Cursed with Awesome; Dark Magic and You

Today’s question basically boils down to “Dark magic often seems to act rather like a progressive disease – and in many works even benign magic is dangerous if overused. How does that work and how can it be cured or treated?”

Ok, the original question was framed in terms of My Little Pony; Friendship is Magic – but it’s talking about a very common element of magic in religion, mythology, and fiction, and that makes it a very good question indeed for those designing or running role playing games with magic in them.

As usual, my answer should be taken as the definitive word of god, end all further debate on the topic forever, and you should send me lots of money in exchange for the secret directions to the lost continent of Atlantis where you can learn even more… No? Oh well, it was worth a shot.

Mentioning Twilight’s “little foray into mass mind control” reminds me of a related issue that I saw mentioned a while back.

A lot of the fandom has a big problem with Twilight have tried to make a “reform spell” to use on Discord, pointing out that that’s little more than mind control since what constitutes “being reformed” is going to be relative. That’s not an incorrect point, but it overlooks a salient issue: that a lot of evil magic functions as a sickness.

Admittedly, this isn’t an iron-clad issue, but it does have some supporting points (seen both before and after the episode in question, which was season three’s Keep Calm and Flutter On). Although Luna seemed to fall from grace for personal reasons, her defeat with the Elements of Harmony seemed to immediately cause a shift in her mentality (and she later characterized what happened as being “stripped of Our dark powers”). Likewise, Rarity is “infected” with “dark magic” in season four’s Inspiration Manifestation. And although it’s not explicitly evil magic, both “Midnight Sparkle” and Gloriosa Daisy (from the third and fourth Equestria Girls movies, respectively) suffered from temporary psychosis due to magic overload.

Now, there’s evidence that goes the other way – such as Celestia being not only able to use the same dark magic as King Sombra, but teach it to Twilight (Return of the Crystal Empire – Part 1) – but there’s at least some precedent to say that a “reform spell” should be a viable idea, since a lot of evil magic is presented as being a sort of “disease of the mind.”

Alzrius

Well, that is a classic problem. Whether it’s the use of lovecraftian lore that men were not meant to know (and which drives them mad), greater magics being inherently corrupting, demanding huge prices and self-indulgences for the use of magic because it uses up your lifespan, having to mortgage your soul, or any of a thousand other “prices”, the notion that “you’ve got to pay for what you get” (and likely a certain “sour grapes” feeling that the spell casters special advantages will somehow turn around and bite them in the butt) is a bit part of people’s thinking about magic.

Personally, I think that it largely follows from some very basic principles, even if most people aren’t consciously aware of the logic.

1) “Magic”, whatever the nature of the forces it involves, can cause an incredibly wide array of alterations in reality.

2) Magic-wielders channel at least some part of those forces through themselves.

3) Nothing is 100% efficient.

Ergo… a certain amount of semi-randomized (if very likely still in theme) reality-alteration is going to affect a magic-wielder whenever he or she channels magic.

4) Living things have mechanisms that maintain homoeostasis – a tendency to return to their baseline conditions – to at least some degree.

Ergo… a certain amount of magic use can be tolerated without much risk. Using “small” magics, just like using a little bit of alcohol, sugar, or caffeine, will generally have no noticeable long-term ill effects unless you use something that’s especially “toxic” (that’s why I’d much rather work with iron than with dimethylmercury). You can even build up your effective tolerance by becoming more skilled and thus minimizing the amount of contamination. Exceed your tolerance by using too much magic at any one time, however, and changes may occur that aren’t easily reversed. Even presuming that you don’t accidentally turn your spinal cord to broccoli, or cook your brain, and so get to live, excessive magic use can cause all kinds of physical, mental, or even spiritual disorders. Presumably most mages would rather that did not happen – although “ceasing to care”, and so being willing to accept the consequences, may allow dying mages, or even fairly normal people, to lay unexpectedly powerful curses or produce “final strike” effects.

  • A well-trained magician has a clear mind, focused concentration, a detailed understanding of the spell he or she wants to use, fine control of the necessary energies, plenty of practice, whatever tools (if any) are necessary, access to sufficient magical power, and possibly supplementary stabilizing effects. They will use the gestures, signs, and symbols that help channel their magic safely.

That’s the equivalent of a well-trained chemist using a carefully planned procedure, correctly maintained equipment, a modern laboratory with fans, vents, and electrical power, sufficient pure chemicals, a fume hood, tongs, a hazmat suit, assistants and emergency equipment handy, and having antidotes at the ready.

In either case, as long as proper precautions are taken and the operator doesn’t make any major errors, their exposure should be small enough that the body, mind, or spirits various stabilizing and defensive mechanisms should be able to handle it.

To extend the analogy… just as with chemistry, some types of magic are more toxic, dangerous, or difficult to work with than others, working with waldos is much safer than handling stuff yourself, and farming out as much as possible of the work to other entity entirely (preferably at an “industrial facility”) is the safest of all.

With that in mind, lets take a look at some sample magical fields.

  • Alchemy is a sub-branch of Vancian or Talismanic Magic that puts some of the danger and tension back in by throwing in the hazards of actual chemistry and adds extra restraints by requiring costly ingredients. Many fictional wizards are alchemist-ritualists, because – while it means that they can do all kinds of things and can provide magical equipment – their powers are slow and call for all sorts of exotic ingredients that their assistants have to go on fetch-quests to get for them.
    • And no, Fullmetal Alchemist style “alchemy” doesn’t really have anything to do with “alchemy” as such. It’s actually a branch of Transformation Magic, with “Equivalent Exchange” – and burning human souls for fuel – thrown in as limiting factors and fridge horror.
  • Beast Mastery? A common and easy branch of hedge magic, if often handy. Influencing and communicating with animals is probably safe enough, borrowing some of their abilities is getting a bit risky – although far less so if you stick to real creatures with nonmagical abilities which can be imitated without bizarre magical changes to your mind and spirit – but when you get to actually transforming yourself or others… that can go very, VERY, wrong all too easily. Ask any lycanthrope who’s gotten stuck, or been overwhelmed by animal instincts.
  • Black Magic? Perhaps black magic calls on powerful demons – and so tends to be inherently destructive and corrupting of the user. Thus Lina Inverse may use it regularly – and be incredibly powerful and destructive – but she’ll probably be more than a little crazy.
  • C’hi “Magic” – channeling your own personal energies – doesn’t usually have very exotic side effects. Unfortunately, it requires great talent and enormous amounts of both physical and mental training to reach high levels of effect – and is VERY prone to relatively mundane side effects like exhaustion, training injuries, overstrain, attracting rivals, and injuring yourself with your own powers. It’s also usually limited to extensions of the user’s natural abilities. Still, on the upside, that makes it a very intuitive form of magic to use. You won’t find yourself entangled in weird occult mysteries when Samurai Jack teaches you to “Jump Good”.
  • Chaos Magic (also often seen as “Art becomes Reality”) seems likely to be particularly problematic; it’s not inherently “black” or “evil” – but it’s obviously going to be nigh-impossible to fully control and thus likely to have all kinds of effects on it’s user – and fatal ones are all too possible. Of course, that means that there may be lots of untapped chaos available to anyone who does use it, making it very powerful. Personally, I’d stay away from chaos magic unless I was basically immortal, not too dependent on a physical brain to think properly, and capable of recovering very quickly from almost anything (like Discord or “Q“). I’d probably still go mad very quickly if I used chaos magic – but at least it would be a fun ride!
  • Conjuration Magic comes in three drastically different flavors – Creation, Manifestation, and Summoning. Simply creating things Ex Nihlo is one of the primal powers. It’s what defines a “creation myth” – and while it generally seems to be much easier with magic than it is with physics, most settings presume that their characters are seriously restricted in scale, in type, and in complexity, in their ability to simply create things. Even worse… creating even tiny traces of random stuff inside yourself is a REALLY bad idea. There are far more ways to create unstable matter, radioactive atoms, unbalanced charges, strangelets, radiation, toxins, and other troublesome things inside yourself than there are to create things that your body can handle. When you have even a little bit of randomized creation magic manifesting in your body the results are almost guaranteed to be very bad.
    • Manifestation – basically whipping up temporary constructs – is far easier and safer; by it’s very nature it’s unlikely to create anything very long-term inside you (not that short-term can’t be bad enough). Constructs, of course, tend to be limited in complexity, are often obvious, and generally don’t last very long – although they can still be very useful.
    • Summoning, of course, actually has little to do with “creating things” and more to do with transportation and, at least in the ever-popular “summon a creature or creatures to assist me” form, either divination or compulsion – but it’s still a very potent form of magic, and one that’s less likely than most to cause serious internal problems. On the other hand… you can all too easily summon the wrong thing entirely, lose control even if you get what you want, turn powerful magical beings into enemies, and otherwise unleash disaster. How many stories revolve around conjurers losing control and raising up – like Charles Dexter Ward – that which they cannot put down?
  • Darkness Magic? Well, classically… it’s powerful and available everywhere, but is very hard to sense well enough to control, makes it tremendously easy to deceive yourself, tends to conceal it’s costs and side effects from its own users, and has all sorts of negative and corrupting overtones. Unless you happen to have massive amounts of light magic running through your system to help keep it under control – or are a genius in handling magic – it’s probably best to leave it alone. There’s a reason why so many genocidal madmen like King Sombra or Eclipso use darkness magic.
  • Dimensional Magic covers gates, dimensional overlays, teleportation, many transport spells, and overlaps into summoning. Sadly, most of the really interesting aspects of dimensional magic are pretty high-powered. On the good side, direct errors are usually limited to simple problems with lost or displaced tissue – mere physical injury. On the other hand, meddling with other dimensions offers you access to a full set of major difficulties with lovecraftian horrors, exposure to otherworldly forces, and letting things that should not be into reality.
    • Remember, reality is where you keep all your stuff. Don’t destroy it.
  • Divination? Unless the universe really is full of unmentionable secrets that will drive you mad, even fairly advanced divination is going to be relatively safe. Indirectly however… Too Much Information really is a thing. Knowing what people really think of you, and what’s actually in your food, and so on, seems all too likely to turn you into a bitter hermit. Worse, telling people what’s going to happen to them is quite unpopular; thus the stereotype of crazy prophets issuing dark and dire warnings and the fate of Cassandra.
  • Dream Magic? While this has many safe and subtle applications, once you start hauling things in and out of the realms of dream, or try to give something an independent, enduring, existence… well, dreams are never entirely under your control even if you’re a skillful lucid dreamer. High level dream magic tends to be worrisomely independent. The most dangerous practice of all may be summoning a conceptual entity – whether you call it a Loa, a Nexus, or a Spirit – into your own body. While this can obviously grant you considerable power, turning yourself into the avatar of War, or even April Fools Day, is likely to bring a lot of baggage with it.
  • Elemental Magic? Perhaps elemental magic is reasonably safe through the mid-levels (after all, your bodies are made of the elements, and can presumably handle them fairly effectively), but requires a major special talent and perhaps great physical conditioning. At very high levels… you’ll need very special disciplines, or major innate protections, to use it without going more than a little mad. Say “Hello!” to Avatar the Last Airbender and his fellow characters.
    • If elemental magic is more philosophical about what the “elements” mean and cover, you’re headed more into far more subtle “new age” magic territory. That tends to backlash if used to harm other people – perhaps because everyone has a little elemental magic available simply because they have physical elemental bodies, and they tend to unconsciously resist and cause backlash with their own magic if magically attacked. In d20 this might also be taken as a mechanism underlying “Saving Throws”.
  • Gifts? If your magic is just a few built-in innate or granted talents that’s pretty much the equivalent of having a few special-purpose kits or emergency ampules. They won’t be particularly versatile, or have the kind of power a full laboratory or hospital will – but you’ll have access to some reasonably reliable specific effects. Even better, almost anyone can use this kind of magic – if they have the talent for it. There may or may not be a price, but it’s usually fixed. Are you perhaps a Contractor, from Darker then Black or a Garou from a Werewolf game? Here you go!
  • Harmony or Fusion Magic is basically an “all our powers combined!” thing; a group of mages or magical creatures get together, unite their powers, and unleash some effect that’s far beyond any of them as individuals. In fact, it usually gets lots of extra power from some sort of amplification effect or focusing artifact(s) if the group has the right number of members/appropriate powers/are good friends or in love/whatever. This is not necessarily a GOOD thing. If the Seven Dark Sorcerers of the Ebon Tower unite their powers in hatred, that will probably work too. The real trouble with this form of magic is that it’s very very conditional and more than a bit uncontrollable; if something is just a little out of place (like one person trying to use the six elements of harmony)… Goten and Trunks will fail to fuse to form Gotenks, the elements of harmony will not be able to generate the full-powered Rainbow of Light (and may wind up exiling your target rather than curing them), and Psi-Force’s Psihawk construct will be weak and ineffectual, The massed Care-Bear Stare seems to be fairly reliable, but that was because everyone involved was an incurably huggy care bear. After all… if this sort of thing was entirely reliable, why waste your time doing anything else? Secondarily, this tends to leave everyone (all, of course, will be affected equally) involved seriously drained, exhausted, or unconscious – another reason why it’s normally a last resort. If it doesn’t work, you probably won’t even be able to defend yourself any longer.
  • Healing Magic? Let us say that healing magic tends to correct the problems using it causes, but those same corrections limit how much power you can channel into it since it corrects the unnatural mental states needed to channel massive amounts of magic. Thus healing magic is safe to use, and possibly widespread, but very limited. Depending on just how dangerous other magics are, healing magic could be the ONLY reasonably safe magic about. You want to use high-level healing magic despite those limitations? You’re going to have to train the necessary mental states the hard way – meditating, “purifying” yourself, and very likely filling your mind with duties, obligations, and oaths, and so on – rather than relying on raw magical power to burn the necessary pathway through your mind. Thus only dedicated, and often pacifistic, healers wield truly powerful healing magic.
  • Illusion is a popular branch of magic, partially because it seems unlikely to have any long-term side effects beyond (perhaps), a bit of confusion (a very few really high-powered illusionists may have gotten “lost in their own illusions”, but this is a very rare idea), because it allows amazing exercises of creativity at rather low power levels, and because – while it can be used in many different ways – the actual effects are generally very limited. Even better, your mage-character can display his vast powers, triumph over a major opponent – and then have the situation be completely reversed by some minor side-character announcing “Hey! It’s just an illusion!”. Still… becoming a manipulative a-hole prankster through perfectly normal psychological effects is definitely still on the table – and one opponent with some sort of truesight can effectively put you out of action.
  • Light or Solar Magic? It’s wonderful stuff. Purifying, truth-revealing, demon-banishing, radiant – and wrathful, intolerant, and demanding. The light requires purity, it burns away imperfection, It demands that it’s wielders serve it, and it serves them only insofar as they are worthy. If you wish to wield the great powers of the light… be prepared to sacrifice much of your humanity and to act only when your example is not enough to let those you protect grow and find their own answers. Check out The Dark Is Rising series, or talk to Celestia (and ask why she’s so generally useless).
  • Lovecraftian Magic tells us that there are other planes of existence, and cosmic beings, and strange forces, and elder alien races, and more out there, and that there are ways available to contact and use those things – and that human beings are insignificant primitives with minds so weak that merely catching a glimpse of the universes greater truths will shatter them utterly. They may occasionally use a bit of true power – but they will merely be meddling with things they do not truly understand by rote. Lovecraftian Magic is generally horribly powerful, prone to failure for completely unknown reasons, drives it’s user’s mad, and – since it doesn’t operate in any way that humans can understand – comes in the form of highly specific formula, that have fixed effects and side effects and prices which cannot be modified. Overall the only reasons to meddle with lovecraftian magic are ignorance, if nothing else will work, or if you are crazy to start with.
  • Magical Music is more of a style than a particular type of effect unless it’s limited to “mental programming” – in which case it will be near impossible to use it without exposing yourself and any nearby allies to the same effects. While this type of effect is obviously useful – you can turn enemies into friends, control behavior, induce emotions, and teach skills near-instantly, among many other effects – it has the fairly obvious problem of having to consciously learn and practice effects which are contained in music – which means letting major parts of them into your mind over and over again. Have you been doing a lot of mind control? You’re likely to be a mass of compulsive behaviors. Been spreading friendship, love, and joy? Welcome to cloud-cookoo land! Been spreading fear and panic? Enjoy being a resident of paranoia central! And that is why magical music is generally simply a style of magic use with a preference for the more subtle effects, rather than being used as a type of magic in itself.
  • Nature Magic? Another exceedingly broad field, and another potentially deadly one. Nature isn’t NICE and it tends to break free of control all too readily. Much of what little bit of nature is involved with any given other species wants it dead. Predators, poisons, defense mechanisms… The entire natural world is based on survival. Cooperation is a strategy – but “don’t be eaten” and “get what you need to live” is always at the base. And even a minor change to a few microorganisms can cause some pretty horrible things to happen. It isn’t going to be fun to be you when your intestinal flora starts consuming your guts or some such.
  • Necromancy was originally just “Divination through the Dead” – which meant that you tried to get advice from ghosts, who presumably had at least a good viewpoint, some detachment, and possibly could spot spiritual influences on things or talk to other spirits. Getting advice from a deceased parent in a dream, or messing about with a Ouija board, both fall under “necromancy”, even if the dream is completely inadvertent. These days it often is taken to imply psychopathic behavior, raising horrific undead monsters to menace the world, wielding horrible necrotic energies, and various other antisocial feats. Given that inflicting death, long-term disabilities, and unhealing injuries are all major components of necromantic magics, it’s all too easy to see why using necromantic magic is horribly risky – and why it’s very difficult to near-impossible to treat the side effects when it goes wrong.
    • OK, there are simply too many examples of this to even pick a few… Go ahead, go to TV Tropes and pick a dozen or so of your favorites.
  • Psychic Powers? While these resemble C’hi “Magic” in many ways, and share their same general weakness compared to many other fields of magic, channeling high levels of mind-affecting magic through your mind tends to result in irrationality and madness all too soon. Using telepathy can let other minds affect yours, telekinesis is prone to action-reaction errors and kinetic feedback, and so on. On the upside… most of the resulting mental problems tend to be fairly transient.
  • Ritual Magic is a wonderful toy. It’s powerful, and probably won’t drive you mad since the power is mostly being channeled externally (Hooray for Waldos!) – but that greatly reduces your fine control, making it prone to going wrong, external side effects, and unwanted consequences. Worse, since you’re working indirectly, you have to build up your effects very slowly – carefully checking each elaborate ritual step. Only the wealthy and powerful will have the resources needed to study more than a few simple rituals, the time to perform them, or the ability to gather the components needed for major ritual magic. That’s why, in the world of magic, major rituals are often the equivalent of nuclear weapons and why ritualists are so often nobles, politicians, or mercenary scholars – a magical elite which rules the helpless peasantry while quarreling with each other.
  • Shamanic Magic? Well, if shamanic magic requires taking mind-altering drugs and powerful shamanic magic demands taking massive doses of hallucinogens… then sane and powerful shamans are going to be few and far between and shamanic magic is likely to be considered a dark or forbidden art. That doesn’t make it evil – but no sane society is going to encourage the practice of an art which gives people the ability to warp reality while either making them high or driving them insane or both.
  • Silly Magic is closely related to gift magic, and is usually extremely limited in application and fairly weak – but is almost free of downsides other than having invested the time and effort to learn to use it “effectively” in the first place. Still, if you can just find an application, silly magic can quickly turn into lethal joke magic. “Medusa? Not a problem! With my Hairdressing Powers I shall bind up most of her snakes into a tight bun, and turn the rest into a set of bangs which both partially blinds her and conceals her face! Attack in safety my friends!”. Personally, my favorite form of “Silly Magic” is Hearthcrafting – household magics. Just the thing for when you want to adventure in comfort!
  • Theurgy is one of the names for calling upon spirits to do things for you. At least at low-levels this is safe enough as long as you’ve paid in advance, but the more powerful the spirit the greater the demands – and heaven help you if you have to go into debt. At higher power levels it’s best to build a relationship with a particular spirit or group thereof – allowing them to do most of the power-handling for you while you (unfortunately) are pretty much at their beck and call. Fortunately, truly major spirits tend to have enough people calling on them to rarely need you in particular. It still greatly limits your flexibility though, since the “Krakatoa the Volcanic One” isn’t really likely to grant that wide a variety of powers. On the other hand, since the spirits are doing the work, the user is at little hazard from his or her own powers.
    • In early gaming this tended to be a big thing; clerical types worked for their gods, had to pay attention to their dictates and restraints, and only got magic that fit with their god. For good or ill however… power creep set in, quite a lot of players disliked their being limitations on their magical fantasies, and having the cleric sent on “missions from god” that didn’t fit into anyone else’s story annoyed the other players – so these days mainstream games usually only have cosmetic traces of this sort of thing left.
  • Transformation (or sometimes Lunar) Magic is one of the four primordial powers of the universe – Creation, Preservation, Transformation, and Destruction – which basically cover everything. As such, it is potentially immensely powerful, almost endlessly versatile (at least if you’re at all clever), and incredibly dangerous. Not surprisingly, it’s closely related to Chaos Magic and has very similar problems. When you’re using a force that could do almost anything based on very minor details – the textbook definition of modern “chaos theory” – almost anything could go wrong.
  • Vancian – or TalismanicMagic involves slowly gathering power, binding it into a formula with specific effects stored in words, or talismans, or powders, runes, or whatever (most artificing falls into this category as well), and releasing it when needed. While this is awfully limiting in some ways, it also bypasses most of the usual implied costs; since you’re basically “building” your “spells” very slowly and carefully out of small pieces you are never having to channel enough power to really hurt yourself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t be a loony, but being a Vancian or Talismanic mage probably isn’t going to be the cause.
    • This one is highly favored in games because it means that mages have a limited stockpile of magic that takes time and (interruptible) effort to get back, the size of their stockpile can be easily limited, the specific nature of their formulas limits the variety of effects that can be produced, it makes for an easily tracked fire-and-forget system, and you can increase their power in several ways – increasing the limits of their stockpile, increasing the power of their “spells”, making their magic easier to regain, or increasing their supply of formula. It even forces mages to limit their magic use, and to plan ahead and consider how to get the most mileage out of their limited daily supply. That ties up resource management, a spell-selection minigame, a reason for intelligence gathering and planning, lets magic be more powerful than mundane methods because it can only be used a limited number of times, sets of specific effects that the game master can plan around, and all kinds of other advantages.
      • It also makes playing such a spellcaster extremely complicated and means that the characters power and effectiveness will vary from “nearly useless” to “oh my GOD” depending on player skill – but whether those are features or bugs is open to debate.
  • Wards and Shields – sometimes known as Abjuration Magic – is about the safest available form after healing magic. That doesn’t mean that it can’t go wrong – but the most likely problems are exhaustion, backlash damage from people breaking your defenses, and “protecting” yourself from things you need. This form of magic is always at a disadvantage though, simply because you can damage things in a lot of ways and don’t need a lot of control to do so, while protecting things requires covering a wide range of possibilities and excellent fine control.

So now we have a set of mechanisms for how magic leads to insanity, corruption, or various other disorders – and that means that there are options for treatment.

You have a mild case of magical overload? You’re getting more erratic, or coughing constantly and not feeling well, or are having strange thoughts, or urges to do odd and distasteful things, or are feeling cut off from other people? Cutting back on your use of magic will help. Various sorts of therapy may be enough to let you recover without more drastic intervention. Of course, if you don’t get treatment, your mental and physical condition is likely to get steadily worse Mr Raistlin!

You’ve gotten afflicted with a creeping psychopathic corruption that makes you want to enslave and torture people – and it’s darkness-magic based so that it blinds you to the fact that anything is wrong? That is going to be hard to fix; darkness magic will conceal itself and make the problem hard to target properly, there may not be much of your mind, spirit, and/or body left to work with if it’s gotten too far, and you probably won’t want it fixed at the moment. Even worse… darkness magic makes it all too easy to lie to yourself. Even if someone manages to cure you, the temptation to use more darkness magic to blot out your new load of overwhelming guilt will be hard to resist – and it will only take one little slip to start down the slippery slope again without even knowing it. Even the most compassionate opponents may see the wisdom of eliminating you, rather than taking the risk that whatever is left of you will once again become a blight on the lives of innocent people.

Especially if they – or you, Mr Sombra – have been around the loop before.

You’ve let an out-of-control conceptual entity become dominant over you Princess Luna? Once it gets booted out, you should return to something approaching normal – but in the meantime it has it’s own power and all of yours to play with. Getting it out is not going to be easy. It may even call for a full-scale Deus Ex Machina manifestation of Harmony Magic to do it – and you’d better hope that you have the right number of characters with the right selection of attitudes and abilities to power that harmonic manifestation or it won’t work properly.

Your overuse of necrotic magic is causing your flesh to wither, your eyes to turn yellow and red, and your aging to advance unnaturally? Major healing effects might help some – but the necrotic energy saturating your body is likely to make you highly resistant to that sort of thing. If you aren’t so far gone already that undeath or possessing a new body are the only (partial) solutions you’ll need to quit using your powers and work on purging yourself until healing effects WILL work. And… you knew that already and aren’t really listening, are you Emperor Palpatine? Never mind… I’ll up your painkiller dosage and do try to get SOME sleep won’t you?

You’ve been habitually using Chaos Magic to do EVERYTHING for thousands of years? Why aren’t you dead? Oh… immortal. Not even really needing a body except as a focus. Well… a stabilizing spell may work for a little bit, but I’m afraid that you’d be well past the point of death if you were mortal. Still, perhaps the constantly-renewing Magic of Friendship can keep you marginally sane as long as you have friends.

You’re still likely to be an unreliable, practical-joking, irrational loon though Mr Discord.

Now there are lots of other ways to handle magic in a setting – but I like this one because it starts with basic assumptions that most people will agree with, is simple and logical enough to be easily explained, fits in with a lot of standard literary tropes and ideas about magic, and is flexible enough to offer cover a lot of variations. It’s obviously not perfect – but given the lack of functioning magic in reality we don’t really need perfection in a theory, we just need something that we can build stories and games around.

And I hope that answers the question sufficiently!

Anti-Armor Spellcraft

And for something minor, it’s a question:

I have to ask another question: How exactly does Line of Effect work? The way I read Eclipse, they are all spread effects, but I’m not sure.

Is there an area-spell-version of “Indirect Fire”? Normally when you cast an area spell, it only affects what’s in a direct line from it’s point of origin, which would mean that, for example, you cannot cast a Boundless Acid Splash into a building and expect it to hit anyone (due to a lack of line of effect), even with Indirect Fire. Same goes for something like a Boundless Grease, which couldn’t affect every wall in the building due to the lack of a straight line.

I’d have guessed that “Indirect Fire” means line of sight and line of effect, but I’m not sure about it anymore .-.

-KrakOThunder

Hm. This was posted on a segment about level 10+ spells, but seems to be at least partially about Eclipse’s Metamagic. To start with the Metamagic…

The Extension Metamagical Theorem covers manipulating how spells reach their target. Like all Metamagical Theorems it can be applied in a wide variety of ways. At it’s simplest, this just improves the range – but modifiers like Indirect Fire, Global, and Trans-Dimensional blatantly allow spells to ignore obstacles – although you still need to know where the target is.

Indirect Fire (at +2 levels) obviates the need for line-of-effect to the spells point of origin as long as you know where the target is. The game master may want to require that there be some sort of open route – even if it’s “down the chimney, through the guardroom and into the winch room” or rule that the spell goes through the ethereal plane so ethereal barriers will halt it or something – but few games go into that kind of detail anyway, so if you want to throw a fireball into the space on the other side of that closed door with indirect fire… go right ahead and give it a shot.

  • Making spells with Extension that simply – say – turn a corner on the way to their target would only be about +1 level. They’re mostly only relevant in fairly contrived situations though, even if that goblin shaman with a mirror on a stick and some corner-turning spells can be a nuisance.
  • Making area effect spells where the actual effect or an area spell bypasses obstacles or turn corners isn’t really a job for Extension; it’s a job for Area or Sculpting. (Personally, I rather liked it when spells (and explosives) were a bit more physical – such as when Fireball filled a certain volume, and could fill a network of corridors – but those days are long gone). You might even be able to get away with making a spell that only affected living things – and thus could have an area of effect that passed through nonliving barriers.
  • Making a burst that filled a volume (and thus would go around corners or fill corridors), rather than just stopping at barriers would probably be Area +1 (If the potential backlash problems don’t persuade the game master to make it +0).
  • Making an Emanation that passed through inappropriate targets (like walls and ceilings) rather than stopping at them would probably be Amplify, at +1 level for Detections and other low-energy effects, +2 levels for things like Fireball. That way you could throw it at a wall and kill creatures behind said wall anyway.
  • Making a spell that simply wraps itself around corners and such so that it fills all the available unsealed open space within it’s normal radius/volume/whatever of effect is Sculpting, probably at a mere +1 level (It may be happening during the casting instead of being predetermined, but you can’t exclude areas).

I didn’t include a theorem that would allow you to directly target someone who’s location is unknown (although you could fake it by making a spell selective, barrier penetrating, and with a large enough area of effect to be sure that your target is in it at some horrendous number of added levels) because that is even more boring than scry-and-die tactics. It leads to your heroes and / or your villains suffering sudden, overwhelming, attacks from nowhere.

Leaving the metamagic behind, the level 10+ spells generally (and intentionally) leave a lot open to interpretation. They are, after all, each an astounding act of magic on the part of an incredibly powerful (and presumably unique) spellcaster – and usually are plot devices rather than regularly-cast spells. Still…

  • Most of them don’t really involve questions about their lines of effect; when you steal abilities from a dying foe, crown a king, or cleanse a soul… you generally aren’t trying to do it through a keyhole or around a corner.
  • Others ignore “targeting” by their nature. Spells that lead you to potential customers, or create pocket dimensions, or cause geological upheavals, aren’t really cast at particular targets.
  • Yet more are obviously targeted normally; a 30d6 Frostball that animates those slain by it works a lot like a normal Fireball. It’s just nastier.

There are still a few oddities though.

For example, the twenty-first level spell Boundless Sea Of Flames lets the caster “unleash a vast flood of force from the elemental planes, dealing 3d6 damage per round for five rounds to everything in a small continent-sized area”.

It doesn’t say anything about HOW (although it pretty obviously involves a gate of some sort), so that is more or less up to the caster. Open a vast gate to the elemental plane in the center of the area to be affected and let a tidal wave of elemental power pour out? Some may have time to escape as the wave sweeps over the horizon, some areas may be sheltered by natural barriers, and so on – but you’ll probably get a greater effect in the center. Simply overlay the two dimensions so that everything – including sealed areas – is affected evenly? It will be instant and pretty much inescapable, but far less dramatic. Open thousands of lesser gates across the area? You’ll get a mix of effects – with even more variation depending on which elemental plane you tap into. A mighty flood from a central gate may leave dwellers in flying castles unharmed while making them effectively under deep water with an overlay certainly will not – but the latter would spare cities with planar barriers.

Of course once you’re throwing around spells of level twenty and up, details are usually something to discuss and then get the game master to narrate anyway.

Binding Mysterious Spirits IX, Epic Bokor and Epic Mysteries – The Martyred Hero, The Fallen World, The Formless Horror, and The Big Man.

Channeling Epic Mysteries calls for a slight modification of the basic Bokor package; spend 12 CP to upgrade the “Host of Mysteries / Ridden by the Loa” ability from one-third cost to triple effect and update the line stating that “Each +1 ECL represents a separate Mystery – an individual entity.” to “Each +1 ECL represents a separate Mystery – an individual entity. At epic levels the user may also channel one +2 ECL Epic Mystery (with up to two disadvantages and thus worth 64, 67, or 70 CP) and may channel additional Epic Mysteries by devoting two +1 ECL mysteries slots to each one.

Sadly, no matter how high their level, a Bokor will never have more than 10 +1 ECL Mystery “slots” and one +2 ECL Epic Mystery “slot” – but reaching that limit will take hitting level 55 anyway.

And now you’re done. That’s basically all the spirit channeling there is. While this does mean that an extremely high-level Binder will eventually be able to bind more Vestiges than an equally extremely high-level Bokor can channel Mysteries, Mysteries tend to be improvements on Vestiges and the Bokor package has a flat cost. You don’t NEED to keep taking “Bokor Levels” to expand on your channeling of Mysteries up to that point and you don’t need to take special feats to learn of epic mysteries.

Unfortunately, upon taking a look… the original epic level Vestiges aren’t all that interesting. Not too surprisingly, most of their abilities look a lot like spells such as Iron Body – and allowing an epic-level character to tap into a few very high level spells is not that big a trick. I’ll be using Channeling, since such entities tend to be a massive power source of their very own. Ergo, the basis of the standard Epic Mysteries is going to look something like this:

  • 1 + (5 x Cha Mod) total uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost: Only for Conversion, only to the set of effects that comes with the Mystery, blatantly conspicuous, clearly shows the nature of the Mystery empowering the user (15 CP).
  • Conversion to a set of ninth level spells (33 CP), Corrupted for Increased Effect (each basic spell effect gets an individual enhancement) / these may only be powered by the Channeling Uses belonging to the Mystery, if the user ceases to channel the Mystery, any remaining duration is forfeit, the user is blatantly channeling alien powers from beyond. Any save DC’s will be (23 + Cha Mod). Fortunately, since Conversion at this level is specifically limited to Gods and Epic Level Characters, these Mysteries are pretty much automatically restricted to actual epic level characters.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Epic, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 6 CP).

Depending on what disadvantages, if any, are taken this leaves 10, 13, or 16 CP for individualized abilities. I’m going to make some suggestions here, but epic level Mysteries should probably be a bit customized.


The Martyred Hero (64 CP + 2 x 3 CP Disadvantages = 70 CP: Likely disadvantages for the Martyred Hero include an obsessive hatred of a particular menace and a compulsive desire to protect the defenseless. He, she, or it, is likely to bestow Advanced Presence; not only does their presence bestow immunity to fear, but everyone will recognize the channeler as a noble and honorable hero to be trusted – and to be obeyed in emergencies.

Throughout the ages courageous men and women have faced horrors and impossible odds in the defense of others – and have fallen in that duty. For a time such heroes are hailed, songs are sung, and libations are poured – but time erodes all such recognition, and across the ages all heroes are forgotten.

Channeling The Mystery:

  • Grand Renewal: L9, basically a combination of Heal and Greater Restoration with no XP Cost. The Corruption improvement allows it to affect a 30′ radius.
  • Heavenly Wild Puppet Technique, L6. Upgraded to L9 with being Subdivideable and doubling the duration of the actual effect to (2 x Con + 12) rounds. The Corruption effect doubles the available duration again.
  • Body of Light: (Transmutation, L6): You may infuse yourself with positive energy for one round per level. While so infused you are immune to disease, fatigue, fear, exhaustion, paralysis, poison, sickened, ability damage and drain, energy drain, death spells, magical death effects, and negative energy effects (such as from inflict spells or chill touch), gain a +4Sacred bonus to AC, and may treat any weapon you hold as a Ghost Touch weapon. As upgraded to L9 it can be invoked as an immediate action. The Corruption allows you to extend the effect to up to (Level / 5) allies within 60 feet.
  • Heavenly Radiant Soul (L9) Your inspiring presence grants all your allies within 30 feet a Combat Maneuver (Pathfinder)bonus or a bonus to all bull rush, disarm, grapple, overrun, sunder, and trip checks of (Your Cha Mod x 2). This normally lasts ten minutes per level, but the Corruption extends this to one day.

The Fallen World (64 CP + 2 x 3 CP Disadvantages = 70 CP): Likely disadvantages for The Fallen World include being Blocked against using necromancy-related abilities and occasional troublesome Flashbacks to a particular worlds fall. Likely individualized powers include Mystic Mounts or Animal Companions, a Personalized Imbued Weapon like Eurynome’s Munkattingusupia? The Augmented Bonus trick to add some nature-related skills? Shapeshifting? “Aworld” is a pretty broad theme there.

Worlds end. Entropy, nearby supernova, entropy, all-devouring monsters, negative space wedgies and more all pop up pretty regularly when it comes to the multiverse. Creatures, gods, and races may escape – but planets rarely do.

Channeling the Mystery:

  • Cosmic Unity: You become one with the world about you for ten minutes/level (with Corruption, for twenty-four hours). During this time…
    • You may speak with any living creature. Such creatures become Friendly unless they can make a will save..
    • You gain Darkvision, penetrating both normal and magical darkness, out to your normal visual range.
    • You gain Scent and may Track by Scent as if you had Tracking.
    • You gain Blindsight out to 120 feet.
    • You gain Tremorsense out to 60 feet.
    • You gain access to Commune with Nature as a constant ability.
    • You gain a +4 sacred bonus to Strength, a +6 sacred bonus to Constitution, and a +8 sacred bonus to natural armor.

Is this reasonable for a ninth level spell? Comparing Abyssal Army. Fimbulwinter, Gate, Miracle. Shapechange. And various other spells… I’d say yes.

  • One with the Elements: As per Energy Immunity, but you may select four types of energy to become immune to. The Corruption extends 30-point Resistance to those energy types to everyone you wish to protect with 60 feet.
  • Biosphere II: As per Monstrous Regeneration, but with a 24-hour duration and a regeneration rate of 8/Round. The Corruption allows this benefit to be a “Mass” effect.
  • Nature’s Fury: You may strike down aberrations, constructs, oozes, and undead. Your spells, powers, and abilities get a +4 bonus to their DCs against such targets. You ignore such creatures immunities to sneak attacks, critical hits, and precision damage and you automatically confirm critical threats against them. Finally, you get a +4 bonus to your AC and saves against such creatures attacks. The Corruption allows this benefit to be a “Mass” effect.

The Formless Horror (64 CP + 2 x 3 CP Disadvantages = 70 CP): Likely disadvantages for The Formless Horror include Accursed (repelled by daylight or various weird symbols or materials), Blocked (powers granted by entities of the (normal) outer planes), Hunted (monster hunters), Outcast (kind of pro forma for horrors from beyond), and Unluck. Likely individualized powers include Luck for Saving Throws, Awareness, Berserker, Cloaking, summoning lesser minions, and Costly.

It is hinted at in a thousand tomes, and lurks behind words like gelid, abhorrent, squamous, aberrant, cadaverous, degenerate, effervescent, faceless, fecund, cyclopean, gibbering, glutinous, tentacled, ichorous, iridescent, leprous, liquefied, lumbering, antediluvian, malignant, bilious, membranous, mesmerizing, mortifying, moldering, mutilated, nameless, octopoid, pallid, palpitating, parasitic, phlegmatic, poisonous, perambulating, protoplasmic, protuberant, pulsating, putrid, remorseless, repellent, slithering, spectral, stagnant, tenebrous, turbid, unspeakable, unnatural, vaporous, vile, wailing, wretched, gibbous, detestable, and zymotic – but oddly enough, despite these hordes of descriptive terms, no one is ever sure what it looks like.

Never mind. It’s coming to get you and it’s DISGUSTING.

Channeling the Mystery:

  • (Adjective from above) Alien Form: As per Shapechange, but limited to aberrations, constructs, oozes, and undead. In exchange, however, you may project an Aura of Madness at will; this affects a 30′ radius. Enemies within this aura are affected by Confusion for one round per five levels you possess unless they make a Will save. A creature that makes its saving throw cannot be affected by your Aura of Madness again for 24 hours. This is a mind-affecting ability. The Corruption extends the duration to 24 hours.
  • Wings of Madness: You may flow through alien angles and dimensions, effectively gaining a flight speed of 150 feet with perfect maneuverability, the effects of Greater Blink, and three flight-related Feats of your choice for ten minutes per level. The Corruption extends this to a full day.
  • Abhorrent Tongues of the Great Priest: A 120-foot-cone mental blast. Anyone touched by the psychic tongues must succeed on a Will save or be stunned for 12 rounds. If the user cares to ask, he or she may also find out what the victims sanity tastes like. Thanks to the strain of channeling the alien mentality, you must wait five rounds between uses of this ability.
  • Sphere of Ultimate Destruction. The corruption provides the +4 spell levels needed to eliminate the Saving Throw. No more than three such spheres may be called forth at any one time.

The Big Man (64 CP + 2 x 3 CP Disadvantages = 70 CP): Likely disadvantages for The Big Man include Irreverent, Obligations (picking up dependents), and Compulsive (must always test other authority figures). Likely individualized powers include Augmented Bonus to get more skills (Survival, a Martial Art, and knowledge of nature), Presence (attracts women and children), Damage Reduction, Executive, upgraded Witchcraft, and Resist.

Long, LONG, ago, when beasts spoke and men wandered in bands, what the Big Man said was what was done – but when danger threatened it was the Big Man who stood between the lesser folk of the band and the menace. Today’s shoddy imitation “Big Men” mostly lead gangs and mobs and other impromptu groups from the rear – and the savage purity of the old way is long forgotten. Yet still the Big Man lurks, a specter of lost ages ready to be called forth.

  • The Noble Savage: You gain a +6 Enhancement Bonus to each of your six basic attributes (3 x L4 Attribute Enhancement from The Practical Enchanter), +8 to Natural Armor (L4 Stone Ox from The Practical Enchanter), a +5 Competence Bonus to Fortitude Saves (L4 Sidestep, from The Practical Enchanter, L4), a BAB equal to your level and +1 HP per level (L4 Divine Power), and proficiency with all Armor, Shields, and Weapons (Grand Master’s Touch, L4 variant of Master’s Touch at L1). All of these effects last for one round per level. The Corruption doubles this, and allows the time to be subdivided, with the effect starting as an immediate action and stopping at any time – although once stopped it cannot be started again for three rounds.

Should a ninth level spell be able to duplicate the effects of seven related, but not identical, fourth level spells? Lerandor’s Rule, of course, says yes. For another approach, “Mass” – effectively generating one subspell per level of the caster – is plus three or four levels (published spells are not entirely consistent on the level change), and a Greater Invocation (ability enhancement spells) would be about +2 levels – so a spell that generated up to (Level) fourth level ability enhancing spells of choice would be level nine – although it would be one per target. Is doing seven on yourself instead reasonable? Well… once again, Shapechange. Secondarily… if you want to be combative, you probably have most of those bonuses or better already at epic levels, which makes this far less effective than it might be.

  • Master of Spirits: Greater Invocation of Force. Creates any Force Effect of up to Level Seven. The Corruption makes all such effects Quickened and component-free.
  • Guardian Totem: Mass Heal, the Corruption allows it to be invoked as an Immediate Action – but only to counter the effects of a particular attack, spell, or ability with “special effects” up to the user. The user might thus block a tremendous blast of toxic flames with a wall of water (or with various “other” countereffects), negating up to (10 x Level, 250 Maximum) points of damage and the save versus poison it would normally inflict.
  • Master of the Mysteries: Surprising Mastery Spell Template (The Practical Enchanter); Bestows Very Complex Mental Feats (L4 Base), x4 Feats (the Amplify Metamagical Theorem and Two levels of Streamline, Specialized for Double Effect/boosts can only be applied to the seven first level effects in the Initiate of the Mysteries package, +2 Spell Levels), duration of one day (+3 Spell Levels). The Corruption allows the Big Man to share one-half the (current) benefits of his Initiate of the Mysteries package with up to (Level) companions within thirty feet.

The “Standard” Epic Mysteries are kind of hard to go wrong with. After all, each of them has a set of 13’th to 14’th level equivalent spells and enough power to spam them. Admittedly, they generally aren’t the most versatile possible spells (although some of them are close) – but that’s still a ridiculous level of power.

Of course, that fits epic levels well enough. They’re all about going absurdly over the top.

Eclipse d20 – Binding Mysterious Spirits VI. Apophis, Barbatos, Ruh Göbekli-Tepe, Haures, Ipos, Shax, The Triads, The Heartless Shadow, Mucha Lucha – and why not Zceryll.

As usual, all of these Mysteries build on the powers of the basic Bokor Package – although that is cheap enough that it’s normally well worthwhile.

Apophis (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Outcast. Sensitive individuals can sense the aura of destruction that Apophis radiates, and will want nothing to do with his host).

Chupoclops was a predatory eater of ghosts from the Forgotten Realms setting and has no real history from elsewhere. As an apocalyptic beast it was supposed to bring about the end of all things by devouring hope. With it slain, there is no longer a destined end of the world . Still, that’s not exactly an unprecedented role for a monstrous mythic figure. So let us go classical and create one of the earliest apocalyptic beasts we know of.

Apophis the Chaos-Bringer, the Oblivion of Souls, Destroyer of Ma’at, that which was Before Creation and Will Be After, rises again and again against the Gods. Each coming of the dawn proclaims their victory, that Apophis has once more been slain and cast beyond, preserving the cosmos for another day. Yet there can be no final victory. Apophis, like a thousand-headed hydra, rises ever again from the spaces which are not, the void beyond existence, to assail once more the structure of creation. Whether calling upon Apophis grants the Chaos-Bringer an opening to attack or diverts some portion of the power that would otherwise be hurled against the world cannot be said.

Yet Apophis answers those who call for the Oblivion of Souls upon the hidden ways – and for the wise perhaps that is answer enough.

  • Presence of the Destroyer/Doom, Corrupted/affects everyone else within ten feet rather than merely his enemies when activated – perhaps because Apophis has no true allies within creation (4 CP).
  • The Devourer of Ghosts: Immunity/Dimensional Barriers (Very Common, Severe, Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only the barrier between the Ethereal and Material, must return to the material plane after taking an active move, standard, or full-round action other than waiting and watching). This allows the user to become Ethereal as a Move Action up to once every five rounds, to see into the Ethereal Plane (or from there into the material plane) as a constant effect, and to attack or cast spells / manifest psionic abilities in both planes at once as desired (5 CP). Sadly, this also allows the user to be attacked by ethereal creatures and affected by their spells and manifested powers regardless of which plane he or she currently occupies.

Why is this only a “Major” immunity? It’s because the dimensional barriers in basic d20 worlds aren’t very hard to penetrate. Various creatures do it routinely. The Blink spell does it over and over again at level three, Astral Caravan takes entire groups into the astral plane at level three, Plane Shift jumps entire groups across multiple dimensional barriers of choice AND teleports them at level five – and even if it has targeting problems, it can be used offensively. D20’s dimensional barriers are more akin to paper screens than walls.

  • Martial Arts/1d4 Natural Weapons (Claws and Bite), is always considered armed (3 CP). Note that – if you are larger or smaller than Medium size – this scales appropriately. If you have claws and/or a bit anyway, just add +2 damage to their effects.

Nothing prevents humans from going for the basic mammalian claw-claw-bite attack routine save for their teeth and claws (fingernails) being generally ineffectual. Those channeling Apophis will find that the power of the Destroyer makes their natural weapons effective – if still not all that impressive.

  • Occult Sense/Detect Souls. Specialized for Increased Effect/20 foot maximum range. You detect living creatures within 20 feet as if you possessed Blindsense and can automatically determine their Type, Subtype, and level of vitality (Number of hit points. The character doesn’t actually get a number; he or she can simply see how “bright” a soul is. The Player gets a number, since that’s the only way to meaningfully rate that “brightness” without wasting time constructing and consulting a scale) (6 CP).
  • Opportunist/You can make a full attack (including the natural attacks for free appendages) at the end of a charge (6 CP).
  • Embodiment of Oblivion: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Phantom Charge/Shadowweave. None can know from where Apophis will strike, or which of his thousand feints is true. Those channeling Apophis may spend one power as a part of a charge or attack action to generate a Mirror Image effect.
    • Entropic Cascade/Witchfire: Apophis’s touch can inflict terrible wounds on any creature of the cosmos. His channelers may spend two Power and a Swift Action to add “+2″ worth of weapon enhancements of choice to their natural weapons for one minute per level. This need not include an enhancement bonus and does not stack with itself, but it does stack with dissimilar weapon enchantments.
    • Draught of Life/Hyloka: Apophis drinks the life of the cosmos. When one of his channelers hits an opponent with an unarmed attack or a natural weapon he or she may spend 2 Power as a Swift Action to add a Vampiric Touch effect (albeit at only 1d6/2 levels, 10d6 max) to the attack as a supernatural effect
    • Shattering Strike/Infliction: The mere presence of Apophis weakens unliving material, causing flaws and cracks to spread through it. When one of his Channelers strikes an unliving target he or she may spend a swift action to amplify this effect – inflicting an extra five points of damage per level to a maximum of 15/25/35/50 damage for 1/2/3/4 Power or affecting all unliving materials other than what he or she is carrying in a five foot radius of the point struck for an additional +3 Power. If used against a force construct this counts as a Disintegrate effect, and can allow the user to continue straight through such a barrier.
  • .+3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Embodiment of Oblivion powers listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +7 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Embodiment of Oblivion Powers, above (5 CP).

Apophis won’t make you a great warrior if you don’t bring some other abilities along those lines to the table – but the Destroyer of Ma’at can certainly give you a pretty good boost. If your Bokor is going in for melee combat, there’s a pretty good chance that Apophis will be in the his or her lineup of Mysteries. Apophis also illustrates something very important about Eclipse; with the “good” abilities no longer at the ends of chains of Feats, martial characters can afford to buy a selection of them as well as various quasi-magical powers. They may have a slightly harder time becoming super-powered specialists like the Ubercharger, but they can easily pick up a great deal of versatility. How many melee builds would find it useful to be able to generate mirror images, steal hit points, operate while blind, and tailor their weapons enhancements to individual enemies on the fly?

Barbatos (Bonus Mystery) (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Uncivilized. Those channeling Barbatos will find it nigh-impossible to deal with complex social situations, banking schemes, and similar complexities, suffering a -4 penalty on any such attempts).

According to the Ars Goetia Barbatos is a spirit of the woods, similar to Robin of the Woods, the Green Man or Knight, and other trickster spirits. His unique attribute amongst the array of (very similar) powers most of the spirits of the Ars Goetia grant is the understanding of beasts – so that’s what I’m going with.

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Obligations. Those channeling Ruh Göbekli-Tepe may never abandon a city under attack save to cover the evacuation of it’s citizenry if the defense fails and must do what he or she can to aid a city in distress).

All I can make out of “Desharis” is “Country Patron”, and even that is a bit of a stretch based on “Desh” being Hindi for “country” or “land” – leaving “Aris” to Google to translate as a patrician, noble, or magnate. While that fits in well enough with the basic idea, I would prefer a less-fictional name – perhaps Ruh Göbekli-Tepe; the Spirit of Göbekli Tepe (a religious center founded about 9100 BC). Of course, Çatalhöyük was founded about 7500 BC and showed many (but not all) of the characteristics usually associated with cities. Jericho had fortified walls in 6800 BC, but seems to have been abandoned several time. The title of oldest continuously-inhabited city is contested – although Athens, Argos, and Byblos / Jubayl can all make fairly good claims on being the “oldest permanently inhabited city on Earth” since they’ve all been inhabited for at least seven thousand years.

…All of which, I suppose, is interesting but none too relevant.

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe is the spirit of the agricultural revolution, the urban dream – of food in plenty, of the safety of a gathered tribe in a strong place, of the strange tongues of visiting traders, of cyclopean walls, of the tales that brought structure to the world, and of the marketplace full of the exotic wonders that skilled craftsman create and visitors from afar bring. Today, when cities and towns crowd the earth, the wonder of approaching one in the dawn of the world has faded to a forgotten whisper – but while thinned, and scattered, and no longer a thing of wonder… the Spirit of the City lives still, it’s power a foundation of the modern world – even if, like all foundations, it is rarely actually seen.

  • The Urban Dream / Access to two Occult Skills – Dream Binding and Stealing the Scene (6 CP).
  • Lore of the Elder World: Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on the three Adept skills, must be evenly split between them. This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod x 5) skill points in Dream Binding, (Cha Mod x 4) + (Con Mod) skill points in Stealing the Scene, and (Cha Mod x 4) in Linguistics (6 CP).
    • Dream Binding – “the Wonders of the Markets” – means that Desharis “comes” with (Cha Mod x Cha Mod) x 2500 GP worth of equipment, although no single item may be worth more than one-third of that total. This can be very important indeed at lower levels – or if you happen to not have access to your usual sources of equipment.
    • “The Ancient Tales” cover Stealing the Scene. It’s Shticks, and the Languages spoken for Linguistics, may be chosen anew each time that Desharis is summoned. (In general, unless you unexpectedly encounter some really weird creature with an unknown language as a plot device – in which case you can speak it tomorrow – this should be more than enough languages to speak anything you’re at all likely to run across in any given region save for a dimensional crossroads).
  • Spirit of the City / Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Pulse of the City / The Inner Eye: You may sense the currents and pulse of the city, moving with it’s flow and easily navigating it’s currents. Crowds do not hinder your movement and you gain a +6 bonus on Diplomacy, Gather Information and Knowledge (local) checks which counts as being skilled – but only within settlements. This is a constant effect, with no cost.
    • Breath of the City / Hand of Shadows: You may Animate Objects as per a caster of equal level at the cost of a Standard Action and 2 Power.
    • Sword of the City / Infliction (Limited target set for more power). Once every five rounds you may add a triple-damage Infliction effect to a successful melee attack against an animal, elemental, fey, or plant creature.
    • Hands of the City: You may use a Standard Action and up to one Power per level to accomplish the equivalent of 25 GP worth of work per point of Power so expended. Basic materials for such work (clay, mortar, stone, timber, fiber, etc) – are automatically drawn from the environment, but metals, gems, and other special materials must be provided normally. Similarly, basic tools are not required, but the effects of superior tools can be added in. Any required rolls are made with a +6 bonus and count as being skilled. If repairing a Construct, each Power repairs 3d6 + Level (15 maximum) damage.
      • Install door and suitable framing, with bar, to fit 10 x 10 area: Wooden (Hardness 5, 10 HP) 10 GP, Reinforced Wooden (Hardness 5, 20 HP) 40 GP, Iron (Hardness 10, 60 HP) 500 GP.
      • Build 10 x 10 Wall: Masonry (2′ thick, hardness 8, 180 HP, Break DC 25) 250 GP, Packed Earth (3′ Thick, Hardness 2, 30 HP, Break DC 19) 10 GP, Wood (1′ Thick, Hardness 5, 120 HP, Break DC 26) 100 GP.
      • Dig out 10 x 10 x 10 cube of: Earth 5 GP, Clay/Rocky Soil 15 GP, Stone 50 GP. Yes, you can put holes under creatures, but it’s only a DC 16 Reflex save to avoid falling in. Just as bad, going more than fifty or sixty feet down in earth tends to lead to the walls collapsing before anything can fall that far, leaving any possible victims landing on a pile of soft earth about sixty feet down for 3d6 damage.
      • Build a Well (5 x 5, 100 feet deep) 200 GP. It comes with rope, winch, and bucket. While fitted stones hold the well open, trying to open one under someone allows them a DC 11 reflex save to jump away in time – which is unlikely to catch anything of the least importance.
      • Build a Trail 1 GP/100 Feet. This means clearing out the trees and brush, and enough leveling to let a small wagon get dragged through.
      • Build a Road: 1 GP/30 feet, x5 for difficult terrain. x2 for Gravel, x3 for Cobblestones, x5 for a solid base and mortared stones.
      • Build a Bridge: 5′ x 5′ section: Rope-and-Board 2 GP, Wood 10 GP, Stone 25 GP, Iron 150 GP.
  • All Cities One City: Ashen Rebirth with Teleportation, Specialized and Corrupted: only usable once every five minutes, must be passing through a door, walking down an alleyway, or otherwise be engaged in a scene transition, must emerge from a similar door/alley/arch/whatever, and must be able to trace an open path between the entrance and exit points. This costs 2 Power for any jump within a city or 7 Power to jump to another city within 100 miles per level (4 CP).
  • +3d9 Mana as 9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use with the five city-related powers above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +10 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to restore Power, only to restore the City Powers Pool, above (7 CP).

Ruh Göbekli-Tepe brings treasure, craftsmanship, and communications, as well as a powerful affinity for cities and the ability to move between them. He’s still somewhat specialized, and offers no general-purpose combat powers – but he’s got some extremely useful practical powers to offer a Channeler and if you happen to be in a jail or something he’s ideal.

Haures (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Accursed. Anyone channeling Haures suffers a -2 penalty on saves versus Illusion effects and will often provoke doubts about their sanity by talking to, and taking advice from, an imaginary friend).

According to the grimoires, Haures (also Flauros, Flavros, Hauras, Havres) gives true answers of many things past, present and future, but must compelled to do so, otherwise he will deceive the conjurer and beguile him. He can also destroy all the conjurer’s enemies with his infernal flame. If the magician requests it, he will not suffer temptations from any spirit or in any form and can be avenged upon demons.

Yes, we’re back to the Ars Goetia.

Now according to Wizards of the Coast, Haures grants a continuous Mind Blank effect (probably derived from the “protection against temptations” bit). While this is useful, it is also very boring – and shuts down many communications spells, status checks, divinations that gave bonuses to healing you, and so on. Secondarily, Pathfinder severely nerfed Mind Blank; it still protects against Divination, but now merely provides a +8 resistance bonus against Mind-Affecting stuff – which, since most characters of high enough level to be using Mind Blank in the first place will already have good Resistance bonuses, makes it virtually useless on that front. He lets you ignore the effects of difficult terrain (a pretty minor effect), move through enemy-occupied spaces (like Tumble or Acrobatics in Pathfinder), and gives Attacks of Opportunity against you while you’re moving a 50% miss chance (also like Tumble or Acrobatics, but less effective). He lets you create Major Images and wield Phantasmal Killers.

  • Immunity to Divination (Uncommon, Minor, Epic, Corrupted; This cannot be turned off. You are thus immune to many communications spells, attempts to determine your status, divinatons that give bonuses to Heal checks, and similar (8 CP).
  • Witchcraft III (6 CP). This is being purchased without limitations, to allow the full range of subtle and immediate uses without having to bother with a Bokor’s “spellcasting”.
    • The Adamant Will: In many ways this basic Witchcraft power is a better deal on the Mental Protection front than Mind Blank; while it does have a small cost, you only activate it when needed (and thus helpful effects are unhindered) and it allows you to falsify the results of various divinations, instead of just returning “no reading”.
    • Shadowweave with the Advanced Upgrade (+6 CP). This allows the user to generate Illusion effects of up to level three at a cost of 1/2/4 Power for effects of levels 1/2/3 – including Major Image, Invisibility Sphere, Mirror Image, Hypnotic Pattern, Color Spray, Disguise Self, and a wide variety of other tricks. Given that the Eclipse version of the Binder already gets some minor illusion-casting, this is a simple upgrade.
    • Pyroclastic Gaze: Glamour, Specialized and Corrupted/The user may spend 2 power and a Standard Action to unleash a Phantasmal Killer effect (Save DC 16 + Cha Mod), but has no other options.
    • Phantom Stride: The Hand of Shadows, Specialized and Corrupted/only to enhance your movement with three specific effects: Surefoot (Spell Compendium, level one), Surefooted Stride (Spell Compendium, level one), and allowing you to ignore speed reductions due to carrying a medium or heavy load or wearing medium or heavy armor. This effect lasts for one hour per user level at a cost of three power and an immediate action.
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on Tumble (Acrobatics in Pathfinder), Use Magic Device, and Bluff and must be evenly split between them (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only to restore Power (9 CP).

Haures is a fairly solid choice, if only for the illusion-casting – which can be a very effective suite of abilities in the hands of a clever player, even if it is limited to fairly low-level effects. The immunity to Divination has its uses as well – but really, how often is a personal immunity going to protect you against attacks targeting the party? And how often are your enemies going to be relying on using Divination to attack you? That’s only at its best when you want to do some sneaking about.

Ipos (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Insane. Ipos knows no fear – and so the game master may ask for a DC 18 check if someone channeling Ipos wants to act with stealth and caution).

Ipos is another visitor from the Ars Geotia, but is also another rather generic entry even there. He reveals secrets, he grants valor and wit, and he has leonine attributes – and that’s about it. He’s so bland that he doesn’t even turn up in popular culture much. According to Wizards of the Coast, he grants 1d6 cold iron claws, flashes of True Sight, boosts the DC of saves against the powers of the Mysteries you host by one and gives you a +1 level boost on your usage of them, lets you resist the deleterious effects of various planes, and lets you make a Rend attack.

Evidently Wizards of the Coast couldn’t find anything really interesting to say about Ipos either. Worse, the basic Bokor build already includes a better way to get True Seeing – and the standard Binder build already grants immunity to fear one level after Ipos becomes available, so either way at least one of those powers is quite useless.

  • Double (Claw) Damage, when you hit with both claw attacks, Corrupted/requires an additional successful attack check, albeit one made at your full BAB (4 CP).
  • +2 Charisma, only for increasing the DC of saves against your abilities (6 CP in a Template).
  • +1d4 Hit Die, Specialized/only for increasing the usage level of your hit die/level-based abilities (2 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (6 CP, 5000 GP net value):
    • Avoid Planar Effects (Level One Single-Target Variant, Personal Only, 1400 GP).
    • Remove Fear (Personal-Only, 1400 GP). Anyone hosting Ipos cannot be affected by Fear.
    • Surefoot (2000 GP): Gain a +10 competence bonus on Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble. You do not lose your Dexterity bonus to AC when balancing or climbing.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Leonine Form: Shapeshift, Attribute Modifiers (Replaces the user’s physical racial modifiers, if any, with Str +6, Dex +8, and Con +4, +10 Move, +1 Natural Armor, +8 to Balance and Climb, Low-Light Vision, Scent, and 1d3 Claws), Hybrid Form, Clear Speech, Variants (Near-Human Appearance). Specialized: Mountain Lion Form Only, Corrupted: Cannot actually Change Forms (27 CP base, net cost 9 CP).

This is classic shapeshift cheese; you summon Ipos, you become a lion-man, and you pick up some major physical boosts. Of course Ipos is a L6 Vestige. At Spell Level Five (Druid) we have Bite of the Weretiger – granting enhancement bonus of +12 to Str, +4 to Dex, +6 to Con, +5 Natural Armor, a Claw/Claw at full BAB (1d8+Str) and Bite (at -5 BAB, 2d6 + 1/2 Str) attack routine 1d8 , Blind-Fight and Power Attack. Ergo this bit of cheese is perfectly in line with other bit-of-cheese spells – at least if you don’t mind being a petting zoo person and your armor won’t cramp your tail.

  • Imbuement (Unarmed/Natural Weapons): Counts as Cold Iron at Level 4+, plus Adamantine at Level 11+, and Silver at Level 18+. Corrupted/only for giving your natural weapons the qualities of various materials (4 CP).

Ipos is another strong candidate for inclusion in a melee build, at least if your Bokor isn’t of a race with massive physical advantages already. There are much more interesting sets of abilities out there – but a set of nice, dependable, attribute, speed, and skill boosts is pretty much always useful to any combatant. They don’t require actions, or special gear to take advantage of, or any other trick. They just quietly provide statistical benefits all day. The fact that they’re available on the cheap, while being far less useful to full spellcasters, is another little boost for the martial types of course.

Shax (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage /Untrustworthy. Anyone channeling Shax might as well be wearing a sign saying “I am a Dark Wizard! Beware! Beware!”).

According to the Ars Goetia Shax “takes away a persons the sight, hearing and understanding at the conjurer’s request, steals whatever the conjurer asks and brings it to him or her, can discover hidden things if not thwarted by evil spirits, and sometimes gives good familiars, but sometimes grants familiars that deceive the conjurer. He should not be bothered too often. Shax is thought to be faithful and obedient, but is a great liar and will deceive the conjurer unless obliged to enter a magic triangle drawn on the floor. He will then speak marvelously and tell the truth. He knows when lies are told and uses these to teach lessons.” He takes the form of a swan.

Wizards of the Coast turned Shax into an possibly evil goddess of storm giants and had her grant limited Freedom of Movement, Immunity to Electricity, an extra 2d6 damage in melee (if you hit, and it takes up your swift action to prime it), and a swim speed. This makes very little sense and, quite frankly, is almost worthless to a PC. One round in five of Freedom of Movement is only useful as a way to activate another countermeasure or get out of an entangle or some such, and something as cheap as a Third Eye Freedom (2600 GP) can give you that. +2d6 damage to a single target but only on a successful attack, wasted if you miss, and requiring a swift action is trivial, and there are lots of (cheap) ways to get a swim speed if you need it. OK, Immunity to Electricity is nice – but Energy Immunity is only level six and lasts for twenty-four hours. Immunity to Electricity (Only) – call it “Faraday Cage” – would probably only be level five.

No, I have no idea of why Wizards of the Coast went to the effort to invent a history and then give their new Vestige no worthwhile abilities. Even basing their vestige on Shakespeare (“Shax” seems to be a nickname for him) would have been SOMETHING. Even worse, in the Eclipse version, Focalor – a level three Mystery – grants Resistance to Electricity, stronger (and ranged) attacks, a swim speed, water breathing, and lets you move and attack normally underwater – as a level three Mystery. This makes Shax even more useless.

That will never do.

  • Winds of Creation: Companion (Hawk Familiar) with the Spirit Fetch Template (12 CP). Shax may be a Mystery, but he – unlike so many others – can be both bound and free to transverse the Multiverse at the same time, serving his channeler as both a source of power and as a Spirit Fetch.
  • Dark Sorcery: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Hyloka/Daemonic Resilience. The channeler may spend 2 Power to negate a Confused, Dazed, Fascinated, or Stunned condition as it would take effect. This does not count as an action.
    • Dreamfaring/Between the Realms. The channeler may spend 3 Power and a Swift Action to infuse his or her physical form with the energies of the astral realm, making movement more of an act of will than a physical thing – creating a personal Freedom of Movement effect.
    • Elfshot/Accursed Gaze. The channeler may spend 7 Power and a Standard Action to generate a Feeblemind (Save DC 17 + Cha Mod) effect.
    • Hand of Shadows/Hand of Shax. The user may spend 2 Power and an Standard Action to attempt to steal an item weighing up to eighty pounds from any target within 60′. If the target fails to save (Will DC 17 + Cha Mod) the item (armor, weapon, ring, pants, or whatever) appears in the user’s hands. The user must have a free hand to use this effect.
  • Dark Sorcery II: Advanced Witchcraft, Specialized and Corrupted as per the basic Bokor Witchcraft Package. Grounding, Flesh Like Mist and Weathermonger (6 CP).
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Dark Sorcery abilities listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +7 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Dark Sorcery Powers above (5 CP).

Shax brings flexibility. His dark sorcery is not enormously powerful, but it offers a wide variety of exotic options and he provides enough power to use it freely. He’s not particularly strong on direct damage, but either his Accursed Gaze or Hand of Shax gives him a fair chance at pretty much incapacitating most opponents. A Feebleminded Spellcaster or Disarmed Martial Character is in deep trouble.

The Triad (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage/Compulsive. Those channeling the Triad find themselves unable to put up with pretty much any mortal government; they are all fatally flawed, need to be overthrown, and should not be offered respect. Channelers will support revolutionaries without much thought and will be pointlessly rude to governmental authority figures).

According to Wizards of the Coast, The Triad is a fusion of three fallen gods from a mighty psionic civilization that fell to shadowy side effects of their own infrastructure. Apparently no one in the mighty psionic civilization was any good at precognition, or dimensional awareness, or sensing subtle psychic intrusions, or boosting their knowledge skills past their presumably high base in knowledge/the planes and psionic lore, or… you know what? I think I’m going to go with the secret-society Triads instead – especially since the Triad, as written by Wizards of the Coast, is really not worth bothering with. That’s actually a common problem with the “official” vestiges; with no real underpinning to designing them but guesswork, the quality is very unreliable. Some are clearly winners, others clearly losers, and the rest are mostly all right. Sure, even using Eclipse you can still put in useless powers and such – but at least you’ll know if you have points left over or have spent far, FAR, too much.

Oppression bred secrecy, rebellion, and a thousand hidden conspiracies, tunneling through the society like the roots of some invasive weed, finding rich and fertile ground amongst the lower classes, dispossessed aristocrats, the ambitious, the criminal, and the desperate – flowering into outbreaks of resistance, of violence, of marching men. And like flowers, they fell to the scything weapons of professional soldiers. The White Lotus Society, the Taiping Rebellion, the Boxer Rebellion, and the Heaven and Earth Society… all fell, and were forgotten, the last remnants swept away.

Yet seeds fell in other lands, blown from the homeland in the red storm. The teachings of the Three Harmonies had focused on Body, Spirit, and Mind – and the power of the mind was the mark of its leaders. Unseen. Needing no sorcerous tomes, exotic components, or strange rituals, ready to respond in an instant to a channeled and focused will. And that power will answer still to those few who know how to call the last traces of the masters from the misty reaches of the past.

  • The Inner Fire, Specialized for Increased Effect: Bonus “Slots” are converted into Power (2 Points/Level of the bonus slot, bonus slots converted to Power cannot be used for other purposes) and the user may select psionic abilities from the basic Psion/Wilder list), but the number of available effects is halved and the caster level and safe usage level limits (Casting Level = 1/2 User Level, Maximum level of spell usable safely = User Level/4, rounded down) of The Inner Fire continue to apply. These are normal manifestations, not supernatural powers (6 CP).

The Triads Inner Fire Discipline List:

  • L1 (1 Power, Level 4+): Call to Mind, Empathy, and Entangling Ectoplasm.
  • L2 (3 Power, Level 8+): Body Equilibrium, Detect Hostile Intent, and Knock.
  • L3 (5 Power, Level 12+): Dispel Psionics, Energy Wall, and Time Hop.
  • L4 (7 Power, Level 16+): Correspond, Dimension Door, and Freedom of Movement.
  • L5 (9 Power, Level 20+): Ectoplasmic Shambler, Plane Shift, and True Seeing.
  • L6 (11 Power, Level 24+): Cloud Mind (Mass), Retrieve, and Temporal Acceleration,
  • L7 (13 Power, Level 28+): Divert Teleport, Energy Wave, and Personal Mind Blank.
  • L8 (15 Power, Level 32+): Iron Body, Shadow Body, and True Metabolism.
  • L9 (17 Power, Level 36+): Etherealness, Microcosm, and Timeless Body.

Note that most of these will not be usable until very high levels due to the restrictions on The Inner Fire. Using Charisma-Based Bonus Spell Slots… Charisma 12+ = +2 Power, 14+ = +6 Power, 16+ = +12 Power, 18+ = +20 Power, 20+ = +32 Power, 22+ = +48 Power, and so on.

  • Adept: Diplomacy, Psicraft, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft, Specialized/only to double the boost provided by Augmented Bonus, Below (3 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Dedicated Student: Add (Con Mod) (totaling +2 x Con Mod with Adept) to each of Diplomacy, Psicraft, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft (6 CP).
  • Lore (As per Bardic Knowledge) (6 CP).
  • Upgraded Proficiencies: A Bokor is normally proficient with Simple Weapons. This is upgraded to being proficient with all Simple, Martial, and Exotic Weapons (12 CP).
  • Additional Psionic Ability: Psionic Blade. L3, costs 5 Power. Manifested as a Swift Action; the user pours psionic energy into a weapon, adding his or her Charisma to Attack Checks and (level, +10 Max) to Damage for the next three minutes (2 CP).

The Triad isn’t very powerful at low levels even if the skill bonuses will have a larger relative impact there – but at mid-levels and up combining a high Charisma with the Triad can provide quite a lot of Power and a fairly decent array of abilities to use it with. Going further, the Triad will continue to provide new powers well into the epic levels. Most of the rest is just lagniappe, although the Psionic Blade ability can be a useful contribution to a melee build and the weapon proficiencies can come in handy at times. Still, if you want to rely on a weapon you’ll hopefully have learned to use it long before you can call on the Triad .

The Heartless Shadow (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Dependent on Shadows. Those channeling The Heartless Shadow suffer a -3 penalty to all rolls when they are out in intense bright light, such as direct sunlight).

Vanus is, once again, not really a name; it’s another obscure word (likely Latin or Estonian) that can be translated in various ways (boastful, ostentatious, vain, empty, vacant, void, unsubstantial, and untrustworthy) – which at least explains where the “legend” came from. He radiates fear, he lets one nearby ally take a free move action once per round, escaping almost any confinement, he does +1d6 damage when attacking a weaker foe and gives you a big bonus to Listen checks. Ergo we have the Heartless Shadow. An obsession with capturing or killing Keyblade Wielders is optional.

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/points may only be spent on Listen (Perception in Pathfinder), Hide (Stealth in Pathfinder), and Ride and must be distributed evenly between them (6 CP).
  • Presence/Aura of Fear: As per Doom to enemies who come within 10, Specialized for Increased Effect (Those who fail to save are Frightened, those who save are Shaken) / will not take effect again until the duration of the effect expires, once a creature saves it is immune for twenty-four hours (6 CP).
  • Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Vaporous Jaunt) / only affects a single ally within 30 feet per turn, only usable once every three rounds. Designating the ally to be affected is a free action (6 CP).

Vaporous Jaunt: Transmutation, L2, Components V, Casting Time 1 Standard Action, Range: Medium, Target: One willing creature, Duration: Instantaneous, Saving Throw: Will Negates (Harmless), Spell Resistance: Yes.

The target dissolves into mist, reforming at a place of it’s choice within it’s normal movement range – although, since no physical movement is required, chains, bars, hold spells, grapples, and similar obstacles will not prevent the Jaunt and no attacks of opportunity are triggered. Similarly, this does not require an action on the part of the target.

  • Innate Enchantment (11 CP). All effects are Swift or Immediate, SL1, CL1, Unlimited-Use Use-Activated for an effective value of 2000 GP each.
    • Void Cloak/Invisibility, Swift
    • Shadow Walk/Swift Expeditious Retreat
    • Night Wings/Feather Fall
    • Form of the Void/Windy Escape (Pathfinder)
    • Shadow Strike (Your weapons do +1d6 damage for the round)
  • Shield of Shadows/Block (Melee) (6 CP).

The Heartless Shadow is a surprisingly capable team fighter, and almost always gets to use its Swift Actions, even if its swift abilities are fairly minor. The ability to shuttle allies about, cause fear in the enemy, and block attacks makes it a reasonably effective fighter as well.

Mucha Lucha (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Accursed. Mucha Lucha comes with an elaborate mask, and the channeler will resist all attempts to remove it. If someone manages to remove it anyway, the innate enchantments he grants will not work until the channeler puts it back on).

According to the Ars Goetia, Zagan makes men witty and wise, changes various liquids into wine or oil or water (sources vary) and turn metals into coins. Considering what many of the others are supposed to be able to do… that’s not much of a portfolio. Wizards of the Coast gave him various snake-themed abilities, possibly due to his being a patron of counterfeiters and deceivers. Both are a bit meh, so I bring you Mucha Lucha, the Spirit of Masked Wrestling.

  • Anime Master, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Grappling (2 CP): Increases your size by one level for grappling purposes.
  • Evasive/Grapple: takes no attacks of opportunity for making a grapple attempt (3 CP).
  • Specialist / Grapple: +4 to Grapple (3 CP).
  • Presence/Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Only usable once every five rounds, only affects a single target within 30′), produces an Aversion effect (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (10 CP):
    • Embrace The Wild: +2 to Listen and Spot, Gain Low-Light Vision and either Blindsense out to 30′ or Scent (chosen when the Mystery is summoned) (2000 GP).
    • Fist of Stone: +6 Enhancement Bonus to Strength for the purposes of attack rolls, grapple checks, or breaking and crushing items. May make one natural slam attack, dealing 1d6 points of damage + your new Strength bonus (or 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus if you make no other attacks in the round) (2000 GP).
    • Corrosive Grasp: Gain a touch attack doing 1d6+1 Acid Damage (2000 GP).
    • Grip of Iron: +4 Enhancement Bonus to Grapple Checks (Psionic, still 2000 GP).
    • Serpents Bane: You gain +2 to Attacks and +2d6 Damage against snakes, snakelike creatures, and creatures with a natural poison attack (Personal-Only, 1400 GP). . This lets you easily out-wrestle huge boa constrictors and anacondas.
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/points may only be spent on a Wrestling Martial Art (although each summoner may create their own Dex or Str based style), Tumble (Acrobatics in Pathfinder), and Intimidate and the points must be distributed evenly between them (6 CP).
  • Specific Knowledge/The Lore of Masked Wrestling (1 CP)

Mucha Lucha is obviously a bit of a niche Mystery. He’s quite good at what he does, and grappling can be quite effective up until Freedom Of Movement is a pretty standard precaution – but most adventuring parties really don’t need a professional wrestler along. Still, if you ever need that sort of cover, or are up against  a swarm of minor casters or some such… Mucha Lucha may be right up your alley.

Zceryll

The last level six Mystery is from a Class Chronicles article – and Zceryll raises four major red flags.

First off, it’s from a web article. There ARE very good web articles out there, but web articles are notorious for dubious quality and wonky mechanics for a reason.

That articles initial premise – that Vestiges, originating from any dimension in the multiverse and now resident beyond it, somehow need “adapting” to local histories setting to make them usable – demonstrates that the author doesn’t get the basic idea of what a “Vestige” is supposed to be. Given that, it’s all too likely that he or she doesn’t understand how to build one either.

It’s for the Forgotten Realms – a setting notorious for mechanics like “Spellfire” and for Mary Sue and Marty Stu characters.

It’s widely considered the best vestige available before epic levels. There’s a certain relationship here with the first problem on this list isn’t there?

So Zceryll:

  • Grants the (non-epic) “pseudonatural” template. So… you become an Outsider, get a +20 insight bonus on an attack check once per day, get some (15 Max) resistance to Acid and Electricity, get some Damage Reduction (10/Magic max), and Gain (10 + Level, Max total 25) Spell Resistance, can take a weird form that causes attackers to suffer a -1 Morale Penalty when attacking you, and you get a +0 to +2 to your CR. And yet there are – quite specifically – no penalties to diplomacy, or perform, or any other activities for becoming a writhing lovecraftian horror from beyond. It doesn’t even make you hard to recognize. And here I would have thought that most people would find it awkward. So you get a poorly-implemented template that was meant for monsters only. Do any other vestiges grant +2 ECL templates? No?
  • You gain immunity to Confusion, Insanity, and Weird spells. Not to Confusion or Insanity effects, but just to those three specific spells. Why not, say, Phantasmal Killer since Weird is just an area of effect version? Who knows? In addition, you receive a +1 bonus per four binder levels on saving throws against mind-affecting effects. Well… OK.
  • You can fire a ranged touch attack ray up to medium range that dazes an opponent who fails a will save for 1d3 rounds. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds. A fairly good ability, but at least it makes some sense and the mechanics are clear enough.
  • “Summon Alien: You can summon any creature from the summon monster list that a sorcerer of your level could summon. Any creature you summon with this ability gains the pseudonatural template. Thus, at 10th level you could summon any creature from the summon monster I-V list. When you reach 14th level, you can summon any creature from the summon monster I-VII list. You can only summon creatures that can be affected by the pseudonatural template. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again for 5 rounds.”

OK… Disregarding that the ability does not say how long your summoned monsters stick around (I’d say that it’s most likely intended to be one round per level, like the Summon Monster spells), whether or not you can call multiple lower-level creatures like the Summon Monster spells (I’d say no), and whether or not you can control what you summon (probably yes, but it doesn’t say so), there are problems with this over and above the author’s poor implementation (yet another confidence-reducer – as if I needed any more).

Most obviously… you get to do more summoning than any actual summoner – up to 2880 times per day. Producing effects of up to level nine (since this ability scales instead of being limited to effects based on the level at which this vestige can first be summoned). And that gives you similar access to an immense range of spells. Just to start off with, this provides effectively unlimited access to Repairing Touch, Spider Climb, Invisibility, Magic Missile, Dispel Magic, Glitterdust, Gust of Wind, Neutralize Poison, Pyrotechnics, Scorching Ray, Suggestion, Wind Wall, Obscuring Mist, and Cure Moderate Wounds – among many other spells. Just for some further highlights…

  • Level Twelve? Add Animate Dead, Bestow Curst, Create Food and Water, Dominate Monster, Cure Serious Wounds, Quickened Fireball, Fog Cloud, Lightning Bolt, Wall of Stone, Magic Circle Against Evil, Speak with Animals…
  • Level Fourteen? Add Greater Command, Commune, Death Ward, Dimensional Anchor, Fly, Holy Smite, Major Creation, Major Image, Phantasmal Killer, Raise Dead, Remove Curse, True Seeing, Wind Walk, Wall of Ice.
  • Level Sixteen? Add Blade Barrier, Cone of Cold, Entangle, Heroism, Knock, Passwall, Polymorph Other, Scrying, Stone Shape, and Telekinesis.
  • Level Eighteen? Add Blasphemy, Death Ward, Dismissal, Dispel Chaos/Evil/Law, Greater Dispel Magic, Divination, Enervation, Enthrall, Find the Path, Freedom of Movement, Heal, Hold Monster, Holy Word, Greater Invisibility, Locate Creature, Locate Object, Nondetection, Prismatic Spray, Reincarnate, Greater Shadow Conjuration, Stone to Flesh, Symbol (any), Trap the Soul, Tongues, Wall of Force, and Wall of Fire.

So… your minions can do the fighting, the healing, the blasting, the battlefield control, and the construction work, get you all the information you like, dispel enemy magic, and help you sneak about and get into places. They can charm and manipulate people for you. They can create illusions and provide undead minions just in case keeping two or three monsters around all the time is not enough. Admittedly you have to spend 20% of your time summoning – but there are entire core classes which are far less potent and versatile than this single ability.

Now I COULD build this. I could throw in something like Kagura’s specialized reality editing to get the summoning and lesser effects, put in another template-bestowing effect, and kludge some sort of dimensional overlay (with a superhero universe to get a continuous flow of mana to power everything with) ability together (an immunity or some of the mystic artist powers could do it). It would be a HORRIBLE kludge though, and no sane game master would allow it any more than they would allow the original Vestige.

I’m not going to bother. If you must have an “I Win!” button there’s not much point in playing.

Eclipse d20 – Binding Mysterious Spirits V. The Psychopomp, the Whisper From The Grave, Balam, Dantalion, Geryon (and his Bulls of Wrath), and Kagura.

As always, these Mysteries presume that their Channeler has the basic Bokor package, at 24 CP.

The Psychopomp and the Whisper From The Grave

Acererak was the Arch-Lich “responsible” for the classic Tomb of Horrors, and – as a Vestige – is apparently still clinging to his “unlife” after a fashion. He supposedly grants a tiny portion of the terrible powers he once wielded.

Of course, if being powerful, unwilling to fully die, and slain by adventurers was really enough, then half the dark lords who have ever lived should have become Vestiges. This illustrates a general problem with Vestiges. With a nigh-infinite number prime material planes, each with the potential to host a nigh-infinite number of worlds, even the most bizarre circumstances will pop up over and over again. Why aren’t there an endless host of Vestiges?

Just as importantly… why some no-longer-undead guy should bestow some undead powers that were almost entirely based on his transformed (and no longer existent) undead physical form is beyond me. Wouldn’t some of his knowledge, or magical power, or something else that was a part of HIM instead of being a part of a generic template make more sense?

So, OK; how about something a little more interesting?

The Psychopomp (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Duties. The Psychopomp must be a listener and faithful guide to the dead, regardless of his or her personal opinion of them or their lives)

The Psychopomp stands between life and death, a part of neither and a guide to both, a guardian at the crossroads, offering enigmatic advice to the incomprehending. Unless a spirit accepts their judgement, they do not judge, but merely ensure passage. Anubis, Charon, the Grim Reaper… all fill the role. It is not, however, a role that calls for divinity; shaman, deceased relatives, and lesser spirits all commonly take the role.

Among them, Bokor who choose to channel the Psychopomp.

  • Guide of the Dead: Privilege/The spirits of the newly dead and any other free spirits in the area get to spend a few “minutes” out of the normal flow of time speaking with the Psychopomp. If such a spirit agrees to a destination, or has none in mind, the Psychopomp may send the spirit on to either reincarnation or to any appropriate afterlife (3 CP).
  • On The Paths Of The Dead/Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Dreamfaring/In Dead Mans Shoes: By expending a standard action and 3 Power a Psychopomp may briefly abandon his or her hold on the material plane to become an incorporeal free spirit. Incorporeality can only be safely maintained for (Will Bonus) rounds. After that, resisting the siren call of the afterworlds to return to the material realm requires a Will check at a DC equal to the number of rounds you are already past your limit. If the user fails three such checks in a row, he or she will depart for the afterworlds.
    • Infliction/Transcendent Blast: As per triple-effect Infliction, but this radiance only affects the Undead (including incorporeal ones) and blatantly reveals the user’s nature.
    • The Adamant Will/Citadel of Souls: A Psychopomp cannot be involuntarily possessed. Such attempts can be blocked for an entire hour with the expenditure of one Power. This does not count as an action and may be automatically activated whenever a possession is attempted.
    • The Inner Eye/Tales Of The Dead: A Psychopomp can read the traces of death upon an object, area, or corpse – determining details such as if and when an item was used to kill, what the killer felt about the victim, how long ago a creature died, and what they were feeling when they did, and so on. Secondarily, he or she can sense the presence of spirits and undead and the approach of death. This sense may be activated as a free action for ten minutes at a cost of one Power.
  • Strengths Of The Dead: +2d6 Mana as 6d6 (21) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Paths of the Dead abilities given above (4 CP).
  • Touching The Fading Light: Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to rebuild the Paths of the Dead power pool above, only usable in the vicinity of a recently slain creature (4 CP).
  • The Unfallen Mantle: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in saving throws (6 CP).
  • The Instant Of Death: Reflex Training (three action per day variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, Corrupted / may not be used more than three times in any one encounter (12 CP). A Psychopomp may occasionally invoke the timelessness of death, stepping momentarily out of the normal flow of events accomplish some task in a mere instant.

Being a soul-guide doesn’t offer a lot of raw combat power – but it can provide a great deal of information and it does include two of the handiest defensive abilities that Eclipse has to offer – the ability to automatically succeed on a save when you really need to and the ability to take extra actions when you need them. Being able to blast the undead is just a bonus.

The Whisper From The Grave (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Insane. Those who channel the Whisper have an irrational fear of death; if confronted with a serious chance of being killed, they tend to flee expeditiously).

Death in d20 is not an especially frightening thing. People KNOW that their spirits continue after death, they can go and visit various afterlives, they know that resurrection, reincarnation, various forms of transfiguration (becoming a god, or demon, or various other outer-planar creatures), and visits from the dead occur on a regular basis. Even if you betray your god, or are horribly evil, or have other problems… there are plenty of other gods who will approve and reward you. And while there are plenty of ways to put it off… there’s no avoiding it in the end. Sooner or later the odds will catch up with you no matter what, even if it takes a million years, and you will just have to put up with moving on. It is still a big change though – and there are always some who listen to that whisper of fear, of doubt and uncertainty and choose to linger in the embrace of the grave rather than moving on. To call upon that dubious host is somewhat foolish, but all too common.

  • Innate Enchantment (6000 GP Value / 7 CP. All Spell Level One, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use use-Activated).
    • Detect Undead (2000 GP).
    • Hide From Undead (2000 GP). Note that this can be granted to companions with a simple touch.
    • Protection From Good (2000 GP). This too may be granted to companions.
  • Presence (Resist Energy), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect/only affects the user, only protects against Cold and Electricity (6 CP). This provides 20 points of resistance to start, 40 at level seven, and increases to sixty at level eleven.
  • Occult Sense / Deathlore (3 CP): The user may gather about a paragraph’s worth of information from a corpse. If this is about the circumstances of death and and general information about the deceased and the cause of death, success is automatic. If the user would prefer other information he or she must share a language with, or use an effect which would allow communication with, the deceased. If the deceased would not have wanted to give up that information the corpse may make a will save (DC 14 + User’s Cha Mod) as if it was alive; if it succeeds it may censor the information it provides. Specialized/Any given user may only target a given corpse once with this ability.
  • Trick / Paralyzing Touch (4 CP): As a standard action once every five rounds you may make a touch attack to paralyze a living target. If the target fails a Fort Save (DC 10 + Level/2 + Cha Mod) it will be paralyzed for (Level/2) rounds. Corrupted/the victim gets a new save as a full-round action each round to end the effect.
  • Immunity to Negative Energy (Common, Major, Major, 9 CP).
  • Grant of Aid, Specialized and Corrupted for 3x the daily number of uses (1/Level) / Can only be triggered by exposure to negative energy, cannot restore negative levels (6 CP).

The Whisper From The Grave isn’t an especially versatile entity, but it can be awfully handy when dealing with a more subtle scenario – and even if it’s only real offensive ability is the paralyzing touch, it’s a pretty good one. A channeler could do much worse. 

Balam (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Irreverent. Balam has seen enough of various gods to have some pretty serious doubts about them being any more than really powerful people – and shares those doubts with his summoner. A channeler cannot regain divinely-granted spells while Balam is present).

According to the grimoires, Balam gives perfect answers to queries about things past, present, future and can make men invisible and witty. The name is probably derived from the biblical Balaam, a prophet-magician who was called on to curse Israel and could not, because god did not command it (although he did offer the upset king who had demanded his services some practical advice – basically “get them sinning and god will favor them less”). He supposedly died in battle. What a prophet was doing in a battle where he was going to get killed is never really explained.

In Wizard’s d20 version Balam possesses some combat-related foresight, a small gaze attack – perhaps to represent cursing groups – and a rather nice reroll ability, which is a pretty reasonable way to represent some prophetic ability. That’s a fairly reasonable place to start.

  • Luck, with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable to reroll, only usable once every five rounds (8 CP).
  • Advanced Augmented Bonus: Add (Dex Mod) to (Str Mod) for combat purposes (12 CP).
  • Eyes and Hands: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Witchfire/Ice Eyes: You may spend 2 Power and a Swift Action to gain a Gaze Attack with a 30′ range that inflicts 3d6 Cold damage, or half that against a DC (16 + Cha Mod) Fortitude Save for up to one round per level. This supernatural ability works on constructs and, under the usual, rules, – does not require an action on your part to employ.
    • Witchsight/Death Eyes: You may spend 2 power whenever the game master calls for an Initiative Check or Reflex Save to see the patterns and flow of combat, gaining a + (Level/4) insight bonus to your Armor Class, Initiative, and Reflex Saves for one minute per level.
    • Hand of Shadows/Crushing Hand: You channel your determination into your weapons, allowing them to inflict damage as if they were one size larger. This is a constant effect with a cost of one Power per hour.
    • Witchfire/Icefire: All your attacks carry an aura of icy fire with them, and inflict an extra 1d8 cold damage. This is a constant effect with a cost of one Power per hour.
  • +2d6 Mana as +6d6 (21) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the four Eyes and Hands powers listed above (4 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Eyes and Hands Powers, above (5 CP).

Balam effectively comes with better than 90 power – which should be quite enough to run those four abilities for a day. Admittedly this version only has a limited number of rerolls available, but – since that once every five rounds limitation tends to promote saving rerolls for emergencies – a limited number of daily uses will have much the same effect.

Dantalion (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsively nosy. Those channeling Dantalion cannot stand there being things they do not know or motivations that they do not understand, and will try to read the thoughts of anyone in the vicinity who is doing something for unknown reasons and will want to stop and do research or discuss matters if they ever fail a knowledge check).

Here we have yet another resident of the Ars Goetia. According to the Lesser Key Of Solomon…

“The Seventy-first Spirit is Dantalion. He is a Duke Great and Mighty, appearing in the Form of a Man with many Countenances, all Men’s and Women’s Faces; and he hath a Book in his right hand. His Office is to teach all Arts and Sciences unto any; and to declare the Secret Counsel of any one; for he knoweth the Thoughts of all Men and Women, and can change them at his Will. He can cause Love, and show the Similitude of any person, and show the same by a Vision, let them be in what part of the World they Will.”

Well that pretty well covers most of the things you could want doesn’t it? Doesn’t it EVER occur to would-be demonologists that if this had any chance of working the world would long since be under the thumb of a successful summoner?

Oh well. Wizards of the Coast gave him the ability to prevent others from attacking (for one round in every five), a bonus to knowledge checks, the ability to read thoughts, and short-range teleportation. That could be a lot worse. Of course, it could also be better…

  • Ten Thousand Faces / Superior Improved Presence: Dantalion lacks a true form of his own, and so borrows one from the mind of anyone who looks upon him. This is equivalent to a constant Disguise Self effect – allowing him to change his own appearance, and that of anyone else within a ten foot radius, to suit his whims. This does not count as an action. He gains a +4 Circumstance bonus when interacting with anyone who can be affected by mind-affecting powers and anyone who attempts to attack him (whether physically, magically, or what-have-you) must make a Will save (DC 13 + Cha Mod) or lose their action. The save must be repeated each round, although if the Channeler is currently attacking someone they get a +5 bonus (18 CP).
  • The Rule of Will: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Tap the Akhasic Record / The Inner Eye: Drawing on the psychic echoes of knowledge past, the user may spend 1 Power as a part of a knowledge check to gain a +12 bonus on it – and to count as being skilled.
    • Read Thoughts / The Inner Eye: You may use the Read Thoughts psionic power at will at no cost. Creatures may resist with a DC (16 + Cha Mod) will save.
    • Phantom Step / Hand of Shadows: you may expend 2 Power and a Standard Action or 5 Power and a Swift Action to instantly transport yourself and any objects you carry up to heavy load to any location you can see within medium range. If the space is occupied by something you cannot see, you will collide with it, stunning yourself for one round.
    • Who Walks Unseen / Shadowweave: You may expend 2 Power and a Standard Action to create an effect equivalent to the Greater Invisibility spell.
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Rule of Will powers listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Rule of Will Powers, above (5 CP).

Dantalion has some substantial defensive abilities. Even a moderate chance of an enemy losing their action whenever they try to attack you is a major benefit, and throwing in invisibility and even short range teleportation can go a very long ways towards not being targeted – but Dantalion has no real offensive abilities at all unless you get very creative about disguising appearances.

Geryon (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive. Those hosting Geryon will find themselves speaking in thieves cant, like a gangster, or in some other dialect which will serve as a warning to the knowledgeable).

In Greek Myths Geryon was a grandson of Poseidon and a fearsome giant warrior, possibly with extra arms and bodies. Sadly for him, Hercules shot him with a poisoned arrow so as to steal his cattle. Much later on Dante’ put him in the Inferno as the venomous avatar of Fraud and a winged transport for Dante and Virgil. From there he made it into the first edition Monster Manual as an Arch-Devil with poison, ice powers, and a horn that summoned Minotaurs (his “cattle” – and the secret cow level). Later editions deposed him (and gave him vastly increased abilities). Still later, he somehow wound up both alive and a Vestige.

Well, OK. The “Giant Multibodied Warrior” version is kind of hard to implement (and just what it would do is kind of dubious anyway, although I may throw in some Minotaurs to give him more bodies to work with) – but the master of fraud and corruption who moved Dante and Virgil past deadly dangers has possibilities. To make sure there’s some combat power there I think I’ll equate “corrupting” to “corrosive” – and in d20 that means “acid”. So, some minor acid power that can affect large numbers of people.

  • +1 Bonus to Speak Language (Infernal, Specific Knowledge/The Fifth Layer Of Hell (2 CP).
  • Master Of The Infernal Realms: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations, taken twice, for a total of eight specific effects (12 CP).
    • Witchfire/Disrupting Gaze: You may spend 2 Power and a Swift Action to gain a Gaze Attack with a 30′ range that inflicts 2d6 Acid damage (your targets being torn apart by molecular telekinesis), or half that against a successful DC (16 + Cha Mod) Fortitude Save for up to one round per level. This supernatural ability works on constructs and – under the usual rules – does not require an action on your part to employ.
    • Shadowweave/Expanded Vision: You guide the light from all around you into your eyes – allowing you to see in all directions at once. You gain a +6 bonus to Spot and Search checks and cannot be flanked. On the other hand, you cannot avert your eyes from gaze weapons, and suffer a -3 penalty on saves against bright lights and similar visual threats. This is a constant effect with no cost unless you intentionally deactivate it, in which case it costs 1 Power and a free action to start again.
    • Witchsight/Perfect Nightsight: You see in twilight, shadows, and darkness, including magical versions thereof, as if it was full daylight. This is a constant effect at no cost.
    • Dreamfaring/Eyes of the Archdevil: You may see, and strike into, the Ethereal, Near Astral, and Shadow planes at no cost as a constant effect.
    • Hand of Shadows / Phantom Step: You may expend 2 Power and a Standard Action or 5 Power and a Swift Action to instantly transport yourself and any objects you carry up to heavy load to any location you can see within medium range. If the space is occupied by something you cannot see, you will collide with it, stunning yourself for one round.
    • Glamour / Forked Tongue. You gain the benefit of a constant Glibness effect.
    • Hand of Shadows / Fingers of the Night. You may expend 1 power and a move action to make a Disable Device, Open Locks, or Sleight of Hand check at a range of 60 feet. For an additional 2 Power you gain a +5 on the roll.
    • Shadowweave / In Mortal Guise. You gain a constant Change Self effect.
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Master of the Infernal Realms powers listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for the Master of the Infernal Realms Powers, above (6 CP).
  • Birth of Flames with +4 Bonus Uses, Bonus Uses are Specialized/must be identical to the first construct (9 CP). Geryon can call on the services of five Bulls of Wrath. These may be called forth, or returned to mental storage, for 1 Power each.

Bull of Wrath (Astral Construct VI / Large Construct).

These appear to be massive minotaurs, carrying axes.

  • Basic Statistics: 10d10+30 (85) HP, Initiative +1, Speed 80, AC 27 (Base 10 + 15 Natural +2 Martial Art), Attacks 3 x +21 Slam for 1d10+12 damage, 10 x 10 Space, Fort +3, Ref +4, Will +3, Str 33, Int 10, Wis 11, Con -, Dex 13, Chr 10. 60′ Darkvision, Low-Light Vision
  • Construct Traits: Immunity to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromancy effects, mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects), and any effect that requires a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects or is harmless. They are not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, or energy drain. They cannot normally heal damage save by their own fast healing, but can be repaired.
  • Options:
    • Celerity: +10 Movement (80′ total).
    • Knockdown: Those hit by a Bull of Wrath must make a DC 22 Str check or fall.
    • Semisentient: They are sensible and gain a +6 bonus to Intimidate, Spot, Jump, and Listen.
    • Fast Healing II
    • Sentient (Int 10, 40 SP (Minotaur’s Wrath Martial Art (Str Based) +21 (Attack +4, AC +2, +5′ Reach, Combat Reflexes, Versatility (May do lethal damage, nonlethal damage, bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage at will), Mighty Blow, and Whirlwind Attack), Speak Language 2 (Giant, Infernal), Intimidate +16, Spot +16, Listen +14, Jump +17), Improved Bull Rush, Power Attack, Innate Enchantment (SL, CL1, Personal Haste (Unlimited-Use Use-Activated, 2000 GP), plus one use each (Unlimited-Use Command Word Activated x One Use) of the following none spells: Benign Transposition, Blades of Fire, Blood Wind, Close Wounds, Grease, Light Foot, Resurgence, Swift Invisibility, and True Strike).
    • Warding: They may hold an action to intervene and take an attack or damage meant for someone else.

Bulls of Wrath don’t actually have weapons – but being astral constructs and having the Versatility option covers inflicting various types of damage, so giving them the appearance of carrying axes is a mere special effect.

This version of Geryon is highly alert and mobile and an expert at fraud – but not especially good at physical combat, even with his handful of special tricks. For THAT he has his private squad of goons. Those are quite powerful when Geryon first becomes available even if they become less useful offensively as levels increase – but their Warding ability will continue to be handy even at very high levels.

Kagura, (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Insane. Those channeling Kagura suffer from severe claustrophobia whenever bound or tightly confined).

Otiaz is something of a mystery. The earliest mention I could locate was a Spanish priest who accompanied Pizarro in the early 16’th century. There are a couple of variant spellings, and it appears as a name in a few places, but it doesn’t seem to mean anything in any likely language – and neither does spelling it backwards, various variants, or most of it’s anagrams – although they do appear as (rare) names. Ergo…

Naraku, a being consisting of a horde of demons merged together around an evil human core, could split off fragments of himself – manifesting other demonic entities that embodied bits that he’d rather get rid off or thought might be more useful outside himself, maintaining control by holding their mystical hearts captive. Perhaps it is not all that surprising that his first creation embodied his capacity for self-reflection. For his second shed collection of soul-shards… Kagura carried the parts of his myriad component souls that yearned for freedom, to regain their own lives free of Naraku. As such, Kagura’s power was considerable, her aspect was the ever-roaming wind, and her determination to be free was an all-consuming fire. When Naraku at last tired of her defiance and attempts to escape, he slew her – but his own life continued, leaving her soul-fragments adrift upon the winds, free at last but still bound to the world by his own life. Now those same fragments can empower others, granting them many of the powers Kagura once held.

That works at least as well as most “Vestige” / Mystery origins, even if it is straight out of the “Inuyashu” Anime.

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on the Dance of Winds Martial Art (Dex Based), the Vortex Style Martial Art (also Dex based), and Disable Device – and must be split evenly between them (6 CP). This gives each of those skills a score of (Cha Mod) x 4 + (Dex Mod), plus anything the base character has chosen to invest.
    • Dance of Winds Total: 01: +1 AC, 03: +2 AC, 05: Strike, 07: Weapon Kata/Wind Saber, 09: Blind Fight, 11: +3 AC, 13: Mighty Blow (target automatically tripped on a critical hit), 15: Mind Like Moon (DC 15 Reflex Check to avoid being Surprised or Flat-Footed at the beginning of combat), 17: +2 Synergy to Tumble, 19: +4 AC, 21: Dodge, 23: Healing Hand, 25: Inner Strength, 27) +1 to Attack, 29: Iron Skin, 31: Vanishing, 33: +2 to Attack, 35: +3 to Attack, 37: +4 to Attack, 39+: +2 Synergy to Stealth.
    • Vortex Style (Focused on Wind Saber, Defenses Specialized for Double Effect versus ranged attacks) Total: 01: +2 AC versus Ranged Attacks, 03: +4 AC versus Ranged Attacks, 05: +6 AC versus Ranged Attacks, 07: +8 AC versus Ranged Attacks, 09: Rapid Shot (Wind Saber), 11: Combat Reflexes, 13: +5′ Reach, 15: Instant Stand, 17: Strike, 19: +1 to Attack, 21: Inner Strength, 23: +2 to Attack, 25: +2 Synergy to Flight, 27: Ki Block, 29: +3 to Attack, 31: Wrath (Lightning), 33: +4 to Attack, 35: Light Foot, 37: Power +1 (Wind Saber damage 1d8+1d6), 39: Power +2 (Wind Saber Damage 2d8).
  • Innate Enchantment (9 CP).
    • Wind Saber. You may use the wind as a weapon to strike your enemies. As per Produce Flame, but does slashing or bludgeoning damage at your option (2000 GP).
    • Vortex Edge: Upgrades your Wind Saber to a base of 2d6 Damage and provides 10′ of reach which does not inhibit attacking adjacent characters (2000 GP).
    • Fingers of the Wind: You may make a Disable Device, Sleight of Hand, or Dirty Trick check, or perform a simple unrolled manipulation (open a door, etc) as a standard action at medium range (2000 GP).
    • Cloak of Mists: As per Concealing Amorpha: Gain 20% Concealment (2000 GP).
  • Mistress of the Winds: 2d6 (7) Mana with Reality Editing: Specialized and Corrupted, for Triple Effect, only for Reality Editing, only to produce Supernatural Effects equivalent to Spells (Minor Edits produce L1-L2 effects, Notable Edits produce L3-L4 effects, Major Edits produce L5-L6, and Grand Edits produce L7-L8 effects. Given the specialization for triple effect, these cost 1, 2, 3, and 4 Mana respectively. Such “spells” require their usual casting times and are cast at the user’s level. Users may only spend 1 Mana on an effect per 5 levels or part thereof that they possess, the user is limited to the list of effects given below (almost all wind, fog, or cloud effects) (12 CP).
    • Minor Edits (1 Mana, Levels 1+): Binding Winds, Cloudburst, Deep Breath, Fog Cloud, Gust of Wind, Summon Medium Air Elemental, Updraft, Whirling Blade, Wind Wall, Wings of Cover, and Breath of Frost (Ice Blast).
    • Notable Edits (2 Mana, Levels 6+): Arctic Haze, Air Walk, Boreal Wind, Capricious Zephyr, Contagious Cloud, Defenestrating Sphere, Downdraft, Eye of the Hurricane, Favorable Wind, Haboob, Stinking Cloud, Stolen Breath, Summon Large Air Elemental, and Feather Chariot (as per Phantom Steed).
    • Major Edits (3 Mana, Levels 11+): Airy Water, Control Winds, Cloudkill, Cyclonic Blast, Freedom of Movement (24 hour duration), Freezing Fog, Sandstorm, Solid Fog, Summon Huge Air Elemental, Wind Walk, and Breath of Life (As per Animate Object. If used on Corpses treat them as Skeletons for the duration).
    • Grandiose Edits (4 Mana, levels 16+): Cloud Chariot, Control Weather, Immediate Wall of Force, Mastery of the Sky, Summon Elder Air Elemental, and Whirlwind.
  • Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to refill the Mistress of the Winds pool, only usable between encounters (8 CP).

Kagura, as probably befits an anime character, is pulling a couple of cheap tricks to be as powerful as possible – and is using Specialized and Corrupted reality editing (in itself a take-a-good-look-a-this-first flag for the GM) to become a fairly powerful, if very highly specialized, spellcaster along the way. Of course, like most anime characters… she only has enough Mana to pull off one or two major special tricks in each battle. Unlike a full spellcaster, most of the time she’s going to be relying on her basic attacks.

Eclipse d20 – Binding Mysterious Spirits IV. Agares, Andras, Arete, Glaysa-Labolas, Astaroth, Belial, Buer, Kabeiroi, Eurynome, Echoing Vengeance, and Oculi Umbra.

As always, Level Four Mysteries build on the Bokor power package, so anyone calling one (or who wants to use one as a template) is assumed to have Witchcraft II, +6d6 Power, Dismissal, The Sight, and Divination already – although those are limited in the Bokor build to wind up with a total cost of 14 CP. Taking the full Bokor package at 24 CP is highly recommended though. As with most Witchcraft enhancements it can be useful to anyone who isn’t a primary spellcaster and the package is tweaked to be as efficient as possible.

Agares (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Healing Resistant. A character channeling Agares gains only half the benefit of Cure Wounds or Heal spells. Neutralize and Remove spells grant a new save, but are not automatic fixes. On the other hand, the relevant Inflict Wounds, Harm, Contagion, Poison, and Blindness/Deafness spells allow an extra save or have their effect halved).

Agares is yet another resident of the Ars Goetia – according to which he can make runaways and deserters come back or make enemies flee, exalt people or destroy dignities both Temporal and Supernatural, enhance communication, and “make the earth spirits dance” (cause earthquakes). His element is the Earth, his direction is North, and his Sign is Aries, giving him some power over war. As usual, he’s supposed to command legions of lesser spirits, but that’s a listed attribute of every demon in the Ars Goetia, since they were all supposed to be great powers of the abyssal realms. He enjoys teaching immorality and appears as a pale old man riding a crocodile and carrying a hawk.

Wizards of the Coast made him into a General of the Elemental Plane of Earth, granting a small (but untyped) bonus if both he and a foe are touching the ground and immunity to fear (although the standard binder gets that anyway, making it pretty pointless). He also provides a bit of extra protection against airborne foes, lets you understand languages, can shake the earth in a 10′ radius, and lets you call up a (very weak for the level it appears at) earth elemental to help you out. Overall the usual evaluation is somewhere between “Bad” and “Very Bad”.

I’ll be going back towards the original notion – including allowing Agares to control a selection of minions.

  • Elemental Leadership: Agares brings along 2 x (Channeler’s Level + Cha Mod) ECL of creatures from the Elemental Planes. Their maximum individual ECL is (Channeler’s Level – 3) and they vanish at 0 HP, returning to the elemental planes. Any that are banished in this fashion cannot be recalled for at least a week, even if you summon Agares again. A channeler does, however, get to select them anew each time they go up a level (9 CP).
  • Strength of the Elements; Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Hand of Shadows / Shockwave: You radiate a concussive blast. You, and up to (Cha Mod) other creatures of your selection are not affected. Other creatures in a 20′ radius take (2d6+Level, max +20) Force Damage and must make Will saves (DC 16 + Cha Mod) or fall prone (and yes, this will knock down flying creatures if they fail to save).
    • The Adamant Will / Ironheart: You are immune to fear. This is a constant effect with no cost.
    • Witchsight / Read the Winds: You may spend 1 Power to gain 60′ Blindsight for the next hour.
    • The Inner Eye / Language Sharing. You may spend 1 Power to be able to speak and read (if there is a written form) any language spoken by any creature within 30′ for the next hour.
  • The Path of Earth/Bones of Iron (6 CP). Allows the user to enhance his strength and toughness in a variety of ways, activating one technique per round as a free action.
  • +3d6 Mana as 9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Strength of the Elements, above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable between encounters to regain the Strength of the Elements Power Pool, above (8 CP).

This version of Agares commands a selection of elemental minions, can enhance a channeler’s physical form in a variety of ways, possesses a handful of psychic tricks – and allows a summoner to tap into tremendous reserves of power to channel into those abilities (thirteen dedicated uses of Rite of Chi to regain power can be expected to restore 182 Power over the course of a day; a character channeling Agares can afford to burn all 32 points in that dedicated pool in pretty much every fight – making Bones of Iron far more useful). The healing resistance is a nuisance, but the defense it offers is sometimes useful.

Andras (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Insane. A character channeling Andras sees no inherent value in leaving people alive – and makes no secret of that feeling)

According to the grimoires, Andras can make people quarrel with each other, offers instructions in killing, rides upon a great wolf, and personally kills people – quickly, efficiently, and with great thoroughness. Given that he had a nasty tendency to kill off his summoner, as well as his summoners assistants, allies, friends, and relatives, it’s hard to see why anyone would want to summon him unless they no longer cared for anything but having someone killed. Fortunately, in d20, summoning and controlling a spirit is a routine thing, rather than a great and dangerous act of magic.

  • Innate Enchantment (11 CP):
    • Master’s Touch: Andras makes you proficient with whatever you pick up in the way of weapons, armor, and shields (2000 GP).
    • Mountain Stance: Add (L/6 + 1)d6 (to a maximum of +4d6) to the damage inflicted by the target’s melee attacks this round. This is considered normal weapon damage; the spell simply lets the user hit things harder (1400 GP).
    • Personal Haste: +30′ Movement, +1 attack when making a full attack (2000 GP). His channelers appear to be riding a mount, but this is merely appearance; any attacks directed at the “mount” are in fact directed against the channeler.
    • Immortal Vigor: +(12 + 2 x Con Mod) HP (1400 GP).
    • Wrath (+2 Morale Bonus to Strength, +2 Morale Bonus to Constitution, +1 Morale Bonus to Will, -2 AC). X.9 (Cannot be turned off) = 1260 “GP”.
    • Shield: +4 Shield Bonus to AC (2000 GP).
    • Weapons: Composite Longbow (100 GP), Greatsword (50 GP), Longword (15 GP), Scythe (18 GP), Lucerne Hammer (15 GP), Fauchard (14 GP), Naginata (35 GP), and Kusarigama (12 GP).
  • Metamagical Theorem: Amplify with +4 levels of Streamline, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Innate Enchantments in this package, only to enhance their caster level one effects (10 CP). Enhanced effects are as follows:
    • Master’s Touch: Provides a Feat related to the weapon (Most often Improved Critical, but it can vary with each weapon and each summoning).
    • Mountain Stance: +2d6 Damage on each physical attack.
    • Personal Haste: +60 Move, +2 Attacks when making a full attack.
    • Immortal Vigor: +(24 + 4 x Con Mod) HP.
    • Shield: +8 Shield Bonus to AC.
    • Wrath: +4 Morale Bonus to Str and Con, +2 Morale Bonus to Will, -4 AC.
  • Deathbringer: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Hand of Shadows / Bladestorm: You may spend 2 Power and a standard action to attempt one attack at your full BAB against everyone you desire either along a 60′ line, in a 40′ cone, or in a 15′ radius around yourself. Hits inflict normal damage for your base attack.
    • Witchfire/Choice of Deaths: You may spend 2 Power and a standard action to imbue one weapon (or up to 50 projectiles) with “+2″ worth of weapon enhancements of choice for the next three minutes. This stacks with dissimilar abilities from other sources (albeit not with itself) and need not include an Enhancement Bonus – but weapons without enhancement bonuses do not count as “magic”.
    • Glamour/Mass Murderous Command: You may spend 2 Power and a standard action to subject all enemies within 30′ to a Murderous Command (Pathfinder), Save DC 16 + Cha Mod.
    • Witchfire/Adjust Bow: You may spend 1 Power as a standard action to “customize” a bow for the next 24 hours – adjusting it to suit your strength and grip. You may apply your (Str Mod) to the bows damage.
  • +2d6 Mana as 6d6 (21) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the Strength of the Elements, above (4 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable between encounters to regain the Strength of the Elements Power Pool, above (4 CP).

This version of Andras gives you proficiency with everything, boosted movement and attacks, bonuses to Str (+4), Con (+4), Damage (+2d6), Will (+2), and AC (+4) which always apply, a free Feat of choice with every weapon, mass murderous command, the ability to add magical properties to your weapons, and the ability to make area of effect attacks. Sadly this doesn’t let you play games converting a “Smite Evil” effect to other things – but if that was the attraction… find something you can have fun with without a cheap exploit.

Arete (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive (Insatiable Curiosity). Arete fills channelers with the urge to comprehend all things. Any attempt to do research or gather information while hosting Arete will take 1d4+2 times as long, but will also yield 1d3 interesting bits of information. If a character gathers enough experience points to level while hosting Arete, he or she must spend at least 4 CP on Knowledges).

Arete isn’t a classical demon, or even a creature; it’s a word. In greek it’s “Excellence”, “Moral Virtue”, “Knowledge”, or “Fulfilled Potential” and applies to all kinds of things. The arete of a fine stallion is quite different from that of a bird, house, or person. As an english noun, it’s “the aggregate of qualities, as valor and virtue, making up good character” – or, in french, “a sharp ridge separating two cirques or glacial valleys in mountainous regions” (I have no idea if there’s some sort of linguistic relationship buried there or not). In White Wolf’s Mage it’s a measure of enlightenment. Wizards of the Coast used it as the name for a Psionic Vestige which (sadly enough) provides a bit of Power, three near-useless psionic abilities, some damage reduction, and a save boost. None of that is all that impressive, and while the damage reduction is nice, you still need some actual powers to do anything. Ergo, I’m going to use a more eastern concept of what “enlightenment” means and go for “health-bestowing”.

  • +1d6 Mana as 3d6 (10) Power (6 CP).
  • Advanced Occult Talent using Psychic Spellcasting (2 Power/Spell Level), Specialized for Double Effect (no L0 spells, doubled (6) L1 Spells, +12 Power) (12 CP): Lesser Vigor (Spell Compendium), Lesser Restoration (SRD), Sustenance (The Practical Enchanter), Protection From Evil (SRD), Divine Favor (SRD), and Remove Sickness (Pathfinder).
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/Only to buy Resistance (6 CP). This provides a total of a +4 bonus to divide between your saves.
  • Immunity: Time required to change Enthusiast (Uncommon, Minor, Great, Specialized in the Save bonus above, 3 CP). This allows the resistance bonus to be re-allotted each round as a free action.
  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Attacks for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP).

This mystery allows a channeler to restore their, and others, bodies when they are injured and to resist various attacks to some degree – but channeling a near forgotten notion of physical virtue simply isn’t very effective, even if the Mystery is a notable improvement on the Vestige. Forget Arete. It simply isn’t a good choice. If you want a serious healing Mystery, call upon…

Glasya-Labolas (Bonus Mystery, 32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive. Glasya-Labolas is a collector of monster organs, exotic poisons, lethal viruses, deadly plants and animals, and similar items, and will tend to pick them up along the way. This… can be VERY difficult to explain.

In demonology, Glasya-Labolas teaches the liberal arts, and has mastered many secrets of the body and soul (in this case allowing him healing skills and granting his channelers instantaneous regeneration of minor wounds). He grants murderous skills to those he inspires, makes men invisible, and sees the past, present ,and the future. He appears as a dog with gryphon wings.

In this case I’m going to lean heavily on the (vague) association with healing, so as to provide a useful, and reasonably low-level, healing Mystery.

  • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Attacks for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). Wounds inflicted on one who hosts Glasya-Labolas will heal themselves, at least to some extent, virtually instantaneously.
  • Master Physician: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Hyloka/Breath of Life: You may spend 1 Power and a standard action to provide your target with a full days worth of healing (2 HP/Level and/or 2 points of Attribute Damage and a bonus check against negative levels, the first two doubled and the negative level save given a +5 with a DC 15 Heal Check; this check may be made as a part of the casting).
    • Witchsight/Diagnostics: Provides a +12 bonus to the Heal skill at no cost.
    • Hyloka/Healing Mastery. You may spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to produce the effects of a Panacea spell (Spell Compendium).
    • Witchsight/The Evil Doctor’s Trick: You may spend 1 Power as a Swift Action to gain +4d6 Sneak Attack for one hour.
  • Master PhysicianMaster Physician//Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted/Only for Saving Throws. Bestow a +2/+3/+4 Luck Bonus to Saves at levels 3+/7+/12+ to an individual for ten minutes for 1 Power, to all desired targets within 30′ for 2 Power (6 CP).
  • Breath of Puruza (6 CP). The user may support their life processes with Power, allowing him or her to override paralysis, pain, normally fatal damage, poisons, and other problems.
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the six Master Physician abilities listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the Master Physician Power Pool above (5 CP).

Glasya-Labolas is a formidable healer, although – as usual – hit points are generally best restored out of combat. Incapacitating conditions, however, are often well worth fixing during a fight. He offers some decent defensive and minor offensive boosts and lets his channelers resist a variety of special attacks. He’s still not a particularly spectacular Mystery, but he can be quite useful.

Astaroth (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive. Those channeling Astaroth can never admit that anyone else is right about anything, always feeling it necessary to say “except when…” for anything more complex that simple observations).

According to the grimoires, Astaroth seduces mortals into evil and madness by means of vanity, laziness, and philosophical rationalizations. He teaches mathematics, crafts, the arts of oratory and invisibility. and can draw upon hidden treasures. He is wise, and grants power over serpents. Wizards of the Coast made him smell bad. I have no idea why, although I might be able to dig up something by going through his associations.

  • Lore of Ages: +1 on each of the eight basic Knowledges, Specialized/does not actually provide a bonus, merely allows making all Knowledge Checks as Skilled Checks (4 CP).
  • Secrets of the Cosmos: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Half Cost, Corrupted for Increased Effect (May “Take 30″ in advance or “Take 15″ after the roll). Only for Skills, only for Knowledge Skills (6 CP).
  • Master of Manipulation: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Witchfire/Breath of Synthesis. You may spend 2 Power and a Standard Action to “exhale” a 60′ cone of irritating or nauseating gas. Those in the area and not immune to poisons must make a DC (16 + Cha Mod) Fortitude Save or suffer your choice of a primary effect for one round and a secondary effect for 1d4 additional rounds. Those who save only suffer the secondary effect for one round. Possible effects include Nauseated/Sickened, Blinded/Dazzled, Frightened/Shaken, and Exhausted/Fatigued. Since this is a physical manipulation of the atmosphere, spell and power resistance does not apply.
    • Glamour/Honeyed Words: Gain a +12 bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate at no cost.
    • Witchfire: Gain a +6 bonus on Craft skills at no cost.
    • Glamour/Suggestion: You may spend 1 Power to use a Suggestion effect as a supernatural power with a Will save DC of (16 + Cha Mod).
  • +4d6 Mana as +12d6 (42) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the four Manipulative powers listed above (8 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for his Manipulative Powers, above (5 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted/only to take a Crafting-related abilities, can only be changed when Astaroth is summoned (6 CP).

Astaroth is obviously a powerful crafter, capable – if working with someone who can provide the necessary spells and powers – of making almost any item a party might require. Of course, there are a lot of other ways to do that.

For some reason (lack of communication between writers?) there’s another version of Asteroth. It’s mostly notable because it uses a mechanic from the Book of Vile Darkness – Vile Damage That’s damage, whether to hit points or an ability, which is just such an evil violation of a characters body or soul that it can only be healed by casting appropriate healing magic within the area of a Consecrate or Hallow spell (apparently going to a good-dominant plane will not work). It also works on inanimate objects and on things that are MADE of evilness, but oh well. It may or may not thwart regeneration and (natural) fast healing; the book never says. There are a number of feats and enhancements which allow their user’s to add one point of vile damage to their attacks (although there’s nothing about how it interacts with damage reduction), a way to make half the damage of a spell-like ability vile which specifically notes that an immunity to the base damage type of the ability will protect you (nothing about whether resistance helps – although it seems like it should; if you don’t take the damage how can it be vile?).

Of course, by the time a party encounters any of the (extremely rare) sources of Vile Damage… getting an area Consecrated is generally trivial. It’s only a second level spell. The only real point is to say “You can’t heal this during combat!” – but in-combat healing generally isn’t a big thing anyway, although the Book of Vile Darkness tries to make Vile Damage a very big deal indeed.

Ergo, here we have…

Belial, the Tongue of Corruption (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Untrustworthy. While you channel Belial, people will see you as untrustworthy and you will have a terrible time convincing them of even the most obvious truths. Annoyingly, this never works when you WANT it to. It has no effect when trying to convince people of untruths).

Belial renders things worthless, corrupting vows, properties, intentions, and sacred places alike.

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on Bluff, Disguise, and Intimidate, must be evenly split between them. This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod) x 4 skill points in each of those skills (6 CP).
  • (1 + 4 x Cha Mod) uses of Channeling, Specialized/only for Conversion, Conversion to a set of Sixth Level Spells, both Corrupted / the powers of Belial render that which is nearby worthless. Each time you employ these powers you will drain a charge from some nearby magical item at the option of the game master (18 CP).
    • Cancerous Rune: Up to eight creatures within short range will be surrounded by an aura that distorts incoming healing effects; for the next twenty-four hours (10 minutes if a DC 16 + Cha Mod) Will save succeeds) or until they receive a Remove Curse spell. During that time healing is ineffectual, producing strange growths, stinking pussy discharges, and similar messes instead of repairing any damage.
    • Corrosive Rune: As per Acid Storm. Save DC (16 + Cha Mod).
    • Plague Rune: As per Bestow Curse, but with medium range and affecting up to 4 targets within a 30′ radius. Save DC (16 + Cha Mod). If used to curse an area it can Desecrate it or counter a Hallow effect for an hour.
    • Desiccating Rune: As per Mummify. Save DC (16 + Cha Mod).
  • Casting the Runes: Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (+2 CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP). Only to expand the user’s Witchcraft Abilities, and only two choices, selected from when Belial is summoned: either +10 Power or to upgrade The Sight and Divination to Corrupted for Increased Effect (the two abilities also offer access to Contact Other Plane, Divination, Locate Weakness (Pathfinder), and Unluck. All, where relevant, require a Standard Action, the expenditure of 2 Power, and have a Will Save DC of (16 + Cha Mod).
  • Shattering Runes. You may augment your attacks with destructive runes, allowing them to better penetrate defenses. Augmented Attack/+3d6 (+10) Damage to overcome Damage Reduction and Hardness Only (9 CP).

Belial provides a reasonably strong offense, some social skills, and excellent sources of information. While he lacks the raw power in any given field that comes with specialization, he also covers a much broader range of abilities than most Mysteries. If you aren’t sure what you’re going to be facing, Belial is an excellent choice.

Buer (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Obligations. Buer is a healer, and those channeling him share his oaths. The user must go to the aid of plague-stricken villages, stop to help disaster victims, and aid those who have been injured by accidents).

According to the Ars Geotia Buer teaches Natural and Moral Philosophy, Logic, and the virtues of all herbs and plants. He also heals all infirmities and gives good familiars. He is depicted in the shape of a centaur with a bow and arrows.

Wizards of the Coast gave him a sex change and focused on healing powers. Of course, as usual, Buer has a problem. Her healing powers may be unlimited use, but they’re simply too weak to be useful in combat – and she’s not supposed to be available until sixth or seventh level, by which time getting healed up between fights is pretty trivial, even if you have to resort to a nice, cheap, Wand of Lesser Vigor or have everyone put on Healing Belts after the fight.

Well, the “Virtues of all herbs and plants” is pretty strongly linked to herbal medicine, and the healing all infirmities is blatant – so the healing part seems fair enough. Ergo, a competent healer with a few other powers.

  • Adept: Heal, Knowledge/Nature, and Survival (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on the three Adept skills, must be evenly split between them. This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod) x 4 skill points in each of those skills. With Adept, that gets you a base of (Cha Mod x 8) (6 CP). Fortunately, skill bonuses from Templates are uncapped.
  • Nature’s Path: Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Witchsight/Diagnostics: Provides a +12 bonus to the Heal skill at no cost.
    • Hand of Shadows/Words of Power: You may spend 2 Power and a Swift Action to apply a physical skill (and the equivalent of one minute of work) to every appropriate target within 30 feet. While the effect need not be the same for all targets, unwilling targets get a Will save (DC 16 + Cha Mod) to resist.
    • Hyloka: You save against poisons and diseases with a +15 bonus and do not automatically fail on a “1″. If you make your save, the poison or disease is completely eliminated from your system.
    • Witchsight/Nature’s Awareness. You gain a +8 bonus to Survival and Knowledge/Nature, may track at normal speed without penalty, and may roll to identify plants, animals, and pure water as a free action. There is no cost to use this ability.
  • Immunity: The normal limits of the Heal skill (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP). In general, this allows the user to produce quasi-magical effects (Cure or Close Wounds, Panacea, Revify/Breath of Life, Heal, Cure/Delay Disease, Cure/Delay Poison, Restoration, Heal, Remove Paralysis, etc, etc, etc…) at a DC of (35 + 5 x Spell Level). Sadly, a target can only accept (Constitution) effective levels of such effects daily and attempting to raise someone who’s been dead for more five minutes will, at best, produce an uncontrolled flesh golem – and usually fails entirely. The user may also use 3.5 rules, Pathfinder Rules, or Pathfinder Unchained rules when using the Heal skill as he or she desires. Note that, if using Pathfinder rules, this effect may also be used to hurt people.
    • It’s worth noting that – presuming a host with a +4 Charisma Bonus – Buer grants a base heal check of (+32 “Racial” +12 (Untyped) +2 (Masterwork Kit) = +46, +49 if the Skill Speciality applies, plus the hosts Wisdom Modifier – and if the host has some skill at healing, it gets added right in.
  • Form of the Centaur: While you channel Buer you may change into a Centaur whenever you wish. Innate Enchantment, Spell Level One x Caster Level One x 2000 GP Unlimited-Use Use-Activated x.7 Personal Only when applicable: Enlarge Person (Does not allow the use of larger weapons, x.7, 980 GP), Barkskin (+2 Natural armor, 1400 GP), Personal Haste (Only to increase movement, x.7, 980 GP), Wrath (Morale Bonuses: +2 Str, +2 Con, +1 Will, -2 AC, 1400 GP), +2 Str (Enh, 1400 GP), +2 Con (Enh, 1400 GP), Ant Haul (1400 GP, triple carrying capacity), Claws (Hooves) of the Bear (2000 GP), and Boots of the Earth (Pathfinder, 5000 GP) = 16,720 GP. Specialized; this is an all or nothing deal and involves taking the form of a centaur, which is often awkward (9 CP).
  • Immunity/the need to actually have a Healer’s Kit to get the bonus for having one (Uncommon, Trivial, Trivial, 1 CP).
  • Skill Specialty: Healing, +3 to produce the effects of spells in the Healing domain (1 CP).

This version of Buer is an effective combat healer – capable of providing healing that covers both physical damage and status conditions, to multiple characters at once, at a modest range, and as a swift action. If offensive applications of the Heal skill are allowed in the game, she can also do things like Cause Wounds as a part of the same action. The (considerable) bonuses to Survival and Knowledge/Nature – along with the ability to take the form of a centaur – are simply bonuses, as this version of Buer is well worth channeling in her own right.

Kabeiroi (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Obligations. Whenever you visit a settlement and are currently channeling Kabeiroi you must attempt to organize a celebration or party in honor of the local goddesses of nature and magic).

The Kabeiroi / Cabiri were very minor, and very obscure, secondary divinities of the Greek mythos. From the few mentions… they were probably sons of Hephaestus, and helped him at his forge. They may have also (for some reason and in some stories) presided over celebrations and dances held in honor of Demeter, Persephone, and Hekate. They may have occasionally came to the aid of distressed sailors. Anything beyond those fragments is pretty much unknown.

I suppose that would qualify them as a Vestige, but there’s very little to go on here – which may be why the Wizards of the Coast version is almost completely useless. Ergo, I shall build a more effective Mystery. For my purposes… I shall assume that he/they were the offspring of Eurynome (below) through an affair with Hephaestus, took her side in a quarrel with Zeus, and wound up being thrown out of normal existence along with her.

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on Craft/Metalworking, Perform/Dance, and Profession/Sailor, must be evenly split between them. This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod) x 4 skill points in each of those skills. (6 CP)
  • Doubled Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect, only to buy Augmented Bonus (Add another attribute modifier to to DC of some of the user’s occult effects). The original version purchased an effect that was ALSO Specialized and Corrupted for triple effect (Scrying spells only) – which sounded nice until you noted that the only scrying effects are few and far between and the Wizards of the Coast version did not provide one that had a save in the first place. This version can, however, be used to boost a wide variety of different abilities (6 CP).
  • Eyes of the Night/Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Dreamfaring/The Wandering Spark: The user may spend 1 Power and a Standard Action to release a tiny spark of his or her own essence as a probe – an effect equivalent to an Arcane Eye spell.
    • Witchsight/Eyes of the Night: The user has Darkvision and Low-Light Vision, or an extended version if he or she has Darkvision already. This has no cost.
    • Glamour/Horrific Visions: The user may spend 2 power and a Standard Action to unleash a Phantasmal Killer (Save DC 16 + Cha Mod).
    • Witchfire: Eyes of Fire: You may spend 2 Power and a Swift Action to gain a Gaze Attack that inflicts 3d6 Fire damage, or half that against a DC (16 + Cha Mod) Fortitude Save for up to one round per level. This supernatural ability works on constructs.
  • Nightforge (6 CP). Where Cabiri chooses to see darkness, it becomes impenetrable.
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the four Manipulative powers listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for his Eyes of the Night Powers, above (5 CP).

Kabeiroi is reasonably effective, and his (their?) abilities work fairly well when combined with almost any type of spellcaster. He/they still suffers a bit from the lack of any real theme, but you can’t have everything. Clever players may want to focus the “group of occult abilities” DC boost on Phantasmal Killer, making it extremely lethal; it’s probably best to think about the likely results for a few moments before allowing that option.

Eurynome (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Corrosively Sarcastic. Anyone hosting Eurynome cannot hold their tongue, suffering a -5 modifier on Diplomacy checks).

Another Greek wanderer, Eurynome (“She of Broad Pastures”) was Zeus’s third wife, goddess of water-meadows and pasture, and mother of the Kharites / Charities – minor goddesses of grace and beauty. She was one of the sea-goddesses who caught Hephaestus when he was cast from Olympus. A very minor figure yes, but there wasn’t anything to suggest her being more or less banished from reality. Robert Graves argued that classical scholars lacked “the poetic capacity to forensically examine mythology” and that he was therefore uniquely qualified to determine what the “original” myths (that supposedly gave rise to the myths we’ve actually got) had been – based on nothing but his intuition (actual scholars call this “making stuff up”). He created a supposedly Pelasgian story wherein Eurynome was a supreme goddess who created the universe by dancing on the waves. I’m going to discount that one. If I’m going to go with sources people simply made up, I’d at least like them to be popular enough for most players to identify or find easily on the internet.

OK, so a minor nature goddess of the wetlands who got severely upset with her husband Zeus and wound up being banished from reality for it? Perhaps after going to Hephaestus for a really good weapon to smack him with?

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/points may only be spent on the Sky Cutting Martial Art, Handle Animal, and Knowledge/Nature and must be evenly split between them (6 CP). This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod) x 4 skill points in each those three skills. If the user doesn’t have the skill otherwse the relevant attribute modifier gets added in as well (For the Sky Cutting Style it’s Dex).
  • Immunity/The Distinction between Occult Techniques and Advanced/Master Techniques (Uncommon, Minor, Major, Specialized and Corrupted/only to allow the Sky Cutter Martial Arts allotment of Occult Techniques to be replaced with Advanced or Master Techniques (1 CP).
    • Sky Cutting Total: 01: DR 1/-, 03: DR 2/-, 05: Attack +1, 07: Combat Reflexes, 09: Mighty Blow (opponent is automatically tripped on a critical hit), 11: Blinding Strike (opponent suffers penalties on a critical hit), 13: Crippling (may opt to do 1d4 Constitution damage instead of extra hit point damage on a critical hit), 15) Attack +2, 17) Improved Trip, 19: Mind Like Moon, 21: +5′ Reach, 23: Prone Combat, 25: Attack +3, 27: DR 3/-, 29: Attack +4, 31: DR 4/-, 33: Power +1, 35: Power +2, 37: Power +3, and 39: Power +4.
  • Innate Enchantment, Corrupted/user is covered with glowing “tattoos” which clearly give away that the user is channeling Eurynome and the powers that he or she has available (including the current abilities of Munkattingusupia) when any of these powers are active. (8 CP).
    • Munkattingusupia, an Adamant Pitspawned (+2 to confirm criticals) Fauchard (1d10, Crit 18-20/x2, Reach, Trip, with a Wand Chamber (4114 GP). The channeler can call this weapon forth at will, but it will vanish one round after it leaves his or her hand.
    • Floating Disc with Rapid Casting (cost x 2), only usable to allow the channeler to walk along a few feet above a surface on a “cloud of mist” (x.5) – avoiding leaving a trail and gaining a +1 to hit in Melee for being on higher ground (2000 GP).
    • Master’s Touch, only to grant the channeler proficiency with Munkattingusupia, Eurynome’s personal weapon (x.4) = 800 GP.
    • Enlarge Person, Personal-Only (x.7) (1400 GP). However minor, Eurynome was still a Greek Goddess. She and her hosts tower over everyone else.
    • Speak with Animals (2000 GP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Presence/Shocking (Corrosive) Grasp, Specialized and Corrupted/only works on creatures which wound her with natural weapons or swallow her, leaves your clothing severely damaged after a few hours of channeling her (2 CP).
  • Immunity/to not being able to use a Reach Weapon to attack adjacent spaces normally (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized in Fauchard, 2 CP).
  • Munkattingusupia (The Moon-Cutting Blade): Improved Superior Focused Imbuement, Specialized for Reduced Cost/only works on Adamantium Pitcrafted Fauchards (12 CP).
    • Levels 1-2: +1
    • Levels 3-4: +1 Corrosive
    • Levels 5-6 +1: Corrosive Keen
    • Levels 7-8: +1 Corrosive Keen Energy Surge
    • Levels 9-10: +2 Corrosive Keen Energy Surge
    • Levels 11-12: +1 Corrosive Keen Energy Surge Vampiric
    • Levels 13-14: +1 Corrosive Keen Energy Surge Vampiric Priced Functions (Difference between +6 and +7, 26,000 GP); Prismatic 3/Day (18,000), Intelligent (Int 10, Cha 10, Wis 12, 1000), Telepathy (1000), 120′ Senses (1000), Ring of the Forcewall Functions (5100). Special Purpose: Aid the Channeler of Eurynome. Since the weapons intelligence is a manifestation of the user’s powers Ego is irrelevant. Munkattingusupia has it’s own actions to use it’s Forcewall Ring in; it usually holds to block charges and such.
    • Levels 15-16: +1 Corrosive Keen Energy Surge Vampiric Priced Functions (Difference between +6 and +8; 56,000 GP); Prismatic (30,000), Intelligent (Int 10, Cha 10, Wis 12, 1000), Telepathy (1000), 120′ Senses (1000), can draw a charge from any device that casts a “Cure” spell to generate a Panacea effect 2/day (Panacea, with the Arcanum Minimus/Magical Devices limitation, making it L3, 12,000 GP). Magic Missile 3/Day (1200), Acid (Shocking) Grasp 3/Day (Usually used to boost an attack, 1200), Resurgence 3/Day (1200)), Acid (Magic) Missiles 3/Day (1200), Special Purpose: Aid the Channeler of Eurynome (no cost), “possesses” a Ring of the Forcewall (5100) and a Healing Belt (750) = 55,650 GP.
    • Levels 17–18: +1 Corrosive Keen Energy Surge Vampiric Priced Functions (Difference between +6 and +9; 90,000 GP); As per L15-16, but upgrade Panacea to unlimited (or as many times as you have charges to fuel it) use (+18,000 GP), add Read Languages (1000 GP), Read Magic (2000 GP), and Blindsense (5000 GP), Aquatic (2000 GP), Everbright (2000 GP), “possesses” Goggles of the Golden Sun (Acid variant “Fireball”, 4000 GP).
    • Levels 19-20: +1 Corrosive Keen Energy Surge Vampiric Heretical (as per Magebane, but targets divine casters and those using divinely-granted powers) Priced Functions (Difference between +7 and +10; 102,000 GP); As per L17-18, adding Gauntlets of Ghost Fighting (4000 GP), Sphere of Awakening (1800 GP), Orb of Mental Renewal (3100 GP) and Rod of Bodily Restoration (3100 GP).

Eurynome is actually fairly nasty, particularly at high levels where Munkattingusupia comes into its own. With a high critical range, a bunch of different critical-based effects thrown in, high base damage, and the support of a spellcasting sapient weapon she can be quite effective in melee. Given that she’s a fourth level Mystery – and so comes into play just when a Bokor can channel two at once – her most obvious compliment is Andras. The two of them make a fairly nasty combo.

Kas was originally a lieutenant of the arch-lich Vecna. He was supposedly given a massively powerful artifact-sword, tried to overthrow Vecna, and lost. Thus the “Sword of Kas” way back on the first edition artifact list (+6 Defender short sword, Int 15, Ego 19, double damage against non-Prime Material Plane beings. 5 benign powers, 2 major powers, 1 minor malevolent power, 2 major malevolent powers, 2 prime powers and 1 side effect). Edition bloat took over later of course.

Kas actually has a sensible reason to be a Vestige. Presumably Vecna killed him really thoroughly. He even has a good reason to have it in for Undead. Of course… “A powerful warrior who was really thoroughly killed by a Lich and who’s remaining soul-fragments really hate the undead” is a good deal more generic than you think; how many powerful warriors do you think have been really nastily killed by Liches throughout the history of the multiverse? I’d say “a lot”. So, OK; that’s easy enough. Ergo…

Echoing Vengeance (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsively attacks the Undead, barring a DC 15 Will save).

They died horribly, leaving nothing behind save rage, and echoing pain, and a cry for vengeance with no throat to hold it or body to let it act. Mingling on the borders of life and death, concerns of mortality shed, but unwilling to depart, those manifold cries form a great pool of power – a dark well that only the most foolhardy would dare to touch.

Still, most adventurers don’t even seem to know what “caution” means.

  • Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted/Only for buying Imbuement (something the user normally wears, causing it to operate like a Gem of Fortification) Specialized in Fortification and Resistance to Negative Energy for Double Effect (6 CP). This results in Light fortification at L1, Light Fortification and Medium Fortification against Undead at L3, Medium Fortification at L5, Medium Fortification, Heavy against Undead at L7, Heavy Fortification at L9, Heavy Fortification Death Ward at L11, Heavy Fortification Death Ward II (3 Uses/Day) at L13, Heavy Fortification Death Ward III (6 Uses/Day) at L15, and Heavy Fortification Soulfire at L17+.

Adding multiple uses of things to armor is a little odd; a first use costs [(Existing Bonus + Bonus of Ability) squared – (Existing Bonus) squared] x 1000 GP. In this case the first instance of Death Ward costs [(5 + 1) x (5 + 1) – (5 x 5)] x 1000 GP = 11,000 GP. The Second instance costs 13,000 GP, and the third costs 15,000 GP – so each extra use gets progressively more expensive. Ergo, adding a second instance adds (the baseline number of uses + the number of times the ability has been added past the first) uses.

  • Augmented Attack, +4d6 (15) damage, only to overcome Damage Reduction, Specialized/only versus Undead (6 CP).
  • Proficiency with Swords (6 CP).
  • Witchcraft III, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/each basic ability is limited to a fairly specific, simple effect (rather than allowing dozens), often with additional limitations (6 CP).
    • Elfshot/Blinding Strike: The user may expend 2 Power on a critical hit (this does not count as an action) to force the target to make a Will Save at DC (16 + Cha Mod) or be stricken permanently blind. This affects constructs, undead, and other creatures unless they’re immune to curses.
    • Glamour/Iron Will: The user gains a +8 bonus on Bluff and Intimidate at no cost.
    • The Adamant Will/Deathless Rage: The user is immune to all fear and to mind-affecting powers used by Undead at no cost.
    • Shadowweave/Vengeful Gaze: The user may spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to generate a Prismatic Ray with a save DC of (18 + Cha Mod).
  • +3d6 Mana as +9d6 (32) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power the four Manipulative powers listed above (6 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Power, only to rebuild the power pool for his Eyes of the Night Powers, above (5 CP).

Echoing Vengeance is obviously at its best against undead (and has obvious synergies with Eurynome), but is fairly handy for anyone who wants to try being fighty – especially at higher levels, where his Fortification and Soulfire are fully online. Minor variants – substituting other groups for “undead” – are certainly possible. A Dragonslayer version might have protection from energy or breath weapons instead of Soulfire, while a Demonslayer would take still other things – but the basic pattern is obvious enough.

Oculi Umbra (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Blocked. While channeling Oculi Umbra you cannot use any light-based effects).

Tenebrous is a bit of a problem. First of all, “tenebrous” isn’t a name, or any kind of traditional demonic or mythic creature; it’s just a mildly-uncommon word that means “shadowy” – derived from Tenebrae (“Darkness”). That’s not really a lot to go on.

Tenebrous also illustrates one of the major problems with conversions to Eclipse. Depending on how you read his/her “Turning” ability it may or may not offer limitless uses of Channeling. Eclipse adds enough high-end options for Channeling to turn it into a power source on a level with primary spellcasting. Unfortunately, that means that bestowing unlimited-use Channeling is roughly equivalent to giving a Sorcerer unlimited use of his or her spells. Ergo, I’m going with the interpretation that says “as a cleric” means that uses are limited as a basic cleric and providing a few other little upgrades.

So… let us create that which looks with envy upon existence, peering out from every shadow – Oculi Umbra.

  • Channeling (either positive or negative): 3 + (3 x Cha Mod) uses per day at +4 Intensity, Corrupted / you may only spend one of these uses every five rounds (18 CP).
  • +10 Bonus Uses of Channeling, Specialized and Corrupted/only for Conversion, below, activates Aura of the Night and Eyes of Shadow automatically during the Summoning and must be used (if available) to reactivate either if they are deactivated during the summoning (5 CP).
  • Conversion to any one of a set of level five spells (12 CP):
    • Aura of the Night: Deeper Darkness with +2 levels of Sculpting (may alter the radius from 0 (inactive) up to a 60′ radius as a free action, +1 level of Difficult to Dispel (+5 verus Dispelling), and -1 level for 3+ levels of built-in Metamagic = L5 Base.
    • Before The Darkness: As a swift action you infuse up to two weapons, your unarmed attacks, or up to 100 projectiles (in two groups of fifty) with primal power for one minute. During that time those weapons inflict 4d8 extra damage – 1d8 each of Fire, Lightning, Acid, and Sonic damage. (L1 Blades of Fire, +1 level extended duration, +3 levels combined spell (4 x L1), +0 levels Change Elemental Type, +1 level of Difficult to Dispel (+5 verus Dispelling), -1 level for 3+ levels of built-in Metamagic = L5 Base.
    • Eyes of Shadow: Dragonsight (Spell Compendium, L5).
    • Oblivion Stride: For one minute per level you can bend space – ignoring up to 60 feet of distance once per round as an immediate action. This may be used to move from place to place, ignoring barriers that do not stop planar travel, to dodge an attack (providing a 50% miss chance), or to make a single melee attack at range without moving from your current position. You do threaten each square within range, but are still limited to a single strike using an immediate action (L5). Unfortunately, activating this ability is a standard action.

Oculi Umbra is a somewhat fragile Mystery, as befits a shadow of existence; unlike most Mysteries, many of his powers are subject to Dispelling – although they are quite potent otherwise.

Well there were a lot of those weren’t there? I probably spent much more time than I should have on Munkattingusupia, but hopefully it will make a good example.

Eclipse d20 – Binding Mysterious Spirits III, Ahazu / Ahazie, Andromalus, Focalor, Ile Zeremika, The Swashbuckler, Eligos, and The Presence.

It’s important to note that Mysteries build on the Bokor power package, so anyone calling one (or who wants to use one as a template) is assumed to have Witchcraft II, +6d6 Power, Dismissal, The Sight, and Divination already – although those are limited in the Bokor build to wind up with a total cost of 14 CP. Thus, if you like the power-package associated with a particular Mystery, all you need is 49 CP to buy it directly. It’s more efficient to just take the 24 CP Bokor package to start with but it is a way to add a particular Mystery to your arsenal permanently, and without taking up one of your channeling slots.

Level Three Mysteries:

Ahazu or Ahazie (probably singular, although this is uncertain due to references to Ahazu-demons, possibly originating in Babylon or Assyria) is a semetic night spirit that apparently caused a seizure-related illness (“Ahazie”; whatever this was it cannot be identified in modern terms due to lack of information) by touch. Or may have kidnaped people, although that seems likely to have been “briefly taken away” – another way of saying a seizure. Given that, I suppose that giving such an entity the ability to see at night, make people lose actions, and torment the righteous is reasonable enough.

Of course, the fact that the Wizards of the Coast version requires poking around in the depths of the Abyss would be limiting, if the standard Binder couldn’t bypass the whole “epic level quest” part with a single generic feat that negates the special requirements for calling Vestiges. (Doesn’t that seem a little cheap somehow)? In any case… Ahazu comes in the darkness, bringing seizures, diseases, and death to those he touches and bringing his summoner abhorrent secrets and the perilous shelter of the void.

Ahazu the Seizer (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive hoarder. Ahazu wishes to stash away captured foes, valuables, caches of weapons, and more).

  • Whispers of the Void: Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect; only for Skills, only for the Secrets skill, the secrets known are determined randomly by the GM each time Ahazu is called upon, many of the secrets are maddening and/or dangerous to know (3 CP). Each time Ahazu is called upon, he will bring along knowledge long lost in the depths of time – the maddening meaning of a terrible symbol, the incantation to open a gate long sealed, the location of some ancient city overthrown for defying the gods, or (just as likely) some useless bit of ancient trivia.

Secrets (Intelligence, No Unskilled Use, Restricted) originally appeared in the Ancient One Template. Each skill point invested in the “Secrets” skill brings extraordinary knowledge – the names of a dozen powerful fey, the routes through the crypts beneath the sacred mountains, how to open the seven gates of the netherworld, or the summoning chant of the three winds. The game master may let a character roll against his or her Secrets skill to see if they know some bit of lost information – or simply give the user additional secrets/plot hooks when it’s convenient.

