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:

Eclipse: Hiten Raiju, Thunder Warrior

Today (And for a few more times coming up) we have an unusual-for-me request – a weapons expert. I usually tend a lot more towards spellcasters, simply because I can play around with medieval weapons in real life. On the other hand… a genuine weapons expert in d20 is going to have some form of magic to work with anyway; it’s simply too important to ignore.

In this case, I’ll be building this character around using the Guisarme

Why the Guisarme and not, say, the Duom? Or Talenta Sharrash? Or Executioner’s Mace? Or Spiked Chain? Or Minotaur Greathammer? Or Scorpion-Tail Whip? Or various other oddities that have been published at one time or another?

Mostly because almost all of those have serious problems. They’re from Dragon magazine or third party sources (and not allowed in many campaigns), were nerfed by errata or in Pathfinder, have blatant typos in the information on them, have a primary advantage (such as being reach weapons that can attack adjacent targets) that’s easily and cheaply purchased in Eclipse, are exotic weapons with benefits that fail to outweigh the cost of learning to use them, have no prices, come from unique sources that aren’t available in many campaigns,, or simply (and worst of all from my viewpoint) make no sense. The Guisarme, however, is from the SRD, is unchanged in Pathfinder, and actually makes sense – as demonstrated by the fact that it’s a real-world weapon. It’s also got decent damage, Reach and Trip – both of which are quite useful.

You could also go with Falchion, and double up the Reach bonus while eliminating the ability to ignore it and get much the same result with 18-20/x2 Criticals instead of 20/x3 – but that’s less helpful than it seems once Luck comes into play.

Since I find that some visuals and background always help bring some focus to vague requests (“A weaponsmaster who does a lot of damage”), I’ll be pulling some background from THIS character. Just watch out for Inuyashu, Shippo, and Kagome…

Finally, this build won’t be taking the Ubercharger route, or anything similar. Eclipse simply includes too many ways to no-sell single attacks, no matter how overwhelming they are – which means that all the alpha-strike builds are often going to find themselves out of luck. What we want here is a high BAB, extra attacks, a high Base Damage, and a lot of tricks. That way this guy will have a lot of things to do even if someone negates his favorite attack and will get a lot of chances to inflict decent amounts of damage.

Hiten Raiju, Level Two Thunder Warrior

Basic Attributes (3.5 32 Point Buy): Str 16 (18, +4), Int 14 (+2), Wis 12 (+1), Con 14 (+2), Dex 14 (+2), Cha 8 (-1).

Racial Modifiers: Yokai Human: Bonus Feat (+6 CP), Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Half Cost (3 CP).

Yokai Humans are naturally attuned to the energies of negative emotions. This translates to a form of Dominion: if they can get enough people to hate and fear them, and are utterly obnoxious villains who commit all kinds of evil acts just for the fun of it, they get Dominion Points based on the area they terrorize. Technically this is Specialized Dominion, and worth 3 CP. Of course, it also comes with a minor disadvantage; Yokai Humans always show obvious signs of their dread heritage, They are widely, and for rather obvious good reasons, distrusted (-3 CP).

Available Character Points: 72 (L2 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +4 (Clan Duties) +18 (Human, L1, L2 Feats) = 104 CP.

Basic Purchases (68 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +2, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (+6) / Pole Arms Only, Guisarme Only (12 CP)
  • Hit Points: 16 (L1-2d8, 8 CP)+12 (Immortal Vigor) +24 (4 x [Con Mod + Str Mod]) = 52 HP
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Con) = +4.
    • Reflex +0 (Purchased) +2 (Dex) = +2.
    • Will +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +1 (Wis) = +3.
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP).
  • Skill Points: 4 SP (4 CP) +20 (Fast Learners. Upgrade Human Fast Learner to Double Effect only for buying Adept Skills (+1 CP), buy Fast Learner Specialized for Increased Effect (Skills), Corrupted / only for buying Adept skills (4 CP)) +10 (5 x Int Mod) = 34 SP.
    • Adept x 2 (buys four skills of choice and four Martial Arts for half cost, 12 CP). All Adept Skills at +5 Base (20 SP), leaves 14 SP left over for other skills.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Shimmermail) +2 (Dex) +2 (Shield) = 18 (Or more if Shield effect augmented). This is quite variable depending on what Martial Art and Enhancements he is currently using.
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex).
  • Movement: 30′ + 30′ (Enhancement) = 60′.

Usual Weapons:

  • Guisarme: (Storm Fist Style): +13/+13/+8 (+6 BAB +3 Comp +4 Str), 3d8+6, Crit 20/x3, 15′ Optional Reach, drawn as a free action, +2 to Trip Attacks, may use Whirlwind Attack, no penalty for use in tight spaces.
  • Javelin: +7/+7 (+0 BAB +2 Dex +4 Str +1 Martial Art), 1d10+4, Crit 20/x2, 30′ Range Increment 80′, on a critical hit the target must make a DC 19 Fortitude Save or suffer a -2 penalty on Attacks, AC, and Saves and a 20% chance of spell failure for 2d4 rounds. This will not work on creatures two sizes or more larger than the user or who are immune to critical hits. It also looks like the user is throwing small lightning bolts.
  • Shikon Jewel Shard: Two instances of Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 floating CP) / only changes once per user, only to buy magical boosts that are in-theme for the character. Basically, this is a 2 CP relic that’s different for each character – although it’s only useful to those who HAVE a magical theme. This brings his Thunder Yokai Ki (see below) into action.

Special Abilities (36 CP):

  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / applies to levels 1-6 only (6 CP).
  • Grasp Of Sun Wukong: Anime Master, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost, Pole Arms Only, Guisarme Only. This allows the user to wield a Guisarme that is “one size larger” (well, usually just heavier) than usual (2 CP).
  • Iron Stave Grip: Immunity/the reach of your own weapon (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized / only for Pole Arms, 2 CP). This talent allows the user to ignore the Reach quality of pole arms when he or she does not wish to use it – allowing them to threaten and attack adjacent spaces with ease.
  • Will Of Destruction: Lunge, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for Guisarme (2 CP). This useful talent allows the user to increase his or her effective Reach with a Guisarme by five feet.
  • Spirit Of Steel: Immunity/the distinction between weapons and the self (Common, Minor, Major, Specialized in Pole Arms, Corrupted for Guisarme Only, 2 CP). The user’s Guisarmes are an extension of themselves. They are treated as natural weapons and any touch-based powers and “unarmed” combat enhancements or martial arts that the user possesses operate through them.
  • Honing The Blades: Augmented Attack / +2 Damage with Pole-Arms, Corrupted / only with Guisarme (4 CP). This effectively increases the base damage of a Guisarme from 2d4 to 2d6.
  • Demon Ki Mastery: Innate Enchantment: All Spell Level Zero (1/2) or One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated (1000 or 2000 GP Base), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / each individual effect requires an specially-crafted token to work .Up to 8500 GP Base Value (6 CP). In theory – at least in 3.5 if not in Pathfinder – this costs 220 XP to activate everything. In this case, I’m going to ignore that since a single adventure a level behind the rest of the party will pay off enough XP to catch that up.
    • Broach Of Defense: L0. Lesser Force Shield (+2 Shield Bonus to AC, x.7 Personal-Only, 700 GP).
    • Buckle Of Might: L1, Enhance Attribute (Str) +2 (x.7 Personal-Only, 1400 GP).
    • Enduring Girding: L1, Immortal Vigor I (x.7 Personal Only, 1400 GP).
    • Ring Of Clay: L1 Morphic Touch (Personal-Only x.7, Guisarme Only, x.5 – 700 GP).
    • Runic Guisarme: L1 Lead Blades (Guisarme Only [raises damage to 3d6], x.5 = 1000 GP).
    • Thunder Bracers: Lo Weapons Mastery: +3 Competence Bonus to BAB with Guisarme (Personal Only x.7 = 700 GP).
    • Void Gloves: L0 Void Sheathe (Guisarmes Only, x.5, no more than (Dex Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) at a time x.8 = 400 GP). The user can put his or her Guisarmes away… somewhere. Don’t ask where).
    • Wind Fire Wheels: Personal Haste (60′ Move, Bonus Attack on Full Attack = 2000 GP).

Morphic Touch (Transmutation 1, Casting Time: One Swift Action, Components V, S, Range Touch, Target Weapon or Armor Touched, Duration ten minutes/level, Saving Throw None. Lets you make the weapon or armor touched look however you like. For armor Max Dex increases by one and Armor Check Penalties are reduced by two. Weapons can be drawn as a free action and may be used in confined spaces without penalty.

  • Lung Ki: Shaping, Specialized for double effect (Cantrips) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for weapons magic tricks, requires the use of a rune-inscribed staff (or pole-arm shaft…) as a focus (4 CP).
    • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant), Specialized and Corrupted / only to “cast” weapons magic tricks, requires the use of a rune-inscribed staff (or pole-arm shaft…) as a focus (2 CP).
    • 1d6 (4) Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for spell enhancement, only to enhance shaping-based Weapons Magic Tricks (2 CP).
    • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the spell enhancement pool, above (4 CP).
      .
      Lung Ki allows the user to work weapon-enhancing spells of up to level three as supernatural abilities – albeit not very many of them beyond level zero during any one fight.

Sample Level Zero Effects:

  • Call Weapon: an unattended weapon leaps into your hand from up to thirty feet away as a swift action.
  • Fast Draw: a weapon on your person appears in your hand as a swift action.
  • Mend Weapon: A swift-action Mend that only works on weapons.
  • Weapon Blaze: Cause your weapon to glow as a free action, gaining a +2 Circumstance Bonus on Intimidation and Feint attempts.
  • Wind Weapon: You conjure a normal weapon for one minute as a swift action.

Sample Level One Effects:

  • Adamant Strike: Weapon acts as Adamant for one minute.
  • Deafening Clang
  • Fancy Footwork: Gain +5′ Natural Reach for one minute as a swift action.
  • Magic Weapon
  • Master’s Parry: Block 15 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.
  • Sudden Strike: Make a single attack at your full BAB as a swift action.
  • Sweep: As per Burning Hands, but Force Damage.
  • True Strike
  • Warding Blade: Weapon functions as per a Shield spell.
  • Whirlwind Strike: A standard action, otherwise as per Whirlwind Attack.

Sample Level Two Effects

  • Death Blossom: A standard action, as per Whirlwind Attack with +10 reach.
  • Eldritch Weapon II (The Practical Enchanter)
  • Grandmaster’s Parry: Blocks 25 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.
  • Guardian Stance: Weapon provides a +6 shield bonus to AC and negates magic missile attacks.
  • Litany Of Warding
  • Storm Of Blades
  • Whirling Blade
  • Whirlwind Kata (as per Protection From Arrows).
  • Winged Step. Cast as a Swift Action, for the next one minute per level you may take a move action as part of a full attack action.

Sample Level Three Effects:

  • Eldritch Weapon III (The Practical Enchanter)
  • Greater Magic Weapon
  • Lightning Dance: Cast as an immediate action, gain +3 AoO for the next minute.
  • Paragon Defense: Weapon provides a +7 Shield Bonus to AC and negates Magic Missile attacks.
  • Paragon Parry: Blocks 35 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.

.

Skikon no Tama Shard Power: Thunder Yokai Ki

  • Thunder Yokai Ki uses the same basic structure as Lung Ki, but shapes Storm Magic effects instead – allowing the user to employ his or her Guisarme to project blasts or balls of lightning, call up fogs, hurl blasts of wind, and many similar tricks. Not surprisingly, you can also learn Fire Demon Ki, Healing Hand Ki, and lots of other variants. All of them use different focus items and work independently.

Thunder Clan Storm Fist Style (Str):

Surprisingly enough, the Storm Fist style is a gentle one – albeit it generating a bioelectrical display that is incredibly obvious to everyone nearby. Even the weather seems to participate, often providing dramatic bolts of lightning to backlight the user or punctuating his attacks with dramatic crashes of thunder. Of course, when you’re “blows” are often electrical arcs, the speed of your physical movements is often irrelevant.

  • Requires: At least a +2 Melee BAB, Yokai Blood.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Power 3, Defenses 4, and Strike.
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Improved Trip, Improved Disarm, Reach, and Whirlwind Attack.
  • Occult Techniques: Storm’s Fury (Inner Strength), Thunderbolt Strike (Touch Strike), Lightning Stride (Vanishing), The Living Storm (Wrath, Electrical).
    • Known Techniques (5): Power 3, Reach, Whirlwind Attack

Thunder Clan Roving Wind Style (Dex).

The wind passes over the earth, and the earth knows it not. No man knows from where it comes or where it goes, it leaves no tracks. It travels where it will, for none may harm it. Practitioners of the Roving Wind Style touch but lightly upon the earth and set down no roots. They seem to drift lightly away from attacks, traveling where they will without harm.

  • Requires: Dex Mod of +1 or more, Light or No Armor.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 4, Toughness 4, Synergy/Stealth, and Synergy/Survival,
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Expertise (Trade Attack Bonus for AC), Instant Stand, Mighty Blow, and Mind Like Moon.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Healing Hand, Ki Block, and Light Foot.
    • Known Techniques (4): Defenses 3, Mind Like Moon.

Thunder Clan Lightning Bolt Style (Str)

Given how common the power of Flight is among the Thunder Demon Tribe, it is little surprise that the Clan has an art devoted to hurling missiles (Javelins) against their foes. Given the egotistical nature of the Yokai… it is also not unexpected that the style relies on the power of a pair of Talismans – Bracers Of Hurling that grant thrown weapons the range of a bolt from a Light Crossbow and a Tulthara (Javelins) lets the user have a small thunderbolt / javelin appear in his or her hand whenever he or she wants one.

  • Requires: Use of Charms and Talismans (in this case provided by a World Law since there seem to be very few basic d20 magic items about).
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Power 3
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Mighty Blow (Automatic Trip on a critical hit), Expertise (Trade up to -5 AC for up to +5 Attack Bonus), Augmented Bonus (Adds Str Mod to Dex Mod for attacking with Javelins), Blinding Strike (target must save on a critical hit or suffer penalties).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength x2, Wrath (Fire), and Ki Focus (+4 Strength).
    • Known Techniques (5): Attack 1, Power 2, Augmented Bonus, Blinding Strike

For his fourth style… how about Dungeon Crasher? That’s quite handy sometimes.

Equipment:

  • Talismans: Shimmermail, Bracers Of Hurling, Tulthara (Javelins).
  • Charms: All-Weather Cloak, Amulet Of The Stallion, Captain’s Torc, Diplomatic Sash, Foothold Boots, Sculptor’s Smoke, and Sealed Helm.
  • Otherwise Hiten has several rune-enscribed Guisarmes to focus his power, a nice outfit, and few bits of basic supplies (food, water, rope, etc) stashed around his person, and a rather nice house. He rarely carries money. Why bother? He takes what he wants from the local peasants.

Hiten is already a formidable damage-dealer and (if he’s running the proper enhancements) a fairly good battlefield controller. He needs a few more levels and tricks to fully handle that role – but that’s sort of inevitable for a level two character. In fact, if he draws on his weapons magic he can already pull stunts like Charging and then going into a Whirlwind that covers a 15′ radius – not all that often, but he CAN.

Of course, he’s also pretty heavily optimized for many games – but physical fighters often need all the help that they can get.

Eclipse And Pulp Mad Science

And for today, it’s another request – a Witchcraft-based Mad Scientist build.

Well, mad scientists are certainly entertaining – but the first question to ask is where does your mad scientist get his or her power to defy the laws of nature from? While there are plenty of fantastic power sources to choose from – including elerium, kryptonite, protoculture, tiberium, element x, vibranium, quantonium, dilithium, unobtanium, pinotium, auadium, illyrion, protonite, mako, arcanite, naquadah, kittens, magnetic monopoles, “hypermatter”, black holes, and dozens more – using any of them will mean that your mad scientists is utterly dependent on a single vital supply. You’re out of protoculture? None of your stuff works. That works well in a story that’s fully under an authors control, but it’s pretty limiting in a game. players HATE having their character get sidelined for want of supplies.

So we want something more personal – but outside of that the special effects don’t really matter a lot.

  • Do you have some mysterious “Spark”, mutation, or memetic contagion that lets you draw reality-warping power from other realms, singularities, zero point energy, inter-dimensional potential, subspace, or other cosmic sources? (Waldo, Dexter’s Laboratory, Girl Genius, etc),
  • Do you have implants / nanites / crystals in your body or genetic modifications / special skills that let you draw on possibility, quantum, vril, your own emotions (love, hate, friendship, light, darkness, whatever), your own soul, “neuropotential” / psychic, “the lifestream” / vital, will, or A.R.C. reactor “energy” for power?
  • Can you build devices that gather reality-warping power on their own and/or can be fueled by yours? (temporal, nucleonic, hyperspace, possibility, dimensional, electroplasmic, warp, often with “flux” attached to imply something dynamic that can change over time with the needs of the plot. Thus Doc Brown’s “Flux Capacitor”).

Regardless of your justification, you have a pool of power – spark, flux, quantum, or whatever – that makes your mad science work. This also avoids letting you become endlessly powerful, which is also important in a game.

Most mad scientists have a collection of gadgets that they usually use, but only add new ones relatively rarely – and if they do add new ones, they commonly become a permanent addition to their arsenal. On the other hand, their gadgets are often quite versatile, but they’re rarely awesomely powerful. Sure, Doomsday Devices are a classic, but they never really seem to work.

Ergo, this mad scientist build is going to use Witchcraft.

  • Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) + 10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Restrictions x 2: Mad Scientists cannot use generic “power” devices, but only items especially created for them and they cannot employ clerical magic; the necessary mindset is incompatible with mad science). +10 (Three Disadvantages. Mad scientists are commonly Aged, Compulsive (over-curious, meddling with things they should not, activating things to see what they do), Dependent (stimulants, sappho, supplies), have a History (usually including a list of projects that have gone terribly wrong and are unaccounted for), may be Hunted (outraged villagers are a classic), Incompetent or Inept (Social Skills), Insane (obviously), Irreverent (A god? Ha! Just let me analyze…), Obligations (often a beautiful daughter who is being held hostage), Outcast or Poor Reputation (mad scientist), showman (you fiddle with your gadgets and boast), Unluck (fairly obvious), and Valuable (you know important secrets, which you are usually utterly blind to) +6 (First Level Bonus Feat) = 66 CP.
  • Basic Attributes: Mad Scientists fall into the Adventurous Scholar archetype – so Intelligence is important, and Constitution is next. Dexterity is nice, but Strength, Wisdom, and Charisma are rarely important. For Pathfinder 20-point buy, I’ll take: Str 8, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 18, Wis 10, Cha 8. Tbe build will have to Finesse the Witchcraft saves over to Intelligence, but that’s not too important.

Basics (34 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +0 (0 CP)
  • Hit Points: 8 (L1d8 Hit Die, 4 CP) +2 (Con Mod) = 10
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +0 (Purchased) = +2.
    • Reflex +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +1 (Dex) = +2.
    • Will +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +0 (Wis) = +1.
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons and Light Armor (6 CP).
  • Skill Points: 2 SP (2 CP) +16 (Int Mod x 4), +8 (Fast Learner), Adept x2 (12 CP) = 26 SP.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Leathers) +2 (Dex) +2 (Shield) +4 (Martial Art) = 20
  • Initiative: +1 (Dex).
  • Movement: 30′

Special Abilities (32 CP):

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP). This was presumably purchased at level (-2) using Disadvantage Points, and so provides +8 SP at level one.
  • Finesse (Saves against Witchcraft abilities are based on Int, not Cha, 6 CP).
  • +4 Levels of Int-based Wilder Spellcasting with no Caster Level, Corrupted / provides no disciplines. (+17 + 2 x Int Mod Power) (8 CP). This is a bit cheesy, but most characters have some cheese somewhere.
  • Witchcraft III, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Requires various blatantly obvious Foci that can be taken away (12 CP Base). This provides a selection of seven basic abilities / devices. A mad scientists basic abilities are usually (although not always) Specialized in particular applications for double effect. For some possible examples:
  • The Adamant Will Gadgets:
    • Auric Distortion Cloak: Specialized for Increased Effect / presents a false aura to aura detection effects at no cost.
    • Neural Block Module: Specialized for Increased Effect / Provides permanent immunity to any two of Fear, Possession, Charm, Hold, Mind-Reading, Pain, or Truth Detection effects.
    • Null-Foil Hat: Base functions. This is mildly unusual for a mad scientist, but fits in well enough here.
  • Dreamfaring Gadgets:
    • Afterlife Communicator: Specialized for Increased Effect / Allows the user to sense and communicate with Astral and Ethereal entities at no cost – although it does not bypass language barriers.
    • Cosmic Consciousness Helmet: Specialized for Reduced Cost / Allows the user to project his or her spirit into the Astral of Ethereal Plane for up to one hour for 1 power.
    • Etheric Manipulator Vest: Specialized for Increased Effect / only to let the user see and attack into the Ethereal Plane at no cost.
  • Elfshot Gadgets:
    • Hypersonic Pulser: Specialized for Increased Effect / Panics animals in the area that fail to resist for 1 Power.
    • Neural Dampener: Specialized for Increased Effect / Penalizes a target attribute by -4 for ten minutes for 1 Power.
    • Neuralizer: Specialized for Increased Effect / this device produces some specific short-term effect for 1 Power. Possibilities include Blindness, Deafness, Entanglement, Ghostbane Dirge, Mad Hallucination, Daze Monster, Forgetfulness, Oppressive Boredom, Shadow Anchor, or similar second-level effect.
  • Glamour Gadgets:
    • Cloak Of Radiant Impressions: Specialized for Increased Effect / The user may program this item with a description – “a wealthy merchant”, “an important noble”, “a big man in the underworld”, “a famous military commander”, “just another servant”, or something similar – and anyone who sees him or her must consciously attempt to disbelieve that impression to penetrate it.
    • Harmonic Vocalizer: Specialized for Increased Effect / The user may spend 1 Power to gain a +12 bonus to Charisma-based skill checks for ten minutes.
    • Hypnotic Wheel: Specialized for Increased Effect / Produces a Suggestion effect for 2 Power.
  • Hand of Shadows Gadgets:
    • Kinetic Guantlet: Specialized for Double Effect / May push, punch, and execute ranged combat maneuvers using your (Int + 6) as Strength for one power per minute.
    • Microbot Assistants: Specialized for Reduced Cost / Tiny robots can help you do an hours worth of light work every five minutes at no cost but that is all they do.
    • Vital Flux Charger: Specialized for Reduced Cost / may animate objects (as per Entangle, Animate Rope, Animate Fire, Dancing Lantern, Tripvine, Animate Object (One small item), etc).
  • Healing Gadgets:
    • Bacta Supply: Specialized for Double Effect / only to provide immediate healing (maximum of 6d4/Round for 3 Power).
    • Regenerative Blanket: Specialized for Increased Effect / sleeping under this blanket provides one full days worth of healing per hour at no cost.
    • Universal Antitoxin: Specialized for Increased Effect / taking a dose of this substance (1 Power worth) provides a +10 bonus against Poisons for the next hour.
  • Hyloka Gadgets:
    • Augmentation Harness: Specialized for Double Effect / provides +2 to Str, Dex, and Con for one hour for 1 Power/Hour.
    • Hibernation Drug: Specialized for Double Effect / users may be put into complete suspended animation indefinitely. While so suspended they do not age, breathe, eat, drink, suffer from poison, normal heat, or normal cold, and show no signs of life. This costs 1 Power but does require an unresisting target.
    • Immunobooster Serum: Specialized for Increased Effect / 1 Power provides Immunity to Disease for twenty-four hours.
  • Infliction Gadgets:
    • Ray Gun: Specialized for Double Effect / only one form of energy. Mad scientists almost always have a cold ray, lightning gun, solar blaster, or similar device that can be adjusted to be single target or affect a small area. This may either allow a saving throw for half damage or be a ranged touch attack. (There aren’t any other major examples for this particular basic ability. After all, the Ray Gun is probably THE iconic mad scientist gadget).
  • The Inner Eye Gadgets:
    • Life Sensor: Specialized for Reduced Cost / The user may easily detect the presence of nearby life (or Unlife) forms gaining a +6 bonus to any rolls made to notice or identify them at no cost.
    • Mind Probe Gauntlet: Specialized for Double Effect / provides the results of a full interrogation for 2 Power. The target, however, may resist as usual for an interrogation.
    • Sensory Link System: Specialized for Double Effect / this set of small units allows a group to share their sensory data at a cost of one power for every ten minutes. This provides an automatic Aid Another check for each character in the group when one needs to make a roll with a shared sense and permits the sharing of information from improved senses – thus allowing everyone in a group to benefit from Blindsense or similar effects
  • Shadowweave Gadgets:
    • Disguise Belt: Specialized for Increased Effect / provides a +12 bonus to Disguise and Stealth for ten minute for 1 Power.
    • Holographic Image Projector: Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 2 Power to generate a Minor Image effect or 4 Power to generate a Major Image effect.
    • Invisible Blade Module: Specialized for Increased Effect / renders a melee weapon effectively invisible, granting the user a +6 circumstance bonus on attack rolls against creatures that normally rely on sight for ten minutes for 1 Power.
    • Prismatic Distillation Crystal: Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 1 Power to generate a Blinding Color Surge effect.
    • Pyrotechnics: Specialized for Increased Effect / costs 2 Power, otherwise as per the Spell.
  • Witchfire Gadgets:
    • Comfort Module: Specialized for Increased Effect / maintains a 5′ radius at a comfortable temperature, providing immunity to normal weather extremes for 1 Power per hour or 10 points of resistence to Fire and Cold for those within the area for 1 Power / Minute.
      Cryogenic Mister: Specialized for Increased Effect / This simple gadget, capable of inflicting up to 6d6 damage to an individual target for 1 Power or to a modest area for 2 Power.
    • Essence Extractor: When directed at an unresisting creature, corpse, or area of up to a 20′ radius, this device extracts specific substances for 1 Power. It can thus be used to gather poison from deceased monsters, perfume from flower gardens, drugs from various plants, or gold from ore.
    • Molecular Synthesizer: Specialized for Increased Effect / for 1 Power this gadget allows the user to prepare a sizeable batch of some chemical from common raw materials for 3 Power. This can be used to produce drugs, toxins, explosives, and many similar items.
  • Witchsight Gadgets:
    • Darksight Goggles: Specialized for Increased Effect / provides Darksight at no cost.
    • Multioptics Band: Specialized For Increased Effect / Optical Enhancements only, can swap out what is being enhanced (“changing settings”) up to (Wis Mod + 2) times during the abilities duration.
    • Sensor Wand: Specialized for Increased Effect / for 1 Power provides a +36 bonus to checking for toxins, attempting to determine chemical compositions, or checking a fire scene for accelerants.

