Eclipse d20 – The Blue Mage

And for today, it’s a quick answer to a question…

I’m curious. You’ve done a lot of builds that would work for Final Fantasy,. but I can’t come up with a way to do the Blue Mage given that it’s pretty setting-specific. How would you do it?

-Editorial0

Well, the defining feature of a Blue Mage seems to be the ability to copy monster powers after being exposed to them – in d20 terms, being affected by an ability and either surviving it or being brought back.

It’s very hard to say what this covers. Unlike Final Fantasy, d20 doesn’t have a limited list of effects that you are only exposed to as you’re ready for them. Would this only cover Spells? Spells and Spell-Like Abilities? How about exotic powers that might be partially represented by spells or which could inspire a related spell effect?

Can you be “affected” by a dinosaur stepping on you and develop a “multi-ton stomp” ability?

I’m going to say “yes”. A Blue Mage COULD develop a multi-ton stomp effect after being stepped on. It would have to be a version that fit into an available open slot though; if all you had was a level one slot… you might get a version of the “Stomp” psionic power. If you had a third level slot open? You might get an 8d6 radius stomp that also knocked people down.

I’ll buy this ability as…

  • Charisma-Based 3.0 Psion Power Progression, Corrupted / learns specific powers inspired by effects that he or she is hit with, whether from a character or from an item. Turning any given ability into a Power requires a Psicraft or Spellcraft check at a DC of (10 + 2 x the level of the slot being filled). This ability may be used up to (Cha Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) times daily and may be used to “overwrite” currently filled slots if the power currently occupying a slot has not been used for at least a week (8 CP/Level).

Many of the various versions of the Blue Mage that I’ve just taken a quick look at give them some extra defenses against the list of powers they currently have copied. This can be bought as:

  • Improved Spell/Power Resistance (10 + Level), Specialized and Corrupted / only versus effects currently occupying your Power Slots (4 CP). This applies against spells and spell-like effects that are affected by Spell Resistance.
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized for Increased Effect (6/-), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only versus effects currently filling your power slots. Thus, for example, if you have a slot filled with “hit opponent with big axe for a fair amount of damage”, you will be resistant to Axes. This applies to more-or-less conventional physical and energy attacks that do not offer saves. (4 CP).

This can be very handy to adapt on the fly. If you’re up against a swarm of goblins armed with swords… It may be worth putting Spiritual Weapon (Sword) in one of your slots and picking up DR 6/anything but swords. Sure, it’s pretty specialized – but you can always trade it out once it is no longer convenient.

  • Specialty Resistance +4, Specialized for Increased Effect (+8) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for non-spell or spell-like abilities which you currently have power slots filled with that do offer saves, such as – say – Drow sleep poison (4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus, adds (Cha Mod) to (Dex Mod) for AC purposes, against supernatural effects that bypass Spell Resistance, and Saves by requiring a roll to hit, Corrupted/only versus effects currently occupying your power slots (4 CP).

That’s 24 CP at level one, and 8 CP per further level.

Other First Level Stuff:

  • Proficient with Simple and Rogue Weapons (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Con Mod) for Hit Point Purposes for levels 1-6 (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skill Points for Double Effect (6 CP). Normally taken at L0 for +4 SP at level one and +2 SP/Level thereafter.
  • Occult Talent: 4 Level Zero Effects / Cantrips, One First Level Effect (Starting abilities, 6 CP). These are a permanent part of your repertoire – although, to be fair… probably not a particularly important one after the first few levels.

Later Abilities:

Each Level:

  • +1 level of their spell progression (8 CP)
  • +2 on Saves (6 CP)
  • +1 Skill Point (1 CP) (+3 with Fast Learner)
  • +1/2 BAB (3 CP)
  • +1 ability from below:

Optional Level-Based Abilities:

  • Aquamarine Panoply: Medium Armor Proficiency (6 CP). Prerequisite: Naval Blue.
  • Aquamarine Lore: Mystic Artist (Perform  skill of choice) with Echoes, Specialized for Reduced Cost, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Includes the Emotion ability (Inspiring Allies) as a bonus effect on top of whatever other inspiration ability is used) / only to use the inspiration abilities, the duration is only derived from the Echoes modifier. only to provide bonuses in combat against specified enemies (6 CP).
  • Azure Ward, Greater: Upgrade Fortune abilities to Improved Fortune, with the same conditions (+6 CP). Prerequisite: Azure Ward (Below).
  • Azure Ward: Fortune (All three varieties), Specialized and Corrupted / only works against effects in your current list of powers (6 CP).
  • Azure Memory (Level 3+): May summon a glowing blue ectoplasmic construct based on the creature from which he or she learned the ability occupying a current slot (Astral Construct, 3 CP), and Psionic Repair Damage (3 CP). Unlike a Blue Mages normal slot based abilities these may be augmented normally and these abilities become a permanent part of his or her repertoire.
  • Blue Of Steel (Level 3+): Channeling (+2 Power Required) version of Augmentable Astral Construct (3 CP), plus Augmentable Animal Affinity (3 CP). These effects become a permanent part of your repertoire, over and above your slots.
  • Blue Of The Deeps: Spell Formula (Level 5+): Dispel Magic/Psionics (2 CP), Conjurer’s Tricks (L3 variant, 1 Hour/Level, 2 CP), Wizards Pocket (L3 version, 2 CP). These become a permanent part of your repertoire, over and above your slots.
  • Bonus Feat (Four Maximum).
  • Cerulean Ward: Countermagic with Reflexive, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (can “counter” nonmagical effects) / only allows you to counter effects that you currently have occupying your power slots (6 CP). Thus, if you had “hit opponent with an axe” in a first level slot, you could counter someone hitting one of your friends with an axe. You have a “Volley of Arrows” effect? You can counter a Volley of Arrows – as well as things like Fireball, or Dragon’s Breath.
  • Cerulean Infusion (Level 7+): Spell Formula: Personal Eldritch Armor (L3, 2 CP), Personal Eldritch Weapon (L4, 2 CP), and Haste (L3, 2 CP). These effects become a permanent part of your repertoire, over and above your slots.
  • Cobalt Radiance: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Cyan Fortune: Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Psicraft, Spellcraft, and Knowledge Checks (6 CP).
  • Eyes Of Violet: Occult Sense/Detect Magical Abilities: You can spend a round to get a list of the Supernatural Spell-Like, and Spell abilities of a single creature within 60′ (6 CP).
  • Naval Blue: Light Armor Proficiency with the Smooth Modifier (6 CP).
  • Strength Of Sapphire: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Level 13+): Continue adding (Cha Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP indefinitely (+6 CP).
  • Turquoise Durability: Improved Augmented Bonus (level 7+): Continue adding (Cha Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP through level 12 (+6 CP).
  • Ultramarine Rite: Absorbing Power: Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to restore Power, must have a source of power to tap into which will be temporarily depleted. Thus another character with Power could let you tap into it, a charged psionic item would lose charges, and a permanent psionic item would be temporarily nullified (6 CP).

This version of the Blue Mage isn’t outrageously optimized and (pretty much by definition) won’t normally have any of the overly-broken abilities since they generally aren’t deployed against the player characters. They generally won’t have much metamagic (or metapsionics) either – but their ability to rapidly adapt to changing situations and variable ability load-out should still keep them interesting in play.

Besides. Who can resist a chance to counterspell a volley of arrows?

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Nobilis and Eclipse – Estates, Persona, and Domain

“Estates” are one of the core concepts of Nobilis – and are entirely subjective, described by seven “points” worth of sentences, assigning more “points” to more central properties. Your estate could be Time, or Dragons, or Clockwork, or Pillows, or Cooking Programs, or Sid Mier’s Computer Games, or pretty much anything else. It really doesn’t matter what you call it, since it’s defined by those (usually four or five) sentences – not by external expectations. Are you a power of “Cold”? Perhaps…

  • (2) Cold isolates the heart, destroying an entities traits.
  • (2) Cold is an undisturbed void, rejecting reality through not caring.
  • (1) Cold is the death of self, with mind and body soon to follow.
  • (1) Cold is outside, always waiting to force its way in.
  • (1) Cold is eternal and timeless, while all else passes.

Or perhaps…

  • (3) Cold negates energy, for all ends in cold.
  • (1) Cold crystallizes, preserving what lies within.
  • (1) Cold allows things to function far beyond their limits.
  • (1) Cold opens the way for new beginnings.
  • (1) Cold lurks in the depths.

Or perhaps…

  • (2) Cold rides the winds everywhere, stealing heat and life.
  • (1) Cold kills, desiccates, and shatters.
  • (1) Cold is winter, the season of scarcity, famine, and death.
  • (2) Cold is ice, from the smallest snowflake to the greatest glacier.
  • (1) Cold isolates and entraps, preventing or forcing interaction.

The Nobilis book also gives a couple of other examples for “cold”.

  • (2) Cold freezes things.
  • (2) Cold makes things sick.
  • (1) Cold is melancholy.
  • (1) Cold descends.
  • (1) Cold is the snow and the ice and the dark.

Or:

  • (1) Cold slows things down.
  • (1) Cold chills the heart.
  • (3) Cold brings silence, stillness, and peace.
  • (2) Cold is driven to fill emptiness.

Or you could be a power of mathematics, necessity, finance and logic, and still call it “cold” (although altering the rules of logic is a REAL headache).

For that matter, you can be a power of Illogic or Acausality and make anything at all happen as long as it has no rational connection to whatever you did to cause it. You could also make A = Not-A – at which point nothing can be distinguished from anything else.

In any case, Domain and Persona give you powers based on your Estate – Domain focused on affecting objects and the environment and Persona focused on affecting creatures (including yourself). You get a bunch of minor stuff that you can always do and you get major stuff that you can do, but not at all often.

Of course, Nobilis then goes on to say that “The Power of Fire can make someone more fiery, or give them a dangerous feel, or make sure that now and again in life their plans will burn them.” – without talking about what Estate of Fire it’s referring to. What if the Fire Estate that’s currently in play is all about nuclear fusion, metabolism, explosions, and cooking?

I’m going to ignore that bit. D20 focuses a lot more on consistency.

Buying the Domain and Persona Attributes:

  • Both of them are 4d6 Mana, with Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted / only for use Spell Enhancement, only for use with the “Shaping” ability below, only for effects targeting objects or the environment (Domain) or effects targeting creatures, including yourself. Rite of Chi, only recharges the specific mana pool it was purchased for and then only between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (24 CP in total).

You’ll also need:

  • Dominion (Your Estate). This lets you draw power from administering, defending, and otherwise promoting your Estate, as well as allowing you to use it to influence large-scale events (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Estate. You can detect things related to your estate, whether that’s something affecting it on a large scale or its relationship to particular creatures. Note that – since you are the embodiment of your Estate – you can make perception rolls to figure out where attacks are coming from, even if they’re being launched by magic from another dimension. They are, after all, “things affecting your estate” (6 CP).
  • You can produce minor effects related to your estate. That’s Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Level 0 and 1 Effects) / only for effects related to your Estate. Note that this includes Destiny Spells related to your Estate, but they’re no more controllable than usual (6 CP).
    • This is also the foundation for higher-level Estate-related “Miracles”/Spells. Thanks to that “Increased Effect” modifier, 1 Mana will get you up to fourth level effects, two to seventh level effects, and three to tenth level effects. “Imperial Miracles” or Grandiose Edits can reach level 13, but pushing things that far generally leads to all kinds of backlash.

This is incredibly cheesy. Applying “Specialized For Increased Effect” to the Mana used in Spell Enhancement is pretty ridiculous. This sort of thing is only acceptable if EVERY major character is using equally horrible cheese. Fortunately, in a Nobilis styled setting… they all will be.

  • Adaption: Nobilis characters are avatars of their Estates, As such, they adapt to how their Estate fits into the local environment as a basic function of their Persona attribute. They will learn local languages within a few moments of their arrival, take on a suitable local guise (while remaining clearly themselves), and fit into their local role – whether that happens to be as one of the octopus people of an undersea dimension, a towering kaiju in a dreamworld of battling powers, the depths of space, or a mere exotic culture. Thus, if the game master decides to set a session in an exotic city or an alien dimension or something, Nobilis characters need not worry about “can they speak the local languages?” or “can they breathe the local air”.

    • This is an automatic self-polymorphing effect – a small part of their innate Estate-related Shaping – which is entirely under the game masters control (although a Noble may ask the game master to spend 1-3 of his or her Persona mana to trigger it – (lets say if they’re lost at sea with no boat and are about to drown). This will occasionally call for effects of well above level one, so this is they need to buy +1d6 (4) Mana that counts as part of the Persona Pool for recharging purposes, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost; controlled by the game master, only to power self-transformation spells to adapt the user to the local environment, has whatever effects that the GM thinks will be fun (2 CP).
  • You can become one with your Estate, either possessing an instance of it (wherever that is) or “communicating” with it. That’s Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Treats “your Estate” as a valid target, permits easy communication) / only to allow communication with the Estate and to get instances of it to act within their nature (for example, a gun might go off or misfire) or to fully transfer yourself into your Estate, leaving your body behind and undefended to possess and act through one or more instances of it (6 CP). Sadly, possessing more than one instance of your Estate at once requires an Immunity to disorientation to work effectively. Ergo, buy Immunity to the disorientation of spreading your “self” over massive areas (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 6 CP), allowing you to – for example – find which of the hordes thousand fires has the chieftains council going on around it.
  • You may take on an Affliction related to your Estate – or give one to someone else. That’s two instances of Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to take on an Affliction related to your Estate (12 CP) plus Adaption (Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 2 Mana to change the points around instantly, Corrupted for Reduced Cost (cannot change otherwise), only for your Estate-Related Afflictions, above, 2 CP), plus Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to lend someone else an Affliction (2 CP).

Persona and Domain 4-5 are a problem; they’re where you can Create, Animate, Summon, Destroy, Adopt, or Cast Out (make something a part of your estate or not a part of your Estate, so that it transforms – although how is up to the game master). And while this is limited to a relatively small scale… unlimited Raise Dead, Create Undead, Slay Living, Animate Object, Summoning, and similar effects generally wreck the game.

The trick here is to recognize that such abilities aren’t really “unlimited” in Nobilis either; they may not have a base cost at this level – but trying to use your “Life” Estate powers to raise all the dead of a great battle will very shortly bring you into conflict with other powers. Nobilis conflicts expend resources to pump up your miracles very quickly too – so there won’t be many chances to use the free stuff there either. Finally, of course, the game master has a lot more input on what you get from any given attempt in Nobilis than in d20, where they’re basically just high level spells. That’s one reason why I’ve given the various Nobilis “Attributes” mana / “Miracle Point” pools of 4d6 instead of 5. They have some to spend on such effects, and so will get to use them about as often as they get to use them in Nobilis anyway. There’s no further cost here, since I’ve already included that.

That gives the equivalent of Domain and Persona 5 a total cost of 60 Character Points. Once again, that’s relatively cheap in d20 because most Nobilis “Miracles” are actually pretty straightforward in d20 terms. They may be high-level spells – but they’re just spells. D20 is a system where Raistlin – a mortal wizard – could challenge the entire pantheon of his world and destroy them all (OK, that was second edition, but the settings haven’t changed that much). In d20, power is a smooth scale; there isn’t any sharp division between “Mortal Magic” and “Divine Powers”.

Ponies Of The Eclipse – Stygian and The Pony Of Shadows

After the write-ups for the six Pillars of Old Equestria Alzrius requested a writeup for Stygian, the Pony Of Shadows – and so here we go. As always, the first thing to do is to look at what Stygian and The Pony Of Shadows are actually shown doing – admittedly, mostly in campfire tales and in the My Little Pony: Legends Of Magic comic book series.

  • To start with the obvious, pony names are often pretty good indicators of their talents. Stygian is “of or relating to the river/deity Styx”- a part of the Greek underworld, associated with darkness, witchcraft, and hidden lore, and with dark waters that granted near-invulnerability,. That’s really rather suggestive. Moreover, Equestria includes Tartarus (another part of the Greek Underworld), Minotaurs, Centaurs, Hydra, Manticores, and more – all elements of Greek Mythology made real and tangible in the setting. It may be worth taking Greek Mythology references fairly seriously.
  • Stygians Cutie Mark has never been revealed. He covers it all the time, just like Sombra. That’s also rather suggestive, and more than a bit ominous.
  • Stygian is supposed to be fairly young. Of course, given that it’s a kids show, most of the characters are fairly young – so this isn’t exactly a power unless he’s immortal as the Pony Of Shadows. (The Pony Of Shadows was no longer in charge when his world was revisited more than a thousand years later – it had apparently been taken over by an alternate version of Discord – but we aren’t exactly shown that much of the alternate world in either case and we’re not told why there was a change).
  • Stygian is an expert on the sea, biology, and folktales, is at least competent at strategy and tactics (that’s probably pretty rare among generally-peaceful ponies) and astronomy, and is apparently quite knowledgeable about the various creatures of Equestria. That’s more than a bit weird for a villager. Serious scholarship kind of calls for either access to libraries, mentors, and support for your studies or a great deal of natural talent in a field to develop everything from scratch (and is likely to go badly wrong even then; Aristotle was very clever, but most of his “scholarship” was very badly flawed, to say the least). Secondarily, that’s a LOT of fields of study for a youngster with no resources to master. A way to support himself and a teacher or teachers of some sort would make this a lot more reasonable.
  • On the practical level he’s a competent sailor, a skilled maker of baskets, a horticulturist, a good housekeeper, and can apparently handle an immense list of other chores (presumably involving other practical skills) in one evening. He’s good enough at survival to wander the wilderness in relative safety, became a successful commercial author (after being freed from the darkness) and may have various other practical “village” skills or spells.
  • He was a skillful telekinetic, with excellent fine control and – as shown in My Little Pony: Legends Of Magic #8 – enough telekinetic strength to hold back water across a canal with force barrier. Even if it was only ten by ten… that puts the total force in the ten to twenty ton range. Admittedly the writers probably had no idea of what they were showing, and unicorn telekinesis tends to be as strong as the story calls for (since he then found lifting Rockhoof mildly awkward), but even lifting Rockhoof seems likely to be fairly impressive for your basic unicorn. Perhaps it was a force barrier or “wall” effect though? Those might be a lot easier.
  • As a unicorn scholar, who has specifically noted that “he wanted to go back to studying spells (Legends Of Magic #9), his magic is probably fairly versatile, even if mostly focused on practical spells and effects that could be found and practically employed in a seaside village.
  • When the Sirens attacked his village, he was the only one to escape their influence. He stated that it was because he was “out of range” – but he got more than close enough, and then resisted for long enough to go and consult his books before running away. Even if the sirens gave a concert, surely the place had farmers, woodcutters, and others who worked much further away and who didn’t come? Why didn’t any of THEM get away? Some special resistance seems likely.
  • He then evaded, escaped, or fought giant sea serpents, crab monsters, timberwolves, and gryphons, and possibly more obstacles than would fit in the single page devoted to his solitary travels to reach Rockhoof’s distant, apparently “northern”, viking-styled village.
  • He gathered a group of heroes to stop the sirens, even getting crochety old Starswirl to come along. Sure, ponies are generally helpful and willing to go a long ways to help others (as established in the first couple of episodes!) but surely legendary heroes had other urgent requests to deal with. Ergo, he’s probably fairly – and perhaps unnaturally – persuasive.
  • He could command the minions of an alternate-universe version of himself. This might be a power, or it might just be that they were too obedient/cursed/stupid/whatever to tell the difference.
  • That alternate-universe version of himself had, however, apparently killed off most of the pillars, eliminated or chased away all other ponies (at least there were none shown), commanded many minions, had corrupted large areas of the world, and wanted to become a cross-universal corruptor (strongly implying that he’d either finished with his current world or was being forced to run – and he didn’t seem to be running). Evidently, given time, the Pony Of Shadows became fairly dangerous directly and extremely corruptive.
  • When he confronted the alternate-universe Pony Of Shadows, their magic proved ineffective against each other – canceling out, despite the Pony Of Shadows supposedly being much more powerful than plain Stygian.
  • He borrowed the Pillars signature artifacts and went to Ponehenge to make copies of them so that he “could be a Pillar too”. Given that several of those artifacts are purely symbolic, that may have been purely irrational thinking – which would help explain why the Pillars misinterpreted what he was up to. It’s hard to understand something that makes no sense.
  • When he was prevented from making copies of the Pillar’s artifacts he wandered off, only to return later hosting a powerful force of darkness. Again, that seems likely to be an uncommon (if dubious) talent, simply because – while it seems likely that a lot of ponies get really upset – most of them don’t wind up hosting mighty evil forces.
  • Starswirl The Bearded, scholar of magic, didn’t know how to deal with him as The Pony Of Shadows. That rather implies that there was something pretty unusual about the magic that was in use in that form – and perhaps normally.
  • Stygian actually seemed to be fairly strong and versatile for a Unicorn in practice. Why wouldn’t that power be apparent to others?
    • Stygian can Teleport at least three ponies at a time for fairly long distances – possibly hundreds of miles – in Nightmare Knights #2 – but that series is only halfway completed, and didn’t even start until October 2018, so I think that it probably represents a somewhat later version of the character who has picked up at least one more level; otherwise his journey to find the Pillars would be just a bit less impressive. So no teleportation for this version.

For his primary attributes…

  • Strength: He’s a really scrawny little guy, so his Strength is going to be pretty underwhelming.
  • Constitution: He seems to be reasonably tough and enduring though, pointing towards a decent Constitution. Sure, he needed more rests than Rockhoof while they were traveling together, but a stream locomotive probably needs more rests than Rockhoof.
  • Dexterity: When it comes to Dexterity Stygian is probably fairly average for a pony. He did move pretty quickly, and with no obvious fumbles, when he needed to – but it was nothing all that impressive.
  • Intelligence: Genius plus. He definitely seemed to have a better appreciation for what might go wrong with a plan than Starswirl did despite being much younger and presumably less experienced, he’s apparently a self-trained scholar in many fields, and he has a LOT of skills.
  • Wisdom: Wisdom is always a bit harder to pin down, but being a field naturalist, and surviving solo journeys across the wilds of early Equestria, implies that (at the least) there’s no major deficiency here – and he certainly shows a reasonably strong will, both in resisting the Sirens (whether he used a power or not) and in setting out on a solo quest to bring help.
  • Charisma. Rockhoof finds Stygian pretty affable, and he’s apparently pretty persuasive – but he’s certainly not that good at being the center of attention, dominating a group, or showing that much force of personality. Of course, some Charisma is pretty much built into ponies.
  • Finally, while Stygian is fairly adamant about “not being a hero”, he certainly is one from an observers standpoint – so I’m going to use the same 25-point attribute buy as I did for the rest of the Pillars.

When it comes to level, Stygian did a lot of wandering around as a scholar, then went on a quest to find the Pillars, and then participated in some degree in the various adventures after he started finding them. Since the low-level adventurer template would keep him from advancing at the breakneck speed of a normal d20 character, I’m going to put him at level three. That would actually be a bit high for his known “number of encounters” – but presumably he did some things that didn’t make it into the comics. After all, he was a pretty busy guy even before he started collecting the pillars.

The world of My Little Pony is a world of friendship, harmony, and rainbows. So… why ARE their true villains? Sure, Trixie, the Flim-Flam Brothers, Spoiled Rich, pre-reformation Diamond Tiara, and even Discord were really annoying, but they mostly just misinterpreted or failed to “get” all that happiness.

So what is powering a (possessing) Nightmare? Or Tirek? Or Sombra? What powers dark magic?

For Nightmare… it was Jealousy. For Tirek, Greed. For Sombra, Fear.

For the Pony of Shadows? He seemed to be powered by the greatest of all dark magics in the world of Friendship Is Magic – Friendship Betrayed. For the Pony Of Shadows may have been somewhat separate from Equestria-primes version of Stygian – but as the MLP: Legends Of Magic annual showed… over the years they would have become one, for that alternate version of Stygian bore tattered batlike wings. He had ascended to become a Dark Alicorn. So it is time to create…

Stygian Shadow, potential Prince Of Friendship Betrayed.

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (-2 Unicorn = 6), Dex 12 (-2 Pony = 10), Con 12 (+2 Pony +2 Enh = 16), Int 18 (+2 Knack, +2 Unicorn = 22), Wis 13, Cha 13 (+2 Enh = 15) (Pathfinder 25 Point Buy).

Available Character Points: 96 (Level Three Base) + 10 (Disadvantages: History (a bit of a freebie for most converted characters), Obligations (takes responsibility for all kinds of things), and Accursed (tends to be misunderstood, ignored, and uncredited) +18 (Unicorn, L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 124 CP.

Basic Abilities (36 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +9 (L2-L3d6, 4 CP) +12 (Template) +15 (5 x Con Mod) = 42 HP. With pony damage reduction this makes him reasonably durable.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) + 36 (Int) + 18 (Fast Learner) = 60 SP
  • BAB +1 (6 CP). Stygian isn’t stupid, but he just isn’t a physical fighter.
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +0 (0 CP) +3 (Con) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Reflex +3 (9 CP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Tem) = +4
  • Proficiencies: Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +0 (Dex)
  • Move: 40 (four legs, 20 on three or less).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +7 (Force Armor III) = 17. May rise to 24 when he adds a Force Shield III.
  • Stygian really doesn’t do physical combat, so he has no “usual attacks”.

Sage (35 CP):

  • Adept x 2 (12 CP). Pays half cost for Knowledge: Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nature, and Planes, Linguistics, and Spellcraft.
  • Fast Learner (6 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Knowledge Skills.
  • Universal Jack Of All Trades, Specialized and Corrupted / Only for Craft and Profession skills (4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds (Int Mod) to (Wis Mod) for Skill Check Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Profession Skills (2 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds (Con Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Check Purposes, Specialized in Knowledge Skills Only (3 CP).
  • Tactician (8 CP): Mystic Artist (Knowledge / History) with Echoes, Specialized for Double Effect, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to use the inspiration abilities, only to provide bonuses in combat against specified enemies, requires that the player provide a plausible plan.
    • This is actually pretty potent; sure, it only lasts for ten rounds once a fight starts – but a good plan / +2 Positive Levels from Mass Greatness can go a long ways in ten rounds.

Skills:

  • Craft (Universal): +1 (JOAT) +6 (Int) = +7
  • Diplomacy: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Cha) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Fly: +3 (3 SP) +0 (Dex) +8 (Fly Speed as the Pony Of Shadows) = +11
  • Heal: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) = +7
  • Knowledge: Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nature, and Planes: +6 (3* SP x 6 = 18 SP) +6 (Int Mod) +3 (Con Mod) = +15.
  • Linguistics: +6 (3* SP) +6 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +15
  • Perception: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Perform (Sing): +3 (3 SP) +1 (Cha) +2 (Race) = +6
  • Profession (Universal): +1 (JOAT) +1 (Wis) +6 (Int) = +8
  • Spellcraft: +6 (3* SP) +6 (Int) +3 (Tem) +2 (Race) = +17
  • Survival: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) +3 (Tem) +3 (Unicorn Skill Mastery) = +13
  • Swim: +6 (6 SP) -3 (Str) = +3

Stygian Magic (53 CP).

Like Trixie Lulumoon centuries later, Stygian wields a strange, and often frightening magic. He is so used to thinking of it as “wrong” that he conceals his cutie mark and has denigrated his own skills to the point where he believes himself weak, ineffective, and incapable of fighting. Stygian doesn’t lack power though, even if it doesn’t show up very well on Equestria’s usual scales. What he lacks is self-confidence.

Mana-Powered Witchcraft III (18 CP) with Finesse (Uses Int Mod in place of Cha Mod for Witchcraft, 6 CP). Will Save DC 19, Base Power 11. (The Superheroic World Template provides him with 3 Mana – equivalent to 12 Power – per round).

Basic Witchcraft Abilities:

  • The Adamant Will. This allowed him to resist the Sirens,
  • Elfshot: He can inflict minor hindrances on opponents. This is rarely worthwhile unless he’s trying to do something subtle or create an opening for someone else.
  • Hand of Shadows: He can perform a wide variety of telekinetic tricks (and do lots and lots of chores).
  • Infliction. The basic “I do magical damage” effect. In his base form Stygian isn’t very good at this, although he can vary his attacks to whatever he thinks is most likely to scare off his targets. It’s not generally his first option though.
  • Glamour, He can enhance his persuasive abilities and project mental orders to creatures that have been bound to his will – even if they were so bound by an alternate version of himself.
  • The Inner Eye, Specialized for Increased Effect / Only to “hear” whispers of the Akhasic Record (+10 Insight Bonus to a skill check for 1 Power) or the outer ones beyond reality (this provides an excuse for taking any desired knowledge skill, for prophetic or weird dreams and nightmares, and so on).
  • Witchfire. Stygian uses this – in conjunction with boosting metapsionics – to generate basic force effects, such as Mage Armor, Shield, basic barriers – such as the one he used to hold back all that water.

Advanced Witchcraft Abilities:

  • 2d6 Mana as +6d6 (21) Power (12 CP). Even if somehow cut off from the flow of Mana, Stygian has some reserves.
  • Metapsionics / Amplify, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Hand of Shadows and Witchfire (force effects) (2 CP). With this ability Stygian can spend more Mana to boost his Hand of Shadows to handle much heavier weights and his Witchfire force-effects to create reasonably durable force barriers and Force Armor/Shield effects of up to level three.
  • Tenebrium’s Coin, Specialized and Corrupted / Stygian always has access to basic supplies for a scholar – food and drink, camping gear, ordinary clothing (such as it is for ponies anyway), reference books, a lamp or candles, blank journals, pens and ink, and a comfortable lifestyle, but cannot accumulate or spend funds from this ability (2 CP).
  • Ridden By The Loa, Specialized and Corrupted / Stygian only knows of one entity to channel per +2 or part thereof of his total Knowledge: The Planes bonus, must intentionally seek out a “weak point” between the dimensions and conduct a ritual to for the first “summoning” of such an entity (and must do so again if the link so created is later broken), cannot upgrade his level of control or use The Adamant Will to resist or expel such an entity, and (unfortunately) is focused on nigh-incomprehensible Lovecraftian Entities (2 CP).
  • Metapsionic Theorem / Elemental Manipulation with two levels of Streamline, Specialized and Corrupted / only to automatically add a Dispel Magic or Dispel Psionics effect to his Witchcraft-based single-target attacks (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Three extra actions per day variant) with +3 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only to use Witchcraft (5 CP).

The Pony Of Shadows: Stygian plus a (157 CP / +4 ECL Acquired “Black Pharaoh” Template):

The Pony Of Shadows is Stygian channeling Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, Corrupter Of Worlds. Unfortunately, even with a +4 ECL Lovecraftian Template stacked onto him… Stygian is still only an ECL 4 character at base. Without time to grow he is severely limited.

  • Journeyman, Master, and Grand Master (Hit Dice, 24 CP)
  • +6d4 Hit Dice (48 CP). While an extra thirty-five hit points never hurt, the real bonus here is that Witchcraft’s “casting level” is based on hit dice – so this gets his “casting level” up to nine. In Equestria that’s a fabulous level of raw power.
  • Apparition, Specialized for Increased Effect (Construct VIII) / must take the “Enveloping” ability (see The Practical Enchanter / Psychic Constructs), can only be manifested around himself, can only take one specific construct-form with the choices of A) Fly 40′, Armored (+1 Deflection Bonus to AC), B) Fast Healing II, Trample, Versatile (Increased Flight to 80′), and C) Energy Bolt (Adds +5d to Infliction effects) and Enveloping (6 CP). This forms the dark body of the Pony Of Shadows.
  • Immunity to Casting Level Requirements (Very Common, Major, Major, for six levels off the requirement, Specialized and Corrupted / only for the Construct-VIII effect, as given above (5 CP). This gets his casting level for the Apparition effect up to level fifteen.
  • Additional Advanced Witchcraft Disciplines:
    • Master Of The Sabbat, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with Elfshot, only to lay curses of slow corruption, only usable once per day to a game master decided maximum effective level of curse (2 CP). The Pony Of Shadows can corrupt lands, creatures up through Alicorns, and entire worlds – but it will take considerable time and effort.
    • Seize The Wandering Soul (6 CP): Entrap unanchored souls. A dark and terrible power.
    • Spirit Binding (6 CP): Bind souls into creatures or objects. Another dark and terrible power.
    • Nightforge (6 CP): Create solid objects of shadow.
    • Mouth Of The Earth (6 CP): Upgrade Infliction to d8’s and add other effects.
    • Ashen Rebirth (Shadow) with Teleportation (12 CP). Become a creature of shadow.
    • Leaping Fire (6 CP): Accelerate it’s own movement, healing, and attacks,
  • Other Abilities:
    • Cloaking. Detection and Scanning Magic will simply show a normal unicorn pony of little power (6 CP).
    • Celerity: +10′ Ground Movement (6 CP).
    • Reflex Training (three extra action per day variant) (6 CP).
    • Amorphous (6 CP). The Pony Of Shadows can move through cracks and spaces that are logically too small for it.
    • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Severe, Major, 6 CP).

The Pony Of Shadows does not wish for simple destruction, It seeks madness, corruption, and to lead intelligent beings into destroying themselves. Thus it’s attempt to corrupt Celestia and Luna, so as to send them against still more worlds, rather than simply passing through the mirror-portal, lurking, and slowly corrupting the world with it’s own power. Unfortunately for it, it’s not really all that good at interacting with normal creatures, so it’s attempts at corruption are both direct and more than a little crude.

Equipment:

  • Charms: Astrolabe, Foulflesh Amulet, Loaded Brush, The Ocean’s Arms, Sands Of Time, Traveler’s Bedroll, and Vanishing Coat (Cloak),
  • Talismans: Preserving Chest (for specimens), Rubydraught, and Stone Of Sustenance.
  • Stygian presumably keeps a pocket-knife, current journal, bit of rope, snacks, and other minor items wherever it is that ponies keep things, but ponies don’t rely on equipment very much.

Stygian is more or less right. He’s not a hero. Under normal circumstances he can provide a nice boost to a group of heroes, repair or build pretty anything, is a bottomless well of exposition, and can throw some decent protective spells. He’s an invaluable sidekick to a hero or heroes, but just doesn’t have much offensive punch – leaving him safely in the rear echelon providing support services. Of course, he has a lot more offensive capability and options when channeling a spirit – but when he resorts to that he pretty much loses control to the spirit he’s channeling. .

Now, if only he could figure out what this odd little golden thing – like a bit with most of the center drilled out – that he found in Rockhoof’s volcano was. He keeps getting this odd urge to put it on, but it’s not like there’s any portion of his anatomy where the silly thing would fit.

Since these have appeared over and over again, they’re here at the bottom for easy skipping:

To summarize the low-level adventurer template, those affected get:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • Very slow level advancement, by direct session-based character point awards rather than experience points. Succeeding in goals helps, but killing things and taking their stuff does not.
  • The status of valuable trouble magnets – they’re rare and find trouble everywhere they go.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active magical skills.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents. For the full list see the Template. For Stygian we’ll take a +2 bonus to his Intelligence and Enduring (providing him with a +1 bonus on his Saves).

To summarize the Basic Pony Modifiers:

  • Quadruped. In general ponies are slow and have trouble moving while using tools or weapons.
  • Attribute Modifiers: -2 Dex, +2 Con. An additional +2 Con and +2 Chr are dispellable magical bonuses.
  • Damage Reduction 9/- versus both Physical and Energy Attacks, only DR 2/- versus melee attacks by living creatures.
  • Endure Elements. Ponies pretty much ignore the weather.
  • Ponies heal 1d8+1 damage per round three times per day.
  • Ponies are always treated as having lots of pockets, even in the nude.
  • Ponies get minor cartoon effects, such as hair that responds to moods, blushing through fur, and so on.
  • Ponies may begin or participate in spontaneously choreographed musical numbers that provide bonuses for group tasks.
  • Have a base pool of 1d6+3 Mana, regaining 1d6 with an hours rest up to three times a day and 1-2 points per day regardless.
  • Get a +2 Racial Bonus to Perform/Sing

To Summarize The Unicorn Subrace Modifiers:

  • Occult Talent provides their usual minor spellcasting while the use of Mana powers it.
    • L0: Dancing Lights (in many trivial variants), Daze (with various special effects), Detect Magic, and (Skill) Mastery (provides a +3 competence bonus on a particular skill for ten minutes per level, +6 if it only covers a limited aspect of a skill).
    • L1) Greater Mage Hand.
  • Immunity/Being unable to Concentrate on more than one thing at a time (covering up to three tasks and/or spells of up to level three at any one time).
  • Upgrade their basic Mana supply with the Spell Enhancement Natural Magic option.
  • Metamagic: Amplify / Only applies to Occult Talent abilities.
  • A +2 Racial Bonus to Knowledge/Arcana (2 CP).
  • +2 Intelligence/-2 Strength.
  • One Bonus Feat.
  • Executive, Corrupted for Increased Effect (add the user’s Int Mod to his or her effective level of use)/requires 2 Mana/hour to power. Unicorns are good at coordinating groups, and can provide substantial bonuses.

Eclipse: The Codex Persona is available in a Freeware PDF Version, in Print, and in a Paid PDF Version that includes Eclipse II (245 pages of Eclipse races, character and power builds, items, relics, martial arts, and other material) and the web expansion. Here’s a Featured Review of it and another Independent Review.

The Practical Enchanter can be found in a Print Edition (Lulu), an Electronic Edition (RPGNow), and a Shareware Edition (RPGNow).  There’s an RPGNow Staff Review too.

Eclipse And Nobilis – Aspect and Destiny

In Nobilis, Aspect says that you are Physically and Mentally better than human.

Your will is inexhaustible, your mundane skills and traits are all effectively professional, your attributes inhuman! You complete tasks with incredible speed, at just the right time or in the nick of time! You can balance on a thread, fight fifty men at once, and survive terrible hazards and weapons that should kill any normal person in an instant. Even if you should be injured, your wounds heal swiftly and without scars or long term damage!

Well, yes. You are a midlevel or higher d20 character.

Even WITHOUT using Heroic Scaling (which I recommend for a Nobilis game)… you may want a few special bonuses, but a total of +3 in any skill makes you a professional. A +5 makes you an expert. Einstein did really tough original research in his field. That’s DC 30. So… +2 (Modern Library / Masterwork Tool) +3 (Skill Focus) +20 (Take 20)… means he needed another +5. +3 if we allow him a +2 Assistance Bonus for consulting with other scientists. You can have that at level one. Easily.

The world record long jump is 29 feet. That’s DC 29. Again, you can easily beat that at level one. Spend your bonus feat on Innate Enchantment (Personal Haste (2000 GP), Jump (1400 GP), and Light Foot (1400 GP) and that alone gives you at least +36. Throw in Masterwork Running Shoes (+2), a decent attribute bonus (+3), and your base level one skill (+4) and you can easily “Take 10″ and jump 55 feet – close to double the world record. YOUR record would be 65 feet, even if you don’t throw in any of the other readily-available bonuses.

So yeah. By d20 standards this isn’t going to be all that tricky. If Heroic Scaling is in play it’s actually pretty trivial.

Aspect (36 CP):

So to buy an “Aspect” Attribute in Eclipse?

  • That’s 4d6 Mana (you rolled a 17? Congratulations! You have an “Aspect Attribute” of 17), with Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted/only for use Reality Editing, only to produce effects calling for raising the user’s normal abilities to superhuman levels, Rite of Chi only recharges this specific mana pool and only between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (12 CP).

Or, if we already have Rite of Chi we can just generalize it and buy bonus uses / only to recharge this particular pool instead. That would save a few points in a build with several of Nobilis’s super-attributes.

If you want to pull off those level-9 Nobilis Miracles… you’re basically just saying “I can do this amazing thing” and giving it a long duration. Again, in d20 terms… it’s not that impressive.

To be just generally superior (even beyond the superhuman baseline of d20), buy

Nobilis Demigodling (12 CP): Innate Enchantment (11,100 GP value, 12 CP):

  • Inhuman Speed: Personal Haste (2000 GP): +30′ Move, +1 Attack when making a full attack sequence.
  • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP): +12 + 2 x Con Mod HP.
  • Inspiring Word (1400 GP): +1 morale bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, checks,
    and weapon damage.
  • Wrath Of Heaven/The Infernal (1400 GP) +1 Sacred (Infernal) bonus to Attacks and Damage.
  • Skill Mastery (1400 GP): +2 Competence Bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
  • Fortune’s Favor I (1400 GP): +2 “Luck” bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
  • Resist: (700 GP): +1 Resistance Bonus on all Saving Throws.
  • Divine Health (1400 GP): Fast Healing I (for 18 Rounds) 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter).

This package provides +2 to Saves, +2 to Attack Checks, +5 to Skill and Attribute checks, +2 to Damage, +30′ to all Movement Modes, +(12 _ 2 x Con Mod) hit points, +1 Attack when making a full attack, 36 points worth of Rapid Healing per day, and helps out with poisons, diseases, and attribute damage – quite enough to make you significantly superhuman even without Miracles or Heroic Scaling.

Oh, you want to be able to resist injuries over and above being inhumanly durable? Buy…

Heroic Durability (12 CP).

  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you bounce small-caliber bullets, arrows, and similar annoyances unless they’re backed by more-than-human power.
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Energy Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you dip your hand in molten metal, stand around in a burning building to have a chat, handle considerable electrical shocks, and even helps with spells, force bolts, and “divine” or “infernal” damage. It’s all energy.

And that’s about it for Aspect in d20. Clocking in at a total of 36 CP for pretty much everything you get for Aspect-5 isn’t especially expensive, but that’s because you get most of what Aspect covers in Nobilis simply by being an adventurer in a d20 world to begin with.

A few Nobilis Aspect Miracle examples – such as “taking out your gun and shooting down a star” – may still be beyond you, but that’s mostly setting-dependent. If the stars are lamps hanging from the celestial dome, or chips of sparkling crystal in the roof of the world-cavern, sure; you can shoot one down. If they’re holes in the cosmic dome revealing the light of eternity beyond, you might be able to shoot a new one or plug an old one, but you can’t “shoot down” a hole. If they’re the welcoming lights of the cities of the dead, lit by the ancestors to lead the spirits of their descendants to their eternal homes once their time in the physical world is done… well, even if you shoot well enough to extinguish a light somehow, they’ll just fix it. And if they’re gargantuan masses of fusing hydrogen light years away… Well, the path of least resistance is to just divert the light that’s going to reach the earth for a few years, since you’ll probably be pretty heavily out-miracled by the locals who like their sun right where it is, thank you very much.

Destiny (30 CP):

Destiny grows in victory, in loss, and in discovery. Your adventures, your tales, and your lessons learned can change the world.

The trouble with the Change The World part is that, in d20, the world is a lot bigger than it is in Nobilis. Do you want to bring the World Ash into being, to shape a reality where the tenets of Nobilis hold sway?

Then you want Dominion – and then some items from the Path of the Pharaoh – Manipulation, Sphere of Influences, and Godfire. All Specialized / they only function within the reality you are creating. That’s (12 CP). Now take Creation (6 CP) – and create the World of Nobilis as your Divine Realm. It won’t do you a lot of good, but with the permission of the Game Master you could be the creator god of the Nobilis universe at level ZERO.

And as you collect Godfire within that world of your dreams, you may set rules and laws for it. In general, the creator of a realm gets to:

  • Determine whether or not people can be injured there and, if they can be, whether or not they can “die”. For example, in dream- and cartoon- realms it’s often impossible to be truly injured. In hell-dimensions you may not be able to “die”, or even lose consciousness, no matter how badly hurt you are. In many “afterlives” you can “die”, but will simply wake up again at an appropriate location – whether that’s beneath the great tree of life, in Odin’s great hall, or in bed. Secondary effects in this category include enhancing or negating healing, aging, and similar effects.
  • Determine the general nature of the realm – it’s layout and description, whether the local timerate is fast or slow in comparison to the Creators original plane, and the realm limitations on technology, magic, psychic powers, and other special abilities.
  • Grant ability packages worth up to 24 CP within the realm. These can be set up on a general basis (such as in the Dragonworlds, where everyone gets 24 CP off the cost of buying draconic powers if they choose to do so), be handed out to individuals, or a mixture of the two.
  • Define any stable dimensional access points, such as links to other realms. The creator can also define whether the realm is easy to reach, can be reached normally, or is difficult to reach otherwise, as well as how difficult it is to open gates or create overlays within it.
  • Buy Sanctum abilities, and have them apply to the entire realm.
  • Selectively suppress or enhance particular powers within the realm as long as he or she has access to at least one point of Godfire. Unfortunately, this is limited to (Cha Mod) modifications at any one time. In general, the realm-creator can suppress particular types of powers (reducing their effects by 3 levels) or enhance them (increasing their effect by one level, either making effects easier to use or adding metamagic), but is not him- or her-self subject to this suppression. The available modifications tend to default to suppressing the efforts of other deities: An intruding deity must expend one point of Godfire per point of suppression to invoke Godfire against the will of the dimension-creator, but that will suffice to overcome such resistance for hours or days.

Quite a lot of these sorts of rules apply to the little pocket-realms created by high-order spells and psychic powers too. Extradimensonal Spaces can be very versatile, although a lot of the most common basic modifiers are found in The Practical Enchanter under the Spacewarp Spell Template on page 72.

But most people want to change the world they currently occupy, not dream one up to suit themselves. Just as importantly, Nobilis doesn’t usually allow true godhood as Eclipse defines it. You can do many of the same things, true – but they’re mighty projects of destiny, not “activate a power” and the scale is a lot smaller. Even affecting the “billions of worlds” of the entire tree is a drop in the bucket compared the the estimated hundred billion solar systems in the Milky Way Galaxy – and you can multiply that by the estimated two hundred billion galaxies in the observable universe. And even that gargantuan number doesn’t even register on eh scale of the theoretically infinite number of Hubble Volumes beyond the observable universe. True Godhood in Eclipse has a lot of perks.

Well, you can do that. The powers you want are:

  • Action Hero / Crafting if you want to create some mighty work, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Action Hero / Invention if you want to discover or develop new things for all to use. Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Action Hero / Influence if you wish to restructure the relationships between the great powers of the world – or to raise up new powers and cast down old ones (6 CP).
  • Returning with Rewrite (12 CP). Nobilis characters are very difficult to get rid of permanently. They also get to occasionally shuffle some of their abilities around. Ergo, they have Returning with Rewrite. You may kill them, but you have to break their connection with their Estate to make them stay dead – and they get to tweak their abilities occasionally between adventures.

Dominion works if you wish to use the power of your Domain (Estate) to influence large-scale events. It too is a bargain at only (6 CP) – but will inevitably involve you in the maintenance and defense of your Domain (Estate). In theory you could also use advanced Dominion abilities – such as Divine Attribute, Sanctify, Endowment, and Greater Endowment – to alter the world on a wide scale, but for that you need to be a True God, and Nobles generally are not. Ergo, I’m going to be leaving even basic Dominion to go under Persona and Domain, where it fits in better.

Of course, all of that is a lot more direct than Destiny in Nobilis, where destiny is required to be ambiguous, subtle, and slow. That’s because – in d20 – the world has large-scale rules. You don’t necessarily need the cooperation of the game master, or to go with the plot or theme. If you figure out a way to take out the campaigns ultimate enemy in the first session… then so be it! The Game Master will just have to come up with something else.

Now, as for Personal Destiny – improving your personal powers and traits – d20 has a basic mechanism for that built right in. It’s called “Gaining Levels”, and it is – once again – much more definite than in Nobilis, in part because a d20 game can readily function with a new game master, or (for quite some time) with no game master at all.

Eclipse And Nobilis – Treasures

And for today it’s part of a question sequence – a follow-up on Nobilis Afflictions in Eclipse.

I assume that Domain and Persona would probably just be dweomer based spellcasting, but Aspect, Destiny and Treasure (especially the stuff that doesn’t easily fit into normal item creation) would be of interest.

-Jirachi

If something doesn’t fit into normal item creation, couldn’t you use “Create Artifact” for it? Maybe specialized and corrupted, depending on how restrictive it is/you want it to be.

-krackothunder

Somewhat? But there’s a couple of specific things that don’t have obvious translations to the create artifact system for complicated reasons.

-Jirachi

Well, lets consider Treasure in Nobilis.

Treasure is stuff that is linked to you, infused with your divine power and a part of your personal mythos – your panoply, associations, or what-have-you. You can treasure objects, memories, symbols, collections of stuff, and almost anything you can describe. As far as I can tell, Treasures can’t be destroyed without destroying YOU and they’re usually just presumed to be around somewhere when you want to use them (although there is a Treasure-4 effect that can summon them to you if, for some reason, they aren’t handy).

The trick here is that – in Nobilis – basic Treasures are channels for their owners powers much more than they are items with their own functions. At Treasure 3 you can have the equivalent of d20’s mid-level magic items as Treasures – Wings of Flying or some such – and you can have the equivalent of fairly major items at Treasure 5 – but their effects are still based on their owners “Treasure” trait. They can provide some small bonuses, but really only become effective on the Nobilis scale when you start channeling Miracle Points through them.

At Treasure-0 ordinary items and people that you bond to yourself as Treasures become – at your option – one of the best of their kind mundanely available and/or free of maintenance – as well as being mystically linked to you. So yes, if you really love your kid, but she’s sulky today, a passing thought can annihilate her balky body, mind, and soul and replace her with a wonderfully obedient, ideal, incredibly talented, straight-A student kid who won’t need to eat, sleep, or have a place to live. She’ll just be around when you want to play with your perfect little doll. Won’t that be wonderful?

Well, maybe we should leave kids out of this.

Lets think about a car instead. It won’t need gas, oil, or maintenance and it will perform like the best and fastest car around!

Wait a minute though. Everything in reality (and, with access to even a few other worlds, a lot of stuff that isn’t) is “mundane”, and can be obtained through mundane means if you happen to be visiting a world where it’s available.

  • So, just to stick with current-day Earth… if you and the game master happen to know about the vehicle siphon and waterproofing systems that let a car be driven underwater, you can presumably drive underwater.
  • How about the supersonic rocket drives for land speed record cars?
  • Did you know about amphibious cars that function as boats too?
  • How about the flying Aerocars? First built in the 1940’s!
  • Perhaps you’d prefer a Rinspeed sports car submarine?
  • Military vehicles cars often have mounted weapons and other gadgets. So do ambulance cars, even if their gadgets are a lot more peaceful. Executive limos often have some impressive armor plating and safety features. And then there are stunt cars and all the things you COULD put in a car, but generally don’t.

So what is your “mundane” car-treasure capable of or equipped with?

How would I know? That’s between you and whoever is game mastering your Nobilis game.

And there we see, once again, the basic problem with converting Nobilis to d20. D20 says “Ok, it’s called the Chalice Of Spring, what can it do?, How was it made, how hard is it to break, and how expensive is it?” while Nobilis says “Ok, you have the Chalice Of Spring, you can channel your power through it to do “Chalice of Spring” miracles – each likely a unique event.

In Nobilis the sword Severance could be used to win battles, sever fond memories from regrets, cut Death away from Life in a wounded character (leaving scars, but no wounds). It might make people get divorced, or seal gates, or make annoying kids no longer be related to their families.

To paraphrase Nobilis…

A Miracle-6 can declare that a Treasure uses its powers or abilities to create a definite outcome. Perhaps your sword wins the fight for you or you or your rocket car brings a new era of peace and prosperity to Mexico. The more absurd your choice of outcome, the longer it’s likely to take – but it WILL happen unless someone invokes an opposing miracle.

So how does that opposition work? Well, Nobilis is a diceless bidding system; you pick an attribute or special ability to use, possibly spend one or more “Miracle Points” to boost it, and compare the result to the difficulty. Given that the characters are all gods, that even a attribute of “0” is superior to a normal human (See: Heroic Scaling), and that the player characters all get a +3 on any mundane task (when a total of 2 indicates success) you generally don’t need to worry about any unopposed mundane action.

So lets take two Nobilis characters with Treasure II.

  • The Lizard Wizard happens to have a treasure described as “A legion of time-traveling cyberallosaur samurai with laser cannons. They do shadowruns.” Depending on where The Lizard Wizard picked them up, they might even be a Mundane Treasure. Nobody says that your treasures have to come from Earth.
  • Madame Olga has a Treasure she describes as “Incense Of Superlative Aromatherapy. It settles things down”.

Finding himself offended by the Chicago Museum Of Natural Histories exhibit that says that the Archosaurs are extinct, The Lizard Wizard decides that Chicago MUST BE DESTROYED!

Now, what level of miracle is required for this? It might not be any; after all, Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow (or possibly a neighbor with a pipe or similar minor accident) pretty much managed it once before. Having your minions set things on fire isn’t particularly outside the norm.

  • So The Lizard Wizard can send in the Saurian Legion (with its base rating of Miracle-2), to enforce his will and Chicago will be automatically destroyed (or at least set on fire) unless something else with miraculous powers intervenes. Mortals cannot oppose miracles!
  • But Madame Olga leans out her window and waves a fan, wafting the smoke from her Incense into the Saurian Legion to settle them down. They both are defaulting to Treasure II, and defender wins ties. So is Madame Olga defending? She is intervening on behalf of Chicago, but she’s doing it by trying to alter something else – but what she’s “altering” is negating an opposing miracle. Ergo, she’s defending, she wins, and the Saurian Legion mellows out and goes home. If the game master happens to feel otherwise though… well, Chicago is in trouble.
  • The Lizard Wizard, badly frustrated, blows his top and spends four Miracle Points to get to a level six Alter Destiny Treasure Miracle; Chicago shall be forever known as a place of monsters, reduced to a few ruined hovels that none save the beasts will ever dare inhabit again! The Saurian Legion goes back in time, to destroy Chicago before it ever gets beyond an Indian settlement! (Not that history is anything but a special effect in Nobilis).
  • If Madame Olga has four miracle points to spend, thinks that it is worth doing so, and fans harder… the smoke will go back in time, calm down the Saurian Legion once again, and Chicago will never have been in peril. If she does not, perhaps it is time to use her travel spell and move to New York City!

There are a few complications – mostly other traits that can come into play to provide free miracle points or to boost or diminish other miracles – and there might be other Nobilis involved, but that’s the essence of it.

Now, why mortals can’t oppose any of this when there are no laws of nature and thus their actions are also miracles (wouldn’t there being a distinction be a law of nature?) is a good question, but it’s the nature of Narrative games to ignore almost everyone except the major characters. Otherwise we’d be worried about the intervention of the hundreds or thousands of other major supernatural beings who might have an interest in Chicago, and the player characters wouldn’t be the primary focus any longer.

So Treasures are basically manifestations of the user, have a consistent Theme, and can produce all kinds of effects within that Theme when the user channels power through them. They aren’t necessarily individual objects, or creatures, or even physical.

Buying a “Treasure” attribute in Eclipse:

  • That’s 4d6 Mana, with Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with “Treasure” effects, no Natural Magic option, Rite of Chi only recharges this specific mana pool and only between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (12 CP).

Buying Treasures in Eclipse:

  • Mundane Treasures are normal things that get souped up. For this you want some Rune Magic (Specified Treasure, such as Cars), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only for that particular treasure at (3 + Att Mod) x 3 (6 CP). This will let you summon, repair, and boost beyond all reason, mundane treasures of the appropriate type.
  • Followers and Allies and such get are bought as Leadership or Companion with various modifiers, all Specialized / you have to spend Mana to get them to do anything important for you (6 CP).
  • Symbolic Treasures – where a particular symbol or set of symbols acts as channels for your power and senses – can be purchased as Immunity/The Distinction Between the Symbol and You (Uncommon, Major, Great, Specialized / must expend 2 Mana to activate with respect to specific instances of the symbol) (6 CP).
  • A collection of minor devices (Charms and Talismans from The Practical Enchanter) can be purchased as: Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans take some time to attune for use (6 CP). Another option that doesn’t cost Mana, since they’re pretty minor by d20 standards even in less-magical worlds.
  • Powerful Magical Devices are usually purchased as a Create Relic package: Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only for making a particular four-point Relic or four-point collection of lesser Relics (2 CP), plus Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect and corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for making those particular relics (4 CP) – for a grand total of (6 CP). They don’t usually require Mana, since they’re associated with a very high Treasure rating anyway.
  • Labs and such can be purchased as “Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys” from The Golden Ones sample powers list. These can allow you to have a collection of minor items to use on your adventures.
  • For a collection of more-or-less “normal” d20 magical devices, buy Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to summon, repair, or briefly boost up your normal wealth-by-level equipment (6 CP). Now you have a full-scale panoply of stuff – at least once you’re of a high enough level.
  • Mysterious Devices – like the sword Severance, or the Chalice Of Spring, or the Remote Control Of The Machine God or The Flying Dutchman’s Phantom Pirate Ship – are purchased as Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to produce effects within a specific theme (6 CP). This can produce some pretty impressive miracles at times – but not very often.
  • For a mess of Technological Tools and Gear, purchase Innate Enchantment (5000 GP = 100,000 Dollars or Credits worth of d20 Modern / Future equipment) for (6 CP) and supply yourself with gear that simply appears when you need it and disappears otherwise.
  • If you just want Money, buy a Stipend or Privilege/Landlord. In either case, this basically defines you as being rich, having a nice lifestyle, and so on (6 CP).

There are other abilities that could be fitted into this category, but that should cover most things.

Thus a Nobilis character with Treasure-5 would have perhaps a eight to ten Treasures and the basic Treasure Attribute – for a total of 60 to 72 CP. Expensive, but Treasure-5 represents 60% of their available points for attributes.

And I hope that helps!

Hexcrafting Part III – The Elemental Powers Deck

And for today, it’s a complete Elemental Hexcraft Deck – although it is, of course, suitable for various other purposes. This particular deck is divided into five suits – Flames, Water, Air, Earth, and Wood, each in sequence from primal origin to final end, and each noting what kind of hexes it can be used to produce.

Suit Of Flames:

1. The Sun. Pure, terrible, and radiant, the sun drives back the darkness, destroying what conceals itself within that darkness. Light, truth, and purification all lie within the purview of the Sun, as well as searing light and the destruction of the undead.

2. The Inferno. The greatest of earthly fires, the inferno rages and destroys. Rains or walls of flame, the summoning of fire elementals, and destructive blasts all lie within the purview of the Inferno – as does parting flames and controlling such forces.

3. The Fireball. Catalysis of change lies within the Fireball, the power to cause fires to flare up as mighty blasts, to haste or slow the fires which burn within living beings, and to perform subtle feats of alchemy.

4. Energy. Fire harnessed yields energy, the power to drive great engines and clanking steam powered automatons, to hurl mighty projectiles, and to send vehicles hurtling across the world and skies. Guns, rockets, engines and mechanical wonders lie within the purview of Energy.

5. The Forge. Where craft meets magic, the Forge fabricates and enhances. All forms of repairs, fabrications, and refinements, and the enhancement of weapons, tools, and armor, lie within the domain of the Forge.

6. The Secret Fire. Fire can lie imprisoned within many things, whether bound into coal and oil by the forces of nature or by the hands of craftsmen. The Secret Fire can call forth that bound fire or bind fire away, to be released at will.

7. The Unity Of Fire. To recognize the balance of fire within and without is to handle it in safety. Spells of protection from fire and cold, merging with fire, Fire Shield, and many similar protections can be found within the Unity Of Fire.

8. The Dance Of Flames. Within the heart of the flames lies both grace and vision, speed and fascination. Those peering within the flame may react with swift prevision, gain glimpses across time and space, and ensorcell others with the beauty of a dancing flame.

9. Smoke. Whether a pleasantly scented wisp or a choking miasma, Smoke fills the winds with darkness. It’s domain includes the simplest of illusions, blocking sight, having various ill effects on those within it, and even generating toxic clouds of carbon monoxide.

10. Desolation. The burning away of social relationships lies at the heart of Desolation, it’s purview includes the traps and barriers of no-mans-land, hatred and betrayal, and the destruction of hope and the blasted landscapes which inevitably follow.

11. Ashes. All fires must must burn out at last, leaving little of worth behind, but clearing the way for new things. Whether to extinguish other flames, to call forth a burning wind of searing sparks and embers, to simply disintegrate something, to drain energy and strength, or to undo destruction – perhaps reconstructing a burned tome – Ashes will serve.

12. Darkness. When the last flame glimmers out, and the light perishes, Darkness will yet remain. Spells of concealment, and of the unnatural forces which bring the animation of undeath to life properly long since passed are concealed within the Darkness.

Suite Of Water

1. Abysm. In the secret depths, in the darkness between the fire and the ice, does life begin. Aberrations, Slimes, Immense Pressure, and Deep Mysteries all lie within the province of Abysm.

2. Leviathan. The great beasts of the sea echo the deep history of the world and contain the wrath of the waters. Great monsters, ancient tales, great upheavals, and the birth of new things and places fall within the purview of the Leviathan.

3. Whirlpool. What came from the deep will one day be reclaimed by the deep, a fraught passage that might lead to anywhere but which offers a traveler little control and the risk of being stranded.

4. Current. The inexorable flow of space, time, and destiny sweeps all the cosmos with it, drawing everything towards an unknown destination. Such forces are the purview of the Currents of time, as is the induction of eddies, imposing destinies, and hastening or slowing the flow of time.

5. Tide. The inevitable waxing and waning of the Tide moves within all life. Youth and Age, Growth and Decay, and the enhancement and reduction of Attributes all fall within the purview of the Tides ebb and flow.

6. Ship. Whether drifting flotsam or vessel of cunning craft, the seas touch lands and places across time, space, and reality, cosmos drifting like bubbles within the depths. Travels between lands and places, importing rare marvels, and struggles against the forces of nature are within the province of the Ship.

7. The Unity Of Water. To recognize the balance of water within and without is to handle it in safety. Spells of protection from corrosives and toxins, merging with water, auras that corrode or drown, and many similar protections can be found within The Unity Of Water.

8. Venom. The malignance of water seethes in hidden places, emerging to strike secretly from within. It’s malice ranges from simple incapacitation or intoxication to horrific slow dooms. All the intoxicants, drugs, and poisons of the natural world are within the domain of Venom.

9. Reagent combines craft with the myriad secrets of water, the extraction and distillation of what lies within. The realms of alchemy and chemistry, purification and sublimation are all within the Reagent’s compass.

10. Blood. As without, so within, Blood surges with it’s own current and tide, flowing with life and vitality. The transfer of vital force, the sealing and healing of wounds, bringing temporary life to the inanimate, disease and the recovery therefrom are all within the scope of Blood.

11. Erosion. Water is the great leveler, taking all things, grain by gain, back into itself to be reborn – or, if their time is truly past, to sleep forever into silted darkness. The corrosive power of time, of decay, of quagmire, of disaster, and of dissolution lurks hidden within the depths of Erosion.

12. Fimbulwinter. When stillness at last claims the restless waves, and the boundless lines of the future freeze into the crystalline oneness of the past, there shall be no more to come. Ice, endings, preservation, and the purity of the arctic wastes writ large remain when the river of life comes at last to its end.

Suit Of Air

1. The Nebula. A sparkling of motes gathered from a celestial wind, an ethereal foundation for what is to come. Radiation and Magnetism, as well as the vacuum of space can be drawn from the nigh-endless depths of the nursery of stars.

2. Gyre. The vortex draws all around it to itself, whirling about it’s core. From the spiraling infall of gas to form new stars to the smallest dust devil, the pattern of the Gyre appears again and again. While things like sunspots are out of reach in most settings, whirling shields, blades, bullets, tornados and the self-organizing lives of Air Elementals usually are not.

3. Wind. From the streaming particles of the solar winds to the ceaseless hypersonic gales of jovian worlds, force and motion are the domain of Wind.

4. The Thunderbolt. Where wind contends with wind, atoms themselves are torn asunder and the Thunderbolt is born. Both prismatic radiance and the discharging force of lightning are within the purview of the onrushing storm.

5. Sublimation. From the finest mists of the exosphere between the stars to the mesospheric chill, it is the nature of air to carry energy away. Spells of cold, of extinguishment, and of draining and negating forces and other magics lie within the purview of Sublimation.

6. Thunder. Between the Lightning and the Thunder is a promise waiting to be fulfilled. The vibration of wind recoiling. The forces of Sound and Vibration fall within the scope of Thunder, albeit only in their cruder forms.

7. The Unity Of Air. To recognize the balance of Air within and without is to handle it in safety. Spells of protection from lightning and sound, merging with the winds, auras that deflect missiles or hurl others away, and many similar protections can be found within The Unity Of Air.

8. The Harmony Of Voices. Thunder and Craft give birth to Language and Communication, the foundation of Sapience. Empathy and Music, Words and Phantasms, Translation and Encryption all fall within the compass of the Harmony Of Voices.

9. Dream Of Wings. Wind harnessed by Life grants the freedom of the sky, carries missiles and missives, and sends thought between worlds. This also grants Dream Of Wings some level of control over dream-magic, no matter how ethereal that application.

10. Cloud. The stagnation of Air becomes drifting pools, a vaporous Sargasso of turbulent particles and aerosols. Within the compass of the Cloud lies mists, gases, blowing dusts, and an assortment of corrosives and toxins.

11. Silence. When Air at last passes into stillness, naught remains save the occasional tremor of deep structures yielding at last to ancient pressures. Within Silence lies the perception of deep time, stillness, the easy detection of even the faintest traces and disturbances, and the suppression of sound and motion. Stillness remains where Silence reigns.

12. Void. Last as it was first, the last traces of Air a scattering of particles drifting into the eternal void. Vacuum, where even Air is not, the dispersal of matter at fundamental levels, and the expansion of space all fall within the Void.

Suit Of Earth

1. The Mountain. In nigh invincible solidity the Mountain is the fundamental embodiment of Earth and Stone, whether as an iron fist of hurtling doom, a bulwark of defense, or an unremarked host of lesser entities. Its grasp is gravitation, its strength the slow thrust of plate tectonics, and its endurance near eternal. The summoning and manipulation of stone and earth, and of the gravitation that binds it, lies within the Mountain.

2. Earthblood. Flowing from the world’s heart comes heat and magic, upwellings of flowing stone, fields of magnetic force, and forces stranger still. The magic of the Earthblood is slow but strong, spells of vulcanism, magnetism, ley lines, and drawing up or dissipating magical energies all pulse with ancient energies of Earthblood.

3. Cavern. Concealment, shelter, and a place of daunting stony beauty, those places where Earth withholds its base aspect are still filled with its deep strengths. There may forces birthed in darkness be given form. Extra-dimensional spaces, passage through otherwise impenetrable obstacles, and the forces of Shadow are concealed within the Cavern.

4. Crystal. Stability and order given form, the lattice of timeless Crystal can hold both energy and information. Stasis, storing both raw power and the complex structures of spells, disciplines, and information, and the channeling of those forces lie within the sparkling depths of Crystal.

5. Earthquake. Where stability bows at last to accumulated tension the foundations of the world crumble and prior certainties give way. While the aspects of the Earthquake include the shaking of the earth and destruction of architecture, ancient magics and planar traits, the very foundations of reality, also tremble and fall before the Earthquake.

6. Endurance. That which is of the Earth, or is touched by its energies, survives. If you wish the life of a burned-out forest to reawaken, for a gate to withstand all that can be hurled against it, to withstand the rigors of a lengthy battle, or for a frail child to recover from some terrible disease, the Endurance holds the answers you seek.

7. The Unity Of Earth. To recognize the balance of earth within and without is to handle it in safety. Spells of protection from weapons and force, merging with earth and stone, armored skin, and many similar protections can be found within The Unity Of Earth.

8. The Fortress. Where Craft touches upon Stone, the Fortress rises, fastness, refuge, and home. Spells of hospitality, of construction and siege, of imbuing locations with defenses and wards, all lie within the purview of the Fortress.

9. The Golem. While the Earth is slow to wake, it is implacable once aroused. While simple elementals are within the domain of the Golem, so are deadfalls, avalanches, the pools of dust or “quicksand” which swallow up their victims, and simple pits. When the Golem stirs the earth itself to battle, where shall one find refuge?

10. The Delve. The fruits of the Earth are many, and are the foundation of wealth. Metals and Jewels, the hidden lore of the long-buried past, and the Hammer in the Forge, all begin in the depths of the Earth. Spells of Crafting, of Finding, of Paths, of Metal, and of Wealth, all lie hidden within the depths of the Delve.

11. Armor. When Earth guards Flesh, Armor is. From the crudest stony shell to the complex electronics of a giant mecha, Armor has defended life across the ages. Spells that grant, enhance, or otherwise augment that protection fall within its scope.

12. Dust. When even Earth begins to fail and structure falls away, all that remains is drifting dust. Spells of sealing and release, of disintegration and recalling the traces of the past lie within the last traces of Dust.

Suit Of Wood:

1. Yggdrasil. All forests, one forest. All trees, one tree. Before the rise of the beasts, a forest was. In the World Tree are the paths between worlds where life spread across the cosmos. If you seek the paths between worlds, or the serenity and bounty of the primordial forests, seek within the branches of Yggdrasil.

2. Nidhogg. They slumber, yet remain. Whether amidst the roots of the Yggdrasil or in the City of Rlyeh, the Great Beasts that set the Patterns of Life await the breaking of ancient bonds. Effects such as “Summon Nature’s Ally”, “Dragonstrike”, and more lie within the domain of Nidhogg.

3. Audhumla. Life grows, spreads, encroaches. Whether it is the vines that pull apart stone, the sargasso which entraps, or the roots that devour, the tide of life knows few limits. In Audhumla does life devour itself and find renewal. Spells of growth, of entanglement, of reincarnation, and of bringing burgeoning life to the barren wastes are within the scope of Audhumla.

4. YmirGaia. Each spark of life, a candle against the void saying “I AM”. In a myriad such sparks, a great light. What life encompasses, it draws upon. Communicating with Realm-Spirits, drawing upon the magical resources of the land, and seeking the consensus of life lies within the realm of YmirGaia.

5. Alfheim. Where sparks gather, Fey are born. Disembodied Nature and Totem Spirits, or more grounded Dryads, Fauns, and Boggarts, all share in the wild magic of nature. Yet, while the wild magic can never be entirely tamed, it can yet be channeled. To call upon Alfheim is always a tricky bargain – something must always be given in return – but many and wide-ranging are the powers of the fey.

6. The Troll. The rampaging power of the beasts lies at the heart of the Troll, the force that strips away forests, digs networks of tunnels, dams rivers, and gathers resources. If it lies within the power of muscle, paw, and claw, it is within the realm of the Troll.

7. The Unity Of Wood. To recognize the balance of wood within and without is to handle it in safety. Spells of protection from positive/negative energy and curses, merging with plants, auras that bludgeon or entangle, and many similar protections can be found within The Unity Of Wood.

8. The Thousand Excellent Herbs. Remedies and toxins, foodstuffs and banes, all can be found in a handful of cunningly-selected plants. With sufficient power, all such things are available within the realm of the Thousand Excellent Herbs.

9. The Cottage (often The Den). A snug, secure, place of safety with family about you. The Cottage brings shelter and calm, a place of healing and rest. Spells of the Cottage bring rest and sleep, renewal and healing, and contact with those bonded to you, whether living or dead.

10. The Harvest. Abundance and festival, a buffer against famine, is the gift of the Harvest. Spells of creating food and intoxicants, drawing upon the strengths and energies of others, storing things away for later, and celebration, are all within the compass of the Harvest.

11. The Workshop. The work of hands and cunning brings transformation, the creation of new wonders from natures harvest. Spells of fabrication, construction, and enhancement of tools and machines fall within the purview of the Workshop.

12. The Fungal Kingdom. As life draws to its close, the last flowering is of creeping decay in the darkness, as death at last holds illimitable dominion over all. Spells involving fungi, spores, the toxins of molds and decay, and restoring an unnatural life to fallen flesh, lie within the realm of the Fungal Kingdom.

While this is definitely a “broad” deck, offering a wide variety of magical effects, it’s worth noting that it certainly doesn’t (and shouldn’t) cover everything. No individual Hexcrafter should be omnipotent. On the other hand, it’s certainly fair enough to rule that any fire card in this deck will probably do to warm your feet or light your pipe if someone was to waste a Hex on such a trivial matter.

Now, if you limited this deck to the manipulation of the actual, physical, “elements” it would definitely be a “narrow” deck – and probably one with a great deal of redundancy since a lot of the cards would have some serious overlap when interpreted that way. That might be an easy way to start off though, spending more points to turn it into a “broad” deck later on.

Eclipse And Nobilis – Afflictions

And for today (and a bit of Christmas Backfill) it’s a ‘how to build in Eclipse’ question.

How do you build a character who has a permanent law of reality attached to them (Afflictions from Nobilis, in case you recognize it). Basically, they are things varying from ‘I am always on time’, ‘I stay abreast of technological developments’, or ‘I love [a specific person]’, that are immutable facts about you that can only be overridden by major workings of gods. But they also have the potential disadvantage of being permanent facets to your character that you can’t violate (except through intense personality change, or contradictions).

-Jirachi

Well, the first step in building anything is having a look on what it’s supposed to do and how it works. Presuming that you’re looking at Nobilis 3’rd edition…

Afflictions in Nobilis 3’rd, are a supernatural force that tries to make something happen. They can be blocked by other supernatural forces, but it takes work. On the other hand, if they cannot rationally function, there is backlash against the person with the Affliction. Still, they’re generally quite beneficial. If they help you, you benefit – and if they hinder you you get more Miracle Points to use, and so once again, you benefit. They only become a problem if something provokes Backlash, and even then it isn’t that bad. That’s why you deliberately buy Afflictions during character creation.

The trouble here is that even in Nobilis there’s no real definition for how far an Affliction can go to make something happen – leaving “rationally function” up to the whims of whoever is running the game.

A sample Affliction from Nobilis 3’rd is “I am always on time”.

  • So if your alarm clock doesn’t go off (broken, stolen, power out, forgot to set it, whatever), you either wake up on your own or something else wakes you up. That’s fair enough. That happens to real people fairly often. In fact it’s happened to me personally a number of times. I was a pretty heavy sleeper when I was younger.
  • If your car will not start, there will be a handy cab or something to give you a ride – and all the lights will just happen to be green when you get to them if you’re pressed for time. You will make it to your court appearance on time. This sort of thing is less common in reality, but it’s still not too big a stretch.
  • Of course, as an Affliction, you will also make it to your court appearance on time even if you’d much rather be skipping it and going to the hospital to treat that gaping stomach wound with the blood pouring out of it.
  • Can you make a note in your day planner that you will be arriving to pick up some dinosaur eggs in Mexico forty-eight hours before the asteroid strike and have your affliction teleport you across continents and sixty-six million years back in time so that you make it in time? Why or why not? Time and space are just more laws of nature after all.
  • Can some other character with access to the afterlife make a note in his or her day planner that they will be meeting you in the realm of death at noon and have your affliction make sure that you die in time to attend? Why not? Wouldn’t that be “being on time” even if you didn’t know that you were expected?

What happens if you need to be in two or more places at once? Does that produce Teleportation, Time Travel, Duplication, Telepresence, or Backlash? What are the limits here?

Perhaps a few more examples from Nobilis will help sort that out?

If you “must be rescued whenever you are in trouble” does that mean that you can never get out of trouble through your own efforts? After all, you MUST be rescued – and if that’s a “law of nature”, then it ALWAYS applies. No matter what you do, as soon as the slightest thing goes wrong, you are stuck until you are rescued. Did you not find out what you wanted with your first Google click? You are having trouble, and must now await rescue! Let us hope that the kid next door will soon arrive to save you from the evil computer in exchange for cookies again! Or is there a threshold of “importance” here?

How about “Animals really hate me”? That’s another one straight out of Nobilis.

Is that what d20 calls animals? Does it include bugs? How about people? They’re a part of Animalia after all. Perhaps it’s everything in Opisthokonta? How much do they hate you? Will they come through fire to get you? How do they know you? From how far away?

In d20 there’s a major difference between “you can’t use a mount, have a familiar, or use a trained animal”, and “The Druid’s animal companion attacks you on sight and cannot be called off” – and an even larger gap between that and “You are constantly pursued and attacked by every creature in the jungle, including the army ants and local tribesmen” – but they could all reasonably be derived from “Animals really hate me”. How wide-ranging is this Affliction?

For a penultimate example from Nobilis… “I must appear when someone chants my name three times!”

Now, Nobilis has something to say about this particular Affliction.

To look under the hood of that Affliction, it’s terribly annoying to reflexively teleport across the world whenever some dude with a pamphlet chants your name. On the plus side, though, it’s free travel; it doesn’t require buying a Teleportation-style Gift; your friends can call on you when they’re in trouble; and it won’t be long before you pair it with a cell phone and some allies to get you just about anywhere you want to go.

Which just goes to show that Nobilis actually operates on an extremely small scale compared to both reality and D20. The real universe appears to be infinite. If that rule applied to you in reality there could only be two possible outcomes; it never happened because it was impossible (perhaps your name was too complex to pronounce three times in the lifetime of the universe) or it would happen an infinite number of times every second and you’d effectively cease to exist. You’d never be in one spot for more than the Planck Time.

And most d20 games are set in an infinite multiverse full of infinite universes.

For a final example from Nobilis… if you are Afflicted to “win the heart of everyone you meet”, and you meet “a mechanical man with no heart to win” you must either propose a viable resolution – “something that could happen to sustain the affliction” or accept spiritual damage to your avatar.

Yet afflictions are enforced by reality-altering miracles. In d20, where spells such as Wish can explicitly alter the recent past to “undo misfortune” (and much, MUCH, lower level effects can allow rerolls), isn’t “I didn’t get into that situation” pretty much always a viable miraculous resolution?

Questions like these really don’t matter in Nobilis. It’s a much more narrative-driven system and presumes a fairly high level of cooperation with whoever’s running the game. D20, however, demands a much higher level of definition and details. It also draws a much clearer distinction between advantageous powers that are generally controlled by the character or player and disadvantageous effects that are generally controlled by the game master. It’s full of opposition that is actually trying to kill you and has some chance of success at it.

We’re going to need to at least loosely define a lot of things that Nobilis just leaves up to consensus – but now that we have a reasonable idea of what we’re building, it’s time to spend some character points.

Hindrances and Karmic Bennies:

  • For “Afflictions” that are basically just annoying hindrances, all you need is the “Accursed” disadvantage (-3 CP). Talk to the game master about what effects taking “Accursed: Animals Hate Me.” will have and see if you want it and the three extra character points you’ll get for taking it.

If you want the full Nobilis-style “I get benefits whenever this becomes a problem” thing, you will also want to buy one of:

  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, never activates at all unless the associated “Accursed” disadvantage is proving to be a serious hindrance at the moment (9 CP).

Or

  • Grant of Aid with Mighty and +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, never activates at all unless the associated “Accursed” disadvantage is proving to be a serious hindrance at the moment (9 CP).

Thus, for a net cost of (6 CP) whenever your annoying curse proves to be a serious hindrance, you may draw strength from adversity – regaining spells, power, mana, or other supernatural resources OR regaining hit points, lost attribute points, or drained levels when you need them.

If you want to do both, both, reduce the bonus uses on Rite of Chi to 4 (and the cost to 6 CP), and spend two feats / 12 CP on the package. That way meeting the challenge of your curse will renew both your physical and magical strength if you need it. It still probably won’t make being “Hunted By Demons”, or “Always a Primary Target”, or some such a good thing by itself – but if you’ve given a character a disadvantage like that, presumably you’ve got them set up to deal with it.

If your Affliction is one of those that actively twists reality to enforce itself rather than an annoyance that rewards you when it comes up, then you’ll want to build an…

Imperatives:

  • 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for enforcing a particular rule (6 CP), plus Rite Of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the pool above (6 CP). Both are Specialized Again for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, may backlash if blocked or logically impossible within the limits of the level of Reality Editing it can handle. (Double Specialization is normally a fairly big red flag, but putting something under the control of the game master should keep it under control).

This 6 CP Power/Feat actively warps reality to enforce itself. Does everyone you meet always fall in love with you? Sure, you may get free food, the best advice that people can manage, and price breaks – but people murder people they love all the time and being kidnaped by some lunatic admirer is not fun. I’d think carefully before buying this sort of ability.

The extent of the edit required – and allowed – also plays a role. 1 Mana covers a Minor Edit. Perhaps the waitress brings you an extra-large plate or doesn’t try to keep you from skipping out without paying. Notable Edits cost 2 Mana. Perhaps that waitress is suddenly willing to risk her neck to hide you and get you out a back door when enemies show up. Major Edits – being rushed away by a mob of adoring fans / volunteer defenders or having a local ruler intervene to get you out of trouble AGAIN – cost 3 Mana. Finally, grandiose edits – that dread elder god decides that it really likes you – cost 4 Mana if they’re permitted at all.

That also gives us a convenient mechanism for determining how powerful an effect your shiny new Affliction / Imperative can produce; you rolled a “1” for Mana? Then the limit is Trivial Edits. You rolled a 4+? Then you can have Grandiose edits if the game master chooses to allow them.

Even that may not cover going back in time to get those dinosaur eggs, but that’s more dependent on whether or not the game master thinks it should and is willing to deal with time travel than with the Imperative itself.

And I hope that helps!