Apex – The Playable Races Part II; Ethereals, Titans, Priests and Titanspawn, Monsters, and Relics

The Ethereals – popularly, if possibly wrongly, classified as Australopithecus Astralus – apparently rose to full sapience on the minor continent of Mu (the remains are now known as New Zealand) roughly 1,100,000 years ago. Less than 150,000 years later Mu was obliterated in a catastrophe of unknown nature* – leaving behind only ghostly astral echoes of its people and lands to haunt thousands of square miles of unstable reality. Given that the nature and appearance of those traces seems to be highly observer-dependent, the Ethereals may remain something of a mystery for a long time to come.

*Despite it being popularly described as an “explosion”, whatever the Ethereal Catastrophe was it apparently obliterated most of a minor continent. While there were undoubtedly explosive elements, a simple explosion large enough to do so would have been at least as catastrophic as the Permian-Triassic Extinction Event – and would not have left the matter in the area infused with reality-altering astral forces (they must be anchored to the planetary crust somehow, since the area moves with the planet). More importantly, in the less than one million years since the Ethereal Catastrophe at least four species (even if two are presumed extinct and one nearly went extinct) have risen to full sapience – yet there is no apparent evidence of sapience during the previous three hundred million years. Evidently something changed – and the obvious dividing line was the Ethereal Catastrophe. Whether that disaster it was the result of an attempt to expand the borders of an overly-restrictive astral overlay (they never managed to expand much beyond Mu), an attempt by the Ethereals to transcend into some facsimile of immortal godhood or to merge astral and normal space into a more “obliging” configuration, or some sort of an experiment that went out of control, it seems likely that it changed the rules for sapience somehow. After all, the Hyperboreans achieved full sapience less than two hundred thousand years later – an eyeblink in evolutionary time.

(Minor) Titan Racial Package

The Titans are primarily astral entities, and are known to be simultaneously empowered, limited, shaped, and bound to the physical world by the stories, beliefs, and wills of the various material sapient races. As such, they commonly appear as “Gods”, “Nature Spirits”, and similar mythic entities. Their abilities are wide ranging, and they may possess both massive personal power and the ability to manipulate events on a wide scale – but Titans vary greatly in both their individual power level and in their individual themes.

Thanks to their astral nature and the resulting lack of physical traces, the earliest known evidence of the Titans existence comes from the quasi-mindful artifacts of the Hyperboreans – and at that point the two were already hostile. It is widely speculated that the Titans origins are tied to the Ethereals or the Ethereal Catastrophe – whether they are transformed (“ascended”?) Ethereals, creations of the Ethereals (perhaps their talents allowed them to create astral entities to focus their powers and carry out their wills?), simply survivors, ascended ideas given independence in the catastrophe, or accidental creations of the disaster depends on who is speculating today and how drunk they are.

Given the widespread worship of the Titans it’s very impolitic to point it out – but the Titans fought the Hyperboreans and apparently drove them to extinction, say very little about the fate of the Lemurians but certainly didn’t help them out, apparently encouraged or caused the geological disasters which nearly exterminated the Atlanteans, and have created a variety of monsters to plague the Afrikans species. It’s actually pretty difficult to avoid concluding that a lot of them are downright hostile towards sapient material life forms. Whether that is something innate, because they dislike being shaped and bound by a bunch of mortals, or because of any of a thousand other possible reasons, remains unknown.

  • Physical Limitation: Shaped By Belief. Titans may be powerful in their fields, but they are limited to a single, and invariably fairly straightforward, domain. A Spirit of Invention makes gadgets and – possibly – provides grants and teaches. Similarly, the spirit of Memorial Day is a formidable soldier, has lots of weapons, and can operate military vehicles – but that’s about it (Frequently, Fully, -20 Points).
  • Mental Characteristic Maxima of 15 (-20 Points). People never really think that their “gods” are really much smarter, or more perceptive, or whatever, than they are – no matter what their theme is. The God of Knowledge may have a lot of knowledge skills, but he or she normally won’t actually be much smarter than the average person. If there’s any one thing that the Titans find annoying about their relationship with mortals… this may be it.
  • Psychological Limitation: Themed. Titans aren’t even CAPABLE of getting seriously off-theme. A war god won’t be negotiating, the healing goddess won’t be building gadgets, and the god of justice won’t be letting criminals go, no matter how necessary it may be (Common, Total, -20 Points).
  • Divine Immortality: Regenerate From Death (Requires one week, 12 Points) plus Life Support/Immune to Aging (3 Points). Titans are basically living ideas; their physical forms aren’t especially vital to them. Barring very special violence inflicted with astral weapons (or personal weaknesses) they are functionally immortal.
  • Domain: +15 points worth of abilities appropriate to their domain. Most will have a multipower with assorted special abilities in it. Larger-scale influence is usually best represented as a Fringe Benefit or Contact, since it tends to be both subtle and to have very little effect on actual play.
    • Half-Titans are all too common – but given the “shaped by belief and expectations” nature of the Titans, are generally simply members of the other parents species (always Afrikans or Atlantean as far as is known) with “Shaped by Belief” (basically limiting their special powers to a particular theme) replacing the usual racial power-type restriction.

It is theorized that a major driving force in the war between the Hyperboreans and the Titans was that the Hyperboreans wanted to “obtain the power of the gods” – who were effectively massive foci of pure mental energy – enough to fuel any kind of artifact that the Hyperboreans could possibly want.

Major Titans use the same basic package, but have a lot more points to play with. They aren’t playable characters simply because most of them are thousands of years old and you can’t afford to build one on a starting characters point allowance.

The Titanspawn and Priests are fundamentally much the same; they’re what happens when a Titan infuses a bit of its power into a material lifeform. Interestingly, this is hereditary if it’s done to non-sapients, but is not in sapient beings. Presumably their existing astral link interferes somehow.

  • A Priest simply replaces their racial power restriction with Physical Limitation: Patrons Powers Only. A priest may have take up to three domains as contacts – perhaps “Battle”, “Rage”, and “Storms” – and work magic within those domains and request large-scale, if relatively subtle, favors of them. On the downside, they must offer regular worship, sacrifices, and service to their patrons (Frequently, Fully, -20 Points).
  • A new Priest may convert any previously-existing racial magical abilities into magics that suit his or her domain, and may, optionally, gain ten extra points worth of such abilities. These probably come with 20 points worth of strings though.

Titanspawn vary wildly, from unique monsters to minor races. In general, an animal infused with a Titan’s power gains sapience, magical powers derived from the Titan who granted them their power and an extended lifespan.

  • Physical Limitation: A Titanspawn may use magic (or have special powers) drawn from up to three domains, at least two of which must fall within their species creators purview (Frequently, Fully, -20 Points).
  • Psychological Limitation: Animal Instincts. Titanspawn are very strongly driven by the instincts of the original animal – and are further driven by mortal stereotypes of monsters and the role for which they were created (Very Common, Strong, -20 Points).
  • Distinctive Features: In general, not concealable and with a strong reaction. As a side effect, any character who recognizes their type is likely to know a good deal about their abilities (Always Notices and Major Reaction, Not Concealable, -20 Points).

Sample: Centaur Package

Centaurs were a joint project of Hera and Zeus, and are the results of infusing their powers into horses. They were apparently meant to be fast skirmishers (and occasional kidnappers) to harass Afrikans settlements and traveling groups. Thanks to their access to the Family domain they are one of the more prolific Titanspawn types, and have a number of actual tribes. Modern centaurs mostly exist on the fringes of society and are more or less at peace with the Afrikans-Atlantean alliance – if only because, at this point, they would be readily exterminated otherwise.

  • Elemental Control: Equine Powers. 5 Point Reserve, -.5 limitation: equine powers only.
    • Growth x 3, 0 End Cost, Always On, Physical (-.5) = 7 Points
    • Running +3″, Noncombat x4, Half End Cost, Four Legs; Not usable if ground obstructed (-.5) = 4 Points.
    • 4d6 Hand To Hand Attack (Hooves) = 5 Points.
    • +4 to All Perception Rolls = 5 Points.
    • Hardened Damage Resistance, 10 PD and 10 ED = 5 Points.
  • All Centaurs have an instinctive familiarity with the Survival skill = 1 Point.
  • Base Attributes: Str +3, Dex -2, Con +3, Ego -2 (0 Points).

Centaurs may select three domains from among Archery, Wind, Stars, Strength, Speed, Family, and Knowledge – an unusually wide array of choices for a Titanspawn (five options to choose from, or just having three fixed domains, is more typical).

Monsters are modified members of the basic sapient species – these days, they almost exclusively have an Afrikans base. The Atlantean (and the presumed Hyperborean and Lemurian) monsters are pretty much extinct – although there could always be a survivor hanging on somewhere even after hundreds of thousands of years. Magic is like that.

Werebeast (Afrikans Variant) Racial Package:

Werebeasts were meant to lurk within Afrikans tribes and disrupt the unity that was their major survival mechanism. Unfortunately for the Werebeasts, this turned out to be a poorly chosen tactic; the Afrikans tribes proved to be quite good at detecting the predators in their midst (So mortals weren’t pretty much indistinguishable after all! Who knew?) and rapidly pushed the uncooperative ones out into the wilderness – or at least to the fringes of society. Even worse in some ways, the same instability that let them shapeshift led to some Werebeasts adapting to function socially and to others becoming linked to animal types that were quite unsuitable to their intended role. Werecervines and Werebeavers simply were not very threatening compared to the original wereleopards, weretigers, werewolves, etcetera. (Modern tales of weredinosaurs have yet to be confirmed as anything more than an urban legend – thankfully).

Modern Werebeasts tied to larger predators still lean towards their original terroristic purpose, although a few (for example, many werefoxes) do function socially – but when serial killers or multiple disappearances pop up the local Afrikans populace and authorities are quick to become suspicious that a werebeast is involved.

  • Physical Limitation: Shapeshifting and Life/Death Powers Only. Werebeasts have lost their connection to most of the Elemental Powers – and to Technology – in favor of the ability to enhance and transform their physical bodies. This was a better deal back before technology because so prevalent and so powerful, but can still be passed down to offspring. It tends to be a bit random however, and a Werebeast may unexpectedly appear in a family that merely has a werebeast as a distant ancestor (Frequently/Fully, -20 Points).
  • Normal Mental Characteristic Maxima (-10 Points).
  • Psychological Limitation: Animalistic Instincts. While these depend a good deal on the Werebeast’s animal affinity, they’re always troublesome – and may require checks to avoid reacting instinctively. They also mean that Werebeasts are never found in groups past the pride/pack/flock/whatever – and thus cannot develop any form of civilization (Common, Strong, -15 Points).
  • Physical Limitation: A Werebeast shows more and more signs of whatever his or her animal affinity is as he or she uses more of his or her special powers (Frequent, Slightly, -10 Points).
  • Accidental Change: Circumstances vary, but all Werebeasts show at least an 8- chance to change under some circumstances even if they aren’t using their special powers (-5 Points).
  • Elemental Control: Werebeast Powers (5-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (All powers involve some shapeshifting, and will give away the user’s nature. ): -½ (3 Points).
    • Regeneration (1 BODY/Turn) (3 Points). Many Werebeasts are more powerful than this – some can even rise from the dead unless slain by silver – but even at it’s base this is a major advantage.
    • Damage Resistance (10 PD/10 ED), Not versus silver weapons: -½ (2 Points).
    • +8 STR; Reduced END: Half, +¼ (3 Points)
    • +4 DEX; Doesn’t Affect Figured: -½ (Basically only for calculating OCV and DCV) (3 Points)
    • +5 CON; (3 Points).
    • Enhanced Perception (all) (+4 to PER) (5 Points).
    • 2d6 Aid to an Animal-Based Martial Art (Fade 1 Point/5 minutes, Max. 24); Personal Only -1/2, Increased Endurance x2 (4 Endurance) (8 Points). This ability allows a werebeast to draw on the instinctive combat skills of its animal aspect – picking up a “martial art” specific to its animal type given a few seconds to shift. At least for the predator affinities that often includes Killing Strike (4 Points), +2 DC (8 Points), +1 Level with Killing Strike (2 Points), Fast Strike (4 Points) and six points worth of maneuvers of choice. (Yes, Werebeasts generally take a several-second long transformation sequence to reach their full power).

This is actually a pretty cheesy elemental control – half the things in it really don’t belong in that structure – but “boosted hand to hand fighter” is rather less important than it used to be in the face of modern military technology.

Vampire (Afrikans Variant) Racial Package:

Like Werebeasts, Vampires are pretty classical; they are undead corpses which have returned to feast on the blood/flesh/life force/souls/whatever of the living. They are cold, ruthless, predatory, and quite uncooperative. A few old and powerful ones may control lesser vampires, but for the most part the natural size of a coven of vampires is one. As Afrikans “tribal” groups have grown to absurd size, vampires – with their tendency to fight with each other over territory and to haunt lonely wilds between cities – have become less generally menacing. Still, an elder vampire can perform feats of magic that few can match.

  • Physical Limitation: Sorcerous Powers Only. Vampires display a wide variety of mystical abilities, but all of them are active effects, drawing on energy stolen from others. While they are cut off from natural sources of power, vampires are thus capable of some unusually potent effects (Frequently/Fully, -20 Points).
  • Psychological Limitation: Deathly Predator. Vampires are severely anti-social, predatory, have an extremely hard time with social relationships, and tend to view everyone else as being beneath them – perhaps because it makes it easier to act as a ruthless predator. They generally do not tolerate rival vampires (Common, Strong, -15 Points).
  • Normal Mental Characteristic Maxima (-10 Points).
  • Physical Limitation: Undead. They do not heal naturally (they need to use a healing spell on themselves), cannot eat, and so on (Frequent, Slightly, -15 Points).
    • Many Vampires are vulnerable to Sunlight and Silver or to other classical problems, but they vary a great deal beyond the basics. Such vulnerabilities seem to be based on their own beliefs. They all have at least -20 points worth of such problems however – usually paying for a selection of multipower slots, invariably including the aforementioned healing spell.
  • Elemental Control: Basic Vampire Powers. 10 Point Reserve, all powers Visible and Well Known (-.5 total) (7 Points).
    • Sorcery Multipower Reserve: 20 points. This may be added to to exceed the usual setting limits by 20 points – raising the basic forty point limit to sixty points or even sixty-five for very old and experienced vampires (7 Points).
    • Endurance Reserve, 220 Points (8 Points). This powers everything in the Multipower and their Life Support ability.
    • 1 Pip HKA (1/2d6 with strength) linked to 2d6 Aid (restores 4d6 End to the reserve if the user’s attack inflicts at least one point of damage), both at 0 End Cost (8 Points). Note that this is not always painful; being drained of vital energy by a Succubus can be extremely pleasurable – but it is still death by vampirism.
    • Total Life Support: Requires 4d6 End per day to maintain activity despite this power, if it is not maintained the Vampire will sink into a coma for many years (-,5) (10 Points).

That Elemental Control is also a bit cheesy – but I suppose that’s a defining characteristic of monsters.

“Relics” are archaic non-sapient Hominidae species ancestral to the genera Homo found in various locations around the world – most notably Australopithecus and Paranthropus. While they do possess such advanced skills as use of fire, boat making, and limited language, these all appear to be largely instinctual behaviors on some level and not evidence of true sapience (which, at least in the setting, involves mental access to the Astral Plane). It is theorized that, while sapience is dependent on intelligence, intelligence does not appear to be dependent on sapience. Relics – like other primates such as Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Gorillas – are not playable. Occasional crossbreeds have been created however (usually thanks to a Titan meddling). Those which survive, and are truly sapient, can simply be treated as members of the other parents species, albeit likely ones with a few odd knacks, an odd attribute distribution, and an excuse for any number of disabilities.

Apex – The Playable Races Part I; The Hominidae

Apex is an experimental setting focused on exploring very different types of intelligence – races which simply do not think like humans do. That’s somewhat awkward – it’s hard to properly play characters who don’t think like you do – but it seems worth considering. The game is set up using Hero System Rules (4’th Edition) for the moment because Spellweaver – who’s been writing it up – finds that easier to work with.

Afrikans – the youngest of the current fully sapient races – evolved in Africa, and spread to the rest of the world with surprising speed. They’re currently dominant because most of the other races became extinct or near-extinct long ago and are basically the local version of Homo Sapiens – as Homo Sapiens might be if full sapience was dependent on a link with the Astral plane that limited the spread of sapient species but which can also be tapped into to power magic. Unfortunately, the nature of the magic available to any given race is strictly limited by the underlying structure of the minds using it – meaning that each race can only use a limited selection of abilities.

  • Physical Limitation: Elemental Powers Only. Afrikans can create and maintain advanced “conventional” technologies (which do indeed require a bit of magic to keep working in the face of supernatural resistance) and can manipulate the various elements, the states of matter, and the elemental forces of life and death (Frequently/Fully, -20 Points).
  • Normal Characteristic Maxima (-20 Points). As fairly normal humans, Afrikans characters have attributes in the normal human ranges.
  • Psychological Limitation: Pyramidal Psychology. Afrikans form large organizations easily, but have difficulties handling internal feedback within those organizations and with understanding systems involving it. Dominant leaders thus tend to hear only what they want to – and so less-dominant subgroups resort to factional infighting to advance their ideas. Groups of Afrikans have been known to obey obviously stupid orders simply because they came from the top – and may select very poor leaders and then follow them blindly. (Very Common, Strong, -20 Points)
  • +3 Levels with Ranged Combat (15 Points). Afrikans have explored a unique evolutionary niche as projectile predators (originally rock-throwers) – hunting considerably larger and stronger prey while remaining out of their effective reach. This has driven a massive evolutionary expansion in their brain, simply because the precise timing required for accurate throwing requires averaging across extremely large numbers neurons – since, as individuals, neurons are extremely inaccurate timers.
  • Basic Equipment Allowance: 15 Points (15 Points). Even if they start with nothing at all, an Afrikans character will very soon have at least the basics – being easily capable of turning rocks, sticks, hides, and fiber into weapons, protective armor, and other gear. That isn’t that hard even without their natural magic, and is remarkably easy with it.
  • Afrikan NPC’s have baseline attributes of 8, for -25 Points. This pays for basic skills and things.

Atlanteans are closely related to the Neanderthals, and reached full sapience amidst the World Tree forests on the subcontinent of Atlantis (an uplifted section of the mid-Atlantic ridge). As melee pack hunters and gatherers, their drive to intelligence was slower and more erratic than that of Homo Sapiens; improved pack tactics have a less direct link to increasing brain capacity. Their development of full sapience was thus a genetic quirk amongst a rather small isolated group. With their new access to psionic abilities, including the generation of energy weapons and personal protections, these “True” Atlanteans rapidly assumed near-total control of their subcontinent – but their relatively small and concentrated population remained extremely vulnerable to natural (and unnatural) disasters. After narrowly evading extinction, the remnant Atlantean population is expanding rapidly in partnership with Afrikans.

  • Physical Limitation: Symbolic Powers Only. For Atlanteans, names, symbols, and concepts carry a reality of their own, rather than, as they are for the other races, being something who’s “reality” exists strictly within their heads. As such, they may employ psionic abilities, manipulate symbols to empower rituals and sorceries, and employ memetic and nymic effects – most famously, altering the properties of materials by naming them. Sadly, this leaves them unable to effectively work with “independent” forces that lack symbolic aspects. (Frequently, Fully, -20 Points)
  • Normal Mental Characteristic Maxima, Physical Characteristic Maxima are increased by 50%: (-15 Points). Thanks to subtle psionic enhancement of their physical forms, Atlanteans can achieve routinely achieve levels of strength, speed, and durability that Afrikan individuals can only reach with the aid of powerful boosting effects – and can use their own temporary boosting effects to go well beyond those levels.
  • Psychological Limitation: Patterned Mentality. Atlanteans think in complex interacting patterns, rather than linearly. They organize themselves in complex networks of semi-independent clans and – amongst may other social effects – this leaves them unable to clearly separate products from their creators, making the idea of an assembly line or multistage manufacturing incomprehensible to them. This effectively limits their technology to what can be personally crafted (peaking at about the level of Imperial Rome) and their large-scale organizations to being personally run by unusually dominant groups. Worse, persistently disruptive elements are considered existential threats, rather than annoyances, leading to genocidal wars (Very Common, Total, -25 points).
  • Pattern Dance: When working with systems that involve many interacting factors – and ONLY when working with such systems – Atlanteans gain the benefits of two Overall Levels (EG: Not for Acrobatics – unless, perhaps, to make up for penalties from trying to perform in a ships rigging in a storm – or for breakfall, climbing, computer programming, concealment, contortionist, etc. They are, however, generally usable in melee (but rarely ranged, and certainly not for target shooting or sniping) combat, Oratory (and other performing arts), and for things like ecosystem dynamics, weather prediction, medicine, genetic manipulation, magneto-hydro-dynamics, neural network tuning, and other similarly complex or chaotic systems that prove to be difficult to adequately model with a reductionist mindset (-.25 limitation, 16 Points).
  • Attribute Bonuses: Str +5 (5 points), Con +3 (6 points), plus Damage Reduction 3/3 on PD/ED (3 points).
  • Atlantean/Afrikans Crossbreeds are possible (especially with a bit of Atlantean genetic meddling). Such individuals may swap out the physical limitation in their package and one of their two secondary benefits, but otherwise lean towards one race or the other. Such individuals are usually sterile with either parental species barring additional genetic meddling (which generally results in offspring typical of the other parent’s species, if often with genetic flaws), may face racism from both parental species, and are very, very, rare, with the oldest just now coming of age since it took some decades to work out how to make it possible in the first place.

Lemurian Racial Package (Reconstructed, Presumed Extinct):

The semi-aquatic Lemurians appeared on “Lemuria” (the exposed, and somewhat larger, Kerguelen Plateau) during an active uplift event and a severe global sea level minimum. Their rise to sapience was apparently triggered by a pressing need to adapt to a very rapidly changing landscape and shifting climate, favoring active thought over instinct. Unfortunately, with most of the Kerguelan Plateau currently deep under the arctic ocean and only a few of what would have been the most desolate peaks exposed as arctic islands, information on the Lemurians is very hard to come by. It is generally believed that the Lemurians went extinct when rising sea levels and subsidence left their microcontinent underwater and uninhabitable.

  • Physical Limitations: Harmonic Manipulation Only. Lemurians possessed the ability to gradually mold the world to their desires, patiently reshaping it’s landscape and species to suit their needs. While this is a broad-ranging and potent ability, it is anything but fast. Secondarily, it allows the user of Megalithic Magic, shaping the ley lines of the Earth into potent effects via massive stone constructs (Frequently, Fully, -20 Points).
  • Normal Physical Characteristic Maxima (-20 Points). The Lemurians were apparently fairly normal primates physically and did little or no “hunting” – unless you count fishing, clamming, and other forms of riverine and shoreline aquiculture.
  • Physical Limitation: Asymbolic. Lemurians are incapable of even comprehending advanced symbolism; they do not and cannot have a language as the current races understand them, They view their world as a series of unique events, rather than by sorting things into categories and narratives. For them, “consistency” was a feature of personalities and of their own works, not of the natural world (Frequently, Fully, -20 Points).
  • Harmonic Shaping: 1d6 Cumulative Minor Transformation, to any (natural-seeming) variation desired, affecting up to a 4″ radius, no range, requires one week per die roll (7 Points).
  • Telepathy, 3d6, Half (0) End Cost (+.25), Only to communicate images, emotions, and gestalt impressions (-1) (9 Points). An augmented function of already-enhanced mirror neurons, the Lemurians possessed empathy at the telepathic level.
  • Swimming, +3 (3 Points).
  • Immunity/Needing to Breathe more than once every few minutes (2 Points).
  • Immunity/Penalties for functioning in water (2 Points).
  • Immunity/Requiring basic implements. Lemurians were capable of giving temporary form to liquids, allowing them to serve as effective tools (3 Points) – making it easy to fish without nets, fish spears, lines, or even coracle-like “boats” since such things could simply be shaped from the water around them. (This could also be bought as a highly limited transformation ability, but it really isn’t worth the trouble).
  • Immunity/requiring records to transmit their cultural information. The Lemurians possessed a limited “racial mind”, and needed little education to function (2 Points).
  • Whether the Lemurians are actually extinct remains unknown; given their abilities, it is entirely possible that some decided to adapt to the ocean depths, or escaped into artificially-generated pocket dimensions or environments. Similar abilities have occasionally been observed in “defective” Afrikans specimens, although never to the full extent of the abilities listed here. Unfortunately, such individuals are invariably incapable of effective communication.

Hyperborean Racial Package (Reconstructed, Presumed Extinct, A.K.A “Giants”, “Jotun”, “Golden Lords”, “Bridge Builders”, etc):

The Hyperboreans (possibly a derivative of Paranthropus Robustus?) arose on the arctic landmass of Hyperborea (corresponding to the Lomonosov and Alpha Arctic Ridge systems, with some elements of the Mendeleev Ridge and the Chukchi Plateau, mostly forming a ring around the Makarov Basin) when geothermal activity gave rise to a local northern temperate climate. They had a morphology resembling a gracile gorilla, but were far more massive – averaging between ten and twelve feet tall. Socially, they were apparently extensively influenced by their instinctive competitiveness, uniting only under particularly dominant individuals and operating in roving bands when not under such control. Oddly enough, a Hyperboreans effective mental capacity is highly variable: while they can use their connection with astral space to “supercharge” their neural structure – potentially gaining vast intelligence in short bursts – their neural structure is poorly organized when not so supplemented, leaving them somewhat apelike much of the time. If a Hyperborean declares that “The Time For Debate Is Passed!” he or she probably really, REALLY, means it.

  • Physical Limitation: Materialism only. Hyperboreans are capable of manipulating the physical properties of matter and of imbuing it with mental energy (given a sufficient source), but they cannot access other powers. Such imbued constructs range from simple talismans imprinted with knowledge, energy, and possessing minor powers based on the material up to full-scale golem-style automatons – something well beyond the abilities of the other races. Secondarily, they can create and maintain midlevel technologies, such as steam engines (Frequently, Fully, -20 Points).
  • Mental Characteristic Maxima of 25, Physical of 15. Their great size provides some inherent benefits, but it also places considerable stress on their biological systems (-15).
  • Physical Limitation: For Hyperboreans mental energy is a very limited resource that they must spend to theorize, engage in complex debates, design structures, or otherwise perform mental labors – and their supply is relatively limited and slow to recover. Treat this as an Endurance Reserve, with a maximum reserve of (Con x 10) endurance and a recovery rate of 5/hour, 10-20 per hour in the presence of a Titan, depending on power level. The exact cost of various mental labors is up to the game master, but their mental energy is always a resource that must carefully managed. As a side effect, Hyperboreans tend towards very direct and simple solutions (regardless of how much physical effort they may involve) and their mere presence is troublesome for Titans, who find them quite draining. More skillful Hyperboreans can focus their energy reserves into simple astral blasts, shields, and weapons – making them quite effective (if very swiftly exhausted) when fighting astral entities.
    • This may in fact be a self-protective adaption, developed after the Ethereal cataclysm – allowing a Hyperborean to shut down vulnerable higher mental processes in the face of astral disruptions and to operate effectively outside of the areas with the astral overlays that allow full sapience.
  • Growth, 3 Levels, 0 End Persistent Always On and Physical (-.5); it cannot be turned off, means needing a lot of food, creates massive physical stresses (as noted above), and so on (15 Points).
  • Materials Manipulation Variable Power Pool (12 Points), Only to take on the properties of various materials or to imbue them with psychic energies (-5), must have a source for psychic energies (-.25), must touch the material to be affected or to copy its properties (-.5). requires a full phase to change (-.25) (14 Points), +1 Point towards the Control Skill (8- Base. 1 Point).
  • It is quite possible that some Hyperboreans are still around – whether having transferred their minds into golems, having taken on the nature of stone and entered stasis until conditions improve, or still surviving clustered around deep sources of geologic heat. Given their tendency to suppress thought and curiosity in the areas about them, they would be extremely easy to overlook.

Champions – Jann Shadowborne

Jann Shadowborne (well, James Anders, but that would never do for a stage name) always saw things a bit… differently. Even more so than a knack for small magics could explain. His imaginary friends occasionally did things, and one taught him a handful of songs from a hundred and twenty years ago – and then one autumn day led him down a dirt lane which wasn’t there, to a burning farmhouse where his suddenly-vanished friends voice was calling frantically from inside as someone else inside screamed and pounded on the door.

The charm seven-year-old James used for getting into the pantry to get sweets sufficed to unjam the door – but the scene faded away as his soot-covered coughing friend and his mother stumbled out.

James never saw that particular “imaginary” friend again – but in a crumbling nearby graveyard, the blurred inscriptions on two century-old graves shifted, one adding three and the other six decades to the date of death – and one changed from a simple child’s stone to a memorial to a long life, well lived.

James is fundamentally a channel. He is drawn to unbalanced energies, the restless dead, and similar disruptions of the natural order to draw their energies into focus, bind and regulate them – and ultimately restore balance. Wherever he goes, those forces flood into him – filling his mind with strange lore and ancient imperatives and his body with echoes of powers long faded He (and even his companions) can even be drawn into the pocket-realms of those echoes – or across time to intervene in the originating events. A small part of that excess power amplifies his knack for music – expressing and offering catharsis for the unbalanced concerns or sorrows of a crowd, releasing the lingering echoes of an ancient battle in a martial pean and perhaps bringing peace, and easily learning and performing music long lost. The rest he has learned to control by focusing it into a “medicine bag”, which allows him to control how it is released – making him a mid-level spellcaster as well, even if his magic is more than a bit unstable. Perhaps most importantly, he can earn and claim occasional favors from the spirits of the Land, Sea, Sky, Beasts, Plants, and the Dead – although this is a very limited resource and may have it’s own exotic consequences, given their tendency to see him as an odd-jobs contractor.

By the time he was eleven, his musical career was well underway – although his (primary?) career as an occult investigator attracted far less public notice.

James is one of my favorite character types; he comes with a limitless number of built-in plot hooks, is an open channel for games master exposition, may be called on by mysterious forces for all sorts of exotic jobs, lets the entire party be sucked into all kinds of weird situations that they need to solve before they can easily leave, and – while he is a fairly powerful and versatile mage – can easily be shut down temporarily and has the potential for causing magical accidents when you need a bit of a complication. He has a reason to travel, and can have a comfortable lifestyle anywhere – but can’t just throw money at problems (in his case because he’s underage, and so it’s held in trust for when he becomes a legal adult). He does want to improve the world – but doesn’t have overriding specific goals because characters with goals like that tend to get a bit focused on them when they see a chance to move towards them (which is often pretty awkward in group play).

Jann Shadowborne

The Voice Of Ancient Sorrows

Value Characteristic Points
15 STR 5
17 DEX 21
23 CON 26
10 BODY 0
10 INT 0
14 EGO 8
15 PRE 5
10/36 COM 0
6 PD 3
6 ED 1
4 SPD 13
8 REC 0
36 END -5
30 STUN 0
Total 77

 

Points Powers END
8 2d6 40-Point Equipment Allowance Aid (Fade/month, Max. 40); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 hour, -2½; Only activates in armories, labs, or between outings: -1½; Personal Only: -1; Difficult to Dispel: ×4, +½; Increased END: ×10, -4; This allows a character to haul along 40 CP worth of customized gear. 30
15 Bardic Talents
(3) Well-Connected
(2) Immunity to looking less than marvelous.; Frequency: Fairly Common
(2) Immunity to the need to compose or practice his music; Frequency: Fairly Common
(2) Immunity to the need for fellow performers and staff to have backup vocals, instrumentals, and basic special effects.; Frequency: Fairly Common
(2) Immunity to not having Groupies and a Butler around.; Frequency: Fairly Common
(2) Immunity to not being heard when singing. He needs no amplifiers and cannot be drowned out.; Frequency: Fairly Common
(1) Immunity to being out of style; Frequency: Rare
(1) Celebrity Legal Privileges
3 Elemental Control: Bardic Powers (6-pt reserve); Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼; Generic Limitation (Dimensional Vulnerability: User can be attacked from the Astral Plane without any special modifiers.): -½; Generic Limitation (User will attract spirits with problems and will be expected to undertake various missions for the great spirits): -½
a-3

2d6 Aid: Channel Of The Unsettled Past (Fade/week, Max. 12); Range: 0; Generic Limitation (His knowledge generally comes in the form of symbolic visions, odd prophecies, and vague warnings.): -2; No Conscious Control: -2; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Generic Limitation (Visions and premonitions are often rather overwhelming.): -1; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼; Generic Limitation (Dimensional Vulnerability: User can be attacked from the Astral Plane without any special modifiers.).

In most places, the past lies quiet.The distant echoes of a farmers tread, of a tryst in the orchard, of a mighty storm… all blend quietly into the song of the earth. Even death and violence fade. A man slain in a duel, the blood of both predator and prey… echo but faintly.

But sometimes the past stirs. Where things are undone, and might reawaken. Ghosts who yet attempt to accomplish some task, echoes of terrible powers, those slain with lives unlived… may stir, and rise, and walk. Things, places, and times may all host such forces.

Jann Darkborne is a channel for those echoes, a call to awaken, and a chance for them to speak and discharge the forces that hold him. Through him come final farewells, ancient warnings and calls to battle, and the final flowering of powers that cannot rest.

And even channeling a lot of the raw power into his Spirit Pouch, that can be quite a bother – and a chance to offer rest.

3
b-6 2d6 Aid: / Spirit Favors (Fade/month, Max. 36); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 day, -3½; Increased END: ×4, -1½; Generic Limitation (May only accumulate six points worth of favors each with the spirits of the Land, Sea, Sky, Beasts, Plants, and the Dead. ): -½; Generic Limitation (Must do favors for the spirits – making small offerings, spending time playing or singing at appropriate locations, etc. ): -1; Generic Limitation (Spirit Favors cost a base of three points each. With the Well-Connected modifier, this means he can have three with each group): -1; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼; 12
c-2 Mental Defense (15 pts); Add to Total; Always On: -½; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼;
d-3 Detect Occult Phenomena (+1 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼.
e-5 Astral Senses; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼
(4) Astral Sight (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Always On: -½; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼
(4) Astral Hearing (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Always On: -½; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼
f-2 Power Defense (12 pts); Always On: -½; Generic Limitation (Only versus magical and spirit attacks): -½; Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼
g-2 Extra-Dimensional Movement; The Astral Plane; Dimensions: One, +0; Time Travel: None, +0; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Carrying Mass: None; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1 10
h-3 +26 COM (Ethereal Good Looks); Visible (Very obvious to any mage): -¼
52 Total Powers  

 

Points Skills, Talents, Perks Roll
30 +3 level w/Overall Level
4 Musician 13-
2 Gaelic (Fluent Conv.); Literacy: Standard, 0
2 Area Knowledge: The Spirit Realms 11-
3 Scholar
1 Knowledge: Magic 11-
1 Knowledge: The Astral Realms 11-
1 Knowledge: Literature 11-
1 Knowledge: Spirits 11-
1 Knowledge: Psychic Phenomena 11-
1 Knowledge: History 11-
1 Knowledge: Occult Literature 11-
1 Knowledge: Music 11-
1 Professional License: Occultist
1 Passport
51 Total Skills, Talents, Perks  

 

Cost Equipment
22 Pouch of Echoes; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1; Generic Limitation (Removing the pouch will soon cause him to start generating weird magical effects as his excess power discharges through him at random. ): -½
(3) END Reserve (60 END, 2 REC/turn) ; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1;

The power of the restless past channels itself through Jann – but the energies of minor disturbances and unsettled nature need little attention; they need merely be stored, to dissolve into pure power once more.

(18) Multipower (80-pt reserve); Activation: 15-, -¼; Side Effects (Weird Stuff Happens – or Drain 3d6 Stun and apply 6d6 healing to an opponent who is attuned to whatever unbalanced forces are in the area.): 60/All, -1; Generic Limitation (No spell may exceed 40 active points): -½; Variable Limitations: -½, -¼; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1
u-1 2d6 Aid: Adding Multipower Slots (Fade/day, Max. 24) 2; Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼
Commonly Added Multipower Slots
Offensive Spells
u-1 1d6+1 Athame: Killing Attack (HTH) (Total 2d6); Range: 0; Reduced END: Half, +¼; Affects Desolidified: +½ 1 End
u-1 3d6 Chains Of Sythil: Entangle (DEF 3) 1; Range: 185; Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1 End
u-1 4d6 Invoke The Storm: Energy Blast 4; Range: 200; Versus: ED; Variable Special Effects: Any, +½; Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½ 4 End
u-1 4d6 Psychic Blast: Ego Attack  4 End
u-1 11d6 Word Of Dismissal: Dispel Magic 4 End
u-1 2½d6 Lance of Winter: Killing Attack (RKA) 4 End
Defensive Spells
u-1 Ward of Gaia: Force Wall (10 PD/6 ED) 4 End
u-1 Air Sphere / Need Not Breathe ; Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Uncontrolled: +½
u-1 Feywarding: Force Field (15 PD/15 ED); Continuing Charges: 1 Minute, -3 lev; Trigger (Appropriately attacked when not up): Set, +¼; Charges: +6, +0
u-1 Invisibility (Hearing, Sight); Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1 End
u-1 Deep Trance; Charges: 1, +1; Continuing Charges: 1 year, -11 lev; Generic Limitation (You cannot do anything save astral projection and meditation and such while maintaining the effect.): -2
(2) Doesn’t Eat, Excrete or Sleep
(1) Immune to Aging ; Charges
(1) Immune to Disease
(3) Need Not Breathe
Mobility Spells
u-1 10″ Eagles Wings: Flight (NC: 320″); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×32, +20; Non-Combat (MPH): 476 2 End
u-1 Lightning Speed
(7) Running (+10″, 16″, NC: 32″) 0; Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0; Non-Combat (MPH): 30; Reduced END: Zero, +½
(2) Clinging (Clinging STR +0)
Utility Spells
u-1 Atherium Lens; Detect Magic (+5 to PER) ; Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Addition (Discriminatory): +5
u-1 Sorcerer’s Will: Change Environment (8″ rad.); Effect: Variable, +1 4 End
u-1 The Deep Lore: Change Environment (2″ rad.) 0; Increased Area: ×1, +0; Effect: Variable, +1; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Uncontrolled: +½; Difficult to Dispel: ×2, +¼; Increased Area (Maximum radius of 4″): ×2, +¼

Common uses for this include illumination and air conditioning, keeping off the rain, and minor effects – but they can also include things like shutting all the doors and windows and turning on the alarms (or the reverse), making the area holy, or even “Casting The Circle”.

“The area within the ritual circle is set apart from the world. Within it the world is no longer a place of science (or the normal rules of Champions and it’s predictable, calculated, power). It is a place of wonder and wild magic, where runes, herbs, mantras, and all the rest of the occult paraphernalia actually have power. Within the circle… the wild magic of intuition and guesswork reigns, true love’s tears may wake the dead, omens and visions appear, and spirits move through dreaming realms. Here, where wonder and horror lurk at every turn and a child’s illness is not influenza but his spirit gone wandering, is an animalistic world of spirits, not of logic. In short, it’s magic driven by roleplaying rather then character points. It’s never the same twice – but it is fairly easy to get away with little stuff.”

u-1 Lesser Phantasm: Images (Hearing, Sight, 4″ radius); Range: 175; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0; Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1 End
u-1 Hand Of The Mage: Telekinesis (STR 15); Range: 200; Manipulation: Fine, +10; Reduced END: Half, +¼ 1 End.
u-1 8d6 Grace of The Waters: Healing 4 End
u-1 Deep Sight
(4) N-Ray Vision (Not through force barriers)
(4) Detect Traps (+5 to PER) ; Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5
u-1 2d6 Lesser Conjuration: Transform (Major, Limited Class) 4; Range: 185 4 End

This produces a large variety of minor tools and items – a crowbar, a bundle of torches, some rope, and so on.

Vocal Powers
u-1 1d6 Song Of Catharsis: Transform: Induce spiritual catharsis and release (Minor, Limited Class); Range: 200; Area Effect (Radius): 16″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×16, +1; Reduced END: Half, +¼; Cumulative: +½ 2 End
u-1 2d6 Tongue Of Angels: Aid to Acting, Conversation, Oratory, Persuasion, Seduction, and Musician (Singing), (Fade/hour, Max. 12); Range: 0; Reduced END: Half, +¼; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2 2 End
u-1 2d6 Song of Sleep: Energy Blast; Range: 200; Versus: ED; No Normal Defense (Deafness, Earplugs, Hard Helmets): +1; Area Effect (Radius): 32″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×16, +1 4 End
8 Armor / Tough Leather Clothing (4 PD/4 ED) ; OIF (Leather Clothing): -½
9 1d6+1 Automatic Pistol: Killing Attack (RKA) 0; Range: 100; Charges: +8, +0; Clips: 4; Gestures: Instant Power, -¼; Focus: Obvious Accessible, -1
1 High-End Smartphone (0kg)
40 Total Equipment

 

100+ Disadvantages
10 Public Identity
15 Reputation: Boy Band Bard (14-)
10 Underage (Infrequently, Greatly)
10 Dependent NPC: Current Girlfriend (Normal, 8-); Skills: Normal, +0
15 Overconfidence (Very Common, Moderate)
15 Feels compelled to help out restless spirits (Very Common, Moderate)
15 His presence occasionally triggers the formation of vortex-gates, pulling him and anyone in the area into some historical situation, pocket-world echo of reality, or astral plane that makes it hard to escape back to normal reality without undertaking some sort of fix-it quest. (Infrequently, Fully)
10 Watched: The Authorities (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
100 Total Disadvantages

 

COSTS: Char. Powers Total Total Disadv. Base
77 + 103 = 180 200 = 100 + 100

 

OCV DCV ECV Mental Def. PD/rPD ED/rED Phases
6 6 5 15 25/19 25/19 3, 6, 9, 12

 

Height: 165 cm  (5’5″), Weight: 54kg (119 lbs), Sex: Male, Age: 15

Appearance: Jann is an late adolescent young man, slightly thinner and shorter than average for his age, and with an ethereal, idealized, quality. He usually wears fringed leather, for a slightly wild-boy look.

 

The Battle Sage

Christopher West – or at least the Australian gamer Christopher West that had a gaming store and blog – seems to have disappeared from the internet, and even the wayback machine doesn’t have most of his Eclipse builds. It does have some though, and I have a few more – so, as time permits, I’ll see what I can reconstruct. Since there was a request for the Battle Sage, this build is up for reconstruction first – even if I do only have partial notes on it and so will be filling in quite a bit.

The Battle Sage is a medium-duty combatant who can call forth a weapon designed to work against a particular opponent – presuming that he or she knows enough about said opponents history to summon the appropriate opposing powers. Secondarily, he or she can help his companions coordinate their tactics against particular opponents.

That wasn’t a bad idea at all; a scholar built as something other than a primary spellcaster is a lot of fun – and, according to his notes, Mr West was indeed enjoying himself with it.

Our sample Battle Sage is level three, and is thus built on 96 (L3 Base) +6 (Duties to his order) + 6 (Disadvantages) +12 (L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 120 CP.

Basic Abilities (64 CP Total): BAB +3 (18 CP), Hit Dice: 3d8 (12 CP), Saves Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +2 (15 CP), Proficient with Light Armor (3 CP), Shields (3 CP), all Simple Weapons (3 CP), and a limited set of Martial Weapons (Longsword and Bows, 3 CP), and 7 Skill Points (7 CP).

Special Abilities (56 CP):

  • Vengeance Of The Long Fallen: Ranged Spirit Weapon with Exotic Appearance (Yaun-Ti Serpent Bow, appearance varies with the opponent), Specialized for Reduced Cost/Requires a History Check at DC 15 (+2 for each additional time it is called forth in a day), and only lasts for one minute per level when summoned (6 CP).
  • Breath Of Legends: Focused, Versatile, Improved, Imbuement, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effects (Gains an extra +1, the effects of a weapon crystal of choice (although this does not decrease the enhancement bonus necessary to use more powerful crystals), and may use Versatile to reallocate the plusses each time the weapon is summoned). Requires it’s own History check after the “Vengance Of The Long Fallen” is called forth to empower it, can only be used with the spirit weapon, not with a normal Yaun-Ti Serpent Bow – and so cannot be used very often. So when a battle sage summons his or her weapon it has an effective bonus of (1 + Level/3) (12 CP).
  • Armor of Myths: Innate Enchantment: Specialized for Reduced Cost/only active when the Spirit Weapon ability is active. 6600 GP effective value, 4 CP.
    • Master’s Touch (x.5, only for Yuan-Ti Serpent Bow and the Armor in this package, 1000 GP).
    • Force Shield I (x.7 Personal Only, 1400 GP).
    • Mithril Breastplate (+5 AC, Max Dex +5, ACP -1, ASF 15%, Move 30, 4200 GP).
  • Ward Of Legends: Focused, Versatile, Improved, Imbuement, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effects (Gains an extra +1, the effects of an Armor or Shield crystal of choice (this does not decrease the enhancement bonus necessary to use more powerful crystals), and may use Versatile to reallocate the plusses each time the armor is called upon). Requires it’s own History check after the “Weapon Of Legends” is called forth to empower it, can only be used with the Armor of Myths above and so cannot be used very often. So when he summons his armor he gets a bonus on it of (1 + Level/3) (12 CP).
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for Double Effect, Corrupted / only to keep Adept skills maxed out (4 CP).
  • Adept: Knowledge/History, most likely a Martial Art, and two other skills of choice (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Psychometry. This effectively combines Sensitivity to Psychic Impressions, Object Reading, and Blood Biography (Pathfinder) (6 CP).
  • Rally the Legions/Presence. The user and all allies within 10′ gain the Legionary Feat, but if they leave that radius they loose the beneft and cannot regain it for the rest of the encounter. (6 CP).

At this point the Battle Sage’s primary advantage is fairly obvious. When your third level party desperately needs a +1 Undead Bane Ghost Touch weapon they are not likely to have one handy – unless the group contains a Battle Sage. At which point said Sage can spend a round making knowledge checks, and suddenly be wielding one – along with some armor with just the right protective effect on it. While a Battle Sage is still a one-trick pony at this level, many third level characters are – and it is a fairly good trick.

What to buy at higher levels? Well, here are some possibilities:

Classics Of War (12 CP): Mystic Artist (Knowledge / History) with Echoes, Specialized for Double Effect, Corrupted for Reduced Cost: Only to employ the inspiration abilities that grant positive levels, only to provide bonuses in combat against specified enemies, requires that the player provide some tolerably plausible directions. Unfortunately, such device is always fairly specific; the user cannot simply provide directions against “orcs”, it must be something like “They are fighting in a version of the Keldian Style! Such variants are weak against…”.

“Serinican Iron Golems? Strike at the joints in the legs: they are weakest there and have a hard time defending them!”

Giving some of your allies two positive levels for the purposes of fighting those iron golems provides them with 2d10 (+2 x Con Mod) hit points, +2 to their BAB, AC, and Saves against them, and 12 CP worth of special benefits. At the simplest… how does Augment Attack (+4d6 damage versus Iron Golems, 12 CP) sound?

This does require a +9 or higher (Skill + Attribute Bonus) in Knowledge/History – but that shouldn’t be any problem by level four or five.

Chains Of History (12 CP): 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect (Minor Edits cost 1 Point, Notable Edits cost 2, Major ones cost 3, and Grandiose ones cost 4). Requires a History Check at DC 15/18/24/36 for Minor/Notable/Major/Grandiose Edits, only for Reality Editing, only to “recall” convenient “facts” that can be used against a particular enemy, allows a Will save at a DC of (14/18/22/26 + User’s Int Mod) to resist, may only spend 4 mana on Chains of History per encounter. Plus Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized/only to refill the Chain of History Mana Pool.

  • Minor: “Call upon the Light of Ixion when you cast! She will empower your spells to pierce his cloak of darkness!”. Reducing an opponents effective Spell Resistance can be quite helpful.
  • Notable: There is a bare patch on his left breast! Aim there and your arrows will sink deep!” At this level… you get a bonus to hit and extra damage. As a minor edit, you might just get a small bonus to hit.
  • Major: “His Crown! Much of his power lies within his Crown! If you destroy much of his magic will fail!”
  • Grandiose: “But I know your true name, Ramthonosiderin Of The Seventh Abyss, and by it I command you to return to the Darkness from which you came!”

With this trick you can make an enemy vulnerable to particular types of attacks, force them to engage specific enemies (he goes berserk if you insult his…), and hamper them in many other ways. Of course, there is always the dreaded “I made my save!” “Foolish Scholar! Did you think that I would not have taken measures to counter such attacks when I knew that my weakness against them had been discovered?”.

Voice Of History (12 CP): This one is simple: take Breath of Legends to Specialized for Double Effect instead of Half Cost (12 CP) and double up the bonuses.

Armor of Inevitability (12 CP): Take Ward of Legends to Specialized for Double Effect instead of Half Cost (12 CP) and double up the bonuses.

Digging Up The Dirt (6 CP): Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect/only for Favors, may cause serious resentment if used incautiously. Given a few hours to check around, the Sage can find enough blackmail material on individuals or groups to extract two Minor or one Major favors from them – and need not ask about being asked for favors in return since the connection will soon cease to exist.

Unleash The Hounds Of War (6 CP): Inherent Spell/Summon Nature’s Ally III with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / can only summon Dire Wolves and Wolves. Later Inherent Spells can include things like Legend Lore and other divinatory or battlefield effects.

March Of History (6 CP): Advanced Blessing (Affects up to (Cha Mod individuals plus the caster), Specialized for Reduced Cost / can only “share” the benefits of Vengeance Of The Long Fallen, Breath Of Legends, and Master’s Touch abilities – allowing much of the party to share in the benefits of suddenly having a nifty weapon customized to suit the opponent.

Overall, the Battle Sage is reasonably effective – and often very convenient to have around – in a fight. Unless they broaden their ability set, however, their out-of-combat options are a bit thin. Still, the real fun in playing one lies in being able to make stuff up, be a know-it-all, and have it actually work. Even just their basic weapon-and-armor setup invites you to add names, a history of mighty battles, and tales of enemy defeats to things – all justified because those things are now empowering your weapon!

Underlying The Rules Part III; Making A Group Effort

  • Part One in this series – The Social Contract – can be found HERE.
  • Part Two – Adjusting The Spotlight – can be found HERE.

This one has taken some time, and is more than a bit rambling – but here it is at last.

Commandment The Third: Work With The Game Master

Almost every Game Master would prefer to be playing.

That’s a very simple – but very important – observation. Being a game master is a lot more work, and considerably less fun, than playing is. How do I know that? I know that because there are a LOT more published settings, and adventures, and “how to GM” guides, and sets of instructions for setting up encounters and adventures then there are books of premade characters with their histories, motivations, and group tactics all laid out made to be picked up and run by players or to used by game masters who are short of players. Similarly, I’ve seen a lot of groups sitting around trying to get one of the people there to game master. How many of you have played with really bad game masters because no one else was willing to take the job?

So why does anyone do it at all?

There are a few game masters who want to show off their nifty setting ideas. They’re the ones who get upset when people pick holes in their setting – and they often don’t last (player groups looking for plot holes and things to take advantage of can be quite merciless). Most of them have distinct limits on how much time and effort they’re willing to put into sharing their ideas.

A few more regard running an entire world as an intellectual challenge, and often run games that are essentially giant puzzles, wherein once the players gather all the pieces, and figure out how to put them together, the mysteries will be revealed and the campaign will be “solved” – probably to wind down with a few epilogue episodes about how the characters retirement goes after the group splits up. As can be seen in the Star Wars Twilight Seekers campaign logs, I have a fairly strong tendency that way myself.

Most game masters, however, have neither the time, the inclination, nor the skills, to set up a full campaign by themselves. A lot of them are even willing to pay good money to have someone else do a lot of that work. They purchase commercial settings so as to let their friends play. They are game mastering because they want a game – even if they’re not getting to play in it directly and have to put in a lot of extra work – more than any of the other people in the group. They may be obsessed with gaming, they may love building intricate, hyper-optimized, characters and want to see them used, they may just like to see other people having fun, they may be fascinated with designing intricate dungeons and set-piece encounters, or they (all too often) may be lonely introverts who have trouble sustaining social relationships where people don’t tell them what “they” are supposed to be feeling and so rely on gaming to have some sort of a social life.

When it comes to actual play the game masters and players have the same options; they can walk out or they can offer to run another game – but the game master has a greater investments of time and energy in the existing game, generally wants a game more than anyone else in the group, and has already given in to doing a lot of extra work to keep said game going.

These are social games. They are not player-versus-game-master events. The game master will be trying to keep things interesting, and everyone having fun, as best he or she can because he or she wants the game to continue – but the players are just as responsible for making the game fun for everyone as the game master is. Don’t wait passively to be entertained. Invest some time and effort into helping the game master out. Every game master has weaknesses. Compensate for them. Go ahead and…

Create some places, rumors, or NPC’s. That’s where the Tumbledowns and Temin’s Bed’n’Pottage originated (for a street urchin game). The tales of The Hunt and The Grove had similar origins – creating urban legends to be the core of possible sub-adventures. The Star Wars players created Sith factions, political groups, backstories, and several of their own arch-enemies. The Champions players created worlds, and cultures, and histories for their alien characters, as well as various enemies.

Remember… the more you add to the campaign, the more central your characters will become.

Switch out characters when it’s appropriate – or if you need a change. Parties aren’t glued together at the hip. Is your primary character down in combat? Stranded away from everyone else? In the hospital for a week? Having to deal with a family issue? Captured? Wanting to copy spells, make items, build a castle, or spend some time with his or her kids? Unsuited to the current mission? Don’t sit around glaring at the game master. Adopt an NPC. Bring in a secondary character. Ask if you can play one of the parties arch-enemies for a while (and perhaps come up with some reason for everyone to cooperate for a bit). Getting a vision or an account of some horrible monster attack? Why not everyone take local villager NPC’s and see how clever or heroic some doomed villagers (see “The Fall of Manchow, halfway down) can be? (Those who manage to get away have often been adopted as new secondary characters; players can become fond of minor characters quite quickly). Tybalt the Just won’t take this espionage mission? Perhaps it’s time to bring in Robar the Assassin for a bit?

One group created a secondary party, and had them cross the universe blazing a trail for the main group to follow – taking a break from their primary characters while they prepared for the final confrontation with a menace that had destroyed several galaxies. They later played a set of prequel adventurers, predating the main campaign by several thousand years – and saw how their patchwork solutions of the time set up adventurers for their primary characters long later. In the Star Wars game one player created a detective out to find his original character while his original character was out of the action for a few real months – and later decided to play his characters friendly nemesis for several more months while his character was out of action.

Run side-adventures. Is the game master sick or busy? Character interactions and personal issues – with other players running background NPC’s can fill in. So can running minor side adventures, such as a haunted house. You aren’t used enough to the game masters style to make sure that your minor subadventures will be an acceptable part of the campaign for the main characters? Use some secondary characters or agents (Kevin’s Thralls were particularly handy for that). Two or three sessions with no game master shouldn’t be a problem – and I’ve seen some groups run for months, rotating “who gets to come up with something today” from player to player as ideas occur to them, while waiting for the primary game master to be able to make it again.

Most groups won’t be able to manage it that long, but a few sessions really shouldn’t be a problem.

The Archmage Issolme of the Malavon campaign – approaching level forty after ten real years of play – decided to grant his kids fabulous powers of their own, but failed to put an age requirement on them – and so wound up with massively powerful five-year-olds. Given that the players had a lot of fun dealing with THAT, the Archmage then decided that it wouldn’t be “fair” to restrict his later children since he hadn’t age-limited the first batch (really because dealing with child-chaos you couldn’t just throw massive spells at had been a lot of fun) – and so the other players promptly made a bunch of his kids to harass their primary characters with. “What have the kids gotten up to now?” became a regular side-feature of the campaign for the next couple of hundred sessions.

Play the limitations you’ve chosen for your character. If you’ve taken a “hotheaded” flaw, or need your spellbook to be effective, or some such… don’t make the game master enforce those problems. He or she has enough to do already. If your problems are built into the game system, expect them to come up – and don’t get upset when they do. If your wizard needs his spellbooks, make backups, and invest in committing some spells to memory, even if you’re sure that the game master will never bring that weakness into play – because that would be the sensible thing to do. If you’ve made a stupid character… do some stupid things on occasion. This really shouldn’t be something that needs pointing out – but it’s become common to believe that anything that seriously inhibits a character is somehow off limits.

Remember; players can – and should – have more than one character, and should be willing to adopt NPC’s. Something happening to any single character is not really a problem.