Most Mad Scientists will also take Pacts, typically

  • Advertising: Mad Scientists are rarely quiet. Many of them want to explain, to demonstrate their mastery of SCIENCE, to shout out the names of their gadgets, and to set up spectacular, attention-grabbing experiments and laboratories. This inevitably attracts notice and tends to give away their plans.
  • Backlash / mad science experiments are ALWAYS running amuck, or having weird effects, or causing unexpected problems
  • Corruption: It’s not like “The Fly” is an isolated incident. Mad scientists are always attempting to boost their intelligence, or giving themself animal powers, or some such.
  • Exclusion: Some mad scientists just refuse to deal with magic, psionics, and similar items, feeling that they are just misunderstood mad science.
  • Guardianship: If you’ve opened some door that should never have been touched, or found some dark and terrible secret, then you have a lifetime obligation to stand guard over the problem you’ve created.
  • Hunted: While it’s hardly required, mad scientists do occasionally really upset people.
  • Isolation: Who needs social distractions when there is SCIENCE to be had? Far better to isolate yourself in some castle atop a jagged peak, undersea laboratory, or other spot where no one will bother you!
  • Madness: Most mad scientists are more than a bit crazy. Some are completely over the edge. A mad scientist subject to “the madness” will soon go completely over the edge. It’s probably best to leave this one to the NPC’s.
  • Possession: While this is rarely literal unless a given mad scientist happens to be a specialist in ghosts or lovecraftian horrors or some such, quite a few mad scientists are subject to creative fits, wherein they become utterly obsessed with something, or build some device with no idea of what it does, or completely fail to consider whether or not implementing some insanely dangerous idea or experiment is really a good idea.
  • Tithe: Buying all that equipment and maintaining a laboratory can be quite expensive. A “tithe” of gold covers THAT.

The two allowable pacts at first level can provide +12 CP worth of Advanced Witchcraft Powers. For some samples there for use with Pacts or with later development consider…

  • Advanced Vital Infusion: (4 CP): Usually an upgrade to the Vital Flux Charger, allowing it to affect larger items.
  • Aetheric Crystalizer / Ice Gun: Nightforge (4 CP). Often purchased as an improvement on a Ray Gun, this allows the user to creature durable structures.
  • An Important Figure: Web Of Shadows (6 CP) provides a support network and influence in an area. It’s most common with drug dealers, poisoners, and other criminals.
  • Anagatic Regimen: Longevity (6 CP). Always a popular project.
  • Augmented Mentation: Spirit Of The Sage (6 CP).
  • Brewing (6 CP): You are good at making potions, narcotics, alcohol, and other useful extracts, giving you a complete pharmacy. This may be used as a gateway to making Pulp Drugs.
  • College Membership: The Secret Order gets you more gadgets and power, so it’s always popular – but it DOES involve hooking up with an actual secret order of mad scientists, who usually have their own agendas. Usually 6 CP.
  • Combat Drug: Wrath of the Sea (4 CP) to provide +6 Strength. Often combined with the similar Essence Of Earth ability (+4 CP for +6 to Constitution) or Dance Of Flames (+6 Dexterity).
  • Death Ray: Mouth of the Earth applied to a Ray Gun (4 CP).
  • Entropic Dissipater (4 CP). As per Grounding.
  • Genetic Augmentation (4 CP), Flesh Like Mist, Specialized for Increased Effect: the user may inject himself with animal DNA to temporarily take on animal powers.
  • Ghost Trap: Seize the Wandering Soul and Spirit Binding usually shows up in the hands of Ghostbusters as a gadget worth 8 CP.
  • Hyperspeed Accelerator (4 CP). Provides access to the Leaping Fire ability.
  • Minions (6 CP). Where would a mad scientist be without his or her faithful minons?
  • Monster Creation: Tulpa, Specialized For Reduced Cost (3 CP) / always material, sometimes goes off on it’s own or doesn’t understand directions, monstrous appearance.
  • Noted Inventor: Tenebriums Coin. Your gadgets bring in a steady income (6 CP).
  • Null-Gravity Boots: Whisper Step (6 CP).
  • Phase Suit: The Umbral Form (4 CP).
  • Planar Sealer (4 CP). This gadget provides access to the Dismissal ability. Specialized versions (for increased effect or reduced cost) are quite common.
  • Technofamiliar: Familiars are fairly rare among mad scientists, but if they have one it will usually have Robotic Template from Eclipse II. Usually 12 CP.
  • Teleportation Belt: Ashen Rebirth with Teleportation, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for the Teleportation function (6 CP).
  • Weather Control Module / Weathermonger (6 CP). Can also be Specialized in specific, more powerful, effects – such as generating Chain Lightning or Hurricane Blasts or some such.

Like most Witchcraft-based builds, a Mad Scientist is most effective at relatively low levels, before they hit the upper bounds of what Witchcraft can do. Fortunately, Witchcraft is also fairly cheap – leaving plenty of points available at higher levels to invest in other abilities.