Character-Defining Feats

The original request here was for a few “character-defining” Feat Packages – things that would be useful, reasonably effective, and highly thematic packed into a 6 CP / One Feat framework. In Eclipse that most often means either one major ability or several minor abilities with serious thematic limitations to cut down their costs. So here are a few examples of that sort of thing – Feats that I’m going to call Amulet Crafter, Bloodline Of The Tomb, Dreaming Of R’lyeh, Favor Of Prometheus, Heroic Aegis Of Fate, Infernal Liking, Musical Theater, and Wind Child.

Amulet Crafter: Complex symbols painted on bits of wood and paper, crude and tiny carvings of totems both mundane and mythical, twists of elaborately knotted rope, bits of inscribed pottery… a multitude of forms, but all bits of magic, of the unseen world, bound by a mystics will and the work of his or her hands into material form. Perhaps the oldest and simplest of magics – but one requiring far less of lore to bring to fruition. Most Amulet Crafters have a particular style that they prefer, but with careful focus… magic can be invested in the most unlikely objects.

Thus a modestly skilled Amulet Crafter focusing on Totems might have prepared three Amulets today – a Bear Figurine containing two Mana, a Fox Figurine containing one, and an Eagle Figurine containing one.

Presuming that the Crafter’s abilities are sufficient, the Bear Talisman might be used to frighten away a pack of wolves, or to Cure Moderate Wounds, or to Speak With Animals, or to induce hibernation in someone, or any other feat suited to a couple of first level spells or a single second level one and thematically related to the Bear Totem. Foxes / Kitsune are notorious for tricks and illusions, so that Fox Figurine might be good for an instant disguise, hiding the door the characters are lurking behind, a few moments of invisibility, a Grease spell, or any other suitable first level effect. The Eagle Figurine? Good for breaking a fall, sending a brief message communicating with birds, enhanced eyesight, or whatever. A shinto-flavored Miko might use Omamori and Ofuda, perhaps dedicated to the Kami of the Sun, of War, and of Travelers today. A tribal hunter might carry a medicine bag for luck, a viking warrior a hammer pendant and a spiritualist a skull – but the system is always the same.

  • Mana, 1d6 (4), with Unskilled Magic, Specialized for Increased Effect (efficient mana use – none is wasted and the side effects are usually merely visual) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for unskilled magic, mana must be invested in symbolic amulets each morning and can only be expended to produce effects symbolically appropriate to that type of amulet, amulets can be taken away and require a bit of time to prepare – although that can be done in advance.
  • Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the Mana pool above, requires a brief ceremony in honor of the forces the Amulet Crafter draws upon.

While Amulet Crafters will soon run into the (rather low) limits of Unskilled Magic, it’s easy enough to expand on this a bit – add another die of Mana (4 CP) and Bonus Uses on the Rite of Chi (2 CP) and you’ll be a fairly flexible and powerful spellcaster at low levels. The dedicated spellcasters will leave you in the dust at high levels – but in all but the most combat-focused games there will never come a time when a pocket full of very versatile, if low-powered, magic cannot be used to good effect if you’re clever about it. This is also a perfectly good way for minor members of the clergy, shaman, and hedge wizards to operate – or a way to run a low-magic game.

Bloodline Of The Tomb: In you, the blood of some ancient overlord has run true, and the ancient Tomb Lords recognize that fact. Should you die, you will be gathered unto your ancestors a bit more literally than most. Their servants will help you out on occasion and you will be gifted with some (GM Determined) relic of the ancient ways – although you can only get it replaced or exchanged when you happen to die. While everyone has ancestors… yours are paying attention and willing to intervene.

  • Returning, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / While the user’s body will disappear in about a day, they will not return for some weeks – and even then it will be as a mummy, deep in the catacombs beneath an ancient pyramid, and as a minor part of the court of an ancient mummified god-king, where you will have duties, and get sent on errands, and likely be expected to marry some mummified minor princess or handmaiden. It will be tricky to get away (2 CP)
  • Minor Favors, Specialized for Increased Effect (favors need not be repaid) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP) / Once every few days you may call on the services of a handful of Ushabati, the Phantom Servitors of the Kingdom Of The Sands. They may prepare and serve a splendid (if INCREDIBLY old-fashioned) meal, pull you and your friends out of a pit, delay pursuers for a minute or two, patch up wounds, pay for a night on the town with a handful of ancient gold coins, march ahead to check for traps, and many other services. Ushabati are invariably reasonably competent (as suited to their master’s level), but are hardly an overwhelming force.
  • Enthusiast, Specialized for Reduced Cost (1 CP) / only to provide points for personal Relics, plus a Contact with Occult-2 (a relic- and item- creating mummy, Specialized for Reduced Cost / is only available in the catacombs beneath the pyramid you return under, tends to have it’s own ideas about just what you need (1 CP).

Having your long-dead ancestors looking out for you from a haunted underworld of dust and darkness is an ancient idea, and an oddly comforting one; what awaits beyond is welcome, haven, and rest – and, if you are clever and determined, a chance to watch over those you care for in turn. The dead need not hate the living, for life is a mere blink of the eye in the face of millennia, and the living will stand among them soon enough.

Dreaming Of R’lyeh: The servants of the Outer Gods have taken a liking to you. Every month or so, shambling things will emerge from between the dimensions to eat intruders in your home or sanctum, bring strange visions wrapped in crystalized ichor, leave disturbingly-formed trinkets of unknown provenance around the place, tell you incomprehensible stories, leave cryptic clues in near-forgotten languages, and provide modest payments of random types of Obols (usually 3d4 per month) for things that you hope were only dreams – whether or not Obols normally exist in the setting. If they do not normally exist, they cannot be duplicated. You can use them anyway. Did you expect the Elder Ones to be bound by rules? In any case, the neighbors are likely to be MOST unhappy.

  • Major Favors, Specialized for Increased Effect – only to receive occasional gifts that need not be repaid – and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / You become known as eccentric and attract investigation, 4 CP).
  • Major Privilege (Known and respected by Lovecraftian Entities, Specialized and Corrupted / may cause rather violent reactions from other groups, 2 CP).

The unwilling magus is one of the classic protagonists of magical tales – a character who is entangled in incomprehensible mystic affairs and who must deal with that as best he or she can, using whatever favors and bits of arcana they have managed to extract from the insanity of their lives. In d20… Obols are not a bad way to represent the dubious favors of incomprehensible entities and the use of mystical secrets gathered from such interactions.

Favor Of Prometheus: Whether it is peat burning in a lodge of sod and mammoth bone, logs burning in a cave, or even the flickering flame of a lamp warming an igloo on the tundra, the fire of the hearth means light, warmth, safety, and home. It is the gathering point of friends and family, the beacon of civilization that shines across the wilderness. It marks a place that people care for, a place where they gather, a place that they defend, and a place that they will not allow to grow cold and dark. A fire may be used for cooking, crafting, lighting, heating, hardening wood, or a thousand other things – but at it’s heart this is the fire of civilization, of humanity gathered and grown strong. While that fire burns… the darkness shall not take them.

  • Mystic Artist / Survival, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP) / only allows the construction of one fixed piece of artwork at a time – a hearthfire to warm and light a camp or structure, only offers access to Inspiration and Synergy abilities, requires fuel and a properly prepared spot for a fire, only usable for one particlar combination of effects per day, requires at least ten minutes of work to set up in any given location.
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP) Plus Immunity to the XP cost of these enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP): (Field Provisions Box, Sphere of Awakening, Healing Belt x2, all Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only functions when the characters are encamped and a Hearthfire has been built, takes up to an hour to get ready (2 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (Secure Shelter, reduced to L3 by inclusion of an elaborate focus (assorted camping gear) and requiring up to an hours time to set up, appears as a well set up camp, goes away when you break camp). Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP) / requires a DC 20 Survival check plus the use of assorted tools, can never include the arcane functions (Arcane Locks, Alarm, Unseen Servant), and requires assistance from other characters.

“Attacked in camp” is something of a cliche (and a not uncommon complaint from players who feel that being attacked while unready is “unfair”) – but as the Romans regularly demonstrated, a well-prepared camp is not necessarily a soft target. With this feat, a parties camp can be a place of strength and safety, its hearthfire a beacon and a rallying point.

Heroic Aegis Of Fate: It is a dubious privilege to hold the gate, pass, or bridge, to be the one who takes a stand against onrushing doom – for while the tale of your epic heroism may live across the centuries, it is all too likely that it will be in memory of your sacrifice.

Then out spake brave Horatius; The captain of the gate “To every man upon this earth, death cometh soon or late, And how can man die better, than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers, And the temples of his gods.”

-Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Babington Macaulay

  • Major Privilege: The character always gets to face, and attempt to deal with, major problems before they involve the ordinary folk of whatever community he or she watches over (6 CP). While there are upper limits to the number of folk who can be so protected, the chosen of fate may turn that dubious favor to the protection of others. As long as they endure, and attempt to defend some local community, no great disaster will befall it. A house may burn, a raid steal some cattle, crops may be poor, and a few may die from some dread illness – but there shall be no great fires, no mighty army that devastates the countryside, no great famine, and no terrible plague as long as the chosen hero places himself or herself between that which threatens and the ordinary folk he or she is defending. That marauding dragon will focus on YOU, the invading army will pursue YOU, the dark entity which has sent the spirits of disease to plague the people will first send them after YOU, and so on.

You could probably justify this as a curse (a sort of variant of “preferred target”) or perhaps a Corruption of a package of rulership-related abilities, but even characters who do not rule, and who place themselves between others and harm entirely voluntarily, quite often seem to have this ability. While you hold the pass, or bridge, or docks, or walls, or frontier fortress, or gather and tend the sick to keep the plague from spreading… disaster will not fall upon those you defend while you endure. There are few acts of heroism greater than that.

Infernal Liking: Devils have taken a liking to you. From their burning twilight halls to their dark embassy in the heavens, they all recognize you and keep an eye on your doings. For reasons only they comprehend every month or so they will send you friendly notes written in blazing hellfire runes (displaying, in their commentary, a disturbingly intimate knowledge of what you’ve been up to) and care packages of the eternally burning minerals and metals of the hells, subtly deadly drugs and foodstuffs, invitations to corrupt social events, introductions to those who have made dark bargains with devils, bizarre alchemical ingredients, and occasional low-value souls too weak to bother with or too innocent for hell to easily hold or utilize. Somewhat more often they will drop by for tea to encourage you and to tell you tales of infernal matters. On rarer occasions they may offer to hire you for various tasks, possibly paying with holy items that they regard as toxic waste.

  • Minor Favors, Specialized for Increased Effect – only to receive occasional gifts that need not be repaid (3 CP)
  • Major Privilege: Known and liked by Devils, Specialized / may cause odd reactions from other groups (3 CP).

Classically Devils were tempters, they came bringing gifts – eventually corrupting, but outwardly fair. Most games, of course, treat them as war machines, bringing blood and death or granting power to the target of the week. There’s no subtlety there, no question of whether it is better to keep your eye upon them or to simply turn away steadfastly. With this feat, there are indeed questions again.

Musical Theater: A Theatrical Master knows that life is a performance – and sees no reason why it should not be a good and enjoyable one!

  • Mystic Artist (Most often Perform / Dance or similar), Specialized for Reduced Cost (3 CP) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (See below) / effects must be taken in the order given, most effects have no statistical game effects, does not allow the use of advanced abilities save for related purposes,
  • Opportunist: Can maintain a Mystic Artist effect as a free action each round, Specialized for Reduced Cost (3 CP) / only for this list of mystic artist effects and only if the performance is taking place at an appropriate venue.
    • (Skill 3) Life Of The Party (Inspiration Skill 3, Emotion): Everyone at an event where you perform will have a really wonderful time, and enjoy themselves greatly.
    • (Skill 4) Good Times, Good Times (Synergy Skill 3, Block): No party-pooper ever dampens an event where you perform. People may leave if the place catches fire, but they will still remember having a great time!
    • (Skill 5) The Event Of The Season (Manipulation 3, Fascinate): Everyone has heard about your performances, and wants to get in to wherever you are at! There will be envy and crowds. You pretty much get free invitations to every social event in the vicinity.
    • (Skill 6) The Party Never Ends (Manipulation 6, Hold Audience): Any event that you liven up tends to run late. Everyone is having such a good time that they hate to leave!
      • Skipped – Inspiration 6 (Competence) and Synergy 6 (Group Focus).
    • (Skill 9) Spontaneous Choreography (Inspiration Skill 9, Greatness): Everyone near you when you perform is suddenly a competent dancer (+2), decent singer (+2), knows the music (1 SP), knows the choreography (1 SP), and gains (1d10+Cha Mod) social HP, allowing them to look good and to shrug off a few faux paus, insults, or social barbs.While no one is actually forced to cooperate, who says that life cannot be like a Hollywood musical? !
    • (Skill 12) Inspiring Presence (Synergy Skill 9, Amplify): You make everyone at an event look good. There will be no sour notes, flubbed performances, or minor accidents among the servants while you are present! You can live comfortably simply by circulating around a town through it’s various social events.
      • Skipped – Manipulation 9 (Suggestion).
    • (Skill 15) Why Choose? (Synergy 12, Harmonize): Rather than two effects you can combine up to (Cha Mod + 1) effects from this art! (Not, of course, that it matters a lot).
    • (Skill 18) The Focus Of Attention (Inspiration Skill 12, Excellence): You may designate one individual as the “Belle Of The Ball”. The just seem to be amazingly good looking, clever, and witty. Everyone will recognize them, want to talk to them, and accept them.
    • (Skill 21) Master Choreographer (Inspiration Skill 15, Mass Greatness): Your Spontaneous Choreography now covers the entire event, including the servants and random passers-by!
    • (Skill 24) Feeling Good (Synergy Skill 18, Serenity): No one at an event where you perform ever gets hung over, throws up, gets their clothing damaged, or suffers any consequences for over-indulgence.
    • (Skill 30) Social Expectations (Synergy Skill 24, Rule The Horde): Violence never seems to break out at events where you perform. Even mortal enemies will merely snub each other, not attack.
    • (Skill 36) The perfect Venue (Manipulation Skill 12. Emotional Auras): When you perform, somehow the setting is always perfect – the temperature and breezes are just right, the decorations are wonderful, and everyone is delighted to be present!
    • (Skill 48) A Splendid Meal (Synergy Sloll 36, Concerto): The food and drink at an event where you perform functions as a Heroe’s Feast (this is stretching it a bit, but seems acceptable as a variant ability – especially at Skill 48).
    • (Skill 60) (Manipulation Skill 15, Freedom): When you perform at a gathering, lesser manipulations cannot hold. Those attending who might require it are affected as if by a Break Enchantment spell.

OK… This is pretty bluntly the equivalent of spending a Feat on privilege (you always get invitations to events and don’t have to worry about minor expenses in town – but this lets you do it with style and can effectively turn the world into a musical. In an intrigue or politics heavy game – and depending on the character – the style, the invitations, the parties, and the connections this ability will bring may be well worth the 6 CP price.

You dare challenge Megamind?
This town isn’t big enough for two supervillains!
Oh, you’re a villain all right, just not a super one.
Oh yeah? What’s the difference?
Presentation!

Wind Child: The wind roams. It hears the words that are spoken, whether in wisdom, in foolishness, or in passion. It hears the incantations, knows the summons, and has carried the words of the pacts that were young when it was old. It carries the magic of weather, of the seasons, of the aurora, of music, of language, of lightning, and of movement. It is the first breath of life and the final sigh of the escaping soul. Without the life-giving wind, the world would bake beneath the sun and freeze beneath the stars, the oceans wafting away before heaven’s pitiless fires. The winds are the patrons of life, of the turning of the world as it should be.

And there are things they want done. There are aberrations, and undead, and outsiders to banish or destroy. There are places where fools have disrupted the order of the world which must be mended. There are quests to be carried out and prophecies to be fulfilled. There are agents, men and women who can focus the formless power of the winds, channel it with greater precision than a tornado’s path of destruction or the undirected lightning of a storm. A Wind Child Hears, and Channels, and Serves the purposes of the winds.

A Wind Child will regularly hear the voices of his or her patrons, the whispering words of the winds that girdle the world. Prophecies. Warnings. Missions. Moreover, the Wind Child knows that the fate of many lies with them. If they fail a mission – or worse, refuse – the world may endure… but will be lessened.

A Wind Child may call upon each of his or her patrons – the winds of the North, East, South, West, and Heavens – once per adventure, crying aloud for their intervention in a great voice. For, while their power is vast, a mortal cannot endure channeling it often.

  • Buy this as Enormous Favors with the Wind Spirits, Specialized for Reduced Cost (6 CP) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Favors can be repaid at reduced value and piecemeal).
    • The Wind Spirits are “Paid back” by the user undertaking various missions and listening to the winds bizarre advice (the winds do not relate to mortals that well).
    • The user may only claim one favor from each of the five winds per adventure.
    • Favors may only be expended for significant acts of magic.
    • The winds only respond to requests that they find appropriate (although, if they do not respond, no favor is expended).
    • The user must wander where the winds takes him or her at least one month in three.
    • Requests must be stated loudly and firmly. No stealthy requests are possible.
    • The user cannot be of evil alignment and must always keep to his or her oaths.
    • If the user betrays the winds, he or she will suffer their wrath.
    • The winds often opt to manifest and speak at very inconvenient times.
    • The user tends to be somewhat “primal”, tending to dress and speak as one from the dawn of the world.
    • The user may never ignore the presence of Aberrations, Outsiders, or (especially!) the undead.
      Are known, recognized, and assumed to be heroes, for the Winds carry the words of their deeds. Their presence will not pass unnoticed.

A Wind Child does have access to quite a lot of power. Call on the North Wind to drop a small glacier on an enemy stronghold? The East Wind to carry the party to the fabled isles before the competition can get there? The Wind of Heaven to breathe new life into the dead? Such things are easily accomplished by the Winds. On the other hand, a Wind Child cannot use that power often (and so will often save their favors for emergencies), has endless arbitrary built-in plot hooks, has obligations to his or her patrons, and pretty much always get involved with dangerous situations. You will never have any trouble getting a Wind Child involved in an adventure.

Eclipse d20 – The Silver Tree Lodge

The players in the Allwellia game have decided that they want a base of their own – a place built to accommodate them and enhance their abilities, to provide some focus for their adventuring, and to house their retinues. For good or ill, however, none of them have any points to spare save for the Mystic Gunfighter / Lovecraftian Invoker, who is more than happy to spend a little of his power (and quite a chunk of the group treasury) accommodating their desires. And that is why they are currently getting the…

Silver Tree Lodge (6 CP, 248,676 GP).

Or about 300,000 GP without the Allwellian “Abundant Magic” x.8 modifier.

High above the ground in the branches of a mighty, banyon-like multi-trunked tree, surrounded by the rustling silvery leaves and cooling breezes of the upper air, the numerous platforms and structures of the Silver Tree Lodge glow faintly with the mingled radiance of the moon and stars. Winds softened by the rippling foliage carry gentle mists and rains coiling about the verdant tree, drifting softly down from the Skydocks further up, where the Fairy Sail and the Phantom Voyager are moored when the (unfortunately-named) Reckless Voyagers of Abyssal Meddling – the Company of Shadows – are in residence. Along the branches, sparkling through fountains and cascading in tiny waterfalls from branch to branch, flow streams of water, rivulets supplied by the perpetual fountain and reserves of water in the upper levels. As the cascades pass through strings of vine and patter upon chimes and drumheads of resonant jade and living wood, the deeper tones complement the sounds of birdsong – and of the bells, woodwinds, and strings ringing with the plucking winds of the upper levels in am ever-varying symphony – beauty concealing an array of terrible powers torn from the beating heart of creation by elder magics.

The characters will undoubtedly have to deal with other would-be claimants, the Empire wishing to garrison the place (after all, it’s a new settlement – and empires tend to object to competition, to major power nexi and possible threats outside their control, and to stuff they don’t own as is the general nature of empires). Secondarily, of course, this is a completely over-the-top design, a mystical place of power of terrifying potency. Leaving something like this purely in the characters hands would be completely insane even if half of said characters weren’t insane themselves.

As with most strongholds, this one is built around money and a single basic ability – Sanctum, the ability to claim a place and gain enhanced power while there. Usually those are fairly private and – while not easily mobile – can be moved given time and effort. Not in this case!

  • Sanctum, Specialized for Increased Effect / The power invested in the Silver Lodge cannot be transferred to a new location without the use of three Wishes (to prepare the new site, to set up a transfer link to it, and to initiate the transfer), the sanctum is an obvious place of power that will attract various creatures and official attention. (6 CP, provides 48 CP to work with). The Lodge is a nexus of unearthly power, a connection between what IS and what MIGHT BE, and thus a beacon to what is beyond.

So let us build a Sanctum!

Sanctum Powers:

  • Mystic Link with Power Link (The original creator, Specialized / only to maintain the functions of the lodge and provide the creator with basic awareness of what is going on in it, the creator may not draw on the Sanctum’s powers remotely, 3 CP): The lodge will remain functional, whether or not it’s creator is there – or is even still among the living, for the bond of it’s creation extends beyond death.
    • In other words… the Sanctum is a fairly permanent thing.
  • The Angles Of R’yleh: Cloaking, Specialized for Reduced Cost/Divinations about the sanctum will reveal general information about the place – whether people are in residence, are the servants busy, is the garrison up to strength, etc – but never anything precise enough to put to use about the activities or location of anyone important. There shall be no scry-and-die tactics here (3 CP).
    • It’s a bit of an oddity to apply this to a location rather than to a character, but as variant powers go, that seems pretty reasonable.
  • Cyclopean Craftsman: Mystic Artist/Architecture with Seeking, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/the user may only create one structure (The Silver Tree Lodge) and cannot later change the effects going into it (4 CP). This, of course, uses Harmonize to provide two functions.
    • From Water Does All Life Begin (Heroism, Skill 30): All Residents/Defenders gain +4 Positive Levels (+4 BAB, Saves, and AC, +24 CP):
      • The residents 24 CP go to… Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect/Only for Innate Enchantment (Up to 5500 GP Value, 6 CP), Immunity/the XP cost of up to 5500 GP worth of Innate Enchantment (Common (since they will be changing regularly), Minor, Trivial, 2 CP), Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect (4/-) (3 CP), Grant Of Aid (6 CP), Speak Serpentine (still a language that doesn’t properly exist. They’ll speak it anyway) (1 CP), Occult Sense/Attacks (always gain two rounds to prepare and a +1 Insight bonus to AC and Saves, 6 CP).
    • Echoes Of Deep Time – (Serenity, Skill 18): When this music plays (up to twice per week), all Residents/Defenders gain the equivalent of a nights rest – eliminating fatigue, regaining hit points, attribute points, restoring uses-per-day powers, being able to prepare spells, and so on, in an instant.
  • The Song Of Creation – Occult Construction Methods: Action Hero/Crafting, Specialized and Corrupted / only for construction, expansion, and repair of the sanctum (2 CP). Taken at effective level nine, by level ten this provides a total of 23 AP to work with – enough to complete the construction of the Silver Tree Lodge through whatever inexplicable means the user prefers.
  • Lost Caracosa Ritual Chamber – Occult Ritual (6 CP): With the aid of the lodge’s occult library, runic arrays, and heaps of components, this chamber can be used for many feats of Ritual Magic (Atherian Variant, using appropriate knowledge skills).
  • The Gates Of The Silver Key – Privilege (3 CP). The lodge is a nexus of Genesis Magic – the primal power of Creation and Transformation. Creatures born there can have any of several different Birthrights, fertility is heightened, and childbirth is eased. So are other acts of creation – an effect purchased as:
    • Dominion (Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite, 2 CP), Path Of The Pharaoh; Manipulation (Specialized and Corrupted/only as a prerequisite, 2 CP), and Path Of The Pharaoh; Sphere Of Influence (Genesis)/Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Genesis-related spells are cast as if one level lower for casting purposes only, +10 unnamed bonus to acts of creation undertaken at the lodge, including alchemy and crafting)/does not provide information, cannot grant spells, bonus cannot be transmitted beyond the lodge (3 CP)
  • Gift Of Gla’aki, The Dreaming Lands – Leadership with Exotic Followers (Traps, Constructs, and Wards), Specialized for Increased Effect (Ward may be of Rank (ECL -4), but never Epic and only covers the tree and lodge and it’s immediate vicinity) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (6 CP) / Ward Only, Ward does not generally bother to discriminate between inhabitants and people who have been around for more than a few hours (“all mortals look alike to me!”), powers are mostly determined by the Genesis Nexus and the standard City Ward effects of the setting.  The Ward powers – which affect every resident of the lodge – are as follows,
    • Minor Powers:
      • Industry: Mundane Productivity is multiplied by a factor of seven within the Ward.
      • Longevity: Natural Aging within the Ward is reduced to 1/10’th of the normal rate.
      • Non-Euclidean: The area has numerous dimensional distortions, pockets, and local gates. It can be very confusing to outsiders. It also makes it even harder to scry on than the Angles Of R’yleh already do.
      • True Dreaming: Residents may adventure in the Dreamlands while the sleep, can keep track of those distant but dear to them through clairsentient dreams, and may occasionally receive visions from mysterious sources.
      • Warcraft: Residents gain +2 BAB, +1d10 HD, and proficiency with shields, medium armor, simple, and martial weapons, as long as they are within the Ward.
    • Major Powers:
      • Empowerment. Allwellia features cheap items for non-adventurers that only work within a Cities Ward. Such items will work in the lodge as well.
      • Mystic Herbs. In conjunction with The Gates Of The Silver Key, the Silver Tree produces fruits and mystical herbs that allow the creation of 1d6 mystical potions or works of alchemy every day without other costs. Such things are suitable catalysts and components for almost any form of Middle Alchemy. https://ruscumag.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/eclipse-d20-alchemical-creations-the-item-list/
      • Mystic Walls: The Ward can surround itself – in part or whole with a deadly Cloudkill mist at will.
  • Mantic Engineering: Siddhisyoga, Specialized for Increased Effect (effects are purchased at their normal cost) / all powers are invested in the sanctum, and can be moved only via the aforementioned Wishes (6 CP). Items purchased through Mantic Engineering include:
    • Fruit Of The Sepheroth The Silver Tree grows marvelous alchemical fruit, containing portions of the five Alchemical Catalysts – Philosophical Sulfur, “Red” Mercury, Alchemical Salts, True Jade, and Orichalcum Powder (these are generic alchemical materials, used as raw materials for other crafting projects. They count as Trade Goods,worth 100 GP/Ounce. The trees fruits produce some 1000 GP worth per day. This is a variant of the Dragonscale Supply Pouch, 13,000 GP after the Abundant Magic modifier.
    • Roots Of The Earth: The Lodge is empowered by the magic of the world itself, and is effectively indestructible (Lyre Of Building, x5 for Unlimited Use of a daily ability (rendering structures invulnerable), x.5 for eliminating the Building function = 26.000 GP after the Abundant Magic modifier).
    • The Celeano Manuscripts: As per a Mask Of A Thousand Tomes, but consists of several hundred massive volumes (basically immobile, x .5), requiring a DC 20 Decipher Script check (x.8) and at least 1d4 hours of intense study and concentration in a suitable library to use (x.8) x.8 (Abundant Magic) = 2560 GP. If you have the time to use the Manuscripts they provide a +10 competence bonus to any Knowledge skill check.
    • The Springs Of R’lyeh: Perpetual Fountain II (2400 GP with the Abundant Magic modifier). At 45,000 gallons per hour, this provides more than enough waterflow for fountains, waterfalls, running water, and turning waterwheels to provide power for the other facilities.
    • Sigils Of The Elder Ones: Greater Marvelous Tattoo Parlor (38,400 GP after the Abundant Magic modifier). This means that the lodge owners can each have their quota of three mystic tattoos – and most of their entourages can have one each.
    • Fane Of The Black Pharaoh: Shrine Of War (28,800 GP after Abundant Magic, maintains up to 1200 +5 Weapons (50 Ammo counts as one weapon). The residents of the lodge tend to be quite heavily armed.
    • Shrine Of The Pallid Mask: Monument Of The Enduring Warrior (16,000 GP after Abundant Magic, maintains up to 1200 pieces of +5 Armor). With +5 Armor and Shields, the residents of the lodge can put up considerable resistance to attackers.
    • Boundless Gifts Of Yog-Sothoth (Provides 750 GP worth of supplies per day, pulling them from other universes where they are no longer needed, City Stores, 7250 GP after the Abundant Magic modifier). The lodge never runs short of food, rope, cloth, and other basic supplies – although expensive raw materials for major projects will still need to be brought in.
    • Eye Of Cthughu: Dark Rampart (5200 GP after the Abundant Magic modifier). Undead cannot be created within several miles of the burning eye of creation – preventing spawning undead from simply taking over.
    • Pillar Of Ithaqua (Wind Tower (The Practical Enchanter), 23,200 GP after the Abundant Magic modifier). There may be storms in the evening, but they are purely for drama, enjoyment, and watering the area. The weather around the lodge is always ideal.
    • Phantom Mill: (The Practical Enchanter, 2000 GP, 1600 GP with Abundant Magic). Basically a swarm of unseen servants takes care of cleaning, laundry, butchering, canning, picking fruit, letting the pets in and out, closing the windows when it rains, powering the elevators, minor repairs, serving meals, grinding grain, sawing lumber, heating water for baths, scrubbing your back in said baths, watering and fertilizing plants, weeding, and similar minor household tasks throughout the lodge.
    • Mystic Massages (8000 GP after the Abundant Magic modifier). A full-service spa and massage parlor which can also supply the occasional Remove Disease, Remove Curse, Remove Blindness/Deafness, and Cure Serious Wounds effect.
    • Universal Foundry: Greater Invocation (any “Enchant Tools” effect of up to Level Three, L4) x Caster Level Seven x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .5 (Immobile) x .8 (Only works with installed Artisian’s Workshops = 22,400 GP (20,000 GP after the Abundant Magic Modifier). This provides those working in relevant shops with a +4 Circumstance Bonus to their Craft or Profession skill checks and provides a x4 multiplier on the amount of work they can accomplish.
      • Artisan’s Workshops (count as Masterwork Tools, provide +2 Circumstance Bonuses on relevant Craft/Profession checks, provides sufficient workspace for up to three workers, x10 (x.5, Does not provide “downtime” income = 1800 GP. Sadly, this is not really magic, so the Abundant Magic modifier does not apply): Current shops include: Alchemy/Chemistry, Arts and Crafts, Books/Scrolls/Paper/Illumination/Etc, Food/Drink, Metal, Wood/Plastics, Glass and Ceramics, Fiber (Tailoring/Weaving/Sewing/Spinning), Stone/Gems/Crystal, and Mechanics/Constructs.
      • One Master’s Badge (The Practical Enchanter) for each Workshop (x.5 Immobile x.8 Abundant Magic = 8000 GP). These provide a +4 Assistance Bonus to anyone working in the shops and another x4 multiplier (x7 in total) to the amount of work accomplished.
      • At a net cost of some 34,200 GP (or 27,720 GP on Allwellia) the Universal Foundry provides a bonus to crafting of +2 (Masterwork Tools) +4 (Circumstance) +4 (Assistance) = +10 on relevant Craft and Profession checks, as well as allowing the user a x7 multiplier on the amount of work done – allowing a weeks worth of work to be done in a day. (a +20 bonus and two weeks worth of work per day after the effects of the Genesis Nexus and the Industry effect of the Ward are added in). While that sounds like a lot… the difference between working with a bag of portable tools and an automated industrial facility set up to suit your needs would arguably be larger than that.
        • Admittedly, d20 is focused on adventurers running around on quests, but you’d think that there would be SOME benefits to actually setting up a fully-equipped workshop or factory. Unfortunately, the rules really don’t cover much of anything beyond plunking down 55 GP for a set of “Masterwork Tools” (or 250 GP for a “Traveler’s Any-Tool”) unless you count Pathfinder’s “Amazing Tools Of Manufacture” – which are over-expensive, limited to specific skills, designed for use on adventures when you want something urgently, and are limited so as to make it very hard to actually make a profit. You’re generally better off with a Fabricate spell.
    • Whispers Of The Neverborn: Advanced Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to allow characters at the lodge (other than it’s creator) to tap into it’s creative enhancements (Song Of Creation, Lost Caracosa, Gates Of The Silver Key, Mantic Engineering (only to add functions), and Invocation Of The Elder Ones) (4 CP). Unlike a normal sanctum, where most special powers only work for the creator, quite a few of the lodges functions can be accessed by anyone there who makes an effort.
    • Basic Facilities: The costs for these are drawn from Pathfinder’s “Downtime” rules. The base costs are as listed, but the overall total is going to be halved by a x.5 “Provides no downtime income or other services” modifier. Basic aids and services are taken to be three-“person” “Teams” (generally L2-3, averaging +8 in relevant skills / providing a +4 assistance bonus to relevant checks. This is normally 300 GP, but as magical spirits who ONLY do their specific thing and generate no downtime income, they too will wind up being half cost).
      • Forest Carillon (Bell Tower (450 GP) plus Masterwork Great Harp, Pipe Organ, Drums (400 GP), plus the area around it counts as a Ballroom (+2 to Perform), plus three-“person” “Musician Team” (300 GP, base skill +8, +2 masterwork instruments, +4 assistance +2 Ballroom = +16 base (more than enough for a truly masterful performance), although these are actually spirits of music rather than people). This provides the background music of the lodge, but isn’t really associated with a particular location so much as the entire structure. The wind, birds, and falling waters throughout the lodge and the silver tree it stands in provide the music; this is just how it’s purchased. Given that the music of a Bell Tower can be heard up to a mile away at full volume, this can get interesting if a musician with Mystic Artist decides to sit in.
      • Airship Dock: High in the upper branches, this complex of catwalks, loading cranes, and basic elevators draws power from the waterwheels below to provide docking and facilities for the parties various air vehicles (320 GP) plus two maintenance/supply crews (+4 assistance bonus to relevant checks, 600 GP).
      • Lair (Animal Habitat (790 GP) plus Hatchery (170 GP) and pet-care specialist team (300 GP). A series of cozy, rounded, chambers within the mighty limbs of the silver tree, the Lair serves as a home for the groups (numerous) pets, familiars, and any of the werewolves who feel like curling up in a den for a while instead of just using their lodgings. Also handles basic veterinary work when the characters don’t just use spells.
      • Personal Quarters (Six sets): Bedroom (300 GP), Bath, Sauna, and Lavatory (+2 versus Disease, 250 GP), Lodgings (for up to twenty servants / followers / whatever, 860 GP), Office (120 GP), Sitting Room (+1 bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (local), and Perform checks to influence or learn about guests, 480 GP), Storage Area(s) (120 GP), Nursery (250 GP), and Common Area(s) (200 GP). These are basically mini-mansions – personalized luxurious homes set up with plenty of space for servants, concubines/paramours, and attendants. Cooking, however, is usually handled in the Foundry, to take advantage of it’s ridiculous boost. With a net cost of 2580 GP (plus a share of the general “luxury” expense below) these should probably be considered equivalent to luxury penthouse suites.
      • Training Area: Dojo (310 GP), Armory (x2, 780 GP), Infirmary/Surgery (+2 to Heal, 370 GP), plus Medical Team (+4 Assistance to Heal, 300 GP), Gym (360 GP, and War Room (+2 to Attacks and Morale Checks for twenty-four hours if used to plan or direct combat or an adventure, 300 GP),
      • Tabernacle Of Apeiron, Shrine Of The Dark Tapestry: Statues x 4 (Azathoth The Blind Chaos, Yog-Sothoth The Key And The Gate, Nyarlathotep The Phantom Of Truth, and Shub-Nigguruth Mother Of Life, 240 GP), Labyrinth (The ever-shifting Logrus, the Yellow Sign, laid out on the floor, 370 GP. It’s burning center is the Eye Of Cthughu, above. The Logrus is also a Power Amplification Circle (Applied Spellcraft, The Practical Enchanter): Reduces effective level of spell drawing upon the Elder Ones for casting purposes by two within it (DC 35, Base Check +29 Base +10 Take 10 = 39, Time Requirement: One Week base, Four Hours in the lodge, Pigment and Binder Materials (100 GP). Transmutation Spell (L2, Paint to Inlay)), Observation Dome (+2 bonus on Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (nature), and Knowledge (planes), 440 GP), Summoning Chamber (+3 bonus on Knowledge (planes) checks relating to a creature being called/summoned, +3 bonus on Charisma checks, Diplomacy checks, and Intimidate checks to influence or bargain with a creature called or summoned here. 1040 GP) and Altar (210 GP).
      • Invocation Of The Elder Ones: The Tabernacle is also the focus for Enormous Favors (The Elder Ones), Specialized and Corrupted / Only usable once per month, always involves significant offerings to the Elder Ones during a major ritual, tend to have assorted unforseen side effects (4 CP).
      • The Withered Moon Heart: Once per week, after a half-hour long ritual, a powerful spellcaster drawing on the Elder Ones can store one or more spells in the altar of the Tabernacle. Sadly, no more than three such spells can be stored in total and doing so requires a +15 or more in Spellcraft. Greater Spellbind (SL 9 x CL 17 x .1 (Once per Week) x .5 (Immobile) x 500 GP (Unlimited Use Spell Completion) x.9 (Requires Spellcraft +15 or more to use) x.6 (Only for storing magic derived from the Elder Ones) x.8 (Spell limit is in total, not per user) = 28,091 GP.
        • Allwellia has lots of faiths, and lots of local gods, and competing philosophies – including the militant atheists who insist that the various “god” lack “true divinity” (Whatever that is. Some of the “gods” seem inclined to agree) and “The Society Of The Invisible Tree” who seem to be into cabbalistic notions and hallucinogens – but much of the population does acknowledge the power of the Elder Ones. Rather like the Titans of Greek Myth, the Elder Ones are not generally concerned with people. They’re out there, they control fundamental aspects of existence… and they do what they do. They don’t get a lot of worship except from eccentric sages who want to study the foundations of reality and crazed cultists who don’t CARE that what their gods want is completely incomprehensible. Naturally enough, the creator of the Silver Lodge is one of the eccentric mages.
      • Recreation Area: Bar (+2 to Gather Information, 250 GP), Game Room (300 GP), Common Area (200 GP), Grotto (at the base of the trunks, 500 GP), Classroom (250 GP), Storage (120 GP), Trophy Room (250 GP), The Escape Route (actually a waterslide, although there is an option to get off halfway down so you can simply take the elevator back up, 360 GP). For reasons that most of the characters do not care to think about, this is also where two sets of Cells (360 GP) and an oddly-equipped “Torture Chamber” (330 GP) wound up. Presumably it is so that the sounds of other people having a party to which those locked up are not invited will annoy them.
      • Courtyard(s) (x2, 360 GP). The courtyards/platforms connecting the various sub-facilities of the lodge are mossy, comfortable, and well-maintained – but not especially remarkable. The planters around the edges do, however, serve as a Mystic Greenhouse (890 GP) and there is a pleasant pavilion (Common Area, 200 GP) and swimming pool (“waterhole”, 200 GP) available.
      • The Gatehouse is more of a section of hollow trunk, a few features protecting the stairs going up to through a hollow trunk to the main lodge, but the general invulnerability of the lodge makes even a simple closed and barred door a formidable obstacle to any ground-based assault. Gatehouse (with Gauntlet, and “Tower”, protecting the stairs up, 710 GP).
      • General Luxuries (12,000 GP): The lodge is well supplied with fine furniture, objects de art, fine wine, silk sheets, comfortable mattresses, and so on.
        .
        .Net unmodified total of 40,910 GP, effective total of 20,455 GP

It’s worth noting that the servants and followers all enjoy the benefits of +4 Positive Levels (+4 BAB, Saves, and AC, and +24 CP, going to Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect/Only for Innate Enchantment (Up to 5500 GP Value, 6 CP), Immunity/the XP cost of up to 5500 GP worth of Innate Enchantment (Common (since they will be changing regularly), Minor, Trivial, 2 CP), Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect (4/-) (3 CP), Grant Of Aid (6 CP), Speak Serpentine (still a language that doesn’t properly exist. They’ll speak it anyway) (1 CP), Occult Sense/Attacks (always gain two rounds to prepare and a +1 Insight bonus to AC and Saves, 6 CP)) as well as Warcraft (+2 BAB, +1d10 HP, and proficiency with shields, medium armor, simple, and martial weapons) as well as +5 Armor, Weapons, and Shields, cheap personal items, and access to alchemical supplies. That’s actually pretty formidable even if they are low-level followers to start with.

Overall, the Silver Tree Lodge is a place of frightening power – albeit one of less use to most adventurers than you might think. After all, it’s usually not the player characters who want to unleash the insane powers of the Elder Ones. That’s usually reserved for crazed cultists. 

Willy Watt, Allwellian Scion Of Chaos

For our next Alwlellia character we have Willy Watt, chaos-born warrior-mage and artificier. Willy doesn’t like to talk about his childhood or life before taking up adventuring – but like most chaos-born, his early life was almost certainly no fun at all. Things, of course, got worse when he gained the ability to gain levels by absorbing the energies of chaos directly, instead of by long practice and study or even by harvesting chaos magic and using it in careful rituals of transformation. Not only was he a being of chaos, but he was a being of chaos who might manifest entirely new powers at any moment.

Lets just say that he wasn’t on the fringe of the empire entirely by choice. The rest of the party DOES know that Willy subscribes to the old notion that the best revenge is to live well, live long, and see your enemies funerals along the way. To this end… he’d been seeking immortality with some success, since he’s not pretty hard to kill.

This version is at level nine rather than ten, since that is the latest version that I have access too.

Here we have the Introduction to Allwellia again – neatly boxed up for easy skipping for those who’ve seen it before.

The Allwellia Campaign is a high-powered Eclipse campaign. Not only does it allow quite a lot of character-optimization cheese, but it allows each player character to have a custom race/birthright – which means that each one can be expected to sneak in a bunch of high-powered abilities precisely adapted to whatever the player wants the characters role to be. In effect, they’re trading in the character’s basic racial modifiers for about a tailored template. Secondarily, it is both magic (80% of base cost, starting off at level two with 1800 gold to spend) and treasure rich.

The major problem is that the setting is FULL of wild magic. Some rare individuals – “Sparks” – can directly absorb that magic (“experience points”) when they battle the creatures of the wild, transforming and enhancing themselves in weird and wonderful ways (“Sparks” use Eclipse builds). More common (if still pretty rare) are Embers, who can absorb the wild magic but not directly use it – so they can use it up in rituals to grant themselves specific patterns of abilities (Class Levels) or in gaining a few other boosts. Finally, of course… most people can’t absorb wild magic at all. They may still gain a few levels via years of slow and painful practice or by being infused with power by some Spark with Leadership (or some similar ability), but – while they still get Birthrights – they’re relatively generic.

Wild magic is the explanation for the abundance of magic items as well. Not only can items randomly appear in the wilds – even if many such random items are useless or outright dangerous – but they can be “farmed”. Placing an appropriate mundane item in a box covered with the correct runes and formulas and leaving it in the wild will – in time – result in a fairly predictable enchantment. Items that get left too long, or get disturbed, or where something goes wrong, can be just as insane as the random stuff – but all you need to produce magical items is the right formula (there are books) and time.

Unfortunately, the Wilds are just that. Did an airship crash? By the time the search party finds it it may have transformed into a haunted pirate ship, complete with a crew of monsters all with their own magic. Has the wild magic surged today? An old family cemetery with an “eternal flame” marker may turn into a volcano full of fire vampires surrounded by a sprawling city of the undead – none of which “dead” existed last week. Was there a great storm? Perhaps the old coastal village has been swallowed up by the sea, and is now a civilization of underwater monsters bent on conquest. Mapping the wild isn’t entirely futile – it helps keep major features in place – but the details change constantly.

Race: Wyld-Imbued Human

People normally stay far away from Wyld Magic Nexi – but they are unpredictable, sometimes flaring up out of nowhere, only to manifest elsewhere a few hours later. And so, sometimes a child is born to travelers who are passing near such a nexus at the wrong moment – and the child receives a birthright of wyld magic.

Most such children soon die or become creatures of the Wyld, their bodies warped and twisted – but some few parents know enough to save their infants, tattooing runes onto their bodies and embedding crystals in their flesh to guide the wyld power within. More such runes must be added throughout their lives, revealing to the knowledgeable much of what the power within the scion of the wyld has been channeled into.

In terms of the Empire… such children are the equivalent of dangerous cyborgs, unholy fusions of artificing techniques and mortal flesh. Most go cloaked and hold to the shadows, for they are often feared – for who knows what Wyld powers they may possess or when they might go mad?

Birthright: The Adaptive Wyld (31 CP / +0 ECL).

  • Adaptive Learning: +2 SP/Level (Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, 6 CP).
  • Wyld Focus: Fast Learner, Specialized in Innate Enchantment for Double Effect, 6 CP). Note that this takes up the user’s second possible Fast Learner option, since the limit is twice – once in a template and once more. In this case, they’re both in the template. Currently 24,000 GP Effective Value
  • Breath Of The Wyld: Immunity /. The XP Cost of Innate Enchantment, Uncommon, Minor, Trivial (up to (Maximum Value of (2000 + Hit Dice x 500) GP), Specialized / only to cover innate enchantments gained through this racial template, 1 CP).
  • The Wyld Storm: +2d6 (8) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (can upgrade each Innate Enchantment power) / only for upgrading Innate Enchantment powers, only for a specific list of upgrades for each effect, limited to effects appropriate to the caster level (6 CP).
  • Pulse Of The Wyld: Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the mana pool for the Wyld Storm, above, only works between encounters (4 CP).
  • Blood Of The Wyld: Empowerment (only applies to a maximum of (Hit Dice) Innate Enchantments for unlimited use), Corrupted for Increased Effect (Uses Hit Die for Caster Level) / only when using Pulse Of The Wyld to boost effects, cannot boost beyond what the effective caster level would normally support. (6 CP).
  • Wyld Affinity: +2 Racial Bonus to Use Magic Device (2 CP).
  • Template Disadvantages:
    • Accursed. Anyone who gets a good look at the character may make a Knowledge (Arcana) check at DC 20 to deduce the powers he or she gains from Wyld Focus (-3 CP).
    • Outcast. Many of the people of the Empire consider characters with this birthright dangerous and accursed (-3 CP).
  • Innate Enchantments (All gain the settings Abundant Magic modifier for x.8 Cost, Current Maximum of 24,500 GP Net Value):
    • General Abilities (9870 GP):
      • Artificers Monocle (1200 GP): Allows Identification of magic items using a simple Detect Magic
      • Detect Magic (SL 1/2 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated, 800 GP)
      • Immortal Vigor I (SL 1 x CL 1 x .7 Personal Only, x.5 only to remain alive below zero HP. +1 2 x Con Mod (22) HP for this purpose, 560 GP).
      • Masterwork Thieves Tools (+2 to Disable Device and Open Locks, 100 GP)
      • Personal Heroism (SL1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 1600 GP).+2 Morale Bonus to Attacks, Saves, and Skills.
      • Relieve Poison (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP x .7 Personal Only, +4 on saves versus Poison, -2 on each roll for ability damage from poisons, 1120 GP).
      • Travelers Any-Tool (Universal Masterwork Tool for Craft and Profession skills that use tools, 160 GP)
      • Fortunes Favor (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, The Practical Enchanter, 1600 GP). Provides a +2 luck bonus on skills and attribute checks
      • Unfailing Wanderer: Lesser Restoration (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal Only, Only to eliminate fatigue/reduce exhaustion x.5, 560 GP).
      • Cure Minor Wounds (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal-Only, only to automatically stabilize if below 0 HP (x.6), 420 GP).
        • Normally unlimited-use healing is a no-no, but making it “only to automatically stabilize yourself” takes most of the utility out of “unlimited healing”.
      • Ring Of Sustenance. X.5, only to allow his daily downtime to be counted as crafting time (1750 GP).
    • The Wyld Storm Abilities (14,240 GP):
      • Comprehend Languages (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated =1600 GP). Upgrades to Glibness, Tongues, and Greater Command.
      • Dexterous Fingers (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 1600 GP): Reduces the time required to use a skill by three rounds, becoming a once-per-round free action if reduced to zero or less. Decreases the time for long-term uses of a skill by 75% if applied continuously. Upgrades to The Laborer’s Word, Stone Shape, and Minor Creation.
      • Enhance Attribute/+2 Int (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated =1600 GP). Upgrades to Bestow Insight, Suggestion, and Ruin Delvers Insight (As Ruin Delvers Fortune, but Int Based).
      • Grease (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 1600 GP), Upgrades to Fog Cloud, Stinking Cloud, and Holy Storm.
      • Jump (+10 to Jump, SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 Peronal Only = 1120 GP). Upgrades to Spider Climb, Fly, and Dimension Door – also personal-only.
      • Know Direction (SL 1/2 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 800 GP). Always knows the direction to the center of the disk. Upgrades to Nerveskitter, Locate Object, and Clairaudience/Clairvoyance.
      • Light Foot (+30 circumstance bonus ground movement speed a +10 circumstance bonus on jump checks, and DR 10 versus Falling Damage (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 1120 GP). Upgrades to Lions Charge, Blade Storm, and Freedom Of Movement. All Personal Only.
      • Personal Haste (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 1600 GP).Upgrades to Masters Parry (Block 25 damage as an immediate action), Evasion (Immediate Action, take no damage on a successful reflex save), and Ghosting Technique (Greater Mirror Image).
      • Produce Flame (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 1600 GP). Upgrades to Scorching Ray, Fireball, and Wall of Fire.
      • Speak With Animals (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated = 1600 GP). Upgrades: Speak with Plants, Greater Animal Aspect, and Commune With Nature.

As racial templates go, this is EXTREMELY high-powered for +0 ECL. After all, it packs in both possible instances of Fast Learner, Mana, Rite of Chi, and open-ended Innate Enchantment – five very powerful abilities. Sure, you’ll want to upgrade some of the secondary abilities a bit – but you could easily afford to do so at level one. Overall, you’re purchasing several of the most convenient buffs and some fairly significant spell-like abilities – quite enough to keep up with most full spellcasters until they start hitting fifth level spells – on the cheap.

Willy Watt

Ninth Level Accursed Scion Of Chaos

Available Character Points: 240 (L9 Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Healing Resistant, Hunted, and Secret) +24 (L1, 3, 6, and 9 Bonus Feats) = 274 CP

Basic Attributes: Str 13 (+4 Enh, 17), Dex 16 (+2 Level = 18), Con 16 (+4 Enh = 20), Int 18 (+2 Enh = 20), Wis 12, Cha 10.

Basic Abilities (120 CP):

  • BAB +11 (Specialized in Melee for Half Cost, 33 CP),
  • Skill Points: 14 (14 CP) +60 (Int Mod x 12) +24 (Human Fast Learner) = 98 SP.
    • Adept: (Half cost for Knowledge (Nature), Move Silently, Search, and Use Magic Device, 6 CP).
    • Immunity – the distinctions between up to (Int Mod +1) Craft Skills (Uncommon, Minor, Minor, 2 CP).
    • Luck with 4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Skills (6 CP)
  • Hit Points: 26 (L1-9d4) + 4 (L1 Bonus Hit Die, 8 CP) +100 (10 HD x [Con Mod + Int Mod]) = 130 HP.
    • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus/Wily Guard: Adds (Dex Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP Purposes, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only applies to first 12 Hit Dice (12 CP).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Dex) +7 (Armor) +3 (Shield, grants Light Fortification) = 24
  • Saves:
    • Reflex +3 (9 CP) +4 (Dex) +5 (Res) +2 (Mor)= +14
    • Fortitude +2 (6 CP) +6 (Con) +5 (Res) +2 (Mor) = +15 (+19 vrs Poison and Disease).
    • Will +3 (9 CP) +1 (Wis) +5 (Res) +2 (Mor) = +11
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves (6 CP).
      • Willy generally makes his saves.
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP), Light Armor (3 CP), and Shields (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +4 (Dex)
  • Move: 30 (Base) +30 (Haste) +30 (Light Foot) +10 (Collar) = 100

Usual Attacks:

  • All Melee: +5d8 Electrical Damage, Four AoO, Augment Crystal.
    • Sun Sword: +24/+24/+19/+14 (+11 BAB +3 Str +2 Enh +4 MA, +4 Comp, Haste), 2d8+5 (MA, +2 Enh +3 Str), Crit 19-20/x2, Extra +2 Enh vrs Evil, x3 Crits vrs negative energy plane or undead creatures
    • Whip: +22/+22/+17/+12 (+11 BAB +3 Str +1 Enh +3 MA, +4 Comp, Haste), 1d6+4 (MA, +` Enh +3 Str) +1d6 Shock, Crit 20/x2 +d10 Shock, 15′ Reach, can conduct touch spells.
    • Morning Star: +23/+23/+18/+13 (+11 BAB +3 Str +4 MA, +4 Comp, +1 Masterwork, Haste), 1d12+5 (MA, +3 Str), Crit 20/x2.

Lord Of Chaos (78 CP):

  • Finesse (Bases Channeling on Con Mod, not Cha Mod, 6 CP).
  • Wyld Channeling 3 (6 CP), +13 (2.5 x Con Mod) = 16 Uses (15 CP).
    • This is another user of Theran Channeling –  focused on tapping into and directing the wyld magic of the Disk rather than positive and negative energy. This doesn’t have the advanced ability support that normal channeling has, but is fairly formidable on its own.
  • Base Intensity 10 (User HD + Average Modifier of (-2) +8 (18 CP) = 16.
  • Base Magnitude 5d6 (9 CP) + 15 (User HD + Con Mod)
  • Conversion: 4 x L5 Effects (12 CP): Greater Heroism, Stop The Sands, Immortal Vigor V, Mass Fast Healing I (lasts 26 rounds), See: The Practical Enchanter.
  • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/Only for Channeling Rolls and Channeling Control Saves. (6 CP).

Wyld Channeling Effects:

  • Magic: Have the GM roll on any handy Wyld Surge or Wonder table. DC 5, DC 15 if affecting an existing magical effect, DC 25 to exert some (GMO) influence over the result.
  • Item Repair: Magical items are created using wyld energies, and so are fairly readily repaired by them. DC 15 if the item is simply damaged, 25 if destroyed, 35 if incomplete in the first place.
  • Temporary Life: The user may generate an Animate Object effect, affecting up to (Magnitude) Small Objects (or reduced numbers of larger objects as usual) for up to (Intensity) rounds. This can also be used to reshape a similar volume of material. DC 15
  • Item Infusion: Adds a surge of power to an item with a caster level of up to (Intensity), Double any one function of the item for (Magnitude) total uses / minutes – but this always adds some permanent wyld twist chosen by the GM to the item.DC 20.
  • Environmental Twist: Change the local environment into a temporary wyld zone with a theme of the user’s choice with a radius of (Intensity) feet (and partial effects up to twice that radius) and a duration of (Magnitude) rounds. DC depends on the complexity of the theme and how much it changes the area.
  • Evolution: Channel wyld energy into a creature, changes last for (Magnitude x Magnitude) minutes, becoming permanent if the total exceeds twenty-four hours. The changes are always an evolution of sorts, but while templates may be added, beyond a lifetime limit of (Constitution) CP any permanent improvements must be “paid for” before advancement can occur. DC varies depending on the level of control desired and the extent of the improvement being made.

Wyld Rune Forger (24 CP):

  • Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to produce Healing effects, (6 CP).
  • Taskmaster: Divides the required time for using Craft and some Profession Skills, as well as the time required for mundane tasks, by (Intelligence) (6 CP).
  • Hands O/T Dragon: +3 to Craft, Knowledge, and Profession skills (6 CP). .
  • Forge O/T Dragon. No tools are required for crafting, basic tools grant a +2, Masterwork Tools grant a +5 (6 CP). .

Disciple Of Eternity (32 CP):

  • Immunity To Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP). He can expect to live for many centuries – and intends to further improve this as he goes along.
  • Immunity to Disease (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP). He can be affected, but ignores the first 4 points of attribute damage on each roll and gains a +4 on relevant saves.
  • Immunity to having to Metabolic Needs (Very Common, Major, Minor, 10 CP). Need not breathe, eat, drink, or sleep.
    • This has surpassed his Sustanence effect, but that wasn’t hugely expensive anyway.
  • Spell Resistance 14 (6 CP).
  • Power Resistance 14 (6 CP).

Expert Warrior (20 CP):

  • Presence (Shocking Grasp effect), Specialized for Increased Effect (20′ Radius) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only affects a single target at a time, only one that he has just stuck with a melee weapon (4 CP).
  • Constant Training: Augmented Bonus, Add (Con Mod) to Martial Art Skills in which the character has invested at least 1 SP (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Combat Reflexes Variant, 6 CP).
  • Immunity to Armor Check Penalties (Common, Minor, Minor, 4 CP). Ignores up to a total of -4 in Armor Check Penalties.

Skills:

All Skills +2 Morale, +2 Luck, +4 Competence.

  • Appraise: +0 (0 SP) +5 (Int) +2 (Synergy) = +15
  • Balance: +0 (0 SP) +4 (Dex) = +12
  • Bluff: +0 (0 SP) +0 (Cha) = +8
  • Climb: +0 (0 SP) +3 (Str) = +11
  • Concentration: +0 (0 SP) +5 (Con) = +13
  • Craft (Blacksmithing, Jewelsmithing, Leatherworking, Medicine, Tailoring, Wood Working) +12 (12 SP) +5 (Int).+5 (Tools) +3 (HD) +2 (Synergy) = +35
    • Crafting enchantments is normally much slower than using the relevant Feat and spells. Still, he can currently turn a profit of 55 (DC) x 55 (Taking 20 via Luck) x 25 (Taskmaster + Dexterous Fingers + Industrious Tool) x 2/3 (profit only) /10 (converting to GP) = just over 5000 GP per week.
  • Decipher Script: +0 (0 SP) +5 (Int) = +13
  • Diplomacy: +0 (0 SP) +0 (Cha) = +8
  • Disable Device: +4 (4 SP) +5 (Int) +5 (Tools) = +22
  • Disguise: +0 (0 SP) +0 (Cha) = +8
  • Escape Artist: +0 (0 SP) +4 (Dex) = +12
  • Gather Information: +0 (0 SP) +0 (Cha) = +8
  • Handle Animal: +0 (0 SP) +0 (Cha) = +8
  • Heal +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Belt)+5 (Tools) = +22 (+25 with Medicine and Anatomy)
  • Hide: +0 (0 SP) +4 (Dex) +8 (Collar) = +20
  • Intimidate: +0 (0 SP) +0 (Cha) +2 (Sy) +10 (Hat) = +20
  • Jump: +0 (0 SP) +3 (Str) +10 (Enh) +10 (Cir) +28 (Spd) = +59
  • Knowledge (General): +0 (0 SP) +5 (Int) = +11
    • Nature: +12 (6* SP) +5 (Int) +2 (Sy) = +19, +22 (The Wyld).
  • Listen: +0 (0 SP) +1 (Wis) = +7
  • Martial Arts: All +6 (Con)
    • Craftsman Of Azeroth: +8 (8 SP) +3 (Str) = +25
    • Fairy Sail: +1 (3 SP)+4 (Dex) = +19
    • Nemesis Scourge Style: +7 (7 SP) +4 (Dex) = +25
    • Steel Driving Style: +8 (8 SP) +3 (Str) = +25
    • See HERE for these styles.
  • Move Silently +12 (6* SP) +4 (Dex) +6 (Collar) = +30
  • Open Lock +5 (5 SP) +4 (Dex) +5 (Tools) = +22
  • Perform: +0 (0 SP) +0 (Cha) = +8
  • Profession: +0 (SP) +1 (Wis) = +9
  • Ride: +0 (0 SP) +4 (Dex) = +12
  • Search +12 (6* SP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Glass) = +23
  • Sleight Of Hand +3 (3 SP) +4 (Dex) = +15
  • Speak Language: +1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) = +14
    • Speaks Common, High Imperial, and the Elemental Tongues.
  • Spellcraft: +1 (1 SP) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Spot: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) = +15
  • Survival: +4 (4 SP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Synergy) +5 (Tools) = +20
  • Swim: +0 (0 SP) +3 (Str) +8 (Swim Speed) = +19
  • Tumble: +0 (0 SP) +4 (Dex) = +12
  • Use Magic Device +12 (6* SP) +0 (Cha) = +20 (+25 for Piloting the Fairy Sail).
  • Use Rope: +0 (0 SP) +4 (Dex) +5 (Tools) = +17

+3 Specialities (4 SP): Use Magic Device/Airship Piloting, Knowledge: Nature (The Wyld), Heal (Medicines), Heal (Anatomy),

Personal Details: Age 28, 5’8, 212 Lb,

Magic Items:

Current Magical Tattoos:

  • +4 Con, +4 Competence to All Skills, +4 Competence to Attacks.

Slotted Magic Items:

  • Arms:
  • Body: +3 Chainmail
  • Chest: Vest Of Resistance +5 (20K)
  • Eyes:.Blindfold Of True Darkness: Blindsight out to 30 ft., immune to sight-based effects
  • Alternate: Corsairs Eye Patch: 3/day see invisibility for 1 round or gain Blind-Fight for 1 minute
    Feet:
  • Hands: Gauntlets of Strength +4 (12,800 GP).
  • Head: Captains Hat. Personal emblem in lightning, +10 Enh to intimidate, Use activated Shocking Grasp (5d8) 2/day, Pirate-Themed Disguise Self at will, At will but only one at a time, Dancing Lights with option of looking like little lightning bolts.
  • Neck: Continuous Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis: 60′ Darkvision, Hide in Plain Sight, Cold Resistance 10, Superior Low-Light Vision, Hide +8, Move Silently +6, +10 to all movement modes (17,600 GP)
  • Ring: Ring of Communication (1600 GP).
  • Ring:
  • Shoulders:
  • Waist: Healing Belt. +2 to Heal, 3 Uses/Day, 1/2/3 to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8.

Slotless Items:

  • Päikesetera: Sun Blade: Bastard Sword, wielded as Short Sword. +2, +4 versus Evil, double damage/x3 against negative energy plane or undead creatures, sheds Daylight 1/Day.
  • Thunderbolt: +1 Shocking Burst Whip.
  • +1 Heavy Steel Shield of Light Fortification.
  • Two Wands Of Cure Light Wounds (1200 GP).
  • Necklace Of Fireballs: 6d6, 2x4d6, 2x2d6

Weapon Augment Crystals:

  • 2x Lesser Energy Assault (+1d6): Fire and Lightning (4800 GP).
  • Lesser Truedeath Crystal (+1d6 vrs Undead, Ghost Touch, 4000 GP).

Armor/Shield Augment Crystals:

  • Greater Aquatic Action: Swim 1/2 Land Speed, no Armor, Attack, or Move Penalty in water, water breathing (2400 GP).

Basic Equipment:

  • Explorer’s Outfit, Magnifying Glass, Mirror, Pocket Knife, Masterwork Healers Kit, 100′ Masterwork Spider Silk Rope, Grapnel, Canteen, Ball of Twine, Tent, Bedroll, Mess Kit. Masterwork Survival Kit.

Willy is pretty much a video game character; he can inflict a lot of damage, has a pretty good array of basic magic, and is hard to get rid of for long. As such, he can contribute in almost any situation, is pretty much by definition fairly high-powered, and is quite capable of functioning without a party. He’d still prefer to have one though, since more specialized characters will have a massive edge over him in their fields.

The Witch Of The Spectral Tides

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The moon a ghostly craft far tossed upon a sea of clouds. Shades which gather nightly at a shrine that is no more. Drumming born of waves that rhythmic crash on rocky shore. A priestess – wraith there dances fore an altar almost dust. Her dashing pirate captain waits within the falling dusk. Their daughter hid from gathered foes who struck them down. Her destiny a living curse on traitors who’s hearts remain unbound. And when that curse has borne it’s fruit, and those hearts beat no more, shall stillness lie on waters deep, and calm upon the shore. The final stones lie fallen, the shrine’s blessing now is past. And Captain’s shade bears Priestess’s shade to ocean’s rest at last.

Her parents slain by her fathers mutinous second in command and his allies, Evaril Gastly came of age upon the shores, a feral child, her siblings the beasts of the sea and her first tongue that of the living waters. The sea calls. In pulsing blood flows ancient tides. Voices – of the fleets of the dead, of godlings lost, of spirits forgotten, and of inhuman empires long lost to time – echo in the cry of gulls, in the crash of waves, in the thunder of the storm, and in the sighing wind. For those lonely or mad enough to hear, a myriad secrets. Magic long lost, waiting to be called forth.

Evaril calls upon those lost powers, the mysteries of the Sea of Souls, the invocation of times and places long since gathered into the vaults of time. With no formal training there is no system to it, but merely the gathering of a thousand lost pearls of wisdom, secrets scattered and broken. Hers is the art of the Occultist, for the depths of the seas yield up treasures more than sufficient to her needs.

To Evaril the seas call. A debt of blood is owed, and she will see it paid. The hand of her mother’s goddess is upon her – but on that power she may not call, for she is already it’s expression and the answer to her priestess-mothers deathword. For vengeance she was preserved, and vengeance she will bring upon the treacherous. Since she must sail the seas in freedom, to bring blood and death upon her targets… she will follow in her father’s footsteps, and walk the path of the pirate captain. For what other path can offer her what she requires? She calls in turn into the infinite depths, the seas of eternity – and from those depths is answered. As yet, she takes but small steps in the shallows, and bears the merest touch of the powers beyond the far realms. But that shall pass, until only the Witch of the Spectral Tides remains to walk the haunted decks and shores.

Given that Evaril was for a Pathfinder Pirates campaign, while it doesn’t matter a lot the Goddess involved was likely Calistria (CN) or Nethys (N).

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free):

  • +2 Charisma (for Sea Otter Wildfolk anyway),
  • Fast Learner, Specialized and Corrupted/only works as long as the user sticks to a particular archetype and relatively narrow plan of development chosen at level one at each level, points may only be spent on skills and additional hit points (2 CP).
  • Immunity/not being allowed to buy up their (normally maximized) level one hit die later on. Uncommon/Minor/Major (3 CP).
  • Action Hero (Crafting), Specialized and Corrupted/the user still has to spend the time, and money, and may ONLY create standard items by spending action points (2 CP).
  • +3 to skills that fit the character concept (Craft, Profession, any Adept skills, purchased Occult Skills, choice of 12 others)
  • Accursed (must use the Pathfinder versions of spells even where those have been downgraded, may not take “overpowered” feats, -3 CP).

Evaril Gastly

Witch Of The Spectral Tides

Shall The Sea Yield Up It’s Lost

Racial Template: Wildfolk (Sea Otter Styling) (+0 ECL)

The Wildfolk are not necessarily consistent; the animal attunements of parents don’t necessarily have anything to do with those of their offspring – and while they can interbreed with humans, any offspring are invariably Wildfolk. Of course, the Wildfolk are relatively rare in the Shackles, and so it is fairly likely that racial prejudice played a role in her parents deaths.

  • Self-Development/Attribute Modifiers of +2, +2, and +4 distributed between Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Wisdom and (possibly) Intelligence (for animal-morphs noted as being especially tricky or cunning) as appropriate to the animal type the Wildfolk emulates. No single attribute may be enhanced more than once. (48 CP).
  • Occult Senses/Low-Light Vision and Scent, Corrupted/the Wildfolk suffer a -2 penalty on saves against light and scent-related attacks (8 CP).
  • Martial Arts/1d4 Natural Weapons (3 CP).
  • Adept/Pays half price for four skills related to the animal type they emulate (A claw-related Martial Art, Survival, Swim, and Profession/Sailor, 6 CP).
  • +2 to each Racial Adept Skill (4 CP).
  • One Bonus Feat appropriate to the emulated species (6 CP). As Sea Otters are skilled tool users… Fast Learner Specialized in Skills for Double Effect, Corrupted / only to keep Adept Skills maxed out (4 CP), Upgrade Pathfinder Package Fast Learner to +2 points/level (2 CP).

All this is Specialized for Reduced Cost; the Wildfolk are subject to strong instincts and occasionally must make will checks to resist them, suffer from various minor physical limitations and major species-related social prejudices, have assorted dietary restrictions, are somewhat limited with regard to equipment (a lot of it must be especially-fitted for particular species, are readily described and recognized, and may have minor special requirements.

  • Obligations x2: The Wildfolk are bound to nature, and must protect and defend it – restricting the spread of urban civilization to maintain the balance, expelling outsiders, destroying undead, and taking druidical duties in addition to incorporating a wide variety of minor rituals honoring the spirits of nature into their daily lives.
  • Accursed: The Wildfolk sense major affronts to nature in a wide radius – and can be sickened by particularly bad examples while they are in close proximity. Thus, if the land is filled with toxins, or infernal energies, or blighted by the undead, they may suffer penalties for that – despite their obligation to deal with the situation.

Basic Attributes: Str (8), Int (16, +2 Race = 18), Wis (7), Con 14, Dex 12 (+2 Race = 14), Chr 16 (+4 Race +2 Path = 22). 20-point buy.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +2 (Duties) +2 (Restrictions: Armor, Clerical Magic) +6 (L1 Bonus Feat) = 68 CP.

Basics (22 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +0 (0 CP).
  • Hit Points: Hit Die: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +2 (Con Mod x 1) = 10 HP
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +1 (Shield) +3 (M. Art) = 20
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Con) +1 (Res) = +5
    • Reflex: +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +3
    • Will: +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) -2 (Wis) +1 (Res) = -1
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Shields (Specialized in Claw Gauntlets, 1 CP).
  • Skill Points: 2 (2 CP) +16 (Int Mod x4) +16 (Fast Learners from L(-2) = 34
  • Adept (Half Price for Hedge Magic, Perform (Voice), Knowledge (Arcana), and Knowledge/Local, 6 CP)
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
    Movement: 30′ (Base), Swim 15′

Usual Weapons:

  • Claw Guantlets: +1 (+0 BAB, -1 Str +2 MA), 1d8 (+1 Base, -1 Str), Crit 20/x2, 5′ Reach, Three AoO.

Other Abilities:

Stipend (6 CP)

  • The unfathomable powers of the worlds beyond pay their servants in the eldritch coin of the spirit world – the tarnished black coins of the underworld, the gleaming gold of the heavens, the firedrops of the nine hells, and more. Oddly enough, while such coins may be remarked, and may occasionally attract odd occurrences, there is never any real trouble in spending them.
  • Create Item, Specialized & Corrupted/prerequisite only (2 CP).
  • Harvest of Artifice, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with Transmutation, only provides cash, user must specify plot-hook sources for this funding (2 CP). This provides 100 XP a month that can only be used for “transmutation”. (+1 CP per +50 XP)
  • Transmutation, Specialized and Corrupted/only to produce money, never actually occurs on screen (2 CP).
  • Net Result: 200 GP/Month for 6 CP, 400 for 8 CP, 800 for 10 CP, and 1200 for 12 CP, A character who starts with this ability adds ten times his or her monthly income to his or her starting cash.

Blessing Of The Seas (6 CP):

  • The tides of magic sweep through the seas, as certainly as it’s watery currents – and one who has harvested an ancient art can act as a focus for them. What result that brings will vary from day to day – but it can benefit many.
  • Innate Enchantment / Fleet-Sized Cheap Ward Major III (18,375 GP Value, 19 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Powers are determined semi-randomly (roll three times at dawn for each slot, user picks from the results), makes user extremely valuable, can be corrupted if someone can control the user, only works on ships and their crews or a group thereof, user becomes a sympathetic link to the ships and Crews) (6 CP).

Basic Bokor Package (12 CP):

The Bokor, or “Binder”, shares their life with entities from beyond time and space – exchanging access to reality for the powers that those entities can bestow. This ability is built as Witchcraft, Specialized and Corrupted: All effects require gestures, incantations, and a spell component pouch to work, involve invoking strange beings, have ominous and disturbing “special effects”, cause the user to display obvious physical stigmata related to the entities that he or she invokes (these also reveal some of their current powers to the knowledgeable), and provoke rather strong reactions in people. Bokor are generally regarded with great suspicion by Clerics and similar characters given that they call on strange and unreliable beings – some of them beyond the influence of the gods themselves.

  • Witchcraft II. Provides the use of fairly minor Glamour (telepathic projection, Producing L0 effects for 1 Power and L1 effects for 2 Power), Hand of Shadows (telekinetic and animation effects, 1 power for L0 effects, 2 Power for L1 effects), and Shadowweave (light and illusion, 1 Power for 10 minutes of activity) effects with a base range of 30 feet, a base Power score equal to (Sum of Physical Attributes/3), and a base Will save DC of (13 + Cha Mod) (4 CP):
  • +2d6 Mana, taken as 6d6 (+27) Power. Witchcraft only (4 CP).
  • Dismissal (2 CP). The user may attempt to banish residual or active magic and either damage or attempt to dismiss outsiders.
  • The Sight (2 CP). The user may obtain vague omens of the future, locate paths, employ clairsentience, and locate thieves of his or her personal goods.
  • Divination (2 CP). The user may produce various Detection and True Seeing effects.
  • Host of Mysteries: Ridden by the Loa with Firm Control (6 CP). This normally allows the user to host a spirit which can influence him or her in various ways while granting a temporary template of up to +4 ECL – but this build restricts that quite a bit:
    • The total template value may be no more than +1 ECL (32 CP) per six levels or part thereof that the Bokor possesses.
    • Each +1 ECL represents a separate Mystery – an individual entity.
    • Users only know how to invoke one Mystery per applicable (innate and permanent – skill points and feats that provide bonuses only) rank of Knowledge/Arcana.
    • The user may activate (Cha Mod) Mystery templates per day.
    • Channeling a Mystery requires a summoning ritual requiring 1d4 minutes.
    • Mysteries remain bound to the summoner for twenty-four hours unless they are ritually expelled – a process that also requires a full minute.
    • Each Mystery brings along a set of behavioral tendencies, a physical sign, and at least one disadvantage – although that does increase their net “value” to 35 CP.
    • Mysteries may be assigned “levels” by the game master; if the game master opts to do so the Bokor can only call upon Mysteries with a level less than (Bokor Level / 2, Rounded Up). In general, Mysteries come in levels one through eight.
  • Immunity/the one-point-per-hour cost of keeping Ridden by the Loa Running (Common, Minor, Major (up to 30 Power/Day equivalent, Corrupted/cannot normally be turned off to get rid of a batch of inconvenient Mysteries, 4 CP).

Cost: (24 CP – 12 CP Pacts: Epic Quest (destroy those responsible for her parents deaths and the offense against her mother’s Goddess) and Rituals (regular offerings honoring the spirits of the boundless sea), Net Cost (12 CP).

Initiate Of The Mysteries (4 CP): Innate Enchantment: Specialized and Corrupted: Only one effect per Mystery currently hosted can be activated, with the choice made when the Mystery is summoned, all effects Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Personal-Only where relevant (x.7). 10,400 GP net value, for a base cost of eleven CP and a final cost of (4 CP).

  • Aura of Light/Darkness (Practical Enchanter); +1 Sacred/Profane bonus to Saves (1400 GP).
  • Flesh Ward (Practical Enchanter); Provides DR 2/- (1400 GP).
  • Immortal Vigor I: Provides +(12 + 2 x Con Mod) Extra Hit Points (1400 GP).
  • Resist Energy (SRD): Provides Energy Resistance 10 versus any one of acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic damage (1400 GP).
  • Sign (SC): +4 Insight Bonus to Initiative (Already personal-only, so 2000 GP)
  • Ward of Light/Darkness (Practical Enchanter); +1 Sacred/Profane bonus to AC (1400 GP).
  • Wrath of Heaven/The Infernal (Practical Enchanter); +1 Sacred/Profane bonus to Attacks and Damage (1400 GP).

Calling Upon The Deeps (4 CP):

  • Rite Of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / Only to restore Power, only for Witchcraft Pool, only works between “encounters) (4 CP).

Houngan Conjurer (8 CP):

A myriad possibilities can be found in the deeps, with this art, some can be called forth to your allies aid.

  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable to make one-point relics, only usable with points from Enthusiast, requires that the user come up with a neat ritual, and all relics carry a disadvantage – although this does help reduce their cost (2 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (a total of six “floating” character points)/points may only be used to create relics (“conjures”), relics have a maximum cost of one point and no one can use more than one at any one time (6 CP for the ability to create a similar number of one-point relics).

The Treasury Of The Deeps (Personal Houngan Conjure, already paid for. 1 CP Relic):

For quite some time now Evaril’s personal Houngan Conjure has been the Treasury Of The Depths – a device which provides:

  • A boost to her Stipend – increasing the haul to 1200 GP per month, and the starting bonus to 12,000 GP. (6 CP).
  • An upgrade to her Siddhisyoga, adding the Efficient modifier (6 CP). This allows her to trade that 12,000 GP for 8000 GP worth of magical talents.
  • Disadvantage: Accursed. The wealth drawn from the Treasure can ONLY be spent on Siddhisyoga (-3 CP)

Spiritual Whispers (3 CP):

  • Finesse, substitutes (Cha Mod) for (Wis Mod) with respect to Skills, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for Profession and Survival (not for Heal, Perception, and Sense Motive).

The Harvest Of The Deeps (3 CP):

  • Siddisyoga, Specialized for Reduced Cost / may only use money from her Stipend (8000 GP Value / 12,000 GP Cost).

Harvest Of The Deeps – Enchantments:

  • +1 Masterwork Studded Leather (1175 GP), +4 Armor Bonus. No armor check penalty
  • Lesser Armor Crystal Of Aquatic Action (1000 GP). The user takes no armor check penalty on swim checks and gains a swim speed (and a +8 bonus on Swim checks) equal to half their land speed.
  • Field Provisions Chest (2000 GP): Provides food and drink for 15 medium-sized creatures each day.
  • Hat of Disguise (1800 GP): Allows use of a Disguise Self Effect.
  • Healing Belt (750 GP): +2 to Heal, 3 Charges/Day, Spend 1/2/3 to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8.
  • Cloak Of Resistance +1 (1000 GP).
  • Ioun Torch (75 GP).
  • Harvest Of The Deeps – Mundane “Gear”:
  • Thieves Tools (30 GP).
  • Good Bedroll (Bedroll, Pad, 2 Blankets, Pillow, 1 GP)
  • Compass (10 GP) +2 to Survival (Navigate).
  • Depth Sensor (20 GP).
  • Swim Goggles (5 G): See twice as far while underwater.
  • Swim Fins (8 GP): +2 to Swim checks.
  • Spell Component Pouch (5 GP): For casting spells.
  • Air Bladders x 200 (20 GP): Can hold her breath up to twenty minutes.
  • Claw Gauntlets x 2 (26 GP). These reinforced gloves are designed to be worn by species with natural weapons (claws) on their hands. They add weight and impact to the user’s blows, reinforce the hands – allowing them to function as a light metal shield – and reinforce the claws, allowing them to inflict more damage. They’re basically ineffective for races which do not have claws.
    • Pathfinder Weapon Design: Base Qualities: Simple Weapon (4 DP, base 4 GP), Damage +1 over Natural Claws (0 DP), Critical as per Claws (0 DP), Slashing (0 DP), One-Handed.
    • Improved Qualities: Attached (1 DP), Improved Damage +2 Die Sizes to Natural Claws (For her 1d8, 2 DP), Shield (Light Metal, +9 GP, Net 13 GP, 1 DP)
  • Lighter (6 GP).
  • Explorer’s Outfit (Clothing/Hat/Boots/Belt/Pouches, 10 GP).
  • Magician’s Pouch (60 GP):

Magician’s Pouch: This modest bag contains various spell and ritual components, including packets of salt, beeswax, assorted colored chalks and small candles, origami paper, incense sticks and various common herbs, string, pen and ink, several pencil-sized “wands” (bone with lead bands, hawthorn, ebony with gold tips, elder, oak, magnetized steel, and mistletoe), a “scribing” tip (for the wands), 2 small knives (meteoric iron with oak handle, silver with rowan handle), silk cloths, 2 small bowls/bells/cups/incense burners/etc (silver and gold), a silver disc/mirror, tongs, wire, matches, a set of rune or “tarot” cards, a small key, some rings (Simple blank bands; 4 copper, 2 silver, 2 gold, and 2 iron), a small flute, embroidery thread, brass chime, holy symbol (Per user’s beliefs), some crystals, needles and thread, pins, and assorted vials (Holy and unholy water, assorted oils, alcohol, mercury, “fingerpaints”, glue and healing herbs) in a padded roll. Basically an upgraded spell component pouch. Water-tight and somewhat resistant to fire, grants a +2 bonus on minor rituals and Hedge Magic.

Skills (34 SP):

  • Acrobatics: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) = +2
  • Appraise: +0 (0 SP) +4 (Int) = +4
  • Bluff: +0 (0 SP) +6 (Cha) = +6
  • Climb: +4 (4 SP) -1 (Str) +3 (Path) = +6
  • Craft (Int)
    • Carpentry +1 (1 SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Path) = +8
  • Diplomacy +2 (2 SP) +6 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +11
  • Disable Device +1 (1 SP) +2 (Dex) +3 (Path) = +6
  • Disguise +2 (2 SP) +6 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +11
  • Escape Artist +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) = +2
  • Fly +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) = +2
  • Handle Animal +0 (0 SP) +6 (Cha) = +6
  • Heal +0 (0 SP) -2 (Wis) +2 (Enh) = +0
  • Intimidate +0 (0 SP) +6 (Cha) = +6
  • Knowledge +0 (0 SP) +4 (Int) (General).
    • Arcana +4 (2* SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Path) = +11
      • Specialty, +14 in Mysteries (1 SP).
    • History +1 (1 SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Path) = +8
    • Local +4 (2* SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Path) = +11
    • Religion +1 (1 SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Path) = +8
  • Linguistics +1 (1 SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Path) = +8
  • Speaks: Aquan, Taldane (“Common”), Mwangi (“Polyglot”), Osiriani, Senzar, Hallit, Varisian, Tien, and Skald.
  • Martial Art/Blade Of Dreams Style: +4 (2* SP) +2 (Race) +6 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +15
  • Perception +1 (1 SP) -2 (Wis) +3 (Path) = +2
  • Perform (Voice) +4 (2* SP) +6 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +13
  • Profession
    • Hedge Mage +4 (2* SP) +6 (Cha) +3 (Path) +2 (MP) = +15
    • Cook +2 (2 SP) +6 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +11
    • Sailor +4 (2*SP) +6 (Cha) +2 (Race) +3 (Path) = +15
  • Ride +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) = +2
  • Sense Motive +0 (0 SP) -2 (Wis) = -2
  • Sleight of Hand +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) = +2
  • Spellcraft +0 (0 SP) +4 (Int) = +4
  • Stealth +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) = +2
  • Survival +4 (2* SP) +6 (Cha) +2 (Race) = +12 (Navigate +14).
  • Swim (15′ Swim Speed) +4 (2* SP) -1 (Str) +2 (Race) +8 (SS) +2 (Fins) +3 (Path) = +18.
  • Use Magic Device: +1 (1 SP) +6 (Cha) +3 (Path) = +10

Skill Notes:

  • Hedge Magic is basically Ceremonial or “Folk” Magic – charming warts, determining which of the village boys a village girl is most likely to marry, helping someone lose weight, making cattle less likely to stray, conducting seances, and so on. It does let the user maintain up to (skill total) points worth of Charms and Talismans – in her case, a Contraceptive Amulet (Charm, 1), a Cleansing Pin (equivalent to a Cleansing Candle, Talisman, 3), a Hidden Pocket (to keep her Journal in, Charm, 2), and a Firespice Shaker (Makes food extra tasty, Charm, 2).
  • Hand Of Dreams Style (Cha) focuses on using ectoplasmic energy drawn from dreams to enhance the user’s Claw Gauntlets.
    • Known Techniques (8): Defenses 3, Attack 2, +5′ Reach, Combat Reflexes, Inner Strength.
  • Known Mysteries: All L1 to start.

Occultist (Random) Starting Wealth: 150 GP:

  • Basic Equipment: Explorer’s Outfit/Hat/Boots/Belt/Pouches (Free), Fishing Net (4 GP). 50′ Hemp Rope (1 GP), Grappling Hook (1 GP), Belt Knife & Sheathe (2 GP), Common Backpack (2 GP), Small Chest (2 GP), Mess Kit (plate, bowl, cup, fork, knife, and spoon, 2 SP), Journal (10 GP).
  • Traveler’s Pouch: This light, watertight, leather carrying bag contains a selection of items any traveler should have along – brush, comb, and razor, a little packet each of soap, sticking plaster or salve, wax, tacks and thread, needles, buttons, fishhooks and sinkers, string/fishline, flint and steel, small whetstone and file, a couple of small knives, a vial of insect “repellent”/ medication, and a thin bag (Suitable for use as a pillow if stuffed with something yielding). Usually a shoulderbag or belt pouch. 1 pound or less. About 2 GP if purchased – but most characters should be presumed to have this stuff. (Contents list and weight from “Woodcraft” by George W. Sears, circa 1880).
  • Net Cost: 24,2 GP. Leaves 125.8 GP for spending money. Most of this is in her Hidden (Dimensional) Pocket with her Journal.

We were schooner-rigged and rakish, with a long and lissome hull,
And we flew the pretty colours of the crossbones and the skull;
We’d a big black Jolly Roger flapping grimly at the fore,
And we sailed the Spanish Water in the happy days of yore.

We’d a long brass gun amidships, like a well-conducted ship,
We had each a brace of pistols and a cutlass at the hip;
It’s a point which tells against us, and a fact to be deplored,
But we chased the goodly merchant-men and laid their ships aboard.

Then the dead men fouled the scuppers and the wounded filled the chains,
And the paint-work all was spatter dashed with other peoples brains,
She was boarded, she was looted, she was scuttled till she sank.
And the pale survivors left us by the medium of the plank.

O! then it was (while standing by the taffrail on the poop)
We could hear the drowning folk lament the absent chicken coop;
Then, having washed the blood away, we’d little else to do
Than to dance a quiet hornpipe as the old salts taught us to.

O! the fiddle on the fo’c’sle, and the slapping naked soles,
And the genial “Down the middle, Jake, and curtsey when she rolls!”
With the silver seas around us and the pale moon overhead,
And the look-out not a-looking and his pipe-bowl glowing red.

Ah! the pig-tailed, quidding pirates and the pretty pranks we played,
All have since been put a stop to by the naughty Board of Trade;
The schooners and the merry crews are laid away to rest,
A little south the sunset in the islands of the Blest.

-John Masefield, A Ballad Of John Silver (1902, Public Domain)

Emaril is – as expected for a magical dabbler in Eclipse – fairly formidable at low levels since she’s grabbing the low-hanging fruit from multiple styles of magic. She’ll be weaker in comparison to other characters at higher levels, but by then she’ll probably be using a psychic construct (The “Vengeance”) as her personal ship and will probably be the party generalist, supporting whichever specialist is having the most trouble at the moment.

Eclipse d20 – Adventures with Mario

And for a somewhat off-the-wall request… it’s how to build a d20 RPG character resembling Mario, of video-game fame.

  • Well, Mario is mostly a fighter type. He can take a lot of damage and keep going, hits well, may know various martial arts, and seems to be resistant to most attacks. He sometimes uses abilities such as Whirlwind Attack and uses several different weapons. I’m not aware of him dual-wielding anything, but he apparently does fairly often use a big two-handed hammer, with which he charges at things and smashes them. That’s a pretty standard charger build.
  • While he apparently is skilled in a lot of professions (race car driver, doctor, demolitions, sports referee, etc), that is not at all hard in d20 where a total of +5 (easy enough with adventurer-level attributes and even a minor general skill booster) represents a normal human level of proficiency for holding a job in any given field.
  • He’s been shown to have some pretty incredible superhuman attributes too – but those are far less consistent and mostly only appear in games that are arguably set in superhero worlds. Such demonstrations can reasonably be taken to go with higher levels, the superheroic world template, and buying the Four-Color Template. After all, once you start ignoring physics there’s not much point in trying to rate abilities in terms of physics.
  • He’s a destined hero, one of the Seven Star Children who will possess extraordinary power. Of course, this is d20 where heroic destinies are a dime a dozen and pretty much EVERY player-character can quickly grow into a being of extraordinary power.
  • He somehow finds “power-ups” pretty much everywhere he goes.

So what do we need to make a reasonable low-level Mario?

Race… I’d put him as a (Pathfinder) Dwarf personally. Sure, that slows him down a little – but the general modifiers fit and he kind of looks like a dwarf to me. It will also let him use a Dwarven Longhammer as a martial weapon and helps him spot all those bonus boxes disguised as stone blocks.

His most favored method of attack is jumping on or kicking things. Ergo, his usual weapon will be…

Plumber’s War Boots

  • Weapon Construction (Pathfinder Weapon Creation Rules): Two Footed, Close Martial Weapon (Must wear both to use, 5 DP), Additional Design Points +3 (+45 GP), Attached (Cannot be disarmed, 1 DP), Improved Critical Threat Range (19-20, 3 DP), Improved Damage (2d6 at Medium Size, 5 DP),
  • These finely stitched boots are ornamented with the sigil of Sun Wukong, and so carry a small hint of the power of the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven. Anyone who wears them can kick or stomp on things really, REALLY, well. Melee. They come as a pair, and both must be worn to use them effectively (Treat as two-handed weapons). Damage (M) 2d6B, Critical 19-20/x2, 50 GP (May have both Weapon Enchantments and/or a +2 Masterwork Tool Bonus to Balance, Jump, and/or Tumble added).

He’ll need a Martial Art to go with those. So how about…

Tai Kwan Leep (Str Based Weapon Form – Plumbers War Boots):

Ed Gruberman, you fail to grasp Ti Kwan Leep. Approach me that you might see… Boot to the head!

  • Requires: Jump +5 or more, +2 or higher BAB specialized in Melee Combat, and Dex 12+.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 2, Damage 4, Defenses 4, Synergy/Tumble, Synergy/Jump.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Enhanced Strike (Crushing) with +4 Bonus Uses, Opportunist (May make a Full Attack after a Charge), .
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Healing (Specialized for Double Effect / Personal Only), and Inhalation Of The New World (Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only to recover Inner Strength, 6 CP).

Star Child Template (32 CP / +1 ECL).

I usually recommend limiting characters to 12 CP worth of Innate Enchantments, so as to avoid them simply going after every possible small bonus – but this doesn’t quite cover the basics this type of character seems to require, so he or she will need…

  • Immunity to the normal value-limit of Innate Enchantment (Very Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized for Half Cost / only allows exceeding the limit by 6 CP, not 12) (4 CP). This allows the user to have up to 18 CP worth of Innate Enchantment.
  • Immunity/The XP Cost of his floating Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great,, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects Innate Enchantments, 6 CP).
  • Opportunist: May renew Innate Enchantments as a free action when necessary (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: Up to 17,500 GP total value. All effects Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use Activated x .7 (Personal Only) if relevant (18 CP).
    • Ant Haul (Triples Carrying Capacity, 1400 GP).
    • Immortal Vigor I: Provides +12 (2 x Con Mod) HP. (1400 GP).
    • Jump: +10 Enhancement Bonus to Jump (1400 GP).
    • Lead Blades (Hammer Only, x.7, 1400 GP). Hammer does 3d6 damage.
    • Light Foot (1400 GP). +30 circumstance bonus on ground movement speed+10 circumstance bonus on jump checks, as well as DR 10 versus Falling Damage [only]. The user is, however, considered one size category smaller in a Bull Rush, Grapple, Trip, or Overrun situation.
    • Muleback Cords (1000 GP). +8 Strength for the purpose of computing Carrying Capacity.
    • Personal Heroism: +2 Morale Bonus to Attacks, Saves, and Skills (2000 GP).
    • Personal Haste (2000 GP). +30′ Enhancement to Movement Rate,
    • Produce Flame (2000 GP).
    • Skill (Any) Mastery: +2 Competence Bonus to All Skills (1400 GP)
    • Wrath: +2 Morale Bonus to Str and Con, +1 to Will, -2 to AC (1400 GP).
  • Weaponry:
    • Plumbers War Boots (50 GP), Masterwork Weapon (+300 GP), Masterwork Tool (+2) for Balance, Jump, and Tumble (+150 GP)
    • Dwarven Longhammer (2d6 (3d6 with Lead Blades), Crit 20/.x3, Reach, Exotic Weapon, 70 GP).
  • Conventional Items:
    • Adventurer’s Sash (20 GP). For carrying an inventory of power-ups.
    • Air Bladder x 30 (3 G). Can easily hold his breath for three minutes.
    • Canteens x 2 (4 GP). Rarely needs to stop to drink.
    • Cold Weather Outfit (8 GP). Traverses icy glaciers without concern.
    • Compass (10 GP). Keeps moving in one direction with no errors.
    • Hot Weather Outfit (8 GP). Traverses deserts without concern.
    • Masterwork Tools for any one profession or craft skill (50 GP).
    • Music Box (20 GP). Star Children are often accompanied by tinkling music wherever they go.
    • Toolbelt, Heavy (Haramaki, 3 GP). +1 Armor Bonus to AC. Lots of tool loops and pockets (+4 GP).
          • Grand Total: 17,500 GP.
  • Template Disadvantage: Obligations. Must go to the rescue whenever people are kidnaped or held hostage, even if no reward is in the offing (although there is almost always cake somehow) (-3 CP).

For the power-ups take…

  • 4d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to produce Relics (as above) and minor power-up devices, only a specific list of items specific to the character, devices must be “harvested” from relevant areas, the user may only carry a maximum of (Cha Mod) devices along with him or her (8 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +16 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only usable to refill the pool for producing power-up devices and relics above, only usable between levels/maps/stages/whatever (10 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted / only to allow the creation of a limited set of relics appropriate to the character, Relics only function for the duration of a level / world / extended scene / what-have-you before resetting (2 CP),
  • Double Enthusiast with Adaption, Specialized for Increased Effect (four floating CP, can be reassigned immediately via the expenditure of 1 Mana per CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to invest in Relics, Relics only function for the duration of a level / world / extended scene / what-have-you before resetting, only for a limited set of relics appropriate to the character (4 CP).

While I’ve never been much for video games, it would be hard to miss the memes – and quite a lot of video game “power ups” are pretty awkward in RPG terms. RPG “power ups” tend to come in two forms – short term stuff like spells and potions that usually only last for the length of a scene or two and semi-permanent additions to the user’s character sheet. Short term video game powers ups match well enough, but many video games have an intermediate level – stuff that lasts through one dungeon/world/adventure/module/whatever you want to call a stage of the overall game / adventure and then goes away. RPG’s don’t have a lot of stuff like that, if only because they tend to be settings, not a collection of maps and levels that you go through one by one. Sure, that intermediate duration does turn up in RPG’s sometimes – occasionally you get loaned an item for the duration of your quest, or the blessing of the water goddesses shrine lets everyone breathe under water while adventuring there (so that everyone can play with the rules for underwater adventures for a bit), or something like that, but that sort of thing is always set up by the game master simply because levels/maps/whatever are not nearly as strictly designed in freeform RPG’s as they have to be in computer-run video games.

In addition, you generally don’t just find power-ups laying around. After all, in most RPG’s, the setting doesn’t revolve around one particular character – and if that rare mushroom can heal wounds in moments, somebody will grab it as soon as they see it. Doom may have had weapons and healing kits laying all over it’s volcanic demon maze, but in an RPG people will be asking “who put them there, and why aren’t the demons either using them or kicking them into the lava to keep the characters from using them?”

Neither will most RPG’s turn the characters into sharks with laser beams for the sake of an underwater novelty level, just as RPG’s don’t usually reset characters to “unwounded but none of the enhancements they just finished collecting” at the start of each new segment. If a RPG character gathers eight fire orbs that let him or her throw blasts of fire of ever-increasing power, and which work forever as long as they are in the pixie kingdom… they are going to want to know why all the fire orbs they’ve collected so far vanish as soon as they leave the pixie kingdom for the gnome tunnels, forcing them to start collecting a new set of the blasted things so they can throw blasts of fire again. They may also start wondering why no one ELSE bothers collecting fire orbs when they’re just lying around in odd corners – or perhaps why that ancient shrine has a puzzle you have to solve to get in? Shrines are places that get a lot of traffic!

Sure, you can invent convoluted reasons for that kind of thing, but that gets old fast. Worse, since power-ups are a pretty integral part of a video-game character, it’s kind of incumbent on said character to build them in.

So here’s a package for that. The user’s Mana Pool should be full at the start of any given “Map” (World? Level?). It will deplete as the user adventures.

  • Pass by a forest spring? That’s a good place to look for a Fairy! (Legend of Zelda)
  • Visiting a Cathedral? Probably a good place to get a bottle of Castlevania’s super Holy Water.
  • At a carnival? Perhaps it’s time to pick up a Tanooki Suit (Mario).
  • Haunted House? Look for Magic Fruit that lets you eat ghosts for a bit (Pac-Man).

In general, things like Super Mushrooms or Fire Flowers (Mario) generally just cost Mana – although the amount depends on just how potent the game master thinks that they are. Things that last through a level (such as Pegasus Boots (Zelda), the Hammer from Donkey King, or Mario’s FLUDD are generally relics.

So that’s +1 ECL for the Star Child Template and 24 CP for the Power-Up Package. That’s not really too bad. You could take it at level one. Sure, you won’t be able to afford much else with only 10-12 CP left over from Disadvantages and Duties or some such (Proficiency with Simple and a limited set of Martial Weapons (6 CP), and a skill point (1 CP), +1 BAB Specialized in Melee Combat (3 CP), and +2 HP (2 CP)) – but you’re going to be fast (about 80′ ground movement), get two attacks that hit fairly hard, have (17 + 3 x Con Mod) HP, will be all around competent, and will be able to find useful items pretty much wherever you go (a relic that provides a decent AC boost would be a good choice until you get to level two). That’s not at all bad for a starting character.

Where to go from here? Well, there’s a long series of articles on fighter-type builds already, but… more hit points (possibly using Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus to add in another attribute modifier), more BAB, Luck for Saves (and better base saves), more Skill Points, Fast Learner (probably specialized in Skills or Hit Dice), Expertise (Power Attack), and various weapon or attack boosts (such as buying up the immunity on Innate Enchantment and applying Lead Blades to his boots too, for 4d8). If you want the “Extra Lives” you’ll want Returning – but RPG’s are usually a lot harder to die in than video games anyway, just because it takes a lot longer to make a new character than it does to press “start”. If you want Yoshi you want Companion, and use the level-based bonus points to add the ability to swallow things whole.

For special tricks throw in 3d6 Mana with Reality Editing/Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted / only to boost the Innate Enchantments of the Star Child template, requires a full-round action to use (6 CP) and Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses (Specialized and Corrupted / only to recharge the “Special Tricks” pool, only between encounters, 6 CP).

That will let you turn Produce Flame into a Fireball, use Jump to bounce over a castle or reach something flying high above, boost the Mule Cords to lift some incredible weight, or use Light Foot to imitate an effect like Dimension Door or just to run up walls or stand on clouds. Sure, you can’t pull those tricks off all that often – but it’s always nice to have semi-freeform special moves in your back pocket.

Overall this looks like a decent “mystic warrior” build, and will probably be fun to play – at least if you know enough about the Mario video games to know what kind of power-ups you might be able to come up with.

Eclipse d20 – Creating A Vampire

This request was straightforward – to break down the various elements in the Vampire Template for Eclipse and see what they should cost, because there’s quite a gap between “CR + 2” and “ECL + 8” – which mostly says “Vampires aren’t all THAT tough, but we think that some of their powers are easily abused by players”. So here we go:

“Vampire” is an acquired template that can be added to any humanoid or monstrous humanoid creature with quite a few effects:

  • All past and future hit dice become d12’s – but the new vampires Con becomes 0. Honestly, this is sometimes an advantage for mages – but a d12 is effectively equal to (1d4+4), and very few adventurers actually dump Con, and most buy boosters. This is usually a penalty, and awkward to buy to boot. So replace it with 0 Con (0 CP) and Advanced Finesse (Gets bonus HP from some attribute other than Con, 12 CP).
  • Gain +6 Natural Armor. This is kind of expensive, at least at lower levels, to buy straight. And honestly, it doesn’t really fit in with my ideas about vampires – so I’m going to use Defender (Natural Armor variant) (6 CP) to provide a natural armor bonus that will slowly increase with level and Improved Augmented Bonus (Applies an Attribute Modifier (most often Strength) to the user’s Natural Armor rating, 12 CP). That will generally cover the bonus at lower levels and improve on it at higher ones.
  • A vampire gains a slam attack (usually 1d6, but varying by size) if it didn’t already have one. Once per round, a vampire that hits with it’s slam attack or primary natural weapon attack can inflict two negative levels. Now level drain used to be a terrible and frightening power. The victim lost levels instantly – and it was hard to get them back. Every player hated level drains – and so they were heavily nerfed in third edition. Now “negative levels” are a pretty good debuff, but they are fairly readily fixed and usually go away on their own even if you don’t fix them. There’s a fourth level spell that inflicts 1d4 of them at range (a touch-based version would thus be only level three). That’s reasonable enough; after all… a simple Bestow Curse is FAR more flexible and can be at least as debilitating and the vast majority of monsters don’t survive meeting the party – so why would they CARE if they get a few negative levels before being killed? So forget the “could be permanent” part. On any target worth worrying about, they’ll either die in combat or get it fixed because they’re going to be a recurring villain, and so have to grow in strength to continue being a challenge rather than losing power to negative levels. So build this as Presence/Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (touch based Enervation): only works on one target at a time, only works once per round, requires a successful slam or natural weapons attack instead of a touch attack (6 CP). The easiest way to get a Slam attack is to just buy a bit of Martial Arts – presumably a Strength-Based “Vampire Style” – at a net score of at least three (pretty much any unarmed style which lets you buy Strike and Power I) at a cost of 1-3 CP depending on the users (boosted!) Strength score. As an advantage, this is easy to improve upon later. Just spend some more skill points on the martial art.
  • A vampire can suck blood from a living victim with its fangs by making a successful grapple check. If it pins the foe, it drains blood, dealing 1d4 points of Constitution drain each round the pin is maintained. On each such successful attack, the vampire gains 5 temporary hit points. Now this… honestly, this is weaker than the drain from the Slam attack. And grappling is hardly the most effective attack (sure, there are grapple builds, but they aren’t exactly amajor factor), and – while it isn’t really mentioned – I’d say that this only works on creatures that HAVE blood. Moreover, once again… ability drain isn’t that hard to fix. So Presence again, requiring a successful Grapple check that pins the foe, only working on creatures with blood, etc (6 CP).
  • Anyone with unprotected eyes that the vampire targets must succeed on a Will save or fall instantly under the vampire’s influence as though by a dominate person spell (caster level 12th, and so lasting for twelve days). The ability has a range of 30 feet. Now vampires usually use this to maintain control of a few NPC’s, likely including a bodyguard or two, to make trouble, and to try to turn characters against the rest of the party when it comes to a fight. PC’s, of course, are mostly fighting non-humanoid monsters – which is why “Dominate Person” is only Brd4, Sor/Wiz 5.This will still be a serious pain in a PC though, because – with unlimited use – it’s going to get used on everyone the party wants to interrogate, on every officious guard, on every shopkeeper, and against every allowable opponent – whom the user will then throw at other opponents and foul up all of the GM’s encounters. For this one I’m going to be applying the general Eclipse rule that “unlimited uses” in a monster template generally means “enough so that the GM need not worry about it during the course of a fight with the PC’s”. Is that unfair to someone who pays for an +8 ECL template? Yes, it would be – but if a character is taking it that way, there’s no need to figure out how to build the template. Eclipse is back-compatible. We’re going to be recalculating the cost with the price break for somewhat limited uses – and it’s VERY unlikely to be anywhere NEAR that high. Buy this as Inherent Spell with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (level five Dominate Person” effect, +6 Bonus Uses) / maximum range of 30 feet, user must look into the target’s unprotected eyes (12 CP).
  • Once per day the vampire can summon 1d6+1 rat swarms, 1d4+1 bat swarms, or a pack of 3d6 wolves as a standard action. Arrive in 2d6 rounds, serve for up to one hour. That’s basically Inherent Spell II (L4 Summoning, Can summon 1d4+1 creatures of CR 2 (Like Rat or Bat Swarms) or 4d4 of CR 1 (Wolves) – but upping the duration to an hour takes us to about level six. So Corrupted for Increased Effect (Level Six Effect) / creatures do not arrive for 2d6 rounds (6 CP). I suppose that could be handy at times – but it’s not a big deal. Buying it this way does open up the opportunity to buy more uses or some summoning-boosting effects though.
  • A humanoid or monstrous humanoid slain by a vampire’s energy drain rises as a vampire spawn 1d4 days after burial. If the vampire instead drains the victim’s Constitution to 0 or lower, the victim returns as a spawn if it had 4 or less HD and as a vampire if it had 5 or more HD. In either case, the new vampire or spawn is under the command of the vampire that created it and remains enslaved until its master’s destruction. At any given time a vampire may have enslaved spawn totaling no more than twice its own Hit Dice; any spawn it creates that would exceed this limit are created as free-willed vampires or vampire spawn. A vampire that is enslaved may create and enslave spawn of its own, so a master vampire can control a number of lesser vampires in this fashion. A vampire may voluntarily free an enslaved spawn in order to enslave a new spawn, but once freed, a vampire or vampire spawn cannot be enslaved again. This, of course, is another ability that will will be grossly abused by many players. The “Returns as an Undead” part is normal enough; negative energy (and I think we can presume that the normally-permanent Constitution loss is something more than simple blood loss, as you get with any normal wound) tends to produce that effect. The “under the user’s control” bit is just as open to abuse as any other version of getting minions is – and is essentially a minor variant on Leadership with a Specialization – you have to create your minions yourself, they are malevolent evil undead (and so often create problems), and have severe social and feeding issues (3 CP).
  • A vampire can take the form of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf as a standard action, losing access to Slam and Dominate, but gaining the natural weapons and extraordinary special attacks of its new form. It can remain in that form until it assumes another or until the next sunrise. (If the base creature is not terrestrial, this power might allow other forms.). Once again applying the general rule of “enough uses not to have to worry about it in an encounter”… That’s Shapeshift (6 CP) with Dire (+3 CP), Growth (+3 CP), and +4 Bonus Uses (6 CP), Corrupted for Increased Effect (can always take those four forms even if their hit dice are too low, +6 Bonus Uses, so at least 7/Day) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only those four forms, loses access to their Slam attack and Dominate Person powers, limited by sunrise (Net 9 CP).
  • A vampire has damage reduction 10/silver and magic. A vampire’s natural weapons are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. So, does a weapon have to be Silver AND Magic, or is it Silver OR Magic? I think “Or” is the way to go on this one. That’s Damage Reduction 5, Specialized for Increased Effect (Physical Attacks Only, for 10/-), Corrupted for Reduced Cost (Not versus Silver or Magical Weapons) (8 CP).
  • A vampire heals 5 points of damage each round so long as it has at least 1 hit point. If reduced to 0 hit points in combat, it automatically assumes gaseous form and attempts to escape. It must reach its coffin home within 2 hours or be utterly destroyed. (It can travel up to nine miles in 2 hours.) Any additional damage dealt to a vampire forced into gaseous form has no effect. Once at rest in its coffin, a vampire is helpless. It regains 1 hit point after 1 hour, then is no longer helpless and resumes healing at the rate of 5 hit points per round. This is a bit tricky – anything “unlimited” always is – but once again we can look at what this actually DOES. Coming back from death is Returning – and this is a rather limited form. A two hour time limit? A specific, vulnerable, point of return? A form which only moves at 20′ and can be fairly readily seen and followed to interrupt the process? Sure, it flies… but few mid- or high-level groups of adventurers will be stopped by THAT. So Returning, Specialized as above (3 CP). As for the fast healing part… d20 fights generally don’t last all that long. For the Fast Healing take Inherent Spell III (Personal-Only Harm) with 4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost (6 CP) / only inflicts (heals for an undead) 5 points of damage per round, does not provide the secondary effects of Heal, cannot be activated for an hour after a successful Return, and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Triggers as needed). OK, that’s only 50 HP/Hit Die/Day (to a maximum of 750 per day), but that will look unlimited enough for practical purposes. I would guess that this is one of the big items that “justified” the +8 ECL rating – since you could keep going in, dying fighting mindless monsters, and coming back a few hours later to do it all over again and keep whittling them down – but is that really any different from a group that keeps falling back to rest after a fifteen-minute adventuring day? Character deaths are a lot less common than they were in older editions, so this isn’t a very big advantage any longer.
  • A vampire can assume gaseous form at will as the spell (caster level 5th), but it can remain gaseous indefinitely and has a fly speed of 20 feet with perfect maneuverability. But this as Inherent Spell IV (L6 Effect, Gaseous Form upgraded to One Hour / Level, 20′ Base Movement, effect can be toggled on and off) with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). That should be enough. After all, at a mere level five that’s all day.
  • A vampire has resistance to cold 10 and electricity 10. That’s Damage Reduction 5, Specialized for Increased Effect (Energy Attacks Only, for 10/-), Corrupted for Reduced Cost (Cold and Electricity only) (8 CP).
  • A vampire can climb sheer surfaces as though with a spider climb spell. That’s Celerity with an Additional Movement Mode (Flight), Specialized / the user must maintain contact with a surface that can reasonably support them (9 CP).
  • A vampire has +4 turn resistance. Well, that’s Turn Resistance IV (8 CP).
  • Abilities increase from the base creature as follows: Str +6, Dex +4, Int +2, Wis +2, Cha +4. As an undead creature, a vampire has no Constitution score. This is pretty expensive to buy directly; Even taking them at half price for being in a template, that’s a total of +18 in Characteristics, for a total of (108 CP). That’s pretty pricey – but then attribute bonuses are just generally good. There’s something there for pretty much everyone. On the other hand, most characters won’t need most of those, which makes this a lot less valuable than it might be. That’s… actually pretty good, at least up until the point that no one really cares about skill checks any longer.
  • Vampires have a +8 racial bonus on Bluff, Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks. That’s Adept, Specialized for Increased Effect (those seven skills) / only works for the template skill bonuses, not for buying further increases (6 CP) and +28 SP to buy the skill boosts with (28 CP).
  • Vampires gain Alertness (Skill Emphasis x2, Spot and Listen, 6 CP), Combat Reflexes (Reflex Training, Combat Reflexes Variant, 6 CP), Dodge (Defender, +1 to AC purchase, Specialized and Corrupted / only versus one designated opponent at a time, 2 CP), , Improved Initiative (Improved Initiative, 6 CP), and Lightning Reflexes (Resist, +2 to Reflex Saves, 6 CP). Fortunately, in Eclipse, there are no prerequisites to worry about.

Now that comes out to 294 CP – which is pretty costly. On the other hand, the template has some serious drawbacks:

  • Vampires are Undead, are inherently (and always) evil, have about the worst possible social issues, are harmed by positive energy and holy water, and can be Turned with positive energy.
  • Vampires cannot enter an area that smells strongly of garlic.
  • Vampires can be driven and held at bay back by a mirror or strongly presented holy symbol (a standard action in either case). A vampire cannot touch, or make melee attacks against, a creature taking such action for the rest of the encounter and must stay at least five feet away from them.
  • Vampires are unable to cross running water, although they can be carried over it while resting in their coffins or aboard a ship.
  • Vampires are unable to enter a home or other building unless invited in by someone with the authority to do so. They may freely enter public places, since these are by definition open to all. (How long such an invitation is good for, or if it may be rescinded, is never explained).
  • Reducing a vampire’s hit points to 0 or lower incapacitates it but doesn’t always destroy it (see the note on fast healing). However, certain attacks can slay vampires. Exposing any vampire to direct sunlight disorients it: It can take only a single move action or attack action and is destroyed utterly in the next round if it cannot escape. Similarly, immersing a vampire in running water robs it of one-third of its hit points each round until it is destroyed at the end of the third round of immersion. Driving a wooden stake through a vampire’s heart instantly slays the monster. However, it returns to life if the stake is removed, unless the body is destroyed. A popular tactic is to cut off the creature’s head and fill its mouth with holy wafers (or their equivalent).
  • Vampires only have access to the following domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, or Trickery.
  • Vampires can only have Rats or Bats (or, presumably, evil spirits) as familiars.

Those are some pretty glaring weaknesses. It’s a bit of a stretch – but if one of them somehow gets overhead to seal the exit from the circle… seven kids with wooden holy symbols could trap a vampire until the sun rises and destroys it. Putting garlic in it’s coffin will be a serous problem for it. If you just move said coffin inside someone’s HOUSE, it will be unable to get back to it if “slain”, since it would have to be invited in. Sure, a party can compensate for many such problems – but even if the game master allows a few substitution weaknesses (and opts not to enforce some of the other traditional weaknesses), I’d say that there are enough weaknesses on that list to count the entire template as being Specialized. That gives it a total value of 147 CP – a +4 ECL Template.

Honestly… that seems about right for this template. Vampires have some specific easily-abused powers – especially against monsters who often aren’t even intelligent, much less in possession of holy symbols or mirrors – but then a +4 ECL Half-Celestial gets some impressive attribute bonuses and a pretty good array of other powers (including, at higher levels, access to Holy / Unholy Word, Resurrection, and Summon Monster IX) for the same cost – which is arguably better, even if the payoff is somewhat delayed.

On the other hand, this isn’t exactly the sort of template that I’d recommend to a player. It’s more than a bit all-or-nothing, there isn’t much focus to it or room for growth, their major offensive ability (negative level infliction via brute-force bashing) is built around an abstract game mechanic that has nothing at all to do with anything in the original myths, and the real principle advantage – being able to send in the Thralls and dominated villagers – isn’t actually a lot of fun in play. Classical vampires were subtle, mysterious, and horrible, not just wandering monsters with a suite of abilities meant to annoy player characters.

Personally – and most of the current players seem to agree – if someone wants to play a vampire, I’d go with either the Shadowed Galaxy First Stage Vampire or the Basic Vampire template. Those are only +1 ECL (a modifier easy to buy off later) and provide an interesting array of abilities useful outside of combat.

Eclipse d20 – Candice Tintop, Mad Scientist

For our next Allwellia Character we have Candice, the groups resident mad scientist and robot master (as a special effect all of her constructs tend to be full of clockwork regardless of their game statistics and usually use a wild-borne emerald as a power core). Candice has never revealed much about her past – but given her periodic crazed attempts at major research projects, her tendency to create hordes of robots, and her occasional mutters about “Albert Wily”, “Ivo Robotnik”, and some sort of apocalyptic “Death Battle”, it is generally assumed that she was a member of a group with similar interests, there was some sort of falling out, and that she escaped the resulting disaster. Regardless, like so many mad scientists, Candice is more than a bit crazy, making most of her constructs resemble overly-cute toys and naming them in the same fashion. She led her party for quite some time, although she has recently taken a sabbatical to work on another one of her major projects. The group expects it to burn down a city or something at any time now.

Here we have the Introduction to Allwellia again – neatly boxed up for easy skipping for those who’ve seen it before.

The Allwellia Campaign is a high-powered Eclipse campaign. Not only does it allow quite a lot of character-optimization cheese, but it allows each player character to have a custom race/birthright – which means that each one can be expected to sneak in a bunch of high-powered abilities precisely adapted to whatever the player wants the characters role to be. In effect, they’re trading in the character’s basic racial modifiers for about a tailored template. Secondarily, it is both magic (80% of base cost, starting off at level two with 1800 gold to spend) and treasure rich.

The major problem is that the setting is FULL of wild magic. Some rare individuals – “Sparks” – can directly absorb that magic (“experience points”) when they battle the creatures of the wild, transforming and enhancing themselves in weird and wonderful ways (“Sparks” use Eclipse builds). More common (if still pretty rare) are Embers, who can absorb the wild magic but not directly use it – so they can use it up in rituals to grant themselves specific patterns of abilities (Class Levels) or in gaining a few other boosts. Finally, of course… most people can’t absorb wild magic at all. They may still gain a few levels via years of slow and painful practice or by being infused with power by some Spark with Leadership (or some similar ability), but – while they still get Birthrights – they’re relatively generic.

Wild magic is the explanation for the abundance of magic items as well. Not only can items randomly appear in the wilds – even if many such random items are useless or outright dangerous – but they can be “farmed”. Placing an appropriate mundane item in a box covered with the correct runes and formulas and leaving it in the wild will – in time – result in a fairly predictable enchantment. Items that get left too long, or get disturbed, or where something goes wrong, can be just as insane as the random stuff – but all you need to produce magical items is the right formula (there are books) and time.

Unfortunately, the Wilds are just that. Did an airship crash? By the time the search party finds it it may have transformed into a haunted pirate ship, complete with a crew of monsters all with their own magic. Has the wild magic surged today? An old family cemetery with an “eternal flame” marker may turn into a volcano full of fire vampires surrounded by a sprawling city of the undead – none of which “dead” existed last week. Was there a great storm? Perhaps the old coastal village has been swallowed up by the sea, and is now a civilization of underwater monsters bent on conquest. Mapping the wild isn’t entirely futile – it helps keep major features in place – but the details change constantly.

Candice “Candi” Tintop

Level Ten Mad Scientist

Racial Template: Crafter Dwarf (31 CP / +0 ECL):

  • Attribute Shift (+2 Con, -2 Chr, 6 CP)
  • Skill Specialty/Craft/Stone and Metal +3 (1 CP)
  • +1 BAB, Specialized/vrs Orcs, Half-Orcs & Goblinoids only, Corrupted/does not add to iterative attacks (2 CP)
  • Speak Dwarven as an extra language (1 CP)
  • Universal Crafter: Equipage with Purchasing, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires the use of a workshop and hours or days of work as determined by the game master (4 CP).
  • Leadership, with Animated Objects and Constructs, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for Animated
  • Objects and Constructs, User must spend hours or days building them (6 CP).
  • +3d0 Hit Dice, Specialized in determining the user’s effective level for Leadership (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (Up to 7500 GP Value, 8 CP). All effects Spell Level 1/2 or 1, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Use Activated.
    • Resist Energy (10), L1, Personal Only (1400 GP).
    • Mending (L 1/2, 1000 GP)
    • Immortal Vigor I (L1, adds 12 + 2 x Con Mod HP, Personal Only, 1400 GP)
    • Traveler’s Any-Tool (160 GP).
    • 2x Healing Belt (Variant, Repairs Animated Objects and Constructs, 1200 GP).
    • Light (L1/2, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, 1000 GP).
  • Racial Disadvantage/Insane. Crafter Dwarves treat constructs like people, consider them alive, and get very upset if they are destroyed (-3 CP).

Putting ANY version of Leadership into a “race” is a pretty unusual move. After all, between this and the boosted level for it’s effect it says that you can tell when a “Crafter Dwarf” hits adulthood (level one) by simply watching to see when they build their first minions – and means that any Crafter Dwarf settlement is likely to have a small army of constructs on tap both for defense and to do most of the basic labor. A first level Crafter Dwarf will average eight CR 1 constructs. Presuming that most of them make at lesat some servant/laborer constructs (which seems like a pretty obvious thing to do)… Each will be capable of doing pretty much any job that a normal person can do – and constructs are tireless, labor twenty-four hours a day, need little or no support. The social effects of this one are going to be pretty major. Even a small group of Crafter Dwarves essentially comes with their own portable industrial revolution and is likely to act like leisured aristocrats. Throw in the ability to make almost anything else they need via “purchasing” and you can reasonably expect to find reasonably wealthy little settlements of Crafter Dwarves in the most inhospitable places. About the only restriction (at least in Allwellia) is that Crafter Dwarves can only be born near a Crafting Nexus, which at least keeps them relatively rare.

The Innate Enchantments theoretically don’t come into play until the user pays their XP cost (not much) or (for NPC’s who don’t get experience or PC’s who don’t want to spend any) they get a little training (spending 1 CP on a specialized immunity to that rather small activation cost).Still, that generally means that you can expect almost any Crafter Dwarf to have mastered them – usually even before level zero since a single disadvantage will more than suffice. While none of those enchantments are particularly major items, this will make even Crafter Dwarf children unusually durable and skilled in working with stone and metal.

I don’t expect there to be a lot of room for other races in a Crafter Dwarf community. Unless they’re especially talented as artists, or high enough level to be serious experts, or rich enough to not worry about their community role, what are they going to do? All the basic jobs and roles are going to be filled by tireless constructs.

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Int 18 (+2 L4, L8 +6 Enh = 26), Wis 11, Con 14 (+2 Enh = 16), Dex 14 (+6 Enh = 20), and Cha 12.

Available Character Points: 264 (Level Ten Base) +10 (Disadvantages: History, Blocked (Clerical Magic; sees the universe as complex mechanisms), Compulsive (Tinkerer, will tend to fiddle with traps and ancient mechanisms without thinking about it)) + 30 (L1, L3, L5, L7, L9 Bonus Feats) = 304 CP

Basic Purchases (181 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +7 (42 CP) +2 Luck. (Extra +4 with Rays from MA, can “whirlwind” a ray within a 15′ radius).
  • Skill Points: 33 (33 CP) +65 (Int Mod x 13) +26 (Fast Learner Specialized in Skills, 6 CP) +26 (Boost) = 150 SP.
    • Adept x2: Pays half cost for Craft (Constructs), Disable Device, Hide, Search, Escape Artist, Move Silently, Open Lock, and Sleight Of Hand (12 CP).
  • Hit Points: 10 (L1D6 + 1d4, 10 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +45 (L2-L10, d6, 18 CP) +0 (upgrade 3d0 Racial Hit Dice to all purpose, 6 CP) +48 (Con Mod x 16) +96 (Cunning Evasion, Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Int Mod) to (Con Mod) for HP Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only for hit dice through level six – although her racial hit dice and racial Immortal Vigor count, 6 CP) = 211 HP.
  • Armor Class 10 (Base)+5 (Dex) +2 (MA) +1 (Def) +3 (Nat) = 21
    • When “Armor” Active: +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) = 29
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +4 (12 CP) +3 (Con) +4 (Res) = +11
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +5 (Dex) +4 (Res) = +11
    • Will: +4 (12 CP) +0 (Wis) 4 (Res) = +8
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses Specialized in Saves (6 CP).
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons and Light Armor (6 CP)
  • Initiative +5 (Dex) +4 (Improved Initiative, 6 CP) = +9
  • Move: 30′ [+30′ (Enh) when armor active].

Common Attacks (Presumes use of Combat Drug and Armor since those are quick, cheap, and long-lasting buffs).

  • Ice Ray/Adamantine Imprisonment/Weather Control/Etc: Either Will DC 21 for Half Damage (Affects Objects) or Ranged Touch Attack +21 (+7 BAB +5 Dex +5 Luck +4 Martial Art).
  • Heavy Mace: +12/+12 (+7 BAB +2 Enh +3 Str, Personal Haste), 1d8 + 5 (+2 Enh +3 Str), Crit 20/x2.

Candi may have taken a few swings in melee, but it’s certainly not her thing unless she’s either holding the legendary weapon which will destroy the foe in a single blow OR has completely run out of other options. She’s not helpless in a physical fight, but why would she pick doing 1d8+5 over – say – instantly imprisoning one or more opponents in icy adamantine bonds? And why take damage from a big area of effect or massive attack when she can throw up a quick barrier to block it and line of sight?

Other Abilities (123 CP):

  • Augmented Bonus/Adds (Int Mod) to (Dex Mod) for Dexterity based skills (6 CP).
  • Stipend (Only for Crafting): May make up to 1200 GP worth of goods per month with racial Universal Crafter ability without other costs in her spare time (12 CP).
  • Upgrade Racial Leadership to Double Effect (6 CP).
  • Finesse (Saves against her Witchcraft abilities are based on Int, not Cha, 6 CP).
  • +13 Levels of Int-based Wilder Spellcasting with no Caster Level, Corrupted / provides no disciplines. (Net = 147 Wilder +13 Witch = 160 Power) (26 CP). This is a bit cheesy, but most characters have some cheese somewhere.
  • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant) with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted / only to use Witchcraft Abilities (8 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to act defensively (9 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted /. Only to recover Power, only when there is a break in the action (8 CP).
  • Witchcraft III with The Secret Order, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Requires various blatantly obvious Foci that can be taken away (16 CP Base). This provides 13 Power and a selection of twelve basic abilities / devices. A mad scientists basic abilities are usually (although not always) Specialized in particular applications for double effect. (CL 14, Will Saves DC 21, 30′ Base Range).
  • Basic Functions:
    1. Auric Distortion Cloak (The Adamant Will, Specialized for Increased Effect / presents a false aura to aura detection effects at no cost.
    2. Essence Extractor: When directed at an unresisting creature, corpse, or area of up to a 20′ radius, this device extracts specific substances for 1 Power. It can thus be used to gather poison from deceased monsters, perfume from flower gardens, drugs from various plants, or gold from ore.
    3. Etheric Manipulator Vest (Dreamfaring, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to let the user see and attack into the Ethereal Plane at no cost.
    4. Folding Centaur Armor (Hand of Shadows: Mage Armor, Shield, and Personal Haste, 2 Power for 10 Minutes/caster level).
    5. Healers Kit (Healing, Specialized in Hit Points for Double Effect, 2d4/Power, max 3 Power/Round)
    6. Holographic Image Projector (Shadowweave, Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 2 Power to generate a Minor Image effect or 4 Power to generate a Major Image effect.
    7. Hypersonic Pulser (Glamour, Specialized for Increased Effect / Panics animals in the area that fail to resist for 1 Power.
    8. Hypnotic Wheel (Glamour/Suggestion for 2 Power).
    9. Microbot Assistants (Hand of Shadows/Can do an hours light work every five minutes)
    10. Multi-optics Band (Witchsight, various vision boosts. 1 Power/Hour).
    11. Ray Gun (Infliction/Ice Ray, 9d4/15d4/21d4 Damage for 1/2/3 Power, +3 power for a 5′ Radius, Save Will DC 17 for Half). With Atheric Crystalizer Upgrade (Nightforge, +4 CP). Can make ice constructs as durable as Adamant. With Death Ray Upgrade (Mouth of the Earth, upgrade to d8’s for +1 Power, 4 CP).
    12. Sensory Link System (The Inner Eye, Only for use with Personal Constructs, 1 Power/Ten Minutes).
  • Advanced Systems:
    • Combat Drug (Wrath of the Sea and Dance of Flames, +6 to Str and Dex for ten minutes for two power, 8 CP).
    • Feral Genegraft (Flesh Like Mist, Specialized and Corrupted / only to take on rat traits, like a Bite Of The Wererat effect, for two Power, 2 CP). Since this doesn’t have a duration limit she usually has it running at all times, just for the attribute bonuses.
    • Null-Gravity Boots (Whisper Step, 4 CP).
    • Planar Sealer (4 CP). This gadget provides access to the Dismissal ability.
    • Teleportation Belt: Ashen Rebirth with Teleportation, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for the Teleportation function (6 CP).
    • Weather Control Module / Weathermonger (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft Pacts – Advertising (-6 CP), Rituals (Major research projects, at least twice per year, with unpredictable results (-6 CP).

The Witchcraft-based “Mad Scientist” build can be extremely potent at low levels, particularly when you buy extra hit dice and thus boost up your Witchcrafts effective “Caster Level”. Adding a huge heap of Psionic Strength on top of the cost-efficiency of Witchcraft makes you pretty competitive in the mid-levels too. That combination catapulted Candi to party leadership early on, if only because she had the biggest attack/blast in the party, could keep it up for quite some time, and had a swarm of minions to hide behind while she fiddled with her gadgets.

Skills (All +4 Competence): (3 SP Left)

  • Balance +11 (11 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +28
  • Craft Constructs +13 (6* SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Craft Weapons +13 (13 SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Disable Device +13 (6* SP) +8 (Int) +4 (Tools) = +29
  • Escape Artist +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) +4 (Tools) = +34
  • Hide +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Knowledge/Architecture and Engineering +13 (13 SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Martial Art/Ray Master +13 (13 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Attack 4, Defenses 3, Reach (+10′, only for Whirlwind Attack), Mind Like Moon, Whirlwind Attack, Prone Combat, Inner Strength II, Light Foot, and Vanishing.
  • Move Silently +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Open Lock +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) +4 (Tools) = +34
  • Ride +13 (13 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +34
  • Search +13 (6* SP) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Sleight Of Hand +13 (6* SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Spot +13 (13 SP) +0 (Wis) = +17
  • Tumble +13 (13 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +30
  • Use Magic Device +13 (13 SP) +1 (Cha) = +18
  • Use Rope +2 (2 SP) +5 (Dex) +8 (Int) = +19

Speaks: Common, Dwarven, Sign Language, Sphinx, Terran, Giant, and Draconic.

Skills from +6 Headband of Intellect:

  • Appraise: (Level+3) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Knowledge/Nobility: (Level+3) +8 (Int) = +25
  • Knowledge/Dungeoneering: (Level+3) +8 (Int) = +25

Specific Knowledges: Constructs (1 SP), Metallurgy (1 SP), and Riddles (1 SP).

Magical Items:

  • Ring of Protection +1 Light Fortification.
  • Handy Haversack.
  • +2 Heavy Mace
  • Ring of Communication,
  • Bronze Griffon. When animated, a bronze griffon acts in all ways like a normal griffon under the command of its possessor. The item can be used twice per week for up to 6 hours per use. When 6 hours have passed or when the command word is spoken, the bronze griffon once again becomes a tiny statuette.
  • Headband of Intellect +6.

Conventional Gear: Spare Explorers Outfit (2 GP), Canteen (2 GP), Silver Holy Symbol (25 GP), Pot of Glue (-), 10 Iron Spikes (-), two weeks “Good Meals” (-), 100′ Silk Rope (20 GP), Grapnel (2 GP), Spool of Thread (-), Ball of Twine (-), Spool of Wire (10 GP), Sewing Kit (1 GP), 10′ Folding Pole (2 GP), Camping Gear (Tent, Bedroll, Cooking Kit, Etc, 12 GP), “Zippo” Lighter (2 GP), Pens & Ink (-), 2 Blank Journals (20 GP), Mechanician’s Handbook (50 GP), Javelins x10 (10 GP).

Mystic Tattoos: +2 Luck to Attacks, +4 Resistance to Saves, +4 Competence to All Skills.

Thanks to access to an Altar Of War, she can consider up to six weapons (a bundle of 50 ammo counts as one weapon) as being +1. We haven’t gotten a ruling on whether her ray gun counts.

Available Constructs: (Max CR 13, total CR of 64):

  • Maully and Andy (Teddy Bear Guardian Dolls, 2 x CR 3 = 5)
  • Sugar Plum (Pony, Small Animated Object / Heavy Crossbow, CR 2),
  • Norbert (Small Heli-Rat Animated Object,CR 2)
  • Hooty Blo (Small Animated Object/ Bronze Owl, with Camera, CR 2),
  • Animated Hand Crossbow (Pellet Variant, stays with Hooty Blo, CR 1).
  • Wall-e1 and Wall-e2: Mosaic Tile Golems (CR 7 x 2 = 9).
  • Slinky, Coils, and Hissy Fit, Iron Cobras x 3 (3 x CR2 = 5)
  • Mr Fuzzles (Large Animated Winged Tiger Statue, +3 CP for CR 6: Fly (1), Burrow (1), Mithril (Hardness 15, +4 Natural Armor, 1). When she needs a steed, she has Mr Fuzzles.
  • Twinkle Toes: Robot Arachnid (CR 2)
  • Chonk The Pony (Clockwork Steed, CR 6)
  • 2 x Tickles, Animated Masterwork Thieves Tools (+4 where relevant, total CR 1).
  • Dawn, Sunset, Moonlight, and Sunshine (Amber Unicorns, CR 3 x 4, = 8).
  • Chez: Animated Lounge Chair (Medium Animated Object, Move 40′, Additional Movement Mode / Flight (CR 3).
  • Mr Floateysaur: Animated Ship (Colossal Animated Object, Fly (1), 3x Faster (60′ Move, 3), Slower (No Ground Movement, -2), treat as Mithril (Hardness 15, +4 to Natural Armor, 4), Deck Gun (Ranged Attack, 20′ Increment, 2) (CR 12). Oddly enough, Mr Floateysaur cannot swim – but next level she intends to add +4 Construction Points to get the CR up to 14, adding Swim (1), and an Additional (1) Ranged (2) Attack. (She may work on getting the Ranges up after that. There’s no official pricing for that, but it’s hardly unreasonable).

Candi’s constructs have yet to be a really big factor – even the flying ship is mostly just for fun since two other characters have got them (albeit by entirely different methods) and had them first – but they have helped divert a few crowd scenes and have been reasonably useful for running errands and doing a little light scouting. In part that’s because Candi tends to regard them more as pets and companions than as resources, but there are still enough of them to make it seem like she is running a mechanical Noah’s Ark.

Overall, Candi is actually a pretty-well balanced. She’s got a decent selection of tricks, enough power to use them as needed, some troops to hide behind while she uses them, and her attacks, saves, armor class, and hit points are quite good enough to buy her some time if someone gets past her minions. Admittedly, her tendency to be “cutesy” is eccentric, but as mad scientist quirks go it’s pretty minor.

Marcus Silvus, Wyld Shapeshifter

Our next Allwellia character is the party tank – but in this case the player has a tendency to try and increase the challenges his character faces by accepting serious disadvantages and by playing against his characters strengths. Given that the rest of the group likes to optimize characters… the counter-dynamic is for everyone else in the game to try and optimize his characters beyond all reason. Ergo, here is a horrendously over-optimized version of Marcus Silvus, Wyld Shapeshifter.

Here we have the Introduction to Allwellia again – neatly boxed up for easy skipping for those who’ve seen it before.

The Allwellia Campaign is a high-powered Eclipse campaign. Not only does it allow quite a lot of character-optimization cheese, but it allows each player character to have a custom race/birthright – which means that each one can be expected to sneak in a bunch of high-powered abilities precisely adapted to whatever the player wants the characters role to be. In effect, they’re trading in the character’s basic racial modifiers for about a tailored template. Secondarily, it is both magic (80% of base cost, starting off at level two with 1800 gold to spend) and treasure rich.

The major problem is that the setting is FULL of wild magic. Some rare individuals – “Sparks” – can directly absorb that magic (“experience points”) when they battle the creatures of the wild, transforming and enhancing themselves in weird and wonderful ways (“Sparks” use Eclipse builds). More common (if still pretty rare) are Embers, who can absorb the wild magic but not directly use it – so they can use it up in rituals to grant themselves specific patterns of abilities (Class Levels) or in gaining a few other boosts. Finally, of course… most people can’t absorb wild magic at all. They may still gain a few levels via years of slow and painful practice or by being infused with power by some Spark with Leadership (or some similar ability), but – while they still get Birthrights – they’re relatively generic.

Wild magic is the explanation for the abundance of magic items as well. Not only can items randomly appear in the wilds – even if many such random items are useless or outright dangerous – but they can be “farmed”. Placing an appropriate mundane item in a box covered with the correct runes and formulas and leaving it in the wild will – in time – result in a fairly predictable enchantment. Items that get left too long, or get disturbed, or where something goes wrong, can be just as insane as the random stuff – but all you need to produce magical items is the right formula (there are books) and time.

Unfortunately, the Wilds are just that. Did an airship crash? By the time the search party finds it it may have transformed into a haunted pirate ship, complete with a crew of monsters all with their own magic. Has the wild magic surged today? An old family cemetery with an “eternal flame” marker may turn into a volcano full of fire vampires surrounded by a sprawling city of the undead – none of which “dead” existed last week. Was there a great storm? Perhaps the old coastal village has been swallowed up by the sea, and is now a civilization of underwater monsters bent on conquest. Mapping the wild isn’t entirely futile – it helps keep major features in place – but the details change constantly.

Marcus Silvus

Level Ten Wyld Shapeshifter, Fenris Understudy.

Basic Attributes: Str 7, Dex 5, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 13, Cha 10

Dire Wolf/Dire Wolf Hybrid Abilities: Str 25 (+6 Ch +4 Enh +6 Eq +1 Lvl = 42), Dex 15 (+6 Ch +6 Eq +1 Lvl = 28), Con 17 (+6 Ch +4 Enh = 27), Int 13 (+6 Ch +1 Enh = 20), Wis 13 (+6 Ch = 19), Cha 10 (+6 Ch = 16). 10′ Reach, takes d8 damage from falls,

On adventures Marcus normally stays in Dire Wolf or Hybrid Dire Wolf form.

Available Character Points: 264 (L10 Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Accursed x3 – no rerolls for terrible attributes) +20 (Restrictions, externally directed spellcasting, armor) +36 ( Birthright, L1, L3, L5, L7, L9 Bonus Feats) = 330 CP.

Imperial Order Birthright

  • Defender (Specialized / Not versus Wyld Creatures (3 CP).For most people this is only +1 AC.
  • 1d6+2 (6) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted / Only to order the environment (3 CP)
    • Places around Order birthrights tend to be exceptionally clean and well-laid out, although sometimes a little unnervingly neat. They can also organize things rapidly, research complex topics by sheer brute force of logically arranging data, etc,
  • Rite of C’hi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the ordering pool above (4 CP).
  • Enthusiast (3 CP)
  • Fast Learner: (Socialized in Skills for +2 SP per Level, 6 CP)
  • Immunity/the restriction that martial arts are for specific weapons (Very Common, Minor, Major), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works with a specific martial arts style, the style cannot have any mystical effects (4 CP).
  • Double-Advanced Blessing / the user may share abilities with up to (Charisma) other nearby (within 60′) individuals in addition to himself at any one time. Specialized and Corrupted / only works for a specific martial arts style and any immunities related to it, the style cannot have any mystical effects, only works as long as the user can continue to shout directions as a free action (6 CP).
  • Immunity/the inability to use more than one martial art at a time (Very Common, Minor, Major), Specialized / only works to add a specific martial arts style (6 CP).
  • Bonus Feat (6 CP)
  • Disadvantages: Accursed/draws Wyld monsters, Blocked/Chaos Magic, Wyld Magic, Etc, and Compulsive/need for organization (-10 CP),

That’s a rather subtle birthright by Allwellian standards – but the ability to effectively organize a battle to his liking, and to bestow fairly substantial combat bonuses on the rest of the party, would make Marcus the obvious leader and commander if he didn’t carefully avoid that role at all times.

Birthright Upgrades (36 CP):

  • Defender to Universal (3 CP).
  • +8 Bonus uses to Rite Of Chi for Order Pool (4 CP)
  • Buy off restrictions on Martial Arts Weapons (8 CP). Any weapon can be used with any martial art(s).
  • Reduce Blessing to Specialized (Only for Martial Arts and immunities related to them, 3 CP). Martial arts many now include occult abilities.
  • Upgrade ability to use multiple martial arts to three at a time (Grand, no longer limited to a specific style, 18 CP).

To retain sanity, I’d recommend limiting the ability to share martial arts effects on top of whatever martial art the target is already using to a single additional martial art. It could be read either way, but allowing EVERY player character to use three martial arts at a time means having to give all the monsters massive bonuses to keep them effective. There really is no point in that kind of arms race when the real goal is just to let the fighter be an equal to the spellcasters.

Basic Purchases (172 CP): (Dire Wolf Baseline)

  • Base Attack Bonus: +9 (Corrupted / No iterative attacks, 36 CP).+4 BAB, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (+12)/ only to transfer to damage via Expertise, does not add to iterative attacks (24 CP)
  • Skill Points: 4 (4 CP) +273 ([Int Mod + Str Mod] x13) +26 (F. Learner) +14 (Bonus) = 317 SP.
    • Immunity/Not getting skill points for boosts retroactively (Uncommon, Minor, Great, 6 CP)
    • Here, once again… OK, a lot of his skills are very physical, and others can be aided by flexing his enormous muscles and growling, but deriving almost all of his skill points from his strength without any justification at all is pretty blatant cheese.

  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Point Purposes (18 CP)
  • Adept (Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, 6 CP).
  • Hit Points: 10 (L1D10, 4 CP) +8 (L2D8, 2 CP) +39 (L3-10d6 0 CP) +0 (4d0 Bonus HD, 16 CP) +12 (2d6 Immortal Vigor) +15 (4d4 Armory) +520 (20 HD x [Con Mod + Str Mod]) = 564 HP
    • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus: Adds (Str Mod) to (Con Mod) for Hit Point Purposes (18 CP)
    • And here we’re doing it again – channeling everything through his strength simpoly because it’s so high. Still, the tradition of strongmen shrugging off mighty blows counts for something.

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Hit Dice (Uses d6 base, 6 CP).
  • AC: 10 (Base)+9 (Dex) +3 (Nat) +3 (Def) +12 (MA) -1 (Size) = 36
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +2 (6 CP) +8 (Con) +1 (Res) = +11
    • Reflex: +0 (0 CP) +9 (Dex) +1 (Res) = +10
    • Will: +3 (9 CP) +4 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +8
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves (6 CP).
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons and Martial Weapons (9 CP)
  • Initiative +9 (Dex)+3 (Eq) = +12. Roll twice, keeping the best.
  • Move: 50′ (Base) +30 (Enh) +30 (Eq) +10 = 120′

Usual Attacks:

  • Melee: +35/+35/+35/+35 (+10 BAB +12 MA+16 Str +3 Enh -1 Size -4 Bonus Attacks, Personal Haste), Damage as per Weapon +43 (16 Str +3 Enh +24 Expertise), Blind Fight, Mighty Blow, +25′ Natural Reach, 9 AoO.
  • Ranged: +28/+29/+29/+29 (+10 BAB +12 MA+8 Dex +3 Enh -4 Bonus Attack, Personal Haste), Damage per Weapon +43 (16 Str +3 Enh +24 Expertise), Mighty Blow.
  • 36 Inner Strength Points (Regain 9d6+1 daily), usable for Vanishing, Resist Pain, Iron Skin, Light Foot, Healing, and Wrath (Lightning).
  • May take up to -8 on attacks to add +2 additional damage per -1 taken.

Other Abilities (130 CP):

  • Shapeshift, with Shrinking, Hybrid, Enchanted, Dire, Growth, and +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / must have killed a creature to shapeshift into it, gets no bite attack (11 CP)
  • Current Forms: Wolf (Dire Base). Human, Falcon, Serpent, Badger, Weasel, Panther.
    • This, of course, is one of the classic ways to deal with poor attributes – learn to shapeshift and use those of your shapeshifted form.
  • 2x Double Enthusiast, Specialized & Corrupted for Increased Effect (12 Floating CP) / Only for Innate Enchantment (12 CP).
    • +1 Int, Wis, Str, Dex, Con, Cha, all Personal-Only (Cantrips, 3360 GP). (All boosted to +6 Chaos Bonus by Metamagic, Below).
    • Personal Haste (1600 GP).
    • Resistance, Personal Only, +1 Resistance Bonus to Saves (560 GP).
    • Healing Belt x2 (1200 GP).
    • Basic Gear: Longsword (15 GP), Bedroll, Medium Tent (5 GP), Air Bladder (2 GP), Compass (10 GP), Ioun Torch (60 GP), Cold and Hot Weather Gear (5 GP), Snowshoes (2 GP), Personal Care Items (1 GP), Collar (-). Net = 100 GP.
    • Composite Longbow for Str +19 (1900 GP).
    • Net Total: 8720 GP, may have up to 11,500 GP total value.
  • Metamagic: Power +3 (Specialized and Corrupted / Only to upgrade attribute boost innate enchantments by +3 effective levels to +6), Elemental Manipulation +3 (Specialized and Corrupted / Only to change Innate Enchantment attribute upgrade effects from Enhancement to Chaos Bonuses), Streamline III (Only to reduce the costs of the above metamagics) (10 CP).
  • Empowerment for Innate Enchantments, Corrupted for Increased Effect / uses has base Hit Dice as his Caster Level for Attribute Boosting Spells, and so can apply his +0 metamagics to them (6 CP).

This is a big slice of cheese. Marcus is basically boosting all of his attributes by SIX for a mere 20 CP. On the other hand… it’s being allowed because the player initially elected to put up with those TERRIBLE starting attributes rather than taking advantage of the standard rule on such things – that with attribute modifiers totaling less than zero he could toss out those terrible, TERRIBLE, numbers and reroll. Secondarily, of course, in this high-magic, high-treasure setting… he could invest in a +6 Belt of Magnificence (normally 200,000 GP) for 160,000 GP (presuming no further price breaks) and spend 12 CP on Innate Enchantment to absorb the thing and convert it to some other bonus type if he wanted to stack bonuses anyway. For now saving 160,000 GP is probably a better deal than saving 8 CP – but as levels go up things like Bonus Uses on Luck (Specialized in Saves) and similar investments will eventually be worth a good deal more than 160,000 GP. So… Marcus is getting away with it. You probably shouldn’t expect this to fly with game masters who are running lower level or less over-the-top games though.

  • Immunity/The XP Cost of his floating Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great,, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects Innate Enchantments, 6 CP).
  • Damage Reduction 4/-, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased effect/Physical Only, Not Vrs Silver (net 12/Silver or Energy, 9 CP). (Martial Arts Damage Reduction 6/- stacks with this).
  • Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only when he Shapeshifts (6 CP).
  • Journeyman (Combat Abilities), Specialized in Hit Dice (3 CP).
  • The Call Of Ancient Blood: Privilege/killing a normal animal also counts as killing a dire animal for shapeshifting purposes (3 CP).
  • Totemistic Binding: Access to two Occult Skills (Armory and Biotech) at Normal Cost (12 CP).

This is another hefty slice of cheese: the Armory and Biotech skills come from the high-tech Shadowed Galaxy setting, where the “Equipment Skills” pretty much replace both money and magic items – and offer access to some pretty powerful stuff. Of course, other characters in the setting are accessing some of those skills for exactly the same reasons. Fortunately, however, since “Occult Skills” can come from anywhere in the multiverse, they can be freely “reskinned” – so he has versions of the two which use totemistic magic for self-enhancement instead of high-tech gear, which suits his theme but functions exactly the same way. He just uses little fetishes and charms instead of high-tech gadgets.

  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to restore Inner Strength (9 CP).
  • Improved Expertise, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to transfer up to 20 points from Attack Bonus to Damage, at a ratio of -1 to the Attack per +2 Damage (12 CP).

This isn’t an ubercharger build – but in combination with some extra Base Attack Bonus (only for converting to damage) this gives him a nice boost. It seems only fair; the fighter SHOULD be the best one in the party when it comes to inflicting damage with weapons.

  • Lunge (6 CP). Increase Natural Reach by +5 feet.
  • Whirlwind Attack with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). With a total of +25′ reach, rather high damage, and the ability to use it five times a minute, Marcus can do a fair imitation of an artillery strike. Even better, Whirlwind attack only damages your chosen targets – allowing you to leave all your friends undamaged, which is a LOT better than a fireball.
  • Oathspeaker: Mystic Artist (Oratory) with Echoes, Specialized for Increased Effect (doubles effective skill, may swear an oath as a free action) / only affects the user, only for Inspiration abilities, only as long as the user is acting to fulfill his oath (normally up to once per day per level for three minutes maximum) (12 CP). He most often uses Heroism (+2 Positive Levels, for +2 to BAB, Saves, and AC and +12 CP for three minutes.

Marcus’s oaths and promises have the power of his honor behind them. If he announces that he WILL save the fair maiden even if he must leap the mighty fire-belching chasm to do so… Then he can simply award himself a second level variation on “Jump” via Inherent Spell and some Immunity (Fire) to make that possible. This is a powerful and versatile ability, Personally I am not sure that this counts as cheese, if only because it is so very, VERY, classic. Fantasy stories are FULL of dramatic declarations of intent that seem to grant the hero a great (if very temporary) surge of power. Why should games be any different?

Skills: (317 SP Spent).

  • Armory (Occult): +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) = +29 (+3 Specialty).
    • Str +6 (3), Stealth +8 (3), Athletics +8 (3), Martial Arts +8 (3), Heavy Fortification (3), +6 Dex (3), Heavy Weapon Mounts (can use all weapons without penalty for not having hands, 3), +30 Move (3), +8 to Intimidation (3)
  • Autohypnosis: +13 (13 SP) +4 (Wis) +8 (Eq) = +25
  • Balance: +13 (6* SP) +9 (Dex) +8 (Eq) = +30
  • Biotech (Occult):+13 (13 SP) +8 (Con) = +21 (+3 Specialty).
    • Rebuild (Treats Dire Wolf as his base form, Level-Based Attribute bonuses apply to that form, 3), +6 Dex (3), +4d4 Hit Dice (3), +8 to Sensory Checks (3), Extended Lifespan (1), Flash Resistance and Hearing Protection (1), +3 to Initiative (3), +8 to Autohypnosis and Survival (3).
  • Craft: Pioneering Gear +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Handle Animal +13 (13 SP) +3 (Cha) = +16 (Wolves +19)
  • Heal: +13 (13 SP) +4 (Wis) +2 (Belt) = +19
  • Hide +13 (6* SP) +9 (Dex) +8 (CoUM) +8 (Eq) +2(DW) -4 (Size) = +36
  • Intimidate: +13 (13 SP) +3 (Cha) +8 (Eq) = +24
  • Jump: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str)+36 (Spd) +8 (Eq) = +73
  • Knowledge/Geography: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/Law: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/Nature: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/Nobility and Royalty: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Knowledge/The Wyld: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Listen +13 (6* SP) +4 (Wis) +8 (Eq) +2 (DW) = +27
  • Move Silently +13 (6* SP) +9 (Dex) +6 CoUM +8 (Eq) +2 (DW) -4 (Size) = +34
  • Pack Leader Style: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) +8 (Eq) – +37
  • Feral Rage Style: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) +8 (Eq) – +37
  • Storms Hammer Style: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) +8 (Eq) – +37
  • Perform (Oratory): +13 (13 SP) +3 (Cha).
  • Speak Language +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +18
  • Common, High Imperial, Canine, and 16 More.
  • Spot +13 (6* SP) +4 (Wis) +8 (Eq) +2 (DW) = +27
  • Survival +13 (13 SP) +4 (Wis) +2 (Sy) +8 (Eq) = +27 (Hunting +30, Track +38).
  • Swim: +13 (13 SP) +16 (Str) = +29

+3 Specialties (6 SP): The Empire*, Tracking, Hunting, Imperial Law*, Biotech (Dire Wolf Rebuild), Armory (Heavy Weapons Mounts), and Wolves.

* – Not Included in totals.

Equipment:

  • Belt: Healing Belt (600 GP): +2 to Heal, 3 Charges/Day, Spend 1/2/3 to heal 2/3/4d8.
  • Neck: Continuous Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis: 60′ Dark-vision, Hide in Plain Sight, Cold Resistance 10, Superior Low- Light Vision, Hide +8, Move Silently +6, +10 to all movement modes (17,600 GP)
  • Ring: Ring of Communication (1600 GP).
  • Ring: Ring of Anticipation (Roll twice for initiative keeping the best result, 4800 GP)
  • Scholars Pin +1 Enhancement Bonus to Intelligence (800 GP).
  • Pet Amulet: Keeps a furry creature clean, neat, and scentless (Slotless, 1600 GP).

Mystic Tattoos: +4 Str, +4 Con, Spell Resistance

Pack Leader Style (Str):

  • Requires: Access to Wolf-Form, Imperial Order Birthright.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Synergy/Survival, Synergy/Hide, Synergy/Heal, and Toughness 2.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, “Shout Warnings” (Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves) and “You’ll be all right pup!” (Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Hit Points).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Vanishing, and Resist Pain.
  • Known Techniques (19): Attack 4, Toughness 2, Defenses 4, Synergy/Survival, Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, Shout Warnings, You’ll Be All Right Pup, Inner Strength II, Vanishing, Resist Pain.

Feral Rage Style (Str):

  • Requires: Access to Dire Wolf Form
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Synergy/Survival, Synergy/Hide, and Toughness 2.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Blind Fight, Breaking, Mighty Blow, and Reach.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Light Foot, and Iron Skin.
  • Known Techniques (19): Attack 4, Toughness 2, Defenses 4, Blind Fight, Breaking, Mighty Blow, Reach. Inner Strength II, Iron Skin, and Light Foot.

Storms Hammer Style (Str)

  • Requires: +6 BAB
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Strike, Toughness 3
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Reach, Imbuement (currently +3), Bonus Attack II.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Healing, and Wrath (Lightning). .
  • Known Techniques (19):Attack 4,Defenses 4, Strike, Toughness II, Reach, Imbuement, and Bonus Attack II., Inner Strength II, Healing, and Wrath (Lightning).

This actually leaves Marcus with eight unspent character points – unless I’ve made an error, which is certainly possible late at night and with a character this complicated. Still, I find myself unsure of what to spend them on – so that can await further character development.

Marcus, of course, is an extremely powerful tank – and one with enough offensive power to be sure that attackers will HAVE to deal with him. For most games I’d class him around ECL 16-18 – as might be expected given a base level of ten, +2 ECL for the custom race/template, about +4 for using an Eclipse build, and +2 for all the high-optimization options. He’s still no match for an ubercharger, or other really high-end build of that level – but he ought to be considerably more interesting to play.

Millificent of Allwellia

The Allwellia Campaign is a high-powered Eclipse campaign. Not only does it allow quite a lot of character-optimization cheese, but it allows each player character to have a custom race/birthright – which means that each one can be expected to sneak in a bunch of high-powered abilities precisely adapted to whatever the player wants the characters role to be. In effect, they’re trading in the character’s basic racial modifiers for about a tailored template. Secondarily, it is both magic (80% of base cost, starting off at level two with 1800 gold to spend) and treasure rich.

The major problem is that the setting is FULL of wild magic. Some rare individuals – “Sparks” – can directly absorb that magic (“experience points”) when they battle the creatures of the wild, transforming and enhancing themselves in weird and wonderful ways (“Sparks” use Eclipse builds). More common (if still pretty rare) are Embers, who can absorb the wild magic but not directly use it – so they can use it up in rituals to grant themselves specific patterns of abilities (Class Levels) or in gaining a few other boosts. Finally, of course… most people can’t absorb wild magic at all. They may still gain a few levels via years of slow and painful practice or by being infused with power by some Spark with Leadership (or some similar ability), but – while they still get Birthrights – they’re relatively generic.

Wild magic is the explanation for the abundance of magic items as well. Not only can items randomly appear in the wilds – even if many such random items are useless or outright dangerous – but they can be “farmed”. Placing an appropriate mundane item in a box covered with the correct runes and formulas and leaving it in the wild will – in time – result in a fairly predictable enchantment. Items that get left too long, or get disturbed, or where something goes wrong, can be just as insane as the random stuff – but all you need to produce magical items is the right formula (there are books) and time.

Unfortunately, the Wilds are just that. Did an airship crash? By the time the search party finds it it may have transformed into a haunted pirate ship, complete with a crew of monsters all with their own magic. Has the wild magic surged today? An old family cemetery with an “eternal flame” marker may turn into a volcano full of fire vampires surrounded by a sprawling city of the undead – none of which “dead” existed last week. Was there a great storm? Perhaps the old coastal village has been swallowed up by the sea, and is now a civilization of underwater monsters bent on conquest. Mapping the wild isn’t entirely futile – it helps keep major features in place – but the details change constantly.

.Millificent, Wyrm Of Alchemy

56 year old female Sand Gnome Spark. Black Hair, Blue Eyes, 2 Ft 1 Inch (0.91 meters), 37 lbs (16.8 kg), Profession: Nomadic Trader and Alchemist, Linnorm of the Western Desert.

The caravan leader had thought he had all the angles figured out. He had led previous expeditions that had mapped out a significant portion of the lava tubes under Mount Vengeance. As such, he thought he had a lead on the location and route to a much larger chamber deep beneath the volcano where it was rumored that incredible treasure and power lay. Perhaps even a dragon’s horde. As such, he gathered a caravan of venturesome gnoes known for being able to keep their mouth’s shut and their heads down. Millificent was among them.

The journey was treacherous, and more than a few members of the caravan were slain by bandits, wandering monsters, and the occasional collapsing tunnel. Eventually though, the tunnel ahead opened up to reveal a massive chamber dimly lit by the bio-luminescent fungi that was so common in the deep tunnels. Unfortunately, the rumored dragon’s horde was nowhere to be found. What they did find were the skeletal remains of a colossal two-headed dread linnorm slain in its home – likely in a territorial battle with an immense dragon. Whatever horde had once existed here was now long gone, either looted by the dragon or by others seeking wealth and power. Even the shattered bones were beginning to merge with the very stone of the mountain itself. The very air seemed to crackle with magic and psionic energies still writhing and twisting with pent up power. Thick streams of crystalized black blood dripped from the very bones of the slain giant and formed small pools of glowing power. While the rumored treasure was nowhere to be seen, the expedition was not a total loss. The bones, blood, and the minerals that had been soaked in their power were valuable commodities in their own right.

So began efforts to harvest what they could to use themselves or to haul back and sell to those who valued such things. Out came bottles, pickaxes, and chisels to collect the most valuable bits to haul back to town. More than once the work paused as it sounded like the ancient linnorm was roaring to life and shaking the foundations of the world, but once the shaking stopped the work continued again – although not without trepidation and frequent glances over their shoulders. It was during the attempted removal of one of the many teeth larger than any of the gnomes present that a partial collapse of the cavern occurred, unleashing a torrent of crystalline black blood onto the unwary treasure seekers.

The poisonous liquid burned at their flesh and tore at their minds. A few managed to crawl out of the pool of blood to die slow and agonizing deaths, but Millificent came out transformed. A tiny portion of the ancient power of the linnorm had merged with her and given her the Spark. Now she could wield its magical and psionic power over the elements of ice and fire. In time, perhaps she could wield even more of its former power. For now though, she and the other survivors dragged themselves back to town, sold what they could salvage from the failed expedition, and disbanded. The Spark within Millificent however called to her, and urged her to go out again. To seek out wealth and power. And…. perhaps…. a chance to avenge itself against the dragonkind that slew it for its treasures.

Heritage:

Centuries ago, when the mages warded the volcanic Mount Vengeance to prevent future eruptions, the side-effects of those wards were not understood at the time. Only later, when immense geysers of mystically imbued lava began to burst forth from the surrounding countryside was the error realized. Fires scorched one verdant forests and grasslands from the landscape, leaving sweeping the Desert of the Black Sands in their place.

Still, many found opportunity in the disaster. The Sand Gnomes form caravans that traverse the black dunes and lava rivers to ply their wares at each stop on their route. Along the way, they harvest alchemical reagents that grow along the lava flows and the mystically charged sands that erupt from the many geysers of ash and sand. A few caravans even brave the old magma tubes that criss-cross the disk to ply their wares to the denizens on the underside of the disk.

Traversing the desert has had an affect on the Sand Gnomes as well. They possess an innate ability to control sand for both defense and to form tools and weapons. They are talented survivalists able to find water in even the harshest environments. They are also skilled alchemists and capable negotiators known for driving hard bargains and producing all sorts of useful concoctions.

On the other hand, Sand Gnomes tend to be rowdy, big-eaters, and miserly with their coin. As such, the arrival of a Sand Gnome caravan frequently met with enthusiasm as well as annoyance.

For the Sand Gnomes, their caravans are their families, even if they aren’t related by blood. Sand Gnomes identify themselves by a given name and a name for the caravan they are members of in place of a family name. Other species find this convention confusing, but to them it is as natural as any other system for identifying themselves. Children, when they come of age, will leave the caravan of their parent(s) and move to join another at one of the many ports of call on their travels. The head of the caravan is typically the most powerful or the most senior member of the group (frequently both).

So it was that Millificent was traversing the black sands with the Jasplin Caravan. It was a relatively new caravan, but one that managed to make a number of ties with out of the way brokers and merchants around the disk thanks to the charismatic (if a bit unscrupulous) connections of their leader Jasplin Jasplin. Millificent had been recruited due to a fairly recent incident granting her spark status that gave her highly flexible powers. As an additional incentive to bring her in, they had even paid to have her tattooed with the caravan’s trade key This particular trek was to the oasis town of Shadowshire. They had successfully fought off raids by Vulpin and the occasional angry volcano otter. The attack from a band of adventurers was unexpected and difficult to repel however. Millificent burned a substantial amount of power doing what she could during the defense, but it was Jasplin suddenly sprouting scales, claws, and a breath weapon during the fight that turned the tide.

The sudden eruption of magical energies from the transformation prompted a backlash of power that disrupted a number of carefully hidden wards on the main wagon, causing it to suddenly disgorge a substantial number of shackled slaves. When the adventurers had been run off the arguments began. Millificent wanted nothing to do with sapient trading, whereas Jasplin insisted she had no choice in the matter. Arguments escalated to shouting, and shouting became blasts of energy. While Millicent had expended much of her psionic and magical powers reserves, Jasplin’s unrestrained use of magical attacks gave her ample opportunity to absorb energy again. That edge gave her the opportunity to stun Jasplin and make a break for it. While Millificent wasn’t strong enough to free the slaves, she could keep them from entering the trade hubs necessary to sell their wares given that she had the tattoo key. Given how paranoid many of those cities got, it would be a long time before the Jasplin Caravan could sell their wares and then procure more slaves. All Millificent had to do was stay low so they couldn’t track her down and exact whatever passed for justice amongst the slave-traders.

Racial Template: Sand Gnome (31 CP / +0 ECL)

Hailing from the Desert of the Black Sands, desert gnomes traverse the region in caravans, trading in weird and wondrous items along the way. Known to be proficient alchemists, they have a knack for scouring the landscape for ingredients and for haggling with others when plying their wares.

