Continuum II Psychic Powers Part III – Psychic Senses, Psychokinetic Effects, Telepathic Functions, and Will Force.

The Psychic Wheel arrangement, with its selection of opposing, near-opposing, related, and unrelated disciplines, was a fundamental part of Continuum II’s psychic ability systems – rather like AD&D’s, or d20’s, separation of spellcasting into Arcane (Wizard / Sorcerer, or, in AD&D Illusionist) and Divine (Cleric / Druid) fields, or the later introduction of things like Pact Magic, Incarnum, Shadow Magic, and Truename Magic. It meant that there were ten basic types of Psychic Adepts, each with their own capabilities and methods of solving problems. An adept would probably dabble a bit in related fields – those only one or two places removed on the Wheel – but would be entirely barred from the oppositional and near-oppositional disciplines. If you were a master of Psychokinetic Effects, then the disciplines of Heightened Talents, Life Energy Manipulation, and Natural Forces were beyond your reach. Did you also dabble a bit in Will Force? That would bar you from the Psychic Senses discipline as well. Combined with the choices between Psychomancy (with the option to dabble in C’hi and Introspection powers) and Psionics (and the option to dabble in Empyrean Magic), the net result was to offer several hundred variants on the “psychic” even before they started selecting and customizing their disciplines and other skills. A master of Heightened Talents who dabbled in Psychic Senses might breeze through an investigative scenario – but it would be his partner, a master of Dimensional Warps, who would allow him or her to follow a trail of clues across the solar system in a few hours.

Across the decades, and a hundred or so Psychic characters, the players never did come up with two who were much alike.

Psychic Senses are – at their most basic – powered-up Introspection effects, using psychic energy to modulate, amplify, and extend the user’s natural energy aura while analyzing the resulting interactions with the environment. “Passive” effects rely on picking up energy emanations, just as physical sight relies on picking up radiated photons, and can massively extend the sensitivity, range, and analytic functions of the user’s basic senses. Active abilities rely on extending the user’s energies to actually probe the universe directly – but in either case the Psychic Senses are amongst the most subtle and low-powered psychic abilities since they make no attempt to manipulate the world, but simply observe it. Active abilities cost a bit more, and may be detectable – but even with them it isn’t easy. Unfortunately, that same subtlety makes it easy for users to fool themselves – allowing their own preconceptions and desires to override the subtle cues of their discipline. Psychic Senses are thus incompatible with the Will Force abilities, which rely on throwing massive amounts of raw power into simply overwriting the structure of chunks of the universe, rather than accepting what’s there already. Psychic Senses are closely related to the subtle psychic-energy projection of the Telepathic Functions and to the still-subtle, if more active, manipulations of environmental energy fields employed by the Natural Forces discipline.

Psychokinetic Effects channel energy into the purely material realm, using it to move, re-arrange, and manipulate matter while suppressing the array of action-reaction and related conservation rules that would normally either make such remote-action and reactionless manipulations impossible or – at the least – turn the user’s brain into pulp. Like most natural law violations, this makes this discipline fairly expensive to use, with the energy cost scaling as a function of the mass involved and the degree of fine control required. It also makes Psychokinetic Effects fundamentally opposed to Heightened Talents, which focus on the subtle augmentation of the user’s personal abilities in accordance with the laws of nature instead. They are, however, closely related to the deeper law-negation of the Dimensional Warps discipline and to the blunt power-surges and energy redirection of the Energy Manipulation abilities.

Telepathic Functions rely on a complex array of mental effects, combining the subtle energy patterns of neurological fields and the purely mental conceptual patterns of the astral level to generate empyrean constructs – channeling subtle, nuanced, patterns of mental energy through the empyrean and into their target’s minds. The effective use of abilities in the Telepathic Functions category demands great concentration and precisely controlled thought patterns – although these talents often do not carry over into other activities. Operating primarily on the central nervous system and mind these abilities use comparatively little power. Overall, the fine control of energy patterns makes the Telepathic Functions closely related to the Energy Manipulation abilities, while the fine control of thought patterns and sensitivity to subtle energies are closely related to the psychic senses. However, concentrating on subtle mental effects make this list the “opposite” of Personal Control abilities which concentrate on the physical plane and body through continuous unconscious awareness of it.

Will Force abilities basically bludgeon reality into submission – hammering “What IS” with percipient will and raw psychic power until it gives way, reality breaks, and the user can substitute “What I Want It To Be” for whatever lost chunk of consensus reality used to be in his or her way. While this has all the subtlety of crushing houses with a wrecking ball, and is hideously expensive to boot, it is also versatile, fast, and (if backed by sufficient power) potentially extremely potent – and so Will Force is often a favored discipline for adventurers. Fairly obviously, it’s closely related to the law-negating effects of the Dimensional Warps discipline and to the willful denial of reality and the imposition of a desired pattern used by the Personal Control discipline. Also obviously, it’s utterly opposed to the Psychic Senses discipline, which focuses on subtly probing and exploiting what is rather than what you wish the universe to be. Accepting the universe as it is incapacitates Will Force abilities, while trying to make it what you want blocks psychic senses.

Psychic Senses, Minor Abilities:

01 Ability Classification
02 Alertness
03 Clairvoyance
04 Clairaudience
05 Compatibility Scan
06 Detect (Various)
07 Detection Screen
08 Dowsing
09 Lesser Divination
10 Lifesense
11 Magnetosense
12 Nightvision
13 Nymic Awareness
14 Pathfinder
15 Postcognition
16 Psychic Analysis
17 Psychic Scan
18 Psychic Tracking
19 Psychometry
20 Radar Sense
21 Second Sight
22 Signature Analysis
23 Social Perception
24 Spherical Awareness
25 Stress Perception
26 Surface Persona
27 Surveillance Detection
28 Timesensor
29 Truthsense

Psychic Senses, Major Abilities:

01 Ability Analysis
02 Aura Reading
03 Clairsentience
04 Cosmic Awareness
05 Danger Sense
06 Deepsight
07 Design Analysis
08 Electromagnetics
09 Elemental Sense
10 Falsification
11 Grab Bag
12 Greater Divination
13 Intuit Traps
14 Mystic Analysis
15 Perceptor
16 Precognition
17 Psychic Sensitive
18 Seekersense
19 Sensory Enhancement
20 Sensory Merge
21 Structural Probe
22 Systems Scan
23 Technic Analysis
24 Trigger Perception
25 Weakness Detection

Psychokinetic Effects, Minor Abilities:

01 Acrobatics
02 Armor Construction
03 Body Equilibrium
04 Camouflage
05 Clothing Shift
06 Containment Field
07 Detoxification
08 Dispersal
09 Fractionation
10 Fracturing
11 Gravity Compensation
12 Hindrance Field
13 Immovability
14 Kinetic Bolt
15 Levitation
16 Material Fusion
17 Mechanical Control
18 Mechanism Control
19 Missile Control
20 Muscle Override
21 Personal Force Field
22 Refining
23 Shockwave
24 Stabilize Material
25 Toughening
26 Ventriloquism

Psychokinetic Effects, Major Abilities:

01 Crystallization
02 Environment Control
03 Exokinetic Field
04 Filtration Field
05 Flight
06 Flow Patterning
07 Force Barriers
08 Gathering
09 Ice Creation
10 Inertial Damping
11 Internal Kinesis
12 Kinetic Charging
13 Material Control (Various)
14 Matrix Construction
15 Matter Simulation
16 Molding
17 Molecular Energetics
18 Molecular Patterning
19 Molecular Restructuring
20 Particle Manipulation
21 Plasma Manipulation
22 Poltergeist
23 Positional Lock
24 Reflection
25 Repulsion Fields
26 Solidification
27 Sonic Control
28 Stasis Field Projection
29 Telekinesis
30 Transmutation
31 Vibratory Powers

Telepathic Functions, Minor Abilities:

01 Ability Inhibition
02 Animal Telepathy
03 Attitude Sense
04 Calming
05 Charm
06 Decision Override
07 Domination
08 Dreamweaving
09 Emotion Boosting
10 Empathy
11 ESP
12 Hypnosis
13 Illusion Casting
14 Implant Memory
15 Invisibility
16 Mindlink
17 Mindlock
18 Mindshout
19 Mindwipe
20 Patterning
21 Phantom Slayer
22 Psychic Shield
23 Rapid Teaching
24 Sensory Tap
25 Skill Borrowing
26 Suggestion
27 Tongues
28 Truthsense
29 Vertigo Induction
30 Voicing

Telepathic Functions, Major Abilities:

