Ponyfinder In Equestria – Sea Ponies and the general Aquatic Template for standard games

Our next major Ponyfinder Pony Type is the Sea Horse or Seapony. In the show we have Seaponies / Hippocampi (equine upper body, fishlike lower body), at least some of whom are transformed hippogryphs (eagle-like upper body and equine lower body). Hippogryphs seem to be basically equivalent to Pegasi from what little the wiki’s have on them. They might trade out some impact resistance for effective talons, but that’s merely a guess and it’s not really at all relevant to their Seapony form. Seaponies do seem to come in at least the usual basic variants – unicorn-styled, pegasus-styled, and earth pony styled. Given that they may be able to shift to land forms, that seems reasonable enough. They might be related to the Sirens, since there’s a pretty strong resemblance.

We also see Mermares, who are more like real world Seahorses or actual fish, with fins and no limbs. Again, from what (very, VERY) little there is on the wikis… they seem to be pretty much equivalent to the other pony subtypes; they’re just shapeshifted a little more and are noted as being unusually competitive. Of course, it’s not like there aren’t unusually competitive ponies, so that’s not really much of a difference.

Seaponies didn’t make it to the original series of pony articles because – at that point – they weren’t even firmly established as existing.

In Ponyfinder “Sea Horses” replace some basic Pony bonuses (a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against poison, spells, and spell-like abilities, as well as Endurance as a bonus feat) with a small penalty (their base speed is reduced to 30 feet), a 40 foot swim speed, and getting Swim as a Class Skill.

Honestly, this is generally a bad deal. Like it or not, ground movement, poisons, spells, and spell-like abilities come up a lot more often in d20 games than swimming unless you’re in a specialty game. Worse, even in a specialty game a swim speed can be provided by various cheap-and-easy items and spells – which will certainly be available if the adventure calls for them. Otherwise most of the characters will not be able to meaningfully participate.

Secondarily… in d20 a hostile environment is mostly just a statement from the game master that “I haven’t put anything here yet” or “this area is for higher level characters who can afford the right gear” – and if not, is usually inserted simply so that a character with some special racial adaption or other ability will get a chance to use it. The first is impossible to adventure in (there’s nothing to do), the second is problematic (the area is set up for higher level characters, so you go in alone?), and the third gets a bit contrived after the first few times around.

An ability that the game master has to set you up to let you use simply isn’t all that useful compared to the stuff that gets used all the time – and so I’m going to squeeze this down a bit until it’s not very expensive either.

Ergo, I’m going to be going with Innate Enchantment, using a Greater Armor Crystal Of Aquatic Action and a very small Immunity to having to wear armor to use the thing.

So… Innate Enchantment (up to 7500 GP effective value, 8 CP) plus Immunity / The need to attach the crystal to Armor to use it (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP), both Corrupted / only functional when in water, causes a partial shapeshift into a more water-adapted form. Net Total: 6 CP. This would cost some experience points to activate in 3.5, but we’re presuming the Pathfinder Package Deal to go with Ponyfinder – and so there’s no XP cost.

As for the list of Innate Enchantments, we have…

  • Greater Armor Crystal Of Aquatic Action (3000 GP). The user takes no armor check penalty on swim checks, gains a swim speed (and a +8 bonus on Swim checks) equal to half their land speed (normally 20′ for a pony), takes no penalties on attacks or movement while underwater (as if under the effect of freedom of movement), and has Water Breathing.
    • Really, the appearance of this thing in the Magic Item Compendium tells me that the people who wrote it have much the same idea about hostile environments as I do.
  • Mindlink (Water Creatures Only x.5, Does not extend past normal conversational range x.7) Seaponies can “speak” with any aquatic creature that is capable of language, is willing to talk to them, and is not immune to mental effects (700 GP).
  • Snakeblood Tooth (1350 GP). +5 Alchemical Bonus versus Ingested Poisons. 3 Charges/Day: 1 to gain that +5 versus all poisons for three rounds, 2 to share it with three nearby allies, and 3 to become immune to poison for a round. Considering the number of toxic fish, snails, jellyfish, and other things that live in the sea, Seaponies really need some extra resistance to poisons. Have some Fugu!
  • Resist Energy (Cold Only, x.5, Personal Only x.7 = 700 GP). Seaponies are pretty much immune to the cold of the depths thanks to having Cold Resistance 10 when in the water.
  • Resist Energy (Variant, Pressure Only, x.5, Personal Only x.7 = 700 GP). Seaponies are immune to water pressure damage down to great depths, due to having resistance 10 to it.
  • Wings of the Sea (+30′ Swim Speed base but +20 Only x.7, Personal Only x.7 = 980 GP). Seaponies swim as fast as they can gallop, having a base Swim Speed of 40′.
  • Mundane Equipment Equivalents:
    • Air Bladders x 100 (10 GP): Any seapony can share a bit of its water-breathing magic with any air-dweller it is in contact with, but can only do so for a total of ten minutes divided by the number of creatures that it is trying to help before the air runs out. Fortunately, a seapony can restore it’s reserves with a minute or so at the surface. Secondarily, they can also produce a fairly good-sized bubble of air by similarly exhausting their reserves.
    • Buoyancy Belt (10 GP): Lets you adjust yourself for neutral buoyancy, gaining a +2 Circumstance Bonus to Swim Checks. Note that this does stack with the Circumstance Bonus from the Swim Fins.
    • Compass (10 GP): +2 to Navigate Checks
    • Depth Sensor (20 GP): Lets you know about how deep you are.
    • Fishing Net (4 GP): Lets you tow along small items, clusters of seaweed, and similar items without carrying a net or bag.
    • Knife (2 CP): Seaponies can use their fins to slice their way out of nets and other entanglements.
    • Signal Whistle (1 GP): A DC 5 Perform check allows you to send simple signals, audible normally for the first quarter-mile, -2 to perception DC per additional quarter-mile. Seaponies can make a variety of sounds which travel very well under water.
    • Swim Goggles (5 GP); These keep stuff out of your eyes and let you see twice as far as usual when under water.
    • Swim Fins (8 GP): +2 Circumstance Bonus to Swim checks (for a grant total of +12).

Which comes out to exactly 7500 GP.

That means that you can be a basic Seapony for only 6 CP – the cost of one feat. Ergo, if you want to be a Seapony variant on another type of Pony… you just have to spend your bonus or first level feat on it, and there you go. On those occasions when you have to adventure underwater, you’ll have no trouble at all doing so.

It’s important to note that the basic seapony package doesn’t rely on the Superheroic World Template; their abilities are all standard innate enchantments – and so the same package can be used to create aquatic elves, mermen, and similar oceanic characters in pretty much any fantasy campaign.