  • Wrapped In Sheltering Darkness: Immunity to effects that target the Mind or Soul (Common, Severe, Epic, Specialized and Corrupted/if you die while using this ability you cannot be Raised or Resurrected, it requires a standard action to activate, it may attract the notice of entities from the void beyond the planes or even let them follow you back, and it blocks all related beneficial effects as well, 12 CP).
  • What Waits Between The Stars: Witchcraft III (6 CP).
    • Infliction (with the Mouth of the Earth (Abyss) upgrade (6 CP).
    • Hyloka, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / One Effect Only, the Grasp of Darkness. The user may spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to cause a Seizure (Will Save DC 18 + Cha Mod) in any creature within 60′. A creature which fails to save may take no actions for 1d3 rounds and is Fatigued afterwards if subject to Fatigue.
    • Hand of Shadows / Touch of the Ebon Gate. Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / One Effect Only; Remote Theft. The user may spend 1 Power and an Standard Action to attempt to steal an item weighing up to eighty pounds from any target within 60′. If the target fails to save (Will DC 15 + Cha Mod) the item (armor, weapon, ring, pants, or whatever) appears in the user’s hands. The user must have a free hand to use this effect.
    • Witchsight / Eyes of the Uttermost Night, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / the user may only manifest Blindsight out to 5′ per level (100′ maximum) although this costs no Power.
  • +2d6 Mana as 6d6 (21) Power, Specialized and Corrupted/only to power What Waits Between The Stars, above (4 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable between encounters to regain the What Waits Between The Stars Power Pool, above (4 CP).

Ahazu or Ahazie provides a powerful – if somewhat risky – mental defense, free game master plot hooks, a vicious set of attacks (including the option for pretty much permanent paralysis), handy Blindsight – and an incredibly bothersome “steal your equipment at range” effect. It’s hard to get much more annoying than – say – stealing someone’s plate armor while they’re wearing it.

Andromalus the Judge (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive. Andromalus hates being taken off a case. If ordered not to investigate, threatened, or blocked, his channeler will go undercover and continue to investigate).

Yes, it’s another visitor from the Ars Goetia, where – at least according to the Lesser Key of Solomon – “His Office is to bring back both a Thief, and the Goods which be stolen; and to discover all Wickedness, and Underhand Dealing; and to punish all Thieves and other Wicked People and also to discover Treasures that be Hid.”

OK. So we have a beat cop of sorts – or possibly a hard-boiled detective. Given that the Bokor is a magic-using class focused on divination, manipulation, and minor illusions, channeling Andromalus is clearly going to turn the user into a card-carrying member of the Trenchcoat Brigade.

  • Under Arrest: Presence, Specialized Increased Effect (Double Radius), Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only usable once every five rounds, allows a new save every round of effect. All enemies within 30′ must save or be affected as if by Hideous Laughter – albeit with slightly different special effects (4 CP).
  • Eyes of the Judge: Improved Occult Sense/Detect Trickery. Reveals the presence of intentional deception. In general this reveals invisible and actively hidden creatures and items, but not those which simply happen to be behind things or are unintentionally concealed, such as by darkness. It reveals attempts at sleight-of-hand, cons, and picking pockets, reveals secret doors that have been intentionally concealed (but not one that’s been accidentally wallpapered over), reveals the presence of (but does not let you see through) intentional disguises, shapeshifting used as an intentional disguise, and illusions, reveals intentional counterfeits and forgeries (but not that items that have been misidentified), and grants a +6 bonus on Sense Motive and Appraise checks (sadly, since few if any statements are untainted with falsehood, and attempts to make the speaker look better, this sense can only provide bonuses to detecting major prevarications). If this ability opposed by magical effects such as Glibness or Nondetection a Will roll-off will determine the result (12 CP).

Since the basic Bokor package provides access to The Sight (covering short-range clairvoyance and postcognition, reading auguries, pathfinding, and locating thieves) and Divination (covering various Detections, Locate Object, and True Seeing), they already have access to most of the basic divinatory magic an occult detective is likely to need. Still, there are a few higher level effects which would be very handy. Ergo, take…

  • Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (+2 CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (2 CP). Only to expand the user’s Witchcraft Abilities, and only two choices, selected from when the Vestige is summoned: either +10 Power or to upgrade The Sight and Divination to Corrupted for Increased Effect (the two abilities also offer access to Blood Biography (Pathfinder), Discern Lies, Mind Probe (Pathfinder) and Contact Other Plane. All, where relevant, require a Standard Action, the expenditure of 2 Power, and have a Will Save DC of (16 + Cha Mod).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: Only to buy Privilege/recognized as a magical detective entitled to cooperation and assistance from the local law enforcement (3 CP). As long as you host Andromalus, you are officially on the job.
  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted/only to buy a Contact, specified when Andromalus is summoned (1 CP).
  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (3 floating CP): Points are set when Andromalus is summoned, points may only be used with “Create Relic”, relics may not augment each others effects, may only create 1 CP relics at levels 1-6, may create a 2 CP relic at levels 7-12, and may create a 3 CP relic at level 13+ (3 CP).
  • Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only usable to make personal relics, only usable with points from Enthusiast, and all relics carry a disadvantage – although this does help reduce their cost (2 CP). This is typically used to create dramatic magical weapons (bonus sneak attack, double damage versus a group, etc), trenchcoats with protective functions (spell resistance, damage reduction, or storing things), and similar paraphernalia.
  • Witchcraft III, provides access to The Adamant Will, The Inner Eye, Witchsight, and Witchfire, subject to the same limitations as the basic Bokor witchcraft package (2 CP).
  • +2d6 Sneak Attack (6 CP).

This version of Andromalus makes his channeler into a formidable occult investigator – albeit one who’s best suited to mid-level settings and who has relatively limited use of his or her magical powers. That’s intentional, as full spellcasting tends to make solving most mysteries pretty trivial.

Focalor, Master of the Storms (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Accursed. A channeler hosting Focalor constantly drips sea water, leaving an easily followed trail, soaking all their gear, adding +50% to the weight of their armor and clothing, and causing various other minor difficulties).

According to the Ars Goetia Focalor appears in the form of a man with a griffin’s wings, drowns men, and overthrows warships; but if commanded by the conjurer he will not harm any man or thing. Focalor has power over wind, sea, and storm, but is much less effective on land. I tend to presume that – when channeled – Focalor also allows his summoner to operate underwater.

  • Speak Language: Aquatic (1 CP).
  • Aura of the Storm: Presence / Those channeling Focalor cause all enemies within 10′ to suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (12 CP).
    • Ocean Spray (Salt Water, 2000 GP).
    • Crystal of Aquatic Action (3000 GP). Armor does not penalize swim checks, swim speed equal to one-half your ground movement, take no penalties for attacks or movement while underwater, can breathe water as easily as air.
      • Immunity/The need to attach this crystal to Armor to use it (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial, 1 CP).
    • Ball Lightning (As per Produce Flame, but Lightning Damage, 2000 GP).
    • Storm (Blood) Wind: User may take a swift action to give his or her melee attacks and combat maneuvers a 20′ range increment (Personal-only, 1400 GP).
    • Produce Water (1000 GP).
    • Resist Energy (Lightning Only, x .5, Personal-only, 700 GP).
  • Immunity to Dispelling effects (Common/Minor/Great, Specialized and Corrupted / only to protect Innate Enchantments, Only those that come with this Mystery, 4 CP).
  • Empowerment, Specialized for Increased Effect (the user’s level functions as the caster level) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/only applies to Spray, Ball Lightning, and Resist Energy (4 CP).
  • Metamagical Theorem: Multiple, Amplify, Streamline II, Specialized and Corrupted, only to add a secondary Shocking Grasp effect to Produce Flame to increase it’s damage and change the type to Conjuration (Creation), thus bypassing Spell Resistance (8 CP).

This winds up as a ranged touch attack, inflicting (2 + User Level, 6 Maximum)d6 + (User Level, 5 Maximum) points of electrical damage as a touch attack at up to 120′ range or in melee and can be used to make iterative attacks. There is no save and spell resistance does not apply.

Spray: Conjuration (Creation), Level; 1 (Almost anyone), Casting Time; One Standard Action, Components; S, Range; Short, Effect; Spray of material, Duration; 1d4 rounds (blindness) plus Special, Saving Throw: Fortitude (affects objects), Spell Resistance; no.

Spray actually comes in hundreds of variants – one for each caster. Regardless of whether the spell throws dust, water, pie filling, paint, vinegar, whiskey, etc, the basic effect is to Blind a victim who fails to save for 1d4 rounds. A secondary L0 effect also applies, regardless of the success or failure of the save, until the victim gets a few rounds to clean up. Thus glowing dust makes the target glow (Light), Dust makes them dirty (Prestidigitation), Pie makes them covered in goo (Prestidigitation I suppose), Water makes them wet (Drench), and so on.

D20 spells are a mixed bag on Blinding effects. You find area effect spells that inflict permanent blindness at Druid 4 (Murderous Mist), Blinding Spittle at Druid 2, Flashburst at Wizard 3, Glitterdust at Wizard 2, and Dirty Tricks to cause it temporarily without using a spell at all. Personally, I think that “Pie in the Face” works just fine at level one.

Focalor could really use Witchcraft’s Weather Control discipline – and could get it for only 2 CP given the Bokor’s limitations – but the only real way to squeeze out a few more points is to limit or take a few items off the Innate Enchantment, and given d20’s usual focus on personal combat, and the limited combat uses of witchcraft-based weather control (it’s very expensive to use much of it), I couldn’t justify it. Still, Focalor is a fairly decent choice for a ranged combatant and a Bokor who wants the weather control abilities can pick them up on the cheap anyway.

Ile Zeremika (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Irreverent. While you channel Ile Zeremika you are unable to turn away from arcane magic long enough to renew any divine spells you may have).

A demigodling character named Karsus originally turned up in The Enchanted Wood module for Dragonquest (still among the top five modules I’ve ever seen), Dragonquest was bought out by TSR, and Karsus wound up as a very vaguely related character from Netheril – an archmage who tried to steal the power of the goddess of magic with an epic spell. In the Tome of Magic he got turned into a not-very-effective Vestige who basically lets you detect magic, use magical items a bit better, and use Dispelling Touch every so often.

That’s not actually very interesting, and is cheap to build to boot – so the Mystery Ile Zeremika basically lets you play Harry Potter. You can still use Wands and Staves, but your wizard spellcasting (if any) gets a big boost in caster level – and you can invoke a wide variety of minor spells pretty much at will as long as you have your staff/wand/rod.

  • Device Use: The channeler may use magical devices as if he or she was a wizard of equal level, Specialized/spell trigger items (Wands and Staves) only (3 CP).
  • Empowerment, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Zerkika’s Pranic Mantras (for unlimited use), Requires the use of the Rod of Power (2 CP).
  • +6 Caster Levels, Specialized in Wizard Spellcasting (18 CP). If the channeler has no other Wizard Spellcasting levels, this gives the Pranic Mantras (below) an effective caster level of six.
  • Zerekika’s Pranic Mantras are the Secret Words of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction, given form by Breath and Voice and focused via a Rod of Power. In game terms… Innate Enchantment: Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / the user must wield a ritually purified rod, staff, or wand carved with occult runes to use these powers, if the wand is lost or destroyed it will take at least twenty-four hours to attune another. A character channeling Ile Zeremika may use only one of the “level zero” and one of the “first level” effects available per character level they possess, although they may change their selection with each summoning. All effects Spell Level 0 (1/2) or 1, Caster Level One, Unlimited-Use Command Word Activated (36,000 GP total value, for a total of 12 CP after Specialization and Corruption).
    • Level Zero (All SRD): Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Light, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation, and Produce Water (9000 GP Effective Value).
    • Level One (SRD): Charm Person, Grease, Hideous Laughter, Magic Missile, Obscuring Mist, Protection from Evil, Silent Image, True Strike, and Unseen Servant. (16,200 GP Effective Value)
    • Level One (Exotic) (10,800 GP Effective Value):
      • Augment Device: You may empower a magical device you touch as a swift action, increasing the DC to save against its effects by two for one minute per caster level.
      • Dispelling Touch (The Practical Enchanter). Basically Dispel Magic as a single-target touch spell.
      • Glitterblast: As per Glitterdust, but single target.
      • Impedimentia: Perform a Dirty Trick combat maneuver at medium range with a CMB equal to (Caster Level + Int Mod + 6). If you succeed the penalty lasts for 1d4 rounds, +1 round for every 5 which your attack exceeds the targets CMD. Removing the condition requires that the target expend a standard action. This does not provoke an Attack for the maneuver, although the spell casting may. There is no save, but spell resistance applies normally.
      • Kinetic Blast: Make a Bull Rush (you do not have to move), Disarm, or Trip attempt at medium range and without provoking attacks. CMB = (Caster Level + Int Mod + 6). There is no save, but spell resistance applies normally.
      • Minor Earthward (Paths of Power): Blocks 1d8 + Caster Level (5 Maximum) incoming damage. May be used once per round on or off initiative without requiring an action. A second use in a turn counts as an immediate action.

Ile Zeremika (OK, I confess… according to Google Translate that’s “Hair Pottery” in Basque) can make you a fairly formidable trickster mage, equipped with a wide variety of useful minor abilities that you can use all you want to no matter what your personal abilities are – and provides some major boosts if you happen to dabble in actual wizardry.

The Swashbuckler (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Showman. Those channeling the Swashbuckler are unable to resist posturing, explaining their plans, making dramatic entrances, and otherwise acting like they are in a movie. They take a -3 penalty on Initiative (although that is generally not enough to cancel out the Swashbuckler’s bonus) and others gain a +3 bonus to figure out what they’re up to).

In the Ars Goetia the Demon King Paimon was more or less a generic “good for anything” sort of summons. He taught everything, could reveal anything you wanted to know, granted magical servants, social positions, and political power, and bound others to the summoners will. That’s… pretty much enough right there isn’t it? It’s really no wonder that Wizards of the Coast cut him down a bit – turning him into a Casanova type who grants martial skills and a bonus to Perform (Dance). That really has nothing much to do with Paimon, but it’s easy enough to go with a fairly generic dexterity-based swordsman styled after Cyrano de Bergerac, Errol Flynn (in a variety of roles), John Carter, Zorro, and dozens of similar characters.

  • Proficient with Rapiers, Corrupted/only with Rapiers that have been professionally personalized for the user and have his or her name engraved upon them (2 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Points through L1, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/may only be spent on the three Adept skills, must be evenly split between them. This effectively provides a bonus of (Cha Mod) x 4 skill points in Blade Dance, Tumble, and Perform (Dance) (6 CP).

Blade Dance is a Dex Based Martial Art, so the user’s score will be (Cha Mod x 4 + Dex Mod). For totals of… 01: +1 to Attacks, 03: +1 to AC, 05: d8 Base Damage, 07: Combat Reflexes, 09: +5′ Reach, 11: Crippling, 13: Improved Disarm, 15: +2 to Attacks, 17: +2 to AC, 19: d10 Base Damage, 21: +3 to Attacks, 23: +3 to AC, 25: d12 Base Damage, 27: +4 to Attacks, 29: Inner Strength, 31: Touch Strike, 33: Focused Blow, 35: Vanishing, and 37+: +4 to AC. Bonuses to Attacks and AC are not cumulative; use only the best modifier the user qualifies for.

  • Presence/Dance of Blood, As a standard action the user may make a single normal melee attack at his or her full BAB against any enemies within ten feet. If the user is moving, he or she may strike at every enemy within 10′ of their path. (6 CP).

This is pretty powerful, but since WOTC introduced the Serpents Strike spell, evidently allowing a normal attack is within the power of a first level spell – and so is within the limits of Presence. Whirlwind Attack (at the same cost, but not mobile) can affect a larger area if you have a long reach though.

  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Dex Mod) to (Str Mod) when wielding one-handed blades, Specialized in Rapiers Only (3 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: Add (Cha Mod) to (Dex Mod) for AC Purposes (6 CP)
  • Augmented Bonus Add (Cha Mod) to (Dex Mod) for Initiative Purposes (6 CP)
  • Awareness (6 CP). No defensive penalties for Surprise, retaining Dexterity Bonus when caught flat-footed or attacked by an invisible opponent, suffer no save penalties for surprise attacks.

The Swashbuckler is focused entirely on Rapiers, but is actually extremely competent with them – although it suffers from the obvious weakness that, without an personalized, prepared in advance, weapon to use, the Swashbuckler is fairly useless unless you want to dance or tumble. Even better, with Augmented Bonus, the Swashbuckler will scale somewhat with the channeler’s level.

Bonus Mystery:

Personally , for a master of the martial arts, I’d prefer something like…

Eligos the Warmage (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Compulsive. Those channeling Eligos will find it near-impossible to turn down a personal challenge to battle).

According to the Ars Goetia, Eligos discovers hidden things, knows the future of wars and how soldiers should meet, attracts the favor of important persons, and is a powerful warrior. I’m going to say that he knows the hidden arts of battle, the secrets of a thousand tricks that can meet even the most exotic of attacks on equal terms.

  • Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect, only for Weapon Proficiencies or more Rite of Chi (+2 Uses) if the user is already proficient with his or her preferred martial or exotic weapon, must be selected when Eligos is summoned and cannot be changed thereafter (3 CP). This will either grant the channeler proficiency in any one Martial Weapon or the +2 uses on the Rite of Chi.
  • Mythic Martial Arts: Mana, 3d6 (10) points with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / Mana can only be regained via Rite of Chi, may only be used for reality editing, only for wild “martial arts” stunts related to Swords, user may only expend one point of Mana per turn per four levels or part thereof (18 CP). The Mythic Martial Arts rules cover a variety of tricks that this can be used for.
  • Rite of Chi, with +5 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (recovers 10 points per use), only usable between encounters, only restores Mana to the Mythic Martial Arts pool (14 CP).

Eligos can’t be your sole go-to solution since he can only invoke a few special tricks per fight – but he can supplement pretty much any combative build or Mystery very effectively indeed.

The Presence (32 CP + 3 CP Disadvantage / Inept. Anyone channeling the Presence suffers a -2 modifier to actions taken in violation of the local laws).

The Presence is a remnant of a primitive divine order, of a simple and inflexible belief that even the most trivial social assumptions were ordained by the gods. Unfortunately, that belief tended to fail the moment that a tribe with different customs was encountered – and so, today, the Presence is a mere Mystery, a haunted remnant of what it once was.

According to Wizards of the Coast, Primus used to be a Lord of Order – and still is, since a new Primus was promoted after the Modrons found out that the old one was dead, thus transforming a figure whom no one cared about and who was replaced by an effectively identical version into a Vestige that no one would want to bother with. According to Wizards of the Coast, Primus gets a small bonus when being boring by doing the same thing over and over again (and so rewarding boring play), makes your attacks lawful and +1d6 versus Chaos, and (once every five rounds) can use Command – albeit not language based and with the side effect that the victim cannot hear or see the user for 1d4 rounds or until they attack.

OK, that last bit is interesting, but overall this is a pretty poor bit of design – and is tied to a very specific bit of cosmology and a particular adventure within it at that. Ergo I think that I’ll create The Presence – an enforcer of a near-forgotten notion of divine order who’s mere existence on the mortal level can cause a variety of effects on those about it.

  • Skill Bonuses: +1 to Knowledge/The Planes, Knowledge/Arcana, Knowledge/Religion, Knowledge/Engineering, and Knowledge/Local.
  • Commanding Presence: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect: Only usable once every five rounds, requires a standard action, limited to (Cha Mod) targets within 30 feet. Targets who fail a Will save are subject to a Command effect (as per the spell, but not language dependent), are forced to ignore the user’s presence for 1d4 rounds if he or she does not directly interact with them, and becomes Shaken for the next 1d4 minutes (6 CP).
  • Lawful Presence: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect: Affects a maximum of (Cha Mod) targets at any one time, requires a standard action, 30′ foot initial range. Affected weapons (or sets of 50 projectiles) within range become +1 Chaos Bane Brutal Surge weapons for the next ten minutes per level of the user. This does not stack with other magical properties however (6 CP).
  • Leading Presence: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect: Affects up to (Cha Mod) targets (which may include yourself) at any one time, requires a standard action, 30′ foot initial range. Affected targets gain a +3 morale bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, checks, and weapon damage (6 CP).
  • Fateful Presence: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect: Only usable once every five rounds, requires a standard action, limited to (Cha Mod) targets within 30 feet, although you may include yourself. Those affected gain a +(Level/3, +5 Maximum) luck bonus to Saves, Hit, Damage, Checks, and AC for the next minute (6 CP).
  • Accursed Presence: Presence, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect: Only usable once every five rounds, requires a standard action, limited to (Cha Mod) targets within 30 feet. Targets who fail a Will save are Cursed, as per Bestow Curse. The curse must be the same for all targets (6 CP).

There. That’s quite effective in the “bestow a stack of orderly fixed bonuses” fashion – and is still quite boring. Still, there are times – especially when you’re getting your more active effects from some other mystery – that a stack of bonuses can be handy.