01 Combat Scan
02 Compulsion Planting
03 Confusion
04 Deep Conditioning
05 Deep Probe
06 Emotion Projection
07 Gestalt Operations
08 Glamours
09 Group Manipulation
10 Inhibition Blocking
11 Insignificance
12 Mental Analysis
13 Mental Disguise
14 Mental Feedback
15 Mental Surgery
16 Mindhealing
17 Mindriding
18 Mindscan
19 Mindtoxin
20 Mindtraps
21 Overtone Analysis
22 Overworld Manipulation
23 Project Madness
24 Psychic Bolt
25 Psychic Bonding
26 Psychic Purging
27 Psychic Transfer
28 Skill Duplication
29 Subliminal Telepathy
30 Telepathy

Will Force, Minor Abilities:

01 Aspect Assumption
02 Characteristic Focus
03 Command
04 Compensation
05 Computer Emulation
06 Convulsion Projection
07 Emotional Control
08 Enhancer
09 Focused Strike
10 Great Shout
11 Intimidation
12 Lock Keying
13 Mental Barrier
14 Mindpool
15 Neural Support
16 Omnifocusing
17 Oratory
18 Override Control
19 Polarity Shield
20 Potential Conversion
21 Psychic Catalyst
22 Psychic Citadel
23 Psychic Damper
24 Resist Death
25 Sensory Overload
26 Task Focus
27 Temporal Fixator
28 Virtual Creation, En
29 Will Focus
30 Willcrystal
31 Willshield

Will Force, Major Abilities:

01 Absolute Command
02 Chaos Manipulation
03 Compression
04 Cure Insanity (Reversible)
05 Damage Transfer
06 Dimensional Fixiator
07 Free Movement
08 Function Disruption
09 Function Enhancement
10 Function Reversal
11 Great Presence
12 Hieronymus Device
13 Illusory Travel
14 Imprinting
15 Mystic Resistance
16 Order Imposition
17 Pattern Shift
18 Plasticizing
19 Probability Shifting
20 Psyche Theft
21 Psychic Enhancement
22 Reality Insertion
23 Selective Enhancement
24 Selfmerger
25 Sensory Manipulation
26 Shattering
27 Spell Holding
28 Subjugation
29 Trace Amplification
30 Virtual Creation

D20 – The Narrative Voyager:

And for today it’s a spell that’s been requested a number of times…

Narrative Voyager

  • Transmutation
  • Level: Wizard 4, Druid 5, Destiny 4.
  • Components: V, S, Magical Focus (a permanent Extradimensional Space), MF (a complex mechanism of turning gears, crystals, controls, and things that slide back and forth costing 100 GP), Narrative Focus (see below). .
  • Casting Time: Three Turns.
  • Range: Touch.
  • Target: An Extradimensional Space that the caster is already in.
  • Duration: Instantaneous (Special, See Below).
  • Saving Throw: None (Environmental Target).
  • Spell Resistance: No.

Destiny is not an absolute. Few if any points or outcomes are fixed and unalterable. Rather, it is a current – in some places sweeping forward with force, in others a gentle drift, and in yet others a gentle holding gyre or devouring whirlpool, carrying those who do not steer boldly and well into the stygian depths. Still, it has power. It flows around, or over, or ever-so-slowly wears away at obstacles – and, if contained in one place, it bursts free at three others.

Adventurers ride those currents. They may tack and steer to turn them to their advantage, but the seas of fate have always the final say. Still, where those currents come together, where potential accumulates, and where reality itself is but thinly bound… the power of destiny can be tapped.

The Narrative Voyager spell is best cast during a pause, when the currents of destiny have reached a decision point and are gathering together to rush onwards once more. It can only be cast only where the boundaries between the worlds are thin, in a space that is anchored to reality by a mere thread of magic. But if those conditions are fulfilled… it can set a group loose upon the seas of fate.

Narrative Voyage must be cast while inside a permanent extradimensional space. When cast it breaks the link between the extradimensional space and it’s host reality – setting the space adrift upon the currents of destiny, to wash up upon realities shores somewhere else.

  • If it’s cast while the occupants of the space are entangled with the local currents of destiny (A.K.A. while actually on an adventure) it will take a mere 1d6+1 turns for it to relocate the entrance to the extradimensional space used to somewhere within medium range of its original location – but the spell will have no other effect. The waves of the great sea will toss you back upon your original shore.
  • If it’s cast during a pause between the segments of an adventure, the space will almost always “arrive” (or at least re-establish the location of it’s entryway) in position for the next segment to begin – although it shows little or no respect for time, space, and dimension when doing so. The subjective duration of the trip is usually 1d6 minutes, but occasionally extends to hours for no apparent reason (at the will of the game master).
  • If it’s cast after the unsuccessful conclusion of an adventure, the space tends to fetch up somewhere gloomy and claustrophobic, with little in the way of supplies or help available, where a grim adventure, foreshadoing for some later adventure, mysterious entity who will provide puzzle-clues, or similar interlude awaits. Such locations tend to be incredibly isolated villages or settlements if they aren’t space stations, ships at sea, lonely islands, outposts in incredibly hostile regions, or even small demiplanes or other pocket realities. In any case… they are usually virtually devoid of other means of escape. Leaving will usually require resolving the local narrative – one way or another – and thus opening the way to make effective use of this spell again.
  • Occasionally, if cast after the conclusion of an adventure (whether successful or not), the spell will just take the caster (or someone else in the extradimensional space) “home”, usually in about an hour or so. Sometimes there’s an adventure there, but just as often it’s purely for character development and social purposes – or for someone to leave or join the party.
  • If it’s cast after a successful adventure – or when nothing is going on at all – it will normally take you to the start of a new adventure in a subjective time ranging from hours to days. While this does have an annoying tendency to dump you right into the middle of things with little or no chance to find out what is going on before getting involved, get a handle on the local area, or access friends, allies, or supplies, they are invariably environments and situations that the caster and any companions can reasonably handle if they respond cleverly and don’t make any really irretrievable mistakes. After all… the forces of destiny have brought you there to deal with the situation. If they just wanted you to die, THAT could be done with considerable ease. The universe is bigger than any little group of adventurers.

Complications: While being swept along by the Currents of Destiny, an Extradimensional Space will occasionally (about one trip in four) intersect another pocket-realm and become temporarily stuck to it. This will give the occupants a little while to interact with whatever’s there and possibly let them go on a side-adventure.

D6:

  • 1) Incursion: Something else that was traveling the planes comes aboard. This may be good or bad.
  • 2) Passenger: You either pick up, or disembark, a passenger.
  • 3-6) Location: You get to visit a pocket-world for a while. Roll 1d100:
    • 01-04) Badlands. Whether desert, plains, tundra, ice, or just rocks, there’s not much here.
    • 05-09) Wilds. Woods, jungle, or plains, this wild and uninhabited landscape is a great place to camp and relax for a bit.
    • 10-14) Isolated Holding. A small family farm or similarly isolated settlement. They will probably be surprised to have visitors.
    • 15-17) Ghost Town. This abandoned settlement may have a few locals, but not many.
    • 18-21) Camp. It may contain hobos, or boy scouts, or loggers, or fishermen, or a goblin warband, but mostly it’s just a temporary encampment.
    • 22-23) Caravan. Whether merchants, gypsies, or star voyagers, it’s a place for traders to stop before moving on. Occasionally this may be aboard a giant ship or some such.
    • 24-28) Thorp. This tiny settlement is a good place to get lunch, but usually not much else.
    • 29-34) Hamlet. You can probably find a bed-and-breakfast and some basic supplies.
    • 34-39) Village. A tavern/inn, possible basic hirelings, and some sort of local healer or priest are all likely attractions of visiting a village.
    • 40-43) Small Town. There are enough people around that you may not be instantly apparent as strangers, as long as you don’t stand out too much. You may be able to find a general store and a few basic specialists.
    • 44-47) Large Town: You can find specialists, currency has pretty well replaced barter, and common supplies are readily available.
    • 48-50) Small City. You can probably find a garrison, traders, banking, and money. There may well be a market for potions, scrolls, and other minor gadgets.
    • 51-53) Large City. Universalizes, libraries, sages, and exotic goods can all be found in a large city.
    • 54-55) Metrapolis. Ethnic districts, enclaves of exotic species, and organized crime have arrived.
    • 56-58) Megapolis. Often the center of a realm, politics, intrigue, wealth, and poverty all exist side by side with trade from distant lands.
    • 59-64) Imperial City. The center of an empire or great realm, this vast city is a center of events.
    • 65-70) Planar Metropolis. Filled with technology or magic so esoteric that it’s pretty much incomprehensible, a Planar Metropolis offers enough activity to support a campaign all on it’s own.
    • 71-80) Warning Realm. This realm is basically a quick survival-run through a “possible bad future” – what might happen to your homeland (or your next stop) if you let the zombie plague get out of control, or the big war starts, or whatever.
    • 81-83) Erroneous Past. Somehow you’re in the past, and – unless you fix whatever’s going wrong there – your future will cease to exist!
    • 84-86) Party. You’ve arrived at some social event. It might be austere, decadent, or simply strange, but you might make some contacts that will be useful later.
    • 87-88) Faerie. Or some other magical realm.
    • 89-91) Ruins. The remains of a fallen civilization, an abandoned megastructure, or something similar. There will be resources to be found, but likely dangers too.
    • 92) Arena. A place where giant monsters, or gladiators, or mecha, or whatever, do battle for some sort of audience. You’ll probably have to participate.
    • 93) A Monster Realm. A lost world full of dinosaurs, or place overrun deadly spiders, or a mist full of horrors, or wherever.
    • 94-98) Dark Realm. It may be full of undead, or be a city of Drow, or otherwise be a deadly place of horror, but there are always people to rescue or a revolution to start.
    • 99-100) Oracle. The place is inhabited by a mysterious being who seems to know much more than they should – and who can offer advice, or warning, or even send you to a particular place.

