Adventures in Familiars II – Master And Commander

And today, it’s another question – although this one took a while.

Looking at the rules for Companion bonuses (Eclipse, p. 189), I’m given to wonder if there are other sorts of companion bonds that could be formed rather than familiars/psi-crystals, mystical mounts, or animal companions. If so, presumably those would have different benefits (and penalties, if the bond were broken such as by the companion being killed) than those listed for each of those different types of companions, before taking any purchases of upgraded Companion abilities into account.

What other sorts of bonds could there be, and what abilities would they have?


Well, Eclipse already address taking pretty much any kind of creature with a Challenge Rating as a Companion. with the basic distinctions lying in the strength of the bond and the power of the creature(s) being bonded. To take a look at that:

Familiars are strongly and tightly bound to their owners, in large part because they are weak enough to be pretty thoroughly dominated by their master’s mind – which is why they automatically share their masters skills, can deliver touch spells, and have a mental link with their master. That’s why turning a sapient creature into a Familiar without its full, informed, consent is so unethical – and remains dubious even with consent; it’s slavery and mind-alteration. That tight bond is also why losing a Familiar is so traumatic and damaging.

Familiars get a specified series of bonuses as their master goes up in level, but you can Corrupt or Specialize the Companion ability to modify it. In Eclipse terms the various Pathfinder Familiar Archetypes are all simply “Specialized or Corrupted for Increased Effect; remove abilities A, B, and C and replace them with abilities X, Y, and Z”. Do you think that your hummingbird should invest the points that would normally go into it’s (non-existent) Natural Armor Bonus in bonuses to it’s movement skills and ability to dodge instead? Does your raven have Mystic Artist (quoting classical literature) instead of Alertness? Will your cat eventually learn Power Words instead of Spell Resistance? Is it actually an imaginary friend with Returning instead of Improved Fortune (Evasion) so that it comes back in the morning if slain or dispelled? Go ahead and shift a few points around.

Mystic Mounts and Companion Creatures are less tightly bound to their liege/employer/boss, whether that’s due to simply using a weaker link or because they are simply too strong to have so much of their bosses mind imprinted on them – which is why they maintain their own personalities and motives, even though they still draw power from the character. Thus creatures that are currently too powerful in their own right to get anything extra from a character cannot serve as Companions, which is why more powerful characters can take higher powered creatures as companions but enhance them less than they would a weaker companion. Their bonuses can be modified just as a Familiars can – Specializing or Corrupting the Companion ability to reassign their basic bonuses (Improved Fortune (Evasion), +(level /2 rounded down) to their Natural Armor and Warcraft, + (level/5 rounded down) to their Str or Con). Maybe your creature gets bonuses to Dex instead of strength or something. That’s relatively rare though; most companions find bonuses to Str, Con, Armor, BAB, and Evasion pretty convenient.

Animal Companions get weak links. These still provide some power, but only strongly influence the creature, rather than subordinating it – although once again, the benefits depend on the extent of the power difference between the creature and its patron. Nonsapient creatures do not understand what is going on with a weak link, but such weak minds are fairly readily influenced – turning them into Animal Companions. Personally, I generally don’t allow easy modifications to the Animal Companion bonuses. Since most of the power sent to an animal is channeled by their basic instincts and every animal wants to be strong, healthy, tough, and fast, that’s where most of the power goes. (A good bit probably goes into reproductive enhancements as well, but that has no game impact).

Sapient creatures, however, may be influenced by such weak links, and sometimes draw power from them – but remain very much independent and individual creatures, which is why they’re classified as Followers, and are obtained via the “Leadership” ability instead of “Companion” – and why they go up in level as their liege does but always lag somewhat behind him or her.

Thus, for example, pre-existing Intelligent Items can become Followers – but having established (and generally well-protected and somewhat pre-programmed) minds cannot become Familiars. Items that you create CAN, however, become Familiars since you can imprint your mind on them when you’re making them.

To buy intelligent item followers, take Leadership with the Exotic and Constructs modifiers, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Constructs only, Corrupted for Increased Effect (Only 50% of the cost of item followers counts against your Wealth By Level) / only one Cohort may exceed one-third the users level (6 CP). Since they are Followers, multiple intelligent items will get along reasonably well. Note that, in Eclipse, followers normally get NPC wealth by level, and will continue to do so without their boss having to worry about it. If their boss or the party in general wants to give them something extra, that’s up to them. Construct Followers get their choice of actual equipment (which works for golems and things) or built-in slotless equipment (equivalent to Siddhisyoga), which is less trouble but effectively halves their allotment since everything costs twice as much as usual.

Finally, of course, if there’s no link at all… then you have employees, beasts, slaves, contacts, and other creatures that you exchange services with, buy with money, or draft into service with raw power, diplomacy, or charisma. Such associates may “cost” a few character points spent on social abilities or some gold – but they aren’t really bound to the character and so get nothing extra from him or her. They are what they are, and associating with a powerful character does not inherently change them.

3.5 and Pathfinder have quite a selection of “Familiar” feats – Betrayal of the Spirit Linked, Celestial Familiar, Construct Familiar, Darkness Familiar, Dragon Familiar, Enspell Familiar, Evolved Familiar, Extra Familiar, Familiar Spell, Familiarity, Improved Familiar, Improved Psicrystal, Improved Spell Sharing, Item Familiar, Obtain Familiar, Planar Familiar, Shadowform Familiar, Shadow Familiar, Share Healing, Stitched Flesh Familiar, Token Familiar, Undead familiar, and Unfettered Familiar. There are some similar feats for improving Mystic Mounts, Mystic Companions, and/or Animal Companions (Improved Mount, Celestial Mount, Dragon Cohort, Dragon Steed, Fast Rider, Heroic Companion, Improved Fiendish Servant, Talenta Dinosaur Bond, Exalted Companion, Natural Bond, Monstrous, Mounted Fury, Nightmare Steed, Totem Companion, Vermin Companion, Etc) as well.

To look at these…

  • More powerful Companion creatures can be obtained / used by simply going up in level or by buying the Template upgrade and using some one or more “Template Levels” to cover a creature with a higher base challenge rating; there’s no feat requirement in Eclipse. Similarly, mystic mounts and companion creatures get a pool of character points to buy freeform benefits with anyway – and buying your creature a template can modify and enhance it in innumerable ways. This covers Celestial, Construct, Darkness, Evolved, Improved, Planar, Shadowform, Shadow, Stitched Flesh, Token, and Undead Familiars / Psicrystals – as well as improving your familiar with Betrayal Of The Spirit LInked, Enspell Familiar, Familiar Spell, Familiarity, Improved Spell Sharing, Share Healing, and Unfettered Familiar as well as pretty much all the stuff for mounts and animal companions.
  • Obtain Familiar and Extra Familiar simply call for purchasing the Companion ability again.

That leaves…

  • The Spell Sovereign (Dragon 357) who can take Living Spells as Mystic Companions and effectively Awaken them. Of course, in Eclipse, this isn’t especially abnormal, even if it IS an unusual choice. Living Spells are just another type of creature after all. A few other classes also offer odd choices of Familiars, but nothing really out of the ordinary in Eclipse. Why shouldn’t you take a Swarm if you wish? It’s treated as a creature isn’t it?
  • Pathfinder’s Summoners employ Edolions – basically relatively minor variations on psychic constructs (as per The Practical Enchanter). They can be built as Companions, obtained by Leadership, bought as permanent spell effects, generated by Witchcraft, or created in a wide variety of other ways. Admittedly, Pathfinder uses “Mutation Points” instead of menu choices, but the basic structure and malleable nature of the result is quite recognizable.
  • Dragon Familiars from the Draconomicon. These require an extra feat on top of the ability to have a Familiar in the first place and get a greatly reduced set of the Familiar bonuses and a lot more independence than most Familiars. To do that in Eclipse you just take one as a Mystical Mount / Companion Creature – which will provide enough bonus points for the creature to buy the relevant Familiar bonuses (Alertness, Share Spells, Empathic Link, Deliver Touch Spells, Spell Resistance and Scry On Familiar) if you (and it) want them. Or you could spend the feat that would have gone to buy “Dragon Familiar” on a template upgrade for your draconic friend to make him or her the envy of other young dragons. “Returning” is always a good choice (hint, hint!).

In Eclipse, of course, you can take Children as Familiars, create Frankenstein’s Monster, have lots of annoying Dragon Cats, have Ancestral Spirits hanging about, have Robots or Warbeasts, a Shamanic Fetch, Lifling, or Shadow Guardian Familiar, or a Religious Advisor, or Minidrakes, bond with a lovecraftian entity from beyond space and time, or any of lots of other things – such as converting your Companion into a Vehicle.

There are a few possibilities that haven’t been addressed though. What happens if you bond with an object, group of objects, or a place? After all, classically there was the “Item Familiar” – a semiofficial optional variant from Unearthed Arcana.

Item Familiars could give your character a lot of extra power – but the character had to invest his or her own power (over and above the feat used to get an Item Familiar) in the item to get it. And if the item was destroyed or even taken away for very long the character lost everything they had invested in it permanently.

That’s not necessarily terrible. The Relic system in Eclipse works the same way unless you add in some upgrades, but a basic Relic rules are set up for a maximum investment of four character points (less than one feat). Losing four CP for a while is not a big thing, just as being unable to use one of your feats for a while isn’t particularly crippling. After all, even without buying any upgrades / “insurance policies”, if your relic gets destroyed it may be really annoying – but you can get another one to replace it if you search long enough. They are just another form of treasure after all.

But according to the Item Familiar rules “If you ever lose the chosen item (have it removed from your possession for a continuous period of more than one day per level) or if the item is destroyed, you automatically lose 200 XP per level as well as all benefits derived from possessing the linked item (plus any resources you put into the item). If you recover the item, you regain these XP. You may replace a lost or destroyed item familiar after you have advanced one level, as if you were gaining an item familiar for the first time.”

And, of course, the more resources you’ve invested in the item, the more power you get back. So to optimize your item, you need to invest heavily. So if your item is never destroyed or taken you get loads of free power. If it is destroyed or taken at some point your character is permanently crippled to the point of unplayability. Either way it’s no fun and potentially game-wrecking.

  • If you want to let someone take an “Item Familiar” as a variant on “Companion” you can – but I really do not recommend it. Instead I’d recommend Create Relic (Specialized and Corrupted / only to make a particular relic or four-point set thereof) (2 CP) and Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only provides four floating CP for creating the specific relic or set of relics above (4 CP). With that… you’ve basically spent a feat on having a few nifty toys. If something happens to them you may have to do without for a bit, but once you have a week or two of downtime you can recreate them.

An Imbued Staff (Dragon 338), on the other hand, was fairly useless. Sure, it turned into a +3 /+1 special ability staff eventually, could deliver touch spells, and could be easily repaired and summoned – but if your high-level Wizard was relying on poking things with a stick, or kept mislaying his staff, something was wrong. Even worse, it couldn’t do anything on it’s own, which pretty much eliminated the point in having a companion in the first place. It went too far the other way.

Still, that brings up the topic of “how much magical gear should a Feat (or the equivalent) be able to get you?”

I’d say “quite a bit”, given that a couple of Crafting Feats will halve the cost of much of your gear AND allow you to make gear for other party members at prices that will save them money and still make a profit for you. It’s not really that hard to effectively double or triple your usual “Wealth By Level” as a magical crafter.

That does take time and carry the risk of losing some of it of course. I think what we want here is something similar to the “Imbuement” ability, which days that “here is a signature item, if something happens to it I will shortly get it back”- less profit, but less risk. Ergo, lets build that with the existing mechanics. I’ll call it…

Soul-Forged Item: This “feat” allows the user to shape a portion of his or her soul into a powerful, personal, magical item or linked set of items, Sadly, this item or set of items must be

  • Access to Dreambinding, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (200 GP multiplier, the item created is considered a part of the user; he or she can release touch spells through it, will always know where it is, may percieve its current location as if he or she was there, the item uses his or her saves, and – if sapient – is always cooperative). (3 CP) / only creates a single item with an effective 66.667 GP multiplier, specific item or set of items; functions may be added as the user’s skill increased, but may not be altered once added, skill cannot be increased beyond (Level +3 +Cha Mod) save through Skill Emphasis and Skill Focus.
  • Fast Learner, Specialized for Reduced Cost, Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Skills, only for Dreambinding, skill can be further augmented by Skill Emphasis and Skill Focus, but not by other means, increased effect is to always keep the Dreambinding skill it’s associated with maxed out (3 CP). The user’s effective score will thus normally be (Level +3 + Cha Mod). The GP value for various effective levels is: 1: 67 GP, 2: 267 GP, 3: 600 GP, 4: 1067 GP, 5: 1667 GP, 6: 2400 GP, 7: 3267 GP, 8: 4267 GP, 9: 5400 GP, 10: 6667 GP, 11: 8067 GP, 12: 9600 GP, 13: 11,266 GP, 14: 13,067 GP, 15: 15,000 GP, 16: 17,067 GP, 17: 19,267 GP, 18: 21,600 GP, 19: 24,067 GP, 20: 26,667 GP, 21: 29,400 GP, 22: 32,267 GP, 23: 35,267 GP, 24: 38,400 GP, 25: 41,667 GP, 26: 45,067 GP, 27: 48,600 GP, 28: 52,267 GP, 29: 56,067 GP, and 30: 60,000 GP.

Sample Soul-Forged Item – A Wizards Staff:

Dreambinding Total:

  • 1) Lantern Staff (Two Handed Metal Hafted Weapon, can shed light as a Hooded Lantern, 9 Lb, Hardness 10, HP 30, 15 GP)
  • 2) Add Folded Metal (+4 Hardness, 14 Total, +200 GP) (215 GP Total).
  • 3) Add Masterwork (+1 to Attacks, +300 GP) and Resilient (+5 HP, 35 Total, 100 GP) (615 GP Total).
  • 4) Add a Wayfinder Fineal (+500 GP, Light on Command, acts as a Compass, -100 GP, cannot yet hold an Ioun Stone (1015 GP Total).
  • 5) The Wayfinder can now hold an Ioun Stone if one is available (1115 GP Total).
  • 6) Add a Cracked Orange Prism Ioun Stone (Pathfinder: +1 Cantrip Known/3.5: +4 Cantrip Slots, either way grants a random power while in a Wayfinder, 1000 GP) (2115 GP Total).
  • 7) Add first level Pearl Of Power effect (100 GP) (3115 GP Total).
  • 8) Staff is now considered a +0 magic weapon (1000 GP, 4115 GP Total).
  • 9) Staff is now a +1 Weapon (+1000 GP, Hardness 16, HP 45) (5115 GP Total).
  • 10) No Improvement.
  • 11) Staff now functions as a Staff Of Entwined Serpents, although it only fires one Magic Missile (-100 GP to 8065 GP Total).
  • 12) Staff now fires Two Magic Missiles (+100 GP) (8165 GP Total)
  • 13) Add a second first level Pearl Of Power effect (1000 GP) (9165 GP Total).
  • 14) No Improvement.
  • 15) Staff gains a +1 Weapon Ability (+6000 GP) (15,165 GP Total). This is technically slightly over the available amount, but I’m not worrying about 165 GP given that several other steps have been under the allowable total.
  • 16) Add a third first level Pearl Of Power effect (1000 GP) (16,165 GP Total).
  • 17) Add the function of a Lesser +1 Spell Level Metamagical Rod (3000 GP) (19,165 GP Total). (Or 6 uses of Minor Merciful since it’s only 1500 GP)
  • 18) No Improvement.
  • 19) Upgrade base material to Adamant (+2700 GP, now Hardness 26, HP 55) (21,865 GP Total).
  • 20) Upgrade a Pearl Of Power incidence with Sapience (500 GP), Int, Wis, and Cha 10 (no cost), Telepathy (1000 GP), 120′ Senses (1000 GP), Darkvision (500 GP), and Magic Missile 3/Day (1200 GP) (26,065 GP Total).
  • 21) No Improvement.
  • 22) Add Called: you can summon your staff to you from anywhere in the same dimension as a standard action (2000 GP) (28,065 GP Total). “Called” is normally only for Armor, but – given that the staff is technically a part of you, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to apply it here.
  • 23) The Sapient Pearl can cast Greater Magic Weapon on the Staff Only (x.7 = 4200 GP) once per day (raising it’s enhancement bonus to +4 for 17 hours) (30,265 GP). In effect, the staff becomes a +4 weapon.
  • 24) The Sapient Pearl can cast Mending at will (1000 GP) and gets the equivalent of a Healing Belt (750 GP) (32,015 GP Total).
  • 25) The Sapient Pearl can cast Silent Image 3/Day (1200 GP) (33,215 GP Total).
  • 26) Staff gains an additional +1 Weapon Ability (+10,000 GP) (43,215 GP Total).
  • 27) The Sapient Pearl can cast Grease and Unseen Servant 3/Day Each (2 x 1200 GP) (45,415 GP Total).
  • 28) The Sapient Pearl can cast Nerveskitter and Protection From Evil 3/Day Each and Magic Missile six times (3 x 1200 GP) (49,015 GP Total).
  • 29) The Sapient Pearl can cast Web 1/Day (2400 GP) and Glitterdust 1/Day (2400 GP) (53,815 GP Total).
  • 30) The Sapient Pearl can cast Dispel Magic 1/Day (6000 GP) (59,815 GP Total). (While that’s thematic, it won’t work too often at this point. If you really want to be Gandalf, use Phantom Steed instead).

After all, if it doesn’t take up an item slot… you can stack it onto something else – if necessary by gluing it there.

Sample Soul-Forged Item – The Sword Of The New Dawn:

Dreambinding Total:

  • 1) Greatsword (Hardness 10, HP 10, 50 GP).
  • 2) Add Folded Metal (+4 Hardness, 14 Total, +200 GP) (250 GP Total).
  • 3) Add Masterwork (+1 Enhancement Bonus to Attacks, +300 GP) (550 GP Total).
  • 4) Add Illuminating (May shed Bright Light in a 20′ radius and shadowy illumination in a 40′ radius, 500 GP) (1050 GP Total).
  • 5) Add two Wand Chambers (200 GP) (1250 GP Total). These may or may not be much use to you, but – at worst – you can put some Eternal Wands in them.
  • 6) No Improvement.
  • 7) Weapon becomes +1 (Hardness 16, 20 HP, 2000 GP) (3250 GP Total).
  • 8) Add Dwarvencraft (+2 Hardness (18 Total), +10 HP (30 Total), +2 on saves, +600 GP) (3850 GP Total).
  • 9) Hollow Pommel acts as an Ehlonna’s Seed Pouch (1400 GP) (5250 GP Total).
  • 10) Seed Pouch becomes Sapient (500 GP), Int, Wis, Cha 10 (No Cost), Healing Belt Functions (750 GP) (6500 GP Total).
  • 11) SP can cast Nerveskitter 3/Day (1200 GP) (7700 GP Total).
  • 12) No Improvement.
  • 13) Weapon becomes Adamantine (Hardness 28, HP 33, +2700 GP) (10,400 GP Total).
  • 14) SP becomes Telepathic with the bearer (+1000 GP) (11,400 GP Total).
  • 15) SP can cast Resist Energy 1/Day (2400 GP) (13,800 GP Total).
  • 16) No Improvement.
  • 17) SP can cast Greater Magic Weapon on the Sword Only (x.7 = 4200 GP) once per day (raising it’s enhancement bonus to +5 for 20 hours) (18,000 GP Total).
  • 18) No Improvement.
  • 19) Weapon gains a +1 Weapon Ability (+6000 GP) (24,000 GP Total).
  • 20) SP can cast Protection From Evil and Liberating Command 3/Day Each (2400 GP) (26,400 GP Total).
  • 21) SP can cast Personal Haste 3/Day (1200 GP) (27,600 GP Total).
  • 22) SP can cast Frostbite 3/Day (1200 GP) (28,800 GP Total).
  • 23) SP can cast Light Foot 3/Day (1200 GP) (30,000 GP Total).
  • 24) SP can cast Lead Blades 3/Day (1200 GP) (31,200 GP Total).
  • 25) Weapon gains a additional +1 Weapon Ability (+10,000 GP) (41,200 GP Total).
  • 26) Functions as per a Rod Of Bodily Restoration (3100 GP) (44,300 GP Total).
  • 27) No Improvement.
  • 28) Functions as per an Orb Of Mental Renewal (3100 GP) (47,400 GP Total).
  • 29) SP can cast Scorching Ray 1/Day (2400 GP) (49,800 GP Total).
  • 30) Grants the True Believer Feat (10,000 GP) (59,800 GP Total).

Both of those are pretty optimized – and are exploiting the Pathfinder rule that “intelligent items use the base caster level of the item without having to pay for it” rule quite unmercifully – but neither of them should be particularly game-wrecking, especially in Eclipse. A handful of low level spells, even being cast at high caster levels, won’t make that big a difference in higher level play.

Alternatively, you could add enhancements to an existing item – perhaps, in your hands, whatever magical longsword you are using will soon pick up intelligence and some secondary abilities. That could follow the same general pattern as the Dawnsword, you’d just be substituting other bits for the weapon abilities.

Still, that covers our “intelligent item familiars” niche.

Taking nonmagical, inert, things as “companions” (presumably in downtime backstory) may transform them into animated objects or conventional creatures – but that just puts them into the appropriate “Companion” category and offers an explanation for where they came from. Actually taking an entirely non-magical inert item as a “Companion” is allowable – but it doesn’t cost anything because it doesn’t actually DO anything. Your “pet rock” remains a rock, just as your favorite fern, or tree, or other inert item, remains whatever it is.

You can bond with an area too. If you draw on it’s power while you’re there, or set up special facilities, or some such, you can just use the Sanctum ability or the Castle Hieronymus setup.

Alternatively, if it’s a relatively small (and mostly un-empowered before you got to it) area you can exercise some control over the place. Purchase this as…

  • Mystic Link with Communications and Power Link, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / links you to a specific, relatively small, location, does not interact with any further mystic links you may buy rather than stacking as Mystic Link upgrades usually do (6 CP) plus Leadership with Exotic Followers, Specialized and Corrupted / only one follower (a Ward Major at one-third your level), follower never accompanies you anywhere (obviously) (3 CP).

With this package you can draw on the powers of a Ward Major and direct it’s influence over the area it controls – although this does leave you obligated to regularly return to and defend that area. Still, if you want a dark forest where the mist rises at your command, there is always a pack of wolves ready to attack your enemies, and you know everything that happens… this is a way to buy it.

Large and powerful domains tend to have their own existing consciousness – a Realm Spirit (Eclipse, 169). And no, you generally cannot have one as a Companion, or even as a Follower. Realm Spirits are invariably up in the epic levels, so you’d need to be up around level sixty or so to qualify. If you’re bonded with a Realm Spirit… then YOU’RE the companion, and you’ve been let out to play for a while.

  • To buy this, buy a Contact (with Occult x 2) / a Realm Spirit (3 CP), Mystic Link with the Communications and Power modifiers (9 CP), and Major Favors (The Realm Spirit, 6 CP)., all Specialized and Corrupted / the user is the mouthpiece, envoy, and troubleshooter for a semi-divine entity with little or no comprehension of creatures that don’t exist on a geologic scale and timescale. Certainly, you can ask the Realm Spirit of the Emerald Forest to swallow up an army tht happens to be marching through the area – but you will also be responsible for explaining to the king that the forest doesn’t want him building a castle in it. The link is not under the user’s control, and the user cannot prevent the Realm Spirit from exercising it’s powers on him or her if it so desires (not that there is usually a lot that can be done about a Realm Spirit anyway).

And I think that about covers the possibilities. There are still things like Forces out there – but having a special bond with (say) “Gravity” probably simply makes you a telekinetic specialist or some such. It’s not even remotely going to fit under “Companion”.


Eclipsing Skids / Sally Blevins (Starting Hero)

Skids force field apparently makes her pretty much invulnerable. According to her old FASERIP stats (from the Uncanny X-Men Box Set) she was capable of ignoring every other character in the book (including Gladiator) until she either died of thirst, starvation or old age, or somebody like Death. Eternity, or Galactus arrived to extract her. It may even have protected her against M-Day.

On the other hand, everyone outside her shield enjoyed the same protection from her and from anyone she was protecting. Basically… Skids could get in the way, hit people (as a normal young woman) if she briefly dropped her shield, and acted as a portable bunker. Her secondary effects were being really difficult to grab (the field was frictionless) and the ability to skate around on it, giving her the amazing power of… roller skates.

In theory she might have been vulnerable to gases “leaking” through her field, but I can’t really recall that being tested. It might have been able to filter out harmful contaminants in the same way that it let light and sound (and cell phone signals) through up until the point where they would have been harmful, and then blocked them – and if it couldn’t at first, I’d bet that she could easily get it to do so.

She later developed the ability to project her force field around other people and still later developed the ability to wrap it around an area to contain whatever was there while keeping it separate from her – but that rapidly exhausted her.

Personally, Skids was basically a sidekick to Rusty and shared the standard “alienated from society and with no social skills or ties” background of most of the new X- characters of the time: Skids powers manifested to save her from her abusive father, who then killed her mother because he couldn’t harm Skids any longer. She then ran away to the Morlocks who ALSO rejected her because she was too good-looking – and no outside friends or relatives were ever mentioned as far as I know.

Of course, she was competing with Russell Collins (parents deceased, custodial uncle dumping him, another uncle who pretty much never appeared, no friends or other relatives), Shatterstar (a super-soldier from another dimension – apparently with no friends, relatives, coherent backstory, or interest in sex or social situations even there), Feral (most notable for killing off her “friends” and relatives), and Warpath (his entire tribe wiped out) for the “most alienated” crown. It’s almost as if some mysterious authorial force didn’t want to have to deal with characters with actual backgrounds or something.

Anyway, the Mutants & Masterminds build is over HERE, but she’s not going to function much like that; Skids is effectively invulnerable, not “slightly tougher”. Secondarily, I’m going to give her a lot more skills (emphasizing the fact that she was a reasonably successful thief) and some gear to go with them so that she has some role on a team outside of “somebody’s girlfriend”. “the resident pinata”, and “medical bunker”. After all, as written… she’s pretty boring much of the time;

Skids (Sally Blevins)

Level Two Valley Girl Barrier Warrior, Sneak-thief, and Team Cheerleader.

Four Color Package (24 CP):

  • This includes Superheroic Physics, Superheroic Durability, Superheroic Build, Rapid Recovery, Minor Conventions (Ready for Inspection, Comics Code, It’s Sufficient, Heroic Will, Heroic Rally, Coincidental Catch, Heroic Health, and a Minor Benefit (see below).

Pathfinder Package Deal (Free).

Pathfinder Human (Free)

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Int 14, Wis 12, Con 14, Dex 16 (+2 Human = 18), Cha 12 (Pathfinder 25 Point Buy).

Mutant Powers:

Skids power is pretty much defined by her childhood abuse. As long as she is playing a role, and so isn’t really HERSELF, no one can harm her.

And she never really stops.

  • Outside Reality:
    • Mana-Powered Mystic Artist for Deception (Acting) (6 CP), The Art of the Occult: The Hidden Way and Spellweaver (both Specialized, only as a prerequisite, 6 CP), Sphere of Mastery (reality bubble, 6 CP), Immunity/ever having to drop her act to do something else (Very Common, Minor, Major, Specialized/must make a DC 15 Will Save to stop even momentarily, 6 CP).
    • Mana-Powered Luck, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to “Take 30″ on Escape (bonds, grabs, etc) checks (3 CP).
    • Blessing with Multiple, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Only for use with her “Outside Reality abilities”, only to bring things into her “bubble” or to put other creatures and things into their own bubbles, it is rapidly exhausting to put other creatures and things into their own bubbles and requires a ranged attack check (3 CP).

Skids essentially occupies a private little pocket dimension of her very own. As such, if an attack does not include the ability to affect other dimensions, she – and anyone she drops the effect long enough to pull in with her – is invulnerable to it. On the other hand, she can be seen and heard – but cannot attack anyone else without using that same modifier or dropping her defenses.

  • Innate Enchantment: All effects Level 1/2 or 1, Caster Level one, Unlimited-Use Use=-Activated (x2000 GP) x. 7 (Personal-Only) where applicable, (7 CP)
    • Expeditious Retreat: +30′ Ground Movement (“Skating”) (1400 GP).
    • Practiced Thief (Skill Mastery (Group) 1): +3 Competence Bonus to Deception, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth (1400 GP)
    • Inspiring Word: +1 Morale Bonus to Saves, Attacks, Checks, and Damage (1400 GP)
    • Handy Haversack (2000 GP): There’s very little justification for this outside of extrapolating that her Dimensional Bubble effect includes a bit of spacefolding for storage space – but why not?


  • Skill Boosters: Human Fast Learner to +2 SP/Level (3 CP), Fast Learner Specialized in Skills for +2 SP / Level (6 CP), Adept x2 (Acrobatics, Deception, Investigation, Martial Art (Capoeira), Perception, Persuasion, Sleight Of Hand, and Stealth, 12 CP)
  • Available Skill Points: 10 (Int Mod x 5) +20 (Fast Learner) +2 (Purchased, 2 CP) = 30
  • Purchased Skills (all +1 Morale):
    • Acrobatics 5* (+4 Dex = +10)
    • Deception 5* (+1 Cha +3 Comp = +10)
    • Expertise (Science) 2 (+2 Int = +5)
    • Insight 1 (+1 Wis = +3)
    • Investigation 5* (+4 Int = +10)
    • Martial Art (Capoeira) +5* (Dex +4 +3 Comp = +13)
    • Perception 5* (+1 Wis = +7)
    • Persuasion 5* (+1 Cha = +7)
    • Sleight Of Hand 5* (+4 Dex +3 Comp = +12
    • Stealth 5* (+4 Dex +3 Comp = +13)
    • Technology 3 (+2 Int = +6)
    • Treatment 2 (+2 Int = +5)

Net total: 28 SP.

  • +3 Skill Specialties: Deception (Acting) (1 SP), Sleight Of Hand (Stealing) (1 SP), Expertise (Sciences) (Biological Sciences) (1 SP), and Technology (Security Systems) (1 SP).
  • Mystic Artist Abilities: Fascinate (Being Outrageous, Will DC 13), Hold Audience (Deadpan Snarking, Will DC 14), Suggestion (Taunting, Will DC 16), Emotion (Will never shut up, Will DC 13 when applicable) and Competence (Cheerleading, Will DC 14 if somehow applicable),
  • Capoeira Techniques (6): Strike, Attack 4, and Crippling (May opt to do 1d4 Con damage rather than hit point damage on a critical hit; this is how she took out Boom-Boom once).


  • BAB: +1, Corrupted/does not contribute to iterative attacks (4 CP).
  • Hit Dice: 8 (L1d8, 4 CP) +3 (L2d4, 0 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +8 (Con Mod x 4) = 31 HP (Mutants & Masterminds Toughness +7).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude +0 (0 CP) +1 (Morale) +2 (Con) = +3
    • Reflex +0 (0 CP) +1 (Morale) +4 (Dex) = +5
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +1 (Morale) +1 (Wis) = +4
  • Proficiencies: None.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Dex) +2 (Armor) = 16
  • Attack: Punch or Kick with Stunweb: +7 (+1 BAB +4 M. Ar +1 Weapon +1 Morale) Damage 1d4 +1 +4d6 Electrical +DC 18 Fort Save or Stunned for 1d4 rounds). Crit 20/x2 on the d4 OR may choose to do 1d4 Con damage. (Mutants & Masterminds: +8 Damage plus Save or Stunned with Improved Critical).

Minor Abilities:

  • Opportunist: May take an attack for any target within normal movement range once per round (6 CP).

Point Costs:

  • Four-Color Package: 24 CP
  • Outside Reality: 30 CP
  • Innate Enchantment: 7 CP
  • Skill Boosters: 21 CP
  • Purchased Skill Points: 2 CP
  • Base Attack Bonus: 4 CP
  • Hit Dice: 4 CP
  • Saving Throws: 6 CP

Net Cost: 98 CP

Available Character Points: 72 (Level Two Base) +10 (Disadvantages: History, Compulsive (Kleptomania), and Healing Resistant) +12 (Human and L1 Feats) +4 (Duties. Skids is a bit of a reluctant hero, but does it anyway) = 98 CP

Remaining Details:

  • Minor Four Color Ability: Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2 x Con Mod) HP.
  • Equipment: As a level two character, Skids is entitled to 1000 GP worth of adventuring gear.
    • Primary Transport: Motorcycle (Yamaha YZ250F, 250 GP)
    • Primary Weaponry: Stunweb: “Brass Knuckles” (+1 “Unarmed” damage, DC 5), Compact (1 Size Smaller, +2 DC) Electrified (+4d6 Electricity, +2 DC), Heavy Stun (DC 18 Fort Save or stunned for 1d4 rounds, +6 DC), Masterwork (+1 to Hit, +3 DC) (Net Purchase DC 18, 60 GP).
    • Other Equipment:
      • Binoculars (3 GP)
      • Bolt Cutter (2 GP),
      • Climbing Gear (8 GP)
      • Clothing: Business Outfit (10 GP), 3x Casual Outfits (10 GP),
      • Demolitions Kit (14 GP) with twelve blocks of C4 (30 GP), two rolls of Det Cord (8 GP), and 10 Radio-Controlled Detonators (60 GP)
      • Fire Extinguisher (4 GP)
      • Forgery Kit (10 GP)
      • Lockpick Set (5 GP).
      • Mastercraft +3 Multipurpose Tool (Kit) (60 GP, net +1 on skills that need tools).
      • Medical Kit (DC 15) Miniature (+5 DC) (100 GP): +2 to Treatment.
      • Night Vision Goggles (45 GP)
      • Notebook Computer (50 GP).
      • Portable Stove (5 GP)
      • Search-And-Rescue Kit (DC 12) Miniature (+5 DC, 45 GP): Ration pack, compass, waterproof matches, “space” blanket, a standard flashlight, 50 feet of nylon rope, two smoke grenades, and one signal flare
      • Smartphone (5 GP). With GPS app.
      • Steel Handcuffs (six sets, 16 GP)
      • Tactical flashlight (4 GP)
      • Three Tear Gas Grenades (30 GP)
      • Tough Costume (as per classic leather armor, 10 GP).

This comes to some 640 GP, leaving her 360 GP ($7200) for other purposes.

Skids big decision in combat is when to drop her shield for a moment and try to slug someone versus just cheering her allies on a bit and pulling the wounded to safety – but this version does have a few other options and a reasonable number of out-of-combat skills to use. I still have my doubts – absolute invulnerability with a single gaping Achilles heel doesn’t tend to make for exciting scenes – but at least now she has the skills and the damage-dealing capacity to be playable.

My Little Pony Index II

Ponies have continued to be a fairly popular topic – so here’s an updated subindex for pony-related material. There’s a fair amount of background and three major categories of ponies in the herd though – d20 ponies built using the Supheroic World Template (everyone gets free Mana equal to their Con Mod each round), Ponies built to Alzrius’s standards (compatible with 3.5, Pathfinder, and Ponyfinder), and Hero System Ponies (we use 4’th edition, but it’s not like NPC’s need a lot of updating).

Eclipse d20 Ponies (My Versions):

Background Material:

Building Pony Characters / Examples:

Hero System Ponies:

Thanks to terribly bad luck and some summonings, some ponies from the (normally imaginary) magical land or Equestria are running about in the current Champions game. Oh well. Superheroic Mages have turned lose much sillier and more destructive things.

  • Prince Blueblood and the Cartoon Powers Package: Prince Blueblood the Navigator, standard “Toon” powers, and why Celestia tolerates him.
  • Apple Bloom: Alchemist, trap-maker, and (very) minor earth-mage. For when you want to film “home alone” in Equestria.
  • Scootaloo: Scout, weathermage, and junior speedster. Note that – since normal humans with no wings at all can learn flight magic in the setting, this version of Scootaloo CAN fly. She just can’t steer too well yet…
  • Sweetie Belle: Junior sorceress, singer, and just too cute to stop. For all the Cutie Mark Crusaders “Awwww… We’re not in trouble are we?” moments.
  • Trixie Lulamoon and the Alicorn Amulet:  Trixie the Minor Sorceress, a discussion of Traveling Performers – and the power of the Alicorn Amulet.
  • Apex – Prince Blueblood Escapes From My Little Pony: An upgraded Prince Blueblood as a hero of the Apex setting. The role of the nobility in the government of Equestria. Blueblood finds his purpose – and it’s being an arrogant ass.

Alzrius’s Eclipse d20 Ponies:

Alzrius built his ponies so as to fit into “standard” d20 games – whereas I used the “Superheroic” world template because it would allow my builds to reproduce the things that the ponies did on the show. Of course, that means that my builds will only work well in games based on the assumptions of Equestria; they won’t do so well in basic games. For those, courtesy of Alzrius, we have…

  • The Pony Races:  Earth Ponies, Pegasi, and Unicorns.
  • The Elements of Harmony:  Built as Eclipse Relics.
  • Rarity:  Starting off the series at level one! Commentary: Using the Elements of Harmony to cover the characters occasional incredible stunts.
  • Princess Celestia: As she generally appears on the show – as a ninth-level mentor-type who explains why she can’t handle things.
  • Adagio of the Sirens: Unreformed, still at large, and needing only an enchanted gem to make a comeback.
  • Lex Legis (And his Picture): Alzrius’s original character – and a very “gray” potential opponent. He has an upgrade here: The Dark Side of the Horse
  • Notes on Zecora: A discussion of just how much power – or lack thereof – is needed to build Zecora. Comments: My take on Zebras.
  • The Journal of the Two Sisters – and lapses in logic therein. Comments: Unicorn populations and birthrates, basic demographics – and why the “Unicorns losing their magic” story makes no sense in any terms.
  • Iliana, the Ponyfinder Queen: An examination of how to use Eclipse to customize – and slightly upgrade – a Ponyfinder queen to fit her history.
  • Lashtada, Ponyfinder Goddess:  As set up using The Primal Order for second edition.
  • Sonata Dusk: As appearing in his Fanfiction.
  • A Magical Medieval Society: Equestria: Building equestrian society using “A Magical Medieval Society”.
  • Baby Got Backlash: Flurry Heart and Magical Surges
  • Tempest Shadow: The movie antagonist escapes into d20, rather than remaining to face the friendship…

My Alzrius-Styled Eclipse Ponies:

Alzrius Pony Notes:

If and when additional pony-related material gets posted on this blog or Alzrius’s blog, I’ll try to link it here.

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

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

Granny Part IV – Rulership, Miscellany, Investments, and Equipment

Vamachara Tamas, The Left-Hand Path of Mastery (or The Way of the Dark Overlord) (20 CP).

  • Rajanyoga: Dominion, Specialized for Reduced Cost / Granny draws on the awe and mystery of being a mysterious figure that works from the shadows. Thus she may be the power behind the throne (or at least the most respected advisor for the country), may be a patron of several covens of witches, a major figure in the underworld, and more – but she must do so without directly ruling, and so gets only half the usual number of dominion points for her various roles (3 CP).
  • Asuramantra: Power Words, Specialized for Half Cost and Corrupted for 1.5x Effect / only to store Witchcraft effects (base level of three), only to works on effects modified with Dominion Points to act as Battle Magic (affecting an entire battlefield without level change). With an 18 Con, this allows Granny to stock six such effects – allowing her to create massive healing effects, or toxic miasmas, or a wide variety of other effects. She usually uses Foresight to simply have what she needs available (3 CP).
  • Asura Raksha: Leadership, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (various monsters and creatures, either singly or in groups, treating CR as level)/Granny has to create and provide facilities for her own monsters, by cursing people or animals to transform into suitable, obedient, horrors. (3 CP).
    • With 10 Hit Dice and a Cha Mod of 10, Granny gets 40 CR worth of followers or groups thereof of up to CR 7. Since she tends to like groups of lesser creatures, she’s got: 3 Barghests (CR 7), 4 Hellhounds (CR 7), Rakith (A Giant Weasel Lycanthrope Assassin-Type, CR 2 + 4 Eclipse Class Levels = CR 6), Heksested (Heavy Horse Lycanthrope Witch-steed, CR 3 + 3 Eclipse Levels = CR 6), 6 Ratlings (CR 7), and 4 Werewolves (CR 6 +1 Eclipse Level to give them some magical “gifts”, Berserker, and WOD flavor = CR 7).
  • Kalantaka Dhaal: Reflex Training/Three Action Per Day Variant, Specialized in Defensive / Escape actions only (3 CP).
  • Cintamani Yukti (the art of the wish-fulfilling stones): Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted: Only for working with points from Enthusiast, can only create 1 CP Relics, each relic must have a 3 CP Disadvantage attached (although this may reduce their cost), relics are created with ominous rituals invoking weird entities from beyond (2 CP). Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: Only for making Relics, only for one-point relics (6 CP).

Granny really SHOULD have Action Hero/Stunts. Unfortunately, Action Hero/Stunts really only works for PC’s who go up in levels reasonably often. Ergo, Granny uses a combination of relic making and foresight to obtain much the same effect; if she REALLY needs a particular ability to bail her out… that just happens to be one of the relics she has ready.

It’s also worth noting that these are also the kind of triks you can play with Action Hero/Stunts; all you have to do is Specialize things for Double Effect (it’s most efficient to specialize the base ability, but it can be done on the fly with practice).

Sample Relic Effects:

  • Consecration Of The Shattered Tower: Sanctum (6 CP) and Cloaking (Specialized for Increased Effect / covers a location – the Sanctum – rather than the user. Despite Granny’s tendency to infuse her residence or stronghold with the dread forces of the Ruinous Powers, even advanced magical and psychic techniques will reveal no trace of that from the outside – and within her Sanctum she gains 24 CP worth of special abilities.
  • The Indomitable Inward Void: Turn Resistance (+6), Corrupted for Increased Effect / user must spend 2 Power (this may be done at any time and does not count as an action) to activate this ability for five minutes. May be Specialized against a particular attack type (or in some other fashion) for Double Effect (+18 Levels). Is someone trying to hit you with Blasphemy or Holy Word? Censure? Death Strike? Any other annoying hit-die or level based effect? Go ahead; spend an Action Point, jump your effective hit die or level by +18, and shrug it off (12 CP).
  • The Dragon’s Grasping Claw: Shaping (Specialized, Only for adding flourishes to the use of magical items, 3 CP), Dragonfire (Specialized, only for pouring available energy into magical items, usually at 3 Spell Levels = 1 Charge), and Eye of the Dragon (Specialized for Increased Effect/only works three times per day to automatically absorb an incoming spell or effect and pass it’s energy into Dragonfire. This does not count as an action, 6 CP). (12 CP Total). This allows the user to absorb up to (Int) levels worth of incoming spells, without expending an action, and whether or not they are individually directed, and use them to recharge his or her magic items.
  • Whisper Of The Winds: Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP) and Reflex Training (3/Day Extra Action Variant, 6 CP).
  • Falling Night Sigil: Seal of Life/Death (Specialized, only to protect against positive energy channeling, 3 CP), Seal of Light/Darkness (Specialized, only usable against those using holy attacks against you, 3 CP), Inner Light/Darkness (6 CP). This allows Granny to spend a usage of Channeling to gain the benefits of the Half-Fiend Template. Since the user’s effective hit dice for the use of Spell-Like Abilities = Intensity her enhancements to that do apply.
  • Talisman Of The Forest King: Shapeshift with Tiny and Diminutive Forms and +2 Bonus Uses (12 CP). While shapeshifting has all kinds of recreational and practical uses, it’s also one of Granny’s last-resort escapes: use a reflex action, turn into a mouse or some such, drop through the grate she will happen to be standing on (foresight again), and slide down (along a curve to break line of sight) into a maze of mouse tunnels.

Since Granny can use six Relics, if you don’t want to bother with using Foresight – or want her to rely on it less – you can just use some or all of the six noted above routinely. They do cover a lot of the basic defenses between them.

  • Ward of Yama: Immunity to Over-Optimized Characters (Common, Severe, Major, Specialized for Increased Effect / double effect against the most over-optimized character in a given group, normal effect against the second-most over-optimized character, no effect against any further characters or against any characters at all if the party contains no over-optimized characters (12 CP).

Yes, this bestows DR 60, blocks 12 points of attribute damage or drain, and spells of up to level ten, and provides a +12 on saves against other effects generated by the most over-optimized character, and half those benefits against the second most over-optimized character. This won’t stop an Ubercharger, or Hulking Hurler, or similar – but it will seriously hinder rather a lot of builds for a mere 12 CP.

This is pretty silly, but quite allowable. So, for that matter, is using Action Hero / Stunts to buy an immunity to one particular character for one minute – but that’s allowable too.

Maleficent: Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel, and fall into a sleep like death! A sleep from which she will never awaken!

Maleficent: The dark curse? Really? You must know that even it’s unholy power can not bring your loved one back from the dead. Have you considered a pet? They can be quite comforting.

Miscellaneous Powers (21 CP):

  • Amrit Kalash, The Tithonic Rite: Immunity/Death by old age (Uncommon, Severe, Minor. Specialized for Reduced Cost / Like many other flawed immortality effects, this ability does nothing to prevent aging; it simply keeps the user from dying because his or her “time is up”. If they can avoid accidents, disease, and similar difficulties they may spend many centuries being venerable elders. This ability thus works much better if combined with ways to prevent the loss of attribute points due to age and some method of age-shifting (3 CP)
  • The Dark Revenance: Returning / As long as one or more of her Shadow-Familiars exists to bring her back, Specialized / may require many months (3 CP).
  • Omen Mastery: Occult Sense / Attackers. Granny is always at least vaguely aware of when a group is coming for her. When actually attacked she cannot be caught flat-footed and is always considered to have just had three rounds to prepare (6 CP).
  • Ward of Maya: Cloaking / Granny appears to divination as a generic kindly old lady, with a bit of skill in ritual and white witchery perhaps, but no great powers (6 CP).
  • Money Management: Privilege / Landlord: You have assorted local, non-liquid assets – ownership of, or shares in mundane or magical businesses, lands, or structures with a net value of one-half/three-quarters of the base wealth of a PC of the your level for 3/6 CP. Sadly, these cannot (for whatever reason) be converted to cash. You may either use something like Pathfinder’s downtime holdings system or – for the sake of simplicity – get a 5% yearly return on whatever portion of your holdings you devote to getting cash or use 10% (whether in amount or time) of whatever facilities you own. Thus, if you own a shipping company with three ships, you could reasonably divert one for three and a half months (10% of the 36 they will have available this year) to take you and your friends on an expedition – or use 10% of the space in the ships holds to transport your own cargo or some such. Similarly, you can use an office and some of the space in their warehouses. In general, this is best used to gain access to various facilities or (if lifestyle costs are in play) to pay for those. Like it or not, 5% of 50% (or even 75%) of your wealth by level will not greatly increase your power – but at higher levels it will pay for a nice lifestyle and get you some social influence.
    • Granny has Money Management at the 3 CP level, and – at level eight – thus has 16,500 GP in non-liquid investments. Of that…
      • 5000 GP is invested in a Greater Marvelous Tattoo Parlor, entitling her to the use of three Tattoos. She normally uses +4 Con, Spell Resistance 33, and a +2 boost to her effective Caster Level).
      • 4200 GP is invested in a Fantastic Stable, allowing her the use of six of it’s summons per year. Granny usually keeps a couple of Unicorns around the House of Wisdom (it helps her image and provides emergency medical treatment if anyone gets hurt), two Manticores at Caer Hunleff (to ride and to support the garrison), four Pegasi (for one summons) on call to carry messages and do any necessary scouting and such, and holds one summons in reserve in case she needs to have something replaced early.
      • 3600 GP is invested in a Type V Shrine of War, entitling her to the use of a dozen of the 1200 +5 weapon enchantments it maintains. Four of them normally go to keeping the guards at Caer Hunleff stocked with 200 +5 Bolts between them, one goes to each of her four “henchmen”, one each goes to each of her four level six minions, one goes to Rakith, two go to Heksested, and one is for her.
      • That leaves 3700 GP. This is invested in her “family farm” – a pleasant, if rather old-fashioned, place with sprawling orchards (which require more startup time but are less work later on), the usual farmhouse-barn-chicken coop-pigpen-well house combination, various minor Conjures to make life easier (Elfin Harvest Baskets, a Composter, the “gentleman farmer” package, etc), and similar conveniences. Overall, the “Grandchildren” can take care of it handily.

On Investment:

Why 5% in actual income or 10% in use of facilities? Well…

Business and investment is an insanely complicated subject – but the general historical rule has usually been the about same: if your expected return-after-risk is more than about 5%-over-inflation per year, then something will soon cut into that return. Taxes. Bandits. Competition. Raises for your managers. Whatever. If it’s under that then you do not have a particularly attractive investment.

So your expected return is (Investment) x (1.05)Ex(Years until payout) / (Chance of Success + 1%.). While this does presume a binary model of success or failure, partial losses and lower-than expected profits tend to distribute themselves on a bell curve, adding enormous complexity to the math while changing the overall results very little. Similarly, adding variable terms for inflation is irrelevant to most d20 games, which use fixed price lists and static, fully fungible, currencies based on pure metal weight at fixed exchange ratios (another absurdly unrealistic, but extremely convenient, game convention).

  • So if it’s a one-year investment account and the chance of success is 98%, then you can expect to see it offered at about 1.06%, at least in a healthy, non-inflationary economy. Interestingly, that was the rate that savings accounts paid when I was a child.
  • If it’s a three year junk bond with only an 80% chance of success, a reasonable offer is closer to a 143% total return over that time period
  • If it’s a share in a five year trading voyage with a 15% chance of success… it might reasonably be offered at eight to one – and possibly even more to make up for the lengthy period of uncertainty. When such voyages pay off they make men rich.

“Investment” becomes gambling when you do not have a very good idea of one or more of the number of years involved, the final rate of return, or the chance of success. If you happen to have a better idea of what one or more of those numbers are than the rest of the possible investors then you have either earned that advantage through study and investigation or you have a “tip”. If you got that information from someone connected to the investment than it’s “insider trading” and is generally considered an unfair advantage.

Yes, this is still incredibly oversimplified. It will do for game purposes however.

Since this is a character attribute purchased with character points, it pays once per year, and there is no real risk of loss – so now you know why I picked 5% for cash. The “10% in kind” is because you’re avoiding the expenses inherent in converting to a cash profit and because having access to a ship, or an alchemists shop, or some such is a LOT more interesting and exciting than having a modest investment income. Facilities provide a reason to adventure. Investment Income provides a reason to stay home.

So what about treasure? Well… Granny is a heroic NPC, and so gets 7800 GP worth of personal treasure at level eight. Worse, she cannot spend more than 390 GP worth of it on any one magical item. That pretty much restricts her to a few potions, cantrip wands, and minor trinkets.

  • Ring of Aesculapius (180 GP): reduces the severity of illnesses in those she tends.
  • Bracers of Legerdemain (250 GP): makes handling toxins and alchemical reagents much safer.
  • Air-Bladder (375 GP): for if she needs to effectively hold her breath for a long time, such as when escaping underwater.
  • Alchemical Catalysts (6000 GP): since she uses these up using several of her powers. Also, she hasn’t got much to spend money on.
  • Assorted Holy Symbols (120 GP): several are for use with her Channeling, but several more are just for camouflage. After all, an old lady in a polytheistic universe might be expected to carry several holy symbols, right?
  • Ritual Chest (120 GP): a selection of candles, cards, odd dusts, and other components for ritual magic.
  • Spell Component Pouch (5 GP): granny doesn’t really need this for much, but it gives opponents something to try to grab.
  • Wardrobe (500 GP): assorted fine clothing, some jewelry, a signet ring, and more.
  • Assorted Supplies (250 GP).

Granny is extremely frustrating and dangerous to player characters. She specializes in inflicting long-term, difficult-to-remove, crippling effects. Even worse, she tends to “attack” through her readily-replaceable shadow-familiars from many miles away. She’s hard to find, and will cheerily curse the land about her (disposable) stronghold to throw obstacles (worth no XP since they’re an ability of hers) in her enemies paths, send out disposable construct-minions (also worth no XP) to waste their resources (efficiently focusing on eliminating softer targets first), raise a storm and drop lightning bolts on your head from miles away when you get closer, possibly (depending on how evil she currently is) transform a few random animals or (unrelated) people into monsters (worth XP, but with no treasure outside of the guilt of killing innocent people who have been cursed) if she runs out of more “deserving” monsters to send – and will then teleport (or fly, or burrow, or use shapeshift to get away through a crack in the foundations, or plane shift, or even swim) away rather than fight personally once you reach her. Even if you attempt scry-and-die, she still gets three rounds to get ready for you. If she MUST fight, her main staples are laying darkness that doesn’t hinder her in a wide radius, using the “Enveloping” ability on a Psychic Construct to obtain armor class, extra hit points, and either flight or tunneling (to escape with) (both of which she can automatically have ready one round before you arrive), and using her Nightmare Storm technique to hit everyone attacking her with a Phantasmal Killer.

And if you do kill her (despite her tendency to leave a shadow-familiar to “die” in her place), most of her “treasure” will disappear and she’ll either have her surviving Shadows bring her back or rise as an undead.

Fortunately, Granny really isn’t there to fight. Granny is an evil that exists to forestall greater evils, serving not as a defender, nor as a bringer of justice, but as an avenger. On that ever-anticipated last day, when the light triumphs and all that is evil will be thrown down into the pit… Granny will go down with all the rest, content in the knowledge that she has avenged what was HERS. When adventurers loot a town instead of defending it, when the mongol hordes attempt to overrun a city and put everyone there to the sword… Granny will make sure that their fate is grim enough to dissuade anyone who ever hears of it from even considering doing the same. Did you promise the refugees passage to safety, only to slaughter them and steal what little they carried? Granny will make sure that, when the demons come at last to carry your soul to hell, you will sincerely thank them for giving you refuge from HER.

In terms of her game function. Granny is a cop. She’s the reason why sensible adventurers don’t turn on the people that they should be defending, why thieves guilds stick to a little theft instead of selling the entire population to the Drow for sacrifices, and why the rule of evil overlords still results in a fairly functional civilization. Evil people have kids, and friends, and like living in reasonably comfortable cities, and having a nice lifestyle with reasonably well-behaved and efficient servants just like the good guys do – and they are willing to be a LOT more vicious, and less sporting, about defending those things than the good guys are. The good guys may leave you tied up on the steps of the police station with a note – but when the bad guys leave you skinned, blinded, gutted, and nailed to a sign proclaiming your guilt to scream for a few hours before your inevitable slow and horrible death the message tends to get around.

Secondarily, of course… Granny can provide a party with special equipment, supply specific magic items without implying a stockpile of the things, sell powerful poisons, work a wide variety of spells without being good at adventuring (since they have those pesky side effects), teach young adventurers, supply dungeons for low-level types to level up in, act as a mentor, produces prophecies, get you all kinds of information, and otherwise pretty much provide all the background support that a party of adventurers could ever need until they’re ready to go and fight the dragons and other major horrors that she can’t handle herself.

And she doesn’t care all that much if you’re good or neutral, or evil, as long as you do the job she wants done. As far as she’s concerned… they all have their advantages and disadvantages.

To answer an offline question…

“Why is Granny treating all her skills as class skills?”

It’s because characters who get stuck with NPC wealth by level in Eclipse have a fairly serious disadvantage – and thus should get SOMETHING in compensation. Ergo, major Eclipse-built Pathfinder NPC’s who get stuck with NPC wealth-by-level get to treat any skill they take as a favored class skill. It’s not really enough, but it does save me from the bother of having to pick a skill list.

Endora: [after turning Darrin into a werewolf] Darrin, I feel terrible. I really do. Do you think I want my daughter married to a werewolf?

Granny Part III – Architectural Wonders, Experience by Study, and her Legendarium Panoply

To start at the beginning with Granny’s History and the Basics click HERE. To go back to her Skills, Skill Tricks, and Skill-Related Abilities click HERE.

Architectural Wonders:

Caer Hunleff, the Tower of Nightmares, Stronghold of the Dark Enchantress.

This modest castle is offers a fairly standard array of defensive features – gatehouse, stone walls, moat, drawbridge and portcullis, merlons, arrow-loops, and similar elements – but its major defenses lie in Grannies Mystic Architecture. That grants its defenders a +4 Morale Bonuses to their Attacks, Damage, Saves, and AC along with +2 Positive Levels (+2 to BAB, Saves, and AC, Grant of Aid with +4 Bonus Uses, +2d10 HP), generates a Break Enchantment effect at CL 12 once whenever a defender is affected by an unwanted effect, and makes the place impervious to magic designed to change, damage, or scry it out – including Rock to Mud, Move Earth, Passwall, Disintegrate, and so on (this may, at the option of the game master, extend to attempts to teleport past the walls). In any case, thanks to Granny’s ability to curse the surrounding lands, it’s normally defended by seven hazards of CR 14 or less – plus her minions, monsters, and anything she does actively.

  • Rooms: Alchemists Lab (390 GP), Altar (her Unholy Chapel, 210 GP), Armory x2 (780 GP), Ballroom (760 GP), Bath x2 (260 GP), Bedroom x 3 (900 GP), Bunks x2 (800 GP), Cells x2 (360 GP), Ceremonial Room (1,180 GP), Common Room (300 GP), Courtyard (180 GP), Crypt (490 GP), Defensive Stone Walls x4 (2080 GP), Drawbridge (320 GP), Escape Route (360 GP),
    Forge (370 GP), Garden x2 (360 GP), Gatehouse Tower with Iron Door, Iron Portcullis, and Gauntlet (2210 GP), Greenhouse (300 GP), Habitat (for Granny’s exotic animals, 790 GP), Kitchen (160 GP), Lavatory (120 GP), Magical Repository (730 GP), Nursery (250 GP), Office x2 (240 GP), Sitting Room (480 GP), Stall x4 (1000 GP), Storage x3 (360 GP), Summoning Chamber (1040 GP), Throne Room (1650 GP), and War Room (300 GP).
  • Magical Facilities: Celeano Manuscripts (3200 GP), Perpetual Fountain I (250 GP), Cleansing Fountain (62.5 GP), and City Stores (750 GP/Day, 8225 GP).
  • Staffing: Gangsta Wrap I (but one use/day (x4) and Immobile (x.5) instead of one per month (120 minions, 11,880 GP).
  • Income: Caer Hunleff has a net GP modifier of just under +200. About 20 of the minions will usually be doing profitable things, for another +200 – ergo Caer Hunleff earns about 40 GP/Day. Due to the use of magical minions, there are no modifiers for being away from the place. Of course, this is far less than the City Stores provide – but every little bit helps.

Net Total: 43,350 GP. If Granny chooses to use the Stores to solidify Caer Hunleff’s reality, it will take it some sixty days to become real, permanent, and independent of her Dreambinding. In practice, this depends on the campaign situation; Granny always uses the the 23,700 GP from her Dream-Binding Specialty to pay for the 23,617.5 GP cost of the magical facilities since – if someone does capture the place – she sees no reason to give them the benefits of her magical resources – but whether or not she makes the rest of the place “real” depends on the campaign situation; if she needs to be able to move it around readily, it will be entirely a manifestation of Dream-Binding. If not, she’ll probably make the basic structure real and permanent.

Caer Hunleff is a useful outpost, and a good place for Granny to keep things that she doesn’t want publicly known – but it’s also something of a honeypot. Anyone who is looking for a dark enchantress or wicked witch is going to eventually find rumors of the haunted forest, the ruinous castle, the malevolent hag who occupies it, and her enslaved and enchanted minions. If they wish to destroy this blight upon the land, they can battle their way through the cursed lands about the place, defeat the monsters and dark magics that Granny will send against them, endure the storms that will spring up to defend the castle, breach the gates, defeat her minions, and confront Granny (or, much more likely, her stand-in) – who will generally dissolve into dust if defeated (Or, if she is amused enough, when simply given an excuse. While the “I’m Melting!” routine was a bit over the top, the kid was amusing, and a relative, and actually swallowed it!). After all, while there are some valuables laying about, the entire place and everything in it can be readily replaced.

The Witch-Mazes:

Granny is well aware that there are plenty of perils to her realm that she isn’t really much good at handling – and so she makes sure that there are manageable opportunities for young adventurers to gain skill and experience so that there will be someone available who is good at dealing with such threats.

The Witch-Mazes are modest “ruins” seeded with a few valuables and with a selection of curses laid on them to create a carefully graduated set of traps and hazards – and to populate them with warped, powered-up, versions of normal animals / monsters. If the challenge needs a bit of adjusting they may have Mystic Architecture effects applied as well.

Angry squirrels are one thing. Angry accursed squirrels with even a portion of the advantages that Granny’s Mystic Architecture can give them are quite something else again. Giving them +4 Morale Bonuses to their Attacks, Damage, Saves, and AC along with +2 Positive Levels (+2 to BAB, Saves, and AC, +2d10 HP, and 12 CP – spent on 1d4 base lethal damage, DR 2/-, and 5000 GP worth of Innate Enchantment (perhaps Immortal Vigor for another 10 HP, Mage Armor, and use of Produce Flame)) will result in Squirrels with AC 28, 22 HP, Melee Attacks of 1d4 physical at +10 or 1d6+5 touch fire damage at +6, a ranged touch attack for 1d6+5 fire damage at +10, and Saves of Fort +7, Ref +12, and Will +7)… can turn them into quite a challenge even for a mid-level party – and Granny can freely adjust that challenge in a variety of ways. Remember; she wants adventurers to have a rough time and gain some experience, not a pile of corpses. 

None of the Witch-Mazes are really all that large. They tend to be things like old watchtowers, cursed mansions, logging camps, haunted groves, and so on. Basically… they’re minidungeons. Granny even puts out clues, partial maps, and rumors, carefully steering groups to appropriate challenges – or hurriedly attempting to upgrade, downgrade, or restock if a group is headed for someplace inappropriate or that’s recently been looted. Granny hasn’t got the time, resources, or inclination to get a group beyond level four or five this way, and certainly can’t be bothered nursemaiding incompetents – but she can help young heroes get past the most vulnerable stages of their careers.

Witch-Mazes are more or less throwaways: Assuming that creating a “ruin”runs about a quarter of the cost of a building a real, functioning, structure, throwing up the “ruins” of a Large Bandit Camp, or a Bardic College, or Caster’s Tower will cost about 1200 GP (about half of which can be salvaged by clever adventurers looting the place). Adding Curses and/or Mystic Architecture modifiers using her personal powers is free – and throwing in another 1250 GP worth of mundane gear and supplies as treasure takes the cost to a bit of her daily power and one days worth of stuff from her Cauldron of Holda (below). If she wishes, she can even assign a few (free) minions to play bad guys and set up cheap traps. In other words, she can casually throw together one per day at little or no personal expense given a few hours to work in.

The House of Wisdom, Residence of the Elder Advisor and Orphanage:

This modest manor – once the home of the almost-forgotten Dowager Queen – is the official residence of the realms Elder Advisor, and so is more or less Grannies permanent home. These days it has broad gardens, greenhouses and orchards, a comfortable small library / reading room – and swarms of orphans and delinquent children there for a bit of “straightening out” – at which Granny has a marvelous record of success. She’s even raised many of the realms young heroes. It too has mystic architecture – granting residents two positive levels (bestowing 2d10 HP, Fast Learner specialized in Skills, and Grant of Aid with Bonus Uses, with limitations that keep people from noticing or trying to actively use the boosted hit points and grant of aid – which keeps the kids from getting stupid. Well, any more stupid than kids usually get anyway), bells that grant each resident the equivalent of a full nights rest twice per week, +4 Morale bonuses to Intelligence and Wisdom (specialized in allowing the kids studying there to readily pick up a relevant Package Deal), and Group Focus (allowing Granny’s skill check to serve as a concentration skill check when it comes to studying.

On Self-Improvement through Study in D20:

Studying / Training is the realistic way to improve yourself. Like most realistic things, when you compare it to fantastic magical ways to improve yourself such as adventuring it isn’t worth much. Still, for non-adventuring kids it’s a way to get ahead. So studying lets you take your time and turn it into Experience Points.

So how fast is that? And what helps you study and train? It’s not Intelligence. Intelligence gets you more skill points per level, but it makes you easily bored too, which explains why it isn’t coming into things twice. It’s not Wisdom, that (at least in d20 games) simply lets you notice distractions more. What is it that helps you pull all-night studying marathons and helps keep your mind focused on your studying?

Well, keeping your mind focused despite distractions is – by definition – a concentration check. In 3.5 that’s straightforward enough. Unfortunately, the Pathfinder writers concluded that having a Concentration skill was basically a skill tax on casters (whom they assumed HAD to keep it maxed out) and that non-casters never needed to keep their minds focused. I’d say that both are wrong – I’ve seen plenty of Casters who found ways to avoid such checks and plenty of noncasters who needed to make them (trying to focus on getting that lock open despite the arrow in your shoulder and the fight behind you? Adventurers lives are FULL of situations calling for concentration) – but that’s easy to fix. When you need to make a Concentration check for non-magical stuff roll 1d20 + Con Mod + Your Level in the Class (or Classes) which provide the ability you’re using.

So Studying involves using Concentration as a (simplified, since anyone can study) version of a Craft skill using your time as the raw material. You spend a week studying, make your non-magical concentration check, square your result, and divide by 50 (since the 3.5 magic item crafting rules tell us that 1 XP costs 50 SP and Pathfinder gives no information on the topic) to see how many XP you get.

Computing how much that gets you in an average week (since it involves a sum of exponents) calls for using a slightly more complex than usual formula: – namely [N(N+1)(2N+1)/6]. The sum of the squares from 1-20 (for a +0 modifier) is 2870. Dividing by 20 for an average result and by 50 for the value gets us an average of 2.87 XP per week. And yes, that sucks. Even with a decent teacher (+2 Aid Another), Textbooks (+2 Masterwork Equipment) and a +1 circumstance bonus for a schoolroom, we will only wind up with 5.434 XP per week – about 200 XP per thirty-six week school year. At that rate it will take four to six years (presuming some sick days and such) to go from level “-2″ (set at -850 XP) to level one (0 XP competent adult) through pure schooling. Given that schools are likely to spend at least half the kids time on recess, lunch, tests, roll call, classroom tasks, and kids being kids, and won’t start until the kids are five to seven (since before then they’re just not up to it)… that would mean that the baseline human starting age would be about seventeen. Full-time, intensive, training could get a kid to level one by age ten or so though – which is, not particularly surprisingly, about the minimum age for starting a child PC.

And the fact that that number makes a reasonable amount of sense is kind of discouraging. Still, there are always ways for Adventurers to do things that are unavailable to most. For example, Granny’s Mystic Architecture allows residents at the House of Wisdom to substitute her Mystic Artist skill check (as built into the structure) for their Concentration checks. Her skill check would have been made using the Celeano Manuscripts, Luck, a +3 Room bonus, and some Aid Another, for a total check of about 71 and a net total of 50 XP per half-time week of classes or about 2000 XP per “school year”.

That’s actually pretty worthwhile. Spend a few low-risk years at the House of Wisdom and you can easily hit second or third level, even if you won’t have much of any treasure – at least outside of any part time earnings – unless the game master is using “wealth by level” as a law of nature instead of a game convenience.

Of course, in a realm where good and evil are forces of nature, and where creatures of the lower planes offer pacts in exchange for service or sacrifices… some children are just murderous, or are naturally evil, or are possessed, or any of a dozen other things. And Granny has uses for those as well. After all, despicable were-rat henchmen, evil grand viziers (who do all the unpleasant, dishonorable, and – above all else – PRACTICAL things that need to be done when you’re running a kingdom), thugs, thieves, assassins, and cursed monsters have to come from SOMEWHERE don’t they? And once you’re satisfied that a child is best suited for such a role… it is only fair to extend the power of The Dark Veil (whether via the Blessing ability through a relic or through some cleverly-phrased curse) to them and thus erase them from both memory and record. After that – and a curse of being unable to reveal any of Grannies more dubious activities or talents – the Thieves Guild or her monstrous servants will have another recruit.

And Granny, of course, will continue to maintain her extremely high rate of “success” in raising kids, since many of her major failures (or perhaps malign successes) will simply vanish from memory and record.

Granny may have designed and built the House of Wisdom, but it’s not really one of her personal assets any longer. It’s a governmental facility. Several other officials work there, it’s an orphanage and school, and it’s a training center for beginning heroes. It’s also a very unlikely place for a major confrontation, so game statistics are mostly unnecessary.

The Thieves Guild.

If you’re going to have crime – and you ALWAYS will – it might as well be well organized crime. Besides… you need a place to fence ill-gotten gains, to keep your monsters, and to hire assassins to deal with threats to your realm. Paying modest fees for “insurance” (and to feed the beggars and street children and such) is simply another form of taxation. Ergo Granny provides cheap mystic architecture to the Underworld – granting the Guild a secretive stronghold that protects against divinatory powers (and possibly against teleporting past the walls), helps heal their injuries and renew their abilities, radiates indifference (discouraging non-members from taking enough interest to investigate), and grants them the ability to create and carry a small number of minor relics – allowing them to learn both to create a selection and take along only the ones that they need.

In many settings this will also double as an “adventurers guild”. Even those adventurers who go above and beyond being murder-hobos are generally violent, inclined to accumulate dangerous (and possibly illegal) devices, magic, and substances, have swarms of enemies, attract monsters, try to solve most of their problems by killing things, and are usually homeless tax evaders. They may be needed when there’s a dragon coming, but most of the time they’re about as undesirable as it gets. Staying at a place that asks no questions, has good food and comfortable beds, that enforces rules like “no killing or stealing on the premises” effectively, that protects against divination, that helps them heal up and regain their powers quickly, that can obtain all kinds of gear for them, and which probably also has kids who run errands cheaply and congenial sex workers living on the premises, is about as good as it gets. 

Well, at least until they take over a kingdom to run into the ground.

Tales of the Dark Enchantress: The Shadow Over Greendale

Greendale perched on the foothills overlooking the river below the mountains, and it’s people trembled. The same pass which brought trade and wealth would now bring destruction. For the Hordes of the Wastes came, as relentless as a tide, and their homes would fall in fire and blood. It was but two days away, and reinforcements – or refuge – would be a week or more. Some fled, in hopes that destroying Greendale would somehow delay the horde long enough for them to escape it’s outriders – even as those outriders already lay in wait along the escape routes. Most took up arms and prepared for death – and prayed to the Light for a miracle.

Others offered prayers and sacrifice to any power that would aid them, making fearful promises of gifts, and service, and offspring – and that night the Darkness answered. The moon hid it’s face and the shadows spread unbroken as an obsidian tower rose – the unhallowed gateway-tomb of the storied Dark Enchantress, crypt and entrance to the underworld. From it, wrapped once more in decaying flesh, her long-fallen spirit strode forth – burning with witchfire and corpse-light, Behind her marched a Legion of Hades, an army of long dead and damned warriors that manned the pallid walls of bone which had erupted about Greendale.

And the Horde came against the town for three days – but the dead held the walls, and the living could not pass save into the grave. The dread curses of the Dark Enchantress wrought havoc upon the horde as well. Against her the shamans of the Horde hurled spells of death, of paralysis, of annihilation, and more – but none would bite upon her undead flesh. The Warlord of the Horde – Arthewn of the Iron Axe – heard the voice of the Witch who barred his path and was swallowed up living by the earth. To this day, each year on the dark of the midwinter moon his voice can be heard amid the hills, pleading for some brave and adventurous soul to take pity, dare the deep caverns of the Labyrinth of Nightmares which holds him, and free his soul from torment.

None yet has dared attempt the deed.

For three days of battle the walls of bone ran red with blood – but upon the fourth day the horde was broken upon the dark arts and iron will of the ancient Hag of the Underworld, and fled, harried by a thousand dreadful curses and the creatures of the infernal realms. The army of the damned swept forth to slaughter the wounded foe and their camp followers – and then returned to the crypt, taking along – and into the service of their unholy mistress – a score of Greendale’s youths, the price paid for the assistance of the Witch-Queen. And the crypt trembled, and collapsed once more into the earth, leaving behind only a dark altar.

Today, at that altar, the masked and hooded people of Greendale make a yearly offering in thanks for their dread deliverance – and in hopes that the darkness need never rise again. That offering is most often of meat and wine – but every so often, when the signs are bad and the lost souls moan upon the wind, it is a condemned youths – thieves, or murderers, or some such – who will be gone when comes the dawn. For life was given, and life must be repaid.

Not surprisingly, the defense of Greendale called on the majority of Grannies powers, most notably:

  • Creating a Relic or Relics to boost her Dream-Binding ability and to bolster her personal defenses.
  • Dream-Binding to create stone city walls and some gatehouses (about 8000 GP), a City Father (24,000 GP), the “Crypt” (basically another gatehouse with a war-room (3000 GP) and a “summon army” (120,000 GP) setup in the basement), and City Stores (8000 GP) to provide supplies. (This means she has to get a minimum of a +3 bonus – probably through a relic providing Skill Focus and Skill Emphasis, so as to have some margin).
  • Mystic Architecture to make the walls effectively invulnerable to siege engineering and being bypassed by magic and to bestow a huge range of bonuses – one set from the Crypt and one set from the Walls – on the defenders.
  • Foresight to always have everything in place and ready to repel the Horde – and to combine with her Legendarium power array to have appropriate defenses from her panoply (below, often a Talisman of Undying Fortitude) going whenever attacked.
  • Craft (Image) (and, personally, her Hat of Disguise) to provide the horrific special effects.
  • Her personal powers – summoning, group-curses, and battle magic – could and did take a toll on the opposing troops as well, even if major opponents could often resist her. (Managing to take out Arthewn was something of a stroke of luck).
    • Oh, the kids? Those were, and generally still are, much better off with some extra training, some appreciation for their evil talents, and a chance to join a PROPER Thieves Guild or become true monsters or some such. It’s not like Granny is big on dead people or on torture or such when she has no need to make a point.

It’s worth noting that this general setup wouldn’t work against an elder dragon, or a party of high-level adventurers, or some similar menace. Granny’s powers are very good at dealing with masses of opponents, and she is personally very good at escaping, but she simply isn’t built to confront major monsters. That’s a job for Adventurers or Heroes – and she is neither. 

Grannies Legendarium Panoply:

  • Head: Veil of Nimue: (97,100 GP Total):
    • Scouts Headband (3400 GP) with +3 Daily Charges (6 total, +3000 GP) +2 Competence to Perception, spend 1/2/3 charges to gain 60′ Darkvision for an hour/see invisible for ten minutes/true seeing for one minute.
    • Also functions as a Hat of Disguise (x1.5 surcharge for second function = 2700 GP)
    • Grants a +6 Enhancement bonus to Charisma (36,000 GP) and Intelligence (36,000 GP, as a permanent self-enhancement it adds to skill points normally), and a +4 to Wisdom (16,000 GP). Per the Magic Item Compendium, attribute boosts may be added to other items without extra cost.
  • Face: Masque of Medea (11,900 GP):
    • Raptors Mask (3500 GP), +5 to Perception, wearer is immune to Blindness and Dazzling.
    • Also functions as Third Eye Freedom (1.5x surcharge, 3900 GP). Immediate action provides one round of Freedom of Action once per day.
    • Also functions as a Third Eye Clarity (1.5x surcharge 4500 GP). Once per day negates a confused, dazed, fascinated, or stunned condition as an immediate action that those conditions cannot prevent.
  • Throat: The Undying Breath of Koschei (50,300 GP).
    • Talisman of Undying Fortitude (4 Charges, 16,000 GP). Activate as a swift action to gain the ability to survive without breathing and immunity to poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, critical hits, nonlethal damage, physical ability damage, ability drain, energy drain, fatigue, exhaustion, death from massive damage, and any effect that requires a Fortitude save for 3 rounds.
      • Intelligent: Int, Wis, and Chr 14 (3000 GP), Telepathy, 120′ Senses, Blindsense, and Read Languages (8000 GP). As an Intelligent Item it has it’s own item slots – and so, can use the powers of a Ring of the Forcewall (5100 GP), Healing Belt (6 Charges, 1500 GP), Rod of Bodily Restoration (3100 GP), Orb of Mental Renewal (3100 GP), and Amulet of Tears (9 Charges, 6900 GP). It can cast Nerveskitter, Resurgence, and Magic Missile 3/Day each at caster level seventeen (3600 GP).
  • Shoulders: Cloak of Abramelin (34,250 GP).
    • Shadow Cloak (5500 GP) +1 Deflection Bonus to AC, three times per day, as an immediate action in response to an attack, you may either gain Concealment or Teleport ten feet to a space you can clearly see.
    • Also functions as a Vanisher Cloak (x1.5 Surcharge, 3750 GP). 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 as a swift action to gain invisibility for 4 rounds/you and an adjacent ally become invisible for 3 rounds/you and three adjacent allies become invisible for 2 rounds.
    • Also grants a +5 Resistance bonus to Saving Throws (25,000 GP, per the Magic Item Compendium there is no surcharge for adding this as a secondary function).
  • (Ring) Sigil of Circe: (40,700 GP).
    • Ring of Mind Shielding (8000 GP). Immune to Detect Thoughts, Discern Lies and Alignment Detection.
    • Also functions as a Ring of Anticipation (x1.5 Surcharge, 9000 GP): +3 Competence Bonus to Perception, may roll initiative checks twice and take the best result.
    • Also functions as a Ring of Feather Falling (x1.5 Surcharge, 3300 GP).
    • Also functions as Ring of Sustenance (x1.5 Surcharge, 3750 GP).
    • Also functions as two Rings of Counterspells (x1.5 Surcharge, 12,000 GP).
      • Note that, in combination with Foresight, this pretty much allows Granny to ignore any two spells of up to level six per day.
  • (Belt) Girding of Aradia (48,000 GP):
    • +4 Competence Bonus to All Skills (Skill Mastery, L2 x CL5 x 2000 GP = 20,000 GP).
    • Also functions as a Belt of Battle (x1.5 Surcharge, 18,000 GP). +2 Competence Bonus to Initiative, 3 Charges/Day, spend 1/2/3 as a swift action to gain a move action/a standard action/a full-round action.
    • Also provides +2 Enhancement Bonuses to Strength (4000 GP) and Dexterity (4000 GP). Per the Magic Item Compendium, attribute boosts may be added to other items without extra cost.
    • Also functions as a Handy Haversack (2000 GP, normally slotless).
  • (No Slot) Cauldron of Holda (Epic Adventurers Supply Pouch, 33,000 GP). Note that this allows Granny to produce 2250 GP worth of stuff per day – allowing her to set up some 16,000 GP worth of buildings per week.
  • (No Slot) Favor of Abaris (37,770 GP):
    • Good Fortune: Aura of Favor (SL1), Fortune’s Favor (SL0), and Ward of Heaven (SL1) x CL3 x 2000 GP x 2 (Slotless) = 15,000 GP. Provides a +1 Luck Bonus to Saves, AC, Attacks, Damage, Skill Checks, and Ability Checks.
    • Also functions as a Gangsta Wrap VI (22,770 GP, already slotless). Granny has four sixth level minions, which can be replaced on a monthly basis.
  • (No Slot) Talisman of the Sabbat (28,500 GP): As per a Figurine Of Wondrous Power; Obsidian Steed. This allows Granny to easily visit various planes and meet with her covens.

Next up: Granny’s special powers.


Commoner Wealth By Level – Purchasing the Basics

According to Pathfinder (where the wealth-by-level tables are open game content), two first level commoners can be expected to have a combined wealth of 520 GP. That’s actually fairly impressive – so what can you expect to find on a basic peasant farm?

The Land (No Cost): While the most important piece of a farm is, of course, the land, land isn’t something that peasants (or most other d20 characters) normally own – at least not in the modern sense.

In classical (that is; theoretical) feudalism, land ultimately belonged to the King, because the King was the ultimate organizer of the realm’s defense. The king essentially rented out chunks of land in exchange for service – and those nobles sublet some of that land, and so on, creating a a complex (if mostly improvised) “system” of obligations, defining a network of protection in return for service. At the bottom were farmers – people with little or no military power and basically considered a part of the land – the part needed to make it useful.

That was pretty messy in practice, and full of thousands of complications and exceptions since I’m summarizing complex social systems that existed across Europe over several centuries in a short paragraph. In part thanks to those messy complications medieval governments were nowhere near as efficient as an imperial government could be as far as massive public works and armies went – but the many, MANY, variations on the general theme worked well enough to get along for quite some time in the real world.

In d20 however… Claiming a piece of land in d20 probably calls for dealing with various divine mandates, making pacts with entities from other dimensions who hold power or influence in the area, negotiations with nature spirits, bargaining with beings who may have far older claims to the land, encounters (and mining and weather rights claims) with creatures that live under or above it, and defending against raiding horrors.

And no, farmers aren’t up to dealing with that themselves – although it could provide a better-defined hierarchy for fantastic feudalism; the King literally balances the divine mandates governing the land (and gains divine powers of kingship), the major nobles deal with the extradimensional entities (and gain strange magics), intermediate ones deal with nature spirits (gaining some druidical style powers), and so on – right down to the local nobles who fight the minor monsters (gaining combat experience points) and hold the lines so that the local farmers can actually do something with the land (and hopefully produce enough of a surplus to support the rest of the pyramid).

Regardless… the farmers work the land. Some will pay rent, a few will hold the right to work some land without paying thanks to various grants, others owe the local lord labor on his lands, others share their crops, some “own” land (at least until someone more powerful claims it), and so on. The details rarely matter; the peasants have land to work and it hasn’t got any kind of a consistent “value” – and so does not count against their personal wealth by level.

Besides; there are no rules anywhere that I can find on pricing or simply owning land. You can buy buildings, and control domains, but d20 doesn’t seem to consider “real estate” by itself to be a meaningful form of wealth.  That alone makes it pretty much impossible to set a value.

Housing (120 GP): Peasant farmers may not own their homes either – but they generally have a well-established interest in them. A wattle and daub cottage would “cost” about 35 GP – given that the raw materials were a few posts and stakes, some brushwood to weave between them, and mud. More elaborate ones with multiple rooms and a few sheds will cost a bit more. However, given the danger level of a typical d20 universe, a nice solid Log Cabin (90-120 GP, depending on how elaborate) is about the minimum; it will at least keep out bears and wolves and slow up minor raiders and monsters for a few moments. We’ll take the large economy size in case of kids, for 120 GP.

But wait! The SRD says that a House costs 1000 GP! Therefore all first level characters must either live in communes (or perhaps tents) or go homeless!

Well no, not really. That is – at least presumably – the price for a modern-sized stone house with roman-style central heating, running water (from an aqueduct or rooftop cistern), glass in the windows, a full set of good furnishings, at least basic locks, fireplaces, hearths, and chimneys, dedicated bathrooms with some ventilation, and various other goodies. The kind of house that comes fairly close to what most PLAYERS will think of as a decent house. What we’re talking about for the peasantry is more of a big box with a bar for the door, a hole for smoke to get out of, a fieldstone hearth, and some boards which can be put in place to seal the windows. Such houses are fairly quick to build, use little in the way of materials beyond what is ready to hand, and are fairly cheap – even in realty at current prices, much less at quasi-medieval ones.

Furnishings (17 GP) weren’t a big thing for the peasantry normally – but d20 peasants are both far better off and have more leisure time. This is fairly crude and straightforward furniture; the fancy upholstery and finely finished (anyone can POLISH) surfaces are generally for the rich.

  • Large Table (1 GP).
  • Small Table x2 (1 GP).
  • Shelves or Cabinets, Assorted, x4 (2 GP).
  • Chairs x5 (2.5 GP).
  • Benches x3 (1.5 GP).
  • Cots / Basic Beds with blankets, simple pillows, and bedding x5 (5 GP, the parents will usually put theirs together of course).
  • Medium Chests x2 (4 GP). Yes, the SRD says 10 GP – but these are just sturdy boxes to keep things in, not travelers chests with basic locks and such.

Clothing (10 GP):

  • While the rules state that characters begin with one outfit valued at 10 GP or less for free, peasants probably don’t. On the other hand, d20 Peasants are actually quite prosperous – and are not likely to wear a “Peasants Outfit”. A choice of the equivalents of an Artisan’s Outfit, Soldier’s Uniform, or Traveler’s Outfit (at 1 GP each) is reasonable. Given that they don’t need combat mobility and such, normal people simply add layers when it’s cold, a second set for each family member is also reasonable, at a net cost of (5 GP).
  • Common Copper Jewelry (5 GP). In practical terms this is a bit of money stashed away in the most secure available place – on the owners person in difficult-to-steal forms.

Livestock (85 GP): Here we have the largest “treasure” on a classical medieval farm – and many modern ones. In many cases this represents a share of the village herd/flock/whatever, but that makes no real difference.

  • Pigs x4 (12 GP). Normally turned loose to forage in the woods, pigs turn bitter acorns, chestnuts, various household wastes, and other roughage into rich, tasty, pork. While only about 65% of a pigs weight is reasonably good eating for humans, 100% of it is usable for other things or can be fed to other farm animals.
  • Chickens x50 (1 GP). While finding the eggs from your free-range chickens was a knack, chickens were also invaluable in keeping down the bugs. As long as you keep the foxes and other predators away (and perhaps scatter a little loose grain every so often) you can easily have plenty of chickens.
  • Goats x4 (4 GP). Goats browse brush and leaves and will help clear your land, producing a fair quantity of milk, some meat, and modest quantities of woolly fur along the way. They also smell terrible, but most livestock doesn’t smell all that nice anyway.
  • Sheep x8 (16 GP). Sheep need good grazing, but are more productive than goats – producing lots of wool, a fair amount of meat, and a little milk. Unfortunately, they require a lot more care than goats as well.
  • Cows x2 (20 GP). Milk goes bad, but butter and cheese keep quite well – and each cow will produce a heifer or calf every year. The stomachs of young cattle are also vital for providing Rennet, with which to make cheese.
  • Oxen x2 (30 GP). Pretty much a necessity for hauling carts and plows. Note that bulls are valuable – cows need to be bred regularly to keep the milk coming – but they are big, dangerous, and uncooperative. Generally only one or two farmers in an area keep a bull, paying for it by renting out its services in breeding cows.
  • Beehive (2 GP). Once you find a wild swarm, bees are actually pretty easy; you dump the swarm into a container and install it in a box or woven beehive and that’s about it. A broken jug on a pole will do to scoop them off a branch. European honeybees are pretty cooperative; swarms that let themselves get collected get protected and leave lots of descendent swarms. Swarms that flee from farms don’t get protection. Selective breeding – however unintentional – strikes again!
  • Cats (Number Unknown). There’s no price on these since “barn cats” don’t really belong to anyone in particular; they just wander in and out, ensuring their welcome (and the occasional bit of milk, food, warmth, or petting) by keeping down the vermin.
  • Dogs x2: There’s no price on dogs either; unless they’re well-trained and proven exceptional. Dogs produce plenty of puppies, and more than a few are given away by owners who don’t need that many dogs.
  • Other Animals x0 (0 GP): If there are ponds or streams, ducks, geese, and fish join the list – but they’re iffy, and breed themselves. There’s no assigned cost. If you need to buy some to start, they’re a bit more expensive than chickens, but not horrendously so.
  • Horses x 0 (0 GP). Horses are rare amongst the peasantry; while horses are faster, they need a higher quality diet and more care. Horses are thus preferred in battle, and may be encouraged by landlords who want a pool of breeding stock. Oxen, however, are just as enduring – perhaps THE primary factor in farm work – and so peasants commonly prefer the cheaper ox.

This is, of course, a VERY prosperous little farm – not just one but two cows, no need to rent oxen to pull the plow, pigs enough to have meat regularly throughout the year, chickens for eggs, sheep for wool, bees for wax and honey, and goats for whatever it is that they want to do with goats. (It’s also an unusually diverse farm, but this is a generic list. If you only want sheep remove some other animals and spend more on sheep. Or wait for level two, and more wealth by level).

Tools and Supplies (95 GP) are the next major component of taking care of a farm. Unfortunately – if quite understandably – what “Artisan’s Tools” might be is never specified. Ergo, here are some lists – Artisan’s Tools: Ten sets, at double cost (100 GP) since these are fairly through sets. That also ensures that there are always enough tools for two people to work at once without sharing any. Overall, however, I’m taking 5% off to represent duplication given that almost every set of tools includes knives and hammers.

  • Animal Husbandry: Harnesses and Yokes, Butter Churn, Cheese and Butter Molds. Cheesecloth, Restraints, Gelding Kit, Horn Rasp, Hoof Knife, Hoof Pick, Nippers, Hoof Stand, Shearing Tools, Pitch Ointment, Branding Iron., and Goad.
  • Butchering: Smokehouse, Flensing Knife, Bone Saw, Knives, Hand Axe, Grill, Meat Hooks, Brine Tub, Bacon Hangers, Scrapers, Sausage Grinder / Stuffer, Boning Knife, Whetstone, Cutting Boards, Netting, Salt, Gut Hook, Skinning Knife, Carcass Rack, and Drying Rack.
  • Ceramics: Potters Wheel, Kiln, Throwing Rib, Rags, Knife, Turning Blade, Beating Tub, Drying Boards, Mallet (for breaking up clay), Sieve (to remove bits of stone and rubbish from clay), Vats (to let clay settle out of water in), Waiting Boards, Molds, Roulettes, and Awls.
  • Clothworking: Loom, Spinning Wheel, Carding Combs, Needles, Pins, Thimbles, Scissors, Shears, Needlecase, Pincushion, Bobbins, Reels, Threadholders, (Cloth) Iron, Lucets, Spindles, Beaters, Dye Vat, Fulling Hammers, Tenterframes, Hecklers (beds of spikes for getting the fiber out of flax), Washboard, Buttons, and Press.
  • Cooking: Iron Pot, Skillet, Grill, Skewers, Tripod, and Cauldron, Cutting Board, Knives, Ladle, Cleaver, Strainer, Sieve, Colander, Mallet, Whisk, Spoons, Rolling Pin, Buckets, Grater, Drying Rack, Mortar and Pestle, Quern / Handmill, assorted Jugs and Clay Pots with Lids, Pitchers, Pickling Crocks, Bowls, Canisters, Pans, and various local or otherwise easy-to-find Seasonings.
  • Farming: Axe, Billhook, Flail, Harrow, Haymaking Fork, Hoe, Mattock or Pick, Maul, Moldboard or Wheeled Plow (to suit local conditions, although plows were often communally owned), Rake, Scythe, Shears, Scythe, Sickle, Spade, Box Sieve, Wheelbarrow, Winnowing Basket, and Bells, Rattles, and Drums (to give the kids to keep birds away from freshly sown seeds; this can make a rather large difference in yields).
  • Fishing: Birchwood Rod, Fishing Net, Fish Trap, Silken Line, Cork Bobbers, Steel Hooks, Lead Sinkers, Velvet Lures, Narrow Netting, Trident, Fish Drying Rack, and minor items (tiny file for sharpening hooks, etc). .
  • Metalworking: Forge, Crucible, Molds, Anvil, Tongs, Plyers, Wedges, Punch, Bending Fork, Bellows, Hammers, Swages and a Swage Block, Fullers, Sledge Hammer, Punches, Drifts, Axe, Chisels, Bits Augers, Files, Whetstone or Grinding Wheel, and Metal Polish. Another kit that would probably be more than 5 GP as a base since an anvil alone is listed at 5 GP (and, according to the trade goods section, contains up to 10 GP worth of Iron. Oh well. It averages out anyway since many other tool sets should be cheaper than 5 GP).
  • Tanning / Leatherworking: Vat, Scraper, Various Awls, Punch, Knives, Shears, Stropping Stick, Whetstone, Needles, Paste Horn, Pincers, Polishing Bone, Burnishing Stone, Tacks, Thimble, Thread, Stamping Irons, and a source of Tannic Acid (often Oak or Chestnut shavings).
  • Woodworking / Carpentry: Awl, Cording Mallet, Hammer, Clamps, Saw, Square, Chisels, Chalk, Prybar / Crowbar, Bow Drill, Ladder, Plane, Rasp, File, Mallet, Plumb Line, Knife, Axe, Draw Knife, and Lathe. Nails were expensive, and generally purchased for a job. For most work pegs were quite sufficient.

This is, of course, rather absurdly complete. No normal medieval peasant household would have ALL (or even most) of those tools or even most of the relevant skills. Villagers tended to specialize a bit (that’s a manor point of living in a community). In reality, most would only have some basics and would assemble others or improvise as needed. Secondarily, there’s probably a good deal more than 5% overlap between the various sets of tools – but that 520 GP worth Wealth-by-Level has to go into SOMETHING, and it’s better to be vastly over-equipped than under-equipped.

Lighting (3 GP). Lighting was normally a rather limited thing for the peasantry, and was often restricted to the light of the hearthfire – but a dawn-to-dusk workday didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for activities beyond having a snack and going to bed after the sun went down anyway. If the night was long… waking up for some conversation, or lovemaking, or prayers, or to urinate, or some such would be natural enough – but that sort of thing didn’t call for much light. Thus most peasants made do with a few rushlights or candles for those limited times when they were up at night. We’ll do better here since these peasants are pretty rich by earthly standards.

  • 2 Lamps (2 SP). Cheap, simple, and often used to burn animal fat. It’s important to keep the wick well trimmed to get as much light as possible.
  • 18 Pints of Oil (18 SP). That’s 255 hours – enough to leave a light burning all night for several weeks if something comes up.
  • 1000 Rushlights (1 GP). These are simply peeled reeds soaked with animal fat (usually mutton fat or tallow, although lard or any similar fat would do. A little beeswax was sometimes mixed in since it was said to improve the light and unsalted fats were preferable), and are virtually free (10 per CP). These are quite fragile, give poor light, and only last half an hour or so, but they will generally suffice for “I got up to check the kids / go to the bathroom / secure a loose window shutter / find out what that noise was / have to finish something up despite the sun going down” and can easily be lit from a smoldering hearthfire or any other flame.
  • If a nearby town or noble has an Eternal Flame (The Practical Enchanter) the local farms are likely to have Continual Flame light sources at a comparable expense.

Medication (30 GP).

  • Midwife’s Kit (10 GP). Hopefully you will have an actual midwife on hand when a baby comes – but if not, this is much better than nothing.
  • Blessed Bandages x2 (Magic Item Compendium, 10 GP Each, 20 GP). These are mildly expensive – at least a weeks income for our little peasant family – but if the baby tips over the boiling cauldron on itself, or a kid falls out of a tree and lands badly, or a youth gets kicked by a horse, or there’s an accident with an axe… there is very little time to get help, the odds of a patient stabilizing on their own are poor, and most peasants aren’t skilled healers. A Blessed Bandage, and automatic stabilization for a dying character, is all too likely to be the difference between “Full Recovery” and “Holding a Funeral”. Any sane parent will find that money. At higher levels you will want a few more – because that will mean that you will NEVER have to choose who lives and who dies.
  • Normal Bandages may simply be cut as needed from the supply of Flannel (under Miscellany).
  • In reality the medieval peasantry had access to a wide variety of herbal remedies, some of them reasonably effective – but that sort of thing doesn’t exist in d20. Fortunately, most of the things that they treated don’t exist in d20 either; the rules only cover things that are serious threats to adventurers. If you want to presume a stock of herbal remedies, go right ahead; no game effect = no cost.

Religion (19 GP):

  • Five Wooden Holy Symbols (5 GP). Going without a symbol of divine protection is just stupid.
  • Cheap Holy Text (10 GP). A rarity in reality – if only because most actual medieval peasants couldn’t read anyway.

Here’s a test. If you can read the following passage out loud – whether or not you understand it – then under mediaeval English law (established in 1172, enshrined as a legal literacy test in 1351, and not fully abolished until 1706), you would be presumed to be a priest or monk, would get the Benefit of Clergy, and could not be legally executed for any crime short of high treason. In all likelihood, if accused of any minor crime, you’d go free.

“Miserere mei, Deus: secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
Et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum, dele iniquitatem meam.
Amplius lava me ab iniquitate mea: et a peccato meo munda me.”

The idea was very simple: only clergymen were literate – so being able to read that text was legal proof that you were a priest or monk, outside the jurisdiction of royal courts, and thus exempt from the most serious punishments.

That doesn’t actually not PROVE that most people at the time were illiterate, but I’d say that it’s pretty good evidence.

  • Household Shrine (Icon or crude statuette, 3 GP). Peasants rarely had these in reality, but then in reality you generally don’t see gods having fistfights in the streets.
  • Votive Candles/Incense/supply of other tiny symbolic offerings (1 GP).

Recreation and Education (11 GP): This wasn’t that big a concern for actual medieval peasants, but d20 peasants are RICH peasants. Why shouldn’t their kids get a few toys and a bit of education?

  • 5′ Ball (2 SP).
  • Five Board Games (5 SP).
  • Bowling Set (5 SP).
  • Playing Cards (1 SP).
  • Dice (1 SP).
  • Dominos (1 SP).
  • Horseshoes Game (5 SP).
  • Five Hornbooks (1 GP). These are single (two if two sided) printed sheets, glued to wooden paddles and covered with thin, transparent, layers of horn. They basically highly-condensed children’s primers. They usually show the alphabet, some religious bits, numbers, and a few other important bits of elementary education at very modest prices. Basically the extreme Cliff’s Notes version of an elementary school education.
  • Five Wax Slates and Styluses (1 GP). These are basically two boards with slight rims on them, bound together and with the inward faces coated with dark wax. You can write on them with a stylus, and smooth them over to reuse with a bit of warmth.
  • Common Musical Instrument (5 GP). Honesty, a set of reed flutes or some such ought to be free – but music was one of the few things shared by rich and poor alike.

Storage (18 GP):

  • 5 Barrels (10 GP). The large economy size.
  • 10 Baskets (4 GP). Also large, and with lids.
  • Sacks x 40 (4 GP).

Provisions (1 Year for a family of Five, 75 GP): As a note, this comes to about 4 CP per person per day – and represents eating well above the basic “subsistence” level, which is about 2-3 CP per person per day.

  • 2500 Lb of Grains (25 GP). Milling Grain and Baking Bread were traditionally village-level monopolies granted (and taxed) by the local Lord – but in d20 taxation is usually a little more direct; given the number of monsters nobody has the time to run around enforcing this sort of thing.
  • 400 Lb of Dried Beans or Lentils (8 GP). This presumes that bread-and-beans is the staple diet, and pretty well covers basic nutrition in terms of calories, proteins, and carbohydrates. Fats are needed in relatively small amounts and some vitamins and minerals must be added by gathering greens and/or eating a little meat –
  • 200 Lb of Nuts (6 GP). These cover the fat requirements, and are nutritious and tasty to boot. What’s not to like? At least given that d20 really doesn’t have serious allergies.
  • 400 Lb of Root Vegetables (Potatoes, Turnips, Carrots, Onions, Etc – whatever is cheap, 4 GP).
  • Assorted greens and herbs. These are mostly gathered, or grown in the kitchen garden, at no real expense – but should cover any remaining need for vitamins and minerals.
  • 4 Lb of Salt (20 GP). They’ll probably need a lot more salt over a year for preserving meat, pickling things, and similar – but they won’t have it on hand at any given moment and won’t need it for the table.
  • Ale (5 small kegs, 1 GP).
  • Common Wine (5 Bottles, 1 GP). Mostly for weddings and other celebrations.
  • Sundries (10 GP). A bit of spice, fruit, and beer here and there.
  • Meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk come from the livestock in quite adequate, if not enormous, quantities. Fish are normally obtained fresh from ponds and streams with nets, traps, and fishing rods.

Miscellany (37 GP):

  • Cart (15 GP).
  • Flint and Steel (1 GP).
  • Grooming Kit (1 GP): Comb, scissors, nail file, sponge, hairbrush, very small mirror, soap, chewing sticks, and tooth powder.
  • 5 Mess Kits (1 GP) – plate, bowl, cup, fork, knife, and spoon each.
  • 20 Lb Plaster of Paris (1 GP). This has rather a lot of uses, from patching walls to making molds for casting things.
  • Canvas: 40 Square Yards (4 GP). In the period this was probably made of hemp. While industrial hemp is not the miracle plant that it’s promoters describe, it IS pretty good and makes cloth of good quality.
  • Flannel: 40 Square Yards (4 GP). Another cheap and highly servicable cloth, Flannel tends to become clothing, then polishing cloths, then cleaning rags.
  • Hemp Rope, 250 Feet (5 GP). It does take several people, a ropewalk (a long series of supports to hold the rope up), and a set of geared hooks to twist several strands of twine into rope – but a few not-especially skilled youngsters would be expected to produce about three miles of rope a day (better than a hundred GP worth). Yet another item priced for adventurers.
  • 5000 Feet of Twine (1 GP). The earliest known twine dates back 32,000 years – and represents one of the most valuable inventions in history. Twine was the basis for snares, rope, nets, cloth, restraining animals, gathering wood, carrying tools, and thousands of other activities. Respect the twine!
  • Winter Firewood (100 Days, 1 GP).
  • Two Pots of Glue (1 GP). Peasants will make more when they need it – it is an animal byproduct after all – but it is always good to have some on hand.
  • Leather, Thin, 2 Square Yards (1 GP). Straps, laces, patches… A bit of leather has many, MANY, uses.
  • Mops, Brooms, Dusters, Etc (1 GP). You tie some straw to a stick for a broom, a bunch of twine to a stick for a mop, and some feathers to a stick for a duster. A bit of glue to hold things together better is optional.

And there we have our 520 GP – and, by classical real-world standards, an absurdly wealth set of peasants – and it will get even better for them as they go up in level. You also have a list for what can be found in a village, and what bandits can steal from one.

Items that are specifically NOT on the list:

  • Block and Tackle (5 GP). This actually isn’t very useful on a farm when you have oxen handy. Dragging heavy stuff around is what oxen are really good at.
  • 3.5 and Pathfinder both list Ink at 8 GP per ounce. The recipe for classical India Ink (a staple for many centuries) is to grind dry hide glue, burnt vegetable oil, soot, and charred bone together in a mortar and pestle. This gets you powdered ink. Add a little water, press it into a mold, and let it dry to make ink sticks, add a larger amount of wanter and bottle it to make battled ink. Berry juice, salt, and vinegar makes colored ink. Boiled walnut shells and vinegar make walnut ink. Ink is easy, and I will assume that the peasantry prepares some if they want to mark things.
  • Writing Quills aren’t priced in Pathfinder, although metal-tipped pens are at 1 SP. If a fantasy peasant wants a quill pen goose and swan feathers were the classical choices (but who knows what a fantasy universe will favor), need to be collected (usually from molting birds), cleaned (cutting off most of the barbs and cleaning the inside with something long and thin), stuck into hot sand for half an hour or so (to draw off the oils and “temper” them), and cut a proper tip – by far the trickiest part, but still only a minutes work.
  • Brushes. Classically a Brush is simply some fur tied and glued to a stick. There’s not much cost to this if a peasant wants to label some stuff.
  • Pathfinder paper is apparently twice as expensive as parchment (although the price drops by 50% if you have it bound into a book). Small farms produce animal hides, and thus can produce parchment for free. They could make paper too, but it would call for another set of tools.

Eclipse and Mythic Ascension IV – The Universal Abilities

Mythic Technicality

Well, TECHNICALLY… Luminis Kanto

For this segment it’s time to look at the “Universal” Mythic Abilities – the options that any “Mythic Character” can take. 

First up is a look at the two most outstanding (or, perhaps more accurately, most disruptive) abilities on the list…

Beyond Morality: You have no alignment. If an effect is alignment-based, you’re treated as being of the most favorable one for you.

  • This one is pretty easy to build. Immunity/Alignment Energies (Common, Major, Minor – since the forces that cause you to have an alignment are pretty subtle, 6 CP).

Divine Source: You may grant divine spells. You gain two Domains – your alignment domains unless you’re Neutral, in which case you may select freely. Each day as a spell-like ability, you can cast one spell of each level equal to or less than your tier chosen from among your domain spells. At tiers 6 and 9 you may select this again, adding a domain and two subdomains each time.

Before building this ability, it’s necessary to note a poor design decision in the original rules. The basic Mythic rules let you pick up Beyond Morality – a fine choice in itself, since it protects you from Holy or Unholy damage as appropriate, from quite a few spells, and from a variety of other troubles – and then take Divine Source – gaining a free choice of two domains. Of course, you can always propose new domains or pull them from obscure sources.

Now spell-like abilities are pretty handy things. According to the SRD…

A spell-like ability has no verbal, somatic, or material component, nor does it require a focus or have an XP cost. The user activates it mentally. Armor never affects a spell-like ability’s use, even if the ability resembles an arcane spell with a somatic component. It has A spell-like ability has a casting time of 1 standard action unless noted otherwise in the ability or spell description. In all other ways, a spell-like ability functions just like a spell. They are subject to spell resistance and to being dispelled by dispel magic. They do not function in areas where magic is suppressed or negated. Spell-like abilities cannot be used to counterspell, nor can they be counterspelled.

So you can pick up access to two spells of each level one through nine and use one of them of each level up to your current tier each day as a spell-like ability. Admittedly it’s in two thematic lists – but there are a LOT of thematic lists out there.

That’s pretty obviously a great deal better than – say – spending two of your choices on picking up “Commune” and “Plane Shift” once per day each, or Darkvision (there are fairly cheap spells and items for THAT), or the ability to speak all languages (get a Tongues spell) or some such. So we either assume that pretty much EVERYBODY takes this (and simply reduce the number of choices by two and build it into the base template abilities) or we let the price go up some.

So lets take a look at the price of building it.

  • Dominion and Manipulation, Specialized and Corrupted/only as prerequisites (4 CP).
  • Sphere of Influence x2, Specialized (for Increased Effect; your clerics may draw spells of up to your Tier from you without your having to withdraw to an outer plane) and Corrupted/does not reduce spell levels for you or provide awareness of events within your sphere of influence (8 CP).
    • To pick up additional Spheres of Influence according to the original rules, buy them at 6 CP each – with the Corruption going to acquiring two subdomains from those that go with the basic sphere of influence.
  • Godfire, Specialized and Corrupted/does not actually allow the user to collect or expend godfire or provide any side-benefits (2 CP).
  • Divine Attribute, Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect (the character remains in control)/does not provide near-limitless power, rather the user may, each day, as a spell-like ability, cast one spell of each level equal to or less than your tier chosen from among the domain spells that your spheres offer to your Clerics (6 CP). Personally, I’d insist on a substitute for any domain that offers access to Gate, Miracle, Wish, or any other spell that’s primarily controlled by it’s massive costs.
    • This one is more than a bit of a stretch simply because the mathematics is wonky anyway; there’s no reasonable way to decide just how much power a Specialization and Corruption on infinite power should let you have – and an “increased effect” that lets you gain control of something infinite, even if it is reduced in the process is just as unreasonable. I’m going to blame it on Mythic Power and Reality Editing this time – but I wouldn’t allow this anywhere else. Throw “reliant on the user having Mythic Power to maintain control” in with the other limitations there.
  • Transcendence (Corrupted/only applies to Mythic Template abilities, 4 CP). This lets you ignore things like “level requirements” in favor of simply using your tier – since there’s nothing that actually prevents a low level character from having a high Tier.

That’s a grand total of 30 CP on this one – the price of five normal feats. Like it or not, this represents quite a lot of power, and bringing down it’s cost that far is already a bit of a stretch.

How comparable is that to the rest of the path abilities though? I’ll just have to work out more of them and find out before deciding what to do about it.

So for the rest of the Universal Mythic Abilities we have…

Commune with Power: You can spend an hour in meditation to Commune with the source of your power.

  • To build this one take Inherent Spell, Specialized for Double Effect / requires one hour of meditation (Commune) (6 CP).

Display of (Attribute): You can spend a point of Mythic Power to get a +20 bonus on a roll based on a particular attribute.

  • To build this one take Inherent Spell, Mana Powered Option, Corrupted for Increased Effect/limited to boosting rolls linked to a specific attribute: Moment of Insight/Skills and Checks, +3 levels to convert to a Circumstance Bonus (6 CP).

Extra Mythic Feat: Get an extra mythic feat. 

  • There’s nothing to build here; spend 6 CP and buy an extra.

Extra Mythic Power: Get +2 Mythic Power/Day.

  • To build this buy more Mana, Specialized for double effect (each point counts as two) /only to power mythic template abilities, natural magic must be purchased separately and for specialized effects only (6 CP).

Legendary Item: Gain a legendary item with (Tier) abilities (Maximum 3/6/10 with first / second / third purchase).

  • “Legendary items” are generally difficult to destroy, contain a certain amount of “Legendary Power” (as opposed to “Mythic Power”, although “Mythic Power” can substitute for “Legendary Power”), must be bonded to a specific character for it’s Legendary Powers to operate, and can let it’s user power his or her “surge” ability with Legendary Power. After that, they can have a fairly wide variety of special powers. Eclipse calls items along those lines Relics – although Relics are a good deal more flexible (and potentially more powerful) than Legendary Items, since Relics can add directly to the user’s powers… Getting a Legendary Item in Eclipse is pretty straightforward; buy Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only for making personal relics using points from Enthusiast, can only make a limited selection of relics (2 CP), Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (4 CP available) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/the points may only be used to make Relics, creating a relic requires some associated mighty deed (4 CP). Further upgrades may mean investing more points in a relic – but Mystic Link and similar abilities may also be very helpful.

Longevity: You no longer physically age and regain any physical attribute points lost to aging.

  • Well… Immunity/Physical Aging (Uncommon, Major, Major, 6 CP).

Mythic Craft: You craft things twice as fast as usual, can make them masterwork by simply paying the cost, and add your tier to skill checks associated with making magic items.

  • This is kind of dull, but OK; take Luck, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only for Skills, only for crafting-associated checks, only to “take 20″ in advance. Thus Mythic Crafting; you may automatically “Take 60″ on crafting-related checks. It’s only once per day, but so are such checks. Alternatively, you could take an immunity to the time normally required for crafting and multiply your speed that way, or just take Action Hero/Crafting and pull stuff out whan and as you need it. In all cases, you can buy this for (6 CP).

Mythic Spellcasting: You can spend a point of Mythic Power to pump up a limited number of spell effects.

  • Another easy one. Take Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted/only to amplify spells, can only be applied to (Casting Attribute) chosen spells to produce a preselected effect. Of course, doing it this way means that you can decide how Mythic Spellcasting will upgrade each of your chosen spells – and so every Mythic Spellcasters Mythic Spells will be different. Personally, I think that that’s a good deal more appropriate.

Mythic Sustenance: You no longer need to eat, drink, or breathe. If targeted by something that affects you through those functions you may ignore it.

  • That’s Immunity/Metabolic Effects (Very Common, Major, Major), Specialized and Corrupted/only covers eating, drinking, and breathing, does not protect the user if he or she voluntarily eats, drinks, or breathes (and yes, that means no talking if you don’t want to breathe) (5 CP).

Pierce the Darkness: You either gain Darkvision or improve your existing Darkvision.

  • Buy Occult Sense/Darkvision or the Improved modifier, in either case (6 CP).

Enhanced Ability: Gain a permanent +2 bonus to an ability score, may be taken once per score.

OK; this is a sop to the Multiple Attribute Dependent types; rather than watching as – say – the party wizard takes a +10 Intelligence while they need to settle for +4/+4/+2, they could make that +6/+6/+4 – although the opportunity cost is high and the Wizard will probably take this once for a +12 Intelligence in total. Of course, the fact that this is limited to +2 per attribute pretty much says that it’s a typed bonus of some sort. The fact that it doesn’t say what type indicates that it’s going to be an unusual one.

  • So; Take Innate Enchantment (7000 GP Value) for (8 CP), take the usual “+2 enhancement bonus to an attribute” personal-only boosting spells (five of them, at 1400 GP each), and then throw in the Innate Enchantment modifier that converts them to another bonus type – perhaps Sacred or Profane or Alchemical or some such (+6 CP). Throw in Immunity/Dispelling and Antimagic (Common, Minor, Great, Specialized and Corrupted/only protects the innate enchantments in this template, 4 CP) and you have 18 CP for +2 to each of five attributes – a bargain for the multily-attribute dependent, but a high cost for a character who only needs one or two of those.

Next up it’s an assortment of immunities – all of which fail if the source of the effect is another creature with Mythic Power. Of course, given that all serious opponents are going to be Mythic, this makes them a lot less effective than they might be… In general, either Uncommon, Major, Great (covering effects of up to level seven; I suspect that anything throwing around effects of level 8+ is going to be Mythic anyway) (6 CP), or (Common, Minor, Great) (also 6 CP). Listed immunities include Fear (Common, Minor, Great), Diseases and Poisons (Common, Minor, Great), Curses and Compulsions (Uncommon, Major, Great), Blindness and Deafness (Uncommon, Major, Great), Petrification and Polymorph (Uncommon, Major, Great), and Sleep (Common, Minor, Great). If you want, call them Corrupted for Increased Effect (covers effects of up to level eleven)/not versus powers originating from “Mythic” sources. 

Ultimate Versatility: Once per day you may temporarily change one of your past choices about a class feature.

  • This one is awkward for two reasons. In a normal game it’s a headache since it can involve some fairly major shifts, all of which must be accounted for. In Eclipse it’s even worse, since it doesn’t really have classes. Oh well; buy Inherent Spell/Personal Inspiration (L3, provides +1 Positive Level for ten minutes. 6 CP). That will let you snag a particular special ability if you need it for a bit without calling for a profound character rewrite…

Farwalker: You can plane shift once per day. Taking this twice provides three uses/day.

  • For this one take Channeling 1/Day, Specialized/only for spell conversion (1 CP) and Spell Conversion to a L5 effect (Plane Shift), Corrupted/cannot be powered by normal channeling (6 CP). OK, this one costs 7 CP for the first instance – but only another 2 CP to get it up to the three times a day version.

Mythic Presence: You may spend a point of Mythic Power to frighten those nearby, affecting non-mythic creatures much more severely than Mythic ones (Panicked/Shaken versus Unaffected / Shaken if of lesser Tier, totally unaffected if of higher Tier).

  • Buy Presence (Fear), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (30′ radius and add Tier to base 10 + Cha Mod save), only works for one minute on a point of Mythic Power rather than being continuous, limited in effects by Tier (as above).

Mythic Sight: Gain 30′ blindsense. If taken twice you can detect illusions and magical deceptions as if using true seeing . This ability doesn’t work against illusions and magical effects that were cast by other mythic creatures or that are affecting other mythic creatures.

  • Another easy one; Take Occult Sense/Blindsense (6 CP) then Improved Occult Sense/Illusions and Magical Deceptions, Specialized/does not work against effects that originate from or are on “Mythic Creatures” (Another 6 CP).

Tongues: You can understand and speak any language, as the tongues spell.

  • Take Presence (Comprehend Languages), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (all languages in a wide radius)/only works on you, does not allow reading languages (6 CP).

Hm… At this point, virtually all the universal mythic abilities except the divine powers and the multiple attribute boost work out to six character points – just the same as a normal feat. Since the multiple attribute boost normally took several choices, that works out nicely, but the divine powers may just have to wind up as a part of the general framework. I really can’t see too many characters passing them up – especially when, in Eclipse, you can buy most of the other powers outside of the Mythic Template if you feel like it.