels higher –  but as a generalist he certainly can’t match a focused Eclipse build even if he is a quite effective warrior-mage by baseline d20 standards. His biggest problem in a conventional game

Eclipse And What NOT To Do

Today it’s something unusual for me – an example of what NOT to do with Eclipse.

In this case, a player who was new to Eclipse wished to make a first level character. He then…

  • Refused to consult with, or take advice from, the game master – or from anyone who knew the system.
  • Provided a character history which consisted of “He was a slave. He was freed by some people who attacked the slavers. He then wandered off with some of the other slaves who elected to follow him (although he explicitly denied doing anything to lead them). After arriving at an isolated village, he refused to interact, come up with a way to make a living, or find a home – for a year or two.
  • Ignored the setting – which happened to be the 3.5 Forgotten Realms – in favor of Pathfinder references.

These were not good signs – but the most serious problem was that he refused to come up with a concept. Instead, he skimmed through Eclipse, through various builds on this site, and possibly some optimization boards and tried to grab the”best” abilities he saw – ignoring the supporting abilities that made them work. Thus he wound up with a first level character who…

  • Had a custom racial template (some sort of experimented-on mutant fey), despite that being a “Game Master Permission Only” item. Unfortunately, he tried to put a number of abilities that had prerequisites into it. These included…
  • Took undefined “Duties to Custom and Tradition” on a unique creature that had neither.
  • Took Innate Enchantment to get less than 250 GP worth of basic stuff – clothing, leather armor, a few simple hand tools, and a piece of rope instead of any actually useful enchantments or gear. This power would function, but – as set up – was essentially worthless.
  • A part of the Lesser Fey template – the Channeling / Conversion ability it used to produce some spell effects – without the immunity to the level requirement that allowed it to work for fey of below fifth level. This power would not function in a racial template.
  • Took Extra Limbs to get a Prehensile Tail, but didn’t put enough points into it to actually buy the ability – so this did nothing.
  • Took Returning despite the game master telling him “no” – but with a one month minimum delay and severe memory losses. Given that I am told that the game was known to be plotted for a series of crisis’s over a period of a few months, actually attempting to get any use out of this power would effectively put him out of the game for a year or more of real time. Still, this ability might function in a long-term game – but is saving one point really worth giving yourself amnesia?
  • Took Immunity to Aging. That would function, but again… the game was plotted for a few months.
  • He did take Grant Of Aid for a bit of self-healing. That power doesn’t really belong in a Racial Template – at least not without some restrictions and a description that would describe why ALL of the members of the race have some exotic entity interested in helping them – but it did function.

Personal Powers

For his personal powers, he did start out reasonably enough: he…

  • Took a d10 hit die, a +1 BAB, some save bonuses, and proficiency with a limited group of simple weapons (and no armor or shields). So he was reasonably tough, and had some talent for hitting people – but had no effective attacks and no way to defend himself.

Unfortunately, the then…

  • Took Leadership – ignoring both that the basic effect would not work below fourth level and that it was on the “special permission from the game master” list. Result: Points spent on a power that did not actually function.
  • Grabbed a part of the Path Of The Dragon (the entire path was on the “special permission from the game master” list, but at this point why worry about that?) – a crafting-boosting effect that let you accomplish certain tasks more quickly and a small boost to certain skills. Unfortunately, he did not take the basic “Shaping” ability that was a prerequisite and neither did he take any crafting abilities. Thus this ability did not function at all, and – even if it had – would only make him capable of doing basic housework and chores more quickly than usual. That isn’t a lot of use on an adventure.
  • Took Hysteria, but declined to select what it could be applied to – rendering it functionless.
  • Took a bit of Power to pay for Hysteria with. Sadly, with Hysteria functionless, this was too.
  • Took Universal Jack Of All Trades – an ability that effectively gives you a +1 on skills linked to a particular (unspecified) attribute and a minimum +1 in all skills, although this does not stack with actual skill point investments. Unfortunately, since the game used a severely condensed skill list, and he had already invested skill points in almost all the skills, this – once again – did very little.
  • Took “Lunge” (extra reach) for his tail. Since he hadn’t actually paid for a tail, this did nothing.
  • Took Charmsmith – the ability to make trivial magical devices with effects equivalent to selected “Prestidigitation” effects. Thus he could, for example, make boots that kept your feet warm. Unfortunately, he did not take any of the abilities that built on Charmsmith to allow him to make something that would actually be useful. Nor did he have the perquisite Shaping ability, rendering this nonfunctional in the first place.
  • Took Dominion – yet another ability on the “Game Master Permission Only” list and one which requires actually ruling a domain of some sort to do anything. He had no domain and apparently had no actual plans to rule anything, rendering this ability utterly useless.

The net result, of course, was a completely ineffectual character with virtually no useful abilities – unless, of course, an adventure called for an unusually durable field hand or housekeeper.

I’m informed that once the game started he refused to interact with the other characters and rejected the game premise (“small, isolated, village meeting a series of crisis), apparently wishing to be a lone wolf – but that’s not what this is about.

At that point I was asked to look the character over since the game master had  no idea of what the player was attempting to build. Given the complete train wreck, I took a few hours and wrote up a functional version. Sadly, while I could make it function to some degree, that did not overcome the lack of a concept and nonsensical ability selection. Still, here it is, just for comparison.

First up was making an acceptable race. To keep as much of the original structure as possible that also meant fixing the unusable racial abilities and cramming as much as possible of the “special permission only” abilities into the racial template. Ergo…

Far Darrig (A type of minor Irish fey) Racial Template (31 CP / +0 ECL Race):

  • Speaks Sylvan (1 CP).
  • Minor Privilege: Welcome among the Fey (3 CP). Far Darrig, along with Brownies and other varieties of “House Elves”, are welcome in fey circles.
  • Extra Limb(s): Prehensile Tail (6 CP). A third hand often comes in handy.
  • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP). A Far Darrig can expect to live for many
    centuries.
  • Returning: Unless slain by Cold Iron or Old Age a Far Darrig will be reborn from the forces of nature in about a month – albeit with partial amnesia (3 CP).
  • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted / only to provide the basic structure for seven Fey Spells – Chain Of Obligation, Feygift, Mastery Of The Named, Major Image, Phantom Steed, Shadow Enchantment, and Suggestion (2 CP).
  • 1d6 (4) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Spell Enhancement, only for use with Shaping (above) – allowing the user to spend 1 Mana to use one of the listed effects (6 CP).
    • These abilities replaced the Channeling / Conversion abilities. While more limited in higher development, this allowed more basic abilities and would actually work at first level.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the specialized mana pool above, only works between encounters (4 CP).
  • Charmsmith (6 CP). A Far Darrig can make many minor magical devices.
  • Taskmaster (6 CP). Divides the time required for small-scale mundane tasks by (Intelligence).
  • Disadvantages: Accursed (True Name), Compulsive (Must offer hospitality, keep their word, and respect their pacts). Accursed (Cannot directly lie) (-10 CP).

That race isn’t an atrocity of power – but it does offer some handy tricks and lays the foundation for later advancing several of the normally-restricted Path of the Dragon abilities.

Basic Attributes were Str 13, Int 16, Wis 9, Con 13, Dex 14, and Cha 17. I don’t really know why, although I suspect that the player was trying to get the biggest possible benefit out of his later attribute gains.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) +12 (Disadvantages: Outcast, Broke, Irreverent and Illiterate) +12 (L0 and L1 Bonus Feats) = 72 CP.

Basics (26 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 10 (1d10, 6 CP) +1 (Con Mod x 1) +14 (Immortal Vigor, 12 + 2 x Con Mod) = 25 HP
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +12 (Int Mod x 4) = 18 SP
  • BAB: +1 (6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fort +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +1 (Con) +1 (Mor) = +4.
    • Ref +0 (Purchased) +2 (Dex) +1 (Mor) =+3.
    • Will +0 (Purchased) -1 (Wis) +1 (Mor) = +0.
  • Proficiencies: Small Group of Simple Weapons (Club, Dagger, Gauntlet, Staff, Sickle, Sling, Unarmed, 2 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30′
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Leathers) +2 (Dex) = 14

Usual Attacks:

  • Quarterstaff: +3 (+1 BAB +1 Str +1 Mor), 1d6+1 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 20/x2
  • Thrown Dagger: +4 (+1 BAB +2 Dex +1 Mor), 1d4+1 (Str) +1 (Mor), Crit 19-20/x3, 10′ range increment.

Special Abilities (46 CP):

  • Adept (Pays half cost for four skills – Acrobatics, Insight, Stealth, and Thievery, 6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (5500 GP value or less, 6 CP. Currently 5972.4 GP value):
    • Universal Skill Mastery: +2 Competence Bonus on All Skills and Attribute Checks. (Personal-Only, x.7 = 1400 GP).
    • Fortune’s Favor: +2 Luck Bonus on All Skills and Attribute Checks (Personal-Only, x.7 = 1400 GP)
    • Inspiring Word: +1 Morale Bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, checks, and weapon damage (Does not apply to attack rolls or weapon damage, x.5, Personal-Only, x.7 = 700 GP).
    • Net: +5 to all Skills, +1 to all Saves
    • Immortal Vigor I (Personal-Only, x.7 = 1400 GP). Clurichaun are tough and durable
    • Armor and Clothing: Leather Armor (10 GP), Cold Weather Outfit (8 GP), and Explorer’s Outfit (10 GP).
    • Tools: Bedroll (.1 GP), Crowbar (2 GP), Flint & Steel (1 GP), Hammer (.5 GP), Miners Pick (3 GP), Signal Whistle (.8 GP), Shovel (2 GP), Artisians Tools (5 GP), Thieves Tools (30 GP), Quarterstaff (-).
  • Action Hero/Crafting, Specialized for Increased Effect (double points) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to cover the XP costs of Innate Enchantments and using Charmsmith at 1 AP = 20 XP (4 CP).
  • Lunge, Specialized for Increased Effect (10′ Reach), Only with Tail (6 CP).
  • Mana, 1d6 as 3d6 Power, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to power Hysteria (6 CP).
  • Hysteria (Skills) (6 CP).
  • Grant of Aid with both Regenerative Functions (12 CP).

Skills (18 SP):

  • Acrobatics (Dex) (Balance, Escape Artist, Tumble): +4 (2* SP) +2 (Dex) +5 (IE) = +11
  • Arcana (Int) (Spellcraft, Knowledge/Arcana): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Athletics (Str) (Climb, Jump, Swim, Escape Artist): +1 (1 SP) +1 (Str) +5 (IE) = +7
  • Background (Int) (5x Craft, Profession, or Perform): All unskilled, so universal +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +8
  • Deception (Cha) (Bluff, Disguise): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Endurance (Con) (Concentration, Control Shape): +1 (1 SP) +1 (Con) +5 (IE) = +7
  • Handle Animal (Cha) (Handle Animal, Ride, Profession/Teamster): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Insight (Wis) (Gather Information, Sense Motive): +3 (1* SP) -1 (Wis) +5 (IE) = +7
  • Linguistics (Int) (Decipher Script, Forgery, Speak Language): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Perception (Wis) (Listen, Search, Spot): +1 (1 SP) -1 (Wis) +5 (IE) = +5
  • Persuasion (Cha) (Diplomacy, Intimidation): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Religion (Wis) (Knowledge/Religion, Knowledge/The Planes, Heal, and performing various religious services and rituals): +1 (1 SP) -1 (Wis) +5 (IE) = +5
  • Scholar (Int) (Architecture, Engineering, Geography, History, Local, and Nobility): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Stealth (Dex) (Hide, Move Silently): +4 (2* SP) +2 (Dex) +5 (IE) = +11
  • Survival (Int) (Dungeoneering, Nature, Use Rope): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) +5 (IE) = +9
  • Thievery (Dex) (Appraise, Disable Device, Open Locks, Sleight Of Hand). +3 (1* SP) +2 (Dex) +5 (IE) = +10
  • Use Device (Cha) (Use Magic Device, Use Psionic Device, and Use Technological Device): +1 (1 SP) +3 (Cha) +5 (IE) = +9

Equipment (23 GP, 1 SP): Backpack (2 GP), Bedroll (.1 GP), Canteen (2 GP), Ragged Clothing (Free), Rations (7 Days, 3.5 GP), 100′ Hemp Rope (2 GP), Grappling Hook (1 GP), 10 Pitons (1 GP), Quarterstaff (-), Whetstone (-), Fishing Line & Hook (.1 GP), Tarp (1 GP), 10 Torches (.1 GP), Hammock (.1 GP), Glue Pot (.5 GP), 5 Daggers (10 GP).

Dominion and Leadership got dropped because neither would do anything for several levels to come and because the game master had said “no” quite firmly.

This rewritten version of the character did, at least, function. Substituting Shaping and Mana for Channeling and Conversion took care of the level requirements, expanded on the available list of magical tricks, and covered the Shaping prerequisites for the later Path of the Dragon abilities. Throwing in skill and hit point boosters under Innate Enchantment, and determining that Hysteria was applied to Skills made him a reasonable skill monkey and Immortal Vigor provided enough hit points to take a few blows – but the character still has no focus. He has a few magical tricks, but nowhere to go with them. He has enough hit points to take a few blows but little offensive or defensive capability otherwise. He is pretty good with skills – but d20 characters really need an effective combat role.

And that is why the CONCEPT is vital in Eclipse. Unless you have a good idea of what you’re building, how are you going to pick the proper parts to make it?

Character Optimization in RPG’s and Eclipse:

Today it’s an offline question – but it’s very relevant to the latest article series, so I’m sticking it in here:

How do you optimize a character in Eclipse, or in RPG’s in general?

First off, you remember that RPG’s are social events. You “Win” by contributing to everyone having fun. A moment of drama, of defiance, or of inspiration, or even a really good death scene, will be remembered, and can be enjoyed over and over again, for years to come. Good scenes and stories are what it’s all about. Which was most important and still gets remembered and talked about decades later in The Empire Strikes Back? That Darth Vader must have at least a +5 combat advantage over Luke or the “I AM your Father” reveal? The creature bursting out of the victim’s chest in Aliens or your impression of the likely skill bonus provided by the futuristic medical resources that were in use to to try and help him? The challenge rating on the fight with the flying monkeys grabbing Dorothy or “There’s no place like home”? The likely damage done by the proton accelerators in use in the hotel or “He slimed me”? Oliver’s pickpocket training or “I would like some more please”? The burning of Atlanta or “Frankly My Dear I don’t give a damn”?

Jackie Chan may be famous for his fight scenes, but don’t they all blur together?

Game statistics are a framework for your character, but by themselves they are little more than a skeleton. An optimized RPG character for actual play – as opposed to a solitary exercise in mathematics and sourcebook-mining for an “optimization” board – is one that is fun to play and that everyone else who’s playing, including the game master, enjoys having around.

That means that there are two levels to optimize on – the Strategic / Social (making a character that the game master and other players will WANT to have around) and the Tactical / Mechanical (making a character that can contribute effectively).

Not surprisingly, “Strategic” comes first. All Pun-Pun’s “brilliant exploits” are useless if you can’t get him into a game. For that, here are six rules for Strategic Optimization:

  1. You want your character to have a variety of useful, but not conclusive, options applicable to a broad variety of situations. Doing the same thing over and over again – even if it’s an automatic “I Win!” button – is boring. In fact, “I Win!” buttons are ESPECIALLY boring, if only because they tend to shut down interactions rather than getting everyone involved. A character who can contribute in a lot of different situations and help keep the other player characters involved too is far more strategically optimized than one who can only do a few things – even if they are very powerful things.
  2. You want your character to have a strong backstory and a memorable personality – making him or her much more difficult to simply replace with another character. That will often take a good deal longer to develop than the game statistics, but RPG’s usually last for quite awhile. You generally have the time.
  3. You want your characters to be connected to the other characters and willing to interact. While secretive lone wolves are fun to read about, demanding that the other players remember what bits they’re supposed to know about and which are only known out of character is extremely rude. Wanting to go off and monopolize chunks of game time – preventing everyone else from playing – is even ruder (although it’s easier to manage in Play By Post – although then you need to accept that everyone else will have moved on and will not care what you were up to in your solitary side game). RPG’s are social things. If you’re failing to socialize, you’ve already lost.
  4. You want to respect other character’s special niches. Unless you’re willing to play second-string backup to everyone else, leave other people’s specialties alone even if you’re so mechanically “optimized” that you can outshine four or five of the other characters at the same time. If you don’t let other people do their thing, the game will fall apart because the other players will lose interest – and you won’t get to play your shiny “optimized” character any longer. That’s an automatic loss again.
  5. You want your characters to have motivations and ethics. Things that they want to do and accomplish, and other things that they just will not do. The Shadowrun Medic who would NOT participate in Wetwork – and who would warn the targets and try to protect them if the rest of the group was discussing taking such a job – was a lot more interesting than a generic runner who would do anything. Just as importantly… being an actual ethical physician let him maintain a lot of allies and contacts that a character with no ethics would have had a lot of trouble with. That often turned out to be a very valuable niche.
    1. Go ahead. Do things that are extremely dramatic or in-character even if they are not optimally efficient (or even possible) mechanically. Remember that it’s a game and that EVERYONE is there to have fun. Give it a chance and you’ll find that most game masters are quite willing to let the Rule Of Cool override (or at least stretch to the breaking point) the actual game mechanics when you’re having a moment. The rules didn’t really cover it when the Shadowrun Medic found the Slasher’s latest victim – decapitated mere seconds ago – and promptly oxygenated the brain, healed the major blood vessels, supplied blood and nutrients, and started putting the guys head back on. The rules said “He’s dead Jim!” Rule Of Cool voted with biology and said “that might actually work!” – and the fact that the setup was supposed to wind up with the character accused of the crime got tossed right out the window – and the scene turned into “Cops! Good! Lt. Richards, call an ambulance, Leonard, you apply pressure here while I heal this segment… maybe this guy can identify the Slasher!”.
  6. You want to make yourself important to the story in some way so that it – if something happens to you – the game master will have to do extra work to keep the game on track. Perhaps you can provide the exposition, have given your character stacks of plot hooks, be searching for kidnapped relatives and thus driving the “find the bad guys” plot, or you’re linked with a bunch of handy NPC’s that you wrote up, or have taken the mystic oath of service, or are really deeply committed to pursuing the current McGuffin, or are the one providing items and boosts for the party. If you can, be more than one of those things – or provide filler details for the setting. GM’s hate extra work, so this makes your character a LOT safer. There is no protection stronger for any character than plot armor.

Tactical Optimization is what the people on most “Optimization Boards” are talking about. Of course, you can be “optimized” even if the game has no mechanics beyond “your character is good at that” and “you don’t know how to do that” based on your background and description. If you decided to play a hardbitten detective, good with a gun and tough as nails and wrote up a character history and description for that – and the game master opted to run a 1920’s Chicago-based Gangsters game – then you are well optimized for the game. The fellow who opted to write up a history and background for a Peruvian jungle runner probably is not.

That means that there are two basic rules for Tactical Optimization even before we get to the game mechanics – although they overlap into the “Strategic” level a bit.

  1. You want to be competent. It’s fun to watch Inspector Jacques Clouseau, or Cheech and Chong, or the Marx Brothers – but it’s less fun to try and play them, even if you can keep the jokes rolling well enough to make a creditable try at it. You want your decisions to mean something and to achieve results on your own merits – not to have victories handed to you.
  2. You want to avoid becoming the primary target. At it’s most basic… if you open a door and see three men – two of whom reach for knives while the third is bringing up a submachine gun to point at you… which one do you shoot first? Similarly, if one PC demonstrates the capacity to do immense amounts of damage, or is throwing really powerful magic about, or some such… every enemy with any intelligence at all is likely to say “OH @#$%& NO! GET THAT GUY!”. Don’t be “That Guy”. Don’t give the opposition an obvious focus for their efforts. It is much better to be one of the crowd so that individual opponents will be basing their priorities on factors like “who is closer to me”, “I never did like elves”, “somebody else can bash the cleric, I’m going to have a glorious duel with that fighter”, and even “maybe I can duck out while everyone else gets killed”. Being way more powerful offensively than everyone else in the party is asking to die. Worse, if you got that way by building an mathematically-optimized character and shorting the role-playing part… No one will care if your character dies. After all, if that happens you’ll probably just bring in another “optimized” build and the game will continue just the same. Don’t make your character disposable.

Finally, firmly on the tactical level…

  1. You want some decent defenses. Despite d20’s general rule that “The best Defense is a good Offense”, Eclipse includes several limited-use ways to avoid individual attacks or attack sequences – which means that the guy who inflicts five hundred points of damage per round is likely to see what he does be completely avoided or nullified while the guy who inflicts thirty or forty points of damage per round may well wind up being more effective. That’s not worth spending limited-use defenses on when the first guy is around – so those smaller point attacks may well get through while the five hundred point strikes will not. There’s a series of articles on that over here that you might want to look at, but Action Hero (Stunts Variant), Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant), and Luck are all very helpful. In fact, with Action Hero (Stunts)… you only get a limited number of points per level, but you can generally spend one to simply have something not work against you. That’s pretty much the equivalent of a bunch of “extra lives” each level.
  2. For Offense… at least for offense against important targets rather than swarms of mooks – you want a balance. You have to either settle for being the one who burns through those limited-use defenses or annihilates mooks while other people actually do the damage or inflict hindrances on the important targets or you want to try to strike a balance – enough offensive power to be reasonably effective without necessarily triggering the use of those special defenses. The system isn’t perfect of course, but at higher levels Eclipse is intentionally set up to try to reward cleverness and restraint over mathematically-optimized power.

But I LIKE fishing through rulebooks and trying to mathematically optimize things! You’re leaving me out!

Not at all. There IS a place for that kind of thing in Eclipse. It comes with your character concept – but not really in the sense of what you CAN do. It’s all about what you CAN’T do.

Are you a dashing Errol Flynn type? Master of a Rapier, but knowing little about other weapons? Buy your Base Attack Bonus (Warcraft) Specialized in Melee Weapons Only and Corrupted / Only with Rapiers – both for Increased Effect. Have a +6 BAB with Rapiers at level one for a mere (12 CP). Buy Improved Augmented Bonus / Adds (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) when figuring Armor Class, Specialized / Only while wielding a Rapier (6 CP). Buy Fighters Tricks (6 CP). Buy Presence (Specialized; only affects opponents you hit with your Rapier, 3 CP) and cause anyone you strike to be afflicted with a Shocking Grasp effect. Look for places where you can make things cheaper by narrowing broad abilities into exactly what you want – either making them more potent or saving points to spend on other tricks.

Low level Eclipse characters can be quite powerful. But they’ll have gotten that way by taking specialized versions of the abilities they want – plucking the low-hanging fruit. Well-optimized Eclipse characters generally don’t increase in power with level nearly as fast as classical d20 characters do. Instead, they usually start broadening their abilities – continuing to use their old abilities while exploring new ones. Sure, that Fencer may buy the Augmented Bonus (Int Mod to AC) to Double Effect instead of half cost and add a second Presence-based “Chilling Grasp” effect – but branching out into Ninjitsu, Illusion Spells, and the ability to strike immaterial creatures makes him far more versatile and interesting to play.

You aren’t playing against the Game Master or competing with the other players. You’re trying to have a good time with your friends. Arguing about the rules, wrecking the game, hogging the spotlight, and similar tactics can’t help you “win”. They can only help you spotlight yet another loss.

And I hope that helps!

If someone wants more on this topic… this article series might help too: