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.

Eclipse and Mythic Ascension Part III – Mythic Hero Basics

Mana Potion!

Just drink it!

And to continue with Alzrius’s basic question…

 

You’ve converted a number of Pathfinder classes to Eclipse, but I wanted to ask how you’d convert over Paizo’s latest big power-up for PCs: Mythic Adventures.

-Alzrius

While the secondary progression mechanic (Part I and Examples) is probably the simplest way to do “Mythic” characters in Eclipse, giving the players a secondary pool of character points to go wild with may be a little intimidating. Still, there’s no reason why you can’t build a match for the original mechanics. It just takes longer since you can’t offload the work on the players. Thus, under the original Mythic rules…

 

A “Mythic” character should be treated as being about 5 levels higher than he or she actually is – and the Mythic progression itself is divided into ten ranks that require a LOT of story-awards (the initial catalyst and then twenty-nine more mighty deeds) to get. Besides the general wonderment of beholding the return of the ECL modifier, that gives us a +5 ECL Template divided into ten steps – and probably Specialized to double up the available points/the abilities only become available gradually, in a set of ten “Tiers”, each of which requires completing various quests. It’s apparently expected that characters will have a base level of nearly twice their Tier – but that also apparently isn’t a hard requirement. It’s just that you usually won’t be able to get in a lot of mighty deeds without getting in a lot of adventuring.

 

That gives us a framework to work with. As for what we’ll want to hang on it…

 

Mythic characters have access to a source of power that others do not – some occult force that allows them to resist the efforts of those who do not possess it and empowers many other special abilities. That power is measured in mythic energy points which renew themselves each day.

 

Eclipse includes a form of powerful mystic energy points that can be used to power a very wide variety of abilities – Mana. Ergo, in a Mythic Setting, any character who’s purchased Mana is “Mythic”, but most people never (or can’t) buy any Mana. When does someone cease to be normal and ascend to the level of myth? That’s up to the game master. In general though, only the player characters can successfully deal with Mythic Menaces – so we’re back to first edition… “Help us Player Characters! You’re our Only Hope!”.

 

To get a self-renewing pool of magical energy equal to the specified limits buy:

 

  • Mythic Power: Mana 6d6+2 (23), Specialized for double effect (each point counts as two) and Corrupted/only to power template abilities, maximum availability of (Tier x 2 +3) points per day, natural magic must be purchased separately and for specialized effects only (27 CP). Getting it back on a daily basis calls for Rite of Chi with +12 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted (all uses are automatically expended once per day even if this wastes some or all of them, only usable to regain mythic power) (8 CP).

That covers the full mythic power reserve. You could break up the cost per tier if you wanted to – probably at 8 CP for the first Tier and +3 per additional Tier – but it’s certainly not important yet.

Mythic Characters and Creatures also get to pump up their attributes on the cheap. That might just be a world law – in fact, I’d recommend that anyone who wants to run a game filled with legendary heroes apply the half-price attributes rule – but they seem to get attributes even more cheaply than Feats (they can get up to +22 in total, although only +10 of that can be spent freely, the rest would go into +2 to each attribute). That’s a bit tricky. There are several ways in Eclipse to raise your attributes and effective attributes that are cheaper than just buying them, but most of them don’t stack with everything.

 

You could take an immunity to the time and effort needed to raise your attributes, reducing the character point cost – but I’d be REALLY reluctant to allow this one. Natural-law immunities go out of control very easily amd this conversion is alredy likely to involve several of them. Even more importantly, if you allow an immunity like THIS you don’t even need an infinite loop; you can just jump straight to infinity. I’m pretty notorious for helping people build any kind of character they want to, but even I’m going to have to say “No” to this one.

 

Since they have Mana anyway, this might just be Reality Editing; making yourself stronger, smarter, et al seems unlikely to be harder than creating a secret escape passage that didn’t exist before (although doing so in a stable fashion is probably a LOT harder) – and most people overestimate their abilities anyway. Of course, this sort of thing REALLY needs a limitation to avoid the infinite loop syndrome. It does fit very nicely though; their source of special power raises their attributes to superhuman levels as well. Ergo…

 

Occult Skill; Life Editing (requires Mana with Reality Editing and that the “Mana = Mythic” rule be in play. No Attribute Base, Trained Only).

Reality Editors normally edit situations and the environment, not individual living creatures – and especially not themselves. After all, tinkering with the structure of the body, mind, or soul with your will alone is all too likely to result in changes that will kill the being so manipulated without the ongoing support of your will – and everyone sleeps, gets knocked out, or runs out of Mana sometime. Once that happens, the horrible effects are entirely up to the game master. A Life-Editor has, however, mastered the art of making small changes so carefully that his or her merely being alive is enough to sustain them. Even better, when he or she dies… the changes will simply fade away harmlessly. While Life Editing cannot benefit from an attribute modifier (since that produces unstable feedback problems), and is most unwise to enhance (since, if an artificial boost fails, you’re back in “the game master selects the horrible consequences” territory), it can be affected by skill-enhancing feats other than Augmented Bonus.

In any case, a Life Editor may increase his or her own attributes, or those of any other non-“mythic” creature that lacks this ability by a grand total of (Life Editing Ranks/2), rounded up. Unfortunately, once such a bonus has been allotted, it will require months of careful meditation and self-discipline to reallocate it. Optionally, characters may substitute 6 CP spent on enhancing the target’s racial abilities instead of taking +1 to an attribute – but that’s up to the game master. It’s more common amongst monstrous characters though.

  • So; Buy Reality Editing (Specialized and Corrupted/only for Life Editing, 2 CP), Access to Occult Skill/Life Editing (3 CP), Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills, Corrupted/only to keep Life Editing at (Level + 3) (2 CP). That’s a total of (7 CP).

Mythic Items: All Mythic Characters can spend “Mythic Power” to get special results out of magic items.

 

  • That’s Reality Editing, Specialized (for double effect) and Corrupted/only to enhance magical items (4 CP). That will allow spending one point of Mythic Power to produce “notable but plausible” edits – which is quite enough to get some spectacularly unlikely effects out of a magic item.

Hard to Kill: Mythic characters automatically stabilize when below 0 HP and survive until (-2 x Con) HP.

 

  • Well, this isn’t as effective as the (fairly common) house rule of not dying until minus (HP) at higher levels, but it is handy. To buy it take Grant of Aid with Spark of Life: Specialized and Corrupted/simply stops bleeding and extends survival to -(2 x Con Score) (4 CP).

Surge: You get to boost d20 rolls, rather like Action Points can be used to do.

 

This does look a lot like Action Hero at first glance – but Action Hero is a per-level, not a per-day thing – and, honestly, there are better ways to get occasional boosts. Thus, while the boost-a-roll option is included under Action Hero for back-compatibility, the real meat of the ability is in the more exotic options – crafting, influence, invention, stunts, and so on – all of which really SHOULD be available, but certainly should NOT be a per-day thing. To buy this take:

 

  • Reality Editing, Specialized for half cost and Corrupted for increased effect: Only for minor edits, only for boosting the effects of character-action d20 rolls (not, for example, if the player opts to by a d20 hit die), the bonus is determined at random based on the user’s tier (1-3: d6. 4-6; d8, 7-9; d10, 10; d12) (3 CP).

Amazing Initiative: Add your Mythic Tier to your initiative checks.

 

  • This one is a little tricky simply because in Eclipse – among the other attempts to limit the Rocket Tag syndrome – I tried to avoid open-ended initiative bonuses. On the other hand (since it was intended to have ways to reproduce everything in the game), that just means that the methods of getting bonuses are a bit less obvious. For this one take Augmented Bonus (add a chosen attribute modifier to Dexterity based checks, Specialized in Initiative Checks for Double Effect, Corrupted/only becomes available at +1 per Mythic Tier, 4 CP) with Reflex Training/Costs Mana Option (6 CP), Specialized/can only be used on your turn, cannot be used to cast a spell. That lets you spend a point of Mythic Power to take an extra standard action (3 CP).

Recuperation: Get back all your hit points after resting for eight hours. If you rest for an hour and spend a point of Mythic Power you regain (Max/2) hit points and any (non-mythic) class features that are limited by uses/day – such as rage, bardic powers, and spells as if you’d rested for eight hours.

 

OK now; restoring some hit points is pretty easy. Refreshing all your uses-per-day stuff is quite a bit harder. While there are a few things in Eclipse which will do it; all of them are rather limited high-order abilities. That’s because resource management is – or at least used to be – a fairly important part of the game (and to judge by the frequency with which people have trouble with credit cards and debt, no learning opportunity in this field should ever be discarded lightly). Still, once you make this a common ability of all the player characters most of it’s actual effect is gone. You’ve simply gone from “come back tomorrow” to “come back in a few hours” – the only real change in actual play being that enemies who survived the first fight will still be down a bunch of their daily-use stuff while you’re effectively down any minions you could have had since they can’t keep up. Given that the Mythic rules are pretty blatantly slanted towards “if you don’t have this tag on your character sheet you lose” anyway, who cares?

 

  • Buying it simply requires another natural-law Immunity – in this case to Recovery Time (Very Common, Major, Major – to reduce it to one-eighth normal), Corrupted/only works on hit points unless the user spends a point of Mythic Power (10 CP).

Mythic Saving Throws: On a successful save you completely resist effects from non-mythic sources.

 

  • This is an easy one. Buy Fortune x 3 (Evasion, Impervious, and Defiant), Specialized/only works against non-mythic creatures (9 CP). Why is that Specialized? Because in a Mythic game all of your real opposition is going to be Mythic anyway.

Force of Will: You can spend Mythic Power on rerolls or on making nonmythic types reroll.

 

  • This sounds like luck – but the ability to force other creatures to reroll is definitely reality editing (if you wanted it to be personal only, just buy Luck, Corrupted/Costs Mana instead of uses/day, specialized/rerolls only – which will be a bit cheaper). To buy this little knack take Reality Editing, Specialized for Increased Effect (can affect other creatures and offers no saving throw) and Corrupted/only to force single d20 rerolls (minor edits), must be a personal roll or a roll made by a non-mythic creature (4 CP).

Unstoppable: You can shrug off a wide variety of conditions.

 

  • Now this is a handy one; all that save-or-suck stuff still costs you something – but it won’t cripple you in a single shot. To buy this take Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted/only to remove personal conditions ( bleed, blind, confused, cowering, dazed, dazzled, deafened, entangled, exhausted, fascinated, fatigued, frightened, nauseated, panicked, paralyzed, shaken, sickened, staggered, or stunned), only one at a time as a minor edit (2 CP). Opportunist/may be used once per round at the start of the user’s turn even if this would not normally be possible (6 CP).

Immortal: You come back after you die unless you’re slain by an Artifact, Deity, or Coupe De Grace.

 

  • This one is actually pretty iffy. Obviously enough, the primary way to get rid of a Mythic Character once they get this ability is a Coupe De Grace. Unfortunately, many players see an enemy making a Coupe De Grace attempt on their character as the Game Master spitefully targeting them. After all, aren’t there other characters who are still up that their opponents “should” be focusing on (rather than fairly sensibly making sure that some pesky healer doesn’t put a “fallen” foe back into the fight)? From those players point of view… a Coupe De Grace only makes sense once all the characters are down and the game master is closing down the game in a total party kill. This one… seems likely to result in either a) effectively unkillable characters, or b) ill feelings. Still, most game masters are pretty reluctant to kill player characters anyway; it disrupts the game too much – which means that this this ability makes little difference. That’s also why it’s a cheap one in Eclipse. To buy this ability just take Returning (Means of death; Coupe De Grace or slain by a deity or artifact) (6 CP).

Legendary Hero: You regain a point of Mythic Power every hour.

 

  • Yep, you get to use your mythic powers more often. Buy Grant of Aid with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted/only to refill the user’s Mythic Power Pool, only restores one point per our (6 CP).

That’s 93 CP so far – a fair chunk, but nowhere near the total that we have to work with.

 

Finally, a Mythic Character gets five Mythic Feats, ten Mythic Path Abilities, and two Special Mythic Path Abilities. I’ll start dealing with them next.

 

Arcanist Casting in Eclipse

Freezing on the Sea Cliffs

Hey, I didn’t know that you knew that one! – kleinnick

Today it’s another question from Alzrius – in this case, on how to use Eclipse to build something new from Paizo…

Paizo recently released the public playtest for their Advanced Class Guide. One of the classes in the book – the arcanist – has a method of spellcasting that blends the spontaneous spellcasting of a sorcerer with the prepared casting of a wizard.

More specifically, the arcanist has a number of spells per day and spells known, as per a sorcerer. The difference is that they have a spellbook, and each day they use it to choose what their “spells known” will be, preparing them out of their spellbook like a wizard.

While the developers are still making changes to these classes, they’ve said that the arcanist’s spellcasting method will remain the same. This leads me to ask, how would you model this method of spellcasting in Eclipse? Not using the Studies limitation for a magic progression means that you are a preparatory spellcaster who uses your entire spell list (a la the cleric or druid), whereas using the Studies limitation means that you’re either a preparatory caster who needs to find and record spells before you can prepare them (as per the wizard) or are a spontaneous spellcaster with a small – and unchangeable (mostly, maybe swapping out a spell known every level or two) – list of spells known. There doesn’t seem to be an option for a “hybridized” method of spellcasting like what the arcanist has.

Well, the conceptual basis for “Vancian” spellcasting – at least as presented in earlier editions – was basically that a Wizard had no particular natural power; he or she skillfully drew a trickle of energy from the planar structure of the universe and bound it into spells – each an an individual immaterial object, comparable to a hand-assembled anti-tank missile or similar one-shot device. A Wizard could only keep so many spells ready for much the same reason that a fighter could only carry so many weapons; they each took up part of a limited carrying capacity. Being Out of Spells was simply being Out of Ammo. They needed spellbooks to help them prepare or “memorize” their spells simply because spell-structures were incredibly complicated and had to he just right to work.

When Sorcerers were introduced the general presumption (where people gave it any thought at all) was that a Sorcerer either had a natural reserve of magic or could draw on power much more quickly than a Wizard and had some sort of natural channels through which they could shape that power into a particular effect, much like a fancy tip on an icing applicator. Of course, they only had so many channels and could only handle so much power. The rules never examined the difference that closely – after all, the rules also don’t bother to differentiate between an axe to the head and a club to the knee – but presumably a Sorcerer ran out of stored magical energy or power-handling capacity and tired (albeit not enough to have an in-game effect worth noting) while a Wizard just ran out of prepared spells.

The Arcanist evidently has a Sorcerer’s ability to tap into or store raw power but lacks natural channels for it – so they build artificial channels for it. Sadly, artificial channels are apparently both fragile and complex, and must be renewed on a daily basis. (Why Spell and Channel formula are entirely interchangeable is a good question, but game convenience has a lot to say about that).

Now this does have limitations. Most notably, this makes an Arcanist even more dependent on his or her spellbook than a Wizard is. At least if something happens to their spellbook a Wizard will have whatever spells are in his or her head to work with. If worst comes to worst, he or she can even convert most of them into Scrolls, and then copy them back into a spellbook once he or she is back in town and can pick up a new book. Arcanists have no such option; their spell choices are simply gone in the morning. Of course the fact that a Wizard or Arcanists spellbooks are vulnerable, expensive, and time-consuming only has an effect if the game master enforces it, so this may not be much of a limitation at all.

Secondarily, the flexibility is not as great as it might be; most characters have some favorite, workhorse, spells that they use all the time anyway – while a high-intelligence Wizard may well have a greater variety of prepared spells available in any one day, and can gain some of the same casting flexibility with spell-recall items, such as Pearls of Power (or some of the even cheaper items in the Magic Item Compendium).

As for how to build such a character in Eclipse… the quick and easy way is to buy levels in a desired spellcasting progression as a spontaneous caster, Specialized for Increased Effect (spells known may be readily changed) with the limitations being that…

  • The user loses one spell slot of each level he or she can cast.
    • Honestly, that’s no big problem in most cases – and if it is, there are plenty of ways to get more spells.
  • Their Spells Known (or “Channels”) other than Read Magic must be renewed from a spellbook daily. As usual for book-based casters the user starts off with a spellbook containing Cantrips as the GM decides, (Int+3) first level spell formula at level one, and an additional two castable spells of choice per level thereafter. Other spells must be acquired in other ways.
    • How important this is varies with the Game Master and the setting. If spells are scarce, spellbooks are seriously threatened on occasion, and the characters must rely on spell research and automatic spells, then this is a major limitation. If not, then it’s a lot less important.
  • Due to the fragility of artificial magical “channels”, the user cannot amplify his or her spells or effective casting level with Mana, Hysteria, Berserker, or similar abilities. Similarly, he or she may not reduce the impact of applying a metamagical theorem other than Compact or Battle Magic below +1 spell level.
    • Now this is a significant limitation. It cuts an Arcanist off from a lot of the usual Eclipse ways of powering up their spells – but, to be fair, those methods don’t exist in Pathfinder, so that’s fair enough.

There are other ways of course; an Arcanist gets a base of 225 levels of spells per day at level twenty. To build that progression we’ll want to buy:

  • 90d4 generic spell levels as Mana, Corrupted/only usable for arcane spells, must be broken up into a regular spell progression (never offering more spells of any higher level than of any lower level) – although turning it into a progression does allow attribute based bonus spells (180 CP).
  • 20 Base Caster Levels, Specialized/only for the generic spell levels purchased above (60 CP).
  • 34 Spontaneous Spell Formula. That would normally cost 68 CP, but we want to be able to change them – which calls for thirty-four instances of Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (2 points per instance, all points can be reassigned with a mere hour of study)/ Only for Spontaneous Spell Formula, never offering more spells of any higher level than of any lower level, arcane spells only, spells must be renewed every day – a net cost of 102 CP.
  • Spontaneous use of Read Magic (2 CP). Actually I’m not quite sure whether or not Read Magic counts against an Arcanist’s available formula slots, but I’m going to assume that it doesn’t.
  • Buying Attribute Based Bonus Spells for a custom progression was never addressed directly – but it’s simple enough; buy Immunity/the need to apply the Magician ability to Rune Magic only (Common, Minor, Epic, Corrupted/only applies to a single spell progression, 12 CP) and then the Rune Magic Magician ability (6 CP).
  • Getting unlimited Pathfinder-style use of a selection of Cantrips calls for Shaping, at the usual six-point cost (6 CP).

That gives this progression a base cost of 368 CP at level twenty or 18.4 CP per level – just over what a Sorcerer pays (or the same with rounding). Of course, those extra 8 CP buy you the ability to make minor tweaks in the progression to suit yourself and avoids one of the major restrictions of doing it the quick-and-simple way.

Is doing it either way especially unbalancing?

I’d say no. There are plenty of ways to work freeform magic in Eclipse; allowing a Sorcerer-type to vary their spell list in exchange for a few fewer spells really isn’t that big a deal.

Eclipse and Mythic Ascension, Part I

And today it’s a question from Alzrius – although only part one, because this is going to be a LONG one. 

You’ve converted a number of Pathfinder classes to Eclipse, but I wanted to ask how you’d convert over Paizo’s latest big power-up for PCs: Mythic Adventures.

I tried taking a stab at this myself, but I suspect that this is a bit more than I can chew, at least until I’m able to get further experience with using Eclipse. I did get some basics down, however.

The Designing Encounterssection mentions (under the “Adjusting CR and Level” sub-header) that a character with 20 class levels and 10 mythic tiers (the maximum number allowable) is essentially a 25th-level character.

From that, I figured that a mythic character has a +5 ECL template, and so has a total of 191 CP to build it with. Throw in a mythic flaw (as a disadvantage that’s part of the template) and that rises to a total of 194 CP.

The base mythic abilities are easy enough to make…for the most part. Most of the mythic abilities revolve around spending a use of “mythic power” for various effects, the most basic of which is to improve die rolls; that sounds like Action Hero, with other abilities specialized to require an action point. There’s also a lot of Improved Self-Development (+10 total!).

The mythic feats granted by the template were a little more difficult to convert, simply because 1) there are so many of them, and 2) I wasn’t sure about building just those feats in Eclipse without also including the “normal” feat abilities, since they build on those.

Mythic Paths was where things went off the rail for me. Mostly because there were so many abilities across six different paths, and because having each path have twelve (!) different path abilities – in addition to the base mythic abilities – really pushed the cost. (I eventually figured the entire template was specialized, since gaining all of these requires satisfying a grand total of 29 mythic trials…not to mention how the template is gained in the first place).

Mythic spells and magic items aren’t part of the character, and so don’t need to be dealt with…I think. I’m slightly uncertain because some still require an expenditure of “mythic power” – presumably that’s no different than an expensive material component.

Finally, since these are meant to be broken up into ten “tiers,” I wasn’t sure how to do that, short of breaking up the entire template into ten packages of 19- or 20-CP bundles to dole out over time.

Presuming that’s not too tall of a request…how would you make “Mythic Eclipse”?

-Alzrius

I’ve got to admit it; I find this one more than a bit strange.

Basically, under Pathfinder’s “Mythic” rules… your character is exposed to some weird source of power, and infused with some of that power. As your character performs mighty deeds, he or she gains even greater powers. Soon lesser individuals can barely touch your character, and have little chance to oppose him or her.

This sounds a great deal like normal play to me.

After all, “exposed to some weird source of power” often happens as part of a characters basic origin story – and if it doesn’t happen then, player characters quite routinely expose themselves to alien energies, wade through dragon’s blood or other weirdness, visit exotic planes of existence, pick up malfunctioning artifacts, work for crazy divine patrons, channel entities from beyond the comprehensible cosmos, and, if all else fails, get involved with their own insane magical experiments.

They “perform mighty deeds and gain power from them”. Yes. Yes, they do. Story / quest / goal / whatever awards have been around since the early days of first edition. You completed a mission of some sort, you built up your reputation and legend, you gathered mundane rewards – and you also went up in level, gaining mighty powers.

And it’s pretty well acknowledged that, all else being equal, low-level characters have little chance against higher level ones.

Really, the “Mythic” rules represent a jump back to first edition.

In first edition, most people could not gain levels. Player characters and special NPC’s were unique because they could. By third edition EVERYONE got levels, and PC’s only real claim to being special was that they were apparently lucky bastards who found more gear than most of the other people. .

Under the “Mythic” rules, most people cannot gain Mythic Tiers; Player characters and special NPC’s are unique because they can.

In first edition quite a lot of your character advancement was awarded for accomplishing goals of some sort. By the time third edition came along, that sort of award was pretty rare. It was hard to calculate or award “treasure” – and keep wealth-by-level straight – for goals.

Under the “Mythic” rules a fair chunk of your character advancement is awarded for accomplishing goals of some sort.

“Mythic” does split from first edition in putting story awards on their own track – but that’s not particularly new either; quite a lot of early games put experience points into separate tracks depending on how you earned them. Thus games like Ysgarth and World Tree had different categories of abilities that advanced with XP from using those abilities.

While I’ll look at other ways of building mythic abilities next, the simplest, quickest, and most flexible option for mythic-style Eclipse only requires one power:

Immunity/having only one experience point chart; Very Common, Severe, Legendary, 60 CP Base, Specialized for Increased Effect (gets only one additional chart, abilities purchased on the secondary chart do not have to pay attention to the restrictions of the Adventurer Template) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost/the secondary “tier” chart only gets special goal-awards rather than splitting XP awards evenly with the primary chart, only goes to level ten, does not provide hit dice or skill points, and is normally capped at (Level/2) +1. Net Cost: (40 CP).

And that pretty much does it. With that extra allotment of character points you’re free to buy all kinds of specialized enhancing abilities. If you want to copy the original style, you can go ahead and throw in “Corrupted/Does not work against opponents who also possess this “mythic immunity” on a lot of defenses and special powers.

As usual for similar items, levels from the secondary progression do not stack with levels from the primary one. Thus being Level Thirteen/Tier Seven does NOT let you buy abilities as if you were a 20’th level character; it lets you have a complimentary set of level seven abilities to go with your level thirteen abilities – rather like a Gestalt character, although players are likely to buy truly complimentary talents rather than just getting a second set.

Now that is pretty cheap. It’s not hard to come up with 40 CP, and if you put it into a template you get a mere +1 ECL unless you put some more stuff into it.

Now talking your game master into letting you take an Immunity to a pretty fundamental aspect of d20’s rules is quite another matter. Such Immunities carry a rider about “if the Game Master opts to allow it” for exactly this reason; allowing someone to take an Immunity to having to gain experience points to go up in level, or to the normal progression of time, or to limits on actions in a round, or some such, can easily wreck the game. It’s a bit like playing Chess and ruling that pieces can’t be taken; there are some rules that the game simply does not work without.

On the other hand, ruling that Knights can also move and capture like pawns (and will now be known as “Templars”) will leave the game quite playable.

Will this particular Immunity break the game? It’s blatantly asking for an ECL adjustment, but if all the player characters are using it… well, the levels and abilities of NPC’s are pretty much arbitrary anyway. I think I’d prefer to just note that most NPC’s are fairly low level and stay that way, and thus the PC’s are special right out of the box – but this route will achieve much the same result.

Next time around I’ll look at the basics of building to match the “mythic” rules.

Eclipse – Servant of a Fallen God

El Shaitan

A being of mystery am I, a thing of spells and patches…

This request was for a Pathfinder / Dragonstar planetouched (earth ancestry) youngster who has been drafted into the space marines and who has accidentally summoned and bound himself to a Shaitan – a djinn/demon who was once a near demigodling, but who has been near-forgotten for centuries, and so has little power left (something which once more having a follower may start to fix). The Shaitan grants him what power she can in exchange for his soul, his service, and his deeds to restore her – and, in the meantime, she can manifest near him to help promote her own goals.

OK then… one Eclipse Build, starting off with the…

Pathfinder Package Deal: (Discussed more fully HERE)

  • +2 to an Attribute, Corrupted/the attribute is fixed by race (8 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized and Corrupted/only works as long as the user sticks to a particular archetype and relatively narrow plan of development chosen at level one at each level, points may only be spent on skills and additional hit points (2 CP).
  • Immunity/not being allowed to buy up their (normally maximized) level one hit die later on. Uncommon/Minor/Major (3 CP).
  • Action Hero (Crafting), Specialized and Corrupted/the user still has to spend the time, and money, and may ONLY create items by spending action points (2 CP).
  • Pathfinder provides a +3 bonus to “Trained In-Class Skills”. This is an option attached to the skills system, not part of a character build – “Characters get a +3 bonus on skills that fit their character concept”. The awkwardness in Eclipse comes in deciding which skills qualify as “In-Class”. The simplest option is simply to let the character consider Craft, Profession, and their selection of a dozen other skills “in-class”. No cost.
    • Selected Class Skills: Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Knowledge/The Planes (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
  • Package Disadvantage: Accursed (must use the Pathfinder versions of spells even where those have been downgraded, may not take “overpowered” feats, -3 CP).

Next up, it’s a unique Racial Template. Those are always potentially cheesy, but practically everyone in the intended game is going to be fairly unique anyway.

Racial Template/Earth-Themed Native Outsider (30 CP/+0 ECL):

  • Pathfinder Package Attribute Bonus goes to Constitution.
  • 60′ Darkvision (Occult Sense, 6 CP).
  • Proficiency with all Simple and Martial Weapons (9 CP)
  • One Bonus Feat, Corrupted/must be earth-magic related (4 CP).
  • The original Attribute Shift (-2 to one attribute to add +2 to another) is replaced by a simple +2 to an attribute, since the game is using the half-price attributes rule – so +2 Wisdom (6 CP).
  • Immunity/Acid; takes five less (0 minimum) damage from acid (Common, Major, Trivial, 3 CP).
  • Inherent Spell, Corrupted/Earth-related effects only (4 CP). This is commonly taken as two L1 effects 2/Day each, but a level two effect twice per day is equally common.
  • Bonus Language (Terran) (1 CP).
  • Racial Disadvantage: Obvious elemental hybrid traits, subject to prejudice and discrimination (-3 CP).

For his Racial Choices I’ll put in…

  • Fast Learner, Specialized for Double Effect in (Earth-Related) Magic Levels, (+2 CP/ level).
  • Inherent Spells: Two first level effects usable twice per day each; Earthward I (Cast as an immediate action, blocks 1d8+Level/Max Five points of damage from an incoming attack or effect) and Iron Master (turns a bit of iron into an iron or steel implement weighing up to ten pounds for ten minutes per level).

That’s a fairly powerful race – but not overly so. It should do nicely.

Basic Attributes: Str 12, Dex 12, Con 12 (14), Int 14, Wis 12 (14), Cha 16 (3.5 32-point buy).

Available Character Points: 72 (L2 Base) +6 (Disadvantages: Outcast/obvious planetouched who has bound his soul to an outsider, Untrustworthy) +4 (Duties as a Space Marine) +6 (level one bonus Feat) = 88 CP (and 10 SP from Intelligence).

Basic Purchases (45 CP):

  • Warcraft (BAB): +1 (6 CP).
  • Hit Points / Dice: 2d8 (8, 6, for 8 CP) +4 (2 x Con Mod) = 18 HP
  • Proficient with: All Simple and Martial Weapons (Free) and Light Armor with the Smooth modifier (6 CP).
  • Armor Class 10 (Base) +1 (Dex) +6 (Armor/Combat Fatigues) +1 (Defender) = 18
  • Initiative +1 (Dex)
  • Movement: 30′
  • Save Bonuses:
    • Fortitude: +2 (6 CP) +2 (Con) = +4
    • Reflex: +2 (6 CP) +1 (Dex) = +3
    • Will: +2 (6 CP) +2 (Wis) = +4
  • Skill Points: 7 (Purchased, 7 CP) + 10 (Int Mod x 5) +4 (Fast Learner) = 21

Special Abilities (43 CP):

  • Two levels of Clerical Package Deal Spellcasting, Specialized/spells are randomly determined at the start of each day, Caster Level may not be expanded to cover other progressions. (2 CP after eight CP from racial Fast Learner effect is included). Domains: Earth and Fire. Choice of Spell Conversion to either Healing or Harming. Restrictions: Conduct (appease his Shaitan), Restrained (no wide-area destruction).
  • Two Sorcerer Magic Levels, Restrictions of Conduct (appease Kalki) and Studies (limited spell selection). Specialized/The spells are provided by his Shaitan; using them requires that she be present and approve of their use (which she is reluctant to do unless he is in immediate peril, since her power is limited now), the caster levels cannot be expanded to cover other progressions (16 CP).
  • Shaping, Specialized for Increased Effect (only works for the user’s limited list of level zero spells), Corrupted/must be free to gesture and speak (4 CP). This provides Pathfinder-style unlimited use of his level zero spells.
    • He can cast 4L0 and 3L1 Cleric Spells (and his L1 domain spell) and 6L0 and 5L1 Sorcerer Spells. He will “know” five L0 and two L1 Sorcerer Spells.
  • Fortune (takes no effect on a successful reflex saves) (6 CP)
  • Defender (+level/5, rounded down AC bonus. Minimum of +1. (6 CP)
  • Companion (Mystic Companion, CR 2 creature base) with +2 ECL Template and Transform (Specialized for Increased Effect: the user cannot take the Companions form and the Companion can only take a version of the user’s form that matches the companions sex – but the companion enjoys a +2 bonus on each attribute when taking the user’s form). Specialized/the Companion is not loyal to the user as companions usually are, and has no obligation to help the user physically or socially; the user will just have to stay in the good graces of this fairly-independent NPC (9 CP). This will represent our manifested entity, who usually appears a lot like him – rather than as the churning elemental power she is in reality.

Hm… What to use for a base, what to use… In this case, I think I’ll use a 3.5 Azer – rendered a bit more generic.

Generic CR2 Medium Elemental Being: 2d8 HP, Speed 30′, AC +6 Natural, BAB +2, Proficient with Simple and Martial Weapons and Light and Medium Armor, Darkvision 60′, All Saves +3, Str 13, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 9, Does +1 point of Elemental Damage with their Attacks, Energy Infusion of Choice, Spell Resistance II, and one Bonus Feat. 16 + (Int Mod x2) Skill Points.

As a Mystic Companion add: Improved Fortune (Evasion), use their “master’s” base saves with their attribute bonuses where they’re better than their own, add (Master’s Level/2, rounded down) d8 HD, Natural Armor, and BAB, a +1 bonus to Str or Con for every 5 levels or part thereof which their master possesses, and +3 CP to spend for every level their master has. They’d normally get a base Int of at least 8, but they’re doing better than that already.

So our faded Shaitan’s current base is 3d8 HP, Speed 30′, AC +7 Natural, BAB +3, Proficient with Simple and Martial Weapons and Light and Medium Armor, Darkvision 60′, All Saves +3, Str 15, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 11, Does +1 point of Elemental (Lightning) Damage with her attacks, Energy Infusion/Air (no damage from Lightning, double from Acid), Spell Resistance II (13), 16 + (Int Mod x2) Skill Points, Improved Evasion, all Saves +3 base, and Two Bonus Feats. Arguably, she too should get the Pathfinder Package Deal, and so get +2 to an Attribute – but I’ve no idea what would be suitable and I’m not going to work out her skill points; that’s too campaign sensitive; let the GM do it to suit how he or she envisions the relationship.

For that +2 ECL Template I’ll add in…

  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Hit Dice (Increase all hit dice to d10’s, 6 CP).
  • Energy Infusion (Fire) (immune to Fire, double damage from Cold. (6 CP)
  • Universal Damage Reduction 5/- (12 CP).
  • Unique Returning (18 CP). As a godling, Kalki is pretty much unkillable save by another god.
  • Immunity/Dimensional Barriers (Very Common, Severe, Major, 18 CP): Kalki can move between the dimensions – although this may take her some time; being able to breach the dimensional boundaries doesn’t mean that it may not be a fairly long trip. This is how she gets back when banished or something.
  • Mystic Link with the Communications and Identity Modifiers (12 CP).
  • Witchcraft III: Our Shaitan is ineligible for Pacts – but she does have two bonus feats, and has spent one on +3d6 Power (Giving her a total of 30) and Summoning. This is pathetic given her once-divine status, but it’s all the power she can channel into the world without a priest of hers to open the way for it.

That’s 90 CP – under the 95 CP allowance for a +2 ECL template.

Overall this fellow has good spellcasting – even if the randomness drastically limits his clerical powers – and a formidable companion. Of course, he is at that companions beck and call if he wants to use his powers – which is a perfect plot hook for the game master.