Eclipse: Hiten Raiju, Thunder Warrior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiten Raiju, Level Two Thunder Warrior

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

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

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

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

Basic Purchases (68 CP):

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

Usual Weapons:

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

Special Abilities (36 CP):

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

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

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

Sample Level Zero Effects:

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

Sample Level One Effects:

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

Sample Level Two Effects

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

Sample Level Three Effects:

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

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Skikon no Tama Shard Power: Thunder Yokai Ki

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

Thunder Clan Storm Fist Style (Str):

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

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

Thunder Clan Roving Wind Style (Dex).

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

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

Thunder Clan Lightning Bolt Style (Str)

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

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

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

Equipment:

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

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

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

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Medieval Dark Ages “Classes” – The Võlur

While Eclipse doesn’t actually use Classes, a Dark Ages game is very likely to stay in the level one to level for range for more-or-less “real people”, rather than dipping into the “action movie star” or “more than human hero” territory that starts at level five or six. That means that a first level character is starting off with close to half of all the character points that he or she is evern going to have – and so that first level build is certainly going to set the tone for a characters later development. Unlike a game that’s expected to go to level fifteen or so… there simply aren’t enough character points in levels 2-3 to do a particularly radical redesign. For this setting, even in Eclipse, “classes” – or at least your initial build choices – are actually quite important.

A Võlur (sometimes a Velho) is a classical sympathetic magician, using Sympathy and Contagion to produce magical effects. Classically, a Võlur could produce an immense variety of effects, at nigh-limitless ranges – but required a great deal of time to do so and was generally limited to relatively subtle, and often long-term, effects.

Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the opposite of gaming mages usually do. They tend to have a very limited range of effects (to let the players and game masters keep track of them easily), most of their effects have very limited ranges (to force the characters to go out and have exciting adventures rather than desk jobs), they have to work their magic quickly (since they are basically competing with the archers and swordsmen), they are anything but subtle (since most of their magic is for use in direct battle), and they don’t use many long-term effects (since, once again, it complicates things too much). Thus, while there have been a few attempts to import sympathetic magic into d20, it rarely works out that well. Fortunately, I am using Eclipse and a setting where this sort of thing is more appropriate – and where the characters will mostly have to settle for “subtle” because most of the blatant stuff does not work.

For Dark Age game purposes Sympathetic Magic comes in two categories – Direct and Indirect.

Indirect Sympathetic Magic is classical. You perform lengthy, complicated, rituals, usually a long ways from your target, and produce… fairly minor effects. Most such interventions can be effectively represented as die roll modifiers. Is the local Võlur attempting to bring rain in the midst of a drought that threatens to ruin a villages crops? Well, in game terms that droughts a -8 Circumstance modifier on on Profession (Farmer, Hunter, Gatherer) and Survival checks. With three separate rituals (perhaps one for rain, one to pull water up from the deep soil, and one to strengthen the plants), our Võlur can provide a +6 bonus to those checks – not entirely negating the effects of the drought, but certainly reducing its effects from “disaster and starvation” to “a somewhat bel0w-average year”. So did cave paintings of successful and bountiful hunts aid early man. Cursing a cow to go dry? A penalty on the owners income check. Do you wish to protect someone from harm? You might take some of their hairs and place them in a metal poppet, granting your target a +2 bonus to their Natural Armor.

More drastic direct interventions approximate the power of a cantrip, albeit at indefinite range. Do you wish a castle to catch fire? Your ritual may cause a candle to topple over when unattended, igniting the rushes on the floor. The place MIGHT burn down – but a passing servant might stomp it out, and even if the fire spreads, it may wind up only destroying a room or two. You can cause ominous messages to appear on walls, let your voice whisper in your targets dreams, cause frightening chest pains, and otherwise subtly aid or hinder your target in a wide variety of ways – but there’s only so much you can do with the occasional cantrip, even if they are being used indirectly from many miles away.

  • Indirect Sympathetic Magic always costs 2 Mana at a base. Additional Mana may be spent to affect a larger area. Do you wish to affect a household, party, or small farm? +1 Mana. A hamlet, manor, or castle? +2 Mana. Sadly, larger areas are out of mortal reach.

Indirect Sympathetic Magic can be quite effective – if a group of three coven of three Võlur (cauldron optional) wishes to affect a battle of champions, each can aid their champion with an effect (Say, +2 to AC, +2 to Attacks and Damage, and +2 to Strength) and inflict some similar curse on his or her opponent, which may well prove decisive – but it’s not like throwing lightning bolts.

Direct Sympathetic Magic is less classical, but much more playable. It substitutes line of sight for a proper link and for much of the ritual (still a minimum of a full-round action). You still need to represent the effect, and the effect is still fairly weak – but you can produce trivial, minor, and notable effects.

  • Sample Trivial Effects (1 Mana per Day): Rub something to briefly polish it. Rub your fingers together (mimicking a firestick) to generate a match-sized flame. Blow, and direct, an impressive smoke ring. Basically, the kind of stuff you can manage with Prestiigitation, but limited to sympathetic effects.
  • Sample Minor Effects (1 Mana): Mold clay to create a large image of smoke or a (fairly obvious) mirage. Break a thread to snap a bowstring. snuff out a match or candle-flame to extinguish a torch or lantern. Use a candle and a thimble to heat a bucket of water. Make your voice come from someplace else. Cause a few moments of disorganization. Try to get someone to repeat what you just whispered aloud. Create an area if slippery ground that might make a target fall. Ease a difficult childbirth. Stop bleeding.
  • Sample Notable Effects (2 Mana): Mold clay to shape a sizeable cloud. Turn a key to open a lock, even if the key has nothing to do with the lock. Exhale hard to create a modest gust of wind or to blow away some smoke. Strike a wall or tree to generate a ranged combat maneuver or attack. Toss out a handful of dust to create a bothersome cloud of dust, cover a trail, or instantly make a large area look dirty and undisturbed. Fan vigorously to purify the air in a modest area.
  • Expanded Targeting: One point of additional Mana may be spent to affect slightly larger areas or groups – a group of up to a dozen targets or a household – but that’s the limit.

Unfortunately, all sympathetic magic is subject to the following limitations:

  • The Rule Of One: A target may only be directly affected by one sympathetic effect from any one witch in any one day. This is a consequence of the fact that each such act establishes a temporary link back to the originator, making it impossible for the user to properly focus any additional magic on the target until it fades.
  • The Rule Of Two: Sympathetic effects are normally limited to a +/-2 or trivial effects of similar potency. That could be applied to armor class, saves, skill checks, attacks and damage, or even as direct damage however. For example, one might sprinkle mold over a handful of stores to affect the food produced by a kitchen, causing everyone who eats it to suffer penalties.
  • The Rule Of Three: No matter the number of rituals enacted, no given target may be affected by more than three sympathetic effects in any one day. Beyond that, there are too many competing temporary links for any sympathetic mage to direct effects to the proper target.
  • The Patronus Rule: Long-term sympathetic effects are maintained by the user’s power. They cannot endure past the caster’s death or the point at which the caster reclaims his or her Mana – although the caster may voluntarily refuse to do so to maintain an effect, although this is still limited by the Synodic Rule, below.
  • The Synodic Rule: Unless a Võlur willingly dies to cast a spell (not so rare as you might think, many a sick or elderly Võlur has given up his or her last few days to provide a permanent blessing for his or her loved ones – or a permanent curse for some truly hated foe) the maximum duration of any sympathetic working is one Synodic Month. After that time, the mana invested in maintaining the effect is freed, and will be regained by the caster normally.
  • The Rule of Resistance. If you directly affect someone with a malevolent sympathetic effect they get a will save to negate the effect at DC (13 + Mana Spent + Users Wisdom Modifier). Targeting someones equipment or something they’re carrying adds +4 to the DC. Environmental modifications do not permit a saving throw.

The wealthy and powerful are obvious targets for Sympathetic Magic. Unfortunately, most of them will employ sympathetic mages of their own, both to maintain beneficial spells on them and their immediate households (which incidentally protects them against hostile spells) and to trace the origin of sympathetic attacks. Ergo, using sympathetic magic against important folk needs to be either subtle or indiract or carefully timed to slip in to the gaps between when their current spells go down due to the Synodic Rule and when they can be re-established.

To actually build the 36 available character points worth of this ability take…

  • 3d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect (Sympathetic Magic, as above) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (12 CP). This may be taken a second time.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only to refill the magic pool above, requires at least one hour per die (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense / Detect Sympathetic Effects. This allows the user to determine the nature of any sympathetic effects currently affecting someone – and to get a good deal of information about the user. This ability is anothe rmajor reason why the wealthy and powerful often employ their own Võlur.

A Võlur is actually the party enhancement specialist. Sketch a scene of the party as amazing heroes cutting their way through a host of enemies to victory, pour three Mana into it (2 for an Indirect Effect and 1 for affecting a small group) and give everyone in the party a +2 to Attacks and Damage until you opt to regain that mana or the synodic rule kicks in. They can pull off some useful tricks in direct battle as well – snapping a group of opponents bowstrings, or trying to trip a group of enemies or some such – but the Rule Of One is very limiting in such cases.

The Build:

Basic Attributes: A Võlur should probably have a reasonable Wisdom, but attributes aren’t actually that important to their magic – leaving them free to focus on some secondary role.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Accursed [Suspicious Person. Võlur can offer gifts. They can also strike against you in secret, in ways that are difficult to detect. Whenever things go wrong, the local Võlur will be under suspicion almost automatically], History [every Võlur should have at least a short list of things they’ve done to help or harm to provide some plothooks], and Accursed [While the Almighty may or may not have a problem with Võlur – after all, he’s the one who made that power available – Clerics tend to disdain Võlur on the theory that meddling with reality should be let to God]) +12 (Human and First Level Bonus Feat) = 70 CP.

Unlike being a Friar or a Bombardier, being a Võlur doesn’t require any major commitment.

Basic Items (24 CP):

  • BAB +1 (6 CP). It’s a rare adventuresome Võlur who hasn’t practiced a bit.
  • Hit Points: 8 (L1D6, 4 CP) + (Con Mod). Võlur aren’t front-line fighters, but they deal with enough upset neighbors to be reasonably competent at defending themselves.
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons and Light Armor (6 CP). Pretty much the minimum for anyone who’s going adventuring and who isn’t otherwise inhibited somehow. Most likely from militia training.
  • Saving Throws: +2 Will (6 CP). Imposing your will on the universe is good training for resisting anything else imposing on you.
  • Skill Points: 2 SP (2 CP) (But see below).

Other Abilities (46 CP):

  • Võlur abilities (As above); 18 CP (Most often Mana and Recovery for PC’s).
  • Upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP).
  • Fast Learner Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Adept x 2 (12 CP). This allows a Võlur to keep eight skills maxed out before any intelligence-based or purchased skill points come into play. While they will probably want one or two to be in crafts or performance skills with which to make models, perform pantomime, or draw pictures, this gives them quite a few
  • Tis Only A Flesh Wound!: Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized / only versus physical injuries, Corrupted / damage prevented by this should be tracked, since it represents bruising, strains, minor flesh wounds, and similar non-critical damage. As long as any remains, half the characters healing will be devoted to removing it (1 CP). Unlike the purely positive-energy based “hit points” of standard d20, a Dark Ages character actually has meaningful biology. With them, being stabbed ten times in the foot for one point of damage per blow is not at all equivalent to being hit in the head once with an axe for ten points of damage. Major wounds will blow right past this resistance, but they can take lots of minor ones. Sadly, this may not be upgraded past 3/-.
  • One Bonus Feat. For combative types, there are some good tricks available with things like Augmented Attack, Trick, or Enhanced Strike. More Mana can make for a decent group-enhancement specialist while still leaving some room for direct tricks.

The Võlur’s magic can be surprisingly effective if used cleverly – but a Võlur is basically a Trickster Mage, rather like the Bard and various magical rogue builds in most d20 settings. Of course, in a Dark Ages setting… a Võlur is reasonably powerful and is about the most vesatile mage to be found.

Personally, I find that the most attractive feature of this sort of magic is that the player needs to be clever. They not only have to think of something useful to do with their very limited powers but they have to come up with a little ritual to make it happen. That can bring in a lot of creativity to replace the usual “I cast Spell 17b”…

Medieval Dark Ages Classes – The Bombardier:

Is not the scent of brimstone and the infernal choking smoke enough of a sign? There are devils in gunpowder. They make it explode in hellish flame. The horrible wounds that such cursed weapons inflict tend to fester and rot (although washing them clean with pure holy water sometimes helps) – a sure sign that firearms are full of wickedness! A bishop tested once – simple leaden musket balls fired from ordinary muskets versus balls of blessed silver with a cross carved into them fired from blessed muskets. The profane lead was far more accurate, inflicted more damage, and consistently outranged the silver that had been cleansed of hellish influences. And if those tests were not proof enough… the dark power of firearms and bombs will easily injure monsters that are near-impervious to mundane weapons. Only the greatest of holy weapons can match their destructive power. The foolish few who dare to risk their very souls dabbling in the use of Gunpowder, Explosives, and Firearms are greatly feared.

Liber Ignium, the Book Of Fires:

As a field of Natural Magic, the use of Firearms and Explosives is based on the Witchcraft system.

Journeyman Bombadier: Witchcraft II (12 CP) with +6d6 Power (Powder?) (Specialized / only for use with Gunpowder Weaponry, 6 CP).

A Journeyman Bombardier gets (Str + Con + Dex) / 3 +6d6 Power and three Witchcraft Abilities – two fixed and one chosen.

  • Gunpowder Mastery – Infliction, Variant (uses a ranged attack check instead of a saving throw), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (120′ Range, uses d6 for damage, increases limits by +1 die per category – so a maximum of 4/6/10 dice for 1/2/3 points) / requires the use of a pistol/longarm/light cannon or rocket at base, or a grenade/petard/powderkeg or rocket to get the area effect, effects are extremely noisy, fiery, and smoky, “force” or “fire” damage only, may frighten the parties horses or other animals, costs +1 power in rainy or otherwise wet conditions.
  • Sharpshooter – Hand Of Shadows – Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Enhanced Aim only. Normally, given the vagaries of early gunpowder, the fouling of the barrel, using smaller balls than barrels so that they bounce around when fired, and imprecise early manufacturing techniques, early firearms are horribly inaccurate. With this power a Bombardier negates that problem automatically and may spend 1 Power as a part of attacking with Infliction to either gain a +5 bonus to Hit with that shot or to attempt some absurd trick shot without penalty.
  • Plus any one of the following knacks:
    • Cauterizing Charge – Healing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user may cleanse an infected wound or stop bleeding automatically, as a move action, at the cost of doing 1d3 Fire damage to the target. This costs no power but the user cannot use other Healing abilites.
    • Demolitions – Dreamfaring, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user’s Infliction effects cause double damage versus objects and bypass hardness. This is a continuous effect with no cost, but the user cannot use other Dreamfaring abilities.
    • Demon’s Breath – Shadowweave, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to turn the smoke from bits of powder into a great cloud of choking, nigh-impenetrable smoke. The user may create such a cloud as a free action or as part of discharging a firearm up to seven times per day for free, each additional 3 uses costs 1 Power. Unfortunately, he or she can use no other Shadowweave abilities.
    • Devils Glance – The Inner Eye, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Observe enough men in battle, stressed and tempered by the flames and thunder of the guns, and you will soon come to see the flaws their eyes reveal. The user may make a perception check (opposed by the targets ability to bluff) to see a targets personality flaws – if someone is corrupt, has committed grievous crimes, is open to bribery, is treacherous, lies routinely, is overly lecherous, or suffers from similar personal troubles.
    • Festering Evil – Elfshot, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user may, on a hit with a gunpowder weapon, roll 1d5: 1-2) The wound is clean, and will heal normally. 3-4) The wound will fester and rot, unless heroic efforts are made, 5) the wound will bleed for an additional 1d6 damage per round until stanched. 6) Shock. The wound acts as Bestow Curse until treated.
    • Greek Fire – Witchfire, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / The user may spend 1 Power as a part of attacking with a gunpowder weapon to cause the target hit to be set on fire. Area effect weapons also add +2d6 Fire Damage when this option is used. Unfortunately, the user may not employ any other Witchfire abilities.
    • Hellfire Gaze – Glamour, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Wielding Hells Fires has it’s side effects. The user gains a +6 bonus to Intimidation checks at no cost and – if holding a gunpowder weapon – may expend 2 power to generate a Command effect against a group of up to six individuals. Unfortunately, he or she can use no other Glamour abilities.
    • Leathered Toughness – Hyloka, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user permanently gains Energy Resistance 5 against Fire and Gunpowder-generated Force effects at no cost, but can use no other Hyloka abilities.
    • My Guns They Comfort Me – The Adamant Will, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user is automatically immune to Intimidation and other Fear effects so long as he or she possesses a gunpowder weapon but can use no other Adamant Will abilities.
    • Piercing Eye – Witchsight, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user may readily see through smoke and fog, suffering no penalties for such conditions but can use no other Witchsight abilities.

The three further possible expansions of the Bombardiers abilities include:

  • Alchemical Compounding: Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only to restore the users Gunpowder Weaponry power pool, above, (6 CP).
  • Master Bombardier (Witchcraft III): Adds four additional Bombardier knacks (+6 CP).
  • Sulfurous Deviltry (The Secret Order): Requires Master Bombardier. Adds the remaining five Bombardier Knacks and +4 Power (+6 CP). A master of Sulfurous Deviltry has sworn himself or herself to the powers of flame and metal, and can no longer be Inspired by the Clergy, but is not necessarily an enemy of the faith. They’re just straddling the line.

Bombardiers may take Witchcraft Pacts to reduce the costs of their abilities – but all such pacts are with demonic powers. A Bombardier with any Pact counts as an enemy of the Christian Faith, and – as rule – their selection is limited to Missions, Spirit, Taboos, Rituals, Essence, Souls, Gateway, Corruption, Possession, Spell Failure (Christian Clergymen), Madness, and Susceptibility (Holy Objects and Places). Taking such pacts is rarely a very good idea.

The Build:

The Bombardier commands the most directly destructive battle magic to be found in the setting – the power of black powder and iron. There is literally nothing else of the mortal world that can match the destruction wrought by a high level Bombardier with a cannon short of a the great acts of nature – volcanic eruptions, great earthquakes and landslides, and the greatest strikes of mighty storms. To be a Bombardier is in itself an act of hubris, betting your very soul that you can bend the fires of hell to your will without being taken by them – and many Bombardiers lose that bet.

Basic Attributes: A Bombardier will want Dexterity first and – probably – Constitution second. Other attributes are of considerably less importance.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Dependent (Unless they regularly restock their supplies of lead, saltpeter, sulfur, charcoal, and any destroyed alchemical apparatus Bombardiers suffer a -12 penalty to their daily Pow(d)er allotment), Irreverent, and one disadvantage of choice) +12 (Human and First Level Bonus Feat) = 70 CP.

Basic Items (40 CP):

  • BAB: +0 (0 CP), +3 Specialized and Corrupted / only with Gunpowder Weapons (6 CP).
  • Hit Points: 12 (Level One 3d4, 16 CP) + (3 x Con Mod). This also gets them up to Level Three as far as Witchcraft use is concerned – making their pistols quite powerful even at level one.
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Light Armor (3 CP). Since their firearms are actually a branch of natural magic, no proficiency is required to use them.
  • Saving Throws: +2 Fortitude (6 CP).
  • Skill Points: (Int Mod + 2) x 4 + 6 (6 CP).

Other Abilities (20 CP):

  • Journeyman Bombardier Package (30 CP).
  • Improved Initiative II (6 CP): +4 to Initiative. A Bombardiers basic strategy is pretty much always “shoot – or at least intimidate – them before they close”, and going first is pretty fundamental to that.
  • Tis Only A Flesh Wound!: Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized / only versus physical injuries, Corrupted / damage prevented by this should be tracked, since it represents bruising, strains, minor flesh wounds, and similar non-critical damage. As long as any remains, half the characters healing will be devoted to removing it (2 CP). Unlike the purely positive-energy based “hit points” of standard d20, a Dark Ages character actually has meaningful biology. With them, being stabbed ten times in the foot for one point of damage per blow is not at all equivalent to being hit in the head once with an axe for ten points of damage. Major wounds will blow right past this resistance, but they can take lots of minor ones. Sadly, this may not be further upgraded.
  • One bonus Feat or Feat-Equivalent of Choice (6 CP).

The Bombardier is pretty much a Warlock – a wielder of dangerous, highly-damaging, and very likely unholy magics that are principally useful in battle. Their damage isn’t especially enormous compared to a high-strength melee specialist with a big weapon or an focused archer, but it’s generally enough, they’ve got reasonable range, and they can bypass a lot of defenses – including a good bit of armor class. Overall, they have an important role to play in Dark Ages party.

Can non-Bombardiers try to use firearms? Why of course! That’s where all those one-handed, or one-eyed, or badly scarred and permanently limping, or powder-tattooed people come from. Meddling with magic when you don’t have the skill rarely works out well, although occasionally someone gets away with it for a bit.

Oh, as a note… I have seen references stating that some bishop or other actually did conduct that test. Given that the results actually make some sense – there are numerous problems with using silver bullets and carving crosses on them will only make the aerodynamics even worse – who knows? Someone might have really tried it. Early bullet or ball wounds are also a lot worse than arrow wounds when it comes to infection. Cleanly cut tissue versus smashed with bits of wadding, cloth, armor chips, and whatever the target was wearing carried into the wound? Which one seems more prone to infection to you?

Eclipse d20 – The Djinni Childe Build

The desert is a hard land. Despite the occasional oasis, it can support only a few wandering nomads and tiny towns clustered around the few larger sources of water – at least until magic comes into play. A few Perpetual Fountains and other city conveniences make it possible to live there – but are both expensive and hideously vulnerable. If someone holds a cities water or food sources hostage… the population often has noplace else go. And so, among the widely-scattered cities, the Compact has grown up. Tradition and Honor. Duel-wars are fought on terms, well outside the cities, with less than a dozen adventurers on each side. The soaring cities are sacrosanct. To strike at the wellsprings of their life is the worst of crimes, a dishonor for generations to come. Those few who seek power in such a manner well-earn the title of “Evil” even if they do not always start as Grand Viziers.

The cities are isolated. Within the deserts crystal outcroppings drink the sun and burn with eldritch power. Magics that attempt to reach across the wastes are warped and distorted. And so the cities are isolated. Teleportation, Gates, Conjurations, the powers of the Gods that reign elsewhere, and even simple messaging spells… fail. No libraries of spells or markets of magic are to be found.

Adventurers and the occasional nomad or trader traverse the desolate wastes between the cities, finding in them purification and a forge for souls, a path that sharpens their powers and skills beyond even the cities elites. There, where the elemental powers of the world sweep unhindered across the land, one can learn to control those powers – or one can fall to them, becoming a ravening elemental force and a peril to others.

So we have an “Arabian Knights” setting – fantastic cities of sparkling towers rising over bustling slums, surrounded by narrow belts of farmlands and deadly deserts. With each city so isolated – and generally small – a vague worship of distant, uninvolved, deities may occur, but lesser local spirits serve the role of gods and magical lore is scarce – making spontaneous casters, Sha’ir, and similar types dominant. In these desolate lands skillful rogues, lesser mystics, and empowered warriors do the adventuring. Practically all of them will be human.

Those who commune with the spirits of the land are especially respected. When a sandstorm engulfs your caravan, or your route becomes impassible… A guide who can moderate that storm or find you another path is far more valuable than a mighty warrior, an evoker of vast destructive powers, or spellcasters with impractical specialities.

Basic Attributes: Charisma is a Djinn Childe’s most important attribute, Intelligence is next – while Strength is rarely all that useful to them.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) +10 (Disadvantages) +6 (Level One Feat and Human Bonus Feat) = 70 CP.

The Basics (34 CP)

  • BAB (Warcraft): +0 (0 CP). At least to start with we’re looking at a primary mystic here; BAB – is not going to be a major focus.
  • Hit Points: d6 (2 CP). While anyone wandering the desert is going to be a bit tougher than your standard commoner, Djinni Childe aren’t combat specialists, even if the may well have some damaging effects.
  • Proficiencies: Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Shields (Corrupted / small and/or light shields only, 2 CP). While armor is an oven in the desert, any traveler will soon pick up the basics of some weapons-work, if only because their fellow travelers will insist on it.
  • Saves: Fortitude +2 (6 CP). Those who wander the deep desert seeking enlightenment are either tough and enduring or dead.
  • Skills: +(3 CP) to upgrade Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level, +(6 CP) from Disadvantages to buy Fast Learner/Specialized in Skills at Level(-2), Adept x 2 (Usually five Perform skills, Knowledge (Religion), Knowledge (History), and Diplomacy, but there is some variance, 12 CP), +2 SP (2 CP) = 18 SP plus (Int Mod x 4). Sixteen of those will go into maxing out their Adept skills.

Other Abilities (36 CP):

  • Mystic Artist, Spirit Speaker Variant, x4 (24 CP).

This variant replaces many basic (Inspiration, Manipulation, and Synergy) abilities with elemental manipulations. Mystic Artist (Oratory) gets Sun and Minor Divination powers. (Dance) gets Sand and minor Transformation powers, (Singing) gets Wind and minor Movement powers, (Percussion) gets Water and minor Illusion powers. (Strings) gets Wood and minor Animation powers, and (Wind) gets Spirit and minor sonic powers. (Act) has no known associations while (Keyboard) appears to be related to Life, Death, and – for some reason – minor powers over space-time (it’s mostly used by space travelers). Corrupted for increased effect: second and later selections only get half the usual number of uses, but all uses are pooled between modes. For an example, Sun might include brilliantly illuminating a radius – dispelling darkness, damaging undead, and dazzling light-sensitive creatures – but by default it will be an ongoing, low-damage effect even against the undead, not a sudden blast. Spirit Speaker effects tend to helpfully adjust the environment, and only secondarily directly attack.

  • Echoes, Specialized / only to give abilities a three-minute duration after they’re dropped (3 CP). Note that Mystic Artist upgrades normally only apply to a specific Mystic Artist skill – so this will force the Djinni Childe to choose a speciality at level one.
  • Ritual Magic, Specialized / only to work minor rituals associated with their knowledge skills (3 CP). Thus someone with Knowledge (History) can use minor rituals to date artifacts, sense psychic impressions, and restore ancient inscriptions, while a user with Knowledge (Nobility) can use minor rituals to create genealogical charts, administer mystic oaths, and make their wardrobe and manners suitable for a foreign court. Knowledge (Religion) suffices for reading auguries, making proper offerings, detecting “evil” and “curses”, and conducting funerals.
  • 1d6 Mana with Reality Editing, plus Rite Of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to modestly extend elemental effects produced by Mystic Artist or recharge the pool used for that (6 CP). This is primarily an excuse for being able to pull off minor stunts with their abilities. Have they got the ability to whip up whirlwinds of sand which grant their friends a bonus on Armor Class, Attacks, and Damage (an elemental variant on the Inspiration/Emotion ability)? This would let them gather sand into a heap or sheltering wall, dig through it, or calm a sandstorm in the appropriate radius.

Further Advancement: Most Djinni Childe are, like Bards, support types – and so they lean towards Bonus Uses and Upgrades to their Mystic Artist abilities, Healing Touch, Connections Favors, Action Hero / Influence, Augmented Bonus (Adds Int Mod to Cha Mod for skill purposes). In combat, they generally resemble Rogues or Factotums – focusing on sudden strikes if they MUST get into melee.

There are a lot of other ways to create elementalists – even performing elementalists – in Eclipse. Another suggested build used Rune Magic requiring a perform check to make things work – but Mystic Artist seemed like nice gateway to an intermediate-level mystic package. Even better, this setup leaves later levels pretty much freeform; yes, you will need to devote an occasional 6 CP to mystic artist upgrades, but the skills and base number of uses will increase automatically, even with no further purchases.

Beragrave The Fallen, Eclipse D20 Sniper-Assassin

He meant well. A dying wife, a sickly child, and none to help him. An old story, played out again and again. Unlike most, however, Beragrave would indeed do ANYTHING to help them. Anything at all.

And a power took note of that, and answered. The power to craft Charms and Talismans of black magic was a small, small, gift – but the seed of corruption easily took root in Beragrave’s flawed heart.

A Bloody Bowl saw to his families health. What matter it if a passing street urchin or two was sacrificed for that? They were doomed anyway, and their lives purchased the time his family needed for a natural recovery.

A Horned Amulet let him support his family in better style. It came at the expense of those about him, but they had not aided him when his family needed help, and so Beragrave paid no heed to the increased burdens he was inflicting upon them.

A Blood Spider and some Necromantic Elixir did in a few travelers – and left Beragrave and his family surprisingly well-off.

By the time his son moved out to start his own family – he and his mother still ignorant of Beragrave’s multitudinous sins – Beragrave had committed hundreds of dark crimes in exchange for additional powers, and served his demonic master with dedication.

Available Character Points: 48 (Level One Base) +10 (Disadvantages; Accursed, Secret, ) +2/Level (Duties; making black magic charms and talismans available and encouraging evil) +1/Level (Restrictions: May not willingly accept the services of good clerics or paladins) +12 (L1 and Human Bonus Feats) = 73 CP.

Basic Attributes: Str 12, Dex 14 (+2 Human = 16), Con 14, Int 14, Wis 10, and Cha 13 (Pathfinder 20 Point Buy).

The Basics (29 CP)

  • Warcraft +2, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for Missile Attacks, only for his Spirit Weapon (4 CP).
  • Hit Points: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +2 (Con Mod) +15 (Bear Cloak) = 25. By the time his “adventuring” career started, Beragrave had been in more than a few fights. Tending bar will lead to that.
  • Proficiency with Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Composite Bows (3 CP).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Shimmermail) +3 (Dex) = 17
  • Initiative: +3 (Dex).
  • Save Bonuses: Will +2 (6 CP). Net Save Bonuses: Reflex +3, Will +2, Fortitude +2.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) +8 (Upgraded Human Fast Learner, 3 CP) +8 (Int) = 22.

Special Abilities (44 CP):

  • Seed Of Darkness: Equipage with Purchasing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to obtain charms and talismans (especially those of black magic), poisons, torture implements, unholy water, smoke bombs, and similar evil supplies (4 CP). This small ability allows Beragrave to simply “buy” small items on the spot. If a whim strikes him to poison someome, or pour acid into a prisoners eyes, or gift some child with a bit of black magic. he can indulge that whim on a moments notice.
  • Bane Of Heroes: Ranged Spirit Weapon (Composite Longbow, 1d8, 20/x3, 110′ Range Increment, 9 CP), Inflicts Nonmagical Fire Damage (+0 CP), two attacks each round are Touch Attacks (+12 CP), Exotic Appearance (Infernal Hellfire, +3 CP), Switch x2 (Stun and Unholy Damage, 6 CP), Augment Attack (Silencing, +6 CP), Augment Attack (Dirty Trick Master, 1d4+1 Rounds, +12 CP), Augment Attack (+1d8 Damage with Spirit Weapon, 8 CP) – all Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost: Must ritually sacrifice an innocent intelligent being at least once per week, must regularly undertake missions for his demonic masters, and must gratatiously spread evil and corruption. If he does not do so, this power will soon start to fail. Failing for several weeks in a row will negate this power until he Atones (see the Atonement spell) for his failures (19 CP).
    • At the moment, Beragrave’s infernal blast is a +6/+6 (+2 BAB +3 Dex +3 Martial Art -2 Multishot) ranged touch attack with a 110′ range increment that inflicts (2d8 + 2 ((Str Mod)) fire, stun, or unholy damage, Crits on a 20 for an extra 1d8. A hit also silences the victim and inflicts a Dirty Trick effect for 1d4+1 rounds. He can upgrade this in a wide variety of ways, just like any other archer.
  • Demonic Tutelage: Adept (6 CP): Bow Martial Art, Diplomacy, Disguise, and Stealth.
  • Embracing The Darkness: 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, they take some time to attune for use, at least three Charms and two Talismans must be Black Magic (6 CP).
  • Stolen Years: Immunity / Aging (Uncommon, Severe. Minor, 4 CP). Beragrave has already earned several extra centuries of life. Who knows what having that much time
  • Track (Urban) (3 CP)
  • A Sigil of Dark Fortune (1 CP): See Eclipse II. A minor Relic that allows one to either reroll or “take 20” in advance up to 12 times – but which can only be recharged though ritual murder.
  • Calling On The Dark Lord: Specific Knowledge: Ritual Of Consulting His Demonic Master (1 CP). This isn’t strictly necessary – presumably they can get in touch with HIM – but it can be convenient.

Charms and Talismans:

  • Personal Charms: Horned Amulet (Black Magic), Serpents Tongue (Black Magic), Wraith Guantlets (Black Magic Undead Version), Vanishing Cloak, Phylactory Of Whispering Shadows, Merasian Vapors, Hidden Pocket (to hide his minor supplies).
  • Personal Talismans: Bloody Bowl (Blask Magic), Black Bear Spirit Cloak (+15 HP), Shimmermail (Demonhide Version).
  • General Charms: As needed.
  • General Talismans: As needed.

Skills (22 SP):

  • Bow Martial Art: +4 (2* SP) +3 (Dex) = +7. +3 Attack and Multishot.
  • Climb +2 (2 SP) +2 (Str) = +4
  • Disguise: +4 (2* SP) +1 (Cha) = +5 (+10 using Merasian Vapors).
  • Diplomacy: +4 (2* SP) +1 (Cha) = +5
  • Perception +4 (4 SP) +0 (Wis) = +4
  • Profession (Innkeeper / Slumlord): +4 (4 SP) +0 (Wis) = +4
  • Stealth: +4 (2* SP) +3 (Dex) = +7
  • Use Magic Device +4 (4 SP) +1 (Cha) = +5

Further Advancement:

Each Level gains 24 CP (Base) +2 CP (Duties) +1 (Restriction) = 27 CP and +4 SP (Int and Fast Learner).

  • (2 CP) Between Adept and buying +2 SP/Level he can add +1 to each of his skills each level.
  • (2 CP) Buying a d6 Hit Die each additional level.
  • (3 CP) +1 on a selected Saving Throw.
  • (2 CP) +1 BAB with Bane Of Heroes
  • (1 CP) +1 level of the Ranger Spellcasting Progression, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Spells are weekly, not daily (Int-Based, Prepare Ranger Spells From List).
  • (1 CP) +1 Level of the Ranger Spellcasting Progression, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Spells are weekly, not daily (Int-Based, Perpare Assassin Spells From List)
  • (2 CP) +1 Caster Level, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for the Ranger Spellcasting Progression, blatant black magic, will not work on holy ground.

That gets him a reasonable set of skills, a reasonable number of hit points for someone who specializes in ranged strike-and-retreat, excellent attacks – touch attacks combined with a BAB of (Level + 1) and other bonuses should hit most of the time – and a pretty good selection of tracking, archery-boosting, stealth, and assassin-utility spells. It also leaves some 14 CP/Level to spend on other things. Spend some of those on…

  • Bane Of Heroes is his primary attack – and is Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost – so you can easily add more d8’s (2.67 CP Each), Archer-Style “Feats” (2 CP Each), additional Touch Attacks (2 CP each) once his BAB is high enough to support them, and various archer-style boosts. You’ll obvious want Imbuement (to give it magical boosts), possibly more types of damage, Far Shot, Enhanced Strike (Focuses), Double Damage (Versus Paladins perhaps?), Precise Shot, and similar benefits.
  • Stealth and General Combat boosts are also in order – Cloaking (6 CP) to conceal his dark powers, Reflex Training (Extra Actions Version) to allow swift escapes or extra strikes (6 CP), Awareness and Flankless (6 CP Each) to avoid sneak attacks and most precision damage, Augmented Bonus (to boost his hit points, 6, 12, or 18 CP), Defender (to raise his AC, 6 CP), Imbuement (Armor, 6+ CP), Opportunist (Hide In Plain Sight. 6 CP),

For miscellaneous purchases…

  • A few more Languages or skills never hurt anyone.
  • An Enhanced Demonic Familiar (12+ CP) can be very handy.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses (Specialized for Reduced Cost / Only to restore spell levels, 6 CP) will enable him to renew some spells given a few minutes out of combat.
  • Innate Enchantment (Hat Of Disguise (1800 GP), Amulet Of Tears (2300 GP), Healing Belt (750 GP), and 650 GP worth of necessary gear – perhaps an unholy symbol for his spellcasting (so that he doesn’t really need one), a spell component pouch if he needs one, and so on, Making some of his Black Magic Charms (10 GP) and Talismans (25 GP) into Innate Powers is a great way to keep them from being discovered. 6 CP). Alternatively, or in addition, a set of the convenient first-level archery boosters could be quite handy.
  • Leadership or Companion (6-12 CP). Beragrave is a family man, so when something happens to his wife – or if he’s just outlived her – he’s all too likely to marry a Hag, or a lesser Succubus, or something. He might also use this as a way to get a few disposable troops to keep a group from coming straight for him when he starts blasting them.
  • Returning (6 CP) – at least in the form of “mysteriously disappearing and reappearing later” – is probably a good trick for any villain that you want to have around for more than one fight scene.
  • Witchcraft: Even a few points invested here can provide access to The Adamant Will – preventing mind-reading and mind control – and a few other useful tricks.

For Items… He’s primarily going to want tools for infiltrating, burst damage, and escaping, A Cloak Of Mysterious Emergence (13,000 GP) is a WONDERFUL tool for escaping, if a bit pricey.

Beragrave is – in general – a long-range sniper-assassin. He pops up somewhere, starts blasting his target(s) (attempting to silence spellcasters and using dirty tricks to hinder everyone else) – and gets out if the opposition proves to have too much long-range firepower or is closing in on him. Being pretty optimized he can be a serious threat to good-guy characters. if only because “I’m getting my powers on the cheap because they rely on sacrificing lots of people to demons” is an approach that good-guy characters are often reluctant to take. After all, players are often reluctant to commit their characters to anything at all.

Eclipse – The Bloodmage Healer

Life and Death. Positive and Negative Energy. Vitality and Unlife. They flow and they ebb, they can be gathered and they can be transferred. Where a draught of life is given, wounds and afflictions are washed away before the sparkling flow. But there is always a price. What is given… must first be taken from another.

Such is the path of the BloodMage Healer.

Everyone in the neighborhood had heard of the youngster. A child with the healing touch – and one who was generous in it’s use to boot – was rare enough that it was surprising that there had not yet been attempts to snatch the kid.

Actually, there had been. But there had been no survivors.

But sooner or later… there will be.

BloodMage Healer

Level One Master Of Life And Death

Race: Any. Preferred a Bonus (or at least not a penalty) to Cha.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) +10 (Disads: Dependent (finds draining life force quite addictive), Secret (has killed many times), and Valuable) +6 (First Level Bonus Feat) = 64 CP

Basic Attributes: Str 7, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16 (Pathfinder 20 Point Buy).

Basics (18 CP):

  • Hit Points: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +6 (3 x Con Mod) = 26
  • Skill Points: 2 (Purchased, 2 CP) +8 (Fast Learner Specialized in Skills, bought at L(-2) with disadvantage points, 6 CP) +4 (Int) = 14. At least four will be invested in her Death Touch martial art.
  • BAB +2 (Specialized in Touch Attacks, 6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fort +2 (Purchased, 6 CP) +2 (Con) = +4
    • Ref +0 (Purchased) +2 (Dex) = +2
    • Will +0 (Purchased) +1 (Wis) = +1
  • Proficiencies: None (0 CP).
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex)
  • Move: 30 (Base).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +4 (Armor) +4 (Shield) +2 (Martial Art) = 22
  • Primary Attacks: Touch Attack +7 (+2 BAB +3 Competence +2 Martial Art), 1d8 Drain Effect (Power or HP if victim has no Power), Crit 20/x2, 20′ Natural Reach. May use a Witchcraft Healing effect whenever she gains power from this attack.

Special Abilities (48 CP):

  • Witchcraft III with The Inner Fire and Leaping Fire, Pacts of Vampirism (may touch others to drain 1d4 Power, or hit points if they have no Power, gaining the same amount of Power – but cannot naturally regain power) and Gateway (18 CP).
      • The Adamant Will. Very handy for covering up the user’s true nature.
      • Healing. A primary ability at the moment.
      • Hyloka. Another option for healing.
      • Dreamfaring, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: May see/hear/smell and strike into coexistent planes without cost. This does not count as an action.
      • Witchsight, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / The user is constantly aware of the physical and spiritual health of everyone within a 30′ radius. The user may tell if they are injured, diseased, cursed, blinded, near death, dying, undead, and so on.
      • Witchfire, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / the user may either strengthen or disrupt structures by touch, spending one power to either use a Make Whole effect or to add 3d6
        “Acid” damage to a successful touch attack. This does not count as an action.
      • Elfshot, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / User may spend power to add an Elemental Manipulation Metamagical Infliction effect to a successful witchcraft-based touch attack. The user may add a +1/+2/+3/+4/+5 total levels of effects for 1/3/5/7/9 Power at levels 4+/8+/12+/16+/20+. This does not count as an action, but saves apply against the Inflicted effect(s).
    • The Inner Fire: Specialized for Increased Effect (Bonus spell slots are converted to Power, spells run on Power) / paired sets of medical/anti-medical effects only, cannot exceed level four effects even with a successful will check). Note that the user’s level must at least equal the level of a bonus slot to activate it and will saves will be required until the user’s level is at least four times that of the spell being cast.
      • L1 (1 Power): Dentistry (Hedge Wizardry)/Inflict Pain, Cure/Inflict Light Wounds, Remove Sickness/Ray of Sickness.
      • L2 (3 Power): Lesser Restoration/Death Knell, Ease Pain/Disfiguring Touch, Remove Paralysis/Ghoul Touch
      • L3 (5 Power): Contagion/Remove Disease, (Remove) Blindness/Deafness, Bestow/Remove Curse.
      • L4 (7 Power): Restoration/Enervation, Poison/Neutralize Poison, Panacea/Mortis (Inflicts damage and – if the target fails to save – one of the effects Panacea removes per seven caster levels or part thereof up to a maximum of 3 at level 15+).
    • Leaping Fire: The user may heal [1d4 + (Con Mod)] hit points per round for 5 rounds for 1 Power. add a Move-Equivalent Action in any given round by spending 2 Power or gain a +4 bonus to Initiative for the same price. For 3 Power they may Haste themselves for 3d4 rounds. to Eliminating fatigue costs 1 Power and eliminating exhaustion costs 3.
  • Whirlwind. Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with her Power-Draining Touch, only (Cha Mod +1) Times Daily instead of 1/Minute (2 CP).
  • Lunge, Specialized for Increased Effect (10′) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only with touch effects, cannot be used with a physical weapon (4 CP). (Provides +10′ Natural Reach with Touch Attacks).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / Only for Saves, only for Will Saves (4 CP).
  • Finesse (Uses Dex Mod instead of Str Mod for Melee Touch Attacks, Corrupted / only applies to her Draining Touch (4 CP).
  • Opportunist: May use a Witchcraft Healing Effect whenever she successfully drains power from someone (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: 5476 GP Effective Value (6 CP):
    • Weapon (Hand) Mastery: +3 Competence Bonus to BAB with Hands (L0, Personal Only, 700 GP)
    • Immortal Vigor I (L1, Personal-Only, 1400 GP). +12 + 2 x Con Mod HP.
    • Force Shield I (L1, Personal-Only, 1400 GP). +4 Shield Bonus to AC.
    • Force Armor I (L1, Personal-Only, 1400 GP). +4 Armor Bonus to AC.
    • Summon Rat L0, 3/Day, x.6 / Rat does not actually appear, it simply has 1 HP and can be drained for up to 6 power (dying at -5) – however cheap that is (360 GP).
    • Perpetual Candle (25 GP): Has a little speck of flame which hovers by her to light things when she needs it to.
    • Ioun Torch (75 GP).
    • Comfortable Anywhere: Outfits: Explorers, Hot Weather, and Cold Weather Clothing (26 GP), Ice Skates (1 GP), Skis (5 GP), Snowshoes (5 GP), Holy Symbol (1 GP), Armchair (5 GP), Workbench (10 GP), Bed (10 GP), Cooking Kit (3 GP), Grooming Kit (1 GP), Umbrella (2 GP), Snowshoes (5 GP), Down Comforters (2 GP), Large Tent (30 GP), Compass (10 GP). The surging vital force within the BloodMage Healer makes them comfortable and mobile in many places where a normal mortal would be quite miserable.
  • Immunity to Personal Martial Arts not having a Key Ability Score (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized / only for the Death Touch Martial Art, 2 CP).

Death Touch Martial Art (Cha). Specialized for Increased Effect (Techniques are doubled in effect if possible, otherwise you get two per choice) / Only usable while wearing light or no armor and no more than lightly encumbered, user is easily detected as a powerful psychic nexus, and so will tend to draw both interested creatures and opponents. Requires: Vamparism Pact.

Since this is a design-your-own style, and will currently have a score of at least +7, she can have at least four techniques. Personally, I’d recommend Power 1 (Doubled, getting her Draining Touch up to 1d8), Attack 1 (Doubled, for a +2 to her Touch Attack), Defenses 1 (Doubled for a +2 to her AC), and Reach (Doubled, for a +10 Natural Reach – giving her a current Natural Reach of 25 feet with her draining touch).

Like most Witchcraft-based characters, the BloodMage Healer comes into their power fairly early on – but they will, like most other fighters, tend to start falling behind at high levels. On the other hand, in the early levels they are devastating – able to use the energies they drain from opponents to heal themselves and their allies as a part of their attacks. Admittedly, it’s only 1d8 damage and 3d4 Healing per strike – but that can be quite effective in conjunction with a whirlwind attack on every enemy within 25 feet even without throwing in “acid” damage or an Infliction effect. If they are up against a swarm of mooks, they may be almost unstoppable.

Further Advancement? Well, a couple of more points in Lunge to get the draining effects out to the thirty foot base range of Witchcraft would be nice. More Martial Arts of course. Imbuement on the hands to add more damage and effects. More Power and Charisma. Reflex Training (the Combat Reflexes variant). Increasing the DC of the saves against his or her Witchcraft is definitely in order. More Witchcraft – Breath Of Life, Venomed Touch, and similar effects seem entirely appropriate – and the usual fighter-style stacking of bonuses. Sneak attack and Presence (to provide flanking) is a possible route as well, but it’s a bit specialized

Eclipse – The Sagacious Advisor

This package gives you the classic sage, mentor, or royal advisor – someone who can tell you that the unseasonable winter blighting the land is almost certainly the work of the Winter King wielding the reforged Fimbulwinter Blade from his Otherworldly Castle Of Ice, and that some heroes must journey there to stop him by shattering the blade once more so that the seasons will turn properly for another age of the world.

He will even – after enough research (waiting to draw the right card since he only gets new ones for his Hexcrafting magic when important things happen) that the situation has become utterly dire and the party has had to hold off multiple attacks by Polar Bears, Winter Wolves, and other ice-monsters – be able to open a path into the mystic realms of the Seasonal Spirits, so that you can reach the Castle Of Ice to do battle with the Winter King.

He won’t know that the Winter King was recently overthrown by his treacherous son Prince Iceheart wielding the reforged Fimbulwinter blade, and that to restore the balance of the world the party will have to rescue the old king, defeat the Prince, shatter Fimbulwinter once more, and perform a ritual to reinstate the link between the Realm of Winter and it’s once and future King. After all, that information is far too recent to appear in the Sagacious Advisors ancient tomes – but he can still get the party started on their adventure.

Similarly, he can put the dying king afflicted by the nigh-unstoppable mystic venom into stasis, and greatly slow the decay of the land that ruler is linked to – but he will have to stick around to keep recasting that stasis (after all, it starting to wear off is probably an important enough event to justify refreshing his powers), leaving the quest for the cure up to the player characters.

Of course, if you wind up having to take a Sagacious Advisor along on your adventures – perhaps you need one of those vastly powerful spells performed at a particular place – then you will have to babysit them through the trip and then protect them from the inevitable massive attack while they perform their ritual casting because they probably won’t be any use at all along the way.

The Sagacious Advisor (Usually an NPC):

Basic Attributes: Str 8, Dex 8, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 16 (Pathfinder 15 Point Buy).

Available Character Points: L3 Base (96 CP) -18 (Untrained) +12 (L1 and L3 Feats) = 90 CP.

Basics (25 CP): Hit Dice: 3d6 (6 CP), Skill Points +8 (Fast Learner at L0, 6 CP) +6 (6 CP) = 14 (six knowledges at +1, 8 points for other skills), BAB +0 (0 CP), Saves +0 (Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saves, 4 CP), Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).

Other Abilities (65 CP):

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect: only for Skills, only for Knowledge, Skills, user must spend a lot of time rummaging through ancient tomes and lore, information often contains gaps (especially about recent changes) that will need to be filled by adventurers, user is afflicted with great curiosity and a certain lack of caution (12 CP).
  • +6 Base Caster Levels, Specialized in Hexcrafting. (18 CP).
  • Hexcrafting: 4 Free Invocations (8 CP), 3 Cards (8 CP), 2 Fixed Cards (6 CP). All Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the user must fumble around with assorted arcane ingredients, speak, and gesture to do anything at all. The Cards are also Specialized for Reduced Cost / Ritual Only, it requires at least one minute of ritual per card expended to create an effect.
  • Berserker with Odinpower (+15 to Base Caster Level, -2 to AC) and +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / each use only allows the casting of a single spell, user forfeits his or her dexterity bonus while casting, only half effect when using a free invocation, (4 CP).
  • Choice of Houngan Conjurer (9 CP) or Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys (9 CP).

While the Sagacious Advisor is useful to have around, and makes a wonderful government official… he or she does not have the quick, or regularly-usable, power needed to be a real threat to the current rulers or to overshadow the player characters. Like it or not, he or she is effectively a plot device. Still, every so often, the Sagacious Advisor can perform a major ritual – opening the path to a realm of myths, transporting a city away from an attacking horde to an unknown alien realm (which will, of course, offer it’s own menaces and which will urgently need exploring), or stopping that volcanic eruption (while simultaneously upsetting some Elementals) – and then be quite unable to deal with the further consequences. Que the player characters having a new mission.

Given that the game is supposed to be focused on the player characters, that’s a good thing. I’ve played in entirely too many games where the megapowerful NPC’s could (and obviously SHOULD) easily fix the problem – but it gets shoved off onto the player charters for some unspecified reason. As an example from a game I once played in…

(My character) “So let me get this straight, The kings widely-loved daughter has been Kidnapped. So the King sent his most skilled (high-level) guards out to scoop up what must be the six weirdest, most incompatible (we had a Drow, a Minotaur, my chain-smoking modern Egyptian tomb robber who’d been drafted by Anubis to be a priest in a fantasy world, and several other weird types), people in the capital, whom he had no information on, who are not known as adventurers, and who he has no reason to trust, to send after her. He’s doing this on the advice of his supposedly good-guy Mind Flayer advisor. We’ve been told that she’s being held in a legendary tomb in the middle of the enchanted forest by bandits. The King refused to lend us a guide, or any guards to provide backup, or give us a map, or provide us with any gear. And we will be thrown in the dungeons if we don’t take on this mission. Well… Now that we’re approaching the forest… I vote that we make a break for it!”

The game master was extremely surprised when the party assumed that we were, at best, a sacrificial diversion for the real rescue mission – and that, at worst, the “lawful good king” was actually covering up the elimination of an uncooperative daughter. And why would we be asking for gear or a map or help? We had our first-level character creation funds!

With this build… that sort of thing is not a problem. The Sagacious Advisor can meet the magical needs of the kingdom, tell the party where to find the necessary plot coupons and mcguffins, and still remain low level and incapable of doing the actual adventuring himself. It also means that – in a setting where most of the world is low level – one can fairly readily find or train an effective royal advisor without having to assume that they just appear from nowhere when it’s convenient.