The game master is always ultimately in control of where the Narrative Voyager spell takes the caster. After all, he or she has to come up with and run the adventure – but characters who take Profession: Narrative Piloting (or something similar) will often be able to influence things a bit – arriving a little earlier than they otherwise would (giving them more time to scout and prepare), occasionally escaping some horrific destination before they can get entangled in a local plotline and have to deal with it, managing to make an intentional stop at a pocket realm to get something they need, or just arriving at a better starting point. Such influence is always limited, but it may be worth putting a few skill points into such a skill if you intend to cast this spell a lot. And yes, this is basically a “TARDIS” spell – but that has been requested several times. After all… a “TARDIS” is a near-ideal way to gloss over the usual bar-crawling, looking for patrons, finding treasure maps, and getting-the-characters involved routine. Instead the characters simply arrive someplace and get tossed straight into the action, acquiring background information and their “briefing” while on the adventure. Even better, they are pretty much stuck with actually going on the adventure before they can leave. There’s none of that bothersome backing out or deciding to go elsewhere.

Continuum II Psychic Powers Part II – Heightened Talents, Life Energy Manipulation, Natural Forces, and Personal Control.

And today it’s a few more of the Continuum II Psionic Disciplines.

Heightened Talents disciplines use a complex array of positive (for ability amplification) and negative (to keep the user’s mind from burning out) feedback loops to anchor the idealized skills and concepts of the astral plane into the user’s physical body – allowing the user to temporarily achieve incredible levels of skill and ability within particular fields. While this is subject to the natural limits of the user’s body and mind, and to the fact that the ideal concepts of the astral plane tend to be “generic” enough to apply to many worlds and dimensions, it’s also rather low cost. After all, it is quite possible to become an expert engineer, brilliant tactician, or deductive genius without any psychic powers at all. Psychic powers just make it easier. It should come as no surprise that Heightened Talents are closely related to the subtle, self-balancing empyrean (the physical-astral interface) Life Energy Manipulation abilities and to the equally subtle – if external – field manipulations of Natural Forces abilities. Equally unsurprisingly, the rules-warping Psychokinetic Abilities – which rely on the distortion of the principles governing physical bodies – are utterly antithetical to Heightened Talents, since they grossly disrupt that controlling feedback, allowing the positive feedback loops to build into uncontrollable destructive oscillations.

Life Energy Manipulations operate primarily on the Empyrean Interface, where the Astral Plane intersects with the Material – the location of the “life-force”. While this allows the users to readily manipulate the energies of that realm to help or harm, it tends to focus their attention on the Empyrean and the subtle energy fields associated with life. After all, without that focus and concentration, the user’s own energy fields will interfere with anything they try to do. Still, once the user achieves the necessary level of control, the amount of power required to manipulate those subtle fields is relatively small – making Life Energy Manipulations one of the more efficient disciplines to use. Naturally enough, the field is fairly closely related to equally-internal, if far less finely-controlled and feedback-driven Personal Control abilities and to Life Energy Manipulations, as shown above. It is incompatible with the feedback-damping “hit it with raw power” effects of Energy Manipulation abilities, since those require blocking the subtle feedback that Life Energy Manipulations require.

Natural Forces abilities are focused on external feedback – channeling the user’s energies into tapping and manipulating the natural, environmental, energy fields of the world around the user. Thanks to the sheer scale of such forces, such manipulation usually focuses on subtle guidance rather than raw force – but there are plenty of available energy potentials in the natural world that are just waiting to be unleashed, making the personal power requirements of these abilities relatively moderate. Such fields include morphogenic fields (that help govern forms and their development), probability fields, the environmental fields of the earth, air, waters, and life, “ley lines” and magical nexi, and various planetary, stellar, and quantum fields – although few user’s attempt to interact with those since making a mistake while meddling with such forces can have disastrous effects. Unfortunately, while the Natural Forces disciplines often have broad applications and implications, the effects of these disciplines often tend to be relatively subtle and slow, and so only a few of them find much favor with adventurers. Obviously enough the Natural Forces discipline is directly opposed by the Dimensional Warps discipline, which focuses entirely on tearing apart and blowing holes in the subtle fields that Natural Forces abilities seek to manipulate. While they operate on a larger scale, Natural Forces abilities are fairly closely akin to the subtle feedback manipulations of Heightened Talents and to the Psychic Senses focus on gently probing reality without distorting it.

Personal Control abilities operate by channeling energy into the users body, using it to establish rigid control over the users personal molecules and energy fields. The discipline thus offers a powerful defensive suite; as long as you have enough power you can simply shrug off the effects of a wide variety of attacks and environmental effects, Even better, the intensely personal nature of the discipline keeps the costs relatively low compared to many other disciplines. Unfortunately, those same factors generally limit the discipline to personal-only powers and the offensive functions are quite limited. The emphasis on the brute-force channeling of energy through the Empyrean and into the user’s physical body makes Personal Control abilities the opposite of the Telepathic Functions, which focus on channeling subtle, nuanced, patterns of mental energy through the empyrean and into other people’s minds – one exercising fine control on the physical level and the other on the purely conceptual level. Personal Control is related to the Will Force disciplines, which focus on channeling raw power into an area to simply “overwrite” whatever is already there and “natural” results and to the Life Energy Manipulation abilities, which also focus on the empyrean interface with the physical body – if in a far more subtle fashion.

What I have here seems to be some older, shorter, discipline lists. If I turn up the longer lists, I’ll update these. There should be some full descriptions around for at least some of the powers too, but I haven’t found those up yet.

Heightened Talents, Minor Abilities:

01 Animal Friend
02 Artistic
03 Balance
04 Charismatic
05 Craftsman
06 Deduction
07 Economic
08 Eidetic Memory
09 Engineering
10 Leadership
11 Mathematics
12 Military
14 Operator
15 Perception
16 Performer
17 Persuasive
18 Precision
19 Programmer
20 Psychology
21 Recognizer
22 Residue Focusing
23 Science
24 Sensitive
25 Stealth
26 Thought Embedment
27 Timekeeper

Heightened Talents, Major Abilities:

01 Analogue Construction
02 Archetype Assumption
03 Artificer
04 Auric Repulsion
05 Combat Awareness
06 Cultural Adaption
07 Dreamsearch
08 Empathic Healer
09 Empathic Predictor
10 Intuitive Physician
11 Logician/Computer
12 Milieu Affinity
13 Multiple Tracking
14 Pattern Detection
15 Power Embedment
16 Probability Calculator
17 Psychic Reservoir
18 Racemind Tapping
19 Residue Shaping
20 Ritual Channeling
21 Role Assumption
22 Sensory Awareness
23 Sensory Interpretation
24 Translation
25 Voice
26 Weaponsmaster

Life Energy Manipulation, Minor Abilities:

01 Age Shift
02 Aura Stabilization
03 Biofield Perception
04 Cause (Various)
05 Characteristic Drain
06 Cure (Various)
07 Damage Control
08 Death Touch
09 Devitalization
10 Empathic Bond
11 Fatigue Banishing
12 Flesh Shaping
13 Healing Sleep
14 Induced Aging
15 Life Channeling
16 Life Support
17 Parasitic Link
18 Personality Imbuement
19 Potential Tapping
20 Repel Undead
21 Resist Life Energy Manipulation
22 Shadow Casting
23 Suspension
24 Vital Points

Life Energy Manipulation, Major Abilities:

01 Animation
02 Avatar Projection
03 Cellular Adjustment
04 Control Undead
05 Duplication
06 Ectoplasmic Control
07 Genetic Restructuring
08 Life Energy Restoration
09 Lifeform Analysis
10 Life Surge
11 Nerveblock
12 Neural Control
13 Physiological Regulator
14 Power Absorption
15 Power Bestowal
16 Power Drain
17 Regeneration Induction
18 Rejuvenation
19 Revival
20 Sending Creation
21 Simulacrum
22 Transition
23 Transplantation
24 Undead Creation
25 Vampirism

Natural Forces, Minor Abilities:

01 Animal Control
02 Animal Powers (Various)
03 Banishment
04 Biosphere Tapping
05 Catalysis
06 Entity Projection
07 Flame Manipulation
08 Hibernation
09 Inhibitor
10 Limited Adaption
11 Luck Manipulation
12 Milieu Empathy (Various)
13 Natural Weaponry
14 Plant Control
15 Plantspeech
16 Potence
17 Seachange
18 Skinchange
19 Worldscan

Natural Forces, Major Abilities:

01 Adhesion Control
02 Animal Imitation
03 Binding Field Manipulation
04 Bioform Expansion
05 De-evolution
06 Diffusion Control
07 Elemental Control (Various)
08 Entrophic Projection
09 Event Catalysis
10 Event Inhibition
11 Friction Manipulation
12 Full Adaption
13 Gravity Channeling
14 Probability Warping
15 Racial Memory
16 Schrodinger Collapse
17 Seamaster
18 Shapeshifter
19 Spirit Binding
20 Transformation
21 Weather Control
22 Worldshaping

Personal Control, Minor Abilities:

01 Adaptive Regulation
02 Anasensence
03 Biocybrenetic Link
04 Bioelectrics
05 Bouncing
06 Clinging
07 Damage Resistance
08 Desentization
09 Disguise Shapeshift
10 Endurance Enhancement
11 Focusing
12 Gaseous Form (Var)
13 Hasting
14 Life Suspension
15 Merging
16 Omnidigestion
17 Pheromone Manipulation
18 Pressure Hardening
19 Reflex Enhancement
20 Regeneration
21 Resist (Various)
22 Restorative Trance
23 Self Sustenance
24 Self Weaponry
25 Sensory Override
26 Specific Transform
27 Sprinting
28 Strength Enhancement
29 Symbiotic Adjustment
29 Sympathetic Projection

Personal Control, Major Abilities:

01 Absorption
02 Adaption
03 Adrenal Surge
04 Atmospheric Adaption
05 Attribute Shift
06 Biophysical Control
07 Density Increase
08 Elasticity
09 Elemental Merging
10 Energy Resistance
11 Extended Senses
12 Hypersenses
13 Hyperspeed
14 Immortality
15 Intangibility
16 Kinetic Resistance
17 Metabolic Control
18 Neural Surge
19 Non-corporeality
20 Pattern Lockout
21 Pattern Stabilization
22 Phase Shift
23 Self-Transmutation
24 Shapechanging
25 Shielded Focusing
26 Steelskin
27 Thermal Control
28 Tranceshield
29 Venom Generation

Continuum II – Psychic Ability Upgrades, Dimensional Warps, and Energy Manipulation

Continuum II Psionic Abilities were – once again – minor (2 Point) and Major (3 Points) skills – and could be built up or modified by spending more skill points on them, just like any other skill. Unlike more mundane skills, however, Psionic Abilities involved the channeling and manipulation of exotic energies – and so there were a lot more options available for spending skill points than the usual “take a die off the check to get better odds”.

Thus, if you had the Minor Energy Manipulation Ability “Energy Bolt” you could lob around bolts of energy. You wanted to train a stubborn dog by giving it a light electrical zap whenever it went insane with barking at guests again? That’s a “Trivial” application. Melting an ordinary lock or getting your campfire going with wet wood? That’s pretty “Basic”. Throw a bolt at a nearby enemy? That one is – fairly obviously for an offensive ability in a RPG – “Basic”. Extra damage or throwing in a stunning or knockback effect or explosive on that basic blast? That’s probably “normal”. Hit two targets who are standing fairly close together? That might be a bit “Tricky”. Send a bolt arcing through three hostage-holders without touching the hostage? That would probably be “Advanced” unless there were special circumstances involved. Hold your power output even enough to substitute for your ships burnt-out electrical generator? That’s definitely pretty “Complex”. Those things have fairly tight tolerances. Trigger just the circuit you need to get that sealed door open? That’s blatantly “Absurd” – and you’d be a LOT better off using a more appropriate power.

Common ways to upgrade a psionic ability with skill points included:

  • Reduced Cost: Shift one column to the right on the cost chart. You could get this more than once, but couldn’t get off the chart.
  • Specialties: Reduce the application level by one (for relatively broad specialties) or two (for very narrow specialties) ranks. Specialties could be virtually anything. Area Effects? Piercing Defenses? Multiple Strikes? Explosions? Buffering Defenses? Increased Range?
  • Warding: You were never harmfully affected by your own power – although indirect effects, such as bringing down the ceiling, will endanger you normally.

As an option, if you came up with some way to seriously limit your power that the game master felt was reasonable, you could apply a free upgrade. So if you were limited to “Fire” (or, more accurately, low-density plasma) instead of energy in general… you could get a free upgrade, albeit only one.

Now, as for a couple of the specific lists…

“Dimensional Warp” abilities suppress a portion of the local structure of a dimension – such as a natural law or two, the dimensions of space, the structure of time, or some other principle, leaving little in the place of the suppressed principle but the fundamentals of existence – Sequence, Separation, Will (or Life), and Transformation (or Death) – filling that void with the user’s will. As such… they pit the user’s power against the metaphysical inertia of the universe and the massed will of those who inhabit it. The only thing that lets Dimensional Warps operate at all is that the user is generally only attempting to affect a very small area (at least when compared to the universe). Even so, Dimensional Warp abilities tend to be extremely expensive to use. On the other hand, the difficulty tends to depend on the size of the thing affected – not on it’s mass or the amount of energy involved. If you really need to get rid of an unstable quantum singularity, this is the discipline for you.

Naturally enough, the principles of Dimensional Warps are closely related to the Will Force and Psychokinetic Disciplines (which function by related forms of distorting natural laws as opposed to negating them entirely) and oppose Natural Forces (which subtly enhance and guide the local natural laws), Psychic Senses (which rely on gently probing what exists rather than trying to redefine it), and Heightened Talents (which rely on subtle amplification of what is already present rather than on breaking it down).

Energy Manipulation abilities are pretty straightforward: you reach out with your mind and channel raw energy – forcing it to do what you want. Unfortunately, since you’re running a mental interface with that energy, the big trick is to not let enough of it backlash through that interface to destroy your brain. Worse, maintaining such rigid control is power-intensive in itself – and dissipating what waste energies do manage to leak through (there are invariably some) costs even more. There is a reason why so many energy manipulators tend to be obsessed with their specialities, or pay little attention to endangering others, or seem intoxicated by their own power, or are otherwise a bit crazy – and it’s gradually-accumulating brain damage. Masters of Energy Manipulation always have the option to pay a little less psychic strength or push their limits and accept the resulting backlash – but it’s not a good idea to do it very often.

As such, the Energy Manipulation abilities are the opposite of the subtle, internal, disciplines of Life Energy Manipulation, with it’s emphasis on negative feedback loops and self-balancing systems. It’s generally not compatible with the subtle feedback required by Heightened Talents (since it focuses on blocking out such feedback as much as possible) or with the deeply personalized and internal amplifications typical of the Personal Control disciplines. It is, however, related to the imposition of pattern on psychic energies that the Telepathic Functions require and to the similar, but larger-scale, manipulations of the Psychokinetic Effects.

Dimensional Warp, Minor Abilities:

01 Blink Teleport
02 Coordinate Lock
03 Corridor Creation
04 Defensive Shunt
05 Dimensional Adaption
06 Dimensional Awareness
07 Dimensional Navigator
08 Disassembly
09 Displacement
10 Far Traveling
11 Folding
12 Gas Shunting
13 Gate Keying
14 Growth
15 Image Projection
16 Inertial Focusing
17 Inertial Null
18 Kinetic Matching
19 Linking
20 Otherplane Touch
21 Pocket Warp
22 Psychic Surgery
23 Shrinking
24 Space Distortion
25 Stabilization
26 Thought Oscillation
27 Tramline Generation
28 Wards
29 Warp Probe
30 Warp Rebound
31 Warp Tapping
32 Warp Tracing

Dimensional Warps, Major Abilities:

01 Apportion
02 Aspect Shift
03 Astral Projection
04 Axis Reduction
05 Axis Rotation
06 Block Transfer
07 Conjuration
08 Dimensional Lock
09 Dodging
10 Doppelganger
11 Etherealness
12 Geodesic Distortion
13 Hypershunt
14 Internal Gateway
15 Kinetic Shunt
16 Law Suspension
17 Matter Projection
18 Partial Phase
19 Personal Limbo
20 Plane Shift
21 Portal Generation
22 Power Source Creation
23 Reality Bubble
24 Refraction
25 Scattering
26 Stardrive
27 Summoning
28 Teleportation
29 Temporal Fugue
30 Temporal Shift
31 Time Manipulation
32 Warp Anchor
33 Warp Manipulation

Energy Manipulation, Minor Abilities:

01 Attuned Field
02 Cloaking
03 Conduction Field
04 Corona
05 Cybrenetic Telepath
06 Disintegration
07 Disruption Touch
08 Energy Analysis
09 Energy Bolt
10 Energy Imbuement
11 Energy Stabilization
12 Energy Storage
13 Holographic Illusion
14 Illuminator
15 Insulating Field
16 Invisibility
17 Multibolt
18 Nonresistance
19 Personal Shield
20 Plasma Generation
21 Potential Binding
22 Psychic Ground
23 Psychic Source
24 Psychic Seal
25 Reflection
26 Shadow Generation
27 Solidification
28 Storage Field
29 Tachyon Manipulation
30 Weapon Focus

Energy Manipulation, Major Abilities:

01 Amplification
02 Damping Field
03 Electrokinesis
04 Energy Absorption
05 Energy Animation
06 Energy Barriers
07 Energy Channeling
08 Energy Conversion
09 Energy Dissipation
10 Energy Doppelganger
11 Energy Focusing
12 Energy Form
13 Energy Patterning
14 Energy Pulse
15 Energy Redirection
16 Energy Screens
17 Field Manipulation
18 Jamming Field
19 Kinetic Transfer
20 Magnetic Control
21 Minimization
22 Mystic round
23 Mystic Sourcing
24 Negative Energy Manipulation
25 Pattern Stabilization
26 Pattern Suspension
27 Photon Manipulation
28 Radiation Manipulation
29 Seeking Field
30 Sonic Manipulation
31 Technic Ground
32 Technic Sourcing

d20 and Rapid Hiring

And this small request is, perhaps, a bit silly – but it struck me as amusing and didn’t demand much time, which has been in very short supply.

Voice Upon The Winds

  • Conjuration (Calling)
  • Level: Variable, normally a base of L2 Cleric, Wizard, Skill-Based Magic for Contracts, Management, and Playboy (among others). Probably suitable for various specialty classes and Hedge Wizardry as well.
  • Components: S, M (a written notice).
  • Casting Time: Ten Minutes.
  • Range: Special.
  • Effect: Calls forth a possible employee or employees.
  • Duration: Special (The message is instantaneous, arrival usually is not).
  • Saving Throw: None (Harmless).
  • Spell Resistance: Yes, but irrelevant; someone who doesn’t want to be employed will not be targeted anyway.

This unusual spell causes qualified potential employees to arrive (or merchants to pass by). The caster writes out a list of primary duties, any necessary special qualifications, and a list of what salary and benefits are being offered, and hangs it beside his or her door. Presuming that the job is suitable for a relatively normal person, that the benefits are reasonably good for whatever the job is, and that the location of your door is at all reasonable (whether or not anyone would really be likely to pass by under normal circumstances), a suitable potential employee will normally turn up to inquire about the job shortly. The spell may be cast at a higher level to enhance it’s effects. Possible enhancements include calling for a small group of applicants (+1 Level), calling for rare and/or exotic types (+1 Level), having very specific qualifications (+1 Level), and asking for basic magical capabilities (+1 Level). On the other hand, if you are simply looking for an apprentice, houseboy, dishwasher, lantern-bearer, or similar unskilled entry-level employee that is (-1 Level).

You can look for very specific and powerful groups – perhaps you want a group of adventurers who are capable of killing that miserable dragon that’s moved into the caves nearby – but while casting this at level six will ensure that an appropriate group hears about your offer, it in no way guarantees that they will bother to respond and – if some do – you will just have to put up with whatever you get. Adventurers are like that.

  • You want to pay a few coins for a reasonably reliable local kid to guide you around town for a day? Level one, and unlikely to take more than a few minutes. Pretty much every town has some bored kids. It may get odd if it’s a ghost town and you get a ghost kid, but what can you expect if you look for employees in a ghost town?
  • You want an apprentice/aide who has at least a slight acquaintance with and talent for magic but you will be providing more advanced training along with support and occasional pocket money? That’s a pretty standard apprenticeship deal. Level two, but it might take a week or two. Kids don’t travel very fast even if the requirements aren’t very exacting there..
  • You want a skillful nanny to look after the kids? Level two, usually in a few hours presuming that you’re in or near a reasonable settlement for raising kids in. They might want particular days off or something – and you probably won’t get Mary Poppins or Nanny Mcphee – but there are lots of older women who are good at handling children.
  • You want a group of pretty-and-compatible young women to be light duty house servants and concubines? Level three, and usually in a day or two if your terms are good. It’s not like housekeeper/mistress is a particularly unusual position – and cute young women are not all that rare either (unless you’re of some exotic species of course, in which case you may be out of luck).
  • You want an acolyte of a particular faith to look after your shrine and teach your kids some basics? Level three (if followers of the required faith are reasonably common in the area) or four if they are not. Could take a few days or weeks (and may well fail) if someone would have to come from hundreds of miles away and you’re not offering enough benefits to make it worth it.
  • You want to hire a group of competent Drow Spies? That’s a group (+1) of rare (unless you live in a Drow City or some such) types (+1) with some very specific qualifications (+1) for a total level of five – and if there aren’t any drow spies around who would be willing to work for you… it won’t work.
  • You want a pathfinder-style “Team” of Archers? That’s a group with some fairly specific qualifications, so level four if there are any such groups within a reasonable range. You want Elite Elven Archers who each know a little bit of Weapons Magic? Level six, and very likely to fail entirely if no such group is available for hire.

It is important to note that this is a Calling spell; what you want has to be out there and available. If you’re asking for people to work in an impossible environment, are looking for a qualified hyperdrive technician in a medieval setting, want to hire Drow in a setting that doesn’t include them, or some such, the spell will probably not be able to find a candidate. On the other hand… it IS a calling spell. If you fail to live up to your contract, or there’s some major difficulty, your employees have the option of simply going home. So if the Dark Lord teleports in and starts burning your castle to the ground at least you can pretty well count on your servants and clerks making their escape.

The Advancing Warrior Part VII – Special Tricks

So far this series has covered…

And…

Advancing Fighters:

  • Part I: Universal Basics, Lockdown/Tripper, and Fearmonger.
  • Part II: Smasher, Charger, and Thrown Weapons Master
  • Part III: Mounted Fighters.
  • Part IV: Two Weapons, Sword and Board, One-Handed, Massive Damage and Effects Monger Critical Fisher
  • Part V: Archers and Summoning Shots.
  • Part VI: Cyborgs, Power Armor, Mutants, Tinkers, and Mechwarriors.

That’s actually most of the basic combat styles. Even the dual-shield builds are just a variant on Two Weapons. I suppose I could count crossbowmen and gunmen – but, in Eclipse they’re virtually identical to Archers. They just need to find a way to reload as a free action, and that isn’t very hard. There are spells, powers, reflex training, weapon enhancements, and just using a Spirit Weapon or the Thrown Weapons Master Tulthara solutions.

What’s left is basically a list of popular special tricks.

The Beastmaster Warrior:

  • Having anything that can take actions on your behalf is a substantial advantage – and the easiest way to get it in Eclipse is the Companion ability, at a base of one Companion per (6 CP). Any further Templates (+6 CP per +2 ECL) or other special abilities (Say, being able to Transform your companion to your species or you to its species at will, 6 CP) apply to all your companions. Even without coming up with any limitations… you could easily enough have an eagle, a ferret, and a pair of Panthers, each with (the same) +2 ECL Template, and the ability to take those forms, for 36 CP – three levels worth of purchases for a basic Fighter.

This is a rather powerful option: depending on what template you give them, Companions can fight very well indeed, heal you, serve as mounts, provide magical support, or do many other things besides attack your enemies – and they’re not at all bad at that.

“Drawing Aggro”:

This comes from computer games. A character that can withstand massive attacks hits the target(s) first or otherwise gets them focused on him or her. They then absorb the targets attacks while other – usually much more fragile and offensively-focused characters – can attack unmolested.

In tabletop games, where the creatures are run by an intelligent game master, it usually isn’t so simple. Any reasonably intelligent creature tends to focus on the biggest threats first and deal with the turtles after the wasps, ferrets, and cats have been dealt with. To use this kind of tactic you either need to be holding a chokepoint, actively keeping enemies from getting past you, make yourself the primary threat, or magically compel the enemy to focus on you.

  • Still, if you really must give this a try, you’ll want Presence, Specialized for Increased Effect (20′ radius) / cannot be entirely turned off (causing a -2 on amicable social skill checks), enraged targets gain +2 Morale Bonus to Str and Con (5 CP). This has the effect of making enemies within the radius have to make a Will save (DC 11 + Cha Mod) or become enraged, focusing their anger on the user and preferentially attacking him or her. This isn’t perfect – if doing that is obviously idiotic or suicidal they’ll get another save each round and anyone who saves cannot be affected again for the rest of the fight – but it gives you a reasonable chance of being the center of attention fpr a while. Later on – if you should live so long – you can boost the Save DC with Augmented Bonus (6 CP) and / or Ability Focus (3 or 6 CP). I’m not sure that’s a good idea – Eclipse has a much wider range of attacks to defend against than most video games, so sooner or later you will run into opponents that really can hurt you – but it’s up to you.

The Totemic Warrior:

This trick uses Shapeshifting to replace your physical racial abilities and attribute modifiers with those of some other creature. While you do have to have at least as many hit dice as the base animal does to use this trick, if you start with a race without much in the way of physical attribute modifiers – or even a negative total – this is a cheap way to acquire some impressive physical boosts. It doesn’t do much for casters though.

  • Buy Shapeshift, with Attribute Modifiers, Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, and Variants (mostly human appearance), all Specialized and Corrupted / one specific animal only, cannot actually Change Forms (27 CP base, net cost 9 CP).

This is cheese. For example, a Wolf Totem Human Fighter thus gains +2 Natural Armor, +20′ move, d6 Natural Weapons, the Track feat with a +4 bonus on relevant rolls, Str +2, Dex +4, and Con +4. Sure, they have to have two hit dice to get that benefit, but even if they want it at level one and spend an extra 8 CP on an extra d4 Hit Die, the benefits are still very large. That’s why I usually only allow this in high-tech settings, where – when power armor, mechs, and similar devices are commonly used – personal combat abilities could really use a boost.

The Skillmaster Warrior:

This particular variant generally uses Finesse (6 CP per application) to get attack and damage bonuses from Intelligence instead of Strength, Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Adds a secondary Att Mod to Int Mod for calculating skill points, normally purchased Specialized and Corrupted (only through level 5) and upgrading at higher levels (6 CP to start, up to 18 CP at higher levels), and a second instance of Adept (6 CP) so as to have plenty of skills. The really exotic options, however, come from…

  • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (“Taking 60″) / Only for Skills, only for Skill Stunts, not for rerolls, (18 CP).
  • 3d6 Mana, and Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to power Skill Stunts, Rite of Chi and Bonus Uses are only to restore this pool, requires several minutes to use (12 CP).
  • Skill Focus +1 with Epic Stunts (8 CP), probably x4; once for each Adept skill (32 CP Total).

Now this is a fairly expensive option, weighing in at a total of 86 CP – about seven levels worth of purchases even if you don’t add another levels worth of Luck, Mana, and Rite of Chi. That’s a pretty expensive path. On the other hand, it opens up some pretty impressive powers – including epic spellcasting. It still probably isn’t the most efficient way to buy some magic, but it is one of the cheapest ways to gain access to epic magic. Admittedly, only a rather limited range of it – but that can still be pretty impressive. For some lists of possible stunts, see the Skill Stunts and Epic Skill Stunts series or articles.

The Spellslayer

The Spellslayer Warrior operates on fairly simple premises. Both Spells and Psionic Powers are complex, semi-stable, Constructs designed for particular functions. They may be made of energy, but if you can see them properly… Constructs can be killed and provoke Attacks of Opportunity as they enter spaces you threaten. Remote-sensing and remote-control effects require links back to their controllers. If you can manage the trick, links can transmit attacks back along themselves. Magic… can be fought.

  • Occult Sense / Spellsight (6 CP). A Spellslayer can see the structure of magic – perceiving incoming spells as creatures (With an AC equal to their Save DC), mystical links and bonds as chains, and standing spells as walls. Tthe general nature of incoming spells is obvious and they become valid targets for Attacks of Opportunity, links and bonds can be Sundered, and standing spells can be Smashed.
  • Presence (Dispelling Touch, L1), Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works on targets that you can hit with a melee attack, since the attack is actually targeted against magic, the strike does no actual injury (2 CP).
  • Presence (Shatter Link, L2), Specialized for Increased Effect (L2 effect) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only works on targets that you can hit with a melee attack, since the attack is actually targeted against magic, the strike does no actual injury (4 CP). This effect can break a caster’s control over his or her summoned creatures, release dominated creatures, turn Animal Companions, Familiars, and Mystic Mounts back into normal animals for 3d6 minutes, sever (or at least suppress) Mystic Links for the same period, and disrupt similar bonds and controls. It does not, however, replace that control; such creatures are simply freed.
  • Presence (Occult Strike, L3), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased (L3) effect / only works against a single target at a time, only works with melee attacks. The user may transmit an attack across a Mystic Link to the creature behind it. He or she may attack creatures on the far ends of mystic links, strike at someone viewing the user through a clairvoyant sensor, or attack through a Projected Image or similar effect (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Combat Reflexes variant) (6 CP).
  • Countermagic (Specialized, Only as a Prerequisite, 3 CP) and The Spiral Dance (12 CP). This will allow the user to pull off the Jedi “reflect the attack” routine, albeit with certain spells and powers instead of technological weapons.

The Spellslayer Martial Art (Wis):

Spells and Powers are intricate networks of energy – complex, semi-autonomous, constructs capable of interacting with “normal” matter and energy in a bewildering variety of ways.

And that which is complex and interactive always has points of vulnerability. That’s how Dispelling and Counterspelling work. The art of the Spellslayer is to find and strike at those points of vulnerability – a subtle art of gestures and precision that target things that few others can even sense. Unlike most martial arts, the weapon used is mostly irrelevant, although reach weapons don’t allow the necessary fine control.

  • Requires: Spellsight
  • Basic Abilities: Attack 2, Defenses 4 (Adds to Saving Throws versus Spells and Spell-Like Abilities), Toughness 2 (Versus damage from Spells and Spell-Like Abilities), and Synergy/Spellcraft.
  • Advanced Techniques: Breaking (May roll the Spellbreaker skill instead of a caster level check when Dispelling), Sneak Attack 2 (Specialized for Increased Effect / automatically adds +2d6 per level taken against magical / psionic constructs and summoned creatures, but no effect on any other type of target), and Mind Like Moon.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Ki Focus (Wisdom), Light Foot, and Vanishing.

It’s important to keep careful track of a Spellslayers limitations: for example, they cannot generally block an Orb Spell, or Flaming Arrows, or a Fireball that detonates more than ten feet away even if they are still within the blast radius. They have to be able to actually hit the spell. Still, at a total cost of about 36 CP, a dedicated fighter could acquire the Spellslayer package in about three levels.

The Warrior Mage:

This one is pretty simple: as shown with Hiten, the basic structure of warrior-style, “force of will” / “inner power” / “rage” / whatever magics is simply:

  • Shaping, Specialized for double effect (Cantrips) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for tricks in a specific magical field, requires the use of a rune-inscribed weapon as a focus (4 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Extra Actions Variant), Specialized and Corrupted / only to “cast” tricks in the above category, requires the use of a rune-inscribed weapon as a focus (2 CP).
  • 1d6 (4) Mana with the Spell Enhancement Option, Specialized and Corrupted / only for spell enhancement, only to enhance shaping-based Weapons Magic Tricks (2 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to restore the spell enhancement pool, above (4 CP)..

This allows the user to produce effects of up to level three as supernatural abilities – albeit not very many of them beyond level zero during any one fight for (12 CP).

  • The obvious basic upgrade is some combination of +4 Reflex Actions (2 CP), +1d6 Mana (2 CP), and +4 uses of Rite of Chi (2 CP). Those won’t increase the level of effects you can produce, but it will let you use a lot more of them.
  • You can also add a more fields of magic, each with it’s own pool of Mana and Actions. Go ahead; if you really want to be Thor Junior, take Weather Magic, Weapons Magic, and Self-Enhancement.

Being a Warrior-Mage is cheap; a single level worth of purchases will let you use a field quite effectively. Throwing in a single feat – half a level – worth of upgrades will probably cover everything you will need. And you will no longer need to rely on anyone else for enhancement spells, or basic healing, or simple mobility-boosters, or whatever. Taking Hiten as an example… you can start with a full package of weapon tricks at level one.

  • I’m not going to go over the utility of Berserker (large short-term boosts), Celerity (faster movement), the Create Relic / Enthusiast combination (make yourself some magical toys!), Grant of Aid (self healing that goes off when the player wants it to), Shapeshift, Improved Initiative, Lunge (more reach), Maneuver (dodge AoO with Tumble), Split Movement, and Throwing Master because – while straightforward boosts to particular areas are always useful – their basic effects are fairly obvious and they’re useful to everyone.

The Multi-Talented Warrior:

So the overall conclusion?

It’s pretty simple. The offensive power of an Eclipse-style “Martial” character is mostly limited by playability – and you can hit THAT limit easily and cheaply. With twenty levels to work in… an Eclipse Fighter still will not be able to afford anywhere near EVERYTHING – but they can easily afford to be an expert in multiple fields of combat and grab some handy magical powers. To make a list of the primary combat variants I’ve covered so far and how many levels it will take a fighter to sufficiently master them…

  • Battlefield Control:
    • Fear: 1-2 Levels.
    • Tripper: 4 Levels.
  • Melee Damage:
    • Charger: 2 Levels.
    • Massive Damage Critical Fisher: 4 Levels.
    • Mounted Warrior: 5 Levels (Overlaps with Beastmaster and Charger).
    • Two-Handed Smasher / Two-Weapon Fighter/ Sword-and-Board Fighter (all roughly equivalent, so just pick one): 2 Levels.
  • Ranged Damage:
    • Archer or Thrown Weapons Master: 5 Levels.
  • Special Attacks and Powers:
    • Beastmaster: 3 Levels
    • Drawing Aggro: 1 Level.
    • Effects Monger: 3 Levels.
    • Techno Warrior: 3 Levels.
    • The Lion At Bay: 1 Level.
    • Tinker-Warrior: 1-2 Levels.
    • Totemic Warrior: 1 Level.
  • Personal Magic:
    • Skillmaster: 7 Levels.
    • Spellslayer: 3 Levels.
    • Warrior Mage: 1-2 Levels, may be repeated.

So go right ahead: Make a Tripper (4), Mounted Warrior (5), Thrown Weapons Master (5), Beastmaster (2 due to overlap), Warrior-Mage II (3) with The Lion At Bay (1). Hurl your weapons to crossbow ranges while closing, ride your dire tiger into battle, trip everyone about you, battle four enemies at once on equal terms, and let your four animal companions (who will be sharing your enhancements from your warrior-mage skills) devour your foes. Yes, that comes to 20 levels and we were presuming starting at 2 – but your standard supply of Bonus Feats can cover for three levels worth of stuff (or more using Pathfinders bonus feat progression) You can probably afford to throw in some Witchcraft too. Why not? It’s very handy.

That’s what Eclipse does for Fighters. They can master multiple fields of combat, learn all the magic they need, control the battlefield, bring formidable allies with them, empower their own items, and heal their own wounds. It makes the all-fighter party a perfectly valid choice again. They still may not have as many options as the mage for long-distance travel or utility powers – but Beowulf can face that Dragon on equal terms and they have a rich array of tactical options. Eclipse fighters/Samurai/Archers/Etc do not need to play second fiddle to the mages and clerics any more.

Now if you want more options, there’s been plenty of prior material:

Some of the better examples include:

And that should do it for this series. If anyone wants to suggest any fighter builds they particularly favor, I will gladly throw them in though!

The Advancing Warrior Part VI – Cyborg, Power Armor, Mutant, Tinker, and MechWarriors.

Technology is not the same as magic – and the difference is fairly simple. Technology has tradeoffs. Take… a Hammer.

Technological hammers are straightforward: you can tie a rock to a stick to make a free one, get a cheap one at a dollar store or the local equivalent, get a good one at a hardware store, or buy a really good one from a catalog or an upper-end hardware store. The free one is not going to be very effective, and will tend to fall apart or break. The cheap one will break if you use it too much. A good one will function well and will probably hold up for years. The one from the catalog… well, if you chose well, it will be fine steel, rust-resistant, be forged in one piece with it’s handle, have a very comfortable grip, and come with a lifetime guarantee – but it really won’t do anything much “better” than the “good” one.

Sure, some hammers are better for some purposes than others – but it’s always a tradeoff. A heavier head and a longer handle makes for more impact, but slows your tempo and makes it harder to control where you hit. A rubber hammer is no good for driving nails, but can drive home wooden joints with little risk of damage. Doubling what you spend will not result in a hammer that works twice as well. There very quickly comes a point at which increasing the amount you spend has no measurable effect on the function at all. Realistic technology is relatively cheap, has functional limits and tradeoffs, and isn’t likely to change much through a campaign.

Similarly, you can make almost-free free “Zip Guns”, buy cheap “Saturday night specials”, buy a basic handgun, or buy a fabulously expensive handgun – but a shot from the fabulously expensive handgun isn’t going to all that much more effective than a shot from the basic one even if the custom grip slightly improves your aim.

On the other hand, if we’re talking magic hammers… the upper limit is purely arbitrary if there is any at all – and, at least in d20… throwing more money at it does make it better in predictable ways. There is nothing stopping you from making a +5 Sapient Hammer of Instant Construction with a wide variety of powers that will build you a castle overnight. The only functional trade-off is purely monetary.

Magic can be unique though. After all, the first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945. The first hydrogen bomb was set off in 1952. The Tsar Bomba was set off in 1961. Advances since then have focused on making the things smaller, lighter, and cheaper to build. The global nuclear stockpile hit an estimated peak of more than 70,000 weapons in 1986, some forty years after they were invented. Yet in (for example) Harry Potters world of magic few question the notion that a husband and wife team created a Philosophers Stone in a home laboratory six hundred years ago and yet no one else has ever managed it. Why not? Knowing that it’s possible to get endless life, health, and wealth with sufficient effort… why haven’t wealthy people thrown centuries worth of research teams at the project? Even in the Marvel Universe, where the upper end “technologies” ignore a lot of natural laws… there are tradeoffs and there are plenty of much cheaper Iron Man knockoffs running around.

Power Armor, Cyborg, and Power Armor Warriors, plus MechWarriors.

So if someone wants to play a Cyborg, or Power Armor user, or some such the game master has a basic decision to make: is their “technology” going to be basically magical – the way Pathfinder and Starfinder do it – or is it going to be realistic?

  • If it’s magical – or “alien technology” or any other form of narrative magic dressed up as technology – then you can simply use “Grafts”, Implanted Ioun Stones, Magical Tattoos, Talents (from The Practical Enchanter) and – in Eclipse – Innate Enchantment and Siddhisyoga. All you’re really changing is the special effects. You don’t really need any special rules for this, although you may want to apply the equivalent of the “Psionics Are Different” optional rule (In Eclipse the free “Eldritch” modifier). Your ultra-“technology” is indistinguishable from magic because it basically IS magic. For an example of this sort of effect, look at Vow Of Poverty.

If it’s genuinely technological – physical devices based on natural laws that anyone can use – it will change the game power curves quite a lot. Technology may be somewhat expensive in reality, but it’s fairly readily duplicated, can be mass-produced, and is cheap compared to even mid-level magical items. If you let realistic technology into your game low-level characters can become a lot more powerful. While upper-end magic can still surpass technology fairly readily, it will be fairly easy for a technologist to compete with the low- and mid-level stuff.

Presuming that the game master agrees that the settings natural laws allow more-or-less realistic technology to work and nothing stops it (such as chemical explosives not working in the forgotten realms because the God of Fire views chemical explosions as offerings of delicious candy and eats them) there are several ways to get it.

It is not wise to try and pay close attention to baseline d20’s “laws of nature”. After all, baseline d20 is a setting where humans can have fairly normal children with spirits and masses of fire. Where poisons take effect instantly. Where creatures can dig tunnels as fast as a man can walk even when they have nowhere to put the material they dig out. Where conversation can take place in the time it takes to press a button. Where a readied action will let you close a door before a laser beam can get through it after you see it being fired. Where “chemistry” has fire, earth, law, evil, negative energy, air, and good as manipulable elements while still apparently offering us Iron, Copper, and other conventional elements to work with. Where aerodynamics has no relevance to flight. Where wounds do not hinder creatures. It goes on and on. Baseline D20’s “laws of nature” are founded in Rule Of Cool, the random whims of dozens of different writers (who mostly don’t really understand real world physics very well themselves), ease of explanation and play, vast amounts of “that seems reasonable”, and even vaster amounts of “that’s too complicated to get into so we’re going to ignore it”. You think not? Some d20 Wizards have been shown wearing glasses. So what do the rules tell us about what you make corrective lenses for Darkvision out of? Why? How do they work?

  • The best option – at least in terms of ease of use – is probably to allow the Equipment Skills from the Shadowed Galaxy setting as Occult Skills. In effect that allows each of those skills – Armory, Biotech, Gadgetry, Logistics, Vehicles, and Weaponry – to be purchased for 6 CP (3 CP to gain access, 3 SP to cover the double cost for the first 3 CP). If the Game Master doesn’t require it as a World Law, you can either make your technology cheaper or get a lot more of it through applying limitations. Perhaps the stuff blocks the use of high-end magical and psionic abilities, or drives you progressively more insane as you get more, or supporting it against the local laws of nature drains your personal energies, or the gods dislike the stuff and penalize your saving throws, or some such. That sort of thing will tend to restrict the use of high technology to adventurers.
    • Do you want to be a Cyborg and have all your gadgets built-in? Then either select your equipment carefully (and probably mostly from the Biotech list) or buy an Immunity to having your technological gear taken away (Uncommon (since taking away a character’s gear is out of style), Major, Major, 6 CP).
    • Do you want Power Armor? You’ll probably want to invest heavily in Armory and Weaponry.
    • Do you want a Mech? Buy some extra size on your “power armor” and there you are. Alternatively, invest in a Vehicle. Either way, you’ll probably want a Martial Art Specialized for Double Effect / only while piloting a Mech.
    • Do you want to be a Mutant? Make a Cyborg and change your special effects.

This option provides a reasonable simulation of “realistic” (in the sense of limits and function, rather than in the sense of “existing items”) high technology for gaming purposes. As such… someone using Power Armor or a Mech will be very powerful in combat at low levels, but will find that – while they may pick up more technological options at higher levels – their individual items of equipment will remain relatively static. That particle blaster will be very effective against Orcs, fairly effective against Hill Giants, and of little use against an Adult Dragon.

It may take two or three levels worth of purchases to pick up a full-blown technologist package – Adept (6 CP) and three or four of the Occult Skills (at 6 CP each)- but if this option is available it can provide some very effective boosts and makes it possible to build space marines, cyborg street samurai, “matrix” hackers, logistical geniuses, gunfighters, and various other science-fiction or technological concepts. It can also really mess up a game that wasn’t designed to handle that sort of thing, so it’s wise to talk to the prospective game master in advance.

If you desperately want to do this, and the natural laws of the setting do not support it… it may be possible to pick up an Immunity to the Local Natural Laws. I can’t tell you how much that will cost since the requirements will depend on just how odd the settings rules are, and I can’t tell you whether or not your game master will allow it – natural law immunities are always game-master permission only – but it is likely to be very expensive. The cost can be reduced by picking up some of the limitations imposed by being subject to more realistic natural laws. For example, you may find that you cannot turn this power off, that wounds actually hinder you, that you must obey aerodynamic principles when flying, and so on.

Tinker Warriors:

If the setting is basically magical, and realistic technology isn’t generally usable in it, you can take Occult Skill / Gadgetry and whip up quasi-magical items. While less powerful than the Equipment Skills, this is cheap and versatile. Since this is going to be the “tinkerer” version (rather than the Reality-Warping version common in the Federation-Apocalypse setting) it can be based on Dexterity (if you lean towards clockwork and mechanisms), Intelligence (if you lean towards runes and minor magical items) or Wisdom (if you lean towards alchemy and natural magic). You can also gain a +2 Synergy bonus from up to two relevant skills – but what skills are relevant are up to your style of Gadgetry and the game master. Things like Craft (Alchemy, Clockwork, Metals, etc), Profession (Engineer, Mechanic, Runesmith), and Knowledge (Arcana and Nature) are all likely candidates.

In any case, your total in the Gadgets skill also represents your daily pool of “gadget points”, which you may invest each morning in your creations. As a rule, “gadgets” are comparatively minor things. They’re flexible and won’t necessarily work the same way twice. You’re carrying a vial of Liquid Sunlight? You might want to use it to create a flare or blinding flash, to damage some undead, to paint luminescent lines on a wall, to toss it in a creatures eyes to blind it for a time, to negate a darkness spell, or to use it as makeup when you impersonate a ghost – or perhaps a creature of the higher planes. But rather than looking up rules… the user describes what he or she is trying to accomplish with the gadget, and the game master can just describe the effect on the fly. Was your Liquid Sunlight more effective last time? Maybe this time it was bottled on a cloudy day. Or it was the wrong time of year. Or there was a celestial conjunction. Or it was a lunar festival day. If you don’t trust the game master, why are you playing with him or her?

To create a gadget, you name or describe it. Most gadgets will “cost” 1-3 “points”.

  • Reasonable, straightforward, or extremely situational items, will generally cost one point: A flask full of really strong coffee or “energy drink”? A flaregun with six flares? Really tough waterproof canvas you could use for a canoe hull? A tiny heater that keep your tent warm in arctic conditions? A fire-resistant blanket? A rewinding wrist grapple? A pocket full of Smoke Pellets? An Ice Axe and Pitons? Realistic medications? All are suitable one-point items. Many alchemical items fall into this category.
  • More unlikely or powerful items will usually cost two points. “Charms” from The Practical Enchanter tend to fit here, as do things like Wily E. Coyote Rocket Boots (good for making mighty leaps, pushing people away, and avoiding or breaking a fall, probably burning out on a 1-2 on a d6 after each use), minor potion-equivalents, Dart Fingers (each acts as a light crossbow bolt, you can fire a whole hands worth as a single attack, but once spent, they’re used up for the day), or a rubber coating on your armor (5 points of Electrical Resistance for the day), a big can of Spinach (+2 to Str and Con for a minute or two after you eat it).
  • The most powerful gadgets will usually cost three points. “Talismans” from The Practical Enchanter show up here, as do things like that Liquid Sunlight, Popcorn Grenades, most Feather Tokens, 2’nd level potion equivalents, and so on.

Inspiration for other gadgets can be found on the Core Psitech and Glowstone Items lists – but I wouldn’t count on them being usable directly; most campaigns will not include the relevant natural laws.

  • Generous game masters may let you get away with creating gadgets on the fly – probably at an increased cost – or you can just take Immunity / the time normally required to assemble gadgets (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 3 CP). That’s another natural-law immunity, so it may not be allowed – but you could accomplish the same thing with a minor spell or a bit of reality editing or in several other ways, so most game masters will probably allow it.

The Witchcraft-Based Mad Scientist also belongs here, given that you can pick up “SCIENCE!” for a mere 12 CP. The list of options for that is pretty lengthy, so I’m just going to link to the build containing them.

While neither Gadgetry nor Mad Science is really all that powerful, they’re both very versatile, providing a nice selection of tricks and exotic options – and they’re both cheap. A single level worth of purchases will suffice for either, and two levels for both – and either way it’s a possible lead-in to a ninja-style Warrior.

The Technology Exploit:

If the game master is running baseline d20… pretty much anything works. That’s why you could pick up ray guns and such from crashed alien ships in some adventures despite the setting not advancing in thousands of years. It couldn’t be a natural law of course – otherwise the stuff wouldn’t work and why were all those alien civilizations immune to it?

In any case, while technology seems to have gotten stuck in most such settings, there isn’t anything that actually keeps it from working – so all your character needs is to get a hold of it.

  • If you just want access to a particular item or material, baseline d20 includes all kinds of ways to travel the multiverse. Ergo, all you need is a Privilege (3, 6, or 9 CP, depending on just how hard it is to find whatever-it-is). If you want to start off with an Artifact of some sort this will probably do it. While most of those things have their uses, they tend to have their own purposes, hordes of pursuers, and various curses as well.

If you want access to a higher technology level in general… then you need an immunity to whatever undefined handwave it is that is keeping the stuff from being imported, duplicated, and sold in every town. As usual in Eclipse, you can buy that if the game master is willing to put up with it. Even better, since d20 Past, Modern, and Future helpfully defined some technology (“Progress”) levels for us (whether or not that makes sense) we can just use those. To do so buy…

  • Immunity / the normal limits on equipment availability (Very Common, Major. Trivial (+1 Tech Level) costs 5 CP, Notable (+2 Tech Levels, costs 10 Points), Major (+3 Tech Levels, costs 15 points), Great (+4 Tech Levels, costs 30 points), Epic (+5 Tech Levels, costs 45 points), and Legendary (+6 Tech Levels, costs 60 points). Most baseline d20 settings start at Tech Level 2 (or maybe 3). You could limit that in various ways, but it’s kind of tricky; it’s hard to think of a source for – say – Starships that won’t have good technology available in other fields.
  • If the game master allows this stunt in the first place, he may also allow the Innate Enchantment exploit – which is simple enough; according to the official rules one Gold Piece equates to 20 d20 future “Credits”. According to the (again official) Purchase DC to Credits chart quite a lot of personal equipment is surprisingly cheap. And since it’s mundane, there are no other costs associated. That way 6 CP worth of Innate Enchantment gets you 100,000 Credits worth of “built-in” gear. That… can get pretty absurd. I’ve used that exploit to build a couple of superheroes, and a couple of iconic Star Trek gadgets – but if the game master allows it at all, expect him to keep a very careful eye on it.

This isn’t a very good way to get Mechs and Starships though. Those things simply cost way too much if you buy them normally. You can, however, become a Pulp Hero Starship Captain relatively cheaply…

I can’t really tell you how much this build will “cost” since it’s full of campaign-specific variables – but if all you want is a gun and a kevlar vest instead of a bow and chainmail, it shouldn’t cost very much.

There are other ways to do this of course. For example, we have the Gadgeteer template in the Mutants Of The Eclipse series (in +1, +2, and +3 ECL flavors) as well as Pulp Heroes (and their advanced powers, drugs and archetypes, and vehicles), and the various entries in Mayhem and Mad Science – but most of those are for dedicated inventors and mad scientists, not for Fighters who dabble.

On the other hand, just for amusement… here’s the +1 ECL Pirate Template.

And for the last article in this series, it will be a selection of lesser archetypes built around throwing in a few special tricks.