Eclipse, D20, And Hereditary Templates

And for today it’s another question – in this case referring back to the Epic Survival Stunt of “Dynastic Founder” (Level 18, DC 82: All of your descendants for three generations will inherit a +2 ECL Template of your choice. The effect will start to fade thereafter unless they use magic to choose matches who will maintain the bloodline, but occasional throwbacks will occur for many centuries to come) – along with Channeling / Planar Bonds Path / Inner Light/Darkness / Legacy and Dominion / The Way of Valor / Epic Heroism, (both in Eclipse) and the Legacy spell (Paths of Power), among others which do things to your descendants.

That makes me wonder what exactly makes a template inheritable… Ordinary races are obviously inheritable, but I’m unsure if pseudo-races like the ‘action hero’ or ‘storm lord’ templates are.

As an expansion on that, the ‘Dynastic Founder’ ability seems to do nothing unless you have a lot of kids, assuming there isn’t any special interaction with the child rearing psuedo-leadership ability, since you could simply assign your children a +2 ECL template and say that it’s an inherited mystical trait that you picked up, possibly making it inheritable, and making so there is no difference in the first generation.

A few of those spells I check in the basic ‘paths of power’ document using control-f, and I wasn’t able to find them.


Well, quickest note first, the spells referenced can be found in the rest of the Paths Of Power sequence – either Monstrous Paths or The Complete Paths Of Power (print). As for the rest…

The inheritability of Templates is a bit tricky, if only because “having kids” is not normally a major consideration in d20 games – and thus neither WOTC nor Paizo have ever really covered it very well.

  • In 3.0 (Savage Species) there was a rule for inheritable templates – half-elementals and such – that was pretty simple. It stated that such templates were passed on undiminished. You could have any number of “half-whatever” templates stacked onto your character, limited only by what the game master said the ECL of the characters was going to be.

Of course, that led to obvious absurdities. Dragons breed with any living, corporeal, creature. Go back a mere six hundred years, and your family tree (at least presuming that you are of Northern European descent or have ancestors from anywhere along the silk road) will include pretty much everyone in Europe who had kids. Is your setting a few thousand years old? Then under this rule, everyone in your world will have the half-dragon template ten times (because each primary type of dragon is an independent template) as well as pretty much every other remotely compatible half-(whatever) template out there.

This pretty obviously doesn’t work, however convenient it was for character-optimizers who wanted to stack six different templates so as to construct an all-powerful (and generally quite unplayable) character

  • The 3.5 SRD updated that with a single line: “A templated creature can represent a freak of nature, the individual creation of a single experiment, or the first generation of offspring from parents of different species. (Note that d20’s use of the word “species” obviously has nothing to do with biology: in biology, creatures of two different species normally cannot interbreed).

“First generation”. That’s actually extremely restrictive. If a Dragon and a Demon had a kid, you could create a dragon with a half-fiend template (or possibly a fiend with a half-dragon template if the game master thought that there was such a thing as a young fiend), but if the dragon with a half-fiend template had kids… they were standard dragons or half-dragons of the other parents type. You could give them a Fiendish Bloodline (bloodlines were introduced later and were never more than semi-official to begin with) if you wished – but that was it.

Acquired templates (with the exception of disease templates) were never inherited – although, if they changed a characters “Species” (say to “Vampire”), a kid might get a half-vampire inherited template.

A lot of game masters didn’t bother enforcing that – but it does seem to be what the rules say.

There are some other “Inherited” templates though, so we’ll need to look at those too. Looking through a handy 3.5 Template Index…

  1. Denizen and Inherited “Underground Creature” Templates are a quick way to represent plane- or location- specific species that are otherwise broadly similar to standard creatures. You don’t really stack or acquire them, it’s just that Fire Spiders, Fire Dogs, and Fire Lions are made of fire and all share some obvious characteristics – and that creating a “Template” is a lot shorter than writing a modified block for every monster.
  2. Lycanthropy is its own unique case, in that it’s always an acquired template – but it can infect a child before birth, and they’ll be better adjusted to it. It only affects Humanoids and Giants though, so if you throw in a template that changes that it presumably ceases to apply. In any case, this falls under the “specific exceptions in individual descriptions” rule.
  3. Spellwarped (MMIII) is inherited – but it’s another “artificial species” template – rather like the (semi-official) Environmental Racial Variants from Unearthed Arcana. It, notably, can be added to any corporeal aberration, animal, dragon, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, plant, or vermin – leaving out the most common player character races. I’d guess that the children of two spellwarped creatures are also spellwarped, but the template doesn’t actually say. Given that it automatically drives the character insane about all we can say is that it’s a very poor choice for a player character.
  4. There are some “special breeding” templates for animals, but they really don’t seem relevant.

So that’s where it stands in 3.5: half-(whatever) templates are acquired from having two dissimilar parents and you get acquired templates from special events, but (with the sole apparent applicable exception being Lycanthropy), templates are not passed on to grandchildren. You could be born a half-something lycanthrope, but that’s about it. Of course, you may then acquire as many templates as you can manage, but now we’re in “talk with the game master” territory.

  • Pathfinder, of course, “discarded” the widely disliked ECL system – but never has worked out a good way to deal with player characters with templates or playing with a mixed party of monsters and normal player-character races. Thus Pathfinder Society simply disallows it, while the official “rules” say to treat CR as character level (fudging as needed since they admit that this is a spot where the rules are unreliable), and let them gain extra levels equal to 1/2 their CR on the way to level twenty since Challenge Rating doesn’t scale well – which is just a backdoor way of shoving both ECL (since CR is not necessarily based on the number of hit dice) and ECL buyoff / reduction back into the game without actually saying so. Thus Pathfinder’s solution to player characters with templates is basically “just say no”. Given that this does not actually answer the question of “how to handle them”, we’re pretty much stuck with the 3.5 version.

So, since Pathfinder never updated that rule, the general rule is that Inherited Templates (with the major exception of lycanthropy) only occur when the two parents are different “species” (A and B) and always come in the form of a “half-(A) template applied to base species (B). (I usually go with the mother determining the base species, but that’s just me).

  • Eclipse, of course, just lets you buy powers – with the only real change between a “level” and a “template level” being that the template level provides 32 CP instead of 24, but doesn’t include a free (d4 hit die + Con Mod) hit points or (Int Mod) skill points. It also lets you build up “species” abilities, so it doesn’t normally have a problem with ECL’s, ECL buyoff / reduction, playing characters with templates, or acquiring templates. Do you want to play a Half-Celestial at level one? Just start buying the powers and you’re a half-celestial, even if you haven’t fully developed your abilities as one yet. Since Eclipse generally doesn’t need to make a distinction, the point is usually moot.

The fun part of the various dynastic spells and effects is that they make a certain amount of power inheritable. In some cases you can simply grant your kids a template whether or not you have it (Dominion makes this possible), in others your kids and their descendants can get a certain amount of free power for generations to come. It doesn’t, however, cost any of the kids character points. Your descendants become an important and powerful people family because you have granted them importance and power right from early childhood.

I suppose you could thereby make a backstory claiming that your character is one of the one-in-ten-million kids who got a free template from their grandfather the mighty mage or something – but that’s no more or less valid than a character who wants to inherit 50,000 GP worth of magic items and a pet dragon because of his or her backstory. The game master may allow it, but if so he or she is probably going to be giving everyone some astounding freebie and the Template is just the one you happened to get.

And I hope that helps!


Skill Stunts And Epic Skill Stunts X – Survival

Survival is, arguably, the second oldest skill of all – predated only by Perception. After all, at the most basic level… Survival begins as little more than a tropism coupled with some ability to move around. An amoeba finds some digestible molecules and oozes towards the highest concentration of them – and presumably a source of food. A single-celled Euglena detects light and propels itself towards it, enhancing its photosynthesis (although it can also eat). In its way the Survival Skill predates multicellular life. Admittedly, it’s not a very sophisticated version of the skill (in game terms, it’s at a +0 bonus and probably an attribute penalty) – but it’s still a fair chance at doing the right thing before settling for random chance.

It’s also one of the broadest of all skills. It allows you to locate the resources you need to live in environments that would not normally support you, to understand, predict, and evade the dangers of such environments, and to build up resources from those environments. Secondarily, it covers navigation, tracking, raising children in a hostile world (“group survival”), building shelters, and exploiting the natural magic of the environment. For creatures of Intelligence Zero or One it also covers finding a mate, but more complex social behaviors take over in creatures of higher intelligence.

Finally, of course, it’s an archetype all by itself. A Knight, a Wizard, a Rogue, a Shaman, a Cleric… all have a complex array of skills and abilities – but what other skill pretty much defines an entire lifestyle and set of genres? Primitive tribes, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Burt Gummer, pretty much EVERY “survival horror” setting… all focused on THIS. It’s true that “I will live!” is a pretty basic drive – after all, it has to be or people would be extinct by now – but can you think of another skill that pretty much defines multiple genres?

  • Note that many benefits of this skill can be extended to companions, although each companion so aided increases the DC by +2.
  • In general, you can use Survival at a -10 penalty in place of Knowledge/Nature or Use Rope – but only for mundane purposes.
  • The format here is a bit different. Survival simply has too many applications to list them all separately. Ergo, they’re split into general categories.
  • Remember that these are mana-powered supernatural abilities, not simply feats of skill.

Sample Stunts for Survival:

  • DC 10 (normally no stunt required):
    • Harvesting: You may find and harvest common herbs and plants – taking appropriate precautions with those which are dangerous to handle. You may also identify toxic and dangerous plants and fungi.
    • Hazard Recognition: You may recognize animal dens, animal-created traps (ant lion pits, giant spider webs, trapdoor spider pits, etc), blatant natural hazards, wild magic zones, and cursed regions. In general, you get a free roll to spot such things before getting into them.
    • Pathfinding: You may select the more commonly used trails, leave readable trail signs to communicate basic information, and follow oddly marked trails (including the increasing traces of material that indicate routes to cave exits). You may avoid becoming lost on land.
    • Survival: You may obtain food, water, shelter, and basic personal supplies in cities without spending money. This is also the DC to find food and water in the wilderness, but finding shelter or clothing there is a bit trickier (+5 DC). You may also attempt to camouflage items and positions, inflicting a (Check Result / 2, rounded up) penalty on attempts to spot or otherwise locate them.
    • Talking The Talk: You may impress people with your skills. At DC 15 you may make a basic living as a survival lecturer or writer.
    • Tracking: You may follow unconcealed simple tracks under good conditions and can get a rough estimate of the age of the tracks and the number of individuals being tracked (See the system reference document for more details).
  • DC 15 (May or may not require a stunt):
    • Hazard Recognition: Basic weather prediction, flash flood risks, tidal bores, riptides, low oxygen levels, forest fires, explosive vapors or dusts, toxic fumes, quicksand, supernatural weather events, and similar items. Your check comes before the hazard takes effect and usually results in a chance to evade the hazard or a +2 on relevant checks and saves if that is not possible.
    • Improvise Gear: You can quickly devise protective clothing or gear up to an equivalent value of (5 + Check Result) GP, including swarm suits, basic armor, filter masks, vermin repellent, cold weather gear, and similar items.
    • Pathfinding: You may navigate in the wilderness or at sea without becoming lost. On land you may opt to conceal your trail and that of up to (Cha Mod +1, 1 Minimum) additional companions, penalizing attempts to track you. You may also leave more complicated trail markers to communicate facts about the trail.
    • Survival: You may remain warm or cool, or improvise a fairly secure camp, in the wilderness. You may also effectively remove or evade vermin such as leeches, army ants, and similar creatures and identify dangerous and/or toxic animals. You can also start fires under difficult conditions, build an effective cooking fire and keep it from spreading, construct basic shelters, and otherwise be a well-trained boy scout.
    • Tracking: You may recognize what planes or deities an item or place is linked to or determine your current location. If you happen to be a ghost or astral projection, you can determine both your spirits current location and that of your body.
    • Walking The Walk: As a man of the wilds, you need no longer worry about basic living expenses. Your casual activities as a trapper, gatherer, collector of herbs, and similar can be expected to provide for your needs wherever you may settle without placing further burdens on you.
  • DC 20:
    • Create Trap: You may spend half an hour to assemble a basic trap – swinging logs, spiked pits, punji sticks, snares, deadfalls, etc – from found materials. These only affect a single target or square however.
    • Harvesting: You may locate uncommon or highly dangerous plants and herbs (provided that they occur in the area) and correctly harvest them, as well as gather meat, hides, poisons, and other products from dead animals. You may also obtain honey or similar products without serious harm.
    • Hazard Recognition: You may roll to get a warning from the game master about upcoming natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, avalanches, and similar problems. Oddly, creatures of Int 2 or less can do this at DC 15 without a stunt.
    • Improvise Gear: You may pack efficiently, increasing your effective Strength score by 8 when calculating your carrying capacity. This does not stack with Muleback Cords.
    • Pathfinding: Swift Trails. Your overland travel rate increases by 50%. At DC 30 it doubles, at DC 40 it triples, at DC 50 it’s x4, at DC 60 it’s x5, at DC 75 it’s x10, and at DC 100 any given trip on the same land mass is completed after a brief travel montage. +2 DC per additional character taken along. You may also mark a trail so that it communicates some message or emotional impression to those who travel it.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Enhance Herb or Spirit Call (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: You may hold your breath for up to (Con Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) Minutes or cause a bleeding wound to clot. You may ignore the effects of natural weather (similar to Endure Elements) for up to an hour (twenty-four hours at DC 25, for up to a week at DC 30). You may also construct log cabins and other intermediate structures.
  • DC 25:
    • Create Trap: When defending an area you may spend an hour to arrange (Int Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) Basic Traps (as above). You need not, however, specify where they are until you want them to go off.
    • Improvise Gear: On The Woad Again. You may apply war paint, tattoos, or scars to yourself that grant a +3 Armor Bonus, increasing to +4 at DC 40, +5 at DC 60, and +6 at DC 100. Tattoos and scars can be enchanted further like any other armor. This will, however, cause most people to consider you a barbarian, savage, or primitive and gives away your ethnicity, culture of origin, and profession. If tattoos or scars are further enchanted opponents may make a Spellcraft check to determine the nature of those enchantments.
    • Pathfinding: You may find safe trails, reducing the chance of encountering a creature or natural hazard by 50%. At DC 40 this reduces the chance by 75% and at DC 75 by 90%. Cursed areas increase the DC by +10/+20/+30 for Minor/Notable/Major curses however.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Summon Fetch or Channel Nexus (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: You may hold your breath for up to (Con + 2, 5 Minimum) minutes, go into deep hibernation to survive being frozen solid, sleep for up to a month with no physical requirements, resist the need to sleep for a day, or go up to a week without food or water with no ill effects. If you die anyway, you may haunt your personal belongings and remains as a Spirit.
    • Tracking: You may identify creature types by logically insufficient traces, track without penalty while moving at full speed, and accurately determine the number of creatures being tracked and how fast they were traveling.
  • DC 30:
    • Hazard Recognition: You may determine what type of plants and creatures are likely to be present in an area and how large a population it might support. You may also predict what damage a natural disaster or storm will do, such as where lightning is going to strike or what areas will be swallowed up by crevasses or flooded.
    • Pathfinding: Swift Sailing. Your seafaring travel rate increases by 50%. At DC 40 it doubles, at DC 50 it triples, at DC 60 it’s x4, at DC 75 it’s x5, and at DC 100 any given trip on the same body of water is completed after a brief travel montage. This also applies to travel by vehicles designed for air or space travel.
    • Planar Adaption: You may draw on the natural energies of a plane to adapt yourself for comfortable survival under the planes base conditions for (Con Mod +1, 1 Minimum) days. Sadly, applying this to additional creatures increases the DC by +10 per additional creature instead of +2.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Spirit Of Place or Tap Conjunction (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: You may obtain food, water, and shelter from the elements while traveling at full speed, as well as gaining (Wis Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) chances to harvest herbs or other materials along the way. Your campsites are protected by the equivalent of the Hide Campsite spell.
    • Tracking: You may trace a magical link such as a scrying sensor, determining it’s place of origin and the magical signature of the creature that created it. You may also determine if an area is linked to a land-ruler, is someone or somethings magical domain, or is otherwise claimed by some supernatural force.
  • DC 35:
    • Harvesting: You may harvest rare resources of the land, such as dyes, exotic fruits, surface and placer deposits of gems and precious metals, fine furs, and similar items. While finding a buyer may be additional work, you may expect to make (Check Result) silver pieces with a few hours of work.
    • Hazard Recognition: You may immediately determine the threat level and general attack routine of any creature you can get a look at. If you are operating from an audiovisual recording the DC increases to 40, a picture or detailed description increases the DC to 50, and working from rumors and general information increases the DC to 75.
    • Improvise Gear: You may improvise a dose of any alchemical Balm, Medicine, Tonic. Herb, or Plant worth up to 50 GP or up to a total of (Check Result + 5) GP worth of such materials. These are, however, of no use to anyone else and will only remain potent for twenty-four hours. Given a day in the wilds you will be equipped with a spear, staff, and club, in two days you will also have some javelins and an atlatl if you want one, and in three you will also have a longbow and arrows – all crude, but functional.
    • Pathfinding: Traceless Passage. You leave no traces of your passage, making conventional tracking impossible without supernatural aid.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Warlock Pact or Focus The Land (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: You may ignore environmental penalties to movement, including those for being underwater, for steep slopes, for difficult terrain or overgrown, and similar. You may also attempt to panic the local wildlife in a radius of (Charisma x 10) feet, although a Will save applies. You may roll Survival instead of a Fortitude Save against poison or disease.
  • DC 40:
    • City Founder: You may select a good site to found a city – choosing a defensible location with access to water, better than average resources, on a likely trade route, or whatever. The spot you pick will prove to have two Foundations. At DC 60 it will prove to have three, at DC 75 it will have four, and at DC 100 it will prove to have five or more.
    • Hazard Recognition: You may subtly position up to (Cha Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) targets so that they will be exposed to the effects of some ongoing disturbance, such as being caught up in a riot or stampede or being struck by lightning.
    • Pathfinding: You may find a trail leading to another plane, although there are likely to be three encounters along the way. You may also determine the direction to a given destination, whether or not you have ever been there.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Great Oathbinding or Celestial Rune (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: You may construct a Sturdy Tree Fort or equivalent as a campsite. In an emergency you can add a +4 Alchemical Bonus to one or more of your Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity for 3d6 rounds, but this causes you 2d6 damage per attribute so enhanced after it wears off. You may remove or expel parasites through various unpleasant home remedies.
    • Tracking: You may Track creatures through teleportation, plane shifts, and gates. You may also track vehicles and those using extraordinary means to conceal their tracks.
  • DC 50:
    • Create Trap: Given an hour to prepare a location you may arrange (Int Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) Major Traps – piles of rolling logs or small avalanches, deep pits with spikes or wild animals, and similar items – each of them capable of affecting a modest area. You need not, however, specify where they are until you want them to do off.
    • Child Raising: You are considered to have the Leadership (Eclipse) ability, but only to raise the level of your and your friends children. This is independent of any other Leadership abilities that you may have.
    • Harvesting: You may spend a day to locate or create a personal Charm (as per The Practical Enchanter) and may use up to seven Charms even if the setting does not normally support them. At DC 75 you may similarly locate or create personal Talismans (also as per The Practical Enchanter) and use up to three of them even if the setting does not normally support them.
    • Pathfinding: Mass Guidance. For the next twenty-four hours you may extend the benefits of your Survival skills to up to (Charisma x 10) individuals without penalty.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Forest Pact or Distillation (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: You can render yourself immune to a specific toxin, to the heat and fumes of traveling through a volcanic landscape, or even to drowning. This does require a minute of preparation, but lasts a full day once invoked.
  • DC 60:
    • Hazard Recognition: You may evaluate an area to gain a detailed evaluation of the plants and creatures there, their general population, and the lands basic resources.
    • Pathfinding: You may find a trail leading between settings and worlds at intergalactic ranges that can be traversed in days to weeks. Such trails are often, however, difficult, dangerous, and present major environmental hazards.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Spirit Of The Beast or Circle Of Power (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: You may survive in areas without breathable atmospheres, including space, find food and water on barren asteroids, and construct necessary survival systems, such as airlocks and air-tight shelters. You may automatically succeed on all weather-related saves for twenty-four hours.
    • Weather Witching: You may predict weather and – as long as it isn’t completely absurd – have it come to pass over the next few days.
    • Tracking: You may extract unnerving amounts of information while tracking, determining things like a starship engines type and fuel efficiency, the weight and likely general contents of a wagon, exactly what happened during a fight, and similar items, verging on postcognition.
  • DC 75:
    • Colony Founder: You may show a settlement how to survive in a normally impossible area, such as on an asteroid, in the depths of the ocean, on the surface of Venus, floating in the atmosphere of Jupiter, or similar.
    • Harvesting: You may harvest small tokens in which magic has become temporarily trapped. You may hold tokens containing a maximum of 12 total levels of spells at any one time, may refresh your collection once per day, and may only stabilize tokens containing spells of level two or less enough to collect. One half of the spell levels harvested in any one day are determined by the one using this ability, the other half are determined by the game master. Such spells are released as if they were use-activated at an effective caster level equal to the user’s level. At DC 100 the limit on the effects increases to level three.
    • Hazard Recognition: You may take advantage of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, tidal wave, tornado, forest fire, or major storm, that you “saw coming”. While the worst effects are relatively localized – covering a small town at the maximum – this can still bring down walls and ceilings, damage castles and towers, wash away squads of soldiers, cause avalanches, and otherwise do a great deal of damage. The disaster will arrive 1d3 rounds after you decide to “predict it”.
    • Pathfinding: You may find a trail leading between game systems. Anyone following it will be automatically “translated” into the new system upon arrival. The time required is unknown, since travelers on such journeys invariably travel at the speed of plot. You may also find trails across water, allowing you to Water Walk.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Spirit Quest or Gates Of Myriddin (Paths Of Power).
    • Survival: Personal Evolution. You may spend a day to acquire (Con) character points worth of physical, survival-related, enhancements, maintaining them until you change them again. You might thus purchase Immunity to Aging, or Water-Breathing, or increased Strength, or any of many, MANY, other abilities.
  • DC 100:
    • Create Trap: Given an hour to prepare a location you may arrange (Int Mod + 1, 1 Minimum) Grandiose Traps – pits dropping victims into magma or dangerous underground labyrinths, gargantuan falling rocks, massive gas explosions, and similar events. Each can affect up to a 30′ radius. You need not specify where they are until you want them to do off.
    • Pathfinding: You may find a trail leading across both time and space. You may also find trails through the air, allowing you to Wind Walk or walk on clouds.
    • Primitive Magic: You may exploit the natural magic of the world, employing either Greater Pact or Planar Invocation (Paths Of Power).
    • Second Breath: Once per week you gain the benefits of a Revivify Spell immediately followed by the benefits of a Heal spell when the player feels that it is necessary. Both have an effective caster level equal to the user’s level.
    • Survival: You may survive and function in any consistent environment, including the hearts of stars, on the surface of neutron stars, and in similar impossible environments – although this may require some instant evolution. This takes a little time, so it can be treated as Returning with Rewrite (Eclipse). Your campsites cannot be located by anything incapable of dimensional travel.
    • Worldfounder: You may establish a colony in a normally impossible area, such as on an asteroid, in the depths of the ocean, on the surface of Venus, floating in the atmosphere of Jupiter, or similar and provide it with up to four Foundations.

Epic Skill Stunts:

  • Beastspeech (Spell Level 8, DC 42): This is a perpetual effect, but is otherwise equivalent to Speak With Animals.
  • Caravan (Spell Level 9. DC 46): You may extend the benefits of your survival skill to groups ten times as large as usual for the next twenty-four hours. The Level 15 Grand Caravan variant covers a group fifty times the usual size.
  • The Sensuous Lion (Spell Level 10, DC 50): For the next week you live a life of luxury, with many (if possibly primitive) comforts, plenty to eat and drink, expert services, and compliant sexual partners. You and up to a dozen others you opt to include will be completely refreshed and healed when the spell expires.
  • Life Leech (Spell Level 11, DC 54): You may target up to (Level) targets within medium range with a ranged touch attack. Each target “hit” suffers 12d6 damage. Such damage is applied to any wounds you currently suffer from as healing, once you have no wounds they provide temporary hit points up to a limit of 120 temporary hit points. The healing is permanent, but any remaining temporary hit points vanish after twenty-four hours.
  • Grand Hunt (Level 12, DC 58): You may lead a group of up to (Cha Mod x 100) people in a three-day hunter-gatherer outing to automatically acquire enough food and supplies to last them for 3d6 months.
  • Hardship Surviving Spirit (Level 13, DC 62): As per Universal Energy Protection (Mass) (The Practical Enchanter), but with a duration of one hour/level and Universal Energy Resistance (also from The Practical Enchanter) 30 – which applies before the limited protective function is depleted.
  • Invictus (Level 14, DC 66): When you or a companion dies, you may automatically cast this spell (if you have any slots left) to send them to an afterlife of your choice – including a new incarnation as a level-appropriate creature.
  • Evolutionary Adaption (Level 15, DC 70): A target group (up to the size of a small city) of a species will swiftly adapt to a radically altered or new environment. For example, a herd of horses being overwhelmed by the sea might spontaneously evolve into sea creatures.
  • Find The Lost World (Level 16, DC 74): You may locate (or call into existence) a hidden realm, ancient plateau, cavern complex, pocket dimension, or similar location. It’s general description, and where entry can be found, is up to you, but the details are up to the game master. Also known as “summon adventure”.
  • Set Hearthfire (Level 17, DC 78): You may ignite a blazing pillar of flame, suitable for providing heat, light, power, smelting services, hot water, cooking fires, and similar services for an entire city. It will burn for one hundred years. If you choose to sacrifice the slot for one year, it will burn for a thousand years. If you sacrifice the slot permanently, the flame will burn eternally. The residents can sacrifice spells and valuables to the flame occasionally to keep it going as well.
  • Dynastic Founder (Level 18, DC 82): All of your descendants for three generations will inherit a +2 ECL Template of your choice. The effect will start to fade thereafter unless they use magic to choose matches who will maintain the bloodline, but occasional throwbacks will occur for many centuries to come.
  • Gathering (Research Level 19, DC 86): You may gather natural resources from extreme range in refined and processed form. You may collect rare woods, extract metals from ore or veins, pull gems or crystals from the earth, pull perfume from flowers, quarry useful stone, or extract other resources. Sadly, this only works on unrefined and unclaimed or loosely claimed resources; a wild jungle that is loosely claimed by an absentee landlord is fair game; a cultivated or mined area is not. In general, this will get you up to 20,000 GP worth of raw materials. After all, if you are tossing around epic stunts like this and are still scrambling for gold pieces, something is very, very, wrong.
  • Eternal Freedom (Level 20, DC 90): You (only) enjoy perpetual Freedom Of Movement.
  • Planetary Adaption (Level 21, DC 94): The biosphere of a target world can adapt to a radical change in it’s environment. If a nearby supernova has turned the place radioactive, the creatures there can adapt to it. Or to a thinning atmosphere, or rising temperatures, or a sudden overlap with the negative energy plane, or a plague of wraiths, or whatever.

Survival is pretty fundamental – and in a world of magic involves quite a lot of magic in its own right. As such… it’s Stunts are quite powerful and flexible. If you drop a true master of survival in the wilds naked… you can expect him or her to soon live in a well-fortified redoubt, equipped with primitive but effective weapons, with stockpiles of food and water, and defended by an array of deadly traps and harvested magic – if he or she did not decide to simply go home. Given a little more time there will soon be a thriving colony.

So don’t upset the survivalists, OK? You don’t want Burt on your tail.

Eclipse d20 Power Packages – The Skirmisher Ranger and the Nightmare Kingdom

The Skirmisher Ranger:

Pathfinder’s Skirmisher Ranger replaces Ranger Spellcasting with one of Pathfinder’s favorite gimmicks – a pool of points and a choice of “tricks” they can be used to power. In this case… about 14 “Points” at level 20 (presuming an 18 Wisdom) and eight Tricks at level 19.

Now, admittedly Ranger Spellcasting is not one of the great magical powerhouses – but there does seem to be general agreement that it does the intended job and that you have to get something really good to justify trading it out. There also seems to be general agreement that the Skirmisher abilities just aren’t good enough – although they are nicely thematic and they do role-play well.

Well, the easiest way to compare things like that in Eclipse is to go ahead and build them. Honestly, however, there are going to be some improvements here. Some of the Skirmisher abilities simply are not very useful and others are kind of weak – and limiting things down to those levels would be more trouble than it’s worth (as I’ve noted before, Eclipse wasn’t really designed to build ineffective abilities; so it is often more work to build useless powers than it is to just take effective ones). As usual Pathfinders “Point Pool and Tricks” abilities translate into a Mana Pool in Eclipse terms. So that’s…

  • 5d6 (18) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect (Minor Edits – generally equivalent to first or second level spell effects – cost 1 Mana and do not count as actions or provoke Attacks Of Opportunity), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for Reality Editing, user may only spend 3 Mana per Turn, only to produce a limited (Level / 2) list of Minor Edits which cannot be changed once selected. Will Save DC is (18 + Dex Mod) where applicable, all edits are considered Extraordinary Abilities (20 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses (18 Points), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only to restore the “Tricks” pool given above, takes at least half an hour per d6 (4 CP).
    • You can split this up if you want – perhaps the first feat getting you 6 Daily Mana and the next three getting you +4 Each. A new trick every even level in any case, since they don’t cost points. Why not? That could give you a fair handful of tricks quite early on.

Common Skirmisher Tricks:

  1. Alchemic Strike: Once per round the user may add the effect of a Tanglefoot Bag, Woundweal, Liquid Ice, or Flash Powder, or that of two flasks of Alkali, Alchemists Fire, Defoliant, or Holy Water, or that of three flasks of Acid, to a successful attack.
  2. Call To Heel: The user’s Animal Companion(s) is/are now in an adjacent square(s).
  3. Cats Fall: You land safely on your feet after a fall, taking no damage.
  4. Dirty Trick: You may attempt a Dirty Trick as if you had the Improved and Greater Dirty Trick feats.
  5. Evasive Stance: You do not suffer attacks of opportunity for 1d4 rounds.
  6. Hindering Strike: Slows target for 1d4 minutes, rounds on a successful save.
  7. Hunter’s Eye: Gain a +10 insight bonus on Perception checks for 1d4 rounds.
  8. Hunters Rush: Once per round you may stand up or move (run, swim, climb, jump, etc) twice your base movement without suffering a stealth penalty or attacks of opportunity. Note that, since this is not an action, you may then make a full attack if you wish.
  9. Mighty Effort: You may burst free of restraint. This negates being Dazed, Fascinated, Entangled, Grappled, Stunned, or Paralyzed when activated.
  10. Mighty Blow: As per Disfiguring Touch, but hours/level, Will DC 20 save for one round / level.
  11. Pack Leader: Up to seven animals you own will be well-behaved for you. When you activate this ability they are considered trained for a particular purpose for the next hour.
  12. Primal Reflexes: Gain a +5 bonus on your initiative and negate Surprise. If used in conjunction with a successful Reflex Save you suffer no effect from whatever triggered the check.
  13. Quick Maneuver: You may attempt any one Combat Maneuver as a free action that does not provoke AOO.
  14. Quick Expertise: You may reroll a skill or attribute check.
  15. Stalkers Wheel: Gain a +4 Morale Bonus to Str and Con and a +2 Morale Bonus to Will Saves, for one round per level.
  16. Subjective Gravity: You may treat walls and ceilings as level ground for 1d4 rounds.
  17. Surmount Wounds: You may use Close Wounds OR Cure Moderate Wounds without provoking an AOO.
  18. Swift Fortune: You may reroll a failed saving throw.
  19. Swift Strike: Once per round each either the user or his or her Animal Companion may make a single attack at their highest BAB.
  20. Trap Maker: If in an unprepared area set off a Trap of CR (Level / 6, rounded up) or less. If in an area that you have been in for at least one hour (Campsite, etc) the CR may be up to (Level / 3, rounded off). Traps may be up to 60′ away.
  21. Trick Shot: The user’s next attack gains a +20 Insight Bonus to Hit and ignores miss chances.
  22. Vanguard: You and your allies gain a +2 Circumstance Bonus to Attacks, AC, Saves, and Checks this round.
  23. Warning Cry: Your animal companion is unaffected by an attack.
  24. Wars Master: You may reroll an attack check OR critical confirmation check once.
  25. Whirling Blade: Once per round you may effectively use the Whirling Blade spell without provoking an AOO.
  26. Whirlwind Strike: Once per round you may make a Whirlwind Attack.
  27. Wild Empathy: Gain a language for twenty-four hours. Languages such as “Tiger” or “Mule” are available.
  28. Wild Forge: Given twenty-four hours in the Wilds the user may provide himself or herself with an “equipment package” with an effective value of up to 200 GP. Given a week, the effective total rises to 1000 GP. While the equipment in this package is too crude and temporary to be sold it is completely functional and may include simple vehicles or even animals (too feral to be sold).
  29. Wilderness Stride: The user’s movement is not hindered by terrain for 1d4 hours as long as it can be traversed with normal movement, even if slowly.
  30. Wrathful Blade: A weapon (or 50 projectiles) gains the Keen property for one minute/level.

Now Ranger Spellcasting is quite a bit more flexible, and somewhat more powerful, than the ten tricks you get with this ability even with this expanded and upgraded list – but, on the other hand, this comes to 24 CP while Ranger Casting comes to 52 CP, so if you’re substituting this package for Pathfinder Ranger Spellcasting you have 28 CP left over.

Now you can step it up a bit by throwing in….

  • Rite of Chi with +9 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / Three uses (10 Mana) “Per Encounter”, only to restore mana to the Tricks pool, only between “encounters” (7 CP). This lets the Skirmisher use ten tricks per battle without depleting his or her reserves. Given a reasonable number of encounters twelve is probably fine since the base pool remains at 18/Day.
  • Additional Form Of Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted / adds + (Current Level / 4) tricks to the user’s selection (2 C). If taken twice, for (4 CP), the user simply gets his or her choice of (Level) tricks. After that? Well, +2 CP per additional trick works well enough.

That would come to 35 CP (basically six feats) for a choice of 20 tricks and 12-14 Mana per encounter to use them with – and will still leave room for three more feats. That should make the Skirmisher Ranger (or Skirmisher whatever) much more competitive with the normal Ranger.

The Nightmare Kingdom:

With this exotic talent the user can invite others to visit a Kingdom Of Nightmares – undertaking a nocturnal visit to a realm of dark adventures! If they succeed in their adventure they will each awake with some prize, a treasure gleaned from the realms of dream. If they fail…

…Well, they will wake up anyway, albeit with symptoms of having slept badly – a bit of a headache, a feeling of tiredness, and a forfeiture of the usual nights healing. The “treasures” are a bit random and run towards the carnival-prize end of things sometimes as well, but they are always of some use and value. As the “guests” go in level, the “treasures” tend to improve as well.

Secondarily, the dream-adventures tend to act as a group training exercise.

This 12 CP (two feats) power is built using…

  • Group Blessing, Double Specialized / only to share the effects of the Equipage and Mentor powers below, only works on sleeping groups (3 CP). Double-Specialization is normally a red flag, but “only while asleep” is a pretty big limitation – and it only saves 1 CP.
  • Equipage, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works while the user sleeps, user is not in control of the items gained, although they do tend to meet basic needs, user experiences dreams of small adventures wherein such goods are acquired (2 CP).
  • Plus Returns, Specialized for Increased Effect (the user may sell nonphysical items, such as unused spells and their nightly natural healing, albeit for only a fraction of the normal valuation) / only works while the user sleeps, only things that are renewed daily may be sold, user experiences a dark adventure in the realm of dreams with the nature of the transaction depending on success or failure (a failure sells your nightly natural healing as well as any leftover spells / powers / etc and leaves you a bit tired and possibly head-achy, although aspirin works. A success simply sells leftover spells of your choice and has no side effects save for not having any daily effects that you sold ready if you’re woken up in the night). In general, the odds of “success” are about 50-50, although well-organized groups can get it up to about two out of three (3 CP).
  • Plus Purchasing, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works overnight, only if the user “wins” the dream-adventure, the “prizes” gained are always of some use but run towards a “carnival” feel; a low-level user may get some supplies and a stuffed animal, or perhaps a minor Charm, a map to some place of interest, a few spare blaster power cells, or some such. Higher level users – having more leftover spells and powers to “sell” – may get bigger and more useful prizes (2 CP).
    • Technically such “prizes” come out of the general fund built up by all of the users over time, so tracking individual “accounts” for each user is not necessary.
  • Mentor, Specialized and Corrupted / only works to add a bonus feat to a Party Template developed by spending time training together in dream-adventures, requires some months to develop, party must agree on their party template (as usual) (2 CP).

The Nightmare Kingdom package can be a fairly effective party-booster, providing minor supplies and an enhanced Party Template. It is not, however, a particularly effective combat package; the user may have a steady supply of snacks and trinkets, and will probably charge a bit for their services – but enabling people to win prizes in dreams won’t help much when a monster is attacking. Most adventurers will be quite willing to hire a dream-guide if they can find one though; the utility is fairly obvious.

Eclipse And the Sha’ir

And for today it’s another question…

How would you build a sha’ir (from the Al-Qadim setting) with the Eclipse rules? The class had a 3rd Edition conversion (in Dragon magazine, reprinted in the Dragon Compendium), but that version made some small-but-significant changes to how the class functioned.


Ah, sha’ir spellcasting! Any spell you want, at any time, with no books or memorization! All you have to do is send your minor Genie Familiar – your “Gen” – out to fetch them!

It has been a long time since anyone asked about sha’ir – and I must admit that that is for fairly good reason. As written in second edition…

  • They can only have one spell ready at a time.
  • They lose that spell it in thirty minutes if they don’t cast it (not long enough to scribe it, so they can’t be a source of scrolls or spell formula).
  • They can only ask for “Common Spells” (Level one or two and normally available in the setting) or spells which they’ve seen used. (How did you decide what spells a new sha’ir might have witnessed before starting play? Wasn’t it at least POSSIBLE that you’d seen a magic show, or witnessed a duel, or seen their great-uncle the retired adventurer use a few spells, or something? There never was an answer for that).
  • They need to supply the spell components for their spells, which can seriously hinder the use of some of them.
  • They will often find that they can’t get spells at all, since their gens don’t like to be disturbed at night, and take vacations, and so on.
  • They don’t always get the spells they want, since their gens don’t always succeed at finding them. The base chance of success is [50% + (5 x shair Level) – (10 x Spell Level)]%. For special modifiers we have: +10% for Common Spells, -30% for Divine Spells (plus a 10% chance per level of the spell of suffering minor divine retribution when you cast it), -30% for spells that weren’t on the list for the setting, and a cumulative -10% for each prior failure looking for a particular spell in a day. And even at best, the chance is capped at 90%.
  • It takes (1d6 + Spell Level (+1d10 on a “00″)) minutes (arcane spells of Level/2 rounded up or less that are normally available in the setting), tens of minutes (arcane spells of higher level that are still normally available in the setting), or hours (divine spells or arcane spells that are not normally available in the setting), to have a gen fetch a spell.
  • If you lose your gen, you can’t do any spellcasting until you get a new one – and each new gen is less loyal and slower (+1 time increment) about getting spells than the one before.

Sure, your first level sha’ir may be able to get a fifth level arcane or second level clerical spell that he or she has seen used, but the chance to get it is only 5% – and trying requires (1d6+5) x 10 minutes for the arcane spell and (1d6+2) HOURS for the clerical spell. Worse, with the failure penalty, they’d only get one try per day. If it was a foreign or clerical spell… they’d need to be at least level nine to get that 5% chance.

A ninth level sha’ir looking for Wall Of Stone? 1d6+5 Minutes, 45% chance of success – and a 22% chance that they would not be able to get it today at all. Of course, if they were lucky they might get it six or seven times – albeit at 1d6+5 minutes each time.

So what were the writers thinking?

This actually gave a sha’ir a lot more spells per day than a standard magic-user. It took a magic-user (or cleric) fifteen minutes per level of the spell to memorize one spell. If you spent four hours memorizing spells each day, your daily magical budget was sixteen spell levels – perhaps a fourth level spell, a third level spell, three second level spells, and three first level spells. If you cast more than that you were draining reserves that might take days out of action for you to rebuild – which was why a wand or even a few scrolls were such good treasures. Had you gotten a hold of a Wand Of Frost (100 charges, Ice/Sleet Storm or Wall Of Ice for 1 Charge, 6d6 Cone of Cold (treating 1’s as 2’s) for 2 Charges, rechargable)? It might well become your magic-users go-to weapon for most of his or her adventuring career – just about as vital as the paladin’s holy sword (should he or she be so lucky!).

The ideal situation for a sha’ir was 1) Party scouts out area, 2) Party waits until the sha’ir has managed to get a hold of a spell that will be really useful (or vital!) to whatever plan they come up with, 3) Party moves in, sha’ir casts his or her spell, and immediately sends his gen out after another spell – probably something low level – that he or she thinks will be useful. 4) If the sha’ir is lucky, he or she may get another low-level spell to use during the initial fighting. If not, it will most likely be ready for the next problem if the party keeps moving. Otherwise… the sha’ir will have to rely on scrolls and magic items, just like the standard magic-user (who will probably have used a fair chunk of their sixteen level daily spell budget already).

Did the surviving orcs set a fire for cover, fall back, barricade the corridor, and turtle up? That gave the sha’ir plenty of time to get a hold of another spell.

The trouble was, that the way the game was actually played often greatly favored the standard magic user, who knew just what he or she had available and had it available RIGHT NOW. It was very common to just treat the “maximum number of spells prepared” chart as “spells per day” (which it was never meant to be), and that meant that spells were thrown around in every fight instead of being saved for special situations. Similarly, it was easy to ignore the limits on how many spells a magic-user could learn, to ignore how easy it was to disrupt spells (and how long they took to cast), to skip past much of the difficulty of acquiring spells, to simply kick in the door instead of carefully scouting and planning, and to press the attack rather than risking giving the enemy time to prepare (even if that left you with no time to prepare yourself). After all… no one BUT the sha’ir really needed time to prepare once the adventure was underway.

Of course, when the party was stuck, and needed a specific high-powered effect to proceed… they could sit back for a while and let the sha’ir try to solve their problem. They needed to teleport to another continent? A first level sha’ir could try to do that if (and it was a pretty big IF) he or she had ever seen that spell in action – but it would take an average of twenty days to actually do it. Adventurers usually wanted to get things done faster than that, so that sort of thing was never a particularly popular option in actual play.

In a lot of ways the sha’ir was the first “per encounter” spellcaster – albeit with a side-order of ritualist. Unfortunately, in a game of resource management, that made them far too weak (one or maybe two spells) when it was time to blow resources in a tough situation, often useless in sudden emergencies, and far too powerful during downtime. After all, a high-level sha’ir could – in theory – throw a LOT of spells. At level twenty they had a 90% shot at sixth level spells in (1d6+6) minutes (call it an average of ten), and so might well be able to throw an average of fifty-four sixth level spells in a day (ten eight hour days worth of spell preparation for a standard magic user!) – even if they WOULD have to change what they were asking for fairly regularly.

That gave them plenty of out-of-combat use of spells like

  • L1) Comprehend Languages, Mending, Mount, and Read Magic.
  • L2) Continual Light, Locate Object, Rope Trick, and Whispering Wind.
  • L3) Clairvoyance, Clauraudience, Explosive Runes, Find Water, Invisibility 10′ Radius (which lasted until you attacked), Item (currently “shrink item”), Non-Detection, Phantom Steed, and Sepia Snake Sigil.
  • L4) Detect Scrying, Enchanted Weapon, Hallucinatory Terrain, Magic Mirror, Remove Curse, Wizard Eye, Fire Trap, and Dig.
  • L5) Animate Dead, Dream, Fabricate, False Vision, Sending, Teleport, Stone Shape, and Airy Water.
  • L6) Contingency, Enchant An Item, Geas, Guards and Wards, Legend Lore, Permanent Illusion, Move Earth, Stone To Flesh, Part Water, Transmute, Control Weather, and Invisible Stalker.
  • L7) Mass Invisibility, Sequester, Teleport Without Error, and Vision.
  • L8) Antipathy-Sympathy, Clone, Permanency, Polymorph Any Object, Symbol, and Glasteel.

Sadly, since they did have to keep swapping what they were asking for regularly, what they had at any given moment would be more or less random – and so they didn’t actually get to cast those spells nearly that often. And if that twentieth level sha’ir asked for a ninth level spell… there was only a 60% chance of getting it and it took at least (1d6+9) minutes to even try.

Then third edition turned a lot of “the way it’s usually played” items into hard rules. Now the “maximum number of spells prepared” chart was indeed spells per day, it only took an hour to prepare all of them, spell formula were easily purchased, concentration checks often let you cast a spell even if you were interrupted, and turn-based combat meant that spells were cast much more quickly – so opponents no longer got many chances to interrupt (and thus a mage no longer had to be carefully defended by other characters to cast any major spells), most spell components were assumed to be available in your spell component pouch, and you were no longer limited in the number of spells you could learn.

And now the sha’ir was blatantly inferior to a normal wizard in everything but out-of-combat utility – which wasn’t a big thing in most games. Out-of-combat utility spells tended to be taken along in wands and scrolls just in case you needed them.

Fourth Edition could have revived the concept, but while Fourth Edition embraced the “per encounter” system, it wasn’t big on scouting, delays, or wildly flexible abilities that could seriously disrupt those encounters. Fifth Edition… well, it could still shift course, but it doesn’t seem to be headed towards the sha’ir’s “can try for anything” style at the moment.

So there are several ways to look at this. We can either copy what the Sha’ir actually did or we can give them an ability set that works like they were probably intended to work as updated for 3.0/3.5/Pathfinder.

For the “what they actually did version” we’ll want…

The Sha’ir (96 CP if bought gradually or can be taken as a +3 ECL Template for “Born” Sha’ir).

  • Skill Specialties in Knowledge/Arcana, Spellcraft, and Knowledge/The Planes, Corrupted / all the same: “Genies and their Works” (2 CP).
  • Power Words, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect: User can only store one spell at a time although it may be of up to level nine, user must “cast” it normally (complete with Arcane Spell Failure) and must provide any components for it, only to store spells transferred from the user’s Companion, spells are always cast at the user’s level (6 CP).
  • Major Favors (Geniekind) with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP). Among many other possible favors, sha’ir can ask the desert Janni for guidance and hospitality, ask the greater spirits to provide transportation to and from the Elemental Planes (they normally throw in about a months protection from the local planar effects as a bonus), or even ask for an audience with a great lord of Geniekind. Genies do tend to want return favors later on of course and won’t grant wishes without a compensating service, even as a favor.
  • Immunity / Elemental Attacks (Very Common, Severe, Minor, 10 CP). Provides 12 points of resistance or – if resistance is not relevant – +4 to either AC or the relevant save as needed to protect against a particular elemental effect. This will allow the user to survive on the elemental planes for some time. (Note that their gen familiar increases this to Major Resistance (30 points of Resistance or a +6 bonus) against the element their familiar represents).
  • Major Privilege (6 CP): Geniekin. Genies consider sha’ir to be relatives, treating them fairly and with some goodwill. Moreover, sha’ir can use items made for Genies (a form of “Device Use”, but basically free since no such items normally exist). Finally, a sha’ir can recruit a Genie (Janni, Djinni, Efreeti, Marid, or Shaitan) as an ally provided that it’s ECL is no more than two higher than his or hers. Such an ally will want at least a half share of treasure, counts as a party member for experience point computations, will not grant wishes without proper payment (25,000 GP), and has it’s own motives. While it is there to help the sha’ir, it will not do suicidal things or fulfill unreasonable requests. If it’s more powerful than the party, it will tend to regard itself as being a babysitter at best. Furthermore, Genies aren’t very sociable with mortals. Asking a Genie to run a minor errand in town may lead to all sorts of problems. Only one Genie will accompany a Sha’ir at any given time; they aren’t very sociable with each other either.
    • Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that an enemy Genie will refrain from fighting – but it will probably offer to recruit the Sha’ir before the fight starts.
  • Genie Summoning:
    • Inherent Spell / Dismiss Genie with +4 Bonus Uses (L3, requiring user level 5, as Dismissal, but Genies Only. A Dismissed Genie cannot return for a year and a day) (12 CP).
      • The original sha’ir could use “Genie Traps”, but there were long term penalties for trapping Genies (even if you didn’t demand wishes). To avoid that mess I’m giving them an option to call Genies to help out, but not to grant wishes. Similarly, a Genie Prison has become “Banished for a year”, which is close enough in most games.
    • Summon Genie I: L4, requiring user level 7, as per Summon Monster, but 1 Janni or 1d3 Mephits. (3* CP).
    • Summon Genie II: L5, requiring user level 9, as per Summon Monster, but 1 Djinni or 1d3 Janni or 1d4+1 Mephits. Note that summoned Genies – regardless of type – cannot grant wishes. (3* CP)
    • Summon Genie III: L6, requiring user level 11, as per Summon Monster but 1 Efreeti or Shaitan or 1d3 Djinni or 1d4+1 Janni. Note that summoned Genies – regardless of type – cannot grant wishes. (3* CP)
    • Summon Genie IV: L7, requiring user level 13, as per Summon Monster but 1 Marid, 1d3 Efreeti or Shatan, or 1d4+1 Djinni. Note that summoned Genies –  regardless of type – cannot grant wishes. (6* CP).
      • *All the Genie Summoning spells are Specialized; once one is used, that particular spell cannot be used again for seven days. In addition, using them requires a Genie Seal – an palm-sized disc of precious metal set with small gems and inscribed with intricate elemental and magical sigils. It has a minimum value of 100 GP x the Highest Level of spell it can be used as a focus for – thus a minimum of 300 GP for Dismiss Genie up to 700 GP for Summon Genie IV. Summoned Genies will, however, remain for an extra round if the item is worth 2000+ GP or enchanted (it counts as an Amulet, and so uses the throat slot).
  • Basic Magical Lore: +1 Level of Wizard Spellcasting with no Base Caster Level, Specialized and Corrupted / only to let them understand the basics and use magical items (4 CP)
  • Empowerment, Corrupted for Increased Effect (user may add charges as well as substituting his or her power for them) / only works with Wands and Staves (6 CP).
    • Empowerment Pool: 4d6 (14) Mana, Specialized / only for use with Empowerment (2 Mana = 1 Charge) (9 CP).
    • Rite of Chi with +3 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (automatically gets 14 points) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / only works overnight, only to refill the Empowerment Pool (5 CP).
      • Most sha’ir should be able to get a hold of a wand or two fairly quickly. After all, given a week they can charge up a mostly-depleted one – a very valuable service.
  • Mephit Companion (Familiar) with the +2 ECL Sha’ir Gen Template, Specialized / Demands occasional quests on behalf of geniekind under penalty of no spells, is difficult or impossible to contact while it is resting (8-10 hours per day), must be paid 10 GP/Level/Month, insists on being treated as an honored ally. If mistreated, a sha’ir gen takes two to three times longer to get spells, may take off for a month, or may demand a fee of up to 1000 GP/Level to return to work (9 CP).

Classical Sha’ir Gen Template:

  • Spellforging:
    • Immunity / the normal limitations of Ritual Magic. Spellforging Rituals are quite quick, immune to most external modifiers, and require little or nothing in the way of components (Common, Major, Epic, 27 CP). Note that, as a natural-law immunity, this can be expected to have a pretty major impact on the game.
    • Immunity / Interaction With Reality (Very Common, Severe, Great, Specialized / Only works while the gen is conducting it’s rituals or resting, 18 CP). Only very high-level effects, such as Wish, can interfere with a gen’s “search for a spell”. Gens normally find spells, rest, and take time off, on the elemental planes – with no defined mechanism for finding them and at no risk. This covers that.
    • Ritual Magic, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to duplicate spell effects, the spell effects produced are always transient and unstable; they cannot be stored for more than half an hour, cannot be used to make items, and cannot be inscribed into spell books. Components have no effect on the ritual check, only produces effects duplicating spells which must be either released or stored immediately, failed rituals have no consequences (6 CP).
      • Check: 1d20 + Level versus DC ( 10 + 2 x Spell Level, +6 for Exotic or Clerical Spells, +2 per unsuccessful try in a day). Spellcraft lets you recognize all standard spells – so Familiarity with any given spell is pretty much a non-issue.
      • Requires: (1d6+Spell Level) Minutes (for Arcane Spells of up to half your level, Tens of Minutes for Arcane Spells of higher level than that, and Hours for Divine Spells.
        • Given the existence of Ur-Priests, and the Magic domain, and dual-progression casters, and so on… I’m dropping the idea of divine retribution for daring to duplicate a divine spell effect. There’s no longer any firm division anyway.
  • Power Words, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect: User can only store one spell at a time although it may be of up to level nine, only to store the results of it’s own rituals, only to transfer them to a companion (master) with a similar power (6 CP).
  • Immunity/having to give up it’s own hit points to be a Familiar (Uncommon, Severe, Major, 6 CP). Just add it’s hit points as a familiar to its own hit points.
  • Speaks the Genietongue (whatever that may be in a given setting) 1 CP.

Originally a Sha’ir could expend money, time, and other resources using rituals to upgrade his or her Gen. To do this in Eclipse, simply invest a few more points in your Companion to improve it. Innate Enchantment is always good, but there are lots of other ways.

I’m not actually sure if this template – or sinking enough levels into the project to avoid taking it as a template – is worthwhile. It could be extremely useful in some games, and utterly useless in other games, all depending on playstyle – and I’ve got no way of knowing what that will be.

For a modern Sha’ir?

Well, if we’re going to think about an updated version we’re going to have to think about what role the sha’ir was intended to fill – and it looks to me like the intent of the sha’ir was as a patch to the magic-user.

  • If a magic-user lost his or her spell books, they might well be semi-permanently crippled. Ergo, sha’ir had no spell books. If a gen was lost, it slowed things up slightly, but was hardly crippling. On the plot level… you could block access to a gen, or simply decree that they were on vacation, and so had an easy way to take away the mages powers temporarily – unlike removing their spell books.
  • Magic-Users were often frustrated at being unable to obtain a favorite spell. If they rolled badly, they could NEVER add a particular spell to their spellbooks unless they somehow managed to raise their intelligence, which (in early editions) was a rare, game-master-only, thing. No more of that!
  •  Magic-Users had a bad tendency to “Go Nova!” and burn through many days worth of spells at once – and then the players griped about not having anything to do save toss daggers. Ergo, a shair only got one or two spells per situation but never ran out – and automatically encouraged scouting and planning to boot.
  • Magic Users had a strong tendency to ignore much of the spell list. They learned and prepared only the “best” and most versatile spells. A sha’ir, however, would often find that their first few choices for a given situation were unavailable – and so would find themselves sorting through the spell list for the perfect spell for a given situation.
  • Magic-Users were pretty much never found undertaking weird quests or doing strange stuff. No matter how flavorful it might be Why should they? The rules didn’t call for it. But sha’ir… sha’ir got little tasks from the Genies all the time and sometimes got major quests from them. Their magic required some character interaction and occasional prices.
    • Secondarily, as a party patch… if the Cleric was down a normal magic-user couldn’t do a thing about it. A Ssa’ir could try to fill the gap – albeit very poorly and at a heavy price.

The trouble with all that is that most of those problems no longer exist. For a modernized sha’ir you want them to have more spells in (much faster) combat but a lot less out of combat, be able to recognize any spell with Spellcraft, but not know about them to ask for them, to have wide but unreliable access to spells, but not to keep halting the game while sorting out what they get. This is pretty awkward since those are kind of self-contradictory.

The 3.5 / Pathfinder Sha’ir:

  • Sha’ir channel all kinds of spells. Thus they need an unrestricted Base Caster Level, at 6 CP/Level, for a total of 120 CP.
  • Favors (Geniekind), Specialized for Increased Effect (Effects become available next round and may be “held” for up to three minutes) / Can only be used to obtain spell-like effects which may include metamagic but which the user must supply the caster level and components for. Minor Favors suffice for levels spells of level three or less, Major Favors for spells of Level six or less, and Enormous Favors for spells of level nine or less. Unfortunately, Genies are elemental beings; they may have trouble providing high level priestly magic and with whatever other spells the GM feels are inappropriate to their powers (IE: Whatever effects he or she does not wish to deal with – usually the most “broken” spells). Unfortunately, since these are spell-like effects rather than spells, they cannot be used with the standard crafting feats in the creation of magical items or be transcribed into spell books (although they can be used to recharge Pathfinder-style Staves). Save DC’s are based on either Intelligence or Charisma, at the option of the sha’ir, although the choice is permanent once made.
    • Three Minor Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per “encounter” (6 CP).
    • Three Major Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per “encounter” (12 CP).
    • Three Enormous Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per “encounter” (18 CP).
      • As “per encounter” abilities these provide our Sha’irs primary magical firepower – at least one big, and potentially two lesser, spells per major scene.
    • Three Minor Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per hour maximum (6 CP).
    • Three Major Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per hour maximum (12 CP).
    • Three Enormous Favors, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / once per hour maximum (18 CP).
      • As “Daily” powers these favors can be used out of combat, or – in the case of a “boss fight” or emergency – tapped into within a fight for extra magic. Perhaps fortunately, however, a Sha’ir cannot expend all of his or her resources during any single battle. This also prevents our sha’ir from endlessly casting spells like “Shrink Item” during downtime. 
  • Immunity / Having to repay favors at full “value” (Very Common, Minor, Epic, 36 CP). Genies don’t really value spell effects all THAT much. After all, they are beings of magic explicitly capable of granting mortal desires. When operating from their own planes, channeling through enough elemental power to grant some sha’irs request for a “fireball” doesn’t count for much. This does not mean that they won’t want occasional services, payments, or favors – but that’s on occasional thing, despite the fact that a sha’ir will be calling on them pretty much every day.
  • Immunity / Elemental Attacks (10 CP): As above.
  • Major Privilege / Geniekin (6 CP): As above.
  • Genie Summoning (27 CP): As above.
  • Mystic Companion (CR 3 Mephit) with a +2 ECL Template (+1 ECL to buying down it’s CR for purposes of being a companion, +32 CP), Specialized / is difficult or impossible to contact while it is resting (8-10 hours per day), must be paid 10 GP/Level/Month, insists on being treated as an honored ally. If mistreated it may take off for a month or demand a present to return to work) (6 CP).
  • Basic Magical Lore (4 CP): As above.
  • Empowerment, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works with Wands and Staves (4 CP).
    • This version of the sha’ir cannot recharge wands and staves outside of the usual methods for Pathfinder staves, but can still preserve their charges to some degree.
  • Empowerment Pool: 4d6 (14) Mana, Specialized / only for use with Empowerment (2 Mana = 1 Charge) (9 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +3 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect (automatically gets 14 points) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / only works overnight, only to refill the Empowerment Pool (5 CP).
  • Speaks Genietongue (1 CP).

That comes to a total of 300 GP – 15 CP per level through level twenty. Of course, the package includes a fair number of things that wizards buy separately.

Modern Sha’ir Gen Template:

  • Shapeshift with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / essentially cosmetic, no game-statistic modifications (6 CP). Gen commonly take on the form of androgynous children, good-looking young men or women, or small (winged) animals, but this makes no real difference in their abilities. (Looking like Barbara Eden is optional).
  • Speaks the Genietongue (whatever that may be in a given setting) 1 CP.
  • Gains +1 SP in Knowledge / Mortals (1 CP). Gen don’t understand mortals very well, but they do have a few clues.
  • Innate Enchantment (Belt Of Many Pockets, 11,000 GP), Specialized and Corrupted / can only hold the gen itself and its personal items (4 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment: Six Unlimited-Use Spell-Completion Cantrips at Caster Level One (3000 GP), Force Shield (2000 GP) (6 CP).
  • Blessing, Specialized for Increased Effect (Cantrips are cast at the users Base Caster Level) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to let its master use some of its Innate Enchantments (the Belt Of Many Pockets and it’s Spell-Completion Cantrips) and Spell-Like Abilities while it’s in it’s in the “pocket” (4 CP).
  • Two Bonus Feats (12 CP).

A gen can “turn to smoke” and tuck itself safely away in one of its masters pockets, a bottle, or some similar sanctuary its master carries. While it is there, its master may employ it’s Cantrips and even it’s Spell-Like Abilities. It’s important to note that this Gen is not a Familiar – it’s a mystic companion, similar to a Paladin’s celestial mount. If you want it to have some of a familiars abilities, it will have to purchase them with its bonus points from being a companion.


The Sha’ir: 20d6 Hit Dice (Fast Learner, Specialized in Hit Dice, 6 CP), +24 Saves (Good Will Saves, 72 CP), +10 BAB (60 CP), Sha’ir Magic (300 CP), Proficient with All Simple Weapons (3 CP), +46 Skill Points and Adept I and II (58 CP) = 499 CP out of 504 CP, so there’s enough left over for a bonus feat – possibly Ritual Magic if you want to maintain the “can occasionally pull off major wonders” aspect of things. “Create Artifact” might be better if you want to make yourself an older-edition style wand or two though.

If you wish, you can add something like “Duties”, and add an additional 40 CP worth of abilities – perhaps some bonus feats or the Ranger or Paladin spellcasting chart (perhaps focusing on Illusions or some such) to take advantage of those unrestricted base caster levels and to have some magic independent of Geniekind.

Now, in general, I recommend a buy-as-you-go approach – but this is also a good point to illustrate breaking up your new “class” into a level progression by simply slapping it’s abilities into a table so that it looks reasonable. That’s a bit sloppy – if you sat down and calculated the prices some levels would be overpriced and some would be underpriced – but it’s not like the base classes aren’t that way anyway and the game still functions just fine.


Char Level / BCL BAB Saves Daily Favors  Special Abilities
For Ref Wi Mi Ma En
1 0 +0 +2 1 0 0 Encounter Favor (Mi), Basic Lore, Gen Familiar, Bonus Feat.
2 1 +0 +3 1 0 0 Elemental Immunity (Trivial)
3 1 +1 +3 1 0 0 Genietongue, Empowerment 1/Day
4 2 +1 +4 1 0 0 Geniekin
5 2 +1 +4 2 0 0 Dismiss Genie 1/Day, Empowerment
6 3 +2 +5 2 1 0 Summon Genie I 1/Week
7 3 +2 +5 2 1 0 Encounter Favor (Ma),
8 4 +2 +6 2 1 0 Elemental Immunity (Minor),
Empowerment 3/Day
9 4 +3 +6 3 1 0 Summon Genie II 1/Week
10 5 +3 +7 3 1 0 Dismiss Genie 2/Day
11 5 +3 +7 3 1 0 Empowerment 4/Day
12 6 +4 +8 3 2 0 Summon Genie III 1/Week
13 6 +4 +8 3 2 1 Encounter Favor (En)
14 7 +4 +9 3 2 1 Dismiss Genie 3/Day
15 7 +5 +9 3 2 1 Summon Genie IV 1/Week
16 8 +5 +10 3 2 2 Empowerment 5/Day
17 8 +5 +10 3 3 2 Dismiss Genie 4/Day
18 9 +6 +11 3 3 2 Empowerment 6/Day
19 9 +6 +11 3 3 3 Dismiss Genie 5/Day
20 10 +6 +12 3 3 3 Empowerment 7/Day

And there we have the sha’ir. They’re actually substantially more powerful than a wizard for the first few levels, during which even one modest per-encounter spell plus the abilities bestowed by their Mephit’s will easily outshine a wizard’s few spells – but the power balance will shift back the other way at higher levels, After all, a 12’th level sha’ir will get two spells per encounter (one of levels 1-3 and one of levels 4-6) and has five extra spells per day to draw on (three of levels 1-3 and two of levels 4-6) out of combat or in emergencies. Say four encounters? that’s 13 spells. Admittedly, they will probably be well-chosen spells fitted to the exact situation – but it’s still only 13 spells in a day. They are close to being unmatched in flexibility however,

Eclipse – Building Better Martial Characters

Jirachi was looking at Paladin Spellcasting – and concluded that it wasn’t all that useful. Most of its clerical-style support spells are obsolete by the time that a Paladin gets them and most of its combat-enhancement spells are either surpassed by equipment at relatively low levels or waste actions that would be better spent attacking on short-term enhancements. That was definitely true in 3.5 – which is why the Complete Champion (page 55) provided the Battle Blessing feat:

Prerequisite: Ability to cast paladin spells.

Benefit: If a Paladin spell normally requires a standard action, you can cast it as a swift action. If it normally requires a full round to cast, you can cast it as a standard action. Spells with longer or shorter casting times are not affected by this feat.

For anyone else in baseline 3.5… this requires taking the Epic Feat Automatic Quicken Spell twice (also requires Quicken Spell, 30 ranks in Spellcraft, and the ability to cast ninth level spells).

Even in Eclipse, you can usually only get this as a limited-use trick using Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant).

Still, even with that massive upgrade, a 3.5 Paladin never got into the upper tiers. They just didn’t have enough spell slots or really good spells, they were extremely multi-attribute dependent (Cha for Saves, Str to fight, Con for HP, and a bit of Wis for Spells), and they were very vulnerable to no-save, touch, and battlefield control spells. They had few inherent abilities that helped with invisible, incorporeal, flying, or ranged attackers either – and simply having non-evil opponents (animals, elementals, neutral mercenaries, etc) drastically limited them.

Even with Battle Blessing – presuming that the game master had the Complete Champion book and allowed what was obviously a must-have-rules-patch-feat – 3.5 Paladins weren’t all that impressive. That was kind of sad, because the Holy Warrior archetype has a long, LONG, history and is certainly quite evocative.

Pathfinder added a few useful bits here and there, and greatly upgraded the Smite Evil ability – but the overall framework didn’t really change very much, leaving Pathfinder Paladins still mired on Tier 4. Smite evil is good, yes, and can let them do a LOT of extra damage to a specific target at high levels – but “I do a lot of damage every so often” didn’t move them up much. Most martial classes can do a lot of damage when conditions are right. That’s their job.

So to change that…

  • Large Hit Dice are not the way to go for any martial character. Like it or not, most d20 battles no longer feature gradual attrition and the idea of resource management is out of fashion. Critical Multipliers, Save-Or-Suck, and the other elements of “Rocket Tag” leak into everything these days. A standard Paladin spends 120 CP on 20d10 Hit Dice – an issue of back-compatibility with 3.0 and 3.5 rules written in an era that greatly overvalued hit points and large hit dice (in itself a legacy from first and second edition). That’s why Eclipse includes several ways to take smaller, cheaper, hit dice and still get a bunch of hit points. Go ahead. Stick with d4 Hit Dice (0 CP) and buy Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (18 CP) to add a second attribute modifier (likely Charisma for a Paladin) to your (Con Mod) for purposes of computing hit points. The average difference between a d4 and a d10 is only three points anyway. Buy an extra 3d4 hit points (24 CP) and a d20 Hit Die at level one (16 CP) if you like. That will still save you 62 CP in the long run – enough for an extra ten feats.

For a historical note…

Why were large hit dice so important? Because first and second edition were games of resource attrition. Healing was scarce, attempting to rest outside of town meant dealing with a bunch of wandering monsters, spells were difficult to find, cast, and regain, magic items were rare wonders to be found, you only got a limited number of hit dice, and the constitution modifiers on those hit dice were capped and quit applying after you had all your hit dice and were down to +1 (Mages), +2 (Most Others), or +3 (Fighter Types) hit points per level, and the examples of play all included characters dying in random encounters. When your sixth level mage probably had 12-18 hit points and no easy way to regain them… a couple of hits could easily be fatal. In fact, they often were. But Fighters had hit points. Your average, fighter commonly lived through three or four times as many adventures as a mage did. Hit points were life. Now, of course… everyone expects to be fully healed for each encounter and character death is rare, rather than normal. Hit points are no longer the key to surviving for long enough to retire.

  • Personally, unless you’re building an archer or other ranged-weapon specialist who can stand still and make full use of them, or are focused on sneak attacks or special effects that force saves or some such, I’d forget iterative attacks too. Buy your BAB Corrupted / does not provide iterative attacks and save 40 CP. You can still get a bonus attack from Haste or other special abilities, but replacing those second, third, and fourth attacks that you often don’t get to make – and which rarely hit when you do get to make them – with other combat tricks or extra damage / special effects on a single big hit is generally a good tradeoff if you want to move around the battlefield.

Obviously enough, both of these apply to any primary combatant – and an extra 102 CP can do a LOT for a character.

  • Thou SHALT take Adept. At a bare minimum, you will want a Martial Art (two might be better) and skills like Perception and Diplomacy – and while Adept costs 6 CP up front, halving the cost of four skills will save you a LOT more than that along the way.
  • For Paladin’s in particular… you are using Eclipse. Base your spellcasting on Charisma instead of Wisdom. That costs nothing. Forget about Wisdom. Your job is bashing things, not Wisdom. Similar advice applies to any other partial spellcaster. Base it on an attribute that you won’t mind investing some effort in.

So what to buy with all those points? Well, there are all the usual standbys – Action Hero (Stunts) (for emergency survival), Berserker (for temporary boosts), Celerity (for movement speed), Companions (Familiars, Mounts, etc), Grant Of Aid (for quick self-healing), Inherent Spell (for a touch of magic when you need one), Innate Enchantment (to get various low-level boosts), Leadership (for followers), Luck (to reroll or “take 20″), Occult Sense (upcoming attacks, evil, magic, whatever), Occult Skills (to gain special powers or technological equipment packages), Reflex Training (Combat Reflexes Variant, 6 CP), Resist (boosted saving throws), Spell/Power Resistance (for obvious reasons), Block (to live longer), Bonus Attack, Enhanced Strike (Crushing, Focused, Whirlwind, Hammer), Evasive, Fortune (to save for no effect), Imbuement (to save money on magical items), Improved Critical, Improved Initiative, Lunge (+5′ Reach), Overwhelm (Adds Bull Rush effects to your normal attacks. An excellent way to break charges) Rapid Strike (more attacks), Specialist (bonus for special attacks), and Spirit Weapon – but here are a few other possibilities:

  • (Armor Type) Mastery: Defender, Corrupted for Increased Effect / only works while wearing a chosen type of armor. (+1/2/3/4/5/6 Dodge Bonus to AC at levels 4/7/10/13/16/19). Note that you may also take Natural Armor and Deflection variants on this ability if you just HAVE to have an unreasonably high armor class.
  • Adrenal Burst: Reflex Training (Three actions per day variant), Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Five uses per day) / only to add a Move Action to a Standard Action to allow a Full-Round Action (3 CP).
  • Adrenal Casting: Reflex Training (Three Action Per Day Variant), Specialized in Spellcasting for increased effect (Add Cha Mod to number of uses per day), Corrupted for Increased Effect (Spellcasting this way does not provoke AOO’s) / only for spells of level four or less (6 CP).
  • Agile Opponent: Maneuver with +2 Bonus Uses, Corrupted / only while wearing light or no armor (6 CP). The user may roll his or her Tumble or Acrobatics against a DC equal to the attack roll to evade an incoming Attack Of Opportunity up to three times per round.
  • Blade Of Legend: Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / Only for creating martial relics. Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only for making a particular relic (or minor variations thereon as the user goes up in level) with his or her Enthusiast points (6 CP Total).
  • Chains Of History (12 CP): 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (Minor Edits cost 1 Point, Notable Edits cost 2, Major ones cost 3, and Grandiose ones cost 4). Requires a History Check at DC 15/18/24/36 for Minor/Notable/Major/Grandiose Edits, only for Reality Editing, only to “recall” convenient “facts” that can be used against a particular enemy, allows a Will save at a DC of (14/18/22/26 + User’s Int Mod) to resist, may only spend 4 mana on Chains of History per encounter. Plus Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only to refill the Chain of History Mana Pool.
      • Minor: “Call upon the Light of Ixion when you cast! She will empower your spells to pierce his cloak of darkness!”. Reducing an opponents effective Spell Resistance can be quite helpful.
      • Notable: There is a bare patch on his left breast! Aim there and your arrows will sink deep!” At this level… you get a bonus to hit and extra damage. As a minor edit, you might just get a small bonus to hit.
      • Major: “His Crown! Much of his power lies within his Crown! If you destroy much of his magic will fail!”
      • Grandiose: “But I know your true name, Ramthonosiderin Of The Seventh Abyss, and by it I command you to return to the Darkness from which you came!”
    • With this trick you can make an enemy vulnerable to particular types of attacks, force them to engage specific enemies (he goes berserk if you insult his…), and hamper them in many other ways. Of course, there is always the dreaded “I made my save!” “Foolish Scholar! Did you think that I would not have taken measures to counter such attacks when I knew that my weakness against them had been discovered?”.
  • Classics Of War (12 CP): Mystic Artist (Knowledge / History) with Echoes, Specialized for Double Effect, Corrupted for Reduced Cost: Only to employ the inspiration abilities that grant positive levels, only to provide bonuses in combat against specified enemies, requires that the player provide some tolerably plausible directions. Unfortunately, such device is always fairly specific; the user cannot simply provide directions against “orcs”, it must be something like “They are fighting in a version of the Keldian Style! Such variants are weak against…” or “Serinican Iron Golems? Strike at the joints in the legs: they are weakest there and have a hard time defending them!”
    • Giving some of your allies two positive levels for the purposes of fighting those iron golems provides them with 2d10 (+2 x Con Mod) hit points, +2 to their BAB, AC, and Saves against them, and 12 CP worth of special benefits. At the simplest… how does Augment Attack (+4d6 damage versus Iron Golems, 12 CP) sound? This does require a +9 or higher (Skill + Attribute Bonus) in Knowledge/History – but that shouldn’t be any problem by level four or five.
  • Combat Mastery: 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to upgrade the user’s combat abilities, all effects cost 1 Mana and are treated as Notable edits. Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses (restores 32 Mana), Specialized and Corrupted / only to recharge the user’s Combat Mastery Pool, requires one minute of relative quiet and peace per point of mana restored (12 CP).
    • This is the Eclipse implementation of the Pathfinder Combat Stamina and Combat Tricks rules – but since Eclipse can be used to construct unlimited numbers of possible combat feats, a fixed list of benefits is impractical. Combatants using this system will just have to wing it, inventing useful (if not especially overwhelming) boosts for their abilities on the fly. Those who want more Combat Tricks per fight can buy some upgrades.
  • Craft Of War: Bonus Attack, When you take a full attack action without making iterative attacks you may strike twice using at (BAB – 2) (6 CP). Presuming you have a BAB of 3+, this lets you take two attacks without necessarily having to worry about iterative attacks.
  • Dance of Time/Opportunist (6 CP): May “ride along” with any nearby character who enters a fast timestream, taking actions along with them – effectively taking actions of your own for free whenever anyone in the vicinity uses Time Stop or a similar effect.
  • Devastating Strike: Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for reduced cost / use is announced before the attack, but the effect is contingent on the critical confirmation check. In effect, roll a normal attack – but if you hit, it is automatically a critical hit.
  • Dimensional Warder: Opportunist / you may make an Attack whenever something Teleports, is Summoned, Dimension-Doors, Manifests, or otherwise abruptly appears, in an area that you threaten, Corrupted / the attack uses up an Attack Of Opportunity (4 CP).
  • Dirty Fighter: Presence, Specialized for Increased Effect / Each round as a free action you may attempt a Dirty Trick against any three characters within 20 feet with a CMB equal to (Caster Level + Casting Attribute Modifier + 2). If you succeed the penalty lasts for 1d4 rounds, +1 round for every 5 which your attack exceeds the targets CMD. Removing the condition requires that the target expend a standard action. This does not provoke an Attack Of Opportunity.
  • Disrupting Strike: Double Damage when attacking someone who is casting a spell, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only for purposes of increasing the DC of any resulting concentration check (3 CP).
  • Dolorous Stroke: Trick (6 CP): Either 3/Day or on a Confirmed Critical against a creature vulnerable to critical hits (user’s choice) your attack inflicts an effect equivalent to Bestow Curse or Blindness/Deafness on the creature struck if it fails to save (Will Save DC 10 + Level/2 + Cha Mod). Such a “curse” will go away in 1d10 days thanks to the remarkable healing abilities of d20 characters or can be removed immediately by Healing effects of level three or more or in 1d4+1 rounds by a Heal check against the original save DC.
    • Many other Tricks are possible. For some examples… Death (lose consciousness in 2 rounds, kills in 10 rounds without proper medical attention), Paralysis (lasts 3d6 Minutes), Knockout (lasts 3d6 Minutes), C’hi Block (blocks use of spellcasting and psionics for 3d6 hours), Withering Palm (dissipates victims Mana reserves; they must recover normally), Crippling (renders a limb unusable for 3d6 days), Pain (victim is at -6 on all rolls for 2d4 hours, this can be used for interrogation), Dazing (victim “loses” 1d4+1 rounds without being aware of it), and Amnesia (victim loses his or her memory for 3d6 hours, even after recovery 1d4 hours just before the strike will remain blank) are all possible.
  • The Witchcraft-Based Feat Full Of Tricks (usually Fighter or Ranger Type),
  • Fervent Warrior: Improved Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Str Mod) for Combat Purposes, Specialized / only for Attack Rolls (6 CP).
  • Focused Expertise (Weapon Group): Expertise (BAB and Damage), Specialized in (Weapon Group) (3 CP), Double Damage (only the bonus damage from Expertise, Specialized in (same Weapon Group) (3 CP). This combination allows you to give up +1 to +5 on your attack to gain +2 to +10 damage. The Heedless Attack variant gives up points from the user’s AC instead.
  • Greater Weapon Tricks: Innate Enchantment, 5200 GP Effective Value (6 CP), all effects are caster level one, spell level zero or one, unlimited-use use-activated (with varying uses-per-day), swift actions unless otherwise noted. While none of these are especially incredible tricks, it does offer a wide variety for a single feat, including some quite convenient abilities.
    • Level Zero:
      • Call Item (2/Day, 400 GP): An unattended item leaps into your hand from up to thirty feet away.
      • Fast Draw (3/Day, 600 GP): A weapon on your person appears in your hand.
      • Wind Weapon (1/Day, 200 GP): You conjure a normal weapon for one minute.
    • Level One:
      • Fancy Footwork (2/Day, 800 GP): Gain +5 feet of Natural Reach for one minute.
      • Master’s Parry (4/Day, 1600 GP): Block 15 points of incoming damage as an immediate action.
      • Rhino’s Rush (1/Day, 400 GP): Inflict double damage on a charge.
      • Sudden Strike (3/Day, 1200 GP): Make a single attack at your full BAB.
  • Grievous Strike: Luck, Specialized in Confirming Critical Hits (the user may roll twice to confirm a critical hit) (6 CP).
  • Guardian Stance: Presence (Shield). You and all your allies enjoy the benefits of a Shield spell.
    • Variants using other first level spells are also popular. Where saves apply, they are at a DC of (11+Cha Mod). Common versions include Holy Aura (Protection From Evil), Battle Blessing (Magic Weapon), Wraithbane Stance (Ghostbane Dirge), Aura Of Freedom (Liberating Command), (Element), Battle Aura (Divine Favor), Burden Bearer (Knight Unburdened), Aura Of Bravery (Lionheart on Allies), Visage Of Terror (Cause Fear), Second Wind (Resurgence), Omen Reading I/II (Warning Shout or Nerveskitter).
  • Guardian Strike Technique: Opportunist / gets a chance to make an Attack of Opportunity on any opponent that he or she threatens who attacks someone else (6 CP).
  • Happosain Master: Immunity / The distinctions between what weapon(s) you are wielding (Very Common, Minor, Major, 12 CP). You may treat any weapon you are proficient in as any other type of weapon you are proficient in. You might thus use your +3 Longsword as a +3 Battle Axe, or Bow, or Staff, or any other kind of weapon. (very handy with Reach weapons).
  • Holy Blaze: Trick. Either 3/Day or on a Confirmed Critical (user’s choice) your attack will destroy an Undead which fails to save (Will DC 10 + Level/2 + Cha Mod).
  • Houngan Conjurer. Very handy for making minor relics for your party.
  • Inner Glory: Finesse (use Cha Mod in place of Dex Mod when calculating AC, Corrupted for Increased Effect / counts as a Deflection Bonus, but is not lost due to circumstances that would deny the character his or her AC bonus due to Dexterity, 6 CP).
  • Invincible Tower Technique: Awareness with Flankless (You suffer no defensive penalties when surprised, retain your Dexterity bonus when caught flat-footed or attacked by an invisible assailant, save without penalty against surprises, and cannot be flanked, 12 CP). This is fairly often Corrupted or Specialized to make it cheaper – but it may well be worth the price to just take it as-is.
  • Iron Pillar Stance: Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for 6/-. (Similar to hit points, Damage Reduction tends to be overvalued in d20, but this will be useful at lower levels).
  • Juggernaut Strike: Double Damage when attacking inanimate objects (6 CP).
  • Lightning Strike Technique: Opportunist/get a chance to make an Attack of Opportunity on any opponent within reach who attacks you and misses (6 CP).
  • Material Sanctity: Trick (6 CP). Either 3/Day or on a Confirmed Critical (user’s choice) your attack will Dismiss an outsider who fails to save (Will DC 10 + Level/2 + Cha Mod).
  • Mentor Companion (6 CP). Mysterious mentors are always handy.
  • Mighty Blow: Double Damage on the first strike (if it hits) when taking a full attack action and only making a single attack at BAB 11+ (6 CP). This is handy because it helps overcome Damage Reduction and possibly Block – as well as being as effective as the usual iterative attacks.
  • Oathbound Endurance: Augmented Bonus: Adds (Cha Mod) to (Con Mod) for Hit Point Purposes for levels 1-6 (6 CP). Can be upgraded to cover 1-12 for (+6 CP) and to cover any number of levels for a total of (18 CP).
  • Ordinance Expert: 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, plus Rite Of C’hi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (6 CP) / Only for use with Reality Editing, only to produce the following two specific Edits as Standard Actions, Only to restore the Ordinance mana pool, only between encounters.
    • Alchemic Bomb: Turn a dose of an alchemical substance or poison that you are carrying into a full-effect 20′ radius burst within medium range. At level 12+ you can use two doses to create two bursts that may, but need not, overlap, and at 25+ three. The “doses” do not all have to be the same substance if you are using multiple doses.
    • Alchemic Synthesis: Produces 100 GP worth of alchemical creations or poisons. While these are obviously crude and unsalable, and become inert within twenty-four hours, they are effective if used within that time. At level 12+ the user may spend a second Mana Point on this to provide either a +2 DC on created poisons or saves on alchemical creations or to double the effect of an alchemical creation.
  • Phantom Strike: Double Damage versus Incorporeal Creatures (effectively making any magical weapon the user wields into a Ghost Touch weapon, since this counteracts their ability to avoid 50% of the damage, 6 CP).
  • Prayer Of Guidance: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Attacks (6 CP).
  • Radiant Strike: Augment Attack, +4d6+1 (15) Damage only to overcome Damage Reduction, Specialized/only versus Evil Opponents (6 CP).
  • Rampart Stance: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect. Can only be used (Cha Mod) times daily, affects a maximum of (Charisma / 3) allied targets within fifteen feet, not counting the user. As an immediate action the user may reduce the damage of an incoming attack or group of attacks by 25 points (minimum zero) for each ally. Thus, for example, the damage from an incoming fireball, breath weapon, avalanche, or volley of arrows could be reduced.
  • Ransom Bait: Minor Privilege / the user is known for honorably paying for his or her own release from captivity. Intelligent opponents will attempt to capture him or her alive (3 CP). Note that failing to pay a ransom will permanently forfeit this privilege.
  • Righteous Wrath: Enhanced Strike / Hammer with +4 Bonus Uses (usable five times per minute), Specialized / only versus evil opponents.
  • Sacred Blade: Imbuement (Specialized for Double Effect) with Focused and Versatile (both Specialized for Half Cost) / Only works against some group of opponents. This gives the user a weapon with an effective bonus of (Level/2), some of which may be used to give it specific weapon powers as usual. Such allocations can be rearranged each day (12 CP).
  • Semiautomatic: Presence (Ghostly Reload effect), Specialized / only applies to the users weapons (3 CP). This lets you fire each crossbow or gun you carry without reloading once per round per two levels, to a maximum of five times. If you wish to fire more often than that, you must load the weapon yourself. Sadly, you still need to have the ammunition to be loaded available.
  • Shattering Blow: Either 3/Day or on a Confirmed Critical (user’s choice) your attack will destroy a Construct which fails to save (Will DC 10 + Level/2 + Cha Mod).
  • Soul-Forged Item (6 CP). Most often a spirit entity that inhabits a weapon.
  • Spectral Shield: Immunity / the need to actually wield a shield to gain its benefits (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP). With this ability you can effectively wield a shield with no hands devoted to the task – although this does not eliminate what drawbacks there are to using one. (You can, if you wish, do something similar with your armor).
  • Stab The Prying Eye: Immunity / the distinction between a magical link created by a creature and the creature itself (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP). With this ability a character may attack a creature through their scrying sensor, projected image, astral form, or summoned body.
  • Stone Monkey: Shapechange with Elemental and +2 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Only to take on the Elemental immunity to Critical Hits, Precision Damage, and Flanking and only lasts for one round, but can be activated as needed (6 CP).
  • Strength Of Ten: Anime Master, Specialized for Increased Effect / only applies to three weapons of the user’s choice, does not apply to other weapons, grappling, or overbearing. This lets you designate three weapons and use versions of them two size categories larger than normal (this usually doubles their base damage). Obviously you’ll want to do something about the lack of room for this is many areas. I’d suggest spending 6 CP on “Ability to use Charms and Talismans” (6 CP) and taking along a Tulthara or two.
  • Strength Of Conviction: Improved Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Str Mod) for Combat Purposes, Specialized / only for Damage (6 CP).
  • Studied Opponent: Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted / only to pick up either Immunity (to a particular opponent, Uncommon, Severe, Major) or Augmented Attack (+4d6, damage, specialized versus a particular opponent) / requires that the user collect information about his or her opponent before developing these specialized techniques to defeat him or her (6 CP).
  • Talons Of The Magpie: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only works on living creatures (things with a constitution score) that the user successfully strikes and damages in melee combat, only works once per round per individual. A normal hit transfers 2d4 hit points from the target to the victim as temporary hit points (30 Max, lasts one hour). A critical hit gives the user an additional choice of stealing 3d6 GP (or equivalent in other valuables) or stealing a random, loose, small item from the target.
  • Vajra: Presence, Specialized / Only affects targets that you damage with a melee attack, inflicting the equivalent of a first (3 CP) or second (6 CP) level spell effect on the creature struck, such as Faerie Fire, Dispelling Touch, Shocking Grasp, or Glitterdust.
  • Vitrolic Storm: Presence (Acid Variant on Shocking Grasp, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost, 2 CP) / Only usable (Cha Mod) times per day, requires a standard action to invoke. Strikes all enemies within ten feet. This may be increased to twenty feet (4 CP) or to fifteen feet and double damage (6 CP).
  • Warp Step: Immunity to Distance (Considers squares up to 5 feet away to be adjacent. Very Common, Major, Trivial, 5 CP). Note that this also does weird things to movement – but, as a natural law immunity, requires special permission from the game master.
  • Warrior, Not Weapon: Martial Arts (Page 53 version), Specalized for Increased Effect (Double number of dice) / only works with a weapon in hand, user is limited to a selection of (2 + Level/4 rounded up, 7 maximum) weapons that will work with this, replaces the weapons normal damage entirely. Take once for 2d6, twice for 2d10. Go ahead. Do as much damage with paper fans as most people do with a greatsword.
  • Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys: A package for carrying around a small arsenal of one-shot items.
  • With Your Hands Up: Opportunist (User may attempt to persuade, or intimidate, opponents into surrendering or fleeing as a free action up to twice per battle. This is most likely to work if they are obviously overmatched, 6 CP).

Stances are straightforward: You take a list of at least four combat boosts with similar costs, and make them Specialized and Corrupted / you can only use stances totaling one-quarter of your invested points or less at any one time. This can, however, quite reasonably stack with the internal Specialization and Corruption of individual abilities – but the game master must ensure that all the stances are things that the user would actually like to be able to use at the same time. Applying “can only use a few at a time” to a list that includes social, crafting, combat, and research boosting effects really isn’t much of a limitation. Ergo, here are some sample minor (2 points each) Stances. For every four you take, you can have one active at any given time.

  • Avalanche Strike: Augmented Attack/+2d6 (taken as +5) Damage to overcome Damage Reduction and Hardness Only (2 CP).
  • Cutting Wind: Evasive (Sunder) and Specialist (Sunder) (2 CP).
  • Earthwalk: Immunity/Speed Reductions due to wearing Armor (Common, Minor, Trivial, 2 CP).
  • Flowing Water: Opportunist/Each time the user makes an attack, he or she may also take a 5′ step (2 CP).
  • Heart of Fire: Immunity/attribute drain or damage (Common, Severe, Minor). Ignore the first two points of attribute damage from any attack, disease, or toxin.
  • Heart of Water: Innate Enchantment/all Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Personal Only (x.7), Three times per day each (x.6): Lesser Restoration, Relieve Illness, Relieve Poison, Remove Paralysis, and Remove Fear (4200 GP) plus the effects of a Healing Belt (3 Uses/Day, spend 1/2/3 to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8, 750 GP). It’s kind of cheesy to shove this in under Stances, but 4 CP worth of cheese is barely enough to put on a cracker. And yes, you can use remove paralysis on yourself while you’re paralyzed (2 CP).
  • Ice Mirror Kata: Gain the Favored Enemy Ability. The bonuses must be allotted when this ability is learned however (2 CP).
  • Lashing Branch: Opportunist/5′ steps and withdrawals provoke AOO before they’re taken (2 CP).
  • Leaping Fire: Presence/those who strike the user with melee weapons from within a ten foot radius are struck by a fire-based version of Shocking Grasp cast at the user’s level (2 CP).
  • Read the Winds: Gain Blind Fighting (2 CP).
  • Stony Pillar: DR 3/-, Specialized for double effect (6/-)/only against physical attacks (2 CP).
  • Ten Ton Strike: Gain Enhanced Strike / Crushing Blow (2 CP).
  • The Fires Within: Immunity to Fire (Common, Major, Minor (12 Points), 2 CP).
  • Thunderbolt Strike: Augmented Attack/+2d6 (taken as +5) Damage to overcome Damage Reduction and Hardness Only (this stacks with Avalanche Strike) (2 CP).
  • Venom of the Earth: Double Damage versus Objects (2 CP).
  • Wind Blowing: Shaping/Specialized and Corrupted for Increase Effect (Only to generate force-disk “stepping stones” under the user’s feet, allowing him or her to run around up to five feet above a surface, ignore difficult terrain and minor obstacles, and find firm footing “on” ropes, ledges, and similar. Unfortunately, maintaining the effect is distracting enough to inflict a -2 penalty on the user’s attacks (2 CP).

Shapeshift Cheese deserves a special mention. While it comes in a variety of forms, they all rely on a single trick – using a very limited shapeshifting ability to more-or-less permanently taken on a bunch of physical attribute modifiers while otherwise remaining basically human. That’s very, VERY, cheap for the kind of bonuses you can get. I mostly only allow this in high-tech or super-heroic settings where “Tiger Powers!” really aren’t that impressive when compared to buying some power armor, piloting a starship, or smashing mountains. It’s a good way to build super-soldiers though.

  • The basic form looks like this: Shapeshift, with Attribute Modifiers, Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, and Variants (Almost entirely human appearance), Specialized/a single animal form only and Corrupted / cannot actually Change Forms, for a net cost of 9 CP. Pick “wolf”, or “jaguar”, or some other medium-sized animal, add a few descriptive bits to cover that “almost entirely human appearance” bit, and replace your racial physical attribute modifiers with those of the animal.

For a variable version, you can try

  • Totemic Channeling: Shapeshift, with Growth, Attribute Modifiers, Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, and Variants (Almost entirely human appearance), Specialized and Corrupted/the animal chosen may only be changed through a tribal ceremony on a Solstice or Equinox, outside of this the user cannot change forms, only to take on animal powers, cannot be further upgraded, user may be called on to act on behalf of the spirits of nature on occasion, can only call on totems of species that still exist and were active in the user’s tribal territory within the last two centuries (10 GP).
    • Mountain Lion: Str +6, Dex +8, Con +4, Move +10, +1 Natural Armor, Climb 20, Low-Light Vision, Scent, +4 to Acrobatics, Athletics, and Stealth. Improved Grab. Two 1d4 attacks.
    • Grizzly Bear: Large Size. Str +16, Dex +2, Con +8, +5 Natural Armor, +10 Move, Two 1d8 attacks, Low-Light Vision, Scent, and Improved Grab. +4 to Athletics (Swim). A very good totem, but incredibly conspicuous and very awkward.
    • Eagle (Medium Sized): Str +4, Con +4, Dex +2, +1 Natural Armor, 80′ Flight (Average), two 1d4 attacks. Low-Light Vision, +8 on visual Perception checks. (Stage 5). Not so good on the attribute bonuses, but the ability to fly can come in pretty handy.
      • While other animals are certainly possible, most of the other major possibilities – badger, boar, otter, beaver, squirrel, weasel, horse, etc – are far less effective and/or very special purpose to be stuck with for at least three months. Generally I’d stick with the Lion or Eagle. The Grizzly Bear totem is very powerful – but being a giant is generally going to kill your social life, drive your expenses through the roof, and prevent you from going anywhere as a civilian. It’s only a good idea if you’re obsessed with war or vengeance or something and will have access to all kinds of special support.

Next time around on this, some useful power packages and minor spellcasting.

Adventures In Familiars III – More Templates

Eclipse includes a variety of ways to pump up a Companion (Familiar, Mystic Companion or Mount, Animal Companion) – but by far the most efficient (well, after just waiting while you go up in levels) is to buy it a Template. Most commonly, of course, Templates include a variety of stuff that your familiar really doesn’t care about – but, oh, if you can talk your game master into letting you use Eclipse to design your own, you won’t have to waste a single point.

Well, if you can talk the game master into letting you get away with this. If you can… well, here are a few examples.

Spirit Of Magic (+2 ECL Companion Template / 12 CP Familiar):

Few have the talent for high magic. The intelligence and determination to learn the arts, to reach into the burning heart of the cosmos and seize it’s power, the imagination and clarity to forge that primal force upon an anvil of will and bind it in a cage of words, ready to be unleashed upon the material world. Many call upon gods and spirits, or the elemental planes, or the magic bound in arcane components and alchemy, or a thousand other intermediary sources – but the soul of a potential archmage is a rare treasure. One well worth exerting an effort to claim. Quasits and Imps attempt to claim such a soul for the lower realms – but a Magic Spirit ensures that any Wizard who bonds with one will eventually enter the service of the Gods of Magic, whoever they may be in a setting.

  • Dream Of Magic: Improved Returning. If a Magic Spirit is “Slain”, it will manifest again the next day as it’s master meditates upon preparing spells, Specialized / while the only way to permanently get rid of the Familiar is to kill off its master, everybody knows that and – when your boss is an adventurer – a lot of things try to kill him or her (6 CP).
  • Spell Researcher: Action Hero/Invention, Specialized (for increased effect) and Corrupted (for reduced cost) / only for Inventing Spells (at 2 AP per level of the spell, half that for existing spells for which descriptions and references can be found), only during downtime (4 CP).
  • Font Of Lore: Assistant / Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to assist Intelligence-Based Skills, only applies to magical matters (for example, the Spirit can help answer queries about historical mages, but not architectural styles, or help appraise magic items, but not non-magical jewels) (2 CP).
  • Efficient Secretary: Spell Shorthand and Encryption, Specialized / only for recording spells in their Internal Spellshard (4 CP) plus Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to bestow the Encryption ability on their owner so that he or she can freely use the spells recorded in the Spellshard (2 CP).
  • The Lesser Arts: Innate Enchantment (11,500 GP Value, 12 CP):
    • Aureon’s Spellshard (Holds 500 Pages of Spells as per a Blessed Book, 6250 GP).
    • Handy Haversack (2000 GP).
    • 3x L1 Pearl Of Power (3000 GP).
    • 3x Spell Component Pouch (15 GP) (One for it, two for it’s Master).
    • Alchemists Lab (200 GP).
    • Light Crossbow (35 GP). This allows the Spirit to toss crossbow bolts/darts as if it was using a light crossbow. That’s not a large power, but it’s occasionally useful.
  • Spark Of Wizardry (12 CP):
    • Inherent Spell/Greater Arcane Invocation (L3, minimum level of five to use, produces any one Cantrip Effect, with +3 Bonus Uses (4 Total), Specialized and Corrupted / Requires normal components (although all verbal and somatic components are suited to the Familiars form), can only be used to replicate spells the Familiar has recorded on its Spellshard (4 CP).
    • -II (for first level spells), with +2 Bonus Uses (3 Total), Minimum level of seven to use (3 CP).
    • -III (for second level spells) with +1 Bonus Uses, Minimum level of nine to use (3 CP).
    • -IV (for third level spells), Minimum level of eleven to use (2 CP).
      • This package allows the Familiar to cast 4L0, 3L1, 2L2, and 1L3 spells from amongst those recorded on its Spellshard each day – although this requires a minimum level of 5/7/9/11 on the part of it’s bondmate to allow it to use the L0/1/2/3 spells.
  • Magical Amplification (22 CP).
    • 3d6 Mana with Spell Enhancement, Specialized / only for Spell Enhancement (9 CP).
    • Metamagical Theorem / Extension, Specialized and Corrupted / only to add +1 Range Category for 1 Mana (2 CP).
    • Metamagical Theorem / Easy, Specialized and Corrupted / only to make a spell Still and Silent for 2 Mana (2 CP).
    • Metamagical Theorem / Amplify, Specialized and Corrupted / only to Maxamize a spell for 3 Mana (2 CP).
    • Blessing, Specialized / only to bestow the Mana and Metamagical Options above on another character (3 CP).
    • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the pool above, only between encounters (4 CP).

Bonding with a Magic Spirit is obviously extremely useful to a Wizard, especially so if they happen to be in a world where spell formula and magical items are difficult to obtain. It also neatly enables the game as it is often played – pretty much ignoring the vulnerability and expense of a spellbook and any difficulties inherent in gaining new spells. Occasional non-casters may want one too, if only because getting a spellcasting familiar with a wide choice of spells to use is probably worth a couple of feats – especially given that the Magic Spirit Familiar grants it’s master a bonus like any other familiar.

The Mysterious Mentor (6 CP)

Companion with +2 levels of Template, Specialized for Reduced Cost / the Mysterious Mentor never goes on adventures, he or she only appears between them (although the location does not matter) to offer advice and supplies, does not grant an ability bonus (6 CP).

A Mysterious Mentor never goes adventuring, although they may appear at any break in the action to offer wise advice, mysterious missions and clues, and various support services – including a variety of charged magical devices of considerable power. Mysterious Mentors are at their best early on, before the growing powers of the characters overshadows them too much – but should remain reasonably useful throughout a character’s career. – quite a bargain for a single Feat.

  • Returning (6 CP). If slain, the mentor will vanish mysteriously, only to reappear later on as long as it’s student survives.
  • Arcane Gadgeteer: A Mysterious Mentor can supply a party with an assortment of limited-use items to help them on their adventures.
    • Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted / only to make limited-use items (Apply “Specialized / Does Not Recover to the items created, only select abilities that normally offer a limited number of daily uses) costing a maximum of 3 CP each, only using points from Enthusiast (2 CP).
    • Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (provides four floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / points may only be used with Create Relic, limited as above (x2, 8 CP).
    • Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to temporarily lend out items created as above (2 CP).
  • Artificer: A Mysterious Mentor has his or her own sources of funds and can help a mage craft magical items.
    • Create Item, Specialized / only as a prerequisite (3 CP).
    • Harvest of Artifice (200 XP per month) (12 CP).
    • Transmutation, Specialized and Corrupted for Double Effect/only for XP from Harvest Of Artifice, only to produce cash (6 GP per XP),
    • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted / only to have any one item creation feat (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense / Quests (6 CP). A mysterious mentor always knows where adventure is waiting, and can tell the party something about what they’ll be up against if they go.
  • Wise Advisor:
    • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (8 CP) / only for skills, only for use when offering advice, providing cryptic mystic clues, making stuff, acting as an advocate, and so on.
    • +1 in each seven knowledge skills and Spellcraft, Corrupted for Reduced Cost (5 CP) / only to allow a roll as if skilled.

Having a Mystic Mentor hanging about gives a group a never-ending source of handy magical trinkets, missions, clues, and useful advice. It’s a good thing that nothing ever happens to them when the party isn’t around to keep an eye on them. While any character may profit from a Mystic Mentor, classes without spellcasting of their own will profit the most from the magical gadgets they provide.

Shoulder Imp (6 CP):

6 CP, since the ability it bestows is to upgrade itself with the Shoulder Imp template – stealing for itself the power it ought to grant to its master:

  • Witchcraft III (18 CP) with +3d6 Power (6 CP), Advanced Shadoweave (6 CP), Advanced Glamour (6 CP), and Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore Witchcraft Power Pool (6 CP). Duties Pact (A Shoulder Imp will always encourage it’s master to operate beyond the law, take advantage of the naive, and use it’s tricks to promote thievery and minor corruption in those nearby, regardless of it’s master’s wishes, -6 CP).
  • Cloaking (Always appears innocent of any wrongdoing to divination) (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP): Handy Haversack (2000 GP), +3 Competence Bonus on all “Thieving” Skills (Acrobatics, Bluff, Climb, Disable Device, Disguise, Escape Artist, Sleight Of Hand, and Stealth, 2000 GP), a Healing Belt (750 GP), and a Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker (500 GP).
  • Blessing: Corrupted for Increased Effect / A Shoulder Imp can share the benefits of its template abilities with it’s “master”, but cannot share other abilities. Thus, if it uses Shadoweave to conceal itself, it’s master may share in that concealment (6 CP).
  • Immunity to Being Perceived (Common, Minor, Major, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to help it hide in plain sight and be overlooked in favor of people paying attention to it’s master (+6 to Stealth Attempts, may hide in plain sight). Obviously enough, this ability cannot be shared with its master (6 CP).
  • Returning, Corrupted/This ability cannot be shared with its master (4 CP).

A Shoulder Imp constantly encourages unethical and exploitative behavior, usually starting with a teenager – who will almost certainly soon become a minor plague upon whatever settlement is unfortunate enough to host him or her.

Fusion Elemental (Companion with +4 ECL Template, 18 CP).

This exotic familiar has a major template, such as the Half-Celestial Template – but can access it for no more than six rounds at a a time, and no more than three times per day – rendering it Specialized, although this may replace other limitations since it negates most long-term problems with most templates.

  • Template of up to 120 CP after the Specialization given above (For example the 3.0 Half-Celestial Template comes to 119 CP after replacing the overall Corruption with the Specialization given above).
  • Blessing, Specialized, only to provide its master with the Template noted above (2 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (Time Jump, 6 Rounds Ahead, +2 Bonus Uses, Corrupted for Increased Effect, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only to automatically “vanish” as it bestows it’s Template on it’s master – apparently “fusing” with him or her for the time being (4 CP).

A Fusion Elemental is as powerful as Ridden By The Loa – and while it’s effects are very short-term, it does not carry that abilities substantial downsides.

Virtual Agent (6 CP).

  • Companion with +2 ECL Template, Specialized / only exists in appropriate computers, has no actual physical presence, 6 CP.
  • A Virtual Agent is a limited-function artificial intelligence / Computer Aide. While it only exists in the virtual landscape of the World Wide Web, within that domain it is a potent ally – and that may extend into the physical world depending on what machinery is around to manipulate.
  • Assistant, Specialized in Data Searches, Computer Operations, Programming, Mail and Call Screening, and Similar Items for Double Effect (+8 Bonuses, 6 CP).
  • Improved Returning: If destroyed, a Virtual Agent may simply be reloaded from backup or put onto another system (12 CP).
  • Minspeech (Specialized/only with people jacked in to it’s host system, 3 CP) with Mindlink (The World Wide Net or similar, Specialized / requires an avaiable WiFi or similar connection, 1 CP).
  • Occult Sense / Information from unshielded systems in the area (6 CP).
  • Stipend (6 CP). A Virtual Agent can manage your accounts, perform minor online trading, and work with cryptocurrencies better than you can (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP).
    • Advanced Smartphone Systems (25 GP).
    • Remote Interface (with unprotected or hackable systems, 25 GP).
    • Desktop Computer Functions/Basic Programs (50 GP)
    • Weapons Functions: Tangler (33 GP), Laser Pistol (45 GP), Vibroclaws (50 GP).
    • Shielded Systems: Personal Force Shield (+4 AC, 1400 GP)
    • Firewall (Mage Armor +4 Force, 1400 GP)
    • Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2 x Con Mod HP, 1400 GP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 floating CP) / only for use with Create Relic (Downloadable programs) to enhance it’s user’s online abilities / avatar or add to it’s own skills and functions (6 CP).
  • Create Relic, Corrrupted / only for use with Enthusiast, above (3 CP).
  • Four Double Occult Contacts (online entities or organizations) with the Well-Travelled Modifier (15 CP).

Pretty much any character in a high-tech world (or equivalent) may find a Virtual Agent well worthwhile – but, obviously enough, characters who are heavily involved with computers will have the most use for them.

Sadly, I’m too tired for a final edit today. That will just have to wait a bit.

Eclipse d20 – The Demigodling-Noble Template

So you want to play a Nobilis-style character in d20 – someone who has suddenly been drafted into a war against terrible threats to the world and has been granted great power to fight that war with, suddenly becoming a part of an elite group with similar power sources but with differing styles. Congratulations! You are now a Green Lantern / Empowered Warlock / New God / Wielder Of The Power Cosmic / Knight Of The Fey / Tailed Beast Host / Harbinger / Animorph / Power Ranger / Exalt / Noble!

Or you might just be a Wild Card Virus Victim or something. It can be hard to tell.

So what are the requirements for being given this power? In Nobilis it basically comes down to “being there”, but Nobilis doesn’t actually concern itself with distinctions between mortals – whereas in d20 Mortals can surpass Gods and other cosmic powers. Granting the power of a Noble to an infant or low-level character won’t necessarily make for an effective soldier in the cosmic war. Just like Green Lantern Rings need somebody who’s strong-willed, competent, and reasonably healthy to make for effective Green Lanterns, the Nobilis Package needs someone who’s already competent (in d20 terms) to make an effective Noble.

Ergo, this is going to be an Acquired Template that may be applied to any sapient, playable, creature that is at least Level Eleven or equivalent.

So to convert your character into a Noble take the following Acquired Template – compiling the various design elements from the previous articles.

Mythic Noble Acquired Template

(210 CP / +6 ECL, Requires Sapience, Level 11+).

Choose Your Estate – the aspect of reality you are bound to (52 CP).

  • Describe your Estates major traits in four or five sentences. Rate them with values of 1-3 (one for minor qualities, 2 for notable ones, 3 for really central ones) totaling seven (0 CP).
    • Perhaps Sunlight… Brings Warmth And Life (2), but can Sear And Burn (1), It Returns Each Morning To Awaken The World (2), and it Reveals The Hidden (2).
  • Gain Dominion (Your Estate) (6 CP).
  • Gain Occult Sense/Your Estate. You can detect things related to your estate, whether that’s something affecting it on a large scale or its relationship to particular creatures. Note that – since you are the embodiment of your Estate – you can make perception rolls to figure out where attacks are coming from, even if they’re being launched by magic from another dimension. They are, after all, “things affecting your estate” (6 CP).
  • Gain Returning with Rewrite (12 CP). You may only be permanently killed by breaking your connection with your Estate and may make minor rewrites of your abilities between adventures.
  • Gain +1d6 (4) Mana, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost; controlled by the game master, only to power self-transformation “Persona” spells to adapt the user to the local environment, has whatever effects that the GM thinks will be fun (2 CP).
  • Gain Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Treats “your Estate” as a valid target, permits easy communication) / only to allow communication with the Estate and to get instances of it to act within their nature (for example, a gun might go off or misfire) or to fully transfer yourself into your Estate, leaving your body behind and undefended to possess and act through one or more instances of it (6 CP).
  • Gain Immunity to the disorientation of spreading your “self” over massive areas (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 6 CP), allowing you to – for example – find which of the hordes thousand fires has the chieftains council going on around it, at least presuming that you have an appropriate estate.
  • Gain two instances of Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to take on an Affliction (below) related to your Estate (12 CP) plus Adaption (Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 2 Mana to change the points around instantly, Corrupted for Reduced Cost (cannot change otherwise), only for your Estate-Related Afflictions, above, 2 CP), plus Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to lend someone else an Affliction (2 CP). You may take on an Estate-Related Affliction (below) and give one to someone else too.

Roll Your Miraculous Attributes (50 CP):

  • Aspect: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use in Reality Editing, only to produce effects calling for raising the user’s normal abilities to superhuman levels (8 CP).
  • Domain: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use Spell Enhancement, only for use with the “Shaping” ability below, only for effects targeting objects or the environment (8 CP).
  • Persona: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use Spell Enhancement, only for use with the “Shaping” ability below, only for effects targeting creatures, including yourself (8 CP).
  • Treasure: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with “Treasure” effects (8 CP).
  • Gain Rite of Chi with +20 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to recharge the “attribute” pools above, only works between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (12 CP).
  • Gain Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Level 0 and 1 Effects) / only for effects related to your Estate. Note that this includes Destiny Spells related to your Estate, but they’re no more controllable than usual. Thanks to that “Increased Effect” modifier, 1 Mana will get you up to fourth level effects, two to seventh level effects, and three to tenth level effects. Going beyond that requires adding some of the “Compact” modifiers to the effect (6 CP).

Select Your Bonds and Afflictions (48 CP):

  • Gain Reflex Training / Can invoke a Bond as an Immediate Action when it’s trigger condition is met (6 CP).
  • Take a Major Bond: Inherent Spell (Improvisation, Level One) with Multiple +4, Specialized for Increased Effect (Double the effect of points) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Points spent stack with the benefits of the Aspect Innate enchantments and may also be spent on Caster Level Checks and to increase the DC of saves against your abilities – although it costs 2 points to increase the DC by +1) / can only be activated when a specified trigger condition applies and the user only gets a single first level spell, rather than the two that Inherent Spell would normally provide (12 CP).
  • Take Two Minor Bonds: Inherent Spell (Improvisation, Level One) with Multiple +4, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Points spent stack with the benefits of the Aspect Innate enchantments and may also be spent on Caster Level Checks and to increase the DC of saves against your abilities – although it costs 4 points to increase the DC by +1) / can only be activated when its trigger condition applies and the user only gets a single first level spell, rather than the two that Inherent Spell would normally provide (6 CP each, for a total of 12 CP).
  • Take 18 CP worth of Afflictions – rules that you must live by (18 CP). Possible Afflictions include:
    • Power From Adversity: An “Accursed” Disadvantage (-3 CP) coupled with Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, never activates at all unless the associated “Accursed” disadvantage is proving to be a serious hindrance at the moment (9 CP).
    • Strength Of The Phoenix: An “Accursed” Disadvantage (-3 CP) coupled with Grant of Aid with Mighty and +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, never activates at all unless the associated “Accursed” disadvantage is proving to be a serious hindrance at the moment (9 CP).
    • A Natural Imperative: 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for enforcing a particular personal “rule” (6 CP), plus Rite Of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the pool above (6 CP). Both are Specialized Again for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, may backlash if blocked or logically impossible within the limits of the level of Reality Editing it can handle.

Claim Your Destiny (12 CP): Select two from…

  • Creation: Action Hero / Crafting if you want to create some mighty work, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Growth: Action Hero / Invention if you want to discover or develop new things for all to use. Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Transformation: Action Hero / Influence if you wish to restructure the relationships between the great powers of the world – or to raise up new powers and cast down old ones (6 CP).

Choose Your Panoply (48 CP): Possible options here include:

  • Spark Of The Divine (12 CP): Innate Enchantment (11,100 GP value):
    • Inhuman Speed: Personal Haste (2000 GP): +30′ Move, +1 Attack when making a full attack sequence.
    • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP): +12 + 2 x Con Mod HP.
    • Inspiring Word (1400 GP): +1 morale bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, checks,and weapon damage.
    • Wrath Of Heaven/The Infernal (1400 GP) +1 Sacred (Infernal) bonus to Attacks and Damage.
    • Skill Mastery (1400 GP): +2 Competence Bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
    • Fortune’s Favor I (1400 GP): +2 “Luck” bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
    • Resist: (700 GP): +1 Resistance Bonus on all Saving Throws.
    • Divine Health (1400 GP): Fast Healing I (for 18 Rounds) 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter).
      • This package provides +2 to Saves, +2 to Attack Checks, +5 to Skill and Attribute checks, +2 to Damage, +30′ to all Movement Modes, +(12 _ 2 x Con Mod) hit points, +1 Attack when making a full attack, 36 points worth of Rapid Healing per day, and helps out with poisons, diseases, and attribute damage – quite enough to make you significantly superhuman even without Miracles or Heroic Scaling.
  • Heroic Durability (12 CP).
    • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you bounce small-caliber bullets, arrows, and similar annoyances unless they’re backed by more-than-human power.
    • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Energy Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you dip your hand in molten metal, stand around in a burning building to have a chat, handle considerable electrical shocks, and even helps with spells, force bolts, and “divine” or “infernal” damage. It’s all energy.
  • Treasures (6 CP Each):
    • Mundane Treasures are normal things that get souped up. For this you want some Rune Magic (Specified Treasure, such as Cars), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only for that particular treasure at (3 + Att Mod) x 3 (6 CP). This will let you summon, repair, and boost beyond all reason, mundane treasures of the appropriate type.
    • Followers and Allies and such get are bought as Leadership or Companion with various modifiers, all Specialized / you have to spend Mana to get them to do anything important for you (6 CP).
    • Symbolic Treasures – where a particular symbol or set of symbols acts as channels for your power and senses – can be purchased as Immunity/The Distinction Between the Symbol and You (Uncommon, Major, Great, Specialized / must expend 2 Mana to activate with respect to specific instances of the symbol) (6 CP).
    • A collection of minor devices (Charms and Talismans from The Practical Enchanter) can be purchased as: Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans take some time to attune for use (6 CP). Another option that doesn’t cost Mana, since they’re pretty minor by d20 standards even in less-magical worlds.
    • Powerful Magical Devices are usually purchased as a Create Relic package: Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only for making a particular four-point Relic or four-point collection of lesser Relics (2 CP), plus Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect and corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for making those particular relics (4 CP) – for a grand total of (6 CP). They don’t usually require Mana, since they’re associated with a very high Treasure rating anyway.
    • Labs and such can be purchased as “Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys” from The Golden Ones sample powers list. These can allow you to have a collection of minor items to use on your adventures.
    • For a collection of more-or-less “normal” d20 magical devices, buy Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to summon, repair, or briefly boost up your normal wealth-by-level equipment (6 CP). Now you have a full-scale panoply of stuff – at least once you’re of a high enough level.
    • Mysterious Devices – like the sword Severance, or the Chalice Of Spring, or the Remote Control Of The Machine God or The Flying Dutchman’s Phantom Pirate Ship – are purchased as Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to produce effects within a specific theme (6 CP). This can produce some pretty impressive miracles at times – but not very often.
    • For a mess of Technological Tools and Gear, purchase Innate Enchantment (5000 GP = 100,000 Dollars or Credits worth of d20 Modern / Future equipment) for (6 CP) and supply yourself with gear that simply appears when you need it and disappears otherwise.
    • If you just want Money, buy a Stipend or Privilege/Landlord. In either case, this basically defines you as being rich, having a nice lifestyle, and so on (6 CP).

But wait! Don’t I get any credit for being drafted into a cosmic war?

No you don’t. EVERY high-level d20 player character is a part of the cosmic wars. That sort of thing is what the game is all about – and it’s important to remember that – while your Noble is going to be ECL 17+, a level 17+ “Mortal” can be just as formidable as you are.

And there you go. You are now a Lesser Power, a lieutenant of the Great Powers in the War Of Seven Spheres / Battle Between Good And Evil / war between Apokolips and New Genesis / Transformer-Decepticon War / Sith Wars / Blood War / Heralds And Voidbringers / Shadows And Vorlons / Dalek-Timelord Time War / Khorne and Tzeentch / War For Reality!

This really isn’t anything new, but why not?

What about Excrucians and Imperators?

  • Excrucians get +2d6 on each of their Miraculous Attributes (16 CP), an extra +12 Bonus Uses on Rite Of Chi (6 CP) to restore those attributes (increasing the cost of their template to 232 CP or +7 ECL) and are created from Sapient Undead of CR 13+. Like all undead, they can be clever and pleasant – but they exist to destroy all life and return the universe to the void.
  • Imperators are true Gods with Godfire. Their Avatars usually have the Excrucian’s boosted version of the Noble Template.

And that’s about it – save for noting that it’s important to remember that the default d20 universe is a lot bigger and more variegated than the Nobilis universe and there are lots of pieces of it that other powers control. YOU may be the Sun Lord, but there are plenty of other Sun Lords out there with control of their own suns.