Create your own goals. Real people don’t need all their motivations externally supplied. Why would the player characters? Thus Kira’s search for the “Anti-Force” drove many events in the Star Wars game. Anthony’s tendency to make mad-scientist characters who perform incredibly dangerous experiments using effects that they do not clearly understand just to see what will happen has driven many major events, as he swings wildly back and forth between creating disasters and amazing discoveries. In Shadowrun he found a way to open rights into the Metaplanes and create stable wells of magic, and also managed to turn loose a bunch of minor Earthdawn Horrors. In Verdun he managed to turn a friendly werewolf character into a pain-driven nexus of souls inhabiting a six-hundred foot tall mass of animated molten lead. In Star Wars he created dozens of disasters and was responsible for just as many triumphs. In the Twilight Isles he managed to short two opposing cosmic power sources together and created a bunch of Kaiju, monster island, and fallout that affected half the setting. In Champions Captain Mayhem’s attempt to reform the history of his species drove a massive series of time-traveling adventures – while another characters search for his three missing daughters drove many more.

It’s important to avoid going overboard – don’t try to divert the entire game to pursue personal goals unless the other players are willing to go along with it – but a game master will pretty much always be willing to let you follow the goals you provide. That’s work that he or she doesn’t have to do.

Investigate. You’ll want to scout, listen to rumors, and talk to likely sources. Not only is this a good way to get some warning if your game master doesn’t happen to believe in Balanced Encounters, but it provides an easy way to give the less-effectual characters vital roles. Even if George the casually-played barbarian is no match for the optimized druid, him being a popular member of the tribe and a respected member of the mercenaries guild (both of whom are very suspicious of those they don’t know) will give him access to all kinds of clues and information that the rest of the party may well have no other way to get at all. It also allows the game master to supply some backstory and exposition – and getting that out there is one of the few enjoyable privileges which goes with game mastering. Indulge it a bit.

This will often make a group seem substantially more powerful at first – but it also helps keep the players involved in actual confrontations. A little advance planning will usually result in every character having something important to do.

Eclipse d20 – Playing With The Pulps Part IV: Vehicles

  • For Part I – the Basic Pulp Hero and Advanced Pulp Hero Templates – Click HERE.
  • For Part II – Advanced Pulp Powers Part I – Click HERE.
  • For Part III – Advanced Pulp Powers Part II, Pulp Drugs, and Pulp Archetypes – Click HERE.

Another major category of Pulp Heroes lacks special powers beyond the basics (although, to be fair, amazing reflexes, expert marksmanship, rapid healing, resistance to mind control, and being tough as nails can get you a long way all by themselves). Instead, they had vehicles.

That doesn’t sound all that impressive does it? Still, looking back… The 1908 New York to Paris race had fired imaginations and firmly established motor vehicles as catalysts for wild adventure. Combined with the start of the production of the Model T late that year, it led to calls for road construction and turned cars into a heroic fantasy that any young man or woman could aspire to.

By the time that the Model T ceased production in 1927, well into the pulp era (roughly 1920 to 1941), Ford had sold a little more than fourteen and a half million units. The United States went from one vehicle per ten thousand people in 1900 to one per five in 1930. (Today it’s close to one to one).

Adventure, the freedom and call of the open road, exploration, and the dream of leaving all your troubles behind had come to everyone. The automobile and sheer distance replaced the horse and the wild frontier in popular mythology. Bonnie and Clyde replaced Billy The Kid. Prohibition led to a crime wave – and gangsters, g-men, tommy guns, and fast cars became enduring symbols.

Motor Vehicles – and particularly fast, powerful, customized or unique vehicles – weren’t just equipment for heroes, to be parked and forgotten. They were heroic attributes in themselves, and sometimes almost characters. Tom Swift had motorcycles, and cars, and planes, and more, the Green Hornet had the “Black Beauty”, Biggles had his planes, and Batman had his Batmobile.

So… we’ll want our pulp heroes vehicles to be attributes of the heroes themselves, not quite full characters – but something that can readily be called on when they’re needed, restored if they are damaged or destroyed, and will quietly disappear from the story when they’re not needed.

Fortunately, the Witchcraft rules provide a mechanism for that. Just take…

  • Witchcraft/Path of Fire/The Birth of Flames. Corrupted for Increased Effect (Construct IX) and Specialized for Reduced Cost / Creates a vehicle (3 CP; a Pulp Hero can have two Vehicles for his or her Pulp Feat). Vehicles do not get their own actions; they must be operated by pilots, drivers, gunners, and other crewmen using their own skills and BAB, they can only be manifested or unmanifested off-screen in reasonably plausible locations, they always have type flaws (for example, most air vehicles cannot carry nearly as much weight as their strength indicates and only get half the usual number of hit points), and they suffer from any obvious vehicular limitations (such as not maneuvering well in dungeons). They do get a x3 multiplier for long-distance travel though, as they are utterly tireless.

In general that gives our vehicles 144 HP, a Move of 50′, AC 33, and allows them to cause up to 2d6+18 damage if they make a “physical attack”, They generally get a +6 on their saves (or may use their pilot/drivers saves), and can carry up to six tons as a light load. That’s neither very fast nor very versatile – but as Level IX Psychic Constructs they get to select some options. That will give us…

WWI Style Biplane (Large):

  • Class-A: Swim 30 (Floats), Spell Storing I (Bombs. Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Energy Balls only, dropped only, but self-charging for 3 Shots/Day, 7d6 base, Reflex Save DC 14), Fly 20 (Average).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, 2x Versatile (Increase Flight Speed to 80′, Double Overland Travel).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Cockpit and Passenger Area), Elemental Aura (Guns: “Sonic” damage, uses a ranged touch attack with long range rather than a save), Versatile II
  • Flaw: Air vehicle. Limited carrying capacity, half hit points (72).
  • Note: Can only “attack” in melee if someone manages to bump into the propellers.

THE vehicle of choice for tiny expeditions to far corners of the world, a biplane can land almost anywhere, requiring only a bit of open (if reasonably flat) ground or water to get its floats into. If you want to reach towering timelost mesas full of monsters, distant deserts burying ancient occult cities, temples perched on the peaks of unclimbable mountains, or cliff-sided islands inhabited by lost civilizations, and you aren’t a mad scientist or a friend thereof, then a biplane is the vehicle of choice for you. It will invariably be damaged, or have to be left behind as you venture into someplace where it won’t fit, but with any luck the intrepid pilot will get it repaired in time to swoop in to save you somewhere along the way.

WWII Battle Tank (Huge):

  • Class-A: Celerity (Move 60′), Damage Reduction (Variant, 2/-), Resistance (Fire/5).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Trample (Does primary attack damage by running over things), Spell Storing II (Main Gun, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Energy Balls only, but self-charging for 6 Shots/Day, 13d6 base, Reflex Save DC 17)
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Crew Compartment), Energy Bolt (Machine Guns, Specialized/Sonic Only, but double length), Extreme Damage Reduction (+6/-, totaling 8/-).
  • Flaw: Incredibly heavy. Cannot cross ice, most bridges, and so on, has many blind spots, and is very noisy.

It’s big. It’s tough. It grinds along unstoppably. It goes “bang” really well. It has a big gun barrel sticking stiffly out in front of itself to serve as a phallic symbol AND it fights land wars in Asia. Rockets are close runners-up, but they’re too fragile to really compete for the title of “the most manly possible ride”. NOTHING says “OH NO YOU DON’T” to a group of cultists about to sacrifice the girl, or a mafia hit squad waiting in ambush, or some effeminate schemer who isn’t MANLY enough to deal with his opponents directly, like a tank coming in through their wall. Most of them come with a box of cigars inside so that the pilot can clench one in his or her teeth. If you must fight a giant monster, or swarm of soldiers… there are much worse tactics to use than riding into the fight in a tank.

WWII PT Boat (Huge):

  • Class-A: Swim x 3 (90′),
  • Class-B: Spell Storing II (Torpedoes or missiles, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Energy Balls only, but self-charging for 6 Shots/Day, 13d6 base, Reflex Save DC 17), Fast Healing II, Crew Facilities (Baths, Galley, Etc).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Crew Compartments), 2x Energy Bolt (Machine Guns, Specialized/Sonic Only, but double length),
  • Flaws: No ground movement, crew exposed when using machine guns.
  • Note: A PT Boat can run over smaller boats and swimmers in the water, inflicting it’s melee attack damage.

PT Boats (and more modern missile boats) serve the same role as spacecraft in other tales; they are lightly armed and fragile vessels, rushing between isolated pockets of civilization separated by a hostile environment, carrying their small crews into heroic confrontations with considerably larger and more powerful groups. Only going very fast, great courage, and posing dramatically on the deck as your agile craft flashes across the sparkling blue sea can save the day!

In somewhat more practical terms, PT boats acknowledge that standing up to modern weaponry requires either a floating fortress or not being there – and an agile small craft is a LOT cheaper to build than a battleship or aircraft carrier and yet can still carry a few heavy weapons. For gaming, they’re also conveniently small enough for a modest group of adventurers to fill all the major crew roles.

Flash Gordon Spacecraft (Huge):

  • Class-A: Elemental Subtype (Space), 2x Flight (40′ in atmosphere).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Facilities (Baths, Galley, Etc), Spell Storing II (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for a spell or spells of up to L3 used to represent bizarre weapons, 18 self-charging levels worth per day).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Crew Compartments), Dimension Slide (Stardrive Variant: Once out of atmosphere may travel between worlds and solar systems in plot-convenient time), Shields (Variant on Extreme Deflection, +4 to AC, +4 to Saves).
  • Flaw: Sealed Environment: Characters cannot use their own powers against external targets while inside. Prone to weird malfunctions and negative space wedgies.
  • Note: Exploration craft may come equipped with True Seeing (Variant: Long-Range Sensor Systems) instead of Shields. They may also make physical attacks by ramming things; but this is a very poor idea.

Once humanity ran short of isolated places to place mysterious adventures in on earth, there were only a few places left to turn to – the heavens and the depths. And what could plausibly lie hidden in the depths was somewhat limited compared to the endless reaches of the heavens. There lay infinite space for campy villains, primitive-yet-star-faring civilizations, and dastardly outlaws. Oddly enough, most of the heroes were just the same as ever, even if they had rayguns and ships instead of pistols and horses/trains/cars; perhaps it helped maintain an element of familiarity when an author got too lurid with his or her aliens.

Pulp Fiction Mole Drill (Huge):

  • Class-A: 3x Tunneling (30′).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Facilities (Baths, Galley, Etc), Earthsense (Can navigate while buried in the earth).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Crew Compartments), Extreme Damage Reduction (Armored Hull, DR 6/-), True Seeing (Variant, environmental sensors and onboard lab).
  • Flaw: Mole Drills turn extremely gradually, do not allow the crew to exit until they emerge into an open location, and are sealed environments that do not allow the crew to use most abilities against external targets.
  • Note: A Mole Drill can combine it’s two physical attacks into a single one if something is stupid enough to stand in front of it’s drill – but it generally cannot physically attack otherwise.

Like a spaceship, a mole drill can conveniently deliver our heroes to some exotic locale (usually a sample of an ancient civilization or a primordial realm) and then inescapably strand them there. Unlike a spaceship, this comes with a chance for claustrophobic tunnels to connect to other pocket realms hidden deep within the Earth’s crust and near-complete blindness; until the Drill actually emerges into the inner world its contents are likely to be utterly unknown. Even better, it’s easier to add fuel or life support constraints when it’s impossible to know just how far that your vehicle will have to travel in the first place. It even offers you a chance to have geological upheaval or to have something horrendous crawl back up the tunnel! (Mole drills don’t normally leave tunnels, but why not?).

Sporty Spy Car (Large):

  • Class-A: Swim 30, Celerity x4 (90′ Base Move, Specialized for Double Movement / uses wheels, and is thus very restricted when it comes to offroad operation. Move 180′),
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Versatile (+2 Class-A Abilities), Spell Storing II (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only a fixed set of self-charging spy car gadgets (Smoke Cloud x 3, Grease x3, Nitrous Oxide Burst (Personal Haste) x3, Flamethrower (Burning Hands x3), Light (Floodlights) x3, and Magic Missile (Minigun) x3).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Passenger Compartment), True Seeing (Advanced Sensors), and Energy Bolt (Minimissile Launcher).
  • Flaw: The spy car is obviously terribly expensive and highly customized, and thus suspicious. It has only half the usual HP, and has a nasty tendency to get involved in car chases even if there is no rational reason for one to occur.
  • Note: Sporty Spy Cars can run into targets for their base physical attack damage, but take 1d6 damage when they do so.

In the beginning a fast car was enough to justify adventure all by itself; you could stumble across isolated criminal hideouts, have fast chases, outrun monsters, and encounter weird monsters in the deep wilderness. But as more and more people got cars of their own, just having a car – and, very little later, just owning a fast car – was no longer enough. Too many people were traveling, and finding that a couple of hundred miles didn’t really make THAT big a difference. Thus later pulp heroes needed special cars, with built-in gadgets – which ironically enough made them more fragile since you needed to damage the car when you wanted to take those gadgets away. So here we have one late-model pulp car, with enough built-in armament to bring out every SWAT team in a fifty mile radius if the police should ever catch on.

Zeppelin (Huge):

  • Class-A: 2x Flight (Corrupted/Lighter-than-Air; maneuverability is appalling, opponents get a +6 to hit. 60′ Maximum – although it can hover and spin slowly in place)
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Facilities (Baths, Galley, Etc), Extra Attack (a second gunner can fire a second lighting cannon blast).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Gondola), Extra Buff (+30 HP: Zeppelins can actually take a lot of damage before going down), Energy Bolt (Lightning Cannon).
  • Flaw: Flammable, counts as two sizes larger whenever this would be disadvantageous for it, but not otherwise.
  • Zeppelins can inflict standard physical damage if something runs into their propellers, and COULD ram something – but it’s an incredibly impractical tactic. Pretty much everything but mountains is more maneuverable than a Zeppelin.

The huge ship sliding slowly into place overhead and hovering without visible means of support save for a muted humming sound is a staple of modern sci-fi movies, displaying their aliens vast power and mastery of mysterious forces for all to see. It evokes images that go all the way back to gods standing on the clouds and hurling thunderbolts. It’s no coincidence that many pulp stories equipped their flying machines with “electric rays”.

It’s also an export from early stories about lighter-than-air flying machines. Who could imagine that a wisp of hydrogen or helium – substances that relatively few readers of fantastic fiction at the time would ever have encountered or even heard of – could loft immense vehicles into the sky and hold them there? From there it was a short jump to Edgar Rice Burroughs “Eighth Ray”, Jules Verne’s “Cavorite”, Space 1889’s “Liftwood”, DC’s Nth Metal, and many other substances that offer the freedom of the skies.

Zepplins come in many variations; you want to pull out “Extra Buff” to upgrade the Facilities to include laboratories and workshops? Perhaps fill the Class-B slot with some missiles? Now you have the ever-popular mobile base to let you explore lost worlds.

The Damned Ship (Huge):

  • Class-A: 2x Swim (60′), Damage Reduction 5/Magic.
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Facilities (Baths, Galley, Etc), Poison Touch (1/round the ships master may attempt to poison one living creature aboard, inflicting 1 Con/1d2 Con damage (Fort Save DC 20, 1 minute). This is often employed to keep the peace between incompatible groups.
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Crew Compartments), Noncorporeal (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (can also access the Shadow and Astral Planes) / Once activated the crew must visit another plane and accomplish some sort of quest there before returning, this takes some time), and Dimension Slide.
  • Flaw: The Damned Ship is only designed to travel between the worlds. Once it arrives in a particular dimension and sales into port, any travel beyond moving a bit along the coast will send it off into another dimension again.
  • Note: The only way that the Damned Ship can attack is by swinging it’s booms across the deck. Anyone struck will take normal slam damage.

The Damned Ship veers sharply into the Fantastic Fiction category – but works such as The Ship Of Ishtar (Abraham Merritt) and many other fantasies are firmly part of the pulp era. The style goes right back to the Adventures of Sinbad – but instead of the adventures being placed in distant and unknown lands (in short supply in the nineteen hundreds) they are displaced into other dimensions and various mystic realms, whereupon the ships (usually unwilling or accidental) passengers must accomplish a series of quests to return home.

Now, if you want a modern version of The Damned Ship, just change a few details and call it a TARDIS.

Motorcycle (Medium):

  • Class-A: Celerity x4 (90′ Base Move, Specialized for Double Movement / uses wheels, and is thus very restricted when it comes to offroad operation. Move 180′), Flight (Specialized; provides +30 to Jump checks and allows ignoring the maximum distance rule if in use, but does not allow flight).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Versatile (gets +2 Class-A abilities for the five given above), Sentient (Specialized for Double Effect / only gets Jump +38 and the Run Feat).
  • Class-C: Impossible Maneuver (Dimension Slide; the cycle may use this to jump a chasm, slide under a truck, jump between two cars on a moving train, and so on), Gun Mount (May project a 4d6 ray of force once per round as a free action), Squeeze (Motorcycles can be ridden down corridors, through doorways, and through a wide variety of other places where the game rules, as written, say that they should not fit).
  • Flaw: Unprotected. Motorcycles offer their riders a +2 Cover Bonus to AC, but nothing more – and crashes can easily lead to serious injury. They also have very, very, limited passenger and storage space.
  • Note: Motorcycles can do normal physical attack damage by running into or over people.

The motorcycle is a popular pulp vehicle because it’s fast, it’s dangerous, it’s capable of a wide variety of stunts (even if many fictional ones are only semi-plausible), it offers no cover for it’s rider (allowing him or her to be more heroic), and because it’s a splendid substitute for a horse when you’re transplanting “western”-styled tales into modern or sci-fi settings.

This particular motorcycle is actually semi-realistic. It’s maximum jump distance is a fair match for the current worlds record and it’s “Impossible Maneuvers” may be unrealistic, but they’re seen in action movies with considerable frequency. The fact that it can do such things routinely is the incredible part, but that’s fairly normal for the pulps.

Jetpack (Medium):

  • Class-A: 4x Flight (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (160, no wings) / jetpacks are very difficult to control and only allow fairly limited flight durations), Knockdown (ramming a target with a jetpack is quite effective at knocking things back).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Versatile (+2 Class-A Abilities, for the five given above), Great Attribute (Dexterity, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect/only to allow the user to pull off remarkable flight maneuvers – given sufficient skill).
  • Class-C: Compressible (a Jetpack can be folded up and packed into a briefcase), Elemental Blast (A jetpacks thrusters can be used to emit a 60′ cone of fire, although this does only 4d6 damage), and Shrinking (A jetpack is actually rather small and light, although this has no other effect on it’s characteristics).
  • Flaw: Jetpacks offer no protection to the pilot, have no internal passenger or cargo space, tend to blow up if they hit zero hit points or ram into something at high speeds. They also take double damage from fire, have a very limited cargo capacity, and only have half the usual number of hit points.
  • Note: Jetpacks can inflict triple the normal attack damage with full-speed diving ram attacks, but this also inflicts damage to them and their pilot.

Jetpacks (and rocket boots and so on) really aren’t all that popular any longer. The heady notion of personal freedom of the skies has run into decades of experience with humans not being very aerodynamic, the hazards of crashing while being virtually unprotected AND having a tank full of extremely volatile fuel on your back, running out of fuel, and the accumulation of practical thoughts like “Do I really want a jetpack firing streams of fire two inches from my buttocks?”.

Fortunately, in the pulps, pants are pretty much indestructible, which at least takes care of THAT problem, so our heroes can soar gloriously through the skies as much as they please.

Mad Scientist Spider Transport (Huge):

  • Class-A: Celerity (Ground Speed 60′), Fly (Specialized and Corrupted/only to allow the spider walker to stick to walls and climb easily), Swim (30).
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Spell Storing II (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for a spell or spells of up to L3 used to represent bizarre weapons, 18 self-charging levels worth per day. If nothing else seems appropriate… 9 Web Bombs), Heavy Deflection (Force Shield, +4 Deflection bonus to AC).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Crew Compartment), Advanced Facilities (Living quarters and sufficient tools, shops, and libraries to provide a +2 Tool Bonus on any reasonable skill), and Energy Bolt (sonic cannon).
  • Note: Spider Transports can attack physically if their pilot makes the rolls to make them try to step on things. Of course, on a miss, the creature attacked gets a free chance to try to climb aboard.
  • Flaw: Spider Transports are notorious for weird malfunctions when damaged, are incredibly conspicuous, and have all kinds of exposed parts, cables, and hatches for enemies to climb on or into.

A traveling laboratory and home-away-from-home for the discriminating mad scientist, Spider Transports are off-road vehicles supreme, capable of crossing water, climbing sheer cliffs, and still providing comfortable quarters and facilities for traveling explorers. Of course they tend to freak people out, but then you can’t have everything.

Abominable Spawn Of The Eldritch Night (Huge):

  • Class-A: Elemental Subtype (Immune to Acid, double damage versus Lightning), Fly, Swim.
  • Class-B: Fast Healing II, Energy Touch (Acid), Extra Attack (Writhing Tentacles).
  • Class-C: Enveloping (Absorbs the summoner when it’s called into reality), Natural Invisibility (the mortal mind cannot accept the existence of the Spawn, and so cannot perceive it unaided), and either Dimension Slide or Noncorporeal.
  • Note: Unlike most vehicles, an Abominable Spawn can make melee slam attacks normally if the pilot chooses to spend his or her time that way.
  • Flaw: Besides being huge, clumsy, and prone to provoking violent reactions (small earthquakes, violent storms, etc) from the world itself, piloting an Abominable Spawn will gradually drive any mortal quite insane.

These shambling horrors somewhat resemble H.G. Wells Martian Tripods, and somewhat resemble octopuses, and somewhat resemble trees, and could resemble any number of other things if the human mind was capable of accepting their forms without breaking down. Melding your mind with one to “pilot” it is NOT a good idea for most heroes, but it’s a fine method for an insane cultist to fight a party of pulp heroes.

The immobile variant usually has more facilities and life support and works as an eldritch base.

And yes, you can make even more powerful vehicles – all you have to do is specialize things for increased effect rather than reduced cost – but that tends to wander over into “battle fleet” territory.

Eclipse d20 – Playing With The Pulps Part III: More Pulp Powers, Pulp Drugs, and Pulp Archetypes

For Part I – the Basic Pulp Hero and Advanced Pulp Hero Templates – Click HERE.

For Part II – Advanced Pulp Powers Part I – Click HERE.

And to continue the list of advanced pulp powers…

  • Pressure Point Mastery/Elfshot: You may spend 1 Power as a free action to cause your unarmed strikes to inflict double-strength Elfshot effects that last for one minute.
  • Prophecy/Witchsight (GM controlled): You may see glimpses of destiny in visions, or hear mysterious voices, or read Tarot Cards, or throw the I-Ching – but you get occasional free clues, or mysterious warnings, or clairvoyant flashes, or what-have-you – but the mechanism remains the same for each individual seer.
  • Providential Privacy/Shadowweave (constant): Mundane attempts to subtly eavesdrop on you, bug or record you, follow you unnoticed, get a look at you when you’re insufficiently dressed, or read over your shoulder, automatically fail thanks to providential shadows, noises, and other interference – but the failure mode (of subtlety or information gathering) is up to the game master.
  • Razor Tongue Technique/Glamour (constant): Your body language, expressions, and words are subtle social weapons. As long as you aren’t actually in combat you can make people look like idiots, infuriate them, flatter them, sow rumors, or provoke dissension without appearing to say or do anything particularly out of line. You can make a Diplomacy, Bluff, Oratory, or Intimidate check once per round as a free action without this being apparent to anyone who does not make a will save. You may spend 1 Power as a swift action to gain one use of Pathfinder’s Antagonize, Call Truce, or Taunt feats.
  • Reaching Hand, The/The Hand Of Shadows: You may manipulate items within 60 feet as if you were using one hand with Str 12. This does not require line of sight if you know where the item to be manipulated is and provides tactile feedback, allowing you to pick locks and such with your usual skills. You may thus unbar doors, yank a vehicles steering wheel, throw a knife, or even inflict 3d6 damage to a target who fails to save by squeezing their internal organs (this will not work if they are immune to critical hits). This costs 1 power per minute of use.
  • Scent/Witchsight (constant): You gain the Scent ability. Note that, outside of combat, you can identify disguised individuals by their scent, detect and identify poisons and drugs in food, drinks or the air, locate herbs and other substances, gain a +6 bonus to locating food and water in the wild, identify wines, identify potions, and perform similar tricks.
  • Second Wind/Hyloka: You may spend 1 Power as an Immediate Action to gain (1d6+Con) (that’s Con, not Con Mod) temporary hit points – or twice that if you are wounded to the 50% mark or more. Unfortunately, these only last for ten minutes, this ability cannot be used more than once an hour, and such hit points do not provide healing, although new damage is (as usual) taken from temporary hit points first.
  • Sensory Filtering/Hyloka (constant): You may automatically filter out unwanted sensory stimuli. You cannot be blinded, stunned, or dazzled by bright lights, nauseated by odors, or influenced by torture or pain. You may also filter distractions, allowing you to do things like listen to a specific conversation in a crowded, noisy, room without penalty.
  • Shadow Meld/Shadowweave: You may spend 1 Power to cloak yourself in shadows for thirty minutes. During this time you gain a +12 Circumstance Bonus to Stealth and may hide in plain sight – but these benefits only apply if there are at least some natural shadows or dimly lit areas about.
  • Shamanic Adept/Dreamfaring: You may detect the presence of nature spirits and communicate with them. After that, it’s up to you to be persuasive, but anything from getting information on up to causing or preventing natural disasters is possible.
  • Signature Weapon/Witchfire (constant): A favored weapon or pair of weapons is infused with Power, gaining “+2″ worth of Enhancement Bonuses and/or special abilities (they do not have to include an enhancement bonus). You may apply this effect to your fists if you so desire.
  • Simulate Death/Hyloka: You may spend 3 power as an Immediate Action to enter a deep trance. In this state you need not breathe more than once per week, do not bleed, and are basically treated as an object; you are unaffected by poison, energy drain, nondestructive extremes of temperature, and so on. You may set triggers that will immediately awaken yourself (2 Power per Trigger) or can be awakened with twenty minutes and a DC 20 Heal check.
  • Soul Sight/Witchsight (constant): With a few moments of concentration you may look beyond the surface of reality to peer into the realms of the soul. Unfortunately, what this can show you will vary from game to game; in some settings you may see deeply into peoples personalities or prior incarnations or what mystical forces are influencing them. Perhaps you will see and interact with powerful spiritual entities, or lost gods Perhaps you will be able to guide the wandering dead to their final destinations. Or maybe you won’t. You can, however, spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to set a soul-link on anyone who fails to save within twenty feet. While you can only maintain (Cha Mod) soul-links at a time, until you drop such a link you will have a general idea of the target’s location and condition no matter where they go – and may get odd warnings and visions about what they’re up to. For 5 Power and a touch, you can attempt a meeting of souls – perhaps exploring deep motivations, or coming to an understanding, or getting to battle a neurosis or possessing entity. Discuss this one with your game master; this is a deeply mystical power and will mean different things in different settings.
  • Stage Magic/Hand of Shadows and Shadowweave: You get a +10 bonus to Sleight of Hand and Escape Artist and may perform elaborate feats of stage magic with Sleight of Hand, a few basic props, and either 1d4 rounds to prepare or the expenditure of one power as a swift action, and may spend one power to use Sleight Of Hand or Disable Device at a range of 20 feet.
  • Surge of Strength/Hyloka: You may spend 1 Power as a free action to gain a +10 bonus on a single strength-related check, including jumping, melee damage, or smashing things.
  • Synergistic Knowledge/The Inner Eye: You may pool the information available to every willing target within twenty feet, including things they have forgotten or clues that were never mentioned to the other characters. Everyone involved can attempt to aid whatever the best knowledge skill roll in the group is and theories may be assembled using those augmented skills and all of the available information. This requires a three full rounds and the expenditure of 3 Power. (Yes, this makes the user a convenient channel for game master exposition and for leading questions – such as “but didn’t you informant also say that…” – when some player hypothesis is wandering off into never-never land).
  • Talons/Hyloka (constant): The user’s “natural weapons” (hands and feet) are toughened enough to inflict 2d4 base damage. They are otherwise treated as normal weapons. Secondarily, the users hands are impervious to needles, rope burns, high voltage electricity, handling hot objects, and similar perils.
  • Thought Sensing/The Inner Eye: You may employ Detect Thoughts and Detect Hostile Intent at no cost. Given a minute, you may employ Object Reading or gather any psychic impressions that are present in the area.
  • Thundering Command/Glamour: You may spend 3 Power and a Standard Action to issue a short and simple command, targeting up to (Cha Mod) specific creatures within a 20′ radius within sixty feet. The effects of such commands persist for three rounds and cannot include self-harm beyond the trivial; ordering someone to provide a few hairs or a drop of blood is quite acceptable though. Exorcists are fond of “Begone!” (sending a spirit back to it’s home plane or, if it’s bound to something, back to whatever binds it), law enforcement is fond of “Drop your weapons!” or “Freeze!”, and so on. Focusing on a single target increases the save DC by two. Traditionally user’s are limited to seven specific commands. In this case they may opt to have some or all of them be Absolute Commands that can also affect inanimate objects, approximating effects of up to level two. For an example, “Open!” might make a creature open it’s mouth or open a gate, but the Absolute Command version would also be functionally equivalent to a Knock spell. Common Absolute Commands include “Burn!” (Combust) and “Shatter!” (Shatter). For that matter, “Jam!” can briefly disable guns or make doors stick,
  • Tinker/Hand of Shadows: You may spend 1 Power to accomplish a days worth of work on a device, vehicle, or similar, in one minute or to accomplish some simple repair or modification that would usually take up to fifteen minutes as a swift action.
  • Venomous Infusion/Hyloka and Witchfire: You gain a choice of seven different toxins or drugs that you may synthesize, and infuse into targets by touch at the cost of 2 Power and a Standard Action. Unfortunately, realistic toxins and drugs are enormously complicated,

Doing Drugs n’ D20 – DD&D

d20 really doesn’t have a useful system for drugs. That’s partially because “Drugs are Bad” and so mostly only appeared in The Book Of Vile Darkness (oddly, I know many people who take drugs for blood pressure or other conditions without any notable evil) and mostly because realistic drugs generally have no real effect in d20 terms. After all, d20 is a system that ignores pain, the effects of major injuries, and broken bones. You can be stung by a colossal scorpion, wind up with your body having more poison than blood in it, and shrug it off with a good die roll. If marijuana makes you mellow and hungry… MAYBE that’s a +1 on will saves against certain emotion-controlling spells and a roleplaying note, but is it really worth tracking?

Fortunately, these are Pulp and Fantasy drugs, rather than realistic ones, and do have dramatic and impressive effects: Ergo…

  • Pulp and Fantasy Drugs and Toxins approximate the effects of spells of up to level two.
  • They have Alchemical effects, and provide alchemical modifiers.
  • They will not affect creatures with no constitution scores.
  • No more than three doses of a particular drug will work on any one individual in any one day. Doses after that are wasted.
  • The more powerful beneficial drugs exhaust the bodies resources. After they wear off, the user suffers Fatigue. If the user is immune to Fatigue in the first place, they won’t work.
  • Ingested substances require 2d4 rounds to take effect. Directly infused substances take effect in the round of use.
  • Pre-prepared substances are normally good for 1d4+1 days.
  • Real drugs and toxins often have a wide variety of deleterious long-term effects. In D20 being stabbed a dozen times is easily endurable and will heal up without a trace in days even without treatment. Ergo, D20 drugs have no long-term effects.
  • Addiction is not a problem either. D20 characters routinely ignore pain, stress, and comfort, stay awake for days on end, and more. If they want to quit using something, it really isn’t a problem for them.

So here are some drugs and toxins, ready to go:

  • Aggrande I through VI (Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma): Enhance Attribute +2, 1 Hour/Level Duration (The Practical Enchanter). Variants have double effect if limited to a particular purpose – boosting Strength for Carrying Capacity, Intelligence for enhanced recall (Knowledge Skills) or to raise Spell DC’s, Wisdom for Enhanced Senses or for Will Saves, Constitution for Hit Points or Fortitude Saves (or the ever-popular Sexual Capacity), Dexterity for Armor Class, or Extra AOO or Reflex Saves, and so on. Anti-Trauma: Light Revival (The Practical Enchanter, as Cure Light Wounds but will work for a few rounds after “death”).
  • Antipsychotic: Allows a madman to function relatively normally for 3d6 hours.
  • Apercept: Induce Blindness/Deafness.
  • Aphrodisiac: Suggestion (Infatuation/Have Sex). Note that other specific drugs produce other specific suggestions and so induce other moods and effects. Still, nothing has ever been as popular as the search for a genuine aphrodisiac except the search for money and power.
  • Augamenti I through VI:(Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Constitution, Dexterity, Charisma): Bulls Strength, Foxes Cunning, etcetera. Variants have double effect if limited to a particular purpose – boosting Strength for Carrying Capacity, Intelligence for enhanced recall (Knowledge Skills) or to raise Spell DC’s, Wisdom for Enhanced Senses or for Will Saves, Constitution for Hit Points or Fortitude Saves (or the ever-popular Sexual Capacity), Dexterity for Armor Class, or Extra AOO or Reflex Saves, and so on.
  • Bactril: Induces minor regeneration and tissue adaption, facilitating the regrowth / reconstruction of things like noses, eyes, and fingers, cosmetic surgery, and reducing the difficulty and tissue-matching needed for transplants – making such things possible with the Heal skill at reasonably low DC’s.
  • Berserkerite: Wrath (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Bloodstop: Immortal Vigor II (The Practical Enchanter).
  • Botulism: Torn Muscle (Pathfinder).
  • Cancerphage: Cures cancer given about a weeks worth of once per day doses.
  • Clarity: +4 to Perception and Knowledge Checks but -4 to Charisma Checks for the day.
  • Combat Drug: Heroism.
  • Comprehensive Immunization: Provides a wide range of inoculations.
  • Contraceptive (Hedge Magic) Lasts one day for males, one month for females.
  • Depressant: Induces Exhaustion.
  • Elixir Of Health (A.K.A. “Azoth”): Make two immediate extra saves versus a disