Ponies Of The Eclipse – Starswirl The Bearded

And for today we have a special request from Alzrius…

Star Swirl The Bearded. Pillar of Sorcery. A pony who invented more spells than anyone else in history.

So what do we know about his various abilities? He…

  1. Is stated to be “the father of the amniomorphic spell”. While this implies that it’s a thing that he invented but left to others to develop fully, all we really know about the spell is that it might be a pun. (Amnio = Pot, Morph = Shaping, ergo “pot shaper” – making Starswirl the Bearded a Hairy Potter).
  2. Created a Dimensional Travel spell and device that apparently risks destroying the world if overused. Putting it into a mirror with very limited access apparently helped, but still made quite a mess later – at least until Twilight fiddled with it.
  3. Created a Destiny Switching spell that really messes up peoples lives and needed revising by someone who understood what they were doing to work properly. It MIGHT have been designed to combine ponies powers or to allow him to ascend into alicornhood or for any of several other things. Who knows?
  4. Created a Time Travel spell that was very limited use, apparently only caused closed casual loops, and which didn’t work very well. It was left to Starlight Simmer to turn it into something more useful.
  5. Dumped the Sirens into another world for the people there to deal with. This has been shown in two versions – one involving several unsuccessful musical battles against the Sirens, the other apparently simply using his dimensional portal spell. In either case, it made a lot of trouble later.
  6. Is stated to be more powerful than Twilight – although how they’re measuring “power” is never defined.
  7. Generated a pretty good shield bubble, although the Pony Of Shadows seemed to readily shatter it.
  8. Taught various students. Whether or not he taught them WELL is quite another question.
  9. Was an arrogant insensitive jerk and really messed things up with Stygian.
  10. May have moved the sun and/or moon (there are some serious problems with the accounts), but this too apparently did not go very well.
  11. Used a candle to light the way in a cavern. Why he didn’t just make magical light is unknown. Even presuming that it was early in his career… making light seems to be a basic part of being a Unicorn.
  12. Apparently managed to turn the Changelings loose by monkeying with things that he should have left alone (something of a personal theme there).
  13. Apparently became friends with Scorpan (despite not really understanding friendship). That’s a bit weird, but maybe they had some mutual hobbies or something.
  14. He probably had a high constitution, since he seemed pretty enduring and didn’t seem to slow down much with age.

Secondarily…

  1. Given that Twilight is a fan and that Starswirl made a lot of spells, it wouldn’t be too unreasonable to guess that some of the spells she’s studied were his creations. So he might have made one or more of the Mustache, Musical Breeze, or other minor spells that she’s learned. Sadly, we’ve no further evidence on this front – and even if we did, it’s not like most of those are fabulously impressive spells. Perhaps they were early efforts?
  2. Twilight Sparkle stated that “everypony knows that Star Swirl was an expert at everything from transfiguration, [to] dimensional calibration, [and] teleportation”. On the other hand, most ponies have never heard of Starswirl, so this goes wrong in the first two words. Given that Starswirl is a legendary figure and that Twilight is a blatant fan, this statement needs to be regarded with some skepticism.
  3. In Princess Twilight Sparkle and the Forgotten Books of Autumn (a decidedly secondary source), Moon Dancer mentions the spell “Star Swirl’s Seven Safeguards”. Perhaps he felt a need for a lot of safety precautions? Of course, we’re never told what this spell did or if it worked properly. It could have been pretty much any set of defensive spells.

So… Starswirl The Bearded. Amazingly powerful magical genius? Or sloppy jerk of a magician who consistently fouls everything up? Perhaps both? After all, they’re hardly mutually exclusive – and there is something that connects them. We are explicitly told that Starswirl never understood friendship. And isn’t “Friendship is Magic” a bit of a theme on the show?

In Equestria, failing to understand Friendship is failing to understand Magic.

And with that we have consistency; Starswirl had experience. He had raw power. He had intelligence. He was experimentation and inventive – but he was a solitary medieval-style wizard. He used rules-of-thumb, ill-understood and unconnected theorems (some doubtless quite wrong), and intuitive leaps to design his spells – so it’s not surprising that his forays into designing major spells had considerable problems. It’s the same reason why so many cathedrals collapsed (often more than once) while they were being built; the architects were trying to scale up from smaller buildings by rule-of-thumb, rather than really knowing what they were doing.

So:

Starswirl The Bearded.

ECL 7 (including +1 ECL racial template) Unicorn Pony Sorcerer.

Starswirl was unlucky. While he was born with an enormous well of magical power, it was actually too much; it overwhelmed the instinctual spells that Unicorns usually had available and left him unable to do anything EXCEPT have wild surges long past his early childhood. As a foal, Starswirl was forced to study magic intensively, and explore exotic methods of casting spells, simply to keep up with other Unicorn foals and get some use out of his power. Still, while he wound up socially isolated, that intensive focus allowed him to eventually learn to harness his raw power – and to channel it into an ever-expanding array of powerful effects, far beyond what any normal unicorn could ever be expected to master.

As an adult, Starswirl found himself respected, but still isolated and without friends. Worse, his somewhat erratic greater abilities often frightened those around him. Unsurprisingly, he took to wandering – exploring foreign lands, meeting people that he hadn’t frightened, seeking out ever more exotic magic, and cultivating his power.

He would return to Equestria more than a century and a half later, to find the population arguing and the realm under siege by various perils. He helped move the sun and moon, took apprentices, taught a youthful Celestia and Luna, and eventually passed on his celestial duties to them – and when they took charge took to wandering the land helping to drive back the monsters. He would eventually be recruited by Stygian as one of the Pillars of Equestria – but his old inability to deal with people fouled up that relationship as well, leading to him and the other pillars being quite unnecessarily trapped for somewhat more than a thousand years (timekeeping was sort of difficult while Discord was in charge: various accounts place the duration of his reign at anywhere from “about an hour” to “several thousand years”. He apparently saw no need for the passage of time to be at all consistent).

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

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

To summarize the Basic Pony Modifiers:

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

Here we have a small problem: a Basic Pony’s Mana is “Specialized/only usable with innate racial talents” and “Corrupted/no natural magic option”. The Unicorn Template buys off the Corruption, but Starswirl needs to be able to use his Mana with learned abilities – so he needs to replace that racial specialization with with Corrupted / Only usable for Spell Enhancement” at a net cost of 2 CP.

To Summarize The Unicorn Subrace Modifiers:

  • Occult Talent provides their usual minor spellcasting – but in Starswirls case this is Blocked.
  • Immunity/Being unable to Concentrate on more than one thing at a time (covering up to three tasks and/or spells of up to level three at any one time).
  • Upgrade their basic Mana supply with the Spell Enhancement Natural Magic option.
  • Metamagic: Amplify / Only applies to Occult Talent abilities.

This is another item that needs upgrading. In Starswirls case it needs to apply to both his Path Of The Dragon effects and Inherent Spell – but since he’s taking them to build his own magic system that’s allowable. It will, however, cost another 4 CP.

  • A +2 Racial Bonus to Knowledge/Arcana (2 CP).
  • +2 Intelligence/-2 Strength.
  • One Bonus Feat.
  • Executive, Corrupted for Increased Effect (add the user’s Int Mod to his or her effective level of use)/requires 2 Mana/hour to power. Unicorns are good at coordinating groups, and can provide substantial bonuses.

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (-2 Unicorn = 6), Dex 12 (-2 Pony = 10), Con 18 (+2 Level +4 Pony = 24), Int 16 (+2 Unicorn +2 Age = 20), Wis 10 (+2 Age = 12), Chr 8 (+2 Pony +2 Age = 12). (Pathfinder 25 Point Buy).

Starwswirl is Old, even with his extended lifespan. He thus would normally suffer –3 to Str, Dex, and Con while gaining a +2 to Int, Wis, and Cha. Fortunately for him, he is capable of casting Greater Age Resistance daily – effectively negating his aging penalties.

Available Character Points: 168 (Level Six Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Incompetent (-3 on all Social Skills), History, and Blocked (Starswirl does not get the usual innate Unicorn spells; he had to develop them), Compulsive (defender of Equestria)) +30 (Unicorn and L1, L3, L5, and L7 Bonus Feats) = 208 CP.

Basic Abilities (95 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +29 (L2-L6d6, 10 CP) +26 (12 + 2 x Con Mod Template) +49 (7 x Com Mod) = 116 HP.
  • Skill Points: 17 (Purchased, 17 CP) + 45 (Int) + 18 (Fast Learner) = 80 SP
  • BAB +3 (18 CP), +2 BAB Specialized (only with spells and rays, 6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +4 (12 CP) +7 (Con) +1 (Tem) = +12
    • Reflex +3 (9 CP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Will +3 (9 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Tem) = +5
  • Proficiencies: Light Armor (3 CP) and Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +0 (Dex)
  • Move: 40 (four legs, 20 on three or less).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) + 0 (Dex) +2 (Tem) +4 (Armor; Chain Shirt Equivalent) +3 (Martial Art) = 19

Normally I’d note some of his usual attacks here – but Starswirl is very much a primary caster, so they really don’t matter much.

Other Abilities (113 CP):

  • Racial Ability Upgrades (Noted Above, 6 CP).
  • Block (Arcane) with Master (DC reduced to 15) (12 CP):
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Adept (6 CP): Half Price for Craft (Alchemy), a Ray Mastery Martial Art, Spellcraft, and Survival.
  • Adept (6 CP): Half Price for Knowledge/Arcana, Geography, History, and the Planes.

Skills:

  • Craft (Alchemy)+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Heal +4 (4 SP) +1 (Wis) = +5.
  • Intimidate +3 (3 SP) +1 (Cha) -3 (Incompetent) = +1
  • Knowledge/Arcana +9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Knowledge/Geography+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Knowledge/History+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Knowledge/Nature +9 (9 SP) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Knowledge/The Planes+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Linguistics +9 (9 SP) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Perception +9 (9 SP) +1 (Wis) = +10
  • Perform (Singing) +5 (5 SP) +1 (Cha) +2 (Pony) -3 (Incompetent) = +5
  • Profession (Sailor) +4 (4 SP) +1 (Wis) = +5
  • Ray Master+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Spellcraft+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +2 (Unicorn) +3 (Tem) +2 (Syn) = +21
  • Survival+9 (4 SP*) +1 (Wis)
    • Specific Knowledges: Equestria In The Pre-Discordian Era (1 SP), Races Of The Pre-Discordian Era (1 SP).
    • +3 Skill Specialties: Spellcraft/Spell Research (1 SP), Spellcraft/Celestial Manipulation (1 SP), Knowledge/Arcana/Exotic Magical Systems (1 SP).
    • Martial Arts Abilities (9): Attack +2, Defenses +3, Synergy/Spellcraft, Mind LIke Moon, Inner Strength, and Healing Hand. Starswirl isn’t much of a healer, but in an emergency he can do a bit of it. It is extremely draining if he does too much though.

This comes to 80 skill points.

  • Occult Contacts x 3 (Celestia, Luna, Scorpan, 6 CP). Starswirl may be a cranky old man, and has had is arguments with all three of these folks – but they know him, will listen to him, and generally feel that he’s owed something. Note that, if Scorpan is no longer around, Starswirl will soon pick up a new powerful contact – most likely Twilight Sparkle.
  • Privilege: Crown Stipend (3 CP). Starswirl is effectively retired, and his (reasonable) expenses are covered by the Equestrian Crown.
  • Create Artifact (6 CP). Starswirl is capable of creating potent magical devices, but it usually involves quests and enormous amounts of trouble.
  • Mystic Link with Communications, Specialized and Corrupted/his notes and journals automatically record a great deal of information about his adventures, notes on his various spells, and other information. Even when he has little time to update them, they are generally quite complete. Sadly, there is no direct communication, they tend to require extensive study to decipher, and important bits may be scattered all over the place – although as long as any fragment of his journals survives, the rest can always be found and recovered (2 CP).
  • Life Extension: Immunity / Age (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP). Starswirl has lived a great deal longer than the average pony, and has a good long time to go.
  • Action Hero / Invention, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only to invent spells, spells with base levels beyond what a Unicorn could use “naturally” (via Occult Talent) are invariably flawed – with dangerous environmental side effects, being partially uncontrollable, or other similar problems, spells are very difficult for others to study and learn (20 CP). At level six this means that he’s had a total of 510 action points to spend on creating spells.
  • Shaping and Pulse Of The Dragon, both Specialized / only as prerequisites (6 CP).
  • Heart Of The Dragon, may cast L0 and L1 spells (powered by Mana), Specialized and Corrupted / can only cast spells that he has personally researched (at a cost of 1 Action Point per L0 spell and 2 per L1 Spell), while he may use additional Mana to boost the effects as Unicorns usually do, each additional boosted spell in the sequence must also be researched – albeit as a L0 (if starting with a L0 effect) or L1 (if starting with a L1) effect (6 CP). As usual for a Unicorn, he needs to have his horn free to cast his spells.

Known Level Zero Spell Sequences (0-3 Mana, 4 AP per sequence, 13 sequences – 52 AP).

  1. Message. (Boosted: L1) Enhance Backround Music, L2) Whispering Wind, L3) Gust of Wind).
  2. Dancing Lights. (Boosted: L1) Light, L2) Scorching Ray, L3) Fireball).
  3. Daze. (Boosted: L1) Daze Animal, L2) Daze Monster, L3) Daze 1d4 Monsters),
  4. Detect Magic. (Boosted: L1) Identify, L2) Greater Detect Magic, L3) Witness).
  5. Spellcraft Mastery (+3 competence bonus for ten minutes per level). (Boosted: L1) Ray Mastery (+3 Competence Bonus to hit with Rays for one minute/level), L2) Sidestep (+2 Competence B0nus to all Saves for 10 minutes/Level), L3) Celestial Intervention (+30 Competence Bonus to Spellcraft rolls to manipulate the heavens in realms where this is possible)
  6. Moustache. (Boosted: L1) Disguise Self, L2) Disguise Other, L3) Adjustable Disguise).
  7. Drench. (Boosted: L1) Hydraulic Push, L2) Flurry Of Snowballs, L3) Hydraulic Torrent).
  8. Alter Scent. (Boosted: L1) Cleansing Sphere, L2) Instant Campsite, L3) Nauseating Trail.
  9. Breeze. (Boosted: L1) Alter Winds, L2) Gusting Sphere, L3) Wind Wall).
  10. Lullaby. (Boosted: L1) Sleep, L2) Calm Emotions, L3) Deep Slumber).
  11. Virtue. (Boosted: L1) Phantom Blood, L2) Heroism, L3) False Life (Lasts up to one day).
  12. Sift. (Boosted: L1 Detect Chaos, L2) See Invisibility, L3) Arcane Sight).
  13. Dust Cloud, (Boosted: L1) Grease, L2) Glitterdust, L3 Ash Storm).

Known Level One Spell Sequences (1-4 Mana, 8 AP each, 9 Sequences = 72 AP):

  1. Dispelling Touch (Boosted: L2) Dispelling Ray, L3) Dispel Magic, L4) Ruin Delvers Fortune).
  2. Greater Mage Hand. (Boosted: L2) Telekinetic Volley, L3) Telekinetic Maneuver, L4) Mass Unseen Servant).
  3. Obscuring Mist (Boosted: L2) Fog Cloud, L3) Stinking Cloud, L4) Hallucinogenic Smoke).
  4. Benign Transposition (Boosted: (L2) Baleful Transposition, L3) Dimension Step, L4) Dimension Door)
  5. Stand (Boosted: (L2) Dimension Hop, L3) Swipe (Pathfinder), L4) Dream Walk).
  6. Wizard’s Pack (The Practical Enchanter) (Boosted: L2) Knights Move, L3) Blink, L4) Dimensional Anchor).
  7. Barrier (Immediate Action, 5×5 Force Wall absorbs up to 20 damage, similar to Stone Shield). (Boosted: L2: Barrier Dome (As per Barrier, but protects a small group), L3) Greater Barrier Dome (as per Barrier Dome, but up to 40 damage), L4) Lesser Globe Of Invulnerability.
  8. Magic Missile (Boosted: L2) Spiritual Weapon, L3) Force Punch, L4) Resilient Sphere).
  9. Spell Focus (+3 to Caster Level for next spell), (Boosted: L2 Alchemical Tinkering, L3, Amplify Elixir, L4: Silent Arcane Concordance).

Starswirls Greater Magics are bought as Mana-Powered Inherent Spells. While these can be boosted as usual for Unicorn Ponies, each effect costs one mana per level of the effect (instead of 2 + 1 to 3 for boosts). must be researched at a cost of (2 AP per level of each spell in the sequence), and becomes unstable and dangerous once he exceeds what he can safely cast (ECL / 2, Rounded Up – currently 4). His Inherent Spells are thus considered Specialized.

Amniomorphic Magics (6 CP, 80 AP):

  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell I: L3) Cosmetic Shift (permanently alters minor details, such as hair color). (Boosted: L4) Elemental Body I, L5) Geniekind, L6) Sonic Form).
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell II: L4) Aspect of the Wolf. (Boosted: L5) Baleful Polymorph, L6) Extended Polymorph (lasts 10 minutes/level), L7) Greater Age Resistance.

Dimensional Magics (12 CP, 192 AP):

  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Corrupted/costs 1 Mana per spell level, not just 2 (4 CP): L3) Dimensional Grotto (The Practical Enchanter, Spacewarp with the Supportive modifier). (Boosted: L4) Greater Blink (this version costs 1 extra Mana), L5) Teleport, L6) Baleful Teleport)
  • Mana Powered Inherent Spell II, Corrupted/costs 1 Mana per spell level, not just 2 (4 CP): L4) Bard’s Escape (Pathfinder, costs +1 Mana). (Boosted:, L5) Precipitate Minor Breach, L6) Mass Planar Adaption (Pathfinder), L7) Greater Teleport).
  • Mana Powered Inherent Spell III, Corrupted/costs 1 Mana per spell level, not just 2 (4 CP): L5) Plane Shift, (Boosted: L6: Tactical Teleportation, L7) Teleport Object, L8) Maze).
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell IV: L6) Tides Of Time (Limited Time Travel; Creates Closed Casual Loops only), L7) Gravatic Sphere (60′ Radius), L8) Destiny Exchange (the cutie-mark exchange spell). L9) Time Stop.

Starswirls spell lists cost a total of 396 AP and contain some 112 spells. He has enough AP left to have created another 64 cantrips and additional 25 first level spells (albeit with no further boosted versions unless you buy him some more action points), for a total of 201 spells (“More than two hundred spells!”). It also contains a number of spells at the higher end that are beyond what he can safely control even if he didn’t have that limitation already built in – which makes them very likely to go wrong indeed. Personally, I’d assume that he has the full list of level zero and level one Hedge Magic spells, another 31 assorted Cantrips, and four more first level spells of choice.

Equipment: Equestria is normally considered to be a world of Literary Magic Items – allowing the use of Charms, Talismans, and Relics. Starswirl doesn’t seem to use any Relics – and Charms and Talismans are kind of redundant for him; he doesn’t need minor magical conveniences, he has an immense array of magical powers with no real usage limitation. A few bits of normal equipment (most notably the pony equivalent of a Chain Shift and various basic supplies) can be presumed, but Ponies usually aren’t too big on equipment either. I could make his Bells minor relics of some sort – perhaps they’re relics that provide protection from particular major threats – but there’s really nothing to justify it.

In Equestria, with the Superheroic World Template in play, Starswirl is on the boundary of demigodhood. Sure, his most potent spells cost him some of his personal Mana to cast (and so can’t be used very often even if they DID work reliably) – but he’s a powerful, experienced, superheroic mage. He’s not quite up to competing with Dr Strange, Dr Fate, the Dread Dormammu, Black Adam, or the superheroic versions of Merlin and Morgan Le Fey – but he’s definitely up there with Magick, Agatha Harkness, Mordred The Mystic, Shaman, Zatanna, and the other second-tier types. About all he needs is the four-color template and a couple more levels and he’d break into the top tier.

Without the Superheroic World Template this build really will not work unless you tack on three to five levels devoted to building up a nice big Mana Pool and lots of Rite Of Chi to recover it – at which point you have a rather specialized mage who mostly uses lower-end spells but who has access to a few higher-level and quite expensive spells in emergencies. That’s not even a particularly exotic build.

Advertisements

Airmid Asëaranion, Entwife of the Anomaly

The song of of creation had ended in darkness. Melkor, the Fallen One, had made war upon Arda and the Valar and had overthrown the lamps of heaven – and so the Sleep Of Yavanna had been cast upon the world, preserving what life remained in timeless slumber.

But remnants of the light grew once more, filled with the strangth of the Valar. Telperion and Laurelin reached heavenwards, filling the world with their radiance – and the Sleep Of Yavanna passed. And with that great awakening… the Elves and Ents came forth as well.

And the Elves built and wrought, creating in their turn. The Ents walked in the green fastnesses of the forests, standing as wardens of the trees and guardians of the forest deeps and their remaining creatures. And the Entwives… walked the blighted wilds, the devastated places of Arda, where the wounds of Melkor’s war remained unhealed. There they became the pioneers of nature tamed, of the fields and water-meadows, of grasses, herbs, vines, and the small creatures thereof. Each following their own affinity and nature to turn the barren Wastes of Melkor into burgeoning lands in a blessing to later ages.

For many long years the Entwives wandered. Mazaedia, who dressed the stones with Lichens, Bryophyta, who cloaked crevasse with mosses, Poaceae Gramineae, who filled the plains with grasses, Airmid Asëaranion, the mother of healing herbs, and so many more – returning from their ever-more distant paths to the fastnesses of the Ents only rarely.

And so it was that, when the Valar bent the central lands of Arda into a sphere, placing the undying lands and other realms of legends beyond the reach of men, the Entwives had roamed too far. They were trapped beyond the curve of the world, separated from their husbands by a fathomless rift.

For most, long-solitary and used to returning only rarely… that was of little moment. For near-immortals it would be long ages before the separation became a true concern. But some would seek their old companions, embarking upon the seas of clouds above the airs of earth, from which ships from the realms of myth might still touch down upon the waters of the mortal world. And so Airmid Asëaranion, the Mother Of Healing, known to the Noldor as Calla Amarantos (“Beauty Everlasting”) and to others by yet other names, set sail upon the winds of fate, above the airs of Middle Earth – for what was such a separation but a rift in need of healing?

There, above the veil of clouds and stars that had been wrapped around Arda, one could gaze down upon the true walls of the world – but where there should be a void beyond, the exile of Morgoth had torn a hole in the cosmos, creating a whirling stormwall, a gateway to a sea pouring through nigh-infinite spaces and a peril to those seeking to navigate the gap between Arda and Legend. So was an eternal beauty lost to Arda, drawn by the winds of fate to destiny beyond, known perhaps to Iluvater – but to none within the circles of the world unless the Valar hold that lore within their own councils.

“Together we will take the road, that leads into the West. And far away will find a land, where both our hearts may rest.” – Tolkien

The Entwife Racial Template (63 CP / +1 ECL).

Each Entwife has a personal specialty, such as the aforementioned grasses, lichens, mosses, or healing herbs, which is permanent once chosen.

  • Earth Mother: Equipage with Purchasing: Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to obtain (grow) small fruits, seeds, spores, and plants within the users unique specialty (4 CP) plus Major Privilege / Wealth, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for the purposes of “paying for” small fruits, seeds, and plants through Purchasing (2 CP). While they can only grow a few (Con Mod +1, 1 Minimum) pounds of such materials per day, their rarity has no bearing on the process. An Entwife can produce a handful of seeds, a few cuttings of a rare plant, or similar items as needed – as long as the desired plant falls within their specialty.
  • The Communion Of Arda: Immunity/the usual inability to speak with Plants and Animals (Common, Minor, Minor, 4 CP). Entwives can “speak” with plants and animals – although they usually don’t have a lot to say.
  • Youth Of Ages: Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Severe, Great, 6 CP). Entwives are essentially ageless. It will require at least tens or hundreds of thousands of years for them to grow old. This is, however, Specialized / they reproduce extremely slowly, young Entlings are rare, and take centuries to grow up.
  • Durability Of The Trees: +2d4 Bonus Hit Dice (16 CP) and Universal (also affects energy damage) Damage Reduction 3 / – (6 CP). The Entwives are not so massive as the Ents, but some portion of the toughness of the trees is theirs as well.
  • Form Of The Green: Shapeshift, with the Plant, Hybrid, Clear Speech, and Attribute Modifiers, Specialized and Corrupted / the user only has two forms; a semi-Humanoid Kampfult (provides Blindsight 30′, +5 Natural Armor, Move 10, 6 Tendrils (3x 1d3+Str Mod plus Grab), Str +6, Dex +2, Con +4, and Plant Traits – although the Immunities (Mind-Affecting stuff, Paralysis, Poison, Polymorph, Sleep, and Stunning) are reduced to +5 Resistances for playability, because Entwives have fairly normal minds, and because plants can be poisoned; while it’s normally slower, Ents and Entwives have active metabolisms and do sleep) and small tree (typically used to settle down for a winter nap) (13 CP).
  • This is shapeshift cheese. Of course, this is also a SciFi setting with powered battle armor and major weapons, so allowing some cheap physical boosts for the fantasy-type visitors is an easy way to make up some of the difference.
  • Wind In Branches: Innate Enchantment: All abilities caster level one, spell level one, unlimited-use use-activated, personal only (x.7) where applicable. Up to 5500 GP effective value for (6 CP).
    • Personal Haste, Does not add to attacks (x.7) = 1400 GP. This gets their ground move up to 40′.
    • Goodberry, usable 3/Day (x.8 = 1200 GP). While an Entwife may use herbs, brews, and other substitutes, the effect is pretty much identical.
    • Pass Without Trace (x.5, Personal Only = 1000 GP). The movements of Ents and Entwives does not disturb the land over which they pass.
    • Arda’s Lore (Requires a brief inspection, x.8 = 1600 GP). The user may Identify Plants, Animals, and Pure Water, gaining a +5 Circumstance Bonus on any skill checks where this is relevant.
      • The ageless magic of the Valar which breathed life into the plants of Arda runs strongly through the veins of the Ents and Entwives. While subtle, and easily disrupted for a few moments, it will always return.
  • Ageless Guardian: Racial Skill Bonus of +3 to Knowledge / Nature (Survival in the condensed skill list) (3 CP).
  • Long Childhoods: Entwives receive a bonus feat – often related to their field of interest (6 CP).
  • Racial Disadvantage: Accursed. Entwives who suffer damage from Fire or Cold must make a Fortitude Save at a DC of (10 + 1/2 Damage Suffered) or be Staggered for 1d4 rounds (-3 CP).

At a net cost of 63 CP, Entwives are a +1 ECL race. While the use of the Shapeshift Cheese is always a bit dubious, many of their other bonuses are quite limited, which seems like a fairly reasonable trade-off.

The Anomalous Rules:

The Anomaly manifests differently in each universe it exists in / passes through / exploits – but it is always a blatant impossibility, and always habitable.

Characters remain linked to their home realms. While this allows them to use powers and items from their worlds without excessive difficulty, the further they try to extend their dimensional link, and the greater the power demand of whatever they are attempting, the more difficult it becomes. Transforming yourself will work nicely. Transforming a small item that you are holding is slightly more difficult, and may require a minor fortitude save to avoid fatigue. At high levels you can become exhausted, injure yourself, or even overload your link and have to rest and wait for the connection to reestablish itself.

Anomaly encourages life; the effects of level zero and first level healing effects are doubled, while higher level healing effects have their effective levels reduced by one. Even creatures with extremely exotic metabolisms can survive when cut off from their home universes. Crops mature in only 75% of the usual time, natural healing proceeds at twice the usual rate, aging past adulthood proceeds at one-half the usual rate, and all saves against diseases and poisons are made with a +2 bonus.

Major Weapons and Effects – nuclear or antimatter bombs, planet-crackers, high level spells such as Unrelenting Glacial Advance, and similar items – do not function under Anomalies rules, and so can only be used if someone is using their own personal link to power them. That’s vaguely possibly, but attempting to channel power on the scale is often fatal – and even when it isn’t it is better known as “asking for it”. Similarly, Godfires passive effects apply, but it cannot be actively used.

All characters have the Low-Level Adventurer Template. The effects include:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • Slow level advancement, by direct session-based character point awards rather than experience points. Succeeding in goals helps, but killing things and taking their stuff does not.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active psionic or magical skills. These are, however, considered to be natural skill ranks.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents or “knacks” appropriate to their home universe – one Class-A (roughly equivalent to the effects of a first level spell or power) and one Class-B (roughly equivalent to the effects of a cantrip).

Characters will be using the Condensed Skill List, complete with the various skills special functions. These may, however, be adjusted for world or origin; Sci-fi characters rarely spellcast, but often have other special talents. Skill Checks are normally made on 3d6, and characters may “take 15″ instead of “20″. They are normally assumed to get a “5″ for passive checks, such as to notice something in passing.

The Laws of Arda:

Middle-Earth is the manifested Vision of Ilúvatar – a low-level world of subtle magic – and one that is subject to a great deal of predestination thanks to the Music of the Ainur. It is a world that is doomed to slow decay, where wonders are made but once – and the makers power passes into them – and so may not be made again. Thus the One Ring, the Two Trees, the Three Silmarils, the Chain to Bind Melkor… all created once, all a fearsome drain upon their creators, and all never to be duplicated within the circles of the world. It is a world where exercising the power that is given to you by your nature or which is freely available is safe enough – but where tapping into sources and powers beyond those is a dangerous and corrupting act.

  • Oaths: Arda is subject to something similar to Oathbinding – but the effects are more subtle, and more pervasive. Worse, while minor oaths are reasonably safe, great oaths – by their very nature – are sworn upon powers beyond your own. If that power freely approves of that oath, all is well. If not… they you are drawing on powers beyond your own, and both you and the oath will be corrupted.
  • Skills: Not surprisingly, Middle-Earth offers no technologically advanced skills or equipment – but it does offer free access to the three Action Skills of Erudite Focus, Narrative, and Sensitive, as well as to Arcana and Religion.
  • The Subtle Path: Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly expensive and take some time to attune for use (6 CP). Residents of Arda can employ the natural magical properties of various materials and items, employing the simple, subtle, magics of Charms and Talismans – which most of them use to make themselves more comfortable. In general, however, they do not create or employ other magical items. Occasional powers do make Relics – things like the Silmarils or the Great Rings – but it is, as always, wiser not to meddle with powers beyond your own.

Airmid Asëaranion

Mother-Of-Healing, known to the Noldor and Vanyar as Calla Amarantos – “Beauty Everlasting” – who walked Arda in the youth of the world sowing medicinal (or toxic, depending on dosage) plants in a blessing to later ages.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) + 2 (Duties as an Entwife) +6 (Disadvantages: Dedicated Healer and Valuable) + 12 (Level One Bonus Feat + L1 Feat) = 68 CP.

Basic Attributes (Pathfinder 25 Point Buy): Str 14 (20), Dex 10 (12), Con 14 (18), Int 16, Wis 14, and Cha 10 (after ages of solitary wandering, Entwives are not exactly social beings).

Basic Abilities (30 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +8 (2d4 Racial, no cost) +20 (12 + 2 x Con Mod Template) + 12 (3 x Con Mod) = 52 HP. Universal DR 3/-.
  • Skill Points: 4 (Purchased, 4 CP) + 15 (Int) + 10 (Fast Learner) = 29
  • BAB +0 (0 CP), +1 BAB Specialized in Natural Weapons (3 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +2 (6 CP) +4 (Con) = +6
    • Reflex +0 (0 CP) +1 (Dex) = +1
    • Will +0 (0 CP) +2 (Wis) = +2
  • Proficiencies: Light Armor (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +1 (Dex)
  • Move: 40(10′ base + 30 Enhancement)
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) + 1 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +5 (Natural) = 20

Usual Attacks: 3 x Tendrils at +6 (+1 BAB +5 Str) for 7 Damage (2 + Str Mod) and a Grab.

Skills: (29 SP)

  • Concentration +1 (SP) +4 (Con) = +5
    • May be used to briefly withstand dangerous forces given a few moments to prepare.
  • Craft +4 (SP) +3 (Int) = +7
    • Covers (3 + Int Mod) areas. In her case: Alchemy, Brewer/Vintner, Charmsmith, Shipwright, Stonemasonary, and Woodwright,
  • Engineering +4 (SP) +3 (Int) = +7
    • Covers doing extra damage to inanimate objects and some minor gadgets – for her a functional Anomaly Compass. Unusually for an Entwife, she has a knack.
  • Erudite Focus +1 (SP) +3 (Int) = +4
    • Covers being “Spock”. May temporarily sacrifice points to maintain concentration, get hints, boost knowledge checks or resist mental attribute damage or drain.
  • Heal +5 (2 SP*) +2 Wis +3 (Temp) = +10
    • Locally, allows a DC 15/25/35 check to produce the effects of a L2/:3/L4 healing spell up to (Wis Mod) times daily – although you cannot normally “take 20″ on the check without using Luck or some similar ability.
  • Linguistics +1 (1 SP) +3 (Int) = +4
    • Covers Forgery and Decipher Script, and speaking Adunaic (AKA Westron, essentially English), Quendian (Old Elvish), Khuzdul (Dwarvish), and Entish.
  • Persuasion +2 (SP) +0 (Cha) +3 (Fam) = +5
  • Religion +4 (SP) +3 (Int) +3 (Temp) = +10
    • Covers knowledge of the planes and the use of three L0 clerical spells per day.
  • Profession/Sailor +4 (SP) +2 (Wis) = +6
  • Sensitive +5 (2 SP*) +3 (Temp) : +2 (Wis) = +10
    • Covers picking up psychic impressions, vague warnings of danger, and prophetic dreams. May temporarily sacrifice points to pay Power costs, to resist mental influences, to imprint your own psychic traces, to boost will saves (after the fact), and to perform seances, dowsing, scrying via crystal balls, and similar.
  • Stealth +5 (2 SP*) +1 (Dex) +3 (Temp) = +9
    • Covers camouflage and smuggling and provides the equivalent of a Handy Haversack.
  • Survival +5 (2 SP*) +3 Int +3 Race +3 (Temp) = +14
    • Covers Knowledge/Nature, and Use Rope. Provides an Endure Elements effect.

Skill Notes:

  • *Half Cost due to Adept on Heal, Sensitive, Stealth, and Survival.
  • May Identify Plants, Animals, and Pure Water, gaining a +5 Circumstance Bonus on any skill checks where this is relevant
  • Knacks from the Low-Level Template: Class-A: Goldberg (make temporary repairs on devices), Class-B) Diagnostic (automatically diagnose injuries, diseases, and poisons, +4 where this is relevant).
    Special Abilities (44 CP):

Other Abilities:

Echoing the Song: The Entwives – as with every other race of Middle-Earth – are expressions of the Music of the Ainur, and it is their nature to resonate with its echoes in the fabric of the world. Of that song… a few notes and themes are theirs, and their eternal echoes infuse them and the world around them. Such is the magic of the Ents and Entwives.

  • Witchcraft III (18 CP). Provides Power 17 and seven basic powers with Will Save DC’s of 13 (17 after Finesse).
  • Basic Powers
    • Adamant Will: May spend 2 Power to resist Fear, Charm, Possession, and Hold effects, other forms of mind control, or to get an extra save against mindreading or “truth” effects. May spend 3 power to present a false result to detection spells or ignore pain.
    • Elfshot: Spend 1/2/3 power to inflict a quick / lingering / permanent minor curse, such as reducing an attribute by -2, causing some type of misfortune, penalizing a group of checks by -6, inducing sterility or a miscarriage, or otherwise hindering activity.
    • Healing: 1 Power for a full days worth of healing in an hour with a +5 versus disease or toxins or to throw off drugs and intoxicants with a flat duration, Heal 1/2/3d4 immediately for 1/2/3 Power,
    • Hyloka: Manipulate biophysical processes. Move physical attribute points around (up to 6 points for 1 Power per hour), slip into hibernation (1 power; lasts up to a week), help resist heat or cold (1 Power per hour, this grants fire or cold resistance 5), stop bleeding, delay poison (one hour per power), grow hair or make it fall out (1 power), and to inflict or ease ailments like arthritis (spend 1 power/week to inflict, 1 power/day to ease)
    • Hand Of Shadows: Minor telekinetic tricks at no cost, Str 20 costs 1 power/minute, doing an hours light work costs 1 power, minor animations (such as Entangle, Animate Rope, or Gentle Breeze) cost 2 power, 4 if excessive force or fine control is required.
    • Witchfire: Molecular telekinesis. Create and manipulate heat or cold (1d8/3d6 damage for 1/2 power, +1 if affecting a modest area, -1 if using a pre-existing source), create effects on the “prestidigitation” level (1 Power per turn), extract essences from herbs, and infuse drugs and toxins into objects. Sometimes used for creating mysterious sounds and voices.
    • Witchsight: Sharpen or expand the senses. In general one sense at a time, providing either a +6 bonus on relevant checks or some special capability (Darksight, Scent, etc). 2 Power per hour. May triple the effect by reducing the duration to a single round, allowing effects such as checking a meal for poison with the slightest taste.

Harmonies / Advanced Witchcraft Powers:

  • Familiar (Thrush, +3 Persuasion, +6 Power, speaks Westron (English), 6 CP)
  • True Prosperity, Specialized for Increased Effect (plants sprout and grow to maturity very very quickly, the area becomes a garden), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only applies to her healing herbs (4 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore Power, requires at least half an hour of rest and meditation or sleep per use (restores 4d6 Power) (4 CP).
  • +1d6 Mana as +3d6 (13) Power. Net Power: 17 (Base Witch) +6 (Familiar) +13 (Purchased) = 36. Sadly, dropping below five points causes fatigue, and hitting zero causes exhaustion. (6 CP).
  • Finesse: Uses (Con Mod) in place of (Cha Mod) for the DC of saves against her Witchcraft (6 CP).
  • Pacts: Spirit (The Valar) and Duties (spreading healing herbs and lore far and wide) (-12 CP).

The Ancient Lore: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (may “take 30), only for Skills only to “Take 30″ in advance (6 CP).

Long Practice: Poison Use. What with her centuries of practice in working with dangerous compounds, she never risks poisoning herself when working with toxins (6 CP).

Likely Charms and Talismans:

  • Charms: Condensed Water Tabs, Firebox, Endless String, Foothold Boots, Lens of Memory, Sovereign Ointment, and Weave Of Light.
  • Talismans: Sunstone, Shimmermail, and a Shifters Cloak (Falcon, 8 Charges)

Ponyfinder in Equestria – Zebras and their lands.

Next up on the Ponyfinder pony types we have the Zebra.

The dry plains of tropical Alkebalkan, with their seasonal rains, lakes, and streams, may support nomads and the occasional village built around a reliable water source, but the true Zebra civilization is are built along the mighty rivers and tributaries that cascade from the interior mountains and jungles to nourish the great river valleys of the Neighle, the Cantor, and the Niker. There, along the green veins of fertile land isolated by distance and the surrounding dryland hills and mountains from the great and terrible jungles, lost or hidden civilizations, and magical mysteries and storms of the deep interior, can be found the ancient cities, fertile irrigated fields, and megalithic enchantments that have been the sanctuary of the Zebra across four ages of the world and throughout uncounted cataclysms.

Here, in the lands of dusty Kemet, where even the greatest external powers and disturbances are muted by ancient wards and the timeless rhythms of an antique land, the Zebra have built what may well be the oldest extant civilization in the world – said in their most ancient tales to have been founded mere weeks after the world and the peoples of Equus were brought forth from the alchemy of creation, when the ancient gods brewed their ingredients in the Abyss of the Void – Tehom, Tiamat, the Giningugap – upon the Colorless Radiance of Exploding Suns, the Light of Rey, and the Fires of Muspell, to bring forth a new world and its Peoples.

Ptah the Artificer, the Opener of the Ways, guided the Zebras – his chosen folk – to their destined homes, and along those rich valleys the ancient Zebra settled, gathering in tribal villages where the ley lines and power-nexi of the lands were bountiful enough to be harnessed with crude and primitive megalithic sigils hacked from the virgin stones of the hills. There the Zebra spread, and multiplied.

Every race of Equus has it’s gifts. That of the Zebra is slow and subtle, but more versatile than most – an ability to sense and combine the natural magical properties of the plants, animals, and minerals of the world around them. While any given individual may develop different aspects of that power, the creation of alchemical magics, wards major, magical architecture, megalithic enchantments channeling the occult energies of the land, and personal sanctums are all natural developments of their abilities – as are shamanic talents and even calling upon the spirits of the dead.

And of those potentials… the compounding of alchemical magics from local reagents, calling upon spirits, and creating personal sanctums were by far the easiest for a primitive villager to pursue, and so became the foundation of Zebra civilization.

With a built-in incentive to seek out rare reagents and the secrets of distant lands, and the great riverways that were the blessing of Ptah to provide an easy path and constant guide, the Beaker Traders, Seekers of Alchemy, soon united the Zebra lands in a loose web of trade and social contacts. Cities grew, and created support networks of geomantic structures and wards.

Centuries later, the Naquadah villages found the secret of the amplifying reagent that bears their name – and with that discovery Ptah stated that the Zebra required his presence no longer, stepped down from leadership, and returned to his home in the places beyond the stars to begin to create anew.

Ponis, lord of Marephis – the largest and wealthiest city of Kemet – and once the Vizier of Ptah, took Ptah’s place as the leader of the Council of the Neighle Tribes, coordinator of the geomantic network that helped maintain the prosperity of the realm. His son turned his role into that of the High Chieftain – and HIS son forged the Crimson Philosophers Crown of the Neighle – an artifact which granted him direct awareness, and limited control, of the geomantic systems that regulated the flooding of the Neighle, provided safety from the beasts of the jungles, and brought prosperity in so many ways to the lands along the Neighle.

And thus Djer became the first true Pharaoh of the Neighle, a god-king regarded as being little less divine than Ptah himself – for the hooves of Ptah had wrought life and land, but from the hooves of Djer flowed wealth. There was an abundance of grain and fruit, fine stone and strong wood, copper and gold – and luxuries to trade for the vital reagents which empowered the alchemy that brought health, long life, pleasure, fertility, and more to the peoples of Kemet.

Soon enough, the Zebras of the Cantor and Niker river valleys sought out the secrets of the Philosophers Crown and forged the Verdant and Azure Crowns to regulate their lands along those great rivers as well – and the wealth, power, and culture of Kemet would echo in legend across the ages.

But Anedjib of the Neighle entitled himself Nebuy – “The Second Lord” – and in madness and unbridled ambition sought to ascend to join Ptah in the places of the Gods beyond the stars. He set his mystic architects to constructing a megalithic gate empowered by Naquadah – the “Bent Pyramid” – intended to force open the way into the heavens that he might become equal with Ptah.

But such hubris was properly punished. The gate opened into the dark between the realms, not into the places of the gods – and through it came the Crawling Chaos, Nephren-Ka, the Black Pharaoh, who cast aside the Crown of the Philosophers and ruled by raw might, dispatching his Apophi – the Flying Serpents that hunted at his will – as a scourge against any who dared defy his dark will in word or deed.

The three crowns of Kemet were united in friendship to stand against Nephren-Ka, revealing that in their harmonious combination lay all the colors and strengths of the worlds magic. The Zebra rose against the Dark One. At the end of that struggle the Black Pharaoh was cast out into the void once more – but there was a price for that choice and victory. The thousand varied colors of the Zebra were touched by the outer darkness, and divided between that and light. Henceforth the very flesh of the Zebra would display only the light and darkness, entangled upon their hides as they were in every mortal heart, neither one thing nor another.

And the first of the Nameless Kings donned the now-unified Triple Crown of the Neighle, Cantor, and Niker – claiming only the title Nebra, the Sun King of the Three Riverlands. Lord of United Kemet.

But the division between the Light and the Darkness persisted. The border tribes turned often to the Darkness, drawing on its dangerous power of Spirits and Tulpa, Channeling and Landrule, as a weapon and defense against the beasts and dangers of the great jungles of the interior and the perils of the wilds. But within the great cities that formed the beating heart of Kemet, the subtle arts of the light were preferred, and architects, alchemists, and warders gathered to share their enlightenment and teach their arts.

There were centuries of quarrels and minor conflicts between the city-dwellers and the nomads of the dry lands – but the Triple Crown and the undoubted might of the Nebra Philosopher Kings held a fragile unity.

The long centuries of disharmony drew at last to an end when the Griffon Invasions struck at the great cities, leading them to extend a hasty invitation to the darker arts of the nomads and their shamans – and the ancient order of the Beaker Traders gathered in defense of Kemet’s core, calling in countless favors and the spirits controlled by the dark arts of the nomadic desert tribes.

The battles were bloody and terrible, but eventually the Nebra Alchemist formerly known as Prince Neighbetre donned the triple crown and sacrificed his right hoof and eye in the ritual to hurl the malignant, near-eternal, unquenchable blaze of Fiendfyre – refined Marenium distilled into the most terrible alchemical weapon that the world had ever known – from the sky upon the griffon encampments and brought the Griffon Wars to an end and peace to the Middle Kingdom.

Even now, despite the passing of ages, the terrible blue light of pockets of Fiendfyre glows still beneath the surface of Equus in places in the hills and badlands, waiting to burn, twist, and poison the unwary – or to mutate the occasional passing animal into a monstrous horror.

And in the Middle Kingdom… the Darkness was balanced against the Light. Dark Stelea rose within the desert just past the borders, and pyramid-tombs were constructed to hold the ranks of the Ushabtiu – the alchemical focus-bodies through which the dead might be called in defence of their descendents – in stasis against a future need. Richly rewarded and funded, the surviving Beaker Traders reached outwards, sailing their wicker ships of dark, alchemically-treated, reeds into the dangerous realms beyond the shores of Kemet.

The Pharoah became indeed the Nebra, advised and supported by a spirit-council of the deceased kings who had come before – although this did lead to occasional power struggles when the Light and Dark factions amongst those councilors favored different candidates. Fortunately, those were always limited to struggles between the great houses, and were never allowed to become general civil wars.

With their lands warded by megalithic magic tied to the very roots of the world, even the reign of Discord across the seas in Equestria had little effect on Kemet. During that time the reigning Nebra opened his realm to give sanctuary to many thousands of refugees, and opened his warehouses – filled with the surpluses of long centuries of prosperity – to feed and supply them.

But a new Nebra arose over Kemet, who – when Discord was sealed in stone – gave in to the voices of tradition and sent the refugees home to rebuild, even if she WAS generous with supplies and assistance.

Most of those refugees were glad enough to go. They found Zebrica / Kemet’s casual acceptance of the wandering dead (no matter if they were powered by alchemy and links to the outer planes rather than by negative energy) more than a little disquieting – and the widespread acceptance of the arts of darkness quite terrifying, no matter if it’s sigils were emblazoned upon their hosts very hides and obviously natural to them. The tales they took home painted Zebrica as a haunted place, filled with ancient tombs and dungeons where the Darkness was permitted to reign freely over the countryside surrounding the great cities that were only protected by the consecrated light of the ancient Temples of Ptah.

There was enough truth to the tales for the legends persist to this day, casting Zebra traders and wanderers as potential evil enchanters and implying that a visit to Kemet might as well be an expedition into the depths of the underworld – encouraging the isolation which has helped maintain Kemet’s changeless social stability to this day.

Still, not even the ancient wards and megalithic anchors of Zebrica can forever hold back the tides of change. Today, as ever-increasing numbers of visitors, scholars, and outside traders visit ancient Kemet, the Council of Deceased Nebra has once again split between whether they need a Warrior-King to defend their land against menacing changes or a Philosopher-King to lead its adaption to them – and so the assassin’s blades are being sharpened and poisons brewed in anticipation of the coming power struggle when the current Nebra joins his advisors in death and competing candidates seek to claim the office of Nebra and the Triple Crown of Kemet.

The rumors say that it will not be long now.

Kemet / Zebrica is currently welcoming adventurers/pawns from beyond it’s borders, is overrun with forgotten ancient complexes where dark powers have gotten out of control that need to be raided and brought back under control, is stuffed full of ancient temples, lost treasures, hidden tombs whose owners only bother with reaching down to defend them out of habit (as a rule, if the dead stop picking up their mail and paying their taxes for more than fifty years, their tombs are considered abandoned, and raiding permits are made readily available), fabulous intoxicants, willing companions (since contraceptive and STD-preventing or curing potions are extremely cheap), elder artifacts, and ancient wards. It offers a ready supply of potions and other disposable alchemical goodies for the connoisseur, skillful weapon and armor-smiths with some experience with other races, and has pretty much everything else that an adventurer could want.

It’s a good deal more dangerous than most of Equestria, simply because the people of Kemet tend to regard killing someone in much the same way that other cultures regard eunuching a male. The victim is cut off from some of the pleasures of life, can no longer have children, loses eligibility for some jobs, and takes a social hit – but they can still come to family gatherings and participate in most things. That’s one of the reasons why Kemet is BETTER. It’s not like being dead in most places!

Zebra Racial Template (32 CP / +1 ECL, normally added to the Basic Pony Template).

The Subtle Weave:

  • Pulse Of The World: Occult Sense / Natural Magic (6 CP). Zebras can automatically identify plants and animals (or pieces thereof) and can sense the inherent magical properties of plants, animals, minerals, and the land itself, although they may need to make a perception check for unfamiliar items. As a side benefit, they gain a +2 bonus on Survival, Herbalism, Heal, and any checks required to use their Natural Alchemy ability, below.
  • Natural Alchemy: Create Artifact, Specialized and Corrupted / only for “alchemical” creations compounded from natural magical components (2 CP). Note that this doesn’t require that the user be a “spellcaster”, or call for expending money on unspecified ingredients; this is first edition style alchemy; if you need manticore venom, a pinch of powdered hematite, and petals from a blue rose, than that’s what you need; the effect and caster level will take care of itself.
  • Alchemical Gatherer / Minor Privilege (3 CP). A traveling Zebra, or one who lives in the wilds, can automatically collect rare herbs, fungi, and other bits and pieces with which to make various alchemical artifacts. This provides an Average lifestyle by default and means that a Zebra will always be stocked with a selection of useful components – enough to keep a stock of (Wisdom) Trivial and (Wis Mod +2) Minor alchemical artifacts available every day.
  • Tribal Lore / Specific Knowledge of (Int + 3) trivial mystical formula (free) and (Int Mod + 3) minor mystical formulas (1 CP). Pretty much every Zebra colt or filly will pick up the formulas for a selection of trivial alchemical creations using readily-found local reagents during childhood. True, the adventuring applications for spooky faces vapor, instant cleaning powder, tasty sparkling beverages, day-of-flavor chewing gum, a minor healing effect suitable for fixing cuts, bruises, and small blemishes, and similar stuff is limited, but even the “Minor” formula – reasonably effective curatives, icing over a surface, extremely slippery grease (and other effects approximately equivalent to first or second level spells) can be quite useful. While major creations will cost 1 SP each, any Zebra who really cares to make an effort can learn a small library worth of useful formulas.

Initiate Of Mysteries:

  • Guidance of Ptah / Witchcraft II. Every Zebra has a bit of Psychic Strength (although on Equus they generally power their abilities with Mana) and three basic witchcraft powers to use. In terms of the setting, Zebra acquire the powers they were meant to have – although training can help focus and develop them. In game terms, of course, the choice is up to the player – as is any Corruption or Specialization they may choose to apply. Witchcraft powers, of course, tend to be short ranged and relatively weak, if normally quite versatile (12 CP).
    • A Shaman might have Dreamfaring, Glamour, and the Inner Eye, all specialized in dealing with Spirits for Increased Effect. With the power to see, hear, touch, communicate with, and influence the spirits of nature and the dead, you’ve pretty much got the basic shamanism down right there.
    • A Scout might have The Adamant Will, Shadowweave (focused on Stealth), and Witchsight, – gaining the ability to conceal his or her aura and resist mental attacks, the ability to travel unseen, and an array of enhanced senses.
    • A Warrior might have Elfshot (Specialized for Increased Effect / only to add specific injury effects when he or she damages a target), Healing (Specialized for Increased Effect / only for use on themselves so they can keep going despite massive injuries, and Witchfire (Specialized in charging weapons with various energies, giving them the equivalent of a +2 enchantment, +1 of which may be a special power).
    • A Poisons Expert might have Healing or Hyloka (in either case specialized so as to provide some immunity to their own poisons), Witchfire (specialized in extracting and infusing poisons, including making small toxic clouds), and Witchsight (allows the easy detection and treatment of poisons and the gathering of ingredients for poisons).
  • Many Zebra take a Pact – typically Guardianship, Missions, Taboos, Duties, Rituals, or Essence – to gain an additional advanced power. For some examples…
    • Master Alchemist: Path of Water / Brewing allows a Zebra to make his or her trivial and minor, alchemical artifacts on the spot, so that they can stop deciding what they’ve got ready in advance and just produce things as needed.
    • Bestial Mindlink: A Scout might take a Witchcraft Companion – probably a hawk or some other swift-flying creature – so as to be able to readily survey distant areas and have it carry messages.
    • Lore of Battle: A Warrior might have the ability to draw on the strength of his or her ancestors, shouting out an ancient battle-cry to activate Wrath of the Sea (+6 Str) or some similar benefit.
    • Within The Blood: Poison experts often become so saturated with venom that their very touch becomes deadly. That’s Venomed Touch, Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user cannot safely give blood, is slightly hazardous to bandage or use the Heal skill on (possibly making the would-be “Good Samaritan” quite ill on a “1″), and leaves the user sterile – perhaps just as well, as any personal involvement would be likely to make their partner quite ill in any case.

Many And Varied Talents:

  • Zebra Bonus Feat: Zebra get one bonus feat taken from among the many gifts of their minor gods. While there are quite a few available (including many of the advanced withcraft powers), some common examples include:
    • Word of Hathor (or Ma’at) the Guardian of Life’s Order: Sanctum. From the early days many a Zebra has found their roots in the land, allowing them to create a personal Place of Power in which to practice their arts. This is perhaps the most common of all the divine gifts, found in many young Zebra who grow up to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors, knowing their place in the world and content with it. Thus you find farmers, smiths, shopkeepers, and more who have sunk their roots into the earth of their homes and found unmatched skills and gifts in that bond.
    • Hoof of Ptah the Traveler: The defining gift of the ancient explorers and wanderers of the Zebra tribes – the Beaker Traders. Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 CP worth of Innate Enchantment / 5000 GP Value)/only for Innate Enchantment. By rearranging their various talismans and ornaments a Beaker Trader may start each day anew with a selection of “magical items” valued at up to 5000 GP – although, while “uses per day” is allowable, all such items must be permanent in nature (6 CP). Note that – in foreign lands – a “100 GP” +1 Competence Bonus to Speak Language (allowing the user to speak the local language) is a definite favorite.
    • Lore of Amunet, the Illuminator of Chaos: Adept. The user may select four skills which may be purchased at half price form now on. Normally one is social, one magical, one physical, and one mental, reflecting the balance of Ma’at (6 CP).
    • Keys of Anubis, The Book of Going Forth By Day: Anubis grants the ability to call on the wisdom and assistance of the spirits of the dead – usually those who are willing to aid their descendants. Leadership with the Exotic Type (Spirits) modifier, Corrupted/Spirits ONLY and they definitely have minds of their own (6 CP).
    • Gift of Seshat, Lady of Wisdom: Seshat grants expertise in magical architecture, allowing those she favors to build mighty structures. Mystic Artist / Architecture, Specialized in megalithic stone structures. Simple wood or clay brick does not endure, and is not favored by Seshat (3 CP) and Professional / Architecture and Engineering, Specialized in megalithic stone structures (3 CP).
    • Bite of Wadjet, The Serpent of the Delta: Poison Use. A Zebra blessed byWadjet need never fear self-poisoning (6 CP).
    • Whisper of Sekhemet, Lore Unchained: Those who hear the voice of Sekhemet upon the winds are granted knowledge of the myriad alchemical wonders, both bright and terrible, which can be compounded from the stuff of the world about. Still, those who hear are regarded with caution; Sekhemet cares not if you listen to the lore of life and healing, or death and poisons, whether you brew balefire destruction or gifts of fertility and fruits for the fields. All that matters… is that you hear. Fast Learner, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (+3 SP/Level), only to buy Alchemical Formula (6 CP).
    • Word of Isis, Lady of Magic: Those touched by Isis gain hidden powers of witchery, whether for good or ill, gaining Witchcraft III, and additional four basic witchcraft powers (6 CP)
    • The Touch of Geb, The Walker of the Dawn: Landwarding: Geb grants attunement to the deep currents of magic which flow through the earth and the ability to coax a bit of that power into experession through petroglyphs, statues, shrines, and landscaping – a discipline also known as Feng Shui. Major Privilege (6 CP): A Zebra touched by Geb may spend an hour or so each day to shape the energies of the land – bestowing abilities equivalent to those bestowed by a Ward Major on the protected area. In general, whenever a new power is added (whether by adding more support to an existing landward or by creating a new one), there is a 50% chance per power that the creators will be able to choose it and a similar chance of it being determined randomly. Once that determination is made, the properties of a Ward are fixed.
      • One Landwarder can protect an encampment, house and gardens, or other small area, granting a single minor power. A landwarder who dies on the job counts towards this total.
      • Two Landwarders grant a second minor power OR expand the protected area to a village and it’s fields, a, mansion and it’s grounds, or a small castle. One landwarder who dies on the job can count towards this total.
      • Four Landwarders can do both. Two landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Seven Landwarders can grant a third minor power OR expand the protected area to a town and it’s outworks or a great castle. Three landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Nine Landwarders can do both. Four landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Twelve Landwarders can grant a fourth minor power OR expand the protected area to a city, a small valley, or a cluster of farming villages and their fields. Five landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Sixteen Landwarders can do both. Seven landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Twenty-One Landwarders can expand the protected area to a metropolis, a town and the farming hamlets that cluster around it, or a large valley OR grant a Major Power in addition to the four Minor Powers. Up to nine landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Twenty-five Landwarders can do both. Up to ten landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Thirty-Six Landwarders, can add a second Major Power in addition to the four Minor Powers. Up to twelve landwarders who died on the job may count for this total. Unfortunately, the area protected cannot be expanded past a metropolis, a town and the farming hamlets that cluster around it, or a large valley
      • Forty-Nine Landwarders can add a third Major power to the four Minor Powers. Up to eighteen landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
      • Finally, Sixty-Four or more Landwarders can create a ward-equivalent which grants five minor and three major ward powers – but this is the effective limit of their abilities. Up to twenty-four landwarders who died on the job may count for this total.
        • Landwarding can be built with Innate Enchantment or Mana and Reality Editing and probably in other ways if I wanted to bother – but all of them produce roughly similar results at a comparable cost and are far, FAR, more complicated – and this is bad enough already.
    • The Breath of Set, Wrath of the Burning Sands: Witchcraft / The Birth Of Flames. The construct always appears to be a thing of whirling sands and black fire. The touched by Set are subtly urged towards the most destructive solutions and frontal assaults and often seem to be heralds of battle and death (6 CP).
    • The Tongue of Apep, Heir of the Crawling Chaos: The Black Pharaoh has left his mark, and it can not always be denied. Some ill-aspected births will bear this burden. Mana-Powered Negative Energy Channeling (3 CP) with Conversion to a single negative-energy related psychic effect of up to level two (3 CP) is not all that powerful – but it is the start of a path to a wide variety of terrible powers. Those who advance too far along this path… will become little more than a thing of living shadows, the light which once displayed itself upon their very hides lost to darkness (6 CP).
    • Dice of Bes, Lord of Fortunes: Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, Corrupted/only for Skill Checks and Saving Throws (6 CP).
    • Fountains of Tefnut, the Waters of Life: The waters of Tefnut rain down around those she favors, washing away evil. Presence, Specialized for Increased Effect (two first level spells; Create Water and Bless Water)/ the user may only pick Wis Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) targets within ten feet each round, although this selection is a free action. Each such target will be automatically hit with two gallons of water per level of the user which also has the effect of a flask of holy water. Sadly, this is of little use for resale thanks to the enormous dilution (6 CP).

The Ushabtiu Feats: Basically this is that art of binding a body on the material plane to a controlling spirit (normally a dead person) on the outer planes using a sympathetic link- most often a bit of the spirits original body that’s been preserved somehow. There are a lot of variants.

  • Gift of Kauket-Re the Black Sun: Corpse Ushabtiu (6 CP): Binding a deceased body to it’s original spirit creates quasi-undead. This is easy – it’s been known to happen spontaneously – but people rarely react to it very well, and for good reason; quasi-undead corpses/skeletons/zombies are ready receptacles for negative energy. Unless carefully and regularly purged of such forces, they tend to devolve into full-scale undead – either generating their own echo of the linked spirit and becoming “standard” undead horrors or (on particularly horrific occasions) drawing the original spirit back from the outer planes to become free-willed, level-advancing, evil abominations. This technique calls for:
    • Ritual Magic, Specialized in Necromantic Rituals for Reduced Cost (3 CP).
    • Power Words, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (stores rituals as if they were third level spells) / only for Necromantic Effects, requires various alchemical or otherwise unpleasant components (3 CP). Most makers of Corpse Ushabtiu keep a few prepared rituals (the precursors of “memorized spells”) at the ready. The more sensible ones usually have ways of dealing with something going wrong ready. Crazier ones often have some way to summon a bunch of skeletons or something.
    • While this is the most primitive, cheapest, easiest, and most general of the Ushabtiu disciplines, it’s also the most problematic, easily abused, and messiest. The ease and cheapness keeps it in unsettlingly widespread use, the amount of “toxic waste” it generates keeps it unpopular. Many or most practitioners are less than reputable.
  • Hoof of Anput-Hesat, bringer of Life through Death, Goddess of Predation. Animal Ushabtiu (6 CP): Binding an animal’s body to a spirit after using alchemy to permanently destroy much of it’s mind is fairly inexpensive and provides a fair chunk of the sensations of true life for the directing spirit- but is obviously temporary and generally clumsy; most animals don’t live all that long and very few are capable of using most tools and powers. Animal Ushabtiu are even more awkward on Equus, where most sizeable animals are intelligent and civilized. This technique calls for:
    • Basic Zebra Alchemy to sedate and decerebrate the animals (no cost).
    • Witchcraft / Summoning, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires mildly expensive rituals, alchemical preparations, the use of a piece of the original body to provide a link, and can only be used for this particular trick (2 CP).
    • Witchcraft / Flesh Like Mist, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires mildly expensive rituals, alchemical preparations, can only be used in conjunction with Blessing (below) to make the use of a piece of the original body to provide a link, and can only be used to create “anthro” (or, on Equus, “Zebroid”) animal forms and make other minor tweaks to suit the spirit (2 CP). .
    • Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to allow the use of Flesh Like Mist (Above) on prepared animal bodies, requires mildly expensive rituals and alchemical preparations (2 CP).
  • Breath of Tatenen: Royal Ushabtiu are full-blown constructs, controlled as needed by the spirit they’re bound to. While they can be extremely powerful, and can, if upgraded enough, offer many of the sensations of life, they are also extremely expensive. This technique calls for:
    • Witchcraft / Summoning, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / requires mildly expensive rituals, alchemical preparations, the use of a piece of the original body to provide a link, and can only be used for this particular trick (2 CP).
    • Create Item (Constructs), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the created constructs have no will of their own, and are only useful when controlled by an outside spirit (4 CP).

Zebrican. All Zebras gain a their native language as a bonus language. If they’re raised somewhere else, or are never even exposed to it… they still speak it. Such is the word of Thoth (1 CP).

Survival: Zebras have some (rather basic) instinctive survival skills, and gain a +1 racial bonus to the Survival skill (1 CP).

If a Zebra happens to have either Speak Language or Survival as an Adept skill thanks to their racial bonus feat, these bonuses are, of course, doubled as usual.

Racial Disadvantage: Restrictions (Spellcasting). Zebras simply do not cast spells – although they may develop psionic abilities. This gains them +1 CP per Level to spend as they will.

At a total cost of +32 CP, Zebra are a +1 ECL species – and remain so when stacked with the basic Pony Template (which brings their total to 63 CP – the limit for a +1 ECL race).

The Zebra are quite formidable – and rather more versatile as a species than the individual pony subtypes – but their abilities are considerably more subtle. They’re also grimmer, far more inclined to kill or take severe actions against opponents, and see the use of dark powers, necromancy, and sending the dead walking around as being quite normal. Just as importantly, their lands support mercenaries, tomb raiders, exorcists and undead-slayers, crazed dark channelers, dungeons, plenty of noble intrigue,the creation of undead, and byzantine political struggles as a normal part of life. Just beyond the thin, magically-warded, strips of civilization there are vast expanses of deadly desert, terrible jungles, magical storms, lost cities and civilizations, and any number of deadly magical beasts.

Here, at least, there are plenty of places and jobs for adventurers.

The trouble with the Zebra – and the reason why they weren’t included in the original set of pony racial builds despite being obviously canon – is that My Little Pony only gives us one example. Worse, she is clearly both a long way from home and acting in a way that’s atypical for Zebras or she wouldn’t be the only one around. In d20 terms she’s a wandering (expatriate, questing, exiled, whatever) mystic, and almost certainly has a few levels.

So what do we see her do?

  • She lives by herself in a strange hut in a magical forest. She serves as a source of one-shot plot-device magical items when the story needs them. Unlike Celestia, she doesn’t have a lot of raw power, national influence, or other responsibilities, which lets her take the wise and mysterious mentor role while still limiting her impact on events. That also means that the writers keep whatever powers she may have subtle and ambiguous.
  • So we have intentionally subtle and ambiguous powers, an intentionally mysterious race, intentionally limited exposure, and an intentional complete lack of explanations. Vague to start with and with no way to sort out Zecora’s personal skills from whatever her racial talents might be.
  • And so Zebra didn’t make the original list of canon pony types because there just wasn’t enough information to go on. Still, this time the request was for what an upgrade to match the other Ponyfinder pony types might look like on Equus – and speculation works just fine for that.
  • Now for Zecora’s more specific tricks…
  • She’s good at herbalism, balancing, parazoology, and telling spooky stories. There may be a natural affinity there, but that sounds like skill levels or perhaps some specific knowledges.
  • She can create various magical potions, dusts, salves, oils, pills, incenses, and curatives from natural magical ingredients. The power level seems to depend on the components. Of course, the Cutie Mark Crusaders can make potions too. They just needed to have, and successfully follow, the appropriate recipe. On the other hoof… Zecora can do it quickly and knows all kinds of recipes and what various components can be used for.
  • She may be able to produce a cup full of water, but that could just be sleight of hoof – and at that point she DOES seem to be teaching Twilight about focus, misdirection, and trickery rather than training her in raw magical power.
  • She hides the Alicorn Amulet. Of course she might have hoofed it off to Celestia, buried it under a random rock somewhere in the forest, or given it to Gollum to replace his “Precious”. There’s no evidence of any special power here at all, even if this is evidence of Twilight having less than perfect judgement.
  • She lives safely in the Everfree Forest, apparently undisturbed. That coujld be survival skills, or pacts with the forest spirits, or using some kind of warding talisman or spell. Or it might just be a fairly safe area of the forest; after all, the Cutie Mark Crusaders are allowed to go and visit her on their own.
  • Her truth-revealing salve reveals that time has been altered (how often does THAT come up that she knows what that reaction means?). Still, that’s just alchemy again.
  • She has a lot of bling – jewelry, totemic masks, dreamcatchers, and other oddities. Her only real competition in that field is Twilight and her collection of mad-scientist machines. That probably isn’t really a power, but I have gratuitously made it into one as a possible bonus feat.

Ponyfinder gives all Zebra’s the Poison Use ability and a facility with languages. This time… I didn’t go with that except as possible bonus feats. Equestria really only seems to have one major language and is notably short on the use of poisons – and even if it WASN’T, a knack for using weapon poisons would really only be useful to adventurers. A racial talent that’s utterly useless to 99% or more of the race seems kind of weird.

 

Eclipse – Sample Races, Templates, and Characters Update

Here, at last, is an updated index to all the Eclipse-Style Races, Templates, Power Packages, and Sample Characters on the blog.I’m going to sticky this and try to keep it reasonably current from now on.

If you’re building a character, the usual sequence will be Race – Template (if any) – Basic Build, so that’s how this is organized. If you’re looking for “how-to” information, next up is the level-by-level class breakdowns and the general power-package information and examples. After that, for inspiration, swiping power packages from, and use in other games, comes the sample higher-level characters.

Character Creation and System Primer

Sample Races:

Sample Templates:

Eclipse Pathfinder:

Eclipse handles Pathfinder just fine – so here are Eclipse breakdowns for Pathfinder –Basics and Races and the class breakdowns for the  Alchemist, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, FighterMonk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer and Summoner. The sample characters are pretty much all compatible with Pathfinder; if they don’t already have the Pathfinder Package Deal from Basics and Races simply add +2 to an attribute and +3 to their skills.

Sample Level One Character Builds:

Level-by-Level Class Breakdowns:

General Build Information and Power Packages:

Sample High-Level Characters:

. . Note that these characters were generally built for particular campaigns, and so are sometimes built using campaign-specific variants – usually a price break on especially-relevant abilities. These are covered in the Campaign Sheets for the relevant campaigns – Federation-Apocalypse Campaign, Ironwinds Campaign, Atheria Campaign, Twilight Isles Campaign, and Darkweird Campaign.

Level Two Sample Characters:

Level Three Sample Characters:

Level Four Sample Characters:

Level Five Sample Characters:

Level Six Sample Characters:

Level Seven Sample Characters:

Level Eight Sample Characters:

Higher Level Sample Characters:

Level Ten and Twenty Breakdowns:

Alzrius has also put up quite a few Eclipse characters on his Intelligence Check blog – including quite a few interpretations of popular characters from a variety of sources. Pretty much all of them are written up for Pathfinder, and usually use the Pathfinder Package Deal.

  • Rinoa, from Final Fantasy via Dead Fantasy, a powerful 15’th level spellcaster – along with the Hyne Witch template and a discussion of many of the other characters.
  • Pyrrha Nikos, a 7th-level Huntress-in-training, along with statistics for Vytal Humans, three Martial Arts, and some world background and discussion.
  • Sharalia, a Level One Fire Dancer – a character who controls flame through dance.
  • A 20’th level breakdown for an Antimage –  a “class” that specializes in negating the powers of dangerous spellcasters.
  • The Maedar – a racial template breakdown for a male medusa.
  • Sailor Saturn – a fragile young woman from the Sailor Moon anime with some exceptionally over-the-top powers.
  • Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, written up at the peak of his powers – along with the Netherrealm Ghost template and three Martial Arts.
  • Sam Winchester, a level three paranormal investigator from the Supernatural television series.
  • Varek, a Level Six Cleric with some support abilities.
  • Abraham Lincoln, Level Twelve Civil Warrior of the United States of America – with a touch of Vampire Hunter and including his Martial Art.
  • Agent Spin – a Second Level Elite Beat Agent who gets sent… to encourage people in trouble.
  • Gargamel, a First Level Incompetent Ritualist and Bumbler – perhaps fortunately, without statistics for Smurfs.
  • Spinnerette, a Level Five Spider-Style Superheroine/
  • Malecite, a Level Ten Villainous Mage from Suburban Knights, along with Malecite’s Hand, a vastly powerful relic and various new spells.
  • Dirk Markson, a Level One Dark Witch – and possible hero.
  • Barney Stinson (Scroll Down), a Level One Sitcom Inhabitant – from How I Met Your Mother.

Alzrius’s Eclipse d20 Ponies:

Alzrius built his ponies so as to fit into “standard” d20 games – whereas I used the “Superheroic” world template because it would allow my builds to reproduce the things that the ponies did on the show. Of course, that means that my builds will only work well in games based on the assumptions of Equestria; they won’t do so well in basic games. For those, courtesy of Alzrius, we have…

  • The Pony Races:  Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns.
  • The Elements of Harmony:  Built as Eclipse Relics.
  • Rarity:  Starting off the series at level one! Commentary: Using the Elements of Harmony to cover the characters occasional incredible stunts.
  • Princess Celestia: As she generally appears on the show – as a ninth-level mentor-type who explains why she can’t handle things.
  • Adagio of the Sirens: Unreformed, still at large, and needing only an enchanted gem to make a comeback.
  • Lex Legis (And his Picture): Alzrius’s original character – and a very “gray” potential opponent.
  • Notes on Zecora: A discussion of just how much power – or lack thereof – is needed to build Zecora. Comments: My take on Zebras.
  • The Journal of the Two Sisters – and lapses in logic therein. Comments: Unicorn populations and birthrates, basic demographics – and why the “Unicorns losing their magic” story makes no sense in any terms.
  • Iliana, the Ponyfinder Queen: An examination of how to use Eclipse to customize – and slightly upgrade – a Ponyfinder queen to fit her history.
  • Lashtada, Ponyfinder Goddess:  As set up using The Primal Order for second edition.
  • Sonata Dusk: As appearing in his Fanfiction.
  • A Magical Medieval Society: Equestria: Building equestrian society using “A Magical Medieval Society”.
  • Baby Got Backlash: Flurry Heart and Magical Surges
  • Tempest Shadow: The movie antagonist escapes into d20, rather than remaining to face the friendship

Eclipsing Raven Trigonsdottir – Part II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So…

Raven (A.KA. “Rachel Roth”)

Level Eight Superheroic Witch / Harbinger Of Apocalypse

Four Color Template (24 CP).

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free)

Pathfinder Human (Free)

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

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

Witchcraft:

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

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

Basic Witchcraft Abilities

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

“Dark” Basic Witchcraft Abilities:

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

Additional Witchcraft Abilities:

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

The Soul-Self:

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

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

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

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

Other Mystical Abilities:

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

Skills:

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

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

Minor Abilities:

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

Basics:

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

Point Costs:

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

That’s 266 CP

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

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

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

Remaining Details:

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

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

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

Oh, as for that Death Battle with Twilight Sparkle?

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

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

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

Eclipsing Raven Trigonsdottir – Part I

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

-Alzrius

Well, why not?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D20 Terminators

And for today, it’s a question:

I admit I’m curious about Apocalypse after you mentioned him in your write-up for Cable, but really…while I know you meant with regards to the New Mutants (or similar groups), reading these over has reminded me of another action series that started in the 80’s and is still going today: The Terminator. While not quite the same, it deals with a lot of the subjects (killer robots, time travel, and advanced weaponry), so it strikes me as being in the same vein. More specifically, I’d love to see your take on the following:

  • The T-800 (and the T-850 variant),
  • The T-1000
  • The T-X
  • The T-3000

I think those would be a lot of fun.

-Alzrius

Well, why not? There’s already a fairly good book on this topic on the net, but – of course – it’s not as if I agree with everything in it.

Thanks to an incredibly tangled mess of alternate timelines, there are dozens of different “Terminators”, many of them mutually exclusive – and the movies aren’t too consistent about which ones are better or what they can do. That actually isn’t the big problem. Converting the Terminators to d20 is awkward for one major reason:

Terminators are designed to deal with reasonably realistic normal humans using personal weapons. In d20 terms that’s basically NPC classes and – at the top end – second level Fighters and Rogues with small arms.

For example, the classic T-800 is highly resistant to small arms. (generally up to 2d8). Only a lucky shot that hits a joint or exposed component was likely to do any actual damage. Yet small arms fire could take one down. It just took a LOT – or rather less armor-piercing stuff. And they certianly weren’t hard to hit, which let out armor class.

They seemed to be fairly resistant to energy too. The T-800 was able to handle lots and lots of being on fire (generally 1d6 to 3d6) but was unable to handle molten metal or magma (up to 20d6 on immersion).

Yet a pipe bomb (4d6 if you’re being generous) blew one in half. Admittedly that didn’t stop it, but it would be pretty hard to deny that eliminating the lower half is – by definition – probably about 50% damage. Even if we assume that Kyle Reese had some bonuses against Terminators (he can’t have too much though, since his small arms don’t work; perhaps about +1d6 with small arms, +2d6 with explosives?), that he got a good roll, and that the thing already had a little actual damage on it (as opposed to its disguise being ruined)… a Terminator can’t have more than twenty-five to thirty-five hit points. After all, we also know that anti-tank weapons – 8d6 to 10d6 – can damage them easily, and a solid hit (a good damage roll) can take them out in a single shot.

So, since we’re looking at Constructs here… we’re looking at Hardness of between 8 and 12. The standard for “Metal” is 10, so we’;; go with that.

Strength? Well… t-800 variants have been shown bracing a bus to keep it from falling off a bridge, stopping some enormous blast doors from closing, smashing down a large security door, punching through sheet metal, and smashing through cinder block walls.

Still… vehicles can hang partially over drops on their own, so that doesn’t tell us much. The blast doors… well, they were much bigger than the crusher which eliminated the first T-800. So why didn’t they crush the T-800? Perhaps they worked like elevator doors and stopped when firm resistance was registered? The shot didn’t seem to be show any strain or anything.

The large door… came down in one piece and wasn’t much damaged. Evidently the hinges broke. So that’s “break down strong door” (DC 23). Punching through sheet metal… I can poke an awl through sheet metal and hailstones can dent the sheet metal of my car. Sheet metal is simply not a major obstacle to something made of metal. Really, the cinder block walls are probably the most impressive item on this list.

d20 Modern (lifting from the fantasy SRD) lists the “burst” DC for a Cinder block Wall as 35 (Hardness 8, HP 90) – but that’s the same as a one-foot thick masonry wall and that, to put it bluntly, is baloney; I’ve worked with cinder blocks. Once we subtract the hollow part… Hardness 4, HP 20, and a burst DC of 24 is more like it. It might be less; I’ve had cinder blocks break when dropped a couple of feet.

The first movie didn’t show the Terminators as being especially good marksmen, or very stealthy, or extremely clever, or even all that fast. They WERE decent shots (especially when shooting unprotected people at point blank range while they were standing still – or when using a minigun to hose down parked cars with a stream of lead), had basic human level intelligence, were somewhat faster and considerably stronger than a normal human, were capable of using humanities clever machines against us, and they were very, very, determined.

Humans are Persistence Hunters. And the Terminators… are better at it. Plus, they were walking skeletons, classical images of death. They were humans plus, and they were bringing the same kind of death to humanity that humanity had brought to everything that stood in its way. They were stronger, and better adapted to humanities ecological niche, and they wanted us dead. They tapped into the same kind of fear that Godzilla – an avatar of natures uncontrollable wrath and atomic devastation – did.

S0… at a quick approximation: Medium Sized (which goes up to eight feet tall and 500 Lbs), Hardness 10, 30 HP, AC 15, Move 30, Darkvision and Low-Light Vision, Construct, BAB of somewhere between +1 and +4, basic Intelligence. can be temporarily “stunned” by damage. Str 20, considered “Large” for purposes of encumbrance, breaking things, and grappling. Dex 14 (they’re fairly fast and accurate, but they are not Jackie Chan), Int 10 (effectively anyway), Wis… had to say, but likely low, Con — (Construct), and Chr… probably 1 – although those that go rogue and develop personalities of some sort get normal rolls.

We can add a bunch of minor boosts and systems, but that’s our basic T-800 Framework – and the T-800 is a mainstay of the entire franchise.

The quick way to convert a Terminator into Eclipse is not to bother: Pathfinders standard Robot, Machine Soldier is pretty much an exact match (and may well have been meant to be). A T-800 has just been fitted with a high-quality disguise, has access to better weapons, and varies its tactics more.

And that’s a problem, because – while that’s capable of wading through first level Aristocrats, Experts, and Warriors (and even Fighters and Rogues) by the swarm – we want them to be formidable opponents. And many specialized or higher-level d20 characters are quite capable of taking and inflicting a lot more damage than that. It’s downright embarrassing when a mid-level barbarian takes a Terminators heavy weapons shot to the chest and shrugs it off before cutting the thing in half with his axe.

If you want to get sophisticated… drop the Machine Soldiers Two-Weapon Fighting and Weapon focus feats in favor of 12 CP worth of Innate Enchantment and start adding functions in search of 11,000 GP. As a partial Eclipse adaption, it’s probably best to upgrade the CR to 5.

  • Advanced Military Programming: +3 Competence Bonus to Heal, Intimidate, Perception, and Knowledge (History, the Military and Weapons in particular) (1400 GP).
  • Armored Framework: Enhance Structure: +12 + 2 x Str Mod Temporary HP to a construct, x.5 (only to a Construct, only to remain repairable after being reduced to 0 HP (700 GP).
  • Emergency Power: Enhance Attribute: +2 Enhancement Bonus to Strength (1400 GP).
  • Enhanced Servomotors: Boost Armor: Reduced Defense VII (+0 AC, -14 DC), Segmented III (+6 DC, no non-proficiency penalty), Max Dex +4 (-), Speed +10, +4 Str, +2 Reflex Saves (Net purchase DC 10 = 120 Credits or 6 GP). (This is a very cheap trick, but so be it).
  • Hyperalloy Endoskeleton: Crystal of Adamant Armor, Least (+2 Hardness) (300 GP). This increases the units hardness to 12.
  • Iron Strike: The user’s hands are treated as +2 Hand Axes (1400 GP).
  • Large and Heavy: Enlarge Person: Only to be considered Large for the purpose of breaking doors and other objects, grappling, and carrying things (x.5) (700 GP).
  • Reroute Systems: Repair Light Damage (3 uses x .6, recovers only when refurbished x.4, Self-Only x.7, requires 1d6 rounds to trigger after being reduced to 0 HP (ignoring Enhance Structure) x.5, if the first use is insufficient to get the unit up, further uses must be externally triggered by attempts at repair or an application of Mimetic Polyalloy (168 GP).
  • Self-Repair: Repair Light Damage (3 uses x .6, recovers only when refurbished x.4, Self-Only x.7, requires at least one minute of work (x.5) (168 GP).
  • Targeting System: +2 to BAB with Small Arms (1400 GP).
  • Weapons Catalog: Masters Touch, x.7 Weapons Only (1400 GP).
  • Secondary Equipment: Advanced Smartphone (10 GP), GPS (20 GP), Radio Scanner (10 GP), Lock Release Gun (10 GP), Rangefinding Binoculars (25 GP), Compass (2 CP), Flash Goggles (25 GP), HUD (3 GP), Military Transceiver (20 GP), Vocalizer (Voice Imitation, 50 GP), Power Backpack (5 GP), Multipurpose Tool (4 GP), and Remote Surveillance Module (20 GP). Net total: 200 GP.

That’s a total of 9250 GP worth of Innate Enchantment. It’s also significantly stronger and tougher than is really justified for a T-800 – but that’s all right given that quite a few of the variant models are supposed to be slightly stronger, or faster, or otherwise better – although there’s rarely any actual evidence of this. It also leaves 1750 GP worth of innate enchantment (up to 2250 GP if taking advantage of rounding) to add model details.

T-600:

  • The earliest “humanoid” Terminator, the major point of this model was to go into all the places that humans could – wading through water, crawling though holes and pipes, and otherwise getting into their hiding places. It had Tracking (even if it wasn’t all that good at it) instead of one of the Innate Enchantment feats, and so only has 5000 GP worth of boosts. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much information as to what – so you’ll just have to pick your own package.

T-700:

  • This model was apparently an experimental one, and is a bit less durable than the T-800. It has no Hyperalloy Endoskeleton, and so only has Hardness 10. It may have other limitations as well (possibly including the T-600’s tracking feat instead of other benefits), but there’s not a lot of information on them. It was often outfitted with good, but nowhere near perfect, disguises.

T-720:

  • This upgraded T-700 simply has heavier armor. To represent this, upgrade the Enhanced Servomotors entry to actually provide an armor bonus (variable cost) and – presumably – add some built-in weapons. As such, it cannot be effectively disguised. Unfortunately, it’s far more practical to simply deploy armed drones if you can’t disguise your units anyway, so T-720’s are rare, having mostly been upgraded from surviving T-700’s.

T-799:

  • These are basically identical to the T-800, but – not yet being standardized – were more expensive. Few were produced.

T-800:

  • For game purposes this is the basic model. Interestingly, quite a number of “rogue” T-800 units have added various upgrades to themselves – presumably making use of that 1750 GP worth of additional allowable improvements. If nothing else comes to mind… give them a +1 Resistance Bonus to Saving Throws (700 GP) and an Internal Inertial Compass that always lets them know True North (700 GP).

T-850:

  • Add Data Archive (+4 to all Knowledge Skills, all skills are treated as class skills, 750 GP).
  • Upgrade Armor Crystal to a Lesser Version (+5 Hardness, for a total of 15, 1000 GP).
  • Add Morphic Disguise Kit (10 GP). With an extra +6 bonus – and Taking 20 – a T-850 can slowly repair / regrow its human disguise.

T-888

  • Add Expeditious Retreat (1400 GP).
  • A +3 Bonus to Disguise (Thanks to a knowledge of human psychology, 700 GP).
  • Add Built-in Katanas (20 GP).
  • Another 30 GP worth of weapons is likely, but never demonstrated.

The T-900 and T-950 are supposed to be improved somehow, but seemed notably inferior to the 850 models in actual combat. I’d presume that while they are, in fact, somewhat inferior, they are also more stable and far less expensive to produce – a very worthwhile upgrade indeed during wartime, but not something that costs points.

T-X

  • Add Built-In Weaponry: Plasma Rifle (75 GP), Flamethrower (45 GP), Twin Thunder Machine Gun (175 GP), High Frequency Sword (25 GP), Grenade Launcher (100 GP), Laser Sniper Rifle (140 GP), Taser (3 GP), Katana (10 GP), Chain Saw (12.5 GP), minor melee weapons, for a net total of 600 GP.
  • Add Holodisguise (25 GP), since a T-X can perform minor modifications, but cannot change its basic internal structure.
  • Add a Wireless “Neural” Jack (20 GP) and a Neural Computer Link (450 GP), used to override other systems and control them remotely.
  • If it matters, the remaining 650 GP represents the units munitions stockpile; the weapons that require ammo can only be used until the units ammunition reserves are exhausted, whereupon it must restock.

T-1000:

  • Drop the Emergency Power (1400 GP), Hyperalloy Endoskeleton (300 GP), Iron Strike (1400 GP), Armored Framework (700 GP), Large and Heavy (700 GP), and Reroute Systems (168 GP), saving 4368 GP.
  • Add Disguise Self (2000 GP), Reduce Person (x.5, only to fit into and through small places, 700 GP), Summon Weapon (1400 GP), a selection of melee weapons (160 GP), and Reforming (Enhance Structure: +12 + 2 x Str Mod Temporary HP to a construct, reduces the base Hardness by 20% x.8 Personal Only x .7 = 1120 GP) at a cost of 5380 GP.
  • This effectively negates the first twenty-odd points worth of damage that a T-1000 takes each round, but reduces its Hardness to 8 and limits some of its other functions. In theory it leaves about 700 GP worth of Innate Enchantments to go, but I can’t think of anything at the moment. Perhaps a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws (700 GP)?
  • The T-1000 model is very difficult to physically damage, but lacks a solid internal structure to give it shape, strength, and support things like a concentrated energy source, computation, sensor systems, and more. All of those functions have to be distributed across every one of the nanites that makes it up – and it can only be as tough as the links between its nanites. Nanites that have to be able to do everything are always going to have a hard time matching dedicated systems. Unfortunately, it is also extremely resource-expensive to produce and the nanite swarm is highly unstable – making the system extremely vulnerable to program corruption. It may at any point malfunction, change its priorities and goals, subdivide, or even decide that it needs to replace Skynet, That’s why Skynet only deployed wholly-polymetal based Terminators as a last resort.

The T-1000 is also where the franchise makes the transition into complete fantasy; there are an awful lot of physics-related problems with the T-1000, even making allowances for future tech and nanites. Fortunately for Skynet, the Terminators get to run on movie physics instead of the real stuff.

T-3000:

  • The T-3000 does have many of the same abilities as the earlier Terminator models, but it is – quite blatantly – an acquired template, rather than an independent creation. I’ll be covering that template – and making the earlier models playable – next time around.