For a psychological note, seaponies are commonly rather nervous about being too far away from either land or water, That shouldn’t be surprising given that their basic defensive strategy is pretty obviously “If being chased by a land monster, go underwater. If being chased by a water monster, go ashore”. Thus almost all seapony settlements are near the shore, usually underwater where there is less competition for space and resources from other ponies, and at a depth sufficient to avoid problems with tides, storm surges, and similar disturbances. There’s usually a mixed seapony/other pony settlement on the shore nearby since that benefits both groups. It offers the land-dwellers easy access to the coral, pearls, useful seaweeds, and other riches of the seas and the seaponies easy access to forged metal goods, cooked foodstuffs, and a wide selection of other items and services that would call for quite a lot of magic to produce or use underwater. Outside of the shift in environment, however, the social behaviors of the Seaponies are pretty much identical to those of their kindred ashore.

Now if you want some advanced seapony feats you can buy:

  • Heart Of the Ocean: Blessing with the Group Upgrade, Specialized and Corrupted / only to allow the user to bestow the Seapony Package on up to (1.5 x Cha Mod, rounded up) land dwellers (6 CP). With this ability a seapony with a decent Charisma score can take his or her entire party for an adventure beneath the waves.
  • The Unbridled Storm: Seapony magic is normally vulnerable to Dispel Magic and Antimagic effects. If you want to make it an Extraordinary Ability instead buy Immunity to Antimagical and Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Epic, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with being a Seapony, 6 CP).
  • Harness The Tides: Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (3 floating CP) / points may only be used in conjunction with Create Relic, all relics must be inked to seapony culture or the sea in some fashion (3 CP), Create Relic, Specialized / only for use with the points from Enthusiast, above (3 CP). This allows a seapony mystic to create reasonably formidable devices.
  • Blood Of The Oceans: Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Severe, Major (6 CP). Those seaponies who learn to draw their strength from the near-eternal forces of the depths may survive for several millenia with few signs of age – although even their immunity will eventually run out. Variant forms of this ability do turn up; some versions can draw on either positive or negative emotional energy to provide similar effects.

So the Sirens? Well…. presuming that you want to use them again (since otherwise there’s no reason to bring them up), we’ll have to assume that their defeat was temporary. If they’re not just monsters – and the fact that they turned human while Spike turned into a dog argues that they’re pretty much ponies – then they’re probably seaponies gone wrong. Ergo, they have:

  • Harness The Tides – allowing them to make mystic amulets to boost their Mystic Artist abilities.
  • The Negative Emotional Energy version of Blood Of The Oceans for long lifespans.
  • A level or two worth of Mystic Artist (Music) / Bard-style abilities, probably Specialized / their effects are drastically reduced without Equestrian Magic to help power them. Thus, while they could support themselves handily in the human world, they couldn’t achieve the fame, wealth, and power that they felt was their due there without more Equestrian magic.

So the Sirens were drawn to Canterlot High when Equestrian magic started flowing into the world there to try to claim it and bring their powers back to full potency. Despite having the edge in level and skill, they lost again because it turned out that the magic they were using to power their abilities was flowing into the world through the Rainbooms – so trying to use it fight the Rainbooms was fighting their own power source. Not being complete idiots (even if Sonata is a bit ditzy) after their inevitable loss they retreated to recover, restore their over-strained voices, and make some new amulets. They haven’t been seen since because they still haven’t figured out a way to get around the fact that the Rainbooms are unwilling to act as power batteries for them. If and when they think of something, discover the portal and go home, or find another way to draw magic from Equestria, they’ll be back.


Building Mystic Martial Adepts

If you had to design something resembling the nine swords classes, but were only given the flavor text, what would be the limitations?’

Also, on the book of nine swords stuff, I am curious if the disciplines could be sensibly bought as stunts, with the immunity to limitations, and perhaps some extra limits from the book to increase effect to what is seen.


Ah. I was more or less covering why there really isn’t a part of the list that makes their abilities Specialized and a part that makes them Corrupted. It’s just that the list is long enough that they should count as being both Specialized and Corrupted in the vast majority of games.

Going with “Just the Fluff”… well , for the Swordsage we have…

A master of martial maneuvers, the swordsage is a physical adept – a blade wizard whose knowledge of the Sublime Way lets him unlock potent abilities, many of which are overtly supernatural or magical in nature. Depending on which disciplines he chooses to study, a Swordsage might be capable of walking through walls, leaping dozens of feet into the air, shattering boulders with a single touch, or even mastering the elements of fire or shadow. Whatever his specific training, a swordsage blurs the line between martial prowess and magical skill.

-The Book Of Nine Swords.

Honestly, substitute “Martial” for “Blade” and “Kung Fu Master” for “Swordsage” and this describes pretty much any eastern-style over-the-top martial artist from Hong Kong action comic books, movies like Kung Fu Hustle, various fighting games, or many other sources.

In comic, movie, and game terms this is saying “I have a bunch of different cool (and effective) tricks that I can use in a fight and maybe even a few tricks for things other than combat – and thus I am far less dull than a standard fighter type who is usually optimized for a particular tactic or two, and so repeats that tactic or tactics over and over again until the boredom is excruciating.

In practice, if you have effectively unlimited use of your abilities, (I tend to prefer some form of resource management mechanic, but that’s just me) there are several potential problems that you will want to consider. So looking at the limitations in terms of building an interesting character and avoiding boredom…

  • Boredom Problem: I don’t have to think about what to do! I have a tailored ability as a solution for every possible problem!
    • Solution: A fairly strict limit on the number of abilities you have. Of course, knowing too few is also boring, so there’s a delicate balance here. In Eclipse, that usually means having to purchase each ability with character points.
  • Boredom Problem: There’s a fairly obvious “best sequence” for each of the basic sets of problems that my abilities cover. Swarm of enemies? Start out with the area-effect blast. Main target hanging back? Hypercharge them. Single enemy flying when I can’t? Focused ranged strike.
    • Solution: Apply some sort of randomizer to what abilities you have available at any given moment. Sometimes you will just have to improvise, focus on a lesser enemy, or otherwise make the best of a sub-optimal tactical situation.
  • Boredom Problem: You can just spam your most appropriate ability, and so wind up doing the same thing over and over in a fight. It’s being a straight fighter all over again!
    • Solution: a relatively slow, and possibly random, ability recovery mechanism – basically a cool down time, For extra amusement provide a way to either recover more quickly or boost abilities by doing things other than attacking, so there’s a reason to maneuver, taunt your opponents, and do things other than “swing my sword again”.
  • Boredom Problem: All these characters look a lot alike! They all want the “best” abilities and avoid the “worst” ones!
    • Solution: Thematic limitations and ability sequences. That way no one character can have all the “best” abilities, they’ll all be distinct, they will have to invest in some basic abilities to get at the “best” ones – and they’ll have to do other things while recovering their now more-limited supply of “good” abilities. Besides, jumping straight to the most powerful abilities does not fit into D20 very well.

So your set of limitations is going to need to address those four basic issues. It will also have to include level restrictions on the more powerful maneuvers since that is a standard d20 requirement – but that really doesn’t count for anything because it IS a standard requirement.

Addressing those four problems will probably suffice to Corrupt and Specialize the Path Of The Dragon approach to getting those abilities – but it’s important to note that they’re really there to help keep the character interesting to play. Making their special abilities cheaper and/or more powerful is just a side effect.

As for other ways to build empowered martial artists…

Buying at least the basics of the Book of Nine Swords Disciplines as Skill Stunts is easy enough: buy the relevant Immunity as listed in the Skill Stunts articles (probably buying it at “very common” to cover all your martial-arts related skills), buy several martial arts and some boosters like Augmented Bonus for them, buy a lot of Mana to power things with, and consult with your game master to determine the DC of the various stunts. You could probably boost the power of your stunts with a limitation on the basic Stunt ability – although being unable to repeat a particular stunt at will is going to be meaningless unless you first limit the number of different stunts you can pull off. Stunts are, after all, normally open ended; I’m simply listing some examples in those articles.

You could also buy an immunity to the normal limits of Martial Arts skills, allowing you to produce supernatural effects related to the theme of the martial art without spending Mana – but that’s going to require a very high skill score to get away from the need for (often limited use) skill-boosters to achieve the DC’s of those stunts. The really spectacular stuff is going to be very hard to achieve this way – but it will work nicely for a less fantastic martial artist who can keep coming up with new tricks.

Of course, it’s going to be hard to get most game masters to approve of the more esoteric martial maneuvers as stunts in this way. They’re likely to question as to why riding around on a cloud of smoke and ash, or generating a firestorm, is really relevant to a style of armed or unarmed combat – and I’d have to admit that they’d have a point. That doesn’t necessarily limit you as much as you’d think – that firestorm is just a way to attack many creatures at once, and that cloud may just let you bypass rough terrain, both of which could equally well be defined as “whirling dervish assault” and “balancing on needles technique” – but it’s still a limit.

The last time I wanted something like Martial Maneuvers I skipped over Skill Stunts and just went with direct reality-bending (as in Gun Fu and the more general Martial Maneuvers)s – but that isn’t true “unlimited use”, although it can come pretty close in practical terms.

If you just want to build a supernatural combat style you could use Inherent Spell to do it: Buy a sequence of Inherent Spells with either Multiple or +4 (or a relevant attribute modifier) Bonus Uses each, and Specialize and Corrupt them. That will give each effect a base of five uses per day each. Personally, I’d suggest Corrupted / “Cannot use any effect of higher level than (1 + Rounds Spent Fighting)” (which gives you the classic anime style gradual escalation of powers) and Specialized according to the “Per Encounter” rule from the Eclipse Web Expansion (page 11) – “Any immediate ability which can be used three or more times per day may be considered Corrupted if it can only be used once per “encounter”. If it could normally be used five or more times per day and is reduced to once “per encounter” it may be considered Specialized. Anything usable ten or more times per day may be considered Corrupted if it can only be used 3 times per encounter or Specialized if it can only be used twice per encounter.”

That way abilities are normally once per “encounter”, but you can just double the cost of any given ability in the sequence to get it up to three times per encounter.

Using that structure a pair of first level maneuvers would cost 4 CP, a pair of second level maneuvers would cost 8 CP, 3’rd, 4’th, 5’th, and 6’th level maneuvers would cost 4 CP each, and 7’th and 8’th would cost 6 CP each, and a 9’th level maneuver would cost 8 CP. A basic discipline in this system would thus include 2 1’st and 2 2’nd level effects and one effect each of levels 3-0 at a net cost of 48 CP. Admittedly, you’d only have eleven different spells / “maneuvers” at 48 CP (each at five uses/day) – but you could readily master two or three such disciplines or double up on a favorite to raise its uses to three times per “encounter”. While the baseline maneuvers would either take actions to activate or be slightly weaker to account for combining them with an attack, this is easy enough to address with Opportunist or Reflex Training.

Interestingly, this means that a standard 3.0/3.5 Fighter build – which underspends by 53 CP – can be brought up to normal power levels by giving them one complete martial discipline in this style and Opportunist to let them take personal-enhancing effects – “stances” and such – as free actions at a cost of 54 CP (so they’d need to drop a skill point for perfect balance). They could add a second by spending a good chunk of their Fighter Bonus Feats on it. It also means that you could master at least three styles for the cost of using the Book Of Nine Swords style of building stances and maneuvers – and this method lets you cooperate with your game master to define your own powers.

Lets see…

Beast Of Rage Style:

  • L1) Wrath (The Practical Enchanter) and Embrace The Wild (Spell Compendium).
  • L2) Bite of the Wererat (Spell Compendium) and Blinding Spittle (Spell Compendium).
  • L3) Personal-Only Stone Ox (The Practical Enchanter).
  • L4) Boundless Energy (The Practical Enchanter).
  • L5) Bite of the Weretiger (Spell Compendium).
  • L6) Resilience Of The Beast (As per Heal, but only affects the caster and the effects are spread over time; each round the spell will restore the players choice of 10 points of damage or any one of the usual conditions that Heal cures until the healing capacity or list of effects is exhausted or ten rounds have passed with no use of the spells remaining healing capacity).
  • L7) Wrath Of Grod (The Practical Enchanter).
  • L8) Wrath Of The Great Beast (Form Of The Dragon III, Pathfinder).
  • L9) Stride Of The Colossus (The Practical Enchanter).

Similarly, Battleship Potemkin Style probably includes massive defenses, the ability to hurl rocks either with great force or so violently that they explode, walking on water, another variant on self-healing (damage control), and immediate-action extra hit points. Cumulonimbus Style focuses on mastering wind, thunder, lightning and flight powers. Whisper Of Corrosion Style employs corrosive effects and disintegration. Hungry Ghost Style covers invisibility, etherealness, dimension dooring, and a variety of draining effects.

Now the original Book Of Nine Swords styles presented more options than one of these styles – but individual characters never got to actually have more than a fraction of them, making the actual number of abilities you get fairly similar. As for the range of ability choices… it’s pretty hard to beat “freeform” when it comes to that. You don’t like a few of my choices for “Beast Of Rage” Style? Call your version “Eastern Beast Of Rage” Style (or something like that) and tweak it to suit yourself.

Throw in a few Stances – an unlimited-use counterpart to the Martial Maneuvers that are usually less direct, if still quite potent – and you have an excellent martial adept right there.

For some more specific examples…

  • HERE we have a level four martial artist who is using martial arts skills as an independent, semi-freeform, magic system. Buy up the level of effects he can produce and buy some Mana and Rite of Chi to recover it as he goes up in levels, and he could readily become a full-blown martial adept in his own way.
  • HERE we have yet another approach – a fifth level martial artist with a wide variety of “bad touch” effects that can block the use of magic and psionics for the rest of the day, kill, paralyze, cause amnesia, and many other effects backed up with the ability to raise a short term Wall Of Force as a quick defense, Dimension Door, Enervation, Globe Of Invulnerability, and several other handy tricks. On the other hand, with no real theme to his abilities beyond “that looks handy” it’s not exactly clear where he’d go from this point. He’d do well in a low to mid-level game though.
  • HERE we have a first level martial artist of a race of Natural Martial Artists built using Witchcraft. While most of his tricks are fairly low-powered he has a LOT of them for level one and will easily be able to expand his selection later.
  • The article on Monk Tricks covers how to build a monk-type character with some added options – and a lot of points left over to buy other stuff. A classic “Monk” type the with Battleship Potemkin style on tap sounds like it might be fun…
  • And for a few random examples… we have Lingering Smoke (a Sidereal who wandered in from an Exalted gme), Dante Allegori (a magical weaponsmaster employing the Sixty Successive Sacrileges), Sir Laurent Onn (a generator of enhancing magical auras), the Fey Swordsman (a fairly minor magical martial artist), Noita Verduur (a shapeshifting psychic assassin), and “The Wraith” (a short range teleporter), all of whom represent still other approaches to building warriors with exotic powers to augment their abilities.

Really, this is more a question of what exactly you’re trying to build. Eclipse supports a lot of different approaches to building a mystic warrior.

And I hope that’s some help anyway! If you’ve got something specific in mind though I’ll need some more details.

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

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

Ponyfinder in Equestria – Zebras and their lands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rumors say that it will not be long now.

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

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

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

The Subtle Weave:

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

Initiate Of Mysteries:

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

Many And Varied Talents:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what do we see her do?

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

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


Crystal Ponies, Gem Ponies, and Ponyfinder.

Crystal ponies are a bit awkward, mostly due to a lack of information; none of them are major characters and they’ve only put in a few appearances. That’s why they weren’t a part of the original series of articles. Still, Ponyfinder gave it’s “Gem Ponies” some definite abilities, and the question was about “what would your version look like”. Ergo, here we go – Crystal / Gem Ponies as a full-blown +1 ECL over the basic pony template.

We do have a little information. Before anything else we’re told that “If the empire is filled with hope and love, those things are reflected across all of Equestria. If hatred and fear take hold…”

So either there’s some sort of massive linked destiny effect (this seems unlikely, or the place being sent to limbo for a thousand years should have had some pretty major effects on the rest of the world) or it generates some sort of empathic broadcast. There’s still no evidence that this has anything to do with the actual Crystal Ponies directly; it might just be a function of the Crystal City and/or The Crystal Heart.

When we first see the Crystal Ponies they’re all grayish, droopy, and blatantly depressed and hopeless – but when they become hopeful they became sparkly, and brighter colored, and apparently regain their memories. Upon recalling themselves they pumped “light and love” into the streets of the Crystal Empire, which lit up and fed it into the Crystal Heart, which cleared away the dark crystals, blew up King Sombra, fixed the weather, got rid of the snow, and more. Evidently the Crystal Ponies can supply magical energy to devices – and the city itself is a massive magical channeling / amplifying system that focuses power into the Crystal Heart. The combination is capable of supporting a sizeable population in an icy wilderness, broadcasting their massed power (and a pretty lightshow), keeping the area unfrozen, performing spontaneous civic repairs, and more.

In game terms, that’s pretty obviously a Ward Major, but the details won’t matter to prospective adventurers.

We can probably throw in some ability to strengthen and repair crystal too. When it comes to building a city out of the stuff crystal just isn’t that great a structural material.

We don’t see any wings or horns among the Crystal Ponies at first although there are occasional examples later – but they’re rare enough that they might just be normal unicorns or pegasi with a temporary effects going. After all, exposure to the empowered Crystal Heart made everyone – including Spike – look crystalline for a bit and we do know from Nightmare Moon’s alternate-timeline guards that cosmetic transformation effects exist in Equestria (and are a good in-setting explanation for various animation errors). Secondarily, King Sombra’s forces in the Crystal War timeline didn’t seem to include flyers or other magic users. While we didn’t get that good a look at them, the lack of an aerial wing to meet Equestria’s Pegasi seems kind of telling. It would be downright stupid not to field them if they had them available.

Finally, the Crystal Ponies seem to be ridiculously easily influenced. They were made to forget everything pre-Sombra, can be transformed by speeches, and were apparently fairly easily turned into a mass of mind-controlled soldiers.

Well, crystals do seem to be a big thing in Equestrian magic – and when Sombra controlled the Crystal Empire he seemed to get a limitless supply of mind-control helmets and weapons with it – and I don’t think that he was personally laboring day and night on artificing.

So Crystal Ponies can shape, maintain, and repair crystal, empower crystalline devices, create magical crystal devices, and shift identities – to the extent of major personality and memory shifts. This is not always a good thing.

Ponyfinder Gem Ponies get:

  • +2 AC versus Rays.
  • The ability to deflect a Ray as if using Deflect Arrows 1/Day, although a free hand is not required.
  • A +2 racial bonus on saves against Fear and Despair effects.
  • A reroll any desired d20 check once per day.

Those are actually pretty good racial bonuses. They’re not particularly high-powered, but rays are pretty common attacks, fear and despair can be incapacitating, and a reroll – even once per day – has all kinds of uses.

So for our full-powered +1 ECL Crystal Ponies buy:

  • Spellcraft +6, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use as a Craft Skill to make (crystalline) Charms and Talismans (2 CP).
  • Specific Knowledge: How to make 20 specific Charms (2 CP) and 3 specific Talismans (1 CP).
    • Each Crystal Pony has an intuitive knowledge of how to make a small selection of charms and talismans. If the setting doesn’t require such knowledge, they get a bonus on creating their specific set.
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell I / Crystal Spirit (L3, Enhances Charms and Talismans. For the next minute the user’s personal Charms and Talismans have a base of L1 and L2 effects respectively. Alternatively, this can be used to pump power into major devices, but it will usually require a sizeable group of users to accomplish much. In either case, the effect can be renewed without it requiring an action or conscious effort as long as sufficient Mana is available (6 CP).
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell II: The Crystal Forge (L4, produces any crystal-related effect of up to level two, 6 CP).
    • This will allow Crystal Ponies to readily shape, repair, strengthen, or shatter crystal, to produce crystal implements, and even to create temporary crystal armor.
  • Crystalline Nature: Improved Defender (only, no base), Specialized for Increased Effect (+2 t0 AC) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (4 CP) / only versus Rays.
    • A Crystal Ponies reflective coat is sparkly and shiny and tends to deflect magical rays as well as light.
  • Block (Arcane), Specialized and Corrupted / only versus Rays, plus Luck with + (Cha Mod) Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to use with this Block (6 CP).
    • Crystal Ponies can consciously deflect rays, although they will have a difficult time keeping it up if pressed.
  • Resist: +2 on saves versus Mind-Affecting Abilities, Specialized for Half Cost / only versus Fear and Despair effects (1 CP).
  • Luck, Corrupted/only for Rerolls (4 CP).
  • Being semi-transparent and apparently made of crystal is purely cosmetic, and has no real effect. It’s not like a lot of races don’t look a bit weird anyway. With no effect this has no cost.
  • Racial Disadvantages:
    • Accursed / Crystal Ponies are easily affected by the the power of Black Magic Charms and Talismans, and cannot avoid both empowering and amplifying them when they are afflicted with them. They can thus be readily forced to power their own torment or enslavement or suffer repressed memories (-3 CP).
    • Incompetent / Crystal Ponies are sparkly, somewhat glowey, and very, very conspicuous. They suffer a -3 penalty on all Stealth, Disguise, and related skill checks (-3 CP).
  • Crystal Ponies either get a Bonus Feat (6 CP) or – if Charms and Talismans are not normally (or widely) available in the setting – they’ll need to take:
    • Use of Charms and Talismans: Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effects/can only produce the effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly expensive and take some time to attune for use (6 CP).

Total Cost: 32 CP

There. That lets our Crystal Ponies equip themselves with crystal weapons and armor, produce various boosting charms and talismans, and resist a lot of rays (probably the most common Unicorn Pony offensive effect). Given the right choices of charms and talismans that can actually make them fairly formidable fighters – far better than most ponies are without lots of special training – and thus explains their ability to hold their own against a much-larger Equestria (with a presumably far greater population) in the Crystal War timeline.

These Crystal Ponies actually make excellent explorers, adventurers, and hostile-environment colonists since they can use personal Charms and Talismans to  endure bitter cold, reduce the amount of food they need, and can create tools and simple structures out of magically-created crystal.

Dedicated Hunters and Ponyfinder

Many adventurers are in it for themselves. Others are loyal to great lords and nations. Some seek ancient knowledge. More are brought up as mercenaries or agents. A few are simply thrust into the adventuring life when they are forced out of their normal lives – whether by being caught thieving or by being forced to seek new homes.

Other people, however, are perfectly happy as humble woodcutters, bustling cooks, and simple fishermen. But then something goes wrong in their comfortable worlds. Some monstrous force – war, flood, plague, famine, or some literal monster – strikes their lives and strips away something they value.

And rather than falling into despair, or railing against fate, or resigning themselves to their loss and their inability to change the world… they find PURPOSE. An anchor against the whimsical winds of fate. A course is set – and the farmers boy, simple woodcutter, or imaginative child picks up whatever comes to hand and sets out to do something about it.

When that force is large and abstract you can expect to see feats of engineering, or research into new cures, or organizations founded. If smaller, expect social heroes – a fireman, doctor, or investigator. And when it truly was a monster… expect an avenger.

An old destiny is no more. A Hunter has been born. And despite all logic telling us that apprentice bakers should leave the demon-hunting to trained professionals… they often turn out to be very, VERY, good at it, somehow substituting anger and grim determination for actual training and equipment.

Hunter (Werewolf Slayer, Dragonbane, Vampire Hunter, etc). 24 CP acquired template / power package.

  • Favored Foe (6 CP). The Hunter has his or her Prey. Do you gain some bonuses to overcoming a Favored Foes Spell Resistance, to Will Saves against them, to Knowledge Checks involving them, to the Damage you cause them, to your ability to Intimidate them, to Tracking them, to Perception checks involving them, or to various other functions? You get to pick five options. Starting Hunters often Specialize this (does not increase with level) – but that’s usually just a way to save a few CP when starting off, and gets bought off before it actually matters.
    • Favored Foe doesn’t turn up in that many sample builds – it tends to be a bit campaign specific and the examples are built to be a bit generic – but it would be hard to find a build where it’s more appropriate to use it than this one.
  • Hunters Wrath: 1d6 Mana with the Unskilled Magic option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Unskilled Magic, only for effects used designed for use against the user’s Favored Foe targets. The user may thus create temporary “Bane” weapons, blast or detect his or her foes, create specialized protections against their powers, heal the wounds (and any special conditions) that they inflict, and so on. In general, this is best taken as Increased Effect (1 Mana per Spell Level, requires no Cha check) and Reduced Cost (4 CP/Die). Add Rite of Chi, Specialized and Corrupted / requires at least one hour of rest or quiet to use, only to recharge the Hunter’s Wrath pool above (2 CP). Most starting Hunters only have one die of Mana to play with, and so rely pretty heavily on the “bonus mana” effect of emotional stress – fueling it with fanatical hatred of their targets. Older and calmer Hunters usually buy some more dice of Mana and bonus uses on their Rite of Chi to get it back.
    • Note that using Hunters Wrath effectively requires at least a +1 base on Will Saves. Most Hunters have strong wills anyway – it rather goes with the territory – but they can always skip buying this for a bit if they don’t have at least a +1 will save bonus yet.
  • Triumph Of Will: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized / only usable when dealing with their Favored Foe(s) (6 CP). Hunters don’t stop. Has no one in the village ever successfully fought a Werewolf and lived? A visiting Werewolf Hunter has probably torn all the limbs off three of them with his or her bare hands.
    • When a Hunter REALLY needs to make that save, or that shot, or confirm that critical, somehow they pretty much invariably do.
  • Battle Scars: Immunity to a Favored Foe type. That’s Common (After all, you’re actively pursuing them. It might even be Very Common, and thus more expensive, if the campaign revolves around a particular type of foe – but that will increase the utility at least as much as it increases the cost), Major (Favored Foes do tend to want to hurt you), and Minor (6 CP). This will protect the user against twelve points of damage from each of his favored foes attacks and from effects of up to level three (with a +4 bonus on saves against higher-level effects).
    • Yes, this means that basic, minor, foes probably will have no real chance of hurting you – pretty much the way that Buffy the Vampire Slayer can casually dispatch dozens of minor vampires and only has trouble during special situations.

Recommended Extras at higher levels: 

  • At least a +2 Base Will Save (6 CP).
  • Extra dice of Mana: 4 CP Each.
  • Specific Knowledge (Favored Foes) (1 SP).
  • Bonus Uses on Rite of Chi: 2 CP per +4.

The problem with having a Hunter in the group is the same as it is with any other specialist; they’re a bit overwhelming within their little field and a bit behind everyone else outside of it. That’s not necessarily bad, but it can make running the game awkward if you’re not used to it.

In Ponyfinder becoming a Chaos Hunter costs a feat. You dedicate yourself to fighting the forces of chaos and there you are. You can build that in Eclipse too of course; buy +1 to Will Saves (3 CP), and Favored Foe (Specialized for reduced cost, does not improve after level one, Corrupted/only applies to two items, but they’re AC and BAB, 3 CP) taking a +2 to AC and BAB versus Chaotic Outsiders. That’s actually slightly better than the original version (where it was CMB (Grapple) instead of BAB), but then Eclipse tends to encourage character diversity by making all kinds of niche bonuses a bit cheaper.

The Clockwork Rangers

All right, I’m recovered enough to start writing again – but I’m not going to bother trying to catch up on a few missed entries this time.

The toxic dust of a dying world blew upon the wind, drifting across the barren hills. The earth lay shadowed beneath a layer of eternal clouds that blocked out the sun to leave either sweltering hothouse barrens or deathly cold – and yet left even a spattering of corrosively contaminated rain or snow a rare and treasured thing. The few and scattered plants that grew were twisted and venomous – and those few of the animals that were still living things instead of undead horrors were worse.

For long centuries the colony had lain hidden deep beneath the hills – a stronghold of life from an earlier age, before the great war, before the spells of death, and fire, corruption, and plague had rained from the sky. An ark of hope for the future if the slow, cleansing, progress of wind and rain should ever make the surface truly livable again.

But the earthquake came many centuries too soon. While the children were rushed to temporary safety in the deepest caverns, the haven was opened to the poisoned surface, the techno-magical support systems were failing, and death awaited.

But loving elders would, as ever, sacrifice themselves for the children. They lacked the resources to repair everything, and their own failing bodies could not host their spirits much longer no matter how strong their wills – and so they worked with surviving fragments of lore and ritual, attempting to reseal the haven and to repair it’s systems by pouring their own spirits and life forces into them – hoping that their sacrifice would at least save the children.

And whether some nigh-forgotten power aided them, or their ritual both failed and succeeded beyond their wildest hopes, or some last remnant of the builders protective intent provided a focus for their sacrifice, they accomplished much of their goal. The remnants of the old systems twisted and changed – and the Clockwork Rangers were born from failing bodies, spells, and life support systems, transmigrated spirits, and a will to protect beyond death. Bodies of metal, crystal, ticking gears, and strange forces came forth in a final attempt to both save the children and to bring new life to a world on the brink of the final abyss.

Not surprisingly… some Clockwork Rangers sought out gates to other, more livable, worlds – allowing them to find homes for the children in their care. Others still travel the wastelands, rescuing occasional survivors and helping found and build communities as life begins – ever so gradually – to return. But even in kinder worlds… there is always a need of guardians

And, of course, there are always those who take such a gift and twist it to their own ends. Many things are created with good intentions, but go astray.

Clockwork Rangers have a variety of powers related to their original haven’s life, community, and social support systems as well as some basic defenses. Unsurprisingly, they are at their most effective in poisoned, blasted, environments where their powers are vitally necessary – but even in gentler areas, they are fairly durable and effective healers and reasonable combatants.

Clockwork Ranger 24 CP Acquired Template

Innate Enchantment: 11,500 GP Value (12 CP).

  • Handy Haversack: Only for storing toxins, radiation, explosives, and similar hazards (x.4 = 800 GP). Intelligent (500 GP): Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 10, Speech (actually a display in the Clockwork Rangers vision and an auditory feed; the system cannot “talk” to anyone else, 500 GP), 120′ Senses (1000 GP) and Darkvision (500 GP), Benign Transposition 3/Day (1200 GP).
  • Field Provisions Box (2000 GP). A Clockwork Ranger and up to 5/15/45 Large/Medium/Small companions (or some combination thereof) need neither eat nor drink – although they can if they wish to do so.
  • Deep Breath (SL 1 x CL 1 x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x .7 Personal-Only = 1400 GP). Clockwork Rangers need not breathe, and cannot drown, be suffocated, or be affected by inhaled gases unless they intentionally inhale them.
  • Amulet of Tears (2300 GP)
  • Healing Belt (750 GP)
  • Traveler’s Any-Tool (250 GP).
  • Each Clockwork Ranger has an additional 300 GP worth of permanent mundane gear installed, but it varies with each individual. One might have an alchemical lab and a bunch of reference material, another armor and weapons, and still another grappling hooks and engineering tools.

Since the original request was about Ponyfinder, and the Pathfinder Template can be presumed to be in play… there’s no need to worry about the 3.5 experience point cost of those enchantments.

Witchcraft I, II and III (18 CP)

  • Base Power = (Str + Dex + Con)/3, Save DC = (13 + Cha Mod).
  • Seven Basic Abilities:
    • Duty Beyond Death / The Adamant Will: Specialized and Corrupted / no cost, but only applies when a Clockwork Ranger is acting to defend its charges or other noncombatants.
    • Safe Haven / Hyloka: Corrupted for Increased Effect and Specialized for Reduced Cost (free): only to induce resistance to injury in companions, only works on those who remain within thirty feet for at least one hour and wears off after four hours if they depart that radius. Induces DR 5 / – and Universal Energy Resistance 5.
    • Purifying Aura / Witchfire, Specialized and Corrupted for a single (Increased Effect) / Detoxification. Toxins, radiation, plagues, and similar hazards are drawn from the surrounding 30′ radius and into the Clockwork Rangers extra-dimensional storage space. While it requires one Power to detoxify a living creature (and it can save if it wishes), maintaining a livable air bubble despite any reasonable level of contaminants, and slowly purifying the soil and water, is automatic.
    • Mass Driver / Hand of Shadows, Specialized and Corrupted for a single (Increased) effect: a Clockwork Ranger may spend 1 Power to launch three bolts of available materials. These get a +4 bonus over the user’s BAB, but are otherwise treated as if the Clockwork Ranger was using a heavy crossbow of the appropriate size. If they actually have an enhanced crossbow available, it’s bonuses apply as well even if they are not using it. This can be especially dangerous if the Clockwork Ranger has been operating in highly toxic areas, since any stored supply of toxins is a part of the available materials to be so launched.
    • Occult Physician / Healing. Clockwork Guardians are highly effective healers and extremely resistant to drugs, intoxicants, and similar biological difficulties. They also commonly apply this ability to either duplicate the effects of the Keep Watch spell (2 power) or to simply negate the negative effects of going without their trance-like equivalent of “sleep” (1 power per day).
    • Sweet Dreams / Dreamfaring. Specialized and Corrupted for a single effect at no cost. No matter how haunted, cursed, enchanted, or traumatized, anyone sleeping within a hundred and twenty feet of a Clockwork Ranger will have only peaceful, healing, dreams – equivalent to superb therapy.
    • Guardian / The Inner Eye, Specialized and Corrupted for a pair of ongoing effects at no cost – Status (the user may add up to (Wis) extra targets by giving them a token to carry) and Detect Hostile Intent.
  • Pact: Spirit (-12 CP). A Clockwork Ranger is already deceased, its spirit bound to the world by will and the damaged life support magic of an artificial body. When that body finally fails, that spirit flows into the earth, immediately becoming a part of the great cycle – beyond the reach of magic such as Raise (or Speak with) Dead or Resurrection. Still, where a Clockwork Ranger falls a green oasis will bloom even in the most desolate void- and will continue to flower while the Clockwork Rangers endure.
  • Advanced Abilities:
    • Intuitive Engineering / Master The Elements. Specialized and Corrupted for reduced cost / the Clockwork Ranger must evaluate the problem, survey the area, and actually work on building a practical solution – but they have an intuitive ability to lead the way in reshaping environments to support communities (2 CP).
    • Tending The Garden / True Prosperity. Specialized and Corrupted for reduced cost / a Clockwork Ranger who opts to settle in an area and devote it’s efforts to supporting a local community will allow such a community to prosper and grow at the upper limits for its environment – its harvests always good, its people and livestock healthy and fertile, and with many small disasters averted (2 CP).

A Great Light / Major Privilege, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost. A Clockwork Ranger can offer the newly dead an immediate reincarnation as a “young adult” Clockwork Ranger – if, and only if, they have died/are dying with major goals and commitments to things beyond himself or herself left unfulfilled, they are willing to accept the Spirit Pact involved, and they are willing to place their faith in the Clockwork Guardian (2 CP)

A Clockwork Ranger transformation has a total cost of 24 CP, and must be paid for immediately when acquired – most often by sacrificing some preexisting racial or personal abilities that seem incompatible with being a ghost haunting a body made of quasi-living machinery transmuted from your old corpse. If you REALLY can’t think of anything… each 6 CP not paid for will temporarily reduce one of your attributes by one. Those “lost” points will return when as the template is paid for.

Of course, they’re also a sort of “resurrection” available at level one – a econd chance for both dying people and dying worlds. They can also operate quite effectively whether or not the “superheroic” world template is in use. If it is… it’s fair enough to count the overall template as Specialized (cannot be powered with Mana), reducing the total cost of the package to 12 CP.

Why? Well…

“What if I want to play a Ponyfinder subtype (Chaos Hunter, Clockwork, Gem, Leatherwing, Sea Horse, or Zebra) in full-blown superheroic Equestria? How would they be changed to match the more powerful Pegasi, Unicorns, Earth Ponies, and Changelings you’ve built?”

“Well, the simplest approach is to go right ahead without changing anything. Take your racial writeup with it’s built-in Pathfinder Package Deal and build a character. If you’re in Equestria you get free Mana equal to your (Con Mod) each round from the Superheroic World Template, will probably be using the Low-Level Adventurer template, and get a free level instead of the +1 ECL Templates that Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns use. Next simplest (at least for me) is change them however you and/or the game master want.”

“No, no! I want to see what your powered-up versions of those subtypes would be like!”

“Well… as I get to them then!”

The Iron Men of the Eclipse

Iron Man is another problem. Looking at the Marvel Wiki, he’s had more than fifty different suits of armor – eighty if you count what-if, alternate dimension, and other versions – most of them with many undefined capabilities and not a few of which were stored inside his body. There have been many different control systems, and some just turn him into a super-cyborg and are never “taken off”. Others go running around on their own or can be remotely controlled. And, of course, other people – like James Rhodes and Doctor Doom – have been “Iron Man”, not to mention all the alternate-dimension versions and the suits of armor he’s handed out to other characters.

So neither the armor, the wearer (if there even is one), nor the history are consistent. Iron Man isn’t a CHARACTER, he/she/it is a FRANCHISE.

So we’ll have to make some assumptions here.

We’re talking about Tony Stark. He’s a Superhero in a superheroic world, so the Superheroic World Template applies and he’ll be spending 24 CP on the Four Color Package. His four-color minor bonus is Immortal Vigor (for some extra hit points),

Now Tony does have some innate superhuman abilities.

  • He’s super-intelligent.
  • He gets bonuses on high-tech skills.
  • He is unreasonably durable for a human (armor can’t protect you against g-forces and massive bodywide impacts; you just get crushed against the inside of it).
  • He can produce high-tech gear with logically insufficient tools and materials, although he does need a workship of sorts.
  • He can analyze technology with very little in the way of instruments or time.
  • He can get absurd amounts of work done in very little time.
  • Sometimes – through one means or another – he has cybrenetic telepathy.
  • Sometimes (albeit certainly not always) he has regenerative powers.

OK, so it’s Inherent Spell I, II, and III (Group Skill Bonuses, Boosted Intelligence, a specialized version of Fabricate, for a total of 18 CP). He has some Damage Reduction (6 CP) worth, and an Occult Sense (6 CP) for how technology works. In much later adventures / at much higher levels he adds Inherent Spells IV and V to give him Cybrenetic Telepathy and Long-Term Regeneration – but our initial cost is 30 CP.

Next up, we have his Armor.

The really cheap way to build Iron Man (not unexpectedly) requires one of the few things on this site I’d call an exploit: You just take:

  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (four floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/: only to build “power armor”, can only be changed in a laboratory or machine shop (4 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized in making Power Armor Only, Corrupted / requires the use of a lab, a machine shop, and various high-tech supplies (2 CP).

Now you basically build Warlocks package as a Relic.

  • Arc Reactor Power Surge: Natural Magic(s): Reality Editing and Spell Enhancement, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to affect his innate enchantments / technological gear, only to amplify the effects, effects are fixed with each one of his abilities, only gets (Int Mod) boosts per system, effects are low mana cost but of brief duration; in effect (and to avoid assigning and then tracking a wide variety of durations) he simply gets to allot (Con Mod x 3) Booster Points between his various abilities each round (8 CP).
  • Advanced Tech: Innate Enchantment can normally be used to buy the equivalent of mundane equipment – but it’s rarely worth bothering with in fantasy based games. With a 1-to-20 GP-to-Credits conversion ratio and both d20 Modern and Future in play however… mundane equipment is suddenly a LOT more attractive. Still, even superheroes don’t automatically have access to super-technology, so I’m going to treat having access to the d20 Future lists to “buy” stuff from as a an Immunity / normal limits on equipment availability (Very Common, Major, Great (for +4 Tech Levels over the usual PL4 base), Specialized and Corrupted / only for Innate Enchantment purposes, any systems that require ammunition or fuel must have it supplied by normal purchases, 10 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (up to 11,500 GP / 230,000 Credits base value), Specialized for Reduced Cost / the armor can be disabled or remote-manipulated by enemies, has an unstable AI which can run amuck, takes damage when the user is struck by a major attack (gradually degrading it’s systems) and especially powerful attacks can cause it to shut down entirely until rebooted (6 CP). This is how Warlocks power package works, and it’s a perfectly fine version to start with.

In any case, that’s 24 CP, making his armor a four-point relic – exactly what’s available.

Now, for each version of his armor… just buy necessary innate enchantments and modern / future gizmos. Pick the upgrades for when he channels more power into them, and you can build all the different suits of armor that you please.

And that lets you buy a decent suit of “Iron Man” armor as a single feat. Of course, if you allow this for one character… you’ll have to allow it for everybody. Now I’ve actually played in such a game – a long time ago under the old Marvel Super Hero rules – where Tony Stark (as an NPC) joined our group and made booster armor for every player character. Somehow it wound up evening out the randomly-rolled power differences between the characters a great deal. Tony was never any help otherwise though; he kept over-designing his own armor and having it stolen, or running amuck on it’s own, or otherwise becoming a part of the problem.

You don’t want to do that? Good for you; this is why this is labeled an Exploit. To create a much more reasonable method…

Iron Mans Armor is usually subject to one or more of the following limitations. Applying one counts as Corrupted two counts as Specialized, and applying all three counts as Corrupted and Specialized. While the same limitations apply to each power in a suit, the effects can differ – some powers may have increased effects, others will have reduced costs, others may have some of each.

  • The armor is external, extremely obvious, and quite well known. It cannot be worn in normal social situations, and must be transported and donned before use, and occasionally runs short of power.
  • The armor can be disabled or remote-manipulated by enemies and has an unstable AI which can run amuck.
  • The armor takes damage when the user is struck by a major attack, gradually degrading it’s systems. Especially powerful attacks can cause it to shut down entirely until rebooted.

Each power in the armor can be affected by these restrictions differently, resulting in a vary large number of possible armors. Early versions – while Tony was lower level and had fewer points to invest in his armor – mostly used Reduced Cost, resulting in weaker armor. Later versions usually went for increased effect, although this seemed to hit an upper limit somewhat below characters like Thor or the Hulk. The very latest versions seem to have gone for dropping the “external” limitation – making it slightly weaker and more expensive (thus sopping up the points that come with an increase in level) and making Tony into a cyborg rather than a power armor user.

Personally I think that loses a lot of what makes Iron Man Iron Man, but I suppose that – after more than fifty years of appearances – a change-up is pretty inevitable.

To make things fully modular, the points come from Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (6 CP per incidence), Points are only usable to buy armor functions, can only be changed given time in a workshop or lab given hours, days, or weeks to work (depending on the extent of the changes being made). Since this means that the maximum cost of any given function is 6 CP, the armor has upper limits – which is why Tony has never been able to do more than delay Marvel’s upper-level powerhouses.

Over the years, as Tony has gone up in level… he’s bought more incidences of Double Enthusiast – allowing him to add more functions and to go for “Increased Effect” as opposed to “reduced cost”. Thus early versions were relatively weak and had few special functions, while later versions were more powerful and versatile.

The usual list of armor functions includes:

  • Damage Reduction. Iron Man usually isn’t all that hard to hit (if he was, he couldn’t show off his mighty armor), so his defenses are best represented by Damage Reduction.
  • Flight. This is usually fairly high speed, but the Four Color Template handles that.
  • Superhuman Strength. While on the high side, this never really reaches the level of the major “strength” characters – if only so as to leave them something to do.
  • Concussive Energy Blasts. These are probably at about the 10d6 level, since they usually seem pretty comparable to everyone else’s default powers.
  • A “unibeam” – originally a very bright floodlight/spotlight//laser, now occasionally used for almost anything.
  • Universal Energy Resistance (most often the Dragonstar variant that includes Life Support, b ut if it’s less stressed in this version Air Bubble can go in the Innate Enchantment, below)).
  • Navigation, communication, sensory enhancement/protection, and related electronic functions. Honestly, on this stuff… I’d just go for a bit of Innate Enchantment and given him the equivalent of a smartphone, GPS, nightvision/flash goggles, sound suppressor earphones, and similar junk. It’s all cheap enough that a point or two should do it.
  • Most external suits also have some “theme” – deep space operations, stealth, or whatever – and a few special functions for it. Quite a few of the modern ones come with a cloaking system as well – basically invisibility, if usually only versus electronic sensors. Self-repair is kind of optional given that damage to the suit is basically a special effect – but it can easily be quantified if you wish.

Most of this can be covered by Mana-Powered Inherent Spells (I-III usually) and a bit of Reflex Training to let him activate more than one personal-enhancement effects at a time. That, of course, means that it will often take several rounds to fully don / activate the armor from scratch – although functions will come online as they are powered up. That too works nicely with the usual portrayal in the comic books.

To buy all this at current levels… we’ll want at least 10 instances of Double Enthusiast (60 CP), that Reflex Training (6 CP), a bit of a Mana Pool for emergencies to represent the ARC reactor reserve (12 CP plus recharging with Rite of Chi and Bonus Uses only for that, 6 CP), At earlier levels? It’s slower to put on (dump the reflex training), he has no special power reserve, and he has a LOT fewer points invested – possibly as few as ten to twelve. His Mark I suit will be weak and primitive, but it will cover everything it needed to.

As for the rest of his points… some knowledges and technical skills (adept and fast learner will help), hit dice, privileges, favors, and connections, and – as TommyNihil suggested – the “Mad Science” version of Occult Ritual.

Iron Man won’t actually have the raw power of many characters of similar level, but there is something to be said for enormous versatility.

There aren’t that many “Iron Man” style characters on the blog – most of them are more “fantasy” themed – but there is Doctor Wrath and Tomonoko (“Tomo”) Sayuki, both Power-Armor types. There are several cyborgs and a couple of mecha pilots too, but those don’t really fit the theme as well. There’s Jarvain Michell and his Mecha, Gar Ashwood, a Pathfinder/Dragonstar Soulmech Gunslinger-Detective, Jamie Wolfe – a MLELF Cyborg Super-Soldier, Kristin Stanwell. A cyborg firearms expert, the various How to build Terminators (Basic Builds, Power Sources, Explosions, and Robot Buddies), Garm, and Adam, Praetorian Nightmare: a melee death-machine nightmare for entire high-level parties.

And I hope that helps!