Eclipse and the Twilight Isles – Mystic Martial Arts

   Next up here we have a couple of Martial Arts from one of the current players. You can find his original writeup of these, and some of his characters, diaries, and other materials, over HERE at his blog – but he’s allowed me to copy these arts over to the primary blog here for some editing and to make them more easily available.

   What makes these unusual? Well, relatively few people buy corrupted or specialized skills, much less a specialized or corrupted martial art, or one designed around magical attacks – but here we have a splendid example. They’re also language-based martial arts, using some of the mystical languages from HERE.

   Drat it, I may have to put up a martial arts subindex. There’s no end to the indexing…

   Without further preamble, here we have the Mystical Martial Arts of the Cursed Line of Cadeyron:

   The Cursed Tongue (Wis)

   This purely-offensive mystical martial art backs ray attacks with the power of minor curses. The user simply adds a minor malediction to his usual components. While such small curses must be tailored to the local magical environment, are extremely short-lived, and are somewhat difficult to use, they can allow a master of The Cursed Tongue to inflict crippling disabilities on anyone who dares to hurt him.

   Unfortunately, even such minor curses require some leverage; sheer spite and borrowing power from other curses may help a bit, but The Cursed Tongue can only be used to it’s full potential after an opponent has already hurt the user in some way – and the greater the injuries an opponent has inflicted, the better it works.

  • Requirements: The user must know the magical language of Saenthor, be subject to a powerful curse of some kind him or herself (to borrow power from), and possess the ability to make ray attacks.
  • Basic Abilities: Attack IV, Power IV, and Synergy/Intimidate.
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Blinding Strike and Crippling III.
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Serpent Strike, Paralyze and Overburden.

   The Cursed Tongue is Corrupted and Specialized for Triple Effect:

  • The Basic abilities only work against targets who have injured the user, issued serious threats or insults against the user or his family, or who have otherwise wronged or offended the user. Against an opponent who has done no more than this, the abilities have only their base effect.
  • The Advanced abilities only work against targets who have seriously wounded the user, personally injured close friends or family members of the user, or gravely wronged or offended the user. Against an opponent who has committed such an offense, the forms abilities have double effect – but there is a modest chance of backlash in the form of some injury or short-term curse upon the user if he or she opts to exploit this doubling.
  • The Occult techniques only work against targets who have personally gravely wounded the user, slain his or her close friends or family members, or grievously wronged or offended him or her. Against opponents who have committed such an offense, the forms abilities have triple effect. There is, however, a great chance of backlash inflicting a serious injury or medium-duration curse on the user if the user opts to exploit this tripling.

   Variants on The Cursed Tongue use other mystical languages, and are thus slightly different arts.

  • Ma’thak Koren has several nasty side-effects, since it requires accessing some very unpleasant remnants.
  • Narthian tends to be rather limiting in the types of slights that can allow its use. Only things that would offend an animal quality – which generally lets out insults.
  • Zaban-Gozar has the usual costs vitality cost of speaking in soul speech, and so is very hard on the user.

 

   Guard of the Helpful Mage (Wis)

   This mystic “martial art” relies on convincing tiny elementals and lesser nature spirits to protect the user. By constantly stilling minor magical disturbances and carefully minimizing their own, users of this art gain favor with such minor spirits – who will then exert their influence to protect the obliging mage who’s providing such a pleasant environment from physical harm which might disrupt his activities. Users of this art spend a lot of time mumbling in Saenthor, and make minor magical gestures constantly.

  • Requirements: ability to speak Saenthor, Diplomacy 5, Appraise 5, and the ability to sense minor mystical disturbances.
  • Basic Abilities: Defenses 4 and Toughness 4
  • Advanced and Master Techniques: Instant Stand, Mind Like Moon, Prone Combat, and Breaking.
  • Occult Techniques: Light Foot, Wrath/Fire, Resist Pain, and Inner Strength.
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Thera: The Runelord Epic Class

The Theran Epic Hero:

   Beyond Twentieth Level :

   Theran characters may take a maximum of 20 “normal” class levels. Any levels beyond that must be taken in one of Thera’s two, mutually exclusive, high-level Classes – Epic Hero and Rune Lord. While it is possible – at least in exceptional cases – to start taking levels in these classes at level fifteen, it’s unusual. Characters who don’t qualify for Epic Hero or Rune Lord can’t advance beyond level 20 on Thera.

The Rune Lord:

   Bound to the powers of order and embodiments of the Runes which make up Thera’s structure, Runelords have great influence over the world about them, but are bound to that world – and pay a price for their power, both immediately, in the form of Divine Drawbacks, and in millennia to come. Over the ages, a Runelord will gradually grow into, and be transformed by, their rune or runes – slowly merging with the magical structure of Thera. Eventually, their Runes will spawn subrunes, new branches of magic will arise, and the elder rune will slowly be forgotten as it grows into something else – and its associated Runelord will pass on at last.

  • Requirements: Level 15+, completion of an Epic Quest, total attribute modifiers of plus ten or more, and attunement to at least one unclaimed Rune (The other two “attunements” may overlap but this will conflict with the power of the existing Runelord – who won’t like it. Both lords abilities will become unreliable).
  • Attack Bonus: +(L/2). Doesn’t raise the number of iterative attacks available.
  • Base Caster Level: +(L/2)
  • Save Bonuses: +(L/2)
  • Skill Points: +(Int Mod) per level.
  • Hit Dice: d8
  • Special: Gain one Feat, one Divine Power, six points of Resistances (energy forms, damage types, poisons, attribute drain or damage, environmental problems such as lack of air or food, and types of physical damage are all eligible), and one Divine Drawback per level.
  • Immunities: Aging and Disease, with a permanent “Death Ward” and “Mage Armor” effect. As expressions of universal energies, they’re resistant to both magic and psionics (Spell and Power Resistance of = 10 + Level).
  • Drawbacks: All Runelords are foci of vast (and quite detectable) forces, are watched by virtually everyone, are vulnerable to some specific form of attack (GMO, but this varies with the Runelord), and are difficult to heal or transform, as they can’t drop their spell resistance versus such effects.

Divine Powers:

   Astral Realms; Shaping the formless energies of the Astral Plane requires an unshakeable will and a great deal of belief – but Runelords generally have ample access to both. Powers on this list include:

  • Avatars; You may have up to (Intelligence) Avatars of yourself (treat as Simulacrums, but with a mental link to you) active at any given time. These take a week each to make, but there is no associated cost.
  • Minions; You control a variety of “Astral Constructs”. While these are semi-intelligent and quite powerful – an effective manifestation level of (user level/4, 10 maximum) – they’re shaped by the belief of your followers, not entirely by you. You gain one such construct per active major temple dedicated to you.
  • Realm; You control a private realm on the astral plane; within it your Talent Feats are much enhanced (half cost or double effect) and you can manipulate the environment at will. Deceased followers tend to turn up there. You may take a Talent Feat to gain the ability to gate back and forth between your realm and Thera.
  • Wrath; Those who anger you or violate the tenets of your faith will be stricken by some form of supernatural punishment (a disease, a bolt of lightning, a curse, etc).

   Followers; Runelords tend to develop cults and followings among those who find their runes important. Some take advantage of this Powers on this list include:

  • Cultists. You’ve got a group of fanatics. At any given time you can call on 3D6 devotes to undertake even the most suicidal missions.
  • Disciples. You have a direct bond with a small group – equal to your charisma score at any given time – of your priests, and may speak or channel your power through them at will as well as know what’s happening about them.
  • Faithful. You have a religion, and may call on great numbers of ordinary people, considerable reserves of money, and other resources, as required.
  • Investment. Your followers supply 1000 EP per day that you may use to cast spells, make items, or invest in mortals – raising them to a maximum of level 15. Sadly, you can not add it to your personal EP total.