  • Shrinking I: Corrupted / Reduces base movement speed to 20 (8 CP) (-2 Str, +2 Dex, +1 to Melee AC and Attacks, d4 Falling Damage)
  • Attribute Shift: +2 Constitution/-2 Strength. Sand Gnomes are hardy travelers, but aren’t particularly strong even for their size (6 CP)
  • Racial Skills:
    • Adept (Specialized for Reduced Cost / Two Skills Only (Diplomacy and Craft (Alchemy), 3 CP).
    • +3 on Negotiation and Craft (Alchemy) (2 CP), Sand Gnomes are natural traders and alchemists,
    • Speaks Gnomish (1 CP)
  • Innate Enchantment: Desert Nomads (7500 GP, 8 CP)
    • Endure Elements (L1, x.5, only versus hot weather, 1000 GP).
    • Forge of Sand (L1, Creates a piece of standard equipment weighing up to 10 lb made of sand, such items last up to 10 minutes/level, but fall apart in anyone else’s hands, 2,000 GP)
    • Mage (Sand) Armor (Personal Only, 1400 GP, the sand inevitably found on a Sand Gnomes skin helps block attacks).
    • Force (Sand) Shield I (Personal Only, walls of sand appear as needed to block attacks, 1400 GP)
    • Detect Water (L0, Can detect nearby sources of drinkable water, 1,000 GP)
    • Penumbra (L0, Personal Only, Does not suffer any penalties or blindness caused by bright light, such as those from light sensitivity or light blindness, 700 GP)
  • Immunity / The XP Cost of Racial Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Trivial, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • Immunity / Dispelling and Antimagic, Uncommon, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect racial Innate Enchantments, 2 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Buying Larger Hit Dice (3 CP).
  • Racial Disadvantage: The Sand Gnomes are compulsive nomads, and find it impossible to settle down in one location (-3 CP).

Like most Allwellian “races”, Sand Gnones are quite powerful – although some of their advantages do not scale as well as they might. Still, having automatic immediate access to pretty much every common piece of equipment, +4/+4 Armor/Shield bonuses, and a nice bonus to Diplomacy and Alchemy is a pretty decent package at lower levels and – as with all Eclipse abilities – can readily be expanded on later.

Available Character Points: 264 (Level 10 Base) + 10 (Disadvantages: History, Hunted, Insane) + 24 (Bonus Feats from Levels 1, 3, 6, and 9) = 298 CP.

Disadvantages:

  • History: The player produces a few pages of notes for the GM about the character’s history, personality, and goals. This includes mention of friends and family, old enemies or allies, and where the character got his or her training and equipment.
  • Hunted: Millificent abandoned her old caravan when she found out they were involved in sapient trafficking. Since she was the one with the trade access rights tattoo in the caravan, this has effectively locked the caravan out of a number of lucrative cities and ports. The caravan leader Jasplin (a corrupt devotee to the Path of the Dragon) particularly has it in for Millificent.
  • Insane (Fearless): Millificent has had her sense of fear eaten by the Old Ones due to the intervention of Derngarm after he got tired of Millificent’s hydrophobia.

That last one is an example of an in-game change; Derngarm may have been calling in the Elder Ones (as he does for all his magic) – but the actual spell was a simple “Remove Feat” to temporarily negate Millificents fear of water – the group was fighting pirates aboard a ship and Milli had just gone overboard. The player felt that the characters Hydrophobia was getting old, and so – with the game master’s permission – used the excuse to trade in the disadvantage.

Basic Attributes (4d6 keep 3d6): Str 9 (13 -2 Size -2 Racial +1 Enh = 10), Dex 14 (+2 Size = 16), Con 19 (13 + 2 Racial + 4 Tattoo), Int 21 (15 + 2 Level + 4 Tattoo), Wis 14, Cha 14 (Millificent is quite talented for a gnome, but this is to be expected for a Spark)

Basic Abilities: (108 CP)

  • Hit Dice: 37 (L1d8, L2-10d6, Buy Racial Fast Learner up to Double Effect to pay for it, 3 CP). Advanced
    • Improved Augmented Bonus ( Add (Int Mod) to (Con Mod) when computing hit points, Corrupted / only effective on hit dice through L12, 12 CP). HP 37 + (10 x [Con Mod + Int Mod]) = 127 HP.
  • Skill Points: +4 (Purchased, 4 CP) +65 (Int Mod x 13, Immunity/Not getting skill points for Int boosts retroactively (Uncommon, Minor, Great, 6 CP) +21 (One-Time Boost) = 90 SP.
    • Buy off Specialization on Racial Adept (3 CP): Add Survival and Bluff (Acting) to Negotiation and Craft (Alchemy) for half cost.
    • Adept (6 CP): Pays half cost for Fire Rune Magic Casting, Fire Rune Magic Mastery, Rose Briar Style, and Disguise.
  • Base Attack Bonus: +10 (Corrupted: Does not provide iterative attacks, Fast Learner, Specialized in BAB, 6 CP, Remainder 20 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +3 (9 CP) +4 (Con) +3 (Luck) +1 (Mor) +4 (Res) +1 (Com) = +16
    • Reflex: +5 (15 CP) +3 (Dex) +3 (Luck) +1 (Morale) + 4 (Res) +1 (Com) = +14
    • Will: +3 (9 CP) +2 (Wis) +3 (Luck) +1 (Morale) + 4 (Res) +1 (Com) = +14
    • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves (9 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Spiked Chain (6 CP)
    • This is a bit cheesy – who learns to use a Spiked Chain with full proficiency with no other weapons training at all? – but so be it! Saving 3 CP skipping out on “all simple weapons” isn’t all that much cheese.
  • Initiative: +3 (Dex) = +3
  • Move: 30 (Base) – 10 (Racial) + 30 (Personal Haste) + 10 (Untyped) = 60 Feet/Round
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +3 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) +1 (Size) +3 (Luck) = AC 25, Flatfooted 22, Touch 17.

Usual Attacks:

  • Spiked Chain: +22/+22 (+10 BAB, +5 Int +1 Mor +1 Com +1 Enh, +4 MA, Haste) for 1d12 +1d6 (Cold) +6 (+5 Int +1 Enh) Damage, Crit 20 / x2, Reach 10′, 3 AoO, +2 to Trip and Disarm.
  • Alchemist’s Fire (Ice, Etc): +18/+18/+18 (+10 BAB, +3 Dex, +1 Mor, +1 Comp +3 MA, Haste, Rapid Shot) for 6d6/6d6 and Splash 6 Fire (Whatever) Damage. 80′ Range Increment. Can be enhanced with Will Of The Philosopher (below). Usually a Touch Attack. (Also for other alchemical items, Spray Effect can be used to automatically hit 5x within 30′).
  • Dragonfire ST: +14 (+10 BAB, +2 Dex, +1 Morale, +1 Competence) for 2-10d6+1 Ice Damage
  • Dragonfire AoE: +14 (+10 BAB, +2 Dex, +1 Morale, +1 Competence) for 1-5d6+1 Ice Damage over 30′ radius

Other Abilities:

Spiked Chain Mastery (36 CP).

  • Finesse: Spiked Chain (Bonuses based on Int instead of Str, 6 CP)
  • Master of the Chain: 4d6 (18) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Minor/Notable/Major/Grandiose edits cost 1/2/3/4 points each/only for reality editing, only for fabulous tricks with spiked chain, maximum mana use of (1 + Level / 4 per turn) (24 CP)
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the reality editing pool above, only between fights (6 CP)

Now this can get pretty silly. Want to lash out at short/medium/long range? 1/2/3 Mana. Whirlwind a massive radius? 1-2 Mana. Lash out at a passing airship, wrap the chain around a mast, and suddenly pull yourself aboard? 3 Mana. Drag it down to you instead? 4 Mana. Give your chain temporary enchantments? Probably totaling about +4 per Mana Spent, and lasting for an hour or so. Whirl the chain to create a temporary Wall Of Force effect? 3. Make a piece of rope function as a spiked chain or pull out a holdout spiked chain? 1 Mana. This pretty much allows all the absurd stunts that you see out of chain weapons in ninja anime. Admittedly, this is a bit of a limited resource – but it’s quite versatile.

Mllificent hasn’t actually done much with this. While she seems to like having the option, melee combat – even with a variety of insane options available – really isn’t her thing. She tends to rely on her Alchemy.

Hardened by Harsh Environment (14 CP):

  • Innate Enchantment (+8000 GP to Racial Package, 8 CP)
  • Warding Rune (+1+CL/3 Resistance to Saves (1400 GP)
  • Inspiring Word: +1 Morale Bonus to Saves, Attacks, Skill Checks, and Damage (1400 GP)
  • Ward of Heaven: +(CL/3) Luck Bonus to AC and Saves (1400 GP)
  • Fortune’s Favor: +2 Luck Bonus to Skills (1400 GP)
  • Personal Haste: +30 to Movement, +1 Attack at full BAB (2000 GP)
  • Guidance: +1 Competence Bonus to Saves, Attacks, and Skills (700 GP)
  • Empowerment (Innate Enchantments) / Specialized in Warding Rune and Ward of Heaven for Increased Effect (Uses the users Hit Dice instead of Caster Level, 6 CP).

Most characters are limited to 12 CP worth of Innate Enchantment – but “racial” stuff doesn’t count against that limit, so Milli can have a second helping. Like most innate enchantments, hers focus on providing a wide variety of useful – if relatively minor bonuses from cantrips and first level effects. Again, Millificent is going for a generalist here. None of these innate enchantments are really focused on anything in particular.

Master Alchemist (46 CP)

  • Shaping (6 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (First level spells) / only for Healing effects, requires a medical kit and time (maximum 7 times/day on any given target).
    Taskmaster: Specialized and Corrupted / Alchemy Only (2 CP)
  • Will of the Philosopher: 2d6 (7) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Minor/Notable/Major/Grandiose edits cost 1/2/3/4 points each / only for reality editing, only for enhancing alchemy (12 CP).
    • As with her Spiked Chain Mastery, this can be used to greatly boost the effects of alchemical items, spread them over considerable area, alter their effects, hurl them to great distances, or just find a few more bottles amongst her supplies when she needs them. This, once again, allows a vast multitude of tricks – but is a pretty limited resource during any one fight.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to recharge the reality editing pool above (4 CP).
  • Double “Damage” (Effect) With standard alchemical items, Specialized for Increased Effect (Triple Damage thanks to the usual doubling rules) / only works with personally-made alchemical items (6 CP).
  • Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted / only to make limited-use items (Apply “Specialized / Does Not Recover to the items created, only select abilities that normally offer a limited number of daily uses) costing a maximum of 3 CP each, only using points from Enthusiast (2 CP).
  • 2x Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (provides eight floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost /points may only be used with Create Relic, limited as above (8 CP)
    • This is the “where does he get those wonderful toys” package from The Golden Ones, allowing the creation and use of a wide variety of temporary items for each adventure.
  • Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted / only to make a Philosopher’s Stone (2 CP)
  • Double Enthusiast: Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for making a Philosopher’s Stone (4 CP)
    • The Philosophers Stone relic can be found HERE

While this has long been Millificent’s favorite set of powers to use, she has only recently really developed her higher-order abilities along these lines – leading many or her opponents and allies to severely underestimate her. In a way, that slow-burn build is a direct consequence of her spreading her points among four major sets of abilities – including one which was more or less useless at low levels. In effect, she’s been multiclassing instead of building up one or two sets of abilities before starting a new one. Now that all of her abilities are fully functional she’ll probably be demonstrating her abilities a lot more.

Blood of the Linnorm (49 CP).

  • Shapeshift with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / No Animal Forms (6 CP)
  • Attribute Modifiers (6 CP)
  • Variants (3 CP). Millificent is fond of taking the forms of a variety of different elves (i.e. Dark Elves, Avariel, Aquatic, etc.) as there tends to be at least one subspecies with abilities useful for the current situation
  • Growth (Large, Huge, Gargantuan) and Enchanted (Dragonforms), all Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to take Linnorm forms (7 CP)
  • +3d0 Hit Dice, Specialized for Increased Effect / only to calculate possible Linnorm forms (12 CP).
  • Will Of Fire: Mana: Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with Rune Magic (Psionic Fire) 10d6 (35) (20 CP)
  • Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the Psionic Fire pool above (8 CP)

As of this level Millificent can currently can take Crag and Fjord Linnorm forms- a good thing as she felt it was appropriate to invest most of the required points early on, and the smallest Linnorms have sixteen hit dice. Thus, for much of her career, this ability has been a point-sink with little return beyond taking variant elven forms and (in conjunction with her rune magic skills below) a bit of fire magic. That’s roughly equivalent to a two or three level penalty in standard d20 without much to show for it. That hurt quite a bit through levels two to nine. It also demonstrates a major difference between Millificent and most Eclipse builds: The vast majority of Eclipse characters will pick one or two specialties – generally trying to keep one or both categories maxed out – and develop them until they’ve picked up all the abilities they want before moving on to something else. Investing points in abilities that you cannot yet use is pretty rare.

The Winter Of The World (44 CP):

  • Dragonfire (Ice Variant, 6 CP)
  • Eye of the Dragon x2 (12 CP). Can store up to 76 Spell Levels, absorbing up to 42 spell levels daily.
  • Reflex Action with +8 Bonus Uses, Extra Actions Per Day Variant, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Spell Absorption (6 CP)
  • Breath of the Dragon / Specialized and Corrupted: Prerequisite Only (2 CP)
  • Living Fire (Ice Variant, 6 CP)
  • Body of Fire (Ice Variant, 6 CP)
  • Kinetic Master (6 CP)

Another powerful ability sequence with some very useful abilities (reflexive spell absorption alone is pretty nice) – but, once again, nowhere near where it could be at this level and greatly under-utilized. Living Fire (Ice) and Body Of Fire (Ice) can easily provide far greater mobility, enhanced abilities, armor, various special abilities, and masses of renewable temporary hit points – a near-perfect compliment to her Spiked Chain Mastery abilities – but Millificent hasn’t used them much. While that’s partially because taking the time to set up a psychic construct in the middle of a game drags everything to a halt, but designing a few in advance would mostly take care of that. They might be less perfectly tailored, but that’s much better than not using the ability.

Minor Notes (1 CP):

  • Trade Access Rights Tattoo: Minor Privilege, Specialized / brings various enemies (1 CP)
  • Mundane Equipment: Masterwork Spiked Chain (Backup), Alchemist’s Kit and Lab, Tent, Riding Dog, Saddle, and Saddlebags, Traveler’s Outfit, Cooking Kit, Silk Rope (50 ft)

Skills: (90 SP)

All Skills: +2 Luck, +1 Morale, +4 Competence.

  • Bluff: +13 (6* SP) +2 (Cha) = +22
  • Craft / Alchemy: +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) +3 (Race) +2 (Lab) +2 (Gloves) +2 (Sy) = +34
  • Disguise: +13 (6* SP) +2 (Cha) = +22
  • Heal: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Wis) +2 (Belt) = +11
  • Hide: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) +8 (Amulet) = +17
  • Knowledge/Local: +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +25
  • Martial Art/Alchemic Mastery +13 (13 SP) +5 (Int) = +25
  • Martial Art/Rose Briar Style +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) = +25
  • Move Silently: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Dex) +6 (Amulet) = +15
  • Negotiate (Cha): +13 (6* SP) +2 (Cha) +3 (Race) = +25
  • Rune Casting (Psionic Fire): +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) = +25 (CL 13)
  • Rune Mastery (Psionic Fire): +13 (6* SP) +5 (Int) = +25 (Up to L6)
  • Search: +13 (13 SP) +2 (Wis) = +22
  • Spot: +0 (0 SP) +2 (Wis) = +9
  • Survival (Wis): +13 (6* SP) +2 (Wis) = +22

+3 Skill Specialties: Knowledge/Local (Alchemical Resources), Search (for Alchemical Resources), Bluff (Acting) (3 SP). .

Martial Arts:

  • Rose Briar Style (13): Power III, Attack IV, +5 Reach, Whirlwind Attack, Combat Reflexes, Inner Strength, and Light Foot.
  • Alchemic Master Style (13): Power III (+1d6 base to Alchemical Attacks), Attack IV, Toughness III (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only versus damage caused by Alchemical Effects, but all of those. Reduces the damage from alchemical effects by 6 points), Synergy/Craft (Alchemy), Prone Combat, and Rapid Shot.

Alchemical Items: Fog Rock, Tindertwig x5, Acid Flask x10, Alchemist’s Fire x10, Alchemical Holy Water x10, Alkali Flask x10, Bottled Lightning x10, Liquid Ice x10, Iron Pellet Grenade x5, Glue x10, Tanglefoot Bag x10, Antitoxin x10, Antiplague x10, Smoke Pellets x10,

This is way behind, but – between the Philosopher’s Stone allowing transmutation, money, and her great skill as an alchemist, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to simply suppose that she has substantial supplies of pretty much everything. This  a fairly minimal selection.

Slotless Magical Items:

  • Bag of Holding I + Shapesand 240 lbs
  • Handy Haversack
  • Everburning Torch
  • Shiftweave Clothing
  • Spiked Chain +1
  • Immovable Rod x2
  • Magical Board Game
  • Tattoo Parlor Investment (4,000 GP)
  • Lesser Weapon Crystal Of Elemental Assault (Cold).

Magical Tattoos: +4 Int, +4 Con, +4 Skills, all Enhancement Bonuses.

Slotted Magical Items:

  • Healing Belt +2 Comp to Heal, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 for 2/3/4d8 Healing.
  • Ring of Communications: Communicate with other such rings within one mile
  • Cloak of Arachnida: Spiderclimb, Immunity to entrapment via Web spells or webs of any sort (moves at half speed), Web 1/day, +2 Luck Bonus on saves against poison from spiders
  • Gloves of the Master Alchemist: Stores potions and alchemical items only as per a Handy Haversack, items appear in the user’s hands when needed. Produce any cantrip level alchemical, fire, or ice effect 1/round, Stir items when not present, Toss alchemical items with the speed and range of a light crossbow, Spray up to (Int Mod) doses of any alchemical substance available onto any target within 30′, +2 Competence Bonus to an Alchemy Check, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 to produce any alchemical item worth up to 10/100/1000 GP, but the items vanish in one minute, whether used or not
  • Continuous Amulet Of Umbral Metamorphosis: Grants 60′ Darkvision, Hide in Plain Sight, Cold Resistance 10, Superior Low-Light Vision, Hide +8 (Untyped), +6 Move Silently (Untyped), +10 All Movement Modes (Untyped).
  • Pin Of Strength: +1 Enhancement to Strength (800 GP).

Overall, Milllificent has a broad array of tricks and powers – but little depth in any of them. Worse, several of them have only recently become effective. Still, having hit level ten she’s become quite effective – and she should be able to build up her abilities further over the next few levels.

Eclipse d20 Powers – Returning

And today it’s a question:

Returning:

1) How long does it take you to come back to life?

2) In what condition do you come back? Full HP? 1 HP? Also, what heals and what doesn’t? Do you regrow limbs? Heal diseases? And what about spell slots and the like?

3) What’s to stop a character who can only be killed by some specific thing from just offing himself if confronted by that thing?

4) On the topic of offing one’s self, it seems like you would never need more than minor rewrite, because you could still get a full re-spec just by killing yourself four times.

5) Do you always come back as the same thing, and do you know what you’ll come back as?

-Kalkra

This particular question neatly illustrates one of the fundamental principles of Eclipse – that the operational details of many or most powers depend on the details of the setting, on the players description of how their character’s power works, and what the game master thinks will work well in his or her game. Minor tweaks (“variants”) are expected – but if there are major ones, you’ll probably want to Corrupt or Specialize the power to more closely fit what you want and what the game master is willing to accept. So lets take a look at some ways in which various characters in various settings have used Returning.

I’ll start off with a few fantasy characters:

Derngarm, a Mystic Gunslinger and Dark Guardian of the Gates of the Underworld, Childe’ Of The Harrowed Gate, has Extraordinary Returning, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: he reappears where people facing overwhelming threats pray for a heroes aid, and is bound to answer that call – but he does bring along his equipment (the increased effect, 8 CP). So when Derngarm is slain, his body and gear falls to dust or otherwise vanishes anime-style (making him rather difficult to raise conventionally) – but he will soon reappear at full power somewhere where there is a caravan, settlement, or similar group in desperate trouble. Once he deals with that, he will be free to look for his friends again. It usually doesn’t take him long to come back – groups in desperate trouble are all too common – but dealing with the complications of getting them out of trouble can take a while or even get him killed again, starting things over. Even on a success… he might be thousands of miles from his friends.

Drago, the Son of Shendu from Jackie Chan Adventures, has “Returning, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Drago can’t actually return from death, but he does show quite a knack for evading capture or getting out of jail. If the series hadn’t ended he might even have made it back from the netherworld”. The important part here is that he often gets defeated – but equally often makes a miraculous escape from his captors either by fleeing the fight or by escaping confinement. After a few weeks he can find some new minions and return to making a nuisance of himself (3 CP).

Randolf Upton Pickman, High Priest of the Outer Gods, has Unique Returning with a Minor Rewrite, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: Randolf reappears at a point in time and space chosen by his unnatural patrons, each time he reappears he becomes less human and more a creature of the Cthulhu Mythos. Each reappearance sends him into a predestined role. The only way to stop the sequence (and his eventual rise to join the ranks of the Outer Ones) is to travel back in time to one of his prior appearances and there find a way to massively disrupt the timeline and thwart his destiny. In effect, he must be raised or resurrected quite promptly or he will become very difficult indeed to retrieve (8 CP). So he can “return” thousands of years before he died.

Shadowed Galaxy Mummies get “Returning with Major Rewrite, Specialized/only to switch back and forth between two alternate versions: the relatively normal “living” version (as an informational creature anchored into a more or less “living” body) and the “dead” version (as a bodiless informational entity), Neither, of course, is all that human. Corrupted/achieving the “dead” version is quick and easy (the physical body gets killed, releasing the informational spirit), but returning to “life” requires that the body spend three to seven days in an especially-prepared sarcophagus. The user can be prevented from making a full return by completely disposing of the body or denying him or her access to an appropriately prepared sarcophagus and can be disposed of utterly by destroying him or her on the informational level (6 CP).” Thus this style of mummy can continue to intervene as a disembodied spirit after “death”, but will be stuck that way unless their body can be retrieved and properly treated.

Shadowed Galaxy Vampires get”Returning, Corrupted (EVERYBODY knows about vampire weaknesses, 4 CP). Vampires can recover from almost any physical injury given time. They can even build up a power reserve over time from the steady flow of thermal and other energies into subspace through them – provided that they have months or years of time and are totally inactive. About all they need is for most of their body parts to be in one place, for there to be at least a little air and water about, and for there to be nothing in the way of reforming any vital organ. Of course, if their parts are, say, burned and widely scattered, or have been hit by something capable of severely damaging them on the spacefield level, or something similar, it won’t work.”

Technically Shadowed Galaxy templates could go under either Sci-Fi or Horror just as well – but they are set up so that they could plausibly be a basis for all the fantasy tales, so they might as well go here.

Gravewright the Lich has “Returning (Extraordinary): Must destroy Phylactery, Specialized / Everybody knows this one (6 CP).”. Well, he’s a Lich. He possesses or constructs a corpse near his phylactery and presumably grabs whatever cache of stuff he left for himself. This generally takes quite a while of course – for which adventurers should be grateful. If a lich’s returning worked immediately you might have to fight the same lich over and over again to reach it’s lair – only to find that it had grabbed it’s phylactery, items, and bugout bag, and teleported to some other shielded lair.

Familiars are often given Returning (they come back unless their master is permanently killed) so as to avoid the problems inherent in losing a familiar. This usually calls for a minor ritual to re-embody your familiar spirit – meaning that it usually has to wait until you can take a break from adventuring and pick up another appropriate animal to put the spirit in – or at least to the next day in the case of actual spirit familiars.

Some unusually durable relics have Returning ( Specialized and Corrupted / only applies to the item itself (2 CP). As a special effect, such items are simply nigh-indestructible unless special measures specific to the item are taken. Even if broken by some mighty force in some other way, or cast into a black hole or something, they need merely be reforged, repaired, or located again to return to full potency.

The Chthonic Invested get Leadership with the Exotic and Emperor’s Star improvements (Evil Outsiders and Accursed Beings, the positive level points go to Returning). so that if you kill off their accused minions, they can just keep summoning them back. Other types of characters – summoners and such – often use the same basic trick in their own styles.

Granny has “The Dark Revenance”: Returning / As long as one or more of her Shadow-Familiars exists to bring her back, Specialized / may require many months (3 CP). So Granny basically has some dread minions who can summon her back if they get away after she dies. Of course, if she gets away she can summon more dread minions. Granny doesn’t come back very fast, but she’s very hard to get rid of permanently.

Rokean, a quasi-symbiotic (or perhaps parasitic) creature has “Returning; As long as Rake (the host) survives, his Symbiont can regenerate from him, whether he likes it or not (6 CP).”

The Merchant has “Returning (When his time comes at last, Elareth may attempt to strike a deal with Death itself; if he succeeds, he gets to come back again. Naturally enough, he would prefer to avoid putting his negotiating ability to such a test, 6 CP),”

The Royal Cartographic Society Package Deal provides Returning as well. You can never count the members of the RCS out when they’re on an expedition; they’ve been lost for years, fallen overboard, been trapped in avalanches, and suffered many other horrible fates – only to return later (if sometimes years later) with an epic tale of adventure. Returning, Specialized and Corrupted/only works while on expeditions in distant lands and only if the characters body is not recovered and the player can come up with some tale of his or her character’s dramatic escape from certain doom (2 CP).

One of the abilities the Black Compass provides is Returning, Specialized and Corrupted/only works when the user is lost at sea or stranded on a small island and the status of his or her body remains unknown (2 CP). That’s not actually a particularly uncommon power in seafaring or pirate themed settings, quite a few characters have purchased some version of it. It’s nice to know that – if you go overboard in a storm or something – you will wind up being safely washed ashore.

Many Fey creatures have Returning, Specialized/may require a month and usually comes with partial amnesia (3 CP). Unless they are entirely slain by cold iron, they fey are always reborn from the forces of nature – although you could certainly slow things up by burning down their forest or some such. Other fey are bound to particular natural features, and so need to protect those features or risk losing their immortality.

Comic book characters fairly often have some form of Returning – and are popular enough that I have written up a fair number of them. For some examples from the site…

Magma (Marvel, the New Mutants) returned to life immediately and at full power (better than before she died really, since the experience activated her full volcanic powers and transformation into a lava creature) when her corpse was thrown into a lava lake. That’s Returning, Specialized and Corrupted/her body must be exposed to really extreme heat, such as a pool of magma, a blast furnace, or a rocket exhaust (2 CP)”. That’s kind of cheap, because, after all… how likely is it that an enemy is going to make that mistake again? And how often is there going to be a lake of fire on a battlefield for her to restore herself with?

Raven (DC Comics, the Teen Titans) has Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Raven must be slain and her soul forcibly taken into the higher afterlives for her to truly die. Of course, Raven is a comic book mystic and “equipment” as such isn’t much of a thing in the source material for her – no matter how sensible it would be for her to use some (and so she has some in the writeup). Still, she has connections with major mystical groups and is capable of inter-dimensional travel; so she can probably get resupplied without difficulty when she comes back. Besides, comic books tend to treat death as a temporary inconvenience anyway, especially for mystics. On the other hand, she never comes back until her death has been milked for as much melodrama as possible.

Cable, from Marvel Comics has “Returning (6 CP): Cable is even more difficult to get rid of than most heroes, since unless you do something about all the time traveling he will just write his own death out of the timeline and pop up again sooner or later.” Of course, Cable is a walking paradox maintained by continuous reality editing. Consistency isn’t his thing – and he doesn’t have to worry about the details of his “coming back” because he simply adds to his paradox collection by skipping out on his own past.

Warlock, again from Marvel Comics (The New Mutants), has “Extraordinary Returning: Warlock can return from having his “lifeglow” drained, or even from being disintegrated – but it takes him being infused with a lot of “lifeglow” to do it quickly; most of the time it will take months or years (12 CP).

Sam Guthrie / Cannonball (Marvel Comics, The New Mutants) has basic returning – in his case representing the super-advanced healing factor that’s a part of his rather low-grade immortality, more or less “Highlander” style. You can kill him, altough it takes a while, and if you then burn him to ashes in a blast furnace or something, he’s dead until a normal comic-book resurrection pops up. Still, destroying his heart, or pulling his guts out, or a lot of other usually-fatal injuries won’t slow him up for very long. Oddly enough, this is the about the closest thing to general “Combat Returning” on the list. If he’s just been stabbed through the heart or something that doesn’t dismember him or inflict massive tissue damage he might be back in good shape in no more then ten minutes or so.

Baron Ector’s Minions get “Another Faceless Minion/Returning. As long as Minions wear masks, visors, or helmets, don’t use names, and otherwise avoid letting themselves be individually identified by the enemy, they gain the Returning ability (6 CP). This also, of course, lets their bosses display their terrible villainy by gratuitously killing them on a whim without actually losing valuable minions.”

Baron Ector (an original PC) himself is a member of the The League Of Villainy, which offers a league package deal that includes “Returning/unless the villains enemies make VERY sure to find, examine, and dispose of, the body, he or she will soon return, Specialized/will not work if the character intentionally makes a heroic sacrifice or dies in an exceptionally dramatic and final fashion (falling into a black hole, cast down a shaft into the main reactor, etc, 3 CP).”

Wandering over towards science fiction…

Space Marines (Warhammer 40K) can enter a state of suspended animation, either through meditation or if dying – but must be revived with a complex (medical) procedure. (They can also burn fate points to evade certain death, but that’s a part of the game system, not unique to them). That’s Returning, Specialized/the body must be recovered and countermeasures administered (3 CP). This is actually pretty weak – if the body is destroyed, or lost in space, or some such it will not work – but in a setting with no normal method of resurrection it can be a priceless second chance.

Timelords (Doctor Who, original series) get “Returning with Minor Rewrite (4 CP): Timelords will regenerate, returning from death, unless special precautions – such as using a special weapon, incinerating the body in a furnace, or using certain special drugs or poisons to shut down the process, are taken (come to think of it, there are a lot of ways to stop this; fortunately, most enemies in the original setting don’t consider people coming back to life as a serious possibility, unlike most d20 universes). Secondarily, this tends to be confusing for a time, and to disrupt social relationships, since the character returns in a new form and may have some new skills and have lost old ones entirely. Between this, and the major limitations on the process, this is a Specialized and Corrupted power”

The revived series turned Time Lord Regeneration into a full-fledged, semi-miraculous, heroic sacrifice scene capable of destroying interstellar battle fleets – but that isn’t returning as such. What is it? Well, they’ve now specifically showed the doctor drawing power from humanities massed belief in him, which is pretty blatantly the Dominion-Godfire route- and unleashing some Godfire can accomplish all kinds of things over and above coming back to life. Personally I preferred the Doctor as a clever alien rather than a godling, but I have to admit that the new series tends a lot more towards fairy tales than the old one.

The Transhuman Template includes a version of Returning – Unique Returning, Corrupted / the character may lose memories acquired since his or her last backup if his or her neural network is not recovered and may have trouble adjusting to a new body, requiring a Will save with a DC based on how exotic the body is to avoid taking 1d4 Wisdom damage when placed in a new body (12 CP). Of course, what kind of new body you can afford depends on the state of your in-setting “finances” (favors owed) and any special purpose orders you put in. Worse, if someone takes out your backups, you might wind up truly dead before you get a chance to make some more!

Dream Entities from a modern setting were psychic constructs / manifestations of popular mythology, ranging from Santa Claus to Anime characters and on to Freddy Kruger – and were fairly common in one setting. They got “Unique Returning (Specialized and Corrupted: Dream Entities are obvious supernatural beings. They are always easy to recognize, must make will saves (DC 15) if they try to act out of character, and cannot even enter antimagic areas: they’re simply pushed back into dream while within one. They’re ALWAYS based on some bit of popular culture. To stop their returning their source material must be eliminated; this is difficult but well-known, 6 CP),” Sure, you could disrupt them for a while – but they would just be back again later, most often turning up at film festivals, or during anime week, or during their holiday.

Moving on towards horror settings, here’s a positive-energy based version.

Leperotic Cloning: Augmented by an unnaturally strong life force, the user’s cells are capable of infesting another creatures body, multiplying and spreading through it like a monstrous cancer or unholy fungus. If and when the user dies, if a victim of this horror is currently available, his or her soul will transfer itself into the victims body – driving out the existing soul and providing the final impetus to transform it into a near-duplicate of the user’s old body.

Fortunately, the user’s cells can only infest a very similar creature that is on the very brink of death – and they gravely weaken the bond between the victim’s body and soul; if the victim suffers a lethal injury before the user’s soul moves in, the body will promptly collapse into a mass of mangled tissue, that will rot away with utterly unnatural speed – normally collapsing into dust and slime within hours. This is purchased as Returning, Specialized and Corrupted for one-third cost (2 CP): the user must set up his or her returning in advance by striking a “final blow” against a victim of the same basic type (a humanoid for a humanoid, a dragon type for a dragon, etc), renouncing the damage in favor of giving up 2d6 hit points to smear some of his own blood or tissue into the wound and allowing the (essentially dead) victim to “escape”. For the next two days the victim can be cured by the use of Remove Curse, Cure Disease, Heal, or similar effects, or by taking any form of negative level that requires a save to remove. After that, the victim is merely a potential host for the user’s spirit and can only be saved by some form of Raise Dead, Resurrection, or Wish. The user may prepare multiple possible hosts at the same time – but this sort of thing does tend to attract some extremely negative attention. This will also require Timeless Body with Age-Shifting, Specialized and Corrupted/only to take on the species-adjusted physical age of the characters new body (2 CP).

Darklings get “Returning (6 CP): As extradimensional creatures of shadow, Darklings will return within a few weeks after being “killed” unless they’re destroyed by light-based effects or their access to the plane of shadow is cut off at the time they’re slain.” Darklings do tend to flee from light-wielding opponents, but then that’s probably expected of shadow-creatures anyway.

The Knights Of Hades get “Returning. Unless you take care to entrap a Knight of Hades soul when you destroy it, or chase it back to the lower planes and disrupt it there, they tend to come back (3 CP).” Usually their dread masters send Knights Of Hades back when they’ve got a job for them, but sometimes they just come back on their own to spread havoc. As a rule, they tend to re-appear in some ancient crypt or torture chamber or other noisome location at midnight during the dark of the moon or some such – but that’s mostly just a flare for the dramatic.

The minor lovecraftian entities known as “Dreamspawn” are creatures of distant alien planes, but like to anchor themselves to mortals to hide from the greater horrors that prey on THEM. They have Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Destroying a Dreamspawn requires that you kill it’s bondmate (or somehow destroy his or her memory and imagination) and then pursue the Dreamspawn into it’s home realm and kill it there. Of course, simply eliminating the bondmate suffices for most purposes. The Dreamspawn may be killed at “home” by said greater horrors and, even if it survives, it won’t be back until it finds another dreamer somewhere in the cosmos. “Killing” a Dreamspawn without killing it’s bondmate simply means that it will be back in a day or so.

Hellguides (Think Dante and Virgil) get Unique Returning: The Hellguide will always return until he or she either achieves redemption or becomes utterly and unrepentantly evil. Specialized and Corrupted/the Hellguide may have to achieve various spiritual quests, escape from the underworld, or accept strange missions in exchange for his or her return. In addition, various supernatural entities may either take a special interest in the Hellguide or take advantage of his or her return to escape into the normal world (6 CP).

Puppet from Beyond (From “Down Among The Dead Men”) states that “Some who return from death find themselves trapped between the worlds, able to manifest a body – pulling together stray bits of matter, possessing and transforming a corpse, or some such – and strongly linked to that form, but unable to fully pass into the living world, Still, this has it’s advantages; mere physical damage may destroy the body that they are currently operating, but they will find or create another soon enough. Extraordinary Returning (user must be slain by effects that drain or snuff out his or her life force, hunted down between the planes, or spiritually imprisoned to prevent him or her from simply creating another body later on), Specialized/the user’s body is instantly destroyed at zero hit points and it will require some weeks to create a new one, in the meantime, effects which rely on having some portion of the user’s true body to work with will not be able to bring him or her back or be otherwise effective (6 CP).

And, finally, we have a few examples that are just silly.

Teenagers from Outer Space get “Extraordinary Returning (12 CP). Our teenagers are nearly impossible to kill. They have a tendency to emerge from vehicle crashes slightly dazed, they dive behind a coffee table which, quite miraculously, shields them from the detonating tactical nuke, and massed machine-gun fire inflicts nothing but flesh wounds. In really extreme cases, it turns out that the one that just fell into the black hole was actually a clone. As a rule, the first time that they ought to be killed in a given session, they’ll emerge relatively unharmed. The second time, it’s off to the hospital (or local equivalent) for some time and some minor trouble that will stick with them for the rest of the session. The third time… well, three strikes and you’re out. If they intentionally go for a heroic self-sacrifice it counts as two strikes, but they do get a free kiss from their love interest (if any).”

Teenagers From Outer Space is a pretty silly setting, which originally did not acknowledge death – or injuries beyond being briefly stunned – at all. The d20 conversion takes damage a little more seriously than that, but it is STILL a silly setting with few consequences.

Cartoon Sitcom Residents – such as Dexter and company from Dexter’s Laboratory – get “Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, requires abandoning all experience and benefits that might otherwise have been gained from a “death episode” (3 CP).” If they die on an adventure, they just show up for the next one and no one really shows any awareness that they died. After all… each episode basically has to start from the same status quo since you never know what order people will see your cartoon shorts in.

Creatures from the Battling Business World Cartoon Setting get Extraordinary Returning (Specialized, Requires being “animated” with standard cel-based or 3D animation tools) (3 CP). Most toons are unaware that they have this ability. They have trouble thinking of themselves as creations. It would take a “mundane” friend thinking, “Hmm, that guy was a lot like a cartoon character. I wonder what happens if we base a cartoon on him?” for anyone to discover it.

In fact, no one ever did discover this ability; Battling Business World characters tended to have this as a sort of backup form of returning, since they normally woke up in bed at home the next morning after dying – leading to things like “I can’t get a babysitter honey!” “Oh well! Just slit the kids throats and we’ll get them some pudding in the morning!”.

Of course, if they had a few more minutes, they could always get the kids playing “Bullet Tag” instead of killing them themselves.

The Black Beast – in his immense egotism – has “Returning: Can only be killed in a suitably epic confrontation (6)”. There will be no stupid death for this character! He cannot be assassinated, or poisoned, or otherwise quietly eliminated; there must be a dramatic confrontation that the bards will tell tales of for years to come.

John Jack, Secret Agent, gets Extraordinary Returning (12 CP, although he gets it at half cost in the Federation-Apocalypse setting): Jack can only be killed by being captured and then being put into a an absurd death trap and failing to escape or be rescued: otherwise his body simply disappears, or he turns out to be gravely and inconveniently wounded but not dead, or he otherwise returns in a few sessions – usually at some critical moment.

Star Trek Voyager Ensigns get “Extraordinary Returning (Series must be cancelled to keep The Ensign from coming back). Corrupted: The Ensign must assume a new name with his or her return, as well as always wearing a red shirt and being the primary target (8 CP).” That one is more than a bit tongue-in-cheek – but after all, Voyager basically has no source of new Ensigns, they get killed fairly regularly, and the population of the ship is fairly small – yet they never seem to run out of Ensigns (or, for that matter, shuttlecraft). Now you know why not.

So what can we say about those questions?

“How long does it take you to come back to life”? While it varies with the setting and the special effects, the usual answer is “a while”. There are a few examples of quick returning on the list – Derngarm, Shadowed Galaxy Mummies (the Spirit Form), and Magma – but they definitely have their own problems. As a general rule, Returning is a lot slower than using spells and psionic powers – but it works in a lot of settings and situations where such spells and powers are not available and it works under it’s own power rather than calling for help from the outside.

“In what condition do you come back? Full HP? 1 HP? Also, what heals and what doesn’t? Do you regrow limbs? Heal diseases? And what about spell slots and the like?” Once again, this depends a lot on your setting, your special effects, and the description of your personal version of returning – but given that Returning is usually a downtime thing, it rarely matters. After all, if you Return by transferring your mind into a new clone body at your secret cloning facility halfway across the galaxy, that will heal almost anything. If you rise as an undead to avenge yourself upon your murderer, that won’t heal much of anything – although it may not matter much either because the fact that you have a skull for a face won’t matter to you any longer.

“What’s to stop a character who can only be killed by some specific thing from just offing himself if confronted by that thing?”. Well, if you can only be permanently slain by a silver weapon forged under the light of the full moon… presuming that you know that someone has such a weapon, and are willing to cede the field to them, and are willing to be out of play for however long it takes you to come back, and are willing to become known for abandoning your treasures and responsibilities and being instantly driven away by anyone who waves an appropriate weapon at you (or credibly pretends to do so)… then nothing. Now, if it requires a special ritual to keep you dead, or requires that someone find and destroy your phylactery, offing yourself would simply be giving them a better chance to get rid of you permanently.

“On the topic of offing one’s self, it seems like you would never need more than minor rewrite, because you could still get a full re-spec just by killing yourself four times.”. The quick general answer there is that what you can rewrite once again depends on your setting, your special effects, and the description of your personal version of returning. The quick game-mechanical answer is that it tends to be the same points each time for any given version of returning. Does your body change form? Well, form-basedphysical abilities are going to change, but your mental skills and abilities most likely will not.

Of course you can buy this as a power for retraining: Returning with Major (50% of available character points) Rewrite, Specialized and Corrupted / usable once every three levels at most, if the user actually dies it only works if the body was not recovered and the cause was weird and mystical (being disintegrated in a dimensional vortex, fine, devoured by something, not so good) and the new abilities purchased must relate to the cause of “death”, otherwise requires at least two months of downtime (and more is better) and is restricted to changing out learned abilities (6 CP). You can read more about retraining (and why a reliable method of doing so is treated as a special power) over HERE.

5) “Do you always come back as the same thing, and do you know what you’ll come back as?” This, once again, depends a lot on your setting, your special effects, and the description of your personal version of returning. Vampires tend to come back as vampires. According to tradition, slain werewolves often come back as vampires. Timelords change around a lot of skills and some physical details, but always come back as Timelords. A revenant who rises to avenge his or her death may not even come back with Returning and might trade almost all his or her mental abilities in for tracking abilities and the raw ability to beat their target to death.

And I hope that helps!

Eclipse d20 – Craftsman Of Azeroth, Steel Driving Style, Fairy Sail Style, and Whips In D20 / Nemesis Scourge Style

And for today, it’s a few more exotic Martial Arts styles.

Craftsman Of Azeroth Style (A.K.A. “Azeroth Engineering”)

Spellcasters produce magical items through mystical disciplines, combining their own energies with their raw materials to create items of various categories. That method is fast and potent, yielding results in the time-frames that adventurers commonly demand and offering precise control of the results. Rune Forges produce items through brute magical force. Those using Dream-Binding, Legendarium, Glowstone Alchemy, or Gadgetry can producesome items through their own exotic procedures. Heroes, Villains, and Gods sometimes spawn relics in the course of their adventures and confrontations. In some settings there are even move ways. For example, in Ailewelia, items can be “farmed”. The physical form is primed with minor magics, placed in rune-inscribed box to draw and pattern the wild magic of the world, and simply left (most often buried) deep in the mystical wilderness for a few years to “ripen”. Sure, the process often runs wild (especially if something gets forgotten or conditions shift; the process does use WILD magic after all) – but the rate of return is more than enough to keep basic magical items common.

There are a lot of ways to make magical items.

Magical items can also be made by skilled craftsmen – but that takes more time than most crafters are willing to invest. Does a weaponsmith wish to forge a mystical blade? At Skill 10… crafting a magical sword worth 10,000 GP will require approximately (Price In SP)/(Skill Result Squared) weeks of work. That’s 250 weeks for “taking 10” – just a bit under five years. That isn’t very practical – unless, of course, you have either immense skill or have Taskmaster and/or other high-powered work multipliers. On the other hand, it DOES bypass all those pesky special requirements; all you need is the price of your raw materials (one-third the final price of the item being made), basic tools, and lots and lots of patience.

Azerathian Engineering could be built as an Occult Skill – but given that I don’t actually play WOW in this case I’m going to stick with more or less standard Eclipse mechanics rather than trying to write something up to more closely approximate a set of rules that I don’t know. Sure, given the focus on crafting instead of fighting this counts as a variant form of “martial arts” – but Eclipse specifically allows variants.

Craftsman Of Azeroth (Str)

  • Requires: Taskmaster and Hands Of The Dragon. That’s just about the best long-term speed multiplier for crafting in the system, and is pretty much required to get any worthwhile results out of crafting items this way.
  • Basic Abilities: Synergy IV (For any three Craft Skills and Spellcraft), Toughness I (protects the user from minor accidents and crafting-related injuries), Strike (the user’s hands serve as effective tools), and Power I (if the user’s hands already count as tools (for whatever reason) they now count as masterwork tools).
  • Advanced And Master Techniques:
    • Immunity (the normal limits of crafting techniques with craft skills that this style is providing a synergy bonus for. The user may craft magical items using the normal crafting procedures. Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP). I don’t think that this is needed, but if your game master feels otherwise, here it is.
    • Occult Sense (resources for crafting). Azerothian Craftsmen can often find magical ingredients which will cover a large part of the costs of their crafting. Sadly, what resources can be found, and what they can be used to pay for making, is up to the game master.
    • Use of Charms and Talismans (QV): An Azerothian Craftsman may use seven Charms and three Talismans while using this style. An Industrious Tool is almost mandatory.
    • Occult Sense/Appraisal. The user may accurately evaluate the function and value of any item covered by his craft skills.
    • Augmented Bonus / Add (Con Mod) to the user’s Craft Skill Totals. An Azerothian Craftsman works long hours to get more work done. Take this one if the Immunity to the normal limits of crafting is not required.
  • Occult Abilities: Inner Strength II, Healing Hand, and Ki Focus (Strength). Crafting is hard and dangerous work, calling for occasional mighty efforts and the patching up of various minor injuries.

In game terms this is a lot like Alchemy; you can pick up ingredients (covering a chunk of your raw materials cost) when the GM is feeling generous, you can do something that is arguably within what the craft skill should already be able to do (after all, it does not say you can’t use a superhuman skill in a magical world to craft magic. How many real-world smiths put runes on blades? How many real-world wielders named their weapons and felt that that helped somehow?). And, of course, why WOULDN’T a craftsman be able to evaluate the value of items within his or her field?

Overall, this is potentially quite useful – like anything else that you might reasonably spend character-building resources on – but it shouldn’t disrupt the game much if at all.

Steel Driving Style (Str)

The village smith is the classic example – but many craftsmen and laborers know the secret; once you’re used to spending much of a workday wielding some heavy implement with speed and precision… it’s not much of a step to using said implement to turn some luckless opponent into a bloody pulp.

And it doesn’t much matter if said implement is a hammer, a butchers knife, an agricultural flail, a pruning-hook, a shovel, a machete, or a scythe. There is a reason why so many weapons are either repurposed tools or derived from tools. A healthy, well-exercised, angry man wielding a dangerous implement with a decade of practice in using it is bad news.

While this is a weapon style, it isn’t associated with any particular weapon; it can simply be taken for any appropriate tool – presumably one that the user has spent years wielding working in some craft or profession.

  • Requires: At least +1 BAB specialized in Melee Combat, a Craft Skill total of 5+, and Proficiency with Simple Weapons.
  • Basic Abilities: Attack 4, Defenses 4, Power 4, Strike, Synergy (a Craft skill that uses the implement in question).
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Crippling, Mighty Blow, Weapon Kata II (up to two additional tools/weapons).
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Ki Focus (Strength), and Resist Pain.

This isn’t a particularly exotic style – but it offer an unusually broad selection of basic abilities. If someone wants to build an “everyman” character who wields common tools as weapons, this should help.

Fairy Sail Style (Dex):

Combat Piloting is relatively rare in most d20 games, and if you want to be really, REALLY, good at it you will want the Rider ability sequence – which can drastically upgrade your vehicle. For those who just wish to dabble, however, here is the Fairy Sale style.

Requires: Command of a vehicle (The Fairy Sale, Apparatus, etc). This style is inherently Specialized for Increased Effect (applies to the vehicle the user is operating -and ONLY to the vehicle the user is operating).

Basic Abilities: Attack III (Vehicle Weapons), Defenses III (Vehicle AC). Synergy (Whatever skill is used for piloting).

Advanced And Master Techniques: Instant Maneuver (Once per round you may maneuver the vehicle as a free action), Combat Reflexes (you may fire vehicular close-range anti-personnel weapons up to (Dex Mod) times each round, although each such use uses up one of your Attacks of Opprotunity), Combat Piloting I and II (May use a Piloting check as AC versus one / up to five attacks each round).

Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Light Foot (“We Need More Speed!” “More Sail!”, “Gun The Engine!”), and either Ki Block (“All Power To Shields”, “Evasive Maneuvers”, or whatever) or Healing Hand, Specialized / only for use on the ship (“Re-rout The Power!”, “Splice The Mast”, “Get A Sail Over That Leak!” , allowing the user to perform or organize emergency repairs even while under fire).

The Fairy Sail Style really is absurd – but it’s also both literary and cinematic. Odysseus, Horatio Hornblower, Nemo, Hans Solo, Jack Sparrow… Legends, tales, novels, and movies are full of commanders who – despite lacking the overt supernatural talents of the Rider ability sequence – somehow manage to coax more speed and firepower out of their ships than is reasonably possible. If you really must take your dirigible out dog-fighting dragons, or sail your frigate through a blockade, then this is the style for you.

Whips as d20 weapons:

Whips represent a design problem; In game terms, they’re fairly ineffective. After all, in reality, people can generally survive a LOT more strikes with a whip than they can, say, hits with an axe – and even fairly light armor or tough hide makes whips pretty ineffectual. That’s why they’re usually (despite Indiana Jones) used as tools, not serious weapons. On the other hand, they offer lots of range – so if you stack the right enchantments on them, or target unarmored spellcasters you can be quite a pain. The classical d20 “solution” is to make them Exotic Weapons – which also contradicts reality. Whips are commonly used for animal handling and are fairly easy to learn to use. I got to play with one as a kid because my father bought one (along with some snowshoes and other bits and pieces we really had no earthly use for) for some reason, but I soon got bored.

So let us be more occult. Almost uniquely among d20 weapons, d20 whips are commonly made of monster hide. But leather gloves or armor do nothing to stop the user from making touch attacks with magical spells. How about if we assume leather from magical monsters -at least if properly alchemically treated – conducts magic? That will give whips a unique niche beyond just “having lots of reach”. However, instead of writing up new rules and a unique weapon, I think I will just model a whip as a martial art using chain, rope, wire, or some other suitable item. I’ll make it an “unarmed” style because such things – including realistic whips – simply are not particularly effective weapons. On the other hand, that offers it’s user’s the option to deliver touch-based effects with their whip. To use it to effectively grab things or push buttons, and to make touch attacks with it if they’re willing to forgo inflicting weapon damage with it.

This also eliminates the “Provoking AoO” angle, allows you to do damage normally, and lets you threaten the area through which you can attack That pretty much fixes the various problems with the basic whip, even if it does mean that you will have to invest a fair number of skill points to fully master it. This gives us the…

Nemesis Scourge Style (Dex)

Using a whip is not hard. Apprentice drovers, animal handlers, and torturers can pick up the knack quite quickly – although learning to judge the best use of one and improving their aim requires a but of practice.

Using a whip in combat – at least as something more than an annoyance and a distraction – is a good deal harder. For that, we have the following martial art…

Requires: A whip (enchantments optional) – preferably a leather bullwhip made of hide from a magical monster – despite being built as an “Unarmed Style”. As this is technically an unarmed style, said while it can be used to make touch attacks – but not to inflict non-magical touch based damage.

Basic Abilities: Strike, Power I, Attack III, Toughness I, Synergy / Intimidate, and Synergy / Handle Animal,

Advanced and Master Techniques: Lunge x 3 (while I’d be quite dubious about this in most styles, it’s certainly appropriate for this one), and Evasive (May attempt Disarm and Trip maneuvers without provoking AoO).

Occult Abilities: Inner Strength, Iron Skin, Light Foot, and Touch Strike.

Practical use of a whip as a tool requires nothing much in game terms. Practical use of a whip in combat will generally call for Strike and at least two levels of Lunge – requiring a skill total of 9 or more. That’s not actually very hard to reach; even without any kind of boosters you can have a skill total of (4 + Dex Mod) at level one. To make it really effective though will require a fair investment in touch-based effects.

Mystaran Immortals And Eclipse D20

The question here (From “Frank”) is whether or not I ever did an Eclipse conversion for Mystara’s Basic Dungeons and Dragons Immortals.

Now I have to admit that I hadn’t: most of the early games I played in or ran started with the little blue book edition – the “starter kit” that led into 1’st edition AD&D rather than with “Basic D&D”- and the AD&D rules had been almost entirely supplanted by Continuum II rules by the time 2’nd edition came along. Still, it’s an interesting question – so lets take a look at it. After all, Basic D&D had some campaign options, and a mass battle system, and the Immortals rules, all of which were well ahead of their times.

Basic D&D to Eclipse covers a pretty big jump in editions, mechanics, and game assumptions – but probably the biggest difference between the Immortals of Mystara and the Gods of Eclipse is that Immortals cross a sharp dividing line after they hit level thirty-six – basically starting over again at “Immortal Level One” with a modest selection of Immortal-level powers, a brand new thirty-six level progression to work on, a modest number of hit points, and the ability to (fairly cheaply) create mortal-level avatars of any mortal level up to thirty-six. Now, admittedly basic D&D levels didn’t offer nearly as many options as levels in Eclipse and were generally less powerful – but “level thirty-six” was still a pretty high bar to clear and those levels were scaled to the game environment just as much as the levels in later versions of the game were. For comparison purposes I’d peg a level thirty-six basic D&D character at at least low epic level in Eclipse – call it level twenty-four. That’s two-thirds their base level, which seems fair enough.

Secondarily, Mystaran Immortals were subject to a lot of social rules about their interactions with mortals – basically handwaving away why Immortals didn’t just handle a lot of their own affairs. Most settings will not have this universal treaty between the gods or anything similar to keep PC’s from running amuck – so the rules will have to allow for mortals and immortals to interact on relatively even terms rather than drawing a sharp distinction between “mortal” and “immortal” abilities.

Eclipse, of course, treats godhood / immortality / gaining a sphere of influence as a slow evolution; With GM permission it is perfectly possible to have a god as a part of a first or second level party – and the system is set up to make that playable. A low level god has purchased a few extremely powerful “divine” (and almost never usable) powers instead of more typical stuff that may be weaker, but can be used far more often. Those rules have been used a number of times, mixing minor gods in parties with mortals – and it worked just fine. The player-character gods did indeed have major divine powers in the form of Godfire – but Godfire recovers so slowly that such gods had to rely mostly on the same sorts of abilities that every other character relied on in their everyday adventures.

Thus Eclipse has no hard-and-fast dividing line between mortal and immortal powers beyond “I upgrade this power beyond all reason by backing it with Godfire” – and even then a powerful “mortal” can boost their powers to match. In Eclipse, there is nothing actually preventing a normal character from learning to create galaxies or throw planets around; it will just take a lot of work and levels. Sure, the spell for creating a dimension of your own design of arbitrary size is level twenty-one – but there are several ways for mortals to achieve the ability to cast that spell well before level thirty-six.

So there’s the first major difference: In Eclipse terms, “Immortals” are just high-level characters who have bought a few specific abilities. Since buying Godhood doesn’t cost them any of their old powers – in fact, those usually continue advancing – quite a few a few of Mystara’s “Immortal Powers” are utterly irrelevant. An Eclipse character who controls undead, or turns into a dragon, or is an expert thief, doesn’t need any special abilities to retain those abilities when they ascend to godhood, unlike Mystaran Immortals who only got to take four “Immortal Powers” and lost their “mortal” abilities. For that matter, Eclipse “Immortals” get to keep their racial abilities too.

So we can eliminate the Mystaran Immortal Powers of…

  • Control Undead. This is Negative Energy Channeling – a basic cleric ability that commonly starts at level one. Like a lot of this stuff, if you want it, by level twenty-four you should have had it for a very long time.
  • Dragon Form: Shapechange. The original version provides lots of extra attacks, but the Eclipse version provides various inherent powers and a LOT more uses of a breath weapon. It’s a wash – and if a character wants this, they should (once again) already have it by level twenty-four.
  • Dragon Breath: Inherent Spell with Bonus Uses or Path of The Dragon or similar. Dragon Breath in Eclipse is just a high-powered attack spell. Why not try a set of Martial Maneuvers instead?
  • Extra Attacks: Any skilled combatant gets some of those automatically thanks to iterative attacks, and there are plenty of ways in Eclipse to get more.
  • Fighter Abilities: Half of the special maneuvers of Basic D&D are now standard elements of the combat system – which is good; you do not need to be a high level fighter to learn to brace a weapon against a charge – and the rest are just combat feats. Are you a fighter type? You probably already have the maneuvers that you want.
  • Increased Movement. Immortals basically get a +20′ on their movement modes. Is there an epic level type running around without access to Haste? (You can buy it later with Legendarium)
  • Leech: This attack lets the user drain levels or “Immortal Power”. So… Trick (6 CP).
  • Mystic Abilities: You get some Classical Monk-style powers. As usual on this list… If a character wants these, they should already have them. The Monk Package is relatively cheap.
  • Poison Bite/Sting: Trick (6 CP). Yes, the venom described is exceptionally deadly – but given that the save DC’s for Tricks go up with level, that will happen automatically.
  • Spit Poison: Trick (6 CP). Possibly combined with a way to make melee attacks at range. There are first level spells for that.
  • Summon Weapons: Spirit Weapon, use of Charms and Talismans (Tulthara), various spells and lots of other ways – including just paying for the appropriate enchantment. In fact, the cheap weapon enchantment is better than the original immortal ability; it doesn’t cut out if someone moves your weapon.
  • Swoop: Basically double damage on a flying charge. So (Doubled Damage, 6 CP) if you don’t already have it – which you should if you’re into charging.
  • Thief: This lets you keep your Thief skills (although the basic rules didn’t offer the equivalent of modern “epic uses” or even a lot of the current standard ones). Again, unnecessary in Eclipse where your skills won’t vanish just because you developed Godfire.
  • Turn Undead: This is Positive Energy Channeling, a mainstay of every basic good cleric.
  • Weapon Mastery: This lets you be exceptionally good with a few weapons, like almost any d20 fighter – or any combatant at all in Eclipse, where Martial Arts skills are a thing.

A few “Immortal Abilities” are things you might want to buy – but as “divine powers” they’re kind of pathetic. They’re also available to perfectly normal people.

  • Detection Suite lets you detect stonework traps, sliding walls, sloping corridors, new construction, and hidden or secret doors like a Dwarf or Elf. As an “Immortal Power” that is more than a bit sad. Just take Occult Sense / Architecture (6 CP) and you can do all that and much more.
  • Height Decrease lets you escape bonds fairly easily and makes sneaking easier. Otherwise it’s entirely cosmetic. That’s… the equivalent of a first level Liberating Command effect and some Skill Bonuses. As an immortal power this does not impress.
  • Height Increase lets you throw rocks like a giant and is otherwise cosmetic. So a basic rock-throwing spell? Why is your EPIC LEVEL IMMORTAL DEMIGODLING throwing rocks? If they actually have nothing better to do in a fight (or virtually any other situation other than, perhaps, a rock-throwing contest), they should probably go home and think about their wasted levels.
  • Improved Saves is a specialized and weakened version of the Fortune ability. 6-9 CP altogether. Also something that almost any epic-level character will already have a better version of.
  • Increased Damage lets you add up to two extra dice to your damage with weapons or unarmed attacks – but Eclipse offers lots of better ways to do a little more damage.
  • Increased Initiative is just (3 CP) worth of Improved Initiative.
  • Snap lets you grab an opponent up to twenty feet away, drag them in, and hit them. This is another waste-of-time power. Sure, you could use Lunge or Telekineisis or Taunt or something to build an equivalent ability – but why bother? Buy a harpoon.

Honestly, if you think that any of this stuff is really worth bothering with in your character build, a high-level Eclipse character should almost certainly have it already. And if you don’t want it… well, that solves that problem. Ergo, this entire section is basically “no cost”.

Immortal Powers that are actually somewhat useful include:

  • Call Other: This is a much weaker version of Gate that costs 10 Temporary “Immortal Power”, has a fair chance of success but no certainty, cannot be used to simply escape, and is expensive for any immortal to travel through. You ‘ll want Path Of The Pharaoh / Gateway – and with anything approaching those limits it will only cost about (2 CP). Don’t be cheap. Pay the other 4 CP and travel for free. (This is the only thing in the “Immortal Powers” list that actually calls for being an “Immortal” by the way).
  • Groan costs 20 Temporary Immortal Power and forces everyone within a 180′ radius to save or be paralyzed for ten rounds. That;s actually a pretty good effect – but 20 TP is fabulously expensive and this edition used fixed saves (so anyone important was very likely to resist). What you’re going to want in Eclipse is Hold Monster with Battle Magic (Specialized and Corrupted / only for Hold Monster, 2 CP) and Power Words (Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to store Hold Monster Effects (4 CP). That has limited usage at any given moment, but will let you try bind entire armies – and you don’t need any “Temporary Immortal Power” to run it.
  • Howl causes those in a 180′ radius to flee in terror for 3d6 rounds, although it suffers from the same low save DC’s as Groan. Since this has no listed cost, this is actually pretty good – although fear immunity/protection seems to apply normally. I’d probably go for a Fear effect, with Battle Magic (Specialized and Corrupted / only for Fear, 2 CP) and Power Words (Specialized and Corrupted / only to store Fear Effects (2 CP). That has limited usage at any given moment, but will let you try and terrify entire armies.

Presuming that any given Immortal will want to pick up Gate and perhaps Groan or Howl… setting aside 12 CP should cover that.

Now, to actually become an Immortal / God, you will need to buy Dominion (6 CP. By level twenty-four you are almost certainly in charge of SOMETHING), Manipulation (6 CP), Sphere of Influence (6 CP), and Godfire (6 CP). Congratulations. At the low, low, price of 24 CP you are now a God – if a fairly minor one. Unlike Mystaran gods, who all use basically the same power set, your choice of your Sphere of Influence will affect a lot of aspects of your character.

Next up we have the Immortal Spells. Some (Most? All?) will not actually be spells in Eclipse of course, but these are powers that all Mystaran Immortals have.

  • Bestow/Diminish. Costs permanent Immortal Power, can grant or remove abilities. This is a basic function of Godfire.
  • Conceal Magical Nature: This is capable of concealing artifacts and such for up to a year. You can do this with cloaking spells and Metamagic, a tailored spell (designed or freeform), Godfire, or Reality Editing – but as a God you have access to Seal Of Silence (6 CP), which is a much more impressive and far more versatile way to hide things.
  • Create Species: Another function of Godfire.
  • Detect Immortal Magic: Since there’s no difference between mortal and immortal magic, the basic detection function isn’t complicated – but the global area and one-day duration is trickier. On the other hand, you’re only interested in genuinely major acts of magic, not in having an alarm going off every time an avatar of some mercy goddess casts “Cure Light Wounds” or better (probably about twenty times a round, all day, every day. Mercy goddesses are popular, numerous, and BUSY). Ergo, you could take this as an Occult Sense (6 CP). Of course, “Automatically sense related major events” is a built-in part of the path to Godfire, so you don’t even necessarily have to buy anything at all for this.
  • Hear Supplicants: For this you want Ears Of The Wind and Multi-Tasking (12 CP in total). If you want, you can extend this with Know The Flock (+6 CP), and automatically know what’s up with all of your followers and anything that’s influencing them. Multi-Tasking also has the benefit of letting you do many things at once, which Immortals normally cannot.
  • Immortal Eye: Lets you use Clairvoyance on anywhere you have an interest. Arguably covered by Know The Flock, but you could easily add an Occult Sense, use Spells, or just Specialize the Multi-Tasking for increased effect.
    Increase Spell Duration: There is metamagic for this. Taking it with with Glory will let you do this readily enough (12 CP, or only 6 CP if you specialize down to this specific effect).
  • Power Attack: This really doesn’t mean anything in Eclipse, where there is no such thing as “temporary (divine) power”, but various forms of power draining or blocking, or other incapacitating effects, can be built – most easily with Trick (6 CP) and an option to make melee attacks at range.
  • Probe: In Eclipse terms, this tells you if someone has Godfire. Given that Godfire is a massive cloud of magical potential that gathers around gods… this can be done pretty easily. It also tells you peoples names – which is a very impressive parlor trick, and is sometimes taken as an Occult Sense (basic information about those you look at, 6 CP). Rather like MMORPG’s. You can see the tags – “Arif Meldoon, Level Six Expert (Tailor and Crafting Magic), Has a Minor Quest to offer.”. The original version will not reveal mortal avatars, which is less than helpful.
  • Probe Shield protects against Probe. Unfortunately, as written, it is short-term, moderately expensive, and only protects against the “name” part of Probe. It’s a game mechanic meant to help enforce the non-intervention rules. In Eclipse you can just buy Cloaking (6 CP) and be done with it forever.
  • Reduce Saving Throw: This makes a mortal-level spell harder to save against. Of course, with three or four levels of the Amplify metamagic, you can basically eliminate the save entirely. You can get Amplify and Glory, Specialized in this specific trick, or in drastically reducing saves, for a mere (6 CP).
  • Shape Reality: This one is a biggie! It has several separate functions:
    • Create a Heavenly Body. They start uninhabited, but that’s fairly readily fixable. In Eclipse, this calls for very high level magic – mostly because it is recognized that creating heavenly bodies with an arbitrary size, velocity, and composition, can easily destroy solar systems. Say “Asteroid, One Foot above the Campaign Planet, Orbital Velocity of 99.9999999999% of Light Speed, Directed straight towards the Campaign Planet”. For a Mystaran Immortal that’s 5 Immortal Power and well within the capabilities of a first-level new Immortal. Eclipse wants to know “then why is the setting still around?”. So this one converts as “you must work very hard and have vast magical powers to be able to do this”. No cost, because most immortals in Eclipse CANNOT do it. And thank them for that.
      • Sadly, this was one of the items that Frank was specifically interested in – but it’s simply too potentially destructive. On the other hand, you can easily create your own dimension in Eclipse; you just can’t ram it into another one.
    • Move a Heavenly Body: Another job for very high level magic – and for the same basic reason. This one also basically converts as “you need loads of power for this” and has no cost because, if lots of people can do this, the setting will have been destroyed before the game begins.
    • Create a Plane: Ah, an easy one! Take Creation (6 CP) and get your own dimension built to your personal specifications. You want more? Take Bonus Uses (+6 CP).
    • Move A Plane: This doesn’t actually make sense in Eclipse. Even in Mystara it really only moved established planar access routes and only worked if no other immortal was on the plane – and in Eclipse it’s not really a big deal to create and destroy dimensional weak points and you don’t actually have to use them to travel anyway. There are spells for manipulating portals, color pools, and similar, or you could just take a little Mana with Reality Editing to do it. Most simply, take it as a Minor Privilege (Can re-arrange planar access routes if no other divine power is objecting, 3 CP).
    • Alter A Plane: This lets you control your personal planes. This is a basic function of Godfire. – and there are some rules for dimension design in this article. (The subject was too esoteric to make space for it in Eclipse).
    • Transform: Basically a high-powered Polymorph or Reincarnation effect. Like most things that cost permanent Immortal Power, this is a function of Godfire.

Now that mess is a little more expensive – a total of up to 69 CP. Admittedly a 24’th level character will have around 650 – 700 CP as a base, and a 48’th level character may have twice that – but 69 CP is still enough to buy plenty of other tricks for the non-immortals in the party.

Basic Immortal Abilities:

  • Armor Class: An Immortal has a base AC of 20, and gains up to a +20 bonus at level 48. Buy Defender (All three possible variants, 18 CP). Done.
  • Artifact Creation: Take Create Artifact (6 CP). A level one Eclipse character can make artifacts – although an epic level character will probably find it a great deal easier to do so.
  • Aura Attack: Awe. A basic function of having Godfire.
  • Combat Abilities:
    • Proficient with All weapons and armor. By the time you hit level twenty-four you should be proficient with whatever you want to be. No cost here.
    • Base Attack Bonus: While the Immortal class basically sets this at (Level/2), or (2 x Level / 3) when translated, Eclipse characters are free to buy more or less – and should already have BAB. Again, no particular cost.
    • Damage: Immortals do up to two extra dice of damage, on top of a 2d6 punch. That’s convenient I suppose, but fairly meaningless in Eclipse. If a character is interested in doing extra direct damage in combat, they should be doing a LOT more than this by the time they reach epic levels. For this, I’ll refer you to the Advanced Fighter series.
  • Communication (Telepathic): Mindspeech (6 CP).
  • Creation Of (Temporary) Magic Items: Now this is a little odd by later edition standards, where your array of magic items is a much more important part of your character. To do this buy access to the Occult Skill Dream-Binding (3 CP) and spend some skill points. Viola! Temporary magic items.
  • Granting Power Points: A basic function of having Godfire; you can use it to boost yourself or others.
  • Improving Ability Scores: A function of Levels, Dominion, Godfire, and Epic Items. Immortal Statistics went up to 100, but the actual bonuses were spread out more and only went up to +20. Ergo, in current d20 scaling, Immortal Attributes peak at 50. Still pretty high – but hardly unreachable. Worse, most of the attributes other than Strength pretty much no longer had any effect for Immortals. Really, no cost. If you want to leverage your better scores, try Augmented Bonus and/or Finesse.
  • Immunities:
    • Immunity to Aging and Diseases is a part of having Godfire.
    • Immunity to “Mortal Dragon Breath” is nonsensical in Eclipse, where there is no sharp dividing line between “mortals” and “immortals” – but is mostly just equivalent to having a decent Energy Resistance, or Fortune and Luck (for Saves) or any of several other defenses that any epic level character should have. No cost.
      Immunity to Level Drain. There are pretty basic protective spells, as well as a choice of armor enchantments, to cover this. Any epic level character should have this covered already. No cost.
    • Immunity to having to Eat and Drink. If you actually care, less than a single CP worth of Innate Enchantment (a couple of Everfull Mugs (400 GP) and Everlasting Rations (350 GP) – perhaps x.8 (Cannot Share) covers this. When was the last time that your epic level character was at risk of starving to death anyway? Legendarium (see below) will cover this easily.
    • Immunity to having to Breathe: You could buy this straight as a minor Immunity, or just buy a Necklace of Adaptation (9000 GP) – but the effective way to do it is to buy access to Occult Skill (Legendarium) (3 CP). At level twenty-four that will provide a fair amount of inherent items/powers, which will come in handy later.
    • Immunity to Life Trapping: Godfire will handle this.
    • Immunity to Mortal Magic. Again, meaningless in Eclipse – but being nigh-immune to minor spellcasters is appropriate enough. Buy Spell/Power Resistance (6 CP). At epic levels this is pretty well proof against normal spellcasters.
    • Immunity to Mortal Poisons. Well, that’s Immunity (Common, Major, Major, Corrupted / not against attacks by creatures with Godfire, 6 CP). That won’t completely protect you against really powerful poisons – but that also is fairly classical. Buy a small attribute-healing effect with your Legendarium to recover quickly from anything that does get through.
  • Resistant to Mortal Attacks. Meaningless in Eclipse due to the lack of a hard division between “mortal” and “immortal” abilities, but the basic result was that ordinary creatures had a hard time damaging an immortal. Buy some Damage Reduction, Specialized in Physical Attacks and Corrupted / not versus creatures with access to Godfire, both for Increased Effect (6 CP for DR 9/creatures with Godfire). Buy a small healing effect with your Legendarium to handle any damage that does get through.
  • Infravision: Occult Sense (6 CP). Darksight has long since replaced Infravision in the system, but this is Eclipse: you can buy either one you want.
  • Movement: Immortals can walk, swim, turn incorporeal, and fly a bit faster than normal. Buying this gets expensive in CP terms, but by the time level twenty-four rolls around your Legendarium will neatly cover some of those abilities (and probably a good deal more).
  • Regenerate 1d8 HP/Day. D20 characters heal a lot better than this automatically. No cost. Immortals may have lots of hit points (the sources contradict themselves somewhat) – so this is probably Augmented Bonus (18 CP to add a second attribute modifier to their Con Mod for Hit Point purposes).

That’s 78 CP. Again, somewhat pricey – but easily manageable at epic levels.

Forms: Mystaran Immortals can take on their True Form, a non-corporeal Spirit Form, and Mortal Forms – but they can only take on one form at a time. Eclipse characters can use Multi-Tasking to keep an eye on many places at once (pretty much what the Spirit Form is good for) and communicate with followers. Eclipse characters can use Godfire to make mortal avatars (Basically by Creating Life as the desired Avatar), and thus can be in many places at once and do many things at once – an optional rule for Mystaran Immortals. Overall, this is a bit of a wash, and so has no cost.

Unlimited Spellcasting: This costs a lot of Temporary Power each day, but offers unlimited access to all the mortal-level spells in the book. Of course… those spells were weaker, were of far more limited level, and had far less variety than the current d20 spell lists – even discounting the multiple styles of freeform magic in Eclipse. Just as importantly, Eclipse d20 has no “mortal level” magic. It’s just magic. Worst of all… this makes no sense. The writers had to throw it in on Mystara because non-spellcasters had no options comparable to spellcasters – and they had to allow spellcasting, or the players would rebel. Yet if they threw in a spellcasting option like the “Fighter Abilities” option it would be a must-have, or you’d be crippling your character. Yet most classical godlings didn’t do much spellcasting, if any. Hercules and Frey had some powers, but they certainly weren’t druids, mages, or d20 clerics. So it had to be something optional, yet available to every immortal. Ergo… spend a bunch of temporary power, get unlimited magic for the day.

But nothing in any mythology works this way. This compromise simply will not work in the game. It was acknowledged that it didn’t work properly in the original rules with the bit about “Most immortals… spend 100 TP every day so as to be able to cast any spell (magical, clerical, and druidic) any number of times per day”.

Honestly, you can punch people, or use a dragon’s breath weapon twice per day – or cast limitless high-powered spells. Which do YOU pick?

So this one is a flat “No”. Immortal characters in Eclipse get whatever spellcasting they’ve purchased, just as they get whatever combat abilities and skills they’ve purchased. That offers monstrous amounts of power at epic levels already. Go ahead and dabble in Hexcrafting, if you want a cheap option that allows some epic-level casting for your dramatic deific effects. Or just take Divine Attribute (6 CP). If you are REALLY lucky you may be able to persuade your game master into letting you Corrupt and Specialize it for Increased Effect – you only get a few effects, but you retain something reasonably close to control when you use them. Regardless, I’m not going to count that option since it goes well beyond what a Mystaran Immortal could normally do simply because Divine Attribute takes you straight into “Game Master Fiat” territory.

In practice, this super-spellcasting option is mostly unplayable anyway. D20 quite literally offers (thanks to Distant Horizon’s own Spell Templates in The Practical Enchanter) hundreds of millions of possible spells. There are tens of thousands of individual spells scattered over hundreds or thousands of sources. There are dozens of types of spellcasters with their own spell lists. To use this power effectively the player and game master would have to be familiar with a large chunk of that material, sort through it for items to allow and disallow, and keep track of it. Even –>I<– do not want to try and do that! The game is for having fun, now for nightmare thesis projects!

So that gives us a total: “Immortal Powers Template” cost of (12 CP) + Basic Godhood (24 CP) + Immortal “Spells” (69 CP) + “Basic Immortal Abilities (78 CP) = 183 CP. That’s in +5 ECL territory (albeit with a few points to spare if I’ve forgotten something) – and I don’t see much in the way of drawbacks to cut down that cost with.

So: you hit level twenty-four (or higher), go on a series of mighty quests, and – at the end – pick up a +5 ECL template and then sit out of play until the other characters catch up with you. After that… you use your new powers to adventure on a larger scale until you hit level 48 (ECL 53), where it’s probably long past time to retire.

Eclipse d20 – Alchemical Creations, The Item List

As for the alchemical products list, we have…

The Pinnacle – Grand Alchemy.

Grandiose, Mythic, or “Arcane” Alchemical Creations pretty much give reality the finger – and, as such, calls for extremely high DC Crafting Stunts, Grandiose Reality Editing, or massive acts of magic. This is the sort of thing that makes most Wizards, Psychics, AND Scientists go “Whaaaaa?”.

There are two major categories of High Alchemy – Arcane Materials and Arcana Essences – and one specific procedure, the Arcane Antithesis.

Arcane Materials exhibit unnatural properties. They may remain perpetually hot or cold, have virtually no weight, be near-perfect insulators, want to accelerate endlessly, maintain a sourceless difference in electrical potential across themselves, amplify or frequency-shift light, be superconductors, block magic, or gravity, or some other force, or be incredibly tough. If you want to make a boat with sails that catch the winds of thought that blow through the astral plane at superluminal speeds… this is the discipline you want. There are thousands of possibilities here from everburning cooking logs on through armored clothing and nightsight goggles and on up to space drives. Just remember that his sort of thing makes no sense and you will save yourself a headache.

Arcane Essences are distilled forces and conditions. Sanity, Magnetism (or “Lodestone”), Gravity, Darkness, Winter, Purity, Curses, Lightning, Rage, Luck – or even things like “Knowledge”, “South”, “Up”, “Entropy”, “Life” (also known as “Aqua Vitae”), “Death” (“Aqua Mortis”), or “Time”. Released without control, their effects are unpredictable and crude. Breaking a vial of Gravity is likely to cause an implosion (and perhaps a mild earthquake), followed by an explosion as the compressed materials expand again. With some method of control essences can be used for all kinds of tricks – so anyone who wants to get into Essences will want some magical or technical ability to control what they do when they’re released. Perhaps some Gadgetry again? A gravity-powered Flight Harness, a Solar Blaster, and a Magnetic Force Shield would be quite useful – and giving them an external power sources will bypass the usual usage restrictions on gadgets in favor of their alchemical “ammunition”. Once again, this kind of thing is in the realm of concepts made physical. It’s not going to make any sense unless, perhaps, you can manage to squint properly with your brain.

Arcane Antithesis: This operation does only one thing; it creates a negative version of something. Not just something like “antimatter”, which has a positive rest mass and yields energy when combined with normal matter. This means Negative Matter. Negative Energy. Negative Entropy. Negative Information. A hole in the multiverse. Something which isn’t just unlikely; it’s impossible. This is generally a lengthy project, is limited to things that might fit in a moving van, and requires the constant presence of the original thing you’re making an antithesis of.

Once you’re done the two will annihilate, leaving nothing. This isn’t quite final and absolute – but it’s about as close as you’re likely to get. Sure, there is undoubtedly another one of whatever it was coming into existence elsewhere in the multiverse, but you can be pretty sure that whatever it was – even if it was an indestructible artifact – is out of your life for a very long time to come. If you really must get rid of something this will generally do it for you.

Mastery – High Alchemy

High Alchemy still cheats – but it cheats a lot less than Grandiose Alchemy does. It still calls for Major Reality Editing, very high DC Crafting Stunts, or magic of around level six, but the things that it produces mostly operate in comprehensible ways. It too has three basic branches – Condensates, Devices, and Lifeshaping.

Condensates are pretty straightforward: you make something smaller and more concentrated with no loss in its effects. You can thus turn bottled potions into little capsules, store great amounts of water in small flasks, turn excellent six-course meals into sticks of chewing gum, make air pills that last for hours, turn various alchemical items into drops or little “gems”, turn drums of fuel oil into drops of “pyroconcentrate”, turn high-pressure steam into a dry powder (a substitute for explosives in the many worlds that don’t allow them), condense light into liquids (possible “blaster ammo”), modify equipment so that it can be expanded from, or collapsed into, little capsules, or even try to extract and condense information – perhaps turning a mass of magnetic tapes into a DVD or allowing you to drink a book instead of studying it.

The main problem with Condensates is that – for the most part – they’re simply more convenient to carry. Unless the GM is really into rocketry, and is worried about the delta-v of various fuels, it’s impressive to put a few drops of fuel into a locomotive’s firebox and have it run at full power for hours – but in settings offering easy access to extradimensional storage space, that is really all it is. There’s nothing wrong with that, and condensates are often useful, but they’re rarely a major factor unless you really MUST hide something in a false tooth.

Devices are fairly simple: they are built using alchemical techniques and so work much better than their actual construction and the designers skill justifies. A suit of armor full of clockwork might operate as a mechanical man, capable of reasoning and performing skilled tasks. A statue might function as a basic Golem. Paint might make what is painted real (See “Marvelous Pigments”). A cup or fork might purify poisons. A camera might function (if no such items exist) or reveal mysterious and normally invisible presences or reveal desires or someone’s inner nature (if cameras exist in the setting). A skeleton key might conform itself to any lock. A precious alchemical stone might function as a universal magical component, losing value as expensive spells are cast. A rod of lead (which resists various magics) might absorb several spells before melting. A flask might hold a dimensional pocket that can safely contain virtually anything. A wand of strangely alloyed gold (“Orichalcum”) might enhance spells – either slightly or a great deal but only a few times. A whip might hit like it was as heavy as mercury and be impossible to grasp save by the handle. A compass fitted with a chip of material might always point towards the main mass the chip was taken from. A spear of dissimilar metals might discharge electrical arcs on impact.

Devices are pretty classical “you get equipment bonuses”. The trouble is that they generally have to be created by the alchemist in their entirety, tend to require a certain amount of maintenance, and so are limited by personal skills. In game terms, if you have the ability to enhance your items this way, each relevant skill (usually Craft, but others may be eligible in particular cases) provides “gadget points” equal to it’s base rating (Skill Base + Attribute Modifier + Skill-Enhancing Feats) to invest in relevant items – although their overall effectiveness is always limited by the characters level. Thus the GM might rule that Craft/Armor and Craft/Clockwork can both contribute “Gadget Points” to the cost of a Clockwork Soldier (Say, 10 Points) – but that cost will go down as the character goes up in level and said Soldier goes from being a very useful ally to a minor distraction. Alternatively, if someone only wants to dabble in this form of Alchemy, an Occult Skill (Equipment Enhancement or some such) may be in order.

Lifeshaping allows an alchemist to extract qualities from living things, either storing them for later use or imbuing them into other living things or even artifacts – whether by purely mystical means, grafting tissues, or bizarre surgeries. Sadly, the extraction process is generally fairly destructive (although getting a use of a breath weapon, or dose of poison from a serpent, or some such is usually simple enough), so transferring the abilities of sapient beings around is generally pretty unethical. Moreover, it is much, MUCH, easier to give something a temporary ability than it is to make it permanent. Thus a practitioner might extract the strength of a bull – perhaps creating an elixir / “mutagen” to let someone take on that attribute temporarily, or imbuing it into an item to make it move on it’s own, or even attempting to transfer it permanently into another creature to replace it’s own strength.

Possibilities with lifeshaping include monster creation (usually starting with some minor life form too weak to hold it’s pattern well and infusing it with the desired abilities), creating “mutagens”, grafts, or “animal elixirs” capable of bestowing animalistic powers (either temporarily, permanently, or inducing something akin to Therianthropy), the transference or storage of souls, imbuing objects with temporary or permanent life, supercharging bacteria to create plagues, deadly mists and slimes, and similar weaponry), bioengineering lifeforms to produce useful products or byproducts, supercharging higher life forms to temporarily boost them or induce regeneration (sometimes known as “flesh glue), raising the (very recently) dead, extending lifespans, restoring personal energies, curing cases of disease or poisoning, restoring lost bodily functions, and making various kinds of “animal extracts”, such as putting a Rust Monsters power in a rod, or a use of Dragon’s Breath in a potion, or just smearing a location with Manticore Musk to scare off most other predators.

Of course, the problem here is that you have to have a source for the property you want to extract and bestow. That’s generally not much of a problem with common domestic animals, and only a moderate problem with less common ones – but if you want to give someone the strength, diving ability, and swimming ability of a sperm whale… you will likely have some considerable difficulty in catching one alive, getting it into your laboratory, building apparatus to fit, and basically distilling vital functions from it – especially since it is almost certain to resist. Stealing functions from intelligent creatures – basically rendering them down for useful bits – is generally about as unethical as it gets. That’s why “creating monsters” is usually a thing for villains, not heroes.

Journeyman Procedures – Middle Alchemy

Middle Alchemy doesn’t cheat very much. “Notable” Reality Editing, High – but not particularly Epic – DC’s, and Spells of level three or less will suffice. It covers Compounds, Firecrafting, and Drugs and Toxins.

Compounds exploit the inherent, natural, magic of animals, plants, and minerals. The witch doctor who prepares a meal of Lions Heart to imbue youngsters facing their rite of manhood with courage, the jeweler combining metal and carefully chosen gems to exploit their magic, and the herbalist brewing mystical tonics are all simply activating the magic inherent in their materials, rather than creating enchantments of their own.

Compounds are indeed magical, but tend to be quite specific and more powerful effects tend to either have prices attached, don’t last very long, or call for extremely exotic magical materials since there is only so much magic inherent in most materials. Thus, unlike most d20 “crafting”, these recipes tend to call for specific ingredients rather than simply assigning a generic raw material cost. This also means that this field offers a list of specific applications (determined by the user’s skill and what components are available), rather than a generic description of how it works and what is possible. Ergo, here are some possibilities. There are plenty of others of course – but there is no guarantee that the ingredients for any of these will be available in any particular setting.

  • Bane Powder or Venom: Damages some type of creature, bypassing most defenses. Often applied to weapons.
  • Beast Draught: Temporarily grants a specific animal ability or may permanently grant a personality trait appropriate to the source animal.
  • Birthstones, when set in appropriate metals and combined with appropriate symbols may have actual – if minor – magical powers. Or just be superstitions. That depends on the setting.
  • Bloodfire Catalyst: Turns the user’s blood into an outrageously corrosive substance and makes the user resistant to acid while this effect lasts. Fire based versions also exist, but are even trickier to make.
  • Bottled Sleep: Acts like a days rest, but uses deep reserves – making it effective only once per month.
  • Burgeoning Verdigris Elixir: Makes plants grow in mere moments.
  • Canned Fog: Pours out a sizeable cloud when opened. Other weather can also be canned; tornado in a can anyone?
  • Canopy Of Waters: The air in a fair radius remains breathable, but the area is effectively underwater: fires won’t burn, people can swim through the air, and so on.
  • Dark Elixir: Drinking this allows the user to use any one shadow magic spell of level two or less, or one specific shadow magic spell (chosen when the elixir is brewed) of level three. It can also be used to add +20% reality to a Shadow Magic spell cast normally. Sadly, the components are very rare.
  • Dental Paste: Mends and restores teeth.
  • Draught (or Paint) Of Living Death: Makes a living creature seem to be undead.
  • Ectoplasmic Dream: Creates a vision, phantasm, or dream when opened, the general type of vision or phantasm must be defined in advance, but the user may determine the details.
  • Ectoplasmic Draught: Allows the user to exhale a Psychic Construct.
  • Elixir Of Mental Clarity: Relieves any mental affliction, including senility and being near death for a time.
  • Entropic Salts: Cause devices and structures to breakdown or fail. A pinch might rust a lock into uselessness or break a wagon wheel, a handful might cause a tank engine to fail or a treat to snap.
  • Foamstone: Expands enormously, and then becomes as hard and durable as granite,
  • Fumes Of Vision: These grant clairvoyant visions, capable of crossing space, time, and dimension, but aren’t especially reliable and offer very little control. Concentrating on something will usually get a few somehow-relevant glimpses if the GM is feeling cooperative though.
  • Golem Transformation: The user temporarily takes on the traits of a Construct.
  • Liquid Metals can transform from solid to liquid and back again when properly triggered, This also covers “memory metals” that can take on many detailed forms.
  • Reanimation Elixir: Raises the recently dead for a short time.
  • Recharging Bath: Adds charges to a charged magical item over a time proportionate to the charge cost.
  • Sacred Balm: Acts as a Panacea spell, albeit at minimal caster level. Often requires very rare components or the blessing of a major, good-oriented, religious figure.
  • Sacrificial Incense: Can summon and manifest minor spirits and makes an acceptable offering to any spirit or divine being.
  • Scroll Ink; Allows the user to scribe scrolls without a feat or XP cost.
  • Spectral Sand: Dissolves into brilliant rainbow light when thrown, an effect similar to Color Spray.
  • Spell Catalysts” These make specific spells or groups thereof either more powerful or easier to cast.
  • Tangle (Foam, Webbing, etc) is basically an area-effect relative of the Tanglefoot Bag.
  • Tempering Oil makes objects it is applied to considerably more durable.
  • Universal Solvent is hard to store and use, but often surprisingly effective.
  • Vigil Candles: Grant a minor blessing to a specified individual when burned, no matter where they are if blessed / holy. If cursed / unholy they inflict a minor, temporary, curse on them.
  • Waters Of Alchemical Sulfur: When applied to a mundane item it permanently gains the Masterwork quality.
  • Wraith Dust: When thrown adheres to ghosts and other intangible apparitions and renders them temporarily solid.
  • Yielding Grave Elixir: Raises small numbers of weak undead permanently or lots of weak undead temporarily, can temporarily enhance the powers of greater undead.

This particular option can be a lot of fun. You can go questing for rare ingredients and tell people that you could cure that condition if you just had some specific components, and so on – but if you get too far into it, you can wind up with people wanting to know what components can be found in every monsters corpse, and along every path, and in every town, which is more than a bit boring. With Compounds you need to be careful to strike a balance. This also fits in fairly well with the Ceremonial Magic rules, although powerful magical components can quite reasonably upgrade the results that can be achieved.

Firecrafts are mostly straightforward, and fall under Middle Alchemy for two reasons – because quite a lot of worlds normally disallow simple explosives, rockets, guns, and super-concentrated fuels unless you use magic in their construction and because using a little magic to make them so greatly decreases the chance of either setting yourself on fire or producing catastrophic explosions. Other than that… in any world where fireworks work properly, this sort of thing is usually relatively cheap and adding special ingredients may produce unusual effects. An alchemist who specializes in blowing things up can be quite formidable.

  • Catalysts and Inhibitors can speed or slow chemical reactions, induce fevers (and a limited form of Haste) or suspended animation, extinguish or enhance fires, preserve unstable materials for later use, counteract poisons or make them take effect near-instantly and otherwise either vastly speed up or slow down various chemical reactions.
  • Explosives power grenades, can be formed into shaped charges blow holes in barriers, blow up areas, propel shrapnel, and power guns, cannons, and mortars. Special ammunition can be given various weapon-properties through alchemy, although the total very rarely goes above the equivalent of +3.
  • Fire Constructs take advantage of the fact that a fire can be considered something very close to a form of life – and are closely related to both Firework, Incendiaries, and Fuels. They are basically temporary “creatures” made of fire, rather like Gandalfs Fiery Dragon Firework – but capable of actually following orders, making decisions, and taking physical actions. Sure, they’re a bit insubstantial and fairly short “lived”, but they can be about as impressive as it gets.
  • Fireworks include all the usual fountains, pinwheels, rockets, bombs, firecrackers (these can be alchemically treated to drive away spirits and ghosts), and other ornamental stuff. Interestingly, fireworks can be made to give off other energies, creating auras of elemental force, holy or unholy areas, and even inclining areas towards particular alignments or types of magic. Flares in particular can light large areas, blind opponents, create strobe-like effects, act like sunlight to harm the undead and other light-susceptible creatures, and act as signals.
  • Fuels drive steam, internal combustion, and rocket engines, provide warmth, set things on long-lasting (and very intense) fire, burn underwater, and amplify fire spells.
    Incendiaries can produce fiery blasts, set an area on fire, provide long-lasting light, burst into flames when exposed to air, produce enough heat to melt metal or stone, power flame rifles and pistols – and can even leave behind small quantities of molten iron. I recommend caution when making FOOF however, no matter how skilled you are.
  • Luminaries include things like glowing chalk, luminous paint or ink, “glow sticks”, and a wide variety of other things that store or produce light. This isn’t usually a major category unless your alchemist desperately needs solar cells or nonmagical flameless lights – but simple and minor does not necessarily mean that they can’t be handy.
  • Smokes may impede vision, render the air toxic and unbreathable, cause temporary blindness, use up all the oxygen in an area, or leave various sorts of residues.

The Drugs and Toxins of Middle Alchemy both work incredibly quickly and can go a bit beyond the natural limits of such things – which is, of course, why you need alchemy to make them. This sort of thing includes d20 style poisons and antivenoms (real poisons and antitoxins generally do not take effect instantly), drugs that induce emotions, healing herbs which greatly accelerate healing by resting (about x 3), induced hibernation, powders of blindness, confusion, nausea and hallucinations, erasing memories, inducing (often poorly controlled without a lot of practice) psychic powers, vermin spray (does a fair amount of damage to vermin), hangover cures (that also work on recreational drugs), cleansing foam, generic antitoxins and disease cures, brews that knit bones, and that always-hot commodity, longevity elixirs. This may even may include the various Pulp Drugs if the game master is feeling very, VERY, generous.

The trouble with these substances is simple: they can push, augment, and disrupt the user’s body, and act unnaturally quickly – but they’re not magic. They won’t work on creatures with extremely abnormal metabolisms (or which have no metabolisms at all), their possible effects are really quite limited by d20 standards, they will lose effectiveness with overuse, and there are likely to be side effects – potentially quite serious side effects. There’s only so much combat drug that you can use before giving yourself a heart attack or stroke. That’s why most Alchemists only indulge in this sort of thing on rare occasions.

Student Brews – Low Alchemy

Low Alchemy is basically chemistry. Unlike most of the other reality-defying fields of research described above, you don’t actually need to use special powers to make it work – but a bit of Minor Reality Editing, the use of basic (generally level one) spells or even relevant level zero cantrips, and setting fairly high DC’s can vastly decrease the required time, enhance the purity and quality of the results, allow the preparation of larger quantities, let the user work with insufficient or primitive equipment, let the user skip past having to know more specific skills like “metallurgy”, and/or greatly reduce the chance of accidents. It’s still chemistry though. In a setting where characters strike like battleship guns, treat anti-tank missiles as minor annoyances, and can commonly take a one-magaton city-killing fusion bomb (according to d20 Future a mere 16d8, averaging 72 points of damage) to the face without breaking stride, Low Alchemy is fairly often convenient, but isn’t especially terrifying.

Quite a lot of Middle Alchemy can be done as Low Alchemy as well, but it makes items produced that way a lot less effective, a lot less pure, cost a lot more, and far more dangerous to make.

Given the extent of chemistry as a real science I’m not even going to try and list all the major categories of substances available – but here are a dozen that adventurers are fairly often interested in:

  • Clay and Ceramics cover pottery, bricks, tiles, cements, glazes, heat shields, synthetic bones, thermal and electrical insulators, crucibles, armor plating, catalytic surfaces, containment for various substances, terracotta, pipes, cutting edges, and many other products. Fast-setting and extra-strong varieties are reasonably often useful to adventurers.
  • Coloring Agents such as paints, dyes, enamels, bleaches, and lacquers, preserve materials, are often notable items of trade, and play a considerable role in Ritual Magic.
  • Corrosives include powerful acids and bases, as well as some substances which only affect specific targets – dissolving only steel, or only flesh. Batteries fall into this category too, as well as electroplating.
  • Distilling produces perfumes and alcohols, “cracks” crude oil into various products, separates out specific chemicals, and produces a wide variety of intoxicants.
  • Firearms, Gunpowder, and Explosives also fall under Low Alchemy IF – and ONLY IF – they normally work in the setting. If not, then it will take a much more powerful alchemist to concoct a version that will. If it’s high-energy reactions that are forbidden – such as in the Forgotten Realms where a fire god basically regards explosions as tasty candy and eats them before they can actually explode anything – you may need to go all the way up to Condensates and use the “Powdered Steam” trick. In any case, presumably I do not need to explain what guns are good for in RPG’s.
  • Gases include sleeping gas, flammable gases, nerve gases (poisons, but ones that call for a relatively small dose), mustard gas, liquified gases, anesthetics, and a wide variety of other unpleasantness.
  • Glues, Adhesives, and Sealants have a multitude of obvious uses, ranging from hull-sealing slap patches to surgery. Honestly, if an adventurer can’t think of some uses for a tube of superglue, they should go home.
  • Neutralizing agents start with compounds of clay and charcoal (which absorb and neutralize odors, water, and a wide variety of other chemical and alchemical agents), antitoxins, PH balancers to counter corrosives, water purification tablets, hygroscopic materials that suck water out of things, gas masks, and a wide variety of other chemical countermeasures.
  • Oils and Lubricants range from simple animal fats on through buckeyballs, near-frictionless, non-reactive, and “nonstick” surfaces.
  • Polymers and Plastics are used in armor, packaging, and thousands of other products. If you have a computer to look at this with, you should be familiar with a LOT of plastic products.
  • Smelting covers extracting metals and making alloys with various combinations of natural properties, glassblowing (including crafting vessels, lenses, and stained glass), making gemstones and crystals (both real and false), and even creating alloys that closely resemble precious metals without actually costing very much. If you want to be a counterfeiter you could do far worse.
  • Toxins and Medicines have problems. Poisons can be very effective in reality, but in d20 there are saving throws – and with realistic agents most of them won’t have a particularly high DC, d20 creatures often have no metabolism to be affected by realistic poisons, and are very often incredibly resistant even if they fail their saving throws. Real life medicines are only rarely up to the effectiveness of a first level spell and usually take far, FAR, too long to work. Personally, I would not waste my time. – unless you need to treat a LOT of people. After all, if it’s just three adventurers with a magical plague, you go with Cure Disease. If it’s city full of ordinary folks… a vaccine or drug which can be produced in massive batches is probably preferable.

Pathfinder’s Tinctures, Alchemical Reagents, and Power Components also fall into this category.

There are a lot more categories of Low Alchemy of course – but there isn’t a lot of point in going into them. These items may be occasionally useful, and they might even play a critical role in some special plan – but just how often will something like Pathfinder’s Paper Wall Paste (can be used to create a 5 x 5 sheet of paper that looks like a dirt wall on one round) really be that important? Why not just learn to cast Silent Image, which affects a much larger area and is at least ten thousand times as versatile?

That’s why Pathfinder added in the Alchemical Tinkering spell – which transforms one alchemical item into any other alchemical item – although given the vastly greater options for Alchemy on THIS list, that spell will only work on items of Low Alchemy (there might be higher level variants available though). That way clever players who come up with creative ideas for making some alchemical item actually useful can simply pull them out without loading themselves down with a half a ton of expensive alchemy that they will almost certainly never use.

Now there are doubtless sources with items that don’t fit into any of these categories properly out there – but there should be more than enough possibilities here for play, and this is Eclipse! if you find something really weird that you like in am obscure sourcebook… just ask your GM about including it. Odds are that it can be managed. Go ahead and post it here in the comments too; there’s no reason not to share.

Eclipse d20 – Tricorder Combat And The Valio Arts

And next up, it’s a few more of the odder Martial Arts that have come up:

Tricorder Combat

A good deal of Star Trek technology operates on the Informational Level – where things like Space, Time, and Structure are merely a bunch of values. That’s why the Star Trek Warp Drive only requires a great deal of energy rather than the mass-energy of major planets, how Transporters can split people into good and evil versions, how the Holodeck can create matter, and how Tricorders can extract all kinds of information about creatures, objects, and areas without all kinds of intrusive and damaging probing. They all work at least partially on the informational level.

Tricorders (and larger starship sensor arrays) in particular are computers as well as scanning systems. And even on the informational level… the Observer interacts with the things Observed. That doesn’t usually mean much on the macroscopic level – but information is always a set of quantum values.

Tricorders act to pull truly alien creatures and forces – things from other dimensions with their own natural laws – into a common frame of reference. They do not FIND mysterious weaknesses that no one else has found in eons. Truly talented tricorder operators impose their own ideas onto the targets informational structure. They CREATE those weaknesses. They make the incomprehensible mundane. They impose their technobabble on the madness beyond the edge of reality, and make it so. In their own way… Tricorders and Ships Sensors are more destructive weapons than mere Phasers and Photon Torpedoes; they can destroy what something WAS rather than just blowing it up.

Tricorder Combat (Cha Based, Optionally Wis Based):

Spock stared hard at his tricorder, as if by sheer will he might force it to tell him the answer to his questions.

-Janet Kagan, Uhura’s Song

The fine art of Tricorder “Combat” is to maintain your own reality while overwriting the targets – rather than letting IT influence yours. A Tricorder is a powerful informational weapon – generally giving the user a substantial advantage unless he or she is up against a powerful informational creature such as “Q”. or the Star Trek universes various other semi-omnipotent informational beings. A highly skilled operator can, however, improve on that advantage even further, wielding their scanning device with exceptional skill.

Even if it looks like they’re doing nothing but fiddling with knobs while their Tricorder makes warbling noises.

  • Requires: Proficiency in Information Combat, a Tricorder or Ships Sensor Bank, Mana 4+, Engineering (Star Trek) 6+.
  • Basic Techniques: Power 3, Toughness (Informational) 4, Defenses (Informational) 2, Attack 3.
  • Advanced Techniques: Prone Combat, Rapid Shot, Reflex Training with +4 Bonus Uses (Seven/Day total) (Specialized in using the Tricorder. Can either make an extra informational attack or have the Tricorder out and scanning an event whether or not there is time to do so), and Vulcan Lore (Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Int-Based Skill Purposes, Specialized for Double Effect / only applies to Knowledge Skill Checks).
  • Occult Techniques: Emergency Power Reserve (Inner Strength I and II), Charging Mode (Rite of Chi, (Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Can be used to restore Emergency Power / Inner Strength), Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to restore Emergency Power Reserve), and Reconstructive Imaging (Healing Hand, Specialized for Increased Effect / Requires several minutes, but can also be used to repair items and informational damage, requires minor physical manipulation as well – the Tricorder “just tells you just what to do to fix things”),

OK, I already used the “restore inner strength” trick in another style – but it fits I think.

Tricorder Combat is pretty unreasonable. After all, you could potentially wind up with two opponents staring at little boxes instead of each other while they try to technobabble each other into defeat.

Well, to be honest, that does kind of sound like Star Trek. I suppose that – if you already have a Star Trek Engineer or Scientific type running around bending the universe with technobabble, they might as well have a way to be good with it. After all, this is the universe where a starship that had been sucked into a black hole escaped because the sensor system operator found a “crack in the event horizon”. Given that, I really can’t say that much of ANYTHING is unreasonable in a Star Trek universe.

“That’s not how this works! That’s not how ANY of this works!” – Actual Scientists and Engineers.

“Who Cares?” – Scotty

The Valio Arts (Dex Based):

Both the Force and the Codex give their practitioners a massive edge in combat. The physical enhancements are bad enough, but both abilities offer forms of combat precognition – one by sensing the flow of events and decisions, one by surveying “nearby” timelines that happen to be a few moments ahead. That can make it near-impossible for a normal fighter to stand up to even a weak wielder of either power. Those with the right Force or Codex Monotalents and certain nonhumans might hone their strength, speed, and precision to the point where even knowing that they are going to do is of little help in stopping them, but appropriate Monotalents are rare – and such dedication coupled with inhuman potential is even rarer.

That, of course, was unacceptable to bodyguards and military organizations across the galaxy.

But there is a counter to Precognition that’s available to ordinary folk.

Chaos. And the brain is a system capable of amplifying Chaos up from the quantum level. What use precognition when the next move might be any of a thousand maneuvers and has yet to be determined? What use telepathy when even the target has no plan and is running entirely on muscle memory and random impulses?

The Valio Arts do not use predictable kata, or seek the optimum maneuver to strike at a foe, or drill a small selection of maneuvers to perfection – for in the face of foresight, such things are only traps. The Arts focus on having a wide variety of reasonably-appropriate maneuvers and trying to make the selection of any specific maneuver truly random.

It works to some extent. It is pretty good at frustrating precognitive fighters – but that ability comes at a price. That price is usually hidden by the fact that only the fiercest, and most dedicated, fighters bother to study an art so specialized and intense – but the Valio Arts aren’t actually all that good against normal fighters, who don’t find fighting without precognition at all disadvantageous and who normally have well-practiced and fairly well optimized routines for attack and defense.

And all of those routines are much more polished than any of the hundred moves a Valio fighter might use. The Valio Arts are still much better than fighting untrained, but a serious fighter will study other forms as well.

  • Requires: Natural Weapons (1d4 minimum, whether inherent or by training), BAB 4+, at least one Martial Weapon Proficency (Melee), and proficiency with Light Armor or better.
  • Basic Techniques: Defenses 2, Power 2, Attack 2. Synergy/+2 to rolls involving a knowledge of the Force or Codex.
    Specialized Basic Techniques: Double Effect/Only versus Force and Codex Users: Defenses 1, Attack 1, Toughness 2.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Weapon Kata (Any Favored), Mind Like Moon, Combat Reflexes, and Mind Of Chaos (Immunity / Psychic and Magical Combat Senses, Opponent Intuition Bonuses, and Similar – Uncommon, Minor, Major (3 CP), plus +1 BAB Specialized / Only versus Force and Codex Users (3 CP),
  • Occult Techniques (Variant): While the Valio Arts offer no actual Occult Techniques, the immense variety of moves does allow users to add additional instances of Weapon Kata in lieu of occult techniques.

The Valio Arts are very useful against any fighter who relies extensively on occult combat senses at middling levels, and are nicely versatile at high levels where they work with many different weapons – but they never offer the raw power, or occult techniques, of many other arts. They’re still pretty good in Star Wars, where opponents using the Force or Codex are fairly common, where even elite troops are rarely particularly good (the old “Stormtroopers cannot hit the broad side of a barn” problem), and where only notable single figures are important in combat.

Overall, serious d20 combatants will probably want several more specialized styles to use, but high-level dabblers might well find something like the Valio Arts useful – at least if they focus their techniques against something that comes up more often than “Force and/or Codex users”.

Gadgets Beneath The Eclipse:

There have been a couple of requests for elaboration on the “Gadgetry” Occult Skill recently, so here we are:

“Gadgetry” is generally an Occult Skill – but in its most common form, it looks something like this:

Gadgetry (Tinker Version, Dexterity, No Unskilled Use, Restricted).

  • Tinkerers may gain synergy bonuses from up to two relevant craft, knowledge, or professional skills – such as chemistry, craft/alchemy, or engineering.
  • The “Gadgetry” skill provides “Gadget Points” equal to it’s value. The user may equip himself or herself with various items by assigning those points to various gadgets, with more powerful or complex devices requiring more points. Points may be reassigned to change the user’s equipment list, or to replace expended items, given time. For simplicities sake, the user simply assigns their points each day, although it is common to have a list of gadgets that are usually carried. Note that individual gadgets need not be at all practical, have a reasonable source, or even come with a good explanation of how they work. The skill can also be rolled when the user wishes to improvise some minor repair or wants to make a quick stab at using some device. Thus a Tinkerer with Gadgetry-9 might carry Smoke Pellets (1), a Sleeve-Mounted Grapnel Launcher and Rewinder (2), a Gas Mask (1), some Tear Gas Grenades (3), and a Folding Sword (2, for sheer impracticality).
  • You can boost Gadgetry in all the usual ways, but short-term boosts aren’t especially helpful most of the time. Long term boosts are useful to Tinkerers however; a Tinkerer’s Toolkit (2500 GP) would, for example, add +5 to the user’s effective Gadgetry (Tinker Version) skill.

One of the Equipment Skills of the Shadowed Galaxy setting is ALSO labeled “Gadgetry”. That version of the skill covers some pretty powerful gadgets since you’re presumed to be backed by a fully industrialized high-tech civilization with fusion power, starships, personal energy weapons, and lots of other toys – making gadgets even more powerful and cheaper (if generally standardized and far less flexible in application). A high-end superhero game might let you have even more powerful gadgets than that on the cheap – but that sort of thing is more or less a world law, not really something inherent to the skill.

Alternatively, we have the version for dimension-hoppers, which works as follows:

Gadgetry (Reality-Shifting version, Charisma, No Unskilled Use, Restricted in most settings. May be freely available in dimension-hopping campaigns).

  • Characters using the Reality-Shifting version who actually possess Reality Editing get a +4 synergy bonus on their Gadgetry skill score.
  • Reality-Shifting Gadgetry provides a pool of points equal to it’s value that can be assigned to various items, with more powerful or complex devices requiring more points. Such items will continue to operate normally despite changes in natural law. hout worrying about where they come from, practicality, or the details of how they work. Thus a Reality Shifter with Gadgetry-9 might be carrying a Flaming Sword (whether that’s currently being a lightsaber, a magical mass of magma, or a crystal that focuses mental energy into a pyrokinetic blade, 1), an Adjustable Plasma Pistol (2), a Wand of Healing (with the same game statistics regardless of whether it’s currently a wand, a bag full of herbs, or a box of medical-nanite injectors, 2), a long-term Light (whether it’s currently an inextinguishable torch, a fusion-cell powered flashlight, or a perpetual glowstick, 1), and a set of futuristic Smartclothes (providing a wide variety of useful functions, whether as a magical amulet, smartfiber cloth, or a covering of metamorphic psychic metal, 3). Note that such items may be considerably more powerful than a Tinker’s gadgets since the user doesn’t have to build them. He or she merely has to keep them operating across dimensions.
  • You can boost Reality-Shifting Gadgetry in all the usual ways, but short-term boosts aren’t especially helpful most of the time. Long term more useful, but it is commonly necessary to allot at least part of the boosters effect to maintaining the booster itself.

Now, as an Occult Skill…

  • Any specific characters version of “Gadgetry” is one of an infinite number of possible variations out in the multiverse, and is effectively unique to them and the game. A gadgeter with electronics and chemistry in a James Bond setting can make micro-lasers, mini-explosives, and nerve gas pellets. A gadgeter working with clockwork and alchemy in a quasi-medieval setting can distill liquid sunlight to poison vampires with.
  • Each use of Gadgetry is a unique event, subject to influences that the user will not be able to perceive. Precedents are not carved in stone. Did you give a game-disrupting overly cheap “price” for Explosives last week? Maybe the God Of Fire was feeling particularly energetic then, and now the price is back to “normal”.
  • A given character can have multiple instances of Gadgetry. You could, for example, have one for Alchemical Gadgets, one for more or less conventional Weapons and Armor, and one for James Bond Gadgets.
  • Gadgetry generally doesn’t use rigid writeups or spell-equivalents. This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule since the character and the GM might (of course) decide that the variation they want to use DOES, but I don’t recommend it. I think that gadgets should offer interesting options, just as you don’t know what James Bond will use the one-shot minilaser in his watch to do until he figures out how to use it to solve a problem. He might blind a guard, set off some explosives, start a fire, cut through a lock, weld a door to it’s frame, or do any of a hundred other things. You can’t really write rules to cover creative problem solving. Instead you want your “Bottled Sunlight Flask” to be an exotic option that you have tinkered together that might be used to blind something, get tossed into a patch of green slime or brown mold to destroy it, or be deployed to drive back or damage vampires – not the equivalent of a Sunrod that does 1d6 damage if you touch the burning end. (It’s important to note that realistic forces don’t do much in d20; being completely immersed in molten magma only does 10d6 damage. A one megaton fusion warhead (d20 future) does 16d8 damage – averaging 72 points).
  • Finally, this is a relatively low-cost option – and thus we don’t want it to be enormously powerful. Sure, a planet-killer antimatter bomb is just a gadget, but if we make it something that a talented kid can throw together in the backyard, the planet won’t be around long enough for you to set a game on it.

Thus there isn’t any easy table of gadgets or simple method of pricing them – but there are certainly some basic considerations that give us some general guidelines – although the GM always needs to temper things with a system this simple and open-ended.

  • How impractical is this thing in the setting? Not at all? Moderately? Quite? Extremely? Call that a base of 0/1/2/3 points.
  • If it’s active, and has a notable effect, how much do you get to use it before having to refurbish it? Once or twice is pretty common, but adding more may cost more. Three times or for a few minutes? Seven times or perhaps for an hour? Twelve times or constant for the day? Call that +1/2/3 points.If it’s power level or effect on the game is Trivial, reduce the cost by one, to a minimum of one. If it’s going to be worth noting but isn’t all that powerful, there’s no adjustment. If it’s supposed to be pretty important, add one. If it’s fairly major, add two. If it’s difficult to control, extremely situational, or has some serious downside… subtract one again.
  • If the cost is over three points we’re probably talking about a signature gizmo – something like Spider-Mans web shooters (Quite Impractical (2), 12+ uses notable uses (+3). and pretty important (+1) given how tough that webbing is for a total of (6). Spider-Man probably has a Skill Speciality in the things – and carries some refills for them).

For some classic medieval d20 setting examples, lets price…

  • Acme Rocket Boots each contain three rocket booster charges, good for – say – kicking someone and tossing them a long ways away or helping you kick in a door. Or you could use one in each boot to make an incredible leap, avoid a fall, or so on. That’s quite impractical (2), and – depending on how you look at it – has either three or six uses (2) – but it’s also fairly trivial (-1) and (quite obviously) can easily go wrong even if you don’t blow whatever roll the game master calls for (-2) – so (2).
  • Anti-Critical Crumple Zones: This gadget lets you build your armor with kinetic-energy absorbing crumple zones. You can opt to let it negate an incoming critical up to three times, but it will take lots of work to fix it afterwards before it will work again. That’s only moderately unreasonable (armor does this in reality to some degree, 1), and offers three uses (+1), but the effect is fairly powerful since it can definitely save your neck (+1), for a total of (3).
  • Burgeoning Verdigris Elixir is an alchemical elixir that (in a fantasy setting) makes plants grow in mere seconds. A dose can make a seed grow into a small tree, create a tangle of brush in a small area, or make a lawn grow fresh and lush for your horse to graze on. Now that’s Moderately Implausible in a fantasy setting (1), and comes in flasks with seven doses (or seven vials with one dose each, +2), but the effect is pretty trivial in fantasy terms (-1), for a net cost of (2).
  • Charms and Talismans (from The Practical Enchanter) are generally 1-2 points, occasionally 3 if the game master thinks they’re too powerful.
  • Dart Finger Gauntlets can fire each “fingertip” like a light crossbow bolt and even let you fire off a whole hands worth as a single attack – but once spent, they’re gone for the day since you have to rewind all those little springs. They’re good for remotely pressing buttons, carrying string up a tree, or shooting people. Now that’s Moderately Impractical (1), and has five “charges” (+1), but – even with the option to fire several shots at once – is only one good attack. That’s worth noting, but is nothing major (+1). So that’s (2) – (3) if you make a pair with ten total charges.
  • Fireproof Coatings for your armor provide five points worth of fire resistance. That’s very practical (0), and works all day (3), but is a fairly trivial effect (-1), for a net cost of (2).
  • Flame Elixir Sheathe: The alchemical gel in this sheathe will give a weapon drawn from it the Flaming property for five minutes, once. Oddly enough, the residue will not set the sheathe and your hip on fire. That’s Moderately Impractical (1), comes with one several-minute use (+1), and is a notable effect (+0), and so has a net cost of (2).
  • Ice Climbing Gear negates the penalties for climbing icy surfaces. You can buy that in the real world, so it’s obviously practical (0), you’ll run out of pitons and such fairly fast though, so maybe it’s only good for three rolls per day (+1), and the effect is both trivial (-1) and quite situational (-1) – so the minimum of (1) if you’ve got to build this as a gadget, but (of course) (0) if you can just go to a store and buy some ice-climbing gear.
  • Magnesium Flare Bundle. This isn’t at all unreasonable – a torch does much the same job, if a little dimmer (0), and seven is (+2) – but “a better torch” is pretty trivial (-1). Net (1), (2) if they come in a flaregun and have little parachutes so they descend slowly while lighting up an area since that improves their effect. Sure, you can use them to set fires and flash-blind or burn monsters – but you can do that with a torch.
  • Phlogiston Bottle. This flask of the distilled, super-concentrated, essence of flame is only Moderately Impractical (Even in reality there’s always white phosphorus, 1), and can only be used once (0), but is obviously quite powerful (2).
  • Rewinding Rocket-Launched Wrist Grapples. One shot until you wind up the springs again and put in a new rocket unless you make it multi-barrelled. A classic superhero gizmo. Use it to get to the top of something tall, to swing across a chasm or down from a height, to try to keep someone from running away, to hitch a ride on a helicopter, or to trip up a squad of guards (among many other possibilities). That’s only moderately impractical (1) and probably only has one (+0) or perhaps three (+1) uses. So 1-2 points.
  • Silken Armor Underlayer. This gadget allows your personally-tailored armor to be lighter while still offering the same protection. That’s quite practical (0), continously active all day (3), and has a notable but not really very powerful effect (there are several fairly cheap ways to do that, 0), so (3).
  • Smoke Pellets (a packet of a dozen). That’s not at all impractical (0), has a dozen uses (3), but is also about as trivial as it gets (-1) and won’t work in strong winds, water, or plenty of other situations (-1), so (1).
  • Thermal Blankets are probably alchemical creations in fantasy, but simply keep everyone under them toasty warm in arctic conditions for a night. That’s very practical (0) and continuous (3), but it’s also pretty trivial in d20 terms (-1) and extremely situational (-1), for a net cost of (1).
  • Three Bladed Sword. This escapee from an old movie can fire two of its three blades. That’s extremely impractical (3) but that’s a pretty trivial effect in d20 (-1), so that’s (2) – and probably kind of cool, however absurd it is.

There will inevitably be comparison to spell levels, simply because d20’s enormous list of spells provides an immense variety of benchmarks. In general though, spells are considerably more powerful than Gadgets – in-setting because the “high” magic of Wizards, Sorcerers, and Gods is just less limited than Gadgets that you can invent in an afternoon. Out of setting… Gadgets are a lot cheaper to in terms of character points and so they are a lot less powerful. Still, if you really must compare… you can use a general guideline that Cantrips count as Trivial Effects (-1), first level spells effects are the default level of effect (0), second levels spell equivalents cost (1), and third level spell equivalents (the maximum) cost (2). (Now Superhero Games will probably add +2 (at the lower end) to +3 (at the upper end) or so to the spell level equivalents That way you can build that teleport belt…

Thus Darkvision Goggles (a recent gadgetry pricing request) are Not At All Impractical (since real ones exist, and so 0), work for about an Hour (+2), and emulate a second-level spell (+2), for a net cost of (4). That’s a bit pricey, but lets you gain a major advantage by just putting out the lights. That can be quite potent.

And I hope that helps!

Eclipse D20 – Makhpia-Luta (Red Cloud), Amerindian Earth Mage

It was apparent from a very early age that Red Cloud was going to be a shaman. The way that small objects moved around and changed colors when he grabbed at them before he could talk was something of a giveaway. Given such an auspicious start, the tribal shaman started him on the spirit-drums as soon as he could – a decision that he soon regretted more than a bit. Fortunately, the error of giving a very small boy a drum was easily fixed by taking it away again at bedtime.

The real trouble turned out to be that Makhpia-Luta wasn’t particularly well attuned to the totems. He had a rare and powerful affinity for the magic of the Earth, and the even rarer ability to channel the Earthpower into specific spells – but his dreams remained determinedly pedestrian and none of the great totems spoke for him. The shamans of the People faced a dilemma; the boy was far too powerful – and far too adept in the ways of combative magic! – to allow him to simply run around without spiritual guidance, he was far too impatient to join the Lorewardens, and simply turning him loose in hopes that he would settle down would be a major gamble. What if someone managed to subvert him? Without guidance young mages were very vulnerable to such gambits.

But then the spirits presented another option. A Totem-Sworn on a major quest came through, Makhpia-Luta heard the call of adventure, and the Sworn One continued her quest with a new ally. Perhaps that was what the Great Totems had had in mind all along.

Makhpia-Luta (Red Cloud)

Level One Earth Mage

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12 (+2 Tem = 14), Int 16, Wis 14, and Cha 12 (3.5 32 Point Buy). .

Low-Level Template (0 CP)

  • Disadvantages: -3 on Untrained Skills, advancement by direct CP Awards, valuable trouble magnet.
  • Advantages: +12 + (Con Mod x 2) HP, +3 on five skills, +2 Constitution, Prestidigitation at will.
  • For full information on the low-level template, look HERE.

Nomadic Cultural Package Deal (0 CP)

  • Companion (Animal Companion) (Hawk).
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons.
  • Specific Knowledges: Horse Care, Plains Survival, and Tribal Traditions.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) + 2 Duties (Mystic Guardian Of The Plains) + 12 (Human, L1 Bonus Feats) + 10 (Disads: History, Obligations/Help the Totem-Sworn, and Inept (Diplomacy; Red Cloud just has a way of putting his foot in his mouth) = 72 CP

Basic Expenditures (17 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +0 (0 CP).
  • Hit Points: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor, 12) +6 (3 x Con Mod) = 24 HP
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +4 (Martial Art) = 16
    • Fortitude: +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) + 2 (Con) = +2
    • Reflex: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) + 2 (Dex) = +3
    • Will: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) + 2 (Wis) = +3
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (See Cultural Package Deal above, 0 CP).
  • Skill Points: +0 (Purchased, 0 CP) +12 (Int Mod x 4) +8 (Fast Learner) = 20
    • Boost Human Fast Learner to 2 SP/Level (3 CP)
    • Adept: Half cost for Arcana, Perception, Staff Style, and Persuasion (6 CP).
  • Initiative +2 (Dex)
  • Movement: 30′ (Base)

Usual Weapons:

Makhpia-Luta normally relies on magic. If he must fight something physically and has time to prepare he usually uses his Earth Affinity to put a Shillelagh effect on a staff, boosts himself with Aspect Of The Beasts and hammer away with it. IF he doesn’t have time he’ll focus on defense while awaiting help – and on occasionally using Breaking Technique to try to bring down the roof or otherwise divert any attackers. At his base…. Staff: Staff: +0, 1d6+0, Crit 20/x2. That’s not horrible – but it certainly isn’t very good either. 

Talents (16 CP):

  • Earth Affinity (Constitution Based): Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (Level Zero Effects) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to produce effects in a very narrow field (4 CP) plus 3d6 (12) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/only to enhance Earth Affinity (6 CP).
  • Telepathy (Charisma Based): Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (Level Zero Effects) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to produce effects in a very narrow field (4 CP) plus 1d6 (4) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/only to enhance Telepathy, may only spend one point to do so (2 CP).
    • If you want a list of examples of what effects fall under these categories, you can look over HERE and HERE

Master Sorcerer (36 CP):

  • Magesight (Occult Sense/Magic, 6 CP).
  • Occult Talent (and Improved, Specialized / just for more slots, not yet for more spells) (9 CP) and Improved Occult Talent (12 CP) (Intelligence Based): Net 10x L0 Slots and 6x L1 Slots. For simplicities sake, these are just being treated as a single pool.
  • Known Spells: Earth Channel (L0, Free, Transfer Adept Mana to Earth Sense), Shield (L1, Blocks 15 Damage, Immediate), Kinetic Storm (L2, as per Stone Call), Bestow Curse (L3), Cure Light Wounds (L1), Scorching Ray (L2), Greater Shield (L3, blocks 25 damage in a 10 radius), Remove Curse (L3), Eldritch Weapon III (3 Mana), Call Lightning (L3), Lesser Gate (L4, a somewhat hazardous, time-consuming, very tiring, and destination limited, version of Teleport), Shadow Conjuration (L4), and Aspect Of The Beasts (L4, lets the user take on animal characteristics and attribute modifiers as per The Practical Enchanter for One Hour Per Level).
  • 3d6 (12) Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized and Corrupted / only to enhance Occult Talents, may only spend (Int Mod) points on enhancing a Spell (6 CP). Note that this is the only way to access spells of above level one – so Red Cloud can throw a few powerful spells each day, but his Mana is a very limited resource. If he uses it unwisely, he may wind up unable to do anything at all.
  • Rite Of Chi with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / Only to recharge the Occult Talent enhancement pool, may not be bought up further, 2’nd use in a day requires tapping into a ley line and the third requires tapping into a ley line nexus (3 CP).

Other Abilities (3 CP):

  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to create One Point Relics, only for use with points from Enthusiast (2 CP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the point may only be used for Relics (1 CP).
    • Relic: Shaman’s Eye: +1 use of Rite Of Chi (2 CP), Improved Augmented Bonus / Add (Cha Mod) to Mana Rolls, Specialized / only for Rite Of Chi rolls (6 CP), +3 Speciality on Perception (Sensing Magical Energies) (1 CP). Net cost as a relic: 1 CP.

Skills (20 SP):

  • Arcana: +4 (2* SP) +3 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Perception: +4 (2* SP) +2 (Wis) +3 (Tem) = +9
  • Persuasion: +4 (2* SP) +3 (Cha) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Religion: +4 (4 SP) +3 (Int) = +7
  • Scholar: +4 (4 SP) +3 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Staff Style: +4 (2* SP) +3 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +10
    • +4 Defenses, Breaking Technique.
  • Survival: +4 (4 SP) +2 (Wis) = +6

Red Cloud is a very powerful Sorcerer. In fact, under the world laws he was set up under – basically the “generic fantasy novel” rules I created for Valdemar (and similar) games – he’s almost as powerful as he is ever going to get (there are only about 6 CP worth of Magic left for him to buy – getting the second incidence of Improved Occult Talent up to full use (3 CP) and getting Enthusiast up to 4 CP in total (3 CP)). It would probably be more “reasonable” in terms of classical d20 to spread that 75 CP worth of magic out over – say – four or five levels, but the “powerful yet inexperienced and somewhat naive young mage” (who usually needs to learn more about how and when to use his powers rather than more powers and has few talents other than magic) is a pretty standard literary archetype.

And so Red Cloud is off to adventure, complete with powers that hopefully will not get him into more trouble than he can handle yet. He will become more powerful with level – but it’s going to be because his effective caster level goes up and improves his existing spellcasting somewhat, not because he learns more magic. For the most part, his abilities are what they are.

As a side effect, this makes it much easier to run a game, just as it makes it much easier to write a novel. Red Cloud may become more skilled, improve his tactics, and learn to use his list of powers more effectively – but they won’t be radically changing as they pick up a new level of spells or some such the way that games tend to change when the spellcasters pick up Teleport or Plane Shift. Even better, that makes it simple to mix levels in a party, since many spells don’t care much about caster level.

Eclipse d20 – Kohana-Makawee, Loreward Of The Plains

And for today it’s a (loosely) Amerindian character, set up for a low-magic, low-level, world of classic fantasy – a world of legends, rather than the way that the world actually was. That includes a deep, ancient, relationship with horses, disregarding the fact that – until the Spanish reintroduced the Horse to North America – nobody on the continent had seen a horse in many thousands of years.

Totem-Sworn (Raven) (6 CP)

The spirits looked down upon the world, and all was water, there was no land anywhere. But the spirits of the air wished for someplace solid, where they might rest and fold their wings. Several spirits searched, but the fish and plants they brought were not solid enough to build a world upon. At last Turtle dove deep, for only Turtle could go for weeks beneath the waves. There, beneath the great weight of the waters, in the cold and darkness, after long days, Turtle found the muddy bottom. Turtle brought back a bit of hard-won Earth from the bottom of the endless waters atop his shell. But while the bit of Earth was solid, it was not enough – until Raven spoke the Words Of Creation. Who can know whether Raven shrank the Skies or the Earth grew? Raven flew over the Earth, and where his wings swept down, they carved out lakes and rivers. Where they rose, mountians rose with them. Where he flew level water drained away to reveal broad plains and foothills. In his wake, plants and animals covered the land. Man had not yet come into the world, but all was prepared.

The Raven-Sworn know that the world must be maintained, for while Raven creates and transforms, he does not sustain what he creates. That is the duty of the People, and those of the People who swear to the Raven are as spirits themselves, guardians of the land, the People, and the secrets that were never meant for mortal use.

  • Major Favors/Sioux Pantheon, Specialized and Corrupted / the Souix Totems (like most gods) only answer when you are in desperate need – and there is always a price of some kind, if only your ongoing dedicated service. Moreover, they demand that their sworn servants serve them and their people as a whole over any other loyalties. Their sworn servants may never marry, settle, or personally raise their children (2 CP).
  • Mentor/Dream-Questing: The Raven-Sworn dream to the beat of the medicine drums each night, finding lessons in the spirit world, Specialized / the Totem-Sworn find it hard to relate to others, suffering a -3 penalty on their social skills (3 CP). In practical tems, since they are advancing by direct CP awards, this is treated like a version of Fast Learner specialized in a particular field for +2 CP / Level.
  • Minor Privilege (Guest-Rights): Any tribe will treat, feed, and equip or re-equip (albeit only with mundane gear and a mount) any Totem-Sworn, Specialized / Their sworn servants serve the Totems and their people as a whole over any other loyalties (1 CP).

The Totem-Sworn are the mystic warriors of the plains, the guardians of the People, the agents of the totems, and the wardens of secrets that should not be known. Where a spirit must be placated to end a drought, where the enemies of the People attack, where monsters are unleashed, and where dark magic is used… there their dreams will soon send the Totem-Sworn.

Basic Attributes: Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14 (+2 Tem = 16), Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 10. (3.5 32 point buy). This is heroic fantasy, and mostly without magical items – so good base attributes are something of a necessity.

Low-Level Template (0 CP)

  • Disadvantages: -3 on Untrained Skills, advancement by direct CP Awards, valuable trouble magnet.
  • Advantages: +12 + (Con Mod x 2) HP, +3 on five skills, +2 Con, DR 1/- (Stacks with natural DR).
  • See the Low-Level Template for details.

Nomadic Cultural Package Deal (0 CP)

  • Companion (Animal Companion / Horse).
  • Proficient with All Simple Weapons.
  • Specific Knowledges: Horse Care, Plains Survival, and Tribal Traditions.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) +10 (Disads: History, Cultural Obligations, Hunted) +12 (Human and L1 Bonus Feat) +2 (Duties) +6 (Exp) = 78 CP. 75 Spent.

Basic Expenditures (42 CP)

  • BAB: +3 (6 CP), Specialized and Corrupted / Simple Weapons Only, no Iterative attacks.
  • Hit Points: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +12 (Tem) +18 [(Con + Dex) x 3)] = 35 Hit Points
    • Damage Reduction 1/- (Template, Stacks), 2/-, Specialized in Physical Attacks for Double Effect, net 5/- (3 CP),
    • Evasive Fighter: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Adds Dex Mod to Con Mod when calculating hit points, Specialized and Corrupted / only through level six, 6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude: +0 (Purchased) +4 (Con) = +4
    • Reflex: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) + 3 (Dex) = +4
    • Will: +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) + 0 (Wis) = +1
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +3 (Dex) +2 (Leathers) +2 (MA) +2 (Shield) = 19
  • Skill Points: +8 (Int) + 8 (Fast Learner, points used).
    • Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level, Corrupted / only to keep Adept skills maxed out (1 CP).
    • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted / only to keep Adept Skills maxed out (4 CP).
    • Adept x2 (12 CP) Survival, Perception, Handle Animal, Avenger and Javelin Styles, Background, Stealth, and Thievery.
    • This setting is using a condensed skill list. It’s on the bottom of this post.
  • Proficiencies: Shields, Corrupted / Light and Heavy Wooden Only (2 CP).

Usual Weapons:

  • Stone-Headed War Club (Heavy Mace) +7 [Bab+3, Str+2, MA+2], 1d10+2, Crit 20/x2, [Power I applied]
  • Javelin +7 or +5/+5 (+2 BAB +3 Dex +2 MA, possible Quick Throw), 1d6+2, Crit 20/x2, 30′ Range Increment.

Adept Skills: All start at (Level +3).

  • Handle Animal: +2 (Cha) +3 (Tem) +2 (Sy) = +11
  • Perception: +0 (Wis) +3 (Tem) +2 (Sy) = +9
  • Survival: +0 (Wis) +3 (Tem) +2 (Sy) = +9
  • Avenger Style: +3 (Dex) +3 (Tem) = 10
    • +2 Hit, +2 Defense, 1 Power with War Club.
  • Javelin Style: +3 (Dex) = +7
    • +2 Attack, Fast Draw, Quick Throw.
  • Background +2 (Int) +3 (Tem) +2 (Sy) = +11
  • Leatherworking, Metalworking, Horse Breeding, Sing, and Recitation.
  • Stealth: +3 (Dex) +2 (Sy) = +9
  • Thievery: +3 (Dex) +2 (Sy) = +9

Other Skills (8 SP):

  • Phantom Style: +4 (4 SP) +3 (Dex) = +7,
    • Synergy: Stealth, Thievery, and Perception, Mind Like Moon.
  • Background: +3 (1* SP) +2 (Int) +2 (Sy) = +7
    • Pioneer, Forester, Carpentry, Cooking, Herbalist.
  • Mountain Man Style: +1 (1 SP) +4 (Con) = +5
    • Synergy: Background, Handle Animal, Survival.
  • Specific Knowledge: Dark Mages (1 SP).
  • Specific Knowledge: The Spirit World (1 SP).

Other Abilities (24 CP):

  • Luck, Corrupted/No Base Uses (4 CP).
    • +4 Bonus Uses for Saving Throws (3 CP).
    • +4 Bonus Uses for Attacks & Damage (3 CP).
      • Taking 20 on damage is quite powerful at lower levels. At high levels… not so much. I find it acceptable, but you might find it disruptive. If you feel it’s over-advantageous, the character will need a small Immunity to only being able to use Luck on d20 Rolls (Common, Major, Major, Specialized and Corrupted / only for damage rolls, 3 CP).
    • +4 Bonus Uses for Skills (3 CP).
  • Reflex Training: 3 Extra Actions/Day Variant with +3 Bonus Uses (6 total, 11 CP).

Personal History:

The Tribal Shamans record ancient lore, medicine secrets too dangerous for common use, in cryptic patterns and carvings. Those items are sealed away, hidden in secret places in the sacred lands, surrounded by guardian petroglyphs, retired shamans, and spirits. For, if all else fails and the people stand upon the edge of destruction and the world with them… those secrets will be unsealed, the power to change the world unleashed, and the spirits will be called upon to build the world anew. Thousands of years of history, thought, and culture are there inscribed in stone, the collected lore of the People of the Plains.

Some talismans are hidden even more carefully. For recorded there are terrible secrets, the workings of dark spirits long since sealed away – preserved not to teach, but in case hard-learned countermeasures are needed once again.

But a drifting nightmare, a thing of dark magic and blood that spied upon dreams, found a clue – a dream dark and terrible from a guardian who had caught too many glimpses of what they guarded. It’s masters – a circle of dark mystics, evil spirits, and crawling things from beyond that would be gods – waited, and built up their forces, and finally struck, gathering a terrible harvest of ancient lore and carrying it into a distant land, leaving death and destruction behind.

Kohana-Makawee was one of several youngsters who heard the call of the Totems that day – and who soon headed out, both to recover the stolen talismans and to destroy any foolish would-be adept of darkness who attempted to put that lore to use. Today, carrying and caring for such terrible lore had left it’s mark; Kohana-Makawee now knows entirely too much about dreadful things, can routinely use the trickle of transforming energies from Raven to produce tiny miracles of distorted probability and time – and is a well-honed blade in the hands of the Great Totems.

Still, there are entirely too many bits of stolen lore still circulating – each a deadly secret that must be hunted down and eliminated. The spirits always have more tasks for her.

The Condensed Skill List:

Acrobatics (Dex) Balance + Escape Artist + Tumble
Arcana (Int) Spellcraft + Knowledge: Arcana
Athletics (Str) Climb + Jump + Swim + Escape Artist (STR)
Background (Int) Covers any five Craft, Profession, or Perform skills.
Deception (Cha) Bluff + Disguise
Endurance (Con) Control Shape + Concentration + Endurance
Handle Animal (Cha) Handle Animal, Ride, Profession/Teamster, etc.
Insight (Wis) Sense Motive + Gather Information
Linguistics (Int) Speak Language + Decipher Script + Forgery
Martial Arts (Var) Still only one, sorry!
Perception (Wis) Search + Spot + Listen
Persuasion (Cha) Diplomacy + Intimidation
Religion (Wis) Knowledge/Religion, Knowledge/The Planes, Heal, and performing various religious services and rituals
Scholar (Int) Covers Knowledge / Architecture and Engineering, Geography, History, Local, and Nobility
Stealth (Dex) Hide + Move Silently
Survival (Wis) Survival + Use Rope + Knowledge/Nature
Thievery (Dex) Appraise + Disable Device + Open Locks + Pick Pocket / Sleight of Hand
Use Device (Cha) Use Magic Device, Use Psionic Device, and Use Technological Device. For practical purposes there isn’t much difference.

Our Lorewarden here is really a classical literary hero – capable of pulling through in almost any emergency , and of taking down fairly strong enemies with a single mighty blow, but also likely to run out of steam in short order – not at all unlike a low-level mage.

  • Working in health care, things have been a bit frantically busy. I’ll try to catch up here eventually, but expect postings and articles to be pretty sporadic for a while.

 

Eclipse – Building Variant Familiars

And for today, it’s a question:

I don’t think this has been covered in an article yet, so I wanted to ask what a familiar’s full suite of powers (as detailed on page 189 of Eclipse) would look like if they were measured in terms of CP costs?

-Alzrius

That is a pretty good question. After all, Pathfinder added a bunch of Variant Familiars – labeling them “Familiar Archetypes” – that modified stamdard familiar abilities. The quick way to do this in Eclipse is to just buy Companion (Familiar) Specialized and/or Corrupted for Increased Effect (adds some abilities) at the cost of deleting others. And that generally works just fine if someone just wants to tweak their familiar a bit. It can, however, get awkward when someone starts trying to seriously optimize things. At that point… you’ll want to know what the various abilities, and sequences thereof, are actually worth.

To start with the basics…

The Eclipse “Companion” ability creates an empowering link with the creature chosen – although the extent of that link varies with the exact type of bond formed. In effect, that’s a limited form of “Blessing” that doesn’t drain the “donor”.

In the case of a Familiar or “Psi-Crystal” that bond is especially tight. In Eclipse terms, it’s been Specialized (the backlash of loosing a familiar) for Increased Effect. Familiars get their hit points, base saves, base skills, effective level, and base attack bonus from their owners wherever these exceed the companions. There is no cost for this on the Familiars end though.

Animated Objects gain +12 HP instead of using half their owners, “heal” 2d4 hit points per day, and have a +4 base in Spot, Listen, Move Silently, and Search for their “base skills”. That’s good at low levels, but a poor deal at higher ones when the Familiars base skills generally become quite irrelevant. Fundamentally, it’s a bit harder to empower a construct with personal energies than it is a creature simply because constructs are pretty alien to most masters.

Familiars also gain bonuses based on their masters level which are much more predictable – although in baseline d20 only levels in particular classes add to a Familiar’s abilities. That doesn’t really apply in Eclipse though, so Familiars get…

  • A base intelligence of 5 if it isn’t already higher and +(Masters Level / 2, rounded up) Intelligence with no apparent upper limit. Personally I’d limit it to 20 or so (at level thirty) since there’s only so much you can supercharge a brain – put that’s just me. I’m going to go with it though for design reasons.

That’s still tricky to price, if only due to that “if it isn’t already higher” clause. Worse, it’s a LOT of points if you just buy it as self-development. You could buy all kinds of other stuff with those points. Worst of all… Pathfinder offers one Familiar Archetype that trades it in for extra strength – which, to be blunt, is rather silly. It’s also redundant in Eclipse, where – if you want a combat machine – you just take a Companion Creature instead of a Familiar with your “Companion” ability.

Personally, I’m buying it as Innate Enchantment (Intelligence 500 GP, Int 20, 8000 GP) for 9 CP, Immunity to the XP costs of this particular enchantment (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP), and Immunity to Dispelling, Antimagic, and Disjunction (Common, Minor, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect this Innate Enchantment, 6 CP) and Specialize the whole package – basically gradual availability only – for a net cost of 8 CP. Yes, that’s a case of double Specialization, but in this case it doesn’t matter much. If you want to trade it out for better Charisma, or better Wisdom, or a mix of smaller values… you certainly can.

  • +(Masters Level / 2) Natural Armor. OK, it’s not QUITE the same – but Defender (Natural Armor) and Defender (Dodge) each with +1 to AC, Specialized / only gradual availability (12 CP) gets us pretty much the same result. Slightly better even, since the Dodge bonus will help against touch attacks.
  • Familiars can grant their masters +6 CP worth of some specific ability – although it’s usually something like Skill Focus or a Save Bonus, or something else that’s less-than-efficient. That’s Whatever-it-is (Specialized, only for use with Blessing, 3 CP) and Blessing (Specialized and Corrupted / only to bestow that specific power, only on it’s master, only if within the current range of the link, 2 CP).
  • They can take an automatic “Aid Another” action on Spot and Listen checks if the companion would also get a roll in it’s current location and is close enough for the link to operate. (In basic d20 this is represented as Familiars granting the Alertness Feat). That’s Opprotunist for Aid Another, Specialized in Spot and Perception for the person it’s linked to (3 CP).
  • They gain Improved Fortune (Evasion) for (12 CP).
  • They gain a Mystic Link with their masters, over which they can communicate speech and sensory information, share spells, and transmit spells. That’s Mystic Link with the Power, Identity, and Communications upgrades (12 CP). Unfortunately, several aspects of this are limited.
    • The range has a base of one mile, increasing to planetary range at level 17 and to transdimensional Range at level 19 and up.
    • The Location aspect does not function until level three.
    • The communications aspect transmits emotions at level 3+, telepathy at level 5+, and sense-sharing at level 13+
    • The spell transmission aspect allows spell/power sharing and the transmission of touch effects through the Familiar at level one. At level fifteen it allows externally-directed spells and powers to be transmitted through the Familiar.
      • Overall, that’s probably Specialized, reducing the cost to a mere (6 CP).
  • Familiars can speak with other animals of similar types when their masters hit level seven and can speak normally when their masters hit level nine. That’s a limited version of Speak With Animals (only related types, x.5 = 1000 GP) and something resembling Message (1000 GP) added to their Innate Enchantments. Those aren’t really limited by availablity, so (+2 CP).

Animated Objects gain the ability to speak normally at L7 (Message, 1000 GP) and gain +3 Construction Points at Level 9 (Enhance Construct I, enhancements must always be the same, 1000 GP) – increasing the cost of their Innate Enchantments by (+2 CP). Classically these are spent on Flight with +20 on the speed to get it up to 50′, but this is Eclipse; buy something else if you like.

  • A choice of Spell or Power Resistance (6 CP).

Overall, that comes to a grand total of 54 CP over twenty levels. That isn’t an enormous number of points to play with, and they’re pretty efficiently spent already, but for those out there who might want to fiddle with alternative progressions… now you know what you have to work with.

The Wild Men Of Atheria

Cenric has some troops. In fact, he quite literally has a troop of gorillas. Now, normally, even with Beastlord, he could only have CR 1 beasts for his “Horde of Troops” and Apes are CR 2 – but I’m going to presume a variant where he gets a lot less of them but uses a CR 2 base. If he wants more troops later… well, it will only cost a point or so to upgrade Horde to “Specialized for Double Effect”. After all, if you want a hidden jungle city of uplifted primates… you’re going to need some muscle.

Atherian Birthright.

Like all animals on Atheria, Gorillas have Birthrights. Unlike most other animals, gorillas are quite intelligent – in d20 terms, on the very upper limit of “Intelligence 2″ and only a little bit below the start of the normal human 3-18 scale. Just as importantly, they’re more massive than humans are, and that’s the second major element that determines birthright strength. Gorillas get full 30-31 CP birthrights just like humans do, although they are less inclined to complex magic.

In the forests and jungles of the Totem Domain of Atheria they are the Forest People, the Savage Folk, the Hidden Ones, and the Wild Men. They were before Homo Sapiens, and will be after. Dancing on the borderline of true sentience, they are Tarzan’s all-too-clever apes who have the beginnings of language and society, who communicate among themselves to some extent with cries and gestures, who learn quickly, who build simple structures, and who assemble basic tools. Before men came to Atheria… their tribes were among the most formidable groups of the Totemistic Realm, and they still hold their own lonely mountain lands.

  • Brachiation: Immunity / the distinction between normal ground movement and brachiation (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial (since this only calls for a first level spell effect, 1 CP). The great apes can move and swing through the forest canopy, or through the rafters of a cathedral, or in any similar environment as readily as they can on land.
  • Howls Of War / Legionary, Specialized / only with other Great Apes (3 CP). The apes instinctively work together to defend their bands and forest homes – and do so quite effectively.
  • Brute Force Approach / Finesse: Bases SP/Level on Str instead of Int (6 CP). Given that they are far more inclined to physical pursuits than intellectual ones, most of their skills depend more on raw physical ability than anything else.
  • Jungle Master / Adept: may purchase Listen, Martial Arts (Jungle Lord Style), Spot, and Survival for half cost (6 CP).
  • Strengths Of The Great Beasts / Innate Enchantment (Up to 6500 GP Value, 7 CP).
    • Greatclub (as per Shillelagh, but works on a chosen type of club, 2000 GP).
    • Surefoot: +10 Competence Bonus to Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble. The user does not lose his or her dexterity bonus to AC when balancing or climbing (2000 GP).
    • Towering Oak: +2 Str, +10 Competence to Intimidation (2000 GP).
  • Immunity / The XP Costs of Racial Innate Enchantments, Specialized and Corrupted / only through spell level one caster level one (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • Immunity / Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Major, Specialized and Corrupted / only to cover racial innate enchantments, effectively converting them to extraordinary abilities, 2 CP).
  • Racial Skill Bonuses:
    • Jungle Lord Style +6 (3 CP).
    • Listen, Spot, and Tumble +2 (3 CP).
    • Specific Knowledges: Troop Tactics (1 CP) and Primitive Defensive Works (1 CP).
  • Racial Disadvantage: Accursed / Lacks the vocal flexibility needed to speak complex languages, although they can use sign language (-3 CP).

As with most creatures of Atheria, Birthrights make Gorillas much more formidable than the lesser creatures known to most other worlds that rely on animal strengths alone.

Now Cenric has taken the Emperor’s Star modifier on his Leadership – allowing him to grant all of his followers +1 Positive Level, although the benefits must be the same for all of them. Now a positive level is an excellent deal, granding…

  • +1 BAB
  • +1 to AC
  • +1 to Saves – and
  • +6 CP. In this case this is invested in…
    • Some additional Innate Enchantments – a L1 Pearl Of Power (1000 GP), with Intelligence 14 (1500 GP) and Charisma 12 (500 GP). That gives our Gorillas decent mental stats for (3 CP).
    • Immunity to the XP cost of these additional Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP) and comes with a high enough caster level that no one is likely to dispel it temporarily.
    • Proficiency with Clubs (1 CP).
    • The “Well Off” Wealth Level, Specialized / only to cover Charms and Talismans and Skill Bonuses (+2 to Speak Language: effectively +4 due to Speak Language being Tier 2. Covers Sign Language, their own semi-language of ape-noises, and understanding two human languages and +2 (+6 as Tier 3) to Craft / Treeweaving) (1 CP).

Their usual set of Charms and Talismans includes: Shimmermail (+4 Armor Bonus with no penalties, appears as stylized armor), All-Weather Cloaks (to remain comfortable), Journeybread (food for a month in a small bag), and Sovereign Ointment (heals minor injufies).

Skills:

Tier I:

  • Jungle Lord Style: +7 (3* SP) +6 (Str) +6 (Race) = +19
  • Knowledge/Nature: +7 (7 SP) +2 (Int) = +9
  • Spot: +7 (3* SP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Feat) +2 (Race) = +12
  • Survival: +7 (3* SP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Race) = +10
  • Swim: +4 (4 SP) +6 (Str) = +10
  • Tumble: +3 (3 SP) +2 (Dex) +10 (Comp) = +15

Tier II:

  • Balance: +7 (3 SP) +2 (Dex) +10 (Comp) = +19
  • Climb: +7 (3 SP) +6 (Str) +10 (Comp) +8 (Race) = +31
  • Heal: +5 (2 SP) +1 (Wis) = +6
  • Intimidate: +7 (3 SP) +1 (Cha) +10 (Comp) = +18
  • Listen: +7 (1* SP) +1 (Wis) +4 (Feat) +4 (Race) = +16
  • Speak Language: +7 (3 SP) +4 (Wealth) +2 (Int) = +13. Can understand most languages, but can only speak their own very primitive tongue and use sign language.

Tier III:

  • Craft (Treeweaving) +7 (2 SP) +2 (Int) +6 (Wealth) = +15
  • Jump: +1 (0 SP) +6 (Str) +10 (Comp) = +17

Jungle Lord Style (Str):

The Jungle Lord style is not the agile dance of the monkey style, but the brutal smashing of the killer ape. There is no delicacy here, no finely perfected katas – merely the ancient urge to destroy and the swift reflexes of the hindbrain, unmediated by conscious thought.

  • Requires: Str 18+.
  • Basic Techniques: Strike, Power 3, Attack 3, Defenses 3
  • Advanced And Master Techniques: Brutal Parry (Finesse, Adds Str Mod to AC Instead of Dex Mod), Mind Like Moon, Weapon Kata (Chosen type of Club), and Combat Reflexes.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength II, Ki Focus (Damage), and Resist Pain.
  • Known Techniques (10): Strike, Power 3, Brutal Parry, Weapon Kata (Iron Bound Spiked Club), Combat Reflexes, Inner Strength II and Resist Pain.

Putting it all together, this gives us…

Size/Type Large Animal
Hit Dice 4d8+8 (26 hp)
Initiative +2
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares), climb 30 ft.
Armor Class 23 (-1 size, +6 Str, +3 natural +4 Armor +1 Pos Level), touch 11, flat-footed 17
Base Attack/Grapple +4/+13
Attack Claw +9 melee (1d12+6) or Club +12 Melee (3d10+10) or Large Javelin +6 (1d10+6).
Full Attack 2 claws +9 melee (1d12+6) and bite +4 melee (1d6+3) or weapons as “attack”, above.
Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.
Special Attacks Three Attacks of Opportunity with Claws or Club.
Special Qualities Low-light vision, scent
Saves Fort +7, Ref +7, Will +3
Abilities Str 23, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 12
Skills See Above.
Feats Alertness, Toughness (Taken as Universal DR 3/-)
Environment Warm Forests
Organization As a military troop under Cenric.
Challenge Rating 2

Overall, Cenric’s gorillas are reasonably formidable in melee, if far less so at range – but it is certainly hard to deny the intimidation factor of a bunch of massive, armored, gorillas with really big clubs.

Restricted Magic In The Practical Enchanter

And for today, and to get things started again, it’s a question!

Page 106 of The Practical Enchanter lists “User Restrictions” cost modifiers for making magic items. While these are a pretty easy way to limit who can activate the item(s) they’re applied to, they don’t seem to be that hard to bypass. Leaving aside that someone with the relevant item creation abilities simply pays the difference to have those restrictions removed, many of these seem to be exactly the sort of restriction that Use Magic Device is there to bypass.

My question is, is there a way to make it more difficult to use either of these options to bypass those restrictions? How do I make a magic item require a higher DC on a Use Magic Device check in order to get around its restrictions? How can I build in an anti-tampering measure so that someone can’t simply buy off the difference and remove a restriction? Would it require making the magic item sentient or is there another way?

-Alzrius

As Alzrius indirectly points out with his question, classical magical items tended to be what they were, they did what they did, and there really wasn’t any way around that – or to use them if you didn’t happen to fit their criteria.

Thor’s Hammer Mjolnir (“The Crusher”) was forged by Brokkr and Sindri, a pair of Dwarves. Thanks to Loki, it wound up with too short a handle for two-handed use. You’ll note that Thor didn’t take it back and have it fixed or upgraded though. Instead, he simply made the best of it.

Similarly, nobody tried to improve the Aegis after mounting Medusa’s head on it, or add more powers to the Djinni imprisoned in Al-Shamardal’s ring, or take the curse off of Tyrfing. Most of the time… once an item had been created, it didn’t change.

Even those items that weren’t powered by having a spirit trapped in them or by being forged from parts of some legendary monster usually couldn’t be upgraded. That isn’t to say that there’s no precedent at all – a few items of legend become more powerful after being bathed in dragons blood, or blessed by some mighty entity, or being used to perform great deeds – but that was fairly rare and usually was a case of the item not quite being finished in the first place or needing another magical boost to temporarily power it up.

That was the way it was in first and second edition D&D and most other tabletop games. Items were what they were – and while the game master would generally ensure that you got some good ones along the way (often quite intentionally covering your characters weaknesses or playing to his or her strengths) that Frost Brand Sword, or Wand Of Conjuration, or whatever was likely to be your characters signature gadget throughout most of his or her career.

And that was generally a good thing. The tales of how Markatha the Dragonslayer wielded his icy blade to slay the Fire Dragon of the West, held it to his chest and wrapped himself in sheets of asbestos to allow him to cross the burning desert, extinguished a section of flaming palisade to allow the people trapped within to escape a holocaust, and fought dozens of other menaces with his Frost Brand sword – and how his companion Amarith of the Shining Word used his Silver Wand Of Conjuration to defy a swarm of demons through the artful use of prismatic barriers and defied the traps of an ancient tomb with a swarm of summoned monsters – were as much or more a part of the reward for playing as that heap of gold, art objects, and rare jewels that they kept in the castle basement of the levels they earned. Gold Pieces were just numbers of a sheet, stories would be retold for decades, long after the actual game – and all those numbers on a character sheet – were distant memories.

You were playing to have fun with friends and to collect tales of great adventures and epic death scenes, romances, brilliant improvisations and solutions, daring rescues, clever mysteries, and unlikely feats that someone managed to pull off.

But when third edition rolled around… things changed quite a lot. Sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not, and quite often simply for the sake of change. It even picked up a few bits from the up-and-coming MMORPG’s of the day – and one idea that got pushed was making in-game rewards more readily trackable and more consistent and letting the players make stuff without all those bothersome quests. After all, there really was no good way to write rules that generated interesting quests or stories that would be remembered after the game.

One major change was that money and level came to mean a lot more. Items were made consistent, and – rather than game masters being encouraged to tweak things and hand out unique, signature, items – the idea of a gradual progression was built into the game as “wealth by level”. Now there had been traces of that earlier, as shown by the jokes about high-level warriors employing a golfing-style “sword caddy” to handle all their magical swords – but now, with the slow progression of “level appropriate” items, magic items became a panoply that you gradually upgraded and replaced as you rose in level – and if you let a low-level character have a really powerful weapon it threw off the game, regardless of whether they used it or if they sold it and used the money to boost the entire party.

Magic Items had to scale with level. Yet you didn’t want characters just trading out their equipment all the time to suit current missions. So… the rules said that you only got half price when you sold items.

But that meant that a character who got lucky with the random tables and got pretty much what they wanted would be way ahead of a character who got a bunch of stuff that didn’t suit them and had to trade it in. Being able to upgrade items was a partial solution to that – and also had the advantage that it let a character hang onto specific items for at least a little longer. That also meant that destroying gear was suddenly a no-no, instead of a risk of confronting something major – but that was a different sort of problem.

This also, very shortly, led to the introduction of artificer-types, who treated magic items like used cars, to be stripped down for parts. Magic items were no longer objects of wonder, but things to be junked and disposed of – or, at best, traded in or rebuilt – when you next went shopping at the magic-mart.

Thus, like most radical new solutions to classically-intractable problems, wealth-by-level and level-appropriate items created brand new problems of their very own.

Personally, I think there’s a strong appeal to those old notions of legendary magical items, things of ancient mystery, instead of mechanical devices to be rebuilt as convenient. After all… you didn’t see King Arthur taking Excalibur back to the shop to be upgraded with extra elemental damage or trading it in for a better model did you? The sword was a part of his legend.

So how to get back to that?

The first – and simplest – method is to return to the halcyon days of first and second edition and use “Create Artifact” for all your magic items other than potions and scrolls. Each one is now a unique (and usually fairly powerful) device, most of them will be permanent or rechargeable, and there’s no provision in “Create Artifact” for “upgrading” things other than simply including your current item as an ingredient and going on a brand new creation-quest. Of course, what you gain in simplicity on one end you lose on the other; now you need to make up unique items for major NPC’s unless you just mostly use an older-edition list. They may or may not be subject to “use magic device”, but the DC is likely to be high given their unique and idiosyncratic nature.

Relics kind of compromise. It is possible to upgrade at least some relics – but you can’t get rid of what’s already there, you can only improve them, removing restrictions will make them less powerful, it will cost permanent character points to upgrade them, and most campaigns will set strict limits on how many CP can be invested in any given relic and on how many CP worth of relics a character can have in total. They are pretty much immune to “Use Magic Device” though, simply because technically they’re not magical devices. They’re relics.

With standard magic items things are a little more awkward because there’s already a mess of rules covering what you’re trying to stop.

  • You can make them intelligent, and give them the ability to make life uncomfortable for anyone who tries to “upgrade” or use them against their will. That can be a fairly drastic power boost though since they can presumably use those same powers against other targets. On the other hand… it does make it awkward to try and just destroy the item or use it to pay for something else. Moreover, since things like “alignment” and “purpose” are freebies, they can’t be upgraded to something else.
  • If you apply the Impervious modifier (also from The Practical Enchanter, +31,500 GP and 2520 XP) then the item becomes essentially indestructible – which may extend to being upgraded and / or Use Magic Device if you like. Items that are impossible to meddle with are impossible to meddle with!
  • You can simply decree them Cursed. There isn’t anything in the standard rules that puts a price on curses, and “cannot be upgraded or modified” and / or “more or less resistant to “Use Magic Device” and / or “can only be upgraded or modified via an appropriate quest” certainly counts as a curse in a standard game. In fact, there’s no reason why an item can’t have multiple curses on it. Of course, The Practical Enchanter DOES give a price reduction for generic curses – and thereby opens up a way to remove them via upgrading – but if an item is cursed so that it cannot be upgraded, I think that would tend to trump trying to uncurse it by upgrading it.

About Use Magic Device… sure, it’s a standard part of the game and, but it has always struck me as a bit iffy depending on just how an item works.

Lets say that you have made a magical cloak. A Cloak Of Gnomish Trickery. It’s only for Gnomes, and it allows them to use their racial cantrips (dancing lights, ghost sound, and prestidigitation) twice a day each instead of only once.

  • If I build the cloak using a Pearl Of Power type effect – (250 GP per Cantrip x 3 Cantrips x .4 (only for a specific set of cantrips) x.7 (Gnomes Only) = 210 GP) – I have a neat little toy for a low-level gnome, but while “Use Magic Device” would let an elf who happened to have limited use of those particular cantrips use it to refresh them, it wouldn’t help him if he didn’t have at least one of those three cantrips in the first place. You can’t refresh a spell slot that’s not there.
  • If I build the cloak using a use-activated effect (Spell Level 1/2 x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x 3 Cantrips x .2 (once per day each) x.7 (Gnomes Only) = 420 GP) then Use Magic Device will work just fine.

And if a Cloak Of Gnomish Trickery turns up in a module priced at – say – 300 GP? Who knows how it was built? Use Magic Device is generally presumed to work – but if the Hellfire Scepter is fueled by the malice of your soul, as opposed to simply requiring an evil alignment to activate… should Use Magic Device be able to supply that dark power instead of just doing the equivalent of picking the lock on the trigger?

Worse, of course, about 99% of games and items never go into enough detail to tell you how items work – and it’s really hard to blame them for that. Hardly anyone actually cares.

By the way, as a note… “Emulate an Alignment: Some magic items have positive or negative effects based on the user’s alignment. Use Magic Device lets you use these items as if you were of an alignment of your choice. You can emulate only one alignment at a time.” doesn’t actually say that you can trigger a device that requires a particular alignment – just that if it has effects based on your alignment you can pick which effect you want. Still, nobody plays it that way.

So now that I’ve philosophically rambled all over the place… I shall attempt to answer the question!

  • In the case of reasonably-important permanent devices increasing the DC on Use Magic Device is most easily done as a “Flourish” (Practical Enchanter, Page 107). Honestly, the extent of the DC increase can be pretty much arbitrary; it’s not like it’s usually a major concern. For a default… +1 per 4000 GP value is probably reasonable. That will make it epically difficult to use major devices that are made to resist such usage, but that’s actually fair enough.
  • Alternatively, for any item… the maker can make a Spellcraft check with a +10 bonus when making the item. The result will be the DC for Use Magic Device checks made on the item. After all, anyone who’s building a device can make it harder to use (it’s making it EASY to use that’s hard). Why should magic items be any different? Of course, if you increase the difficulty of using the thing too far… it may become harder for the people you want to be using it as well.
  • Anti-tampering measures are usually built as Maledictions. That would be (Spell Level x Caster Level x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .2 (once per day maximum) x.1 (only when someone attempts to modify the device – which hardly ever happens and generally requires a full day, so once per day is sufficient) = 40/240/600/1120/1800/2640/3640/4800/6120 GP for a Level 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 Malediction effect – usually causing something to go seriously wrong with the attempt or with the required “fairly quiet, comfortable, and well-lit place in which to work”.

Honestly, you shouldn’t need a malediction of more than third level to cause an unacceptable interruption, but if you really want to have a plague of werewolves or major demon attack or some such you can go ahead and sink the extra 6120 GP into your item for a ninth level effect.

You can do something similar if you wish to add a highly specific curse to the device – “no one who has touched me can use Use Magic Device on me without massive penalties” (probably level one or two) – which can be gotten around by picking up the device, getting a remove curse spell, and then making your roll, but who’s going to think of that?

Or you can go with the “Cannot Be Upgraded” Curse/Restriction as well, in which case the attempt is hopeless to begin with AND unleashes some disaster.

There’s also some discussion on this and related topics in THIS article and it’s comments.

And I hope that helps!