   Mindspeech; The presence of a Runelord has strange effects on reality – and on minds. Some Runelords learn to use that psychic impact. Powers on this list include:

  • Adjutant; You may designate any one being at a time as your Familiar, Companion, or Mount, and grant it the relevant bonuses at an effective level equal to your total level. If you take this more than once, you can so imbue that many creatures at a time.
  • Divine Aura; You “radiate” an emotion, an aura of disguising illusion, or a Consecrate/ Desecrate effect in a radius of (10 x Charisma) feet. If relevant, standard saving throws for innate charisma-based powers apply.
  • Gift Of Tongues; You may communicate with any creature with a mind, listen in on hidden thoughts, and either Enthrall, Fascinate, or inflict Suggestions or Commands, on those you speak to. Perhaps fortunately, standard saving throws against innate-charisma based powers apply.
  • Spirit Sight; Your senses extend into the Astral and Ethereal planes. As a Feat you may learn to extend your touch and magical/mental talents to those levels as well.

   Runebond; The bond with their runes is the core of a Runelords power. Powers on this list include:

  • Awareness; While a Runelord automatically becomes aware of “major” activities involving his or her rune – the researching of great spells, relevant natural disasters, major battles, etcetera – this allows them to “sense” minor activities, involving otherwise-unimportant individuals. This also covers the symbolic activities of Theran “prayer”. (E.G.; “Praying” to a wargod involves at least a good practice bout – while praying to a deathgod usually means killing something or other).
  • Influence; You may manipulate events on a global scale, granting those you favor a “+3” bonus on rolls related to one of your runes and inflicting a “-3” penalty on those you oppose or disapprove of. For example, a god of Trade can influence relevant Diplomacy, Navigation, and Profession checks. Those he favors will get rich, those he opposes will run into menacing customs agents and upset customers all day.
  • Mastery; Reduces the “effective” level of personally-cast spells involving one of the user’s runes by 3 levels. If this reduces it to below zero, it becomes an extraordinary – rather then super- natural – effect. Mastery may be taken up to three times, twice provides reductions of 6/3 spell levels for the primary/a secondary rune – and three times provides a 9/6/3 level reduction for the users primary/first secondary/second secondary runes..
  • Returning; You’re very difficult to kill. Unless someone else claims your runes, or you are killed in some specific manner (GMO), you will eventually return even without help. If you are helped, your return will be quick.

   Metamorphosis; Runelords are always transformed into runic embodiments to some extent, but can limit it to the more or less cosmetic level if they choose. Some choose otherwise. Powers on this list include:

  • Ascension; You gain an appropriate plane-touched template (often Aasimar or Tiefling), without an ECL adjustment. This can be taken twice, in which case you get the appropriate “Half-Whatever” template, also without an ECL adjustment. Runelords can gain lycanthropic, half-dragon, and similar templates, as well, but cannot gain more then one. Runelords with this ability always appear quite monstrous, more so if they belonged to a monster species to start with.
  • Embodiment; You take on a monstrous form, and a variety of special abilities derived from it. Such forms usually include a few enhanced attributes, “natural” weapons and armor and a few physically-oriented “Feats”. Of course, quite a lot of equipment – such as armor, weapons, and magic items, will become unusable, and most people will react quite strongly to you.
  • Runemark; You gain +2 to a chosen attribute appropriate to one of your Runes. You are also blatantly changed by this; you may acquire a distinctive glowing aura when your abilities are in use, be physically warped, have glowing runic tattoos all over your skin, or whatever Mark the game master decides is appropriate.
  • Runeward; You may make saving throws against spells and effects which do not normally allow them. Moreover, whenever you make a saving throw against an effect which would normally produce a partial effect, the effect in question is entirely negated.

The Price Of Godhood:

   Runelords normally have more problems then heroes do. A god must take on one limitation from the list below per level in the Runelord class.

   Bond Of Faith; Runelords often get trapped in the nature of their runes, and in the role their followers expect them to play. Limitations on this list include:

  • Unable to resist Wyrd; You are unable to go against the nature of the runes you’re attuned to. For example, a death goddess might find herself unable to aid her own dying child, a sun god might be unable to “intervene” during the night, and a a war god might find himself unable to work towards a peaceful solution.
  • Metamorphic Cycles; You undergo a regular sequence of transformations, such as a sun god who starts each day as a child and dies of old age each night – although that’s extreme, even for gods, and probably counts as several choices.
  • Personal Artifact; A sizable part of your personal power becomes bound into an artifact of some sort. While this increases the effects of those abilities by 50%, it can be stolen – and those powers are not available without the artifact.
  • Distinctive Features; You are easily seen for what you are – no matter how you disguise yourself or shapechange.

   Immortality; The energies coursing through a gods body have a physical impact as well. Limitations on this list include:

  • Impervious; You are resistant to growth, as well as to aging and harm. You gain experience points at only one-third the normal rate.
  • Lost Slots; The innate magic of your body blocks the use of many items. Slotless items must be put into one at first, after that you will lose two slots per time this is taken.
  • Fertility; Like a dragon, you are fertile with almost anything. Unlike them, any liason with a mortal WILL result in a child. Such children will inherit a natural link with you and a certain amount of power – although how it will express itself is unpredictable.
  • Ascension; The oldest, and most powerful, Runelords tend to merge with Thera itself – and must be invoked before they can manifest. As a side effect they’re near-indestructible.

   Relationships; “Immortality”, coupled with slow inhuman transformation and vast personal power – some of it inheritable – is hard on a gods social life.  Limitations on this list include:

  • Divine Spouse; You’ve married another god of some sort. At best this takes up a lot of your time. At worst, well, Hera and Zeus are a fairly mild example.
  • Offspring; You have troublesome children, ranging from kids who disrupt your rituals or find weird trouble to get into to offspring who hate you, and want to usurp your position.
  • Callousness; You’ve watched mortals come and go for millenia, and have ceased to care. This does not endear you to those around you.
  • Divine Awe; You may be beautiful, inspire awe, or be unbelievably ugly, but those about you have massive emotional reactions, despite any disguise. In rare cases, this can kill.

   Reputations; While gods inevitably acquire reputations, things can get a bit extreme. Limitations on this list include:

  • Well-understood; Those opposing or dealing with you can be expected to know your abilities, tactics, psychological “buttons” and other relevant information in fair detail.
  • Nemesis; You’re opposed by another entity of similar powers – typically a god embodying an opposing rune, but sometimes simply a hero or god with an opposing personality.
  • Outlawed; You and your followers are wildly unpopular, and will attract endless opposition.
  • Overrated; People overestimate both what you can do and what areas you influence. This is likely to irritate other powerful entities and to attract unwanted trouble.

   Megalomania; As limited aspects of reality fall subject to a runelord’s will, it becomes hard to avoid feeling that the rest should be equally obliging. Limitations on this list include:

  • Irrational; You tend to stop thinking and lose all sense of restraint and discretion when you’re defied or offended.
  • Transcendent; You see yourself as “above” law and custom; you are a GOD, such pettiness does not apply!
  • Arrogant; You tend to treat all “mortals” as your personal servants and property. If they don’t like it, you can always find some more.
  • Lordly; You demand worship and respect from all those around you of lesser stature – and if they aren’t gods or epic heroes, they’re lesser.

   Unfocused; Runelords are personally linked with events going on throughout the world. As a result, they often find it hard to focus on anything in particular. Limitations on this list include:

  • Absent Minded; You tend to forget things. A LOT. You may forget your gear, your friends names and to refresh your spells unless you can make some very good wisdom checks.
  • Distracted; You suffer a -3 circumstances penalty on anything not directly “related” to one of your runes and must often make concentration checks to pay attention to what’s going on around you.
  • Oblivious; You suffer a -4 penalty on all Spot, Listen, and similar rolls.
  • Invoked; You’re subjected to random calls on your attention and power as you’re invoked for various purposes.

   Responsibilities; Runelords are important people, and their link with an aspect of reality often places demands on them. Limitations on this list include:

  • Committments; You have a lot of things to do, and often do not have time for “personal” adventuring or projects.
  • Runic Backlash; You’re affected by events which impact your rune; For example, a sungod might be severely weakened during an eclipse.
  • Primal Link; Your emotions and well-being touch the world about you through your runes. Minor disturbances will reveal your motives and emotions,
  • Marked; Your runes have set their mark on you; you will find it difficult or impossible to use opposing powers.

Ronin (or Nezumi) Technician Bushi School

   Here we have something for the Legend of the Five Rings game – a school from the Empire of 2218 (which they are currently visiting). In this case, it’s a school that is freely available to Ronin, Nezumi, and pretty anyone else who wants to take it.

   This is a bushi school, if a somewhat disreputable one. You really can’t let the peasants drive war machines, fire siege weapons, operate the military communications systems, or monopolize “guns” (technically not guns, since gaijin pepper is generally not involved, but the general idea is the same). Someone has to fix the tanks and use weapons less honorable than swords and bows. You need quartermasters, engineers, sea-captains who can get wallowing cargo ships filled with supplies through to the troops, demolitions experts, and masters of traps and security systems. You need people who can operate off the grid if necessary.

   The Ronin Technician School focuses on all the practical, dirty, greasy, and mechanical bits of running a war – and (usually) on skills such as “firearms” (also covering crossbows and magical equivalents) which most Samurai are unlikely to spend much time on.

   The school itself isn’t that focused on direct combat, although it’s practitioners are notorious for once-off tricks and risky strikes – sometimes succeeding marvelously, at other times failing utterly – if they wind up stuck in hand-to-hand. It’s focused on getting things working right NOW – and with minimal tools and resources – and (at higher levels) on making things work that really shouldn’t – getting better performances than is reasonably possible out of their weapons and equipment. Of course, each such expert has his or her own specialities.

  • Benefit: +1 Void, Glory 1, Status Special, Wealth 3, Honor 1.5.
  • School Skills: Athletics, Craft (any two), Defense, Hunting, Investigation, Stealth, and any three other Combat, Merchant, or Low skills of choice.

School Techniques:

  • First Technique/With Swift Hands: Easy to Learn (The techniques of this school can be picked up by simple observation and self-teaching, and thus are readily available to Ronin, Nezumi, and to any Clan Samurai who opts to take them up) (5), Immunity to the time normally required to repair items (5), Immunity to the need for tools and parts to repair or build items (5), gain a pool of free raises equal to the user’s Void/2 per skirmish (day if not involved in combat) (5), +1K0 considered Skilled with all Low and Merchant Skills (6), and, since the school is considered disreputable, -1 to the user’s effective Status (-5).
  • Second Technique/The Foundations of the Art: Easy to Learn (5), The user’s free raise pool is now equal to his or her Void (+5), add another +1K1 (net +2K1) with all Low and Merchant Skills (9).
  • Third Technique/Master of Improvisation: Easy to Learn (5), Immunity to the need to actually possess a given hand weapon to be able to use it’s statistics to attack with (10, -5 because the user must spend at least a few minutes cobbling together some substitute, net 5), and add another +1K1 (net +3K2) with all Low and Merchant Skills (+9).
  • Fourth Technique/The Expert Craftsman: Easy to Learn (5), May gain (School Rank) free raises on any roll using a school skill (Void) times daily (10). The user is so attuned to the spirit of his or her equipment that he or she effectively gains a single non-Void based Techynic Field of Study, 4 Construction Points, and the ability to use effects of up to level two within that single field (a level two self-powered Innate Supernatural Power, 6) and may trade up to two rolled dice for kept dice when using an item he or she personally crafted (5, -5 for specialization, net 0).
  • Fifth Technique/The Master Builder: Easy to Learn (5), The user is now so attuned to the spirit of his or her equipment that he or she effectively gains a second non-Void based Techynic Field of Study, 6 Construction Points to use within it, and the ability to use effects of up to level three within that single field (a level three self-powered Innate Supernatural Power, 9). The user also gains an extra attack when using any weapon (or imitation thereof) that he or she personally crafted (5) and can clean and polish things by simply running a hand over them (a level one-half self-powered innate supernatural power, 1). Note that the user may opt to upgrade his or her original field of study and call the new one the secondary field. This costs exactly the same amount, and so is quite permissible.

   Rank Three Techynics with two Fields of Study would cost 48 experience points – but, for a Rank 5 character – would normally supply a minimum of 27 Construction Points, access to Level 3 effects in both fields of study, and allow further advancement. This costs 19 points (after adjustment for the 25% point surcharge for buying techniques) and provides about a third as much power with no prospects for further advancement – which seems fair enough. It might even be a bit underpowered.

   Note that – since Firearms is a Low Skill, and point-and-shoot weapons get a +3K1 bonus, which stacks with the schools +3K2 bonus on Low and Merchant skills for a total of +6K3, most Ronin Technicians – being practical types – will cobble together some “non-firearm” device that uses firearm statistics at rank three, and the more combative ones will usually boost it with their Techynics powers – however minor – as soon as they possibly can.

Incarnum Builds

   The next request was a way to build an Incarnum wielder in Eclipse d20 point buy – so here’s a method:

   “Incarnum Magic” revolves around the ability to create a relatively limited selection of weak personal magic items (“melds”) which may be “charged up” with “points” of “Essentia” (a rather-ill defined primordial spiritual essence) and/or take up magic item slots to enhance their effects. Naturally enough, you can buy this using Eclipse: The Codex Persona. You simply need to take:

   Create Relic. Specialized: can only be used to create a limited (Int) set of predetermined personal relics, no more than (Con-10) may be created at a time, all of them must be related to a specific theme, and such relics can have a maximum cost of 6 CP (8 if they occupy a magic item slot). Fortunately, you only need to buy this once – unless you want to increase the number of relics available. 3 CP.

   Immunity: Melds/Relics cannot be damaged or removed. (Common/Minor/Great, 12 CP).

   Double Enthusiast, Advanced Adaption (one hour to redirect). Specialized: Only to invest points in relics. Corrupted: Relics must be “activated” on a point-by-point basis by investing personal mana in them unless they’re occupying item slots, in which case the first two points are free. Net 4 CP per 2 points of Relics available. This ability may be purchased as often as desired.

   Personal Mana. Corrupted: only for investment in Relics. 4 CP per 1d6. This ability may also be purchased as often as desired, although you’ll probably only need it half as often as the previous ability.

   Once you’ve purchased your Relic and Mana/”Essentia” pools, you can start creating your relics – using either the lists in the book for inspiration or developing some theme of your own.

   Thanks to the high efficiency of Relics, an incarnum wielder can be quite formidable – but they’re vulnerable to having their mana drained and often lack variety in their abilities. There are plenty of better power builds.

d20 Future Items

   First up for today – and possibly last, depending on other activities – we have the d20 Mecha Design System from the IronWinds campaign. Unfortunately, this is a pdf download only: I just couldn’t get the formatting to work reasonably on the blog.

   Secondarily, since the library will be closed on Wednesday, and I expect that most of the players will have family commitments anyway, the Champions campaign will probably have to take a miss this week. If anyone does want to do something leave a comment: I could always play host.

   Since there are a few minutes after all, here’s the Federation-Apocalypse Factions, from one of the old player’s take on a rewrite of the d20 Federation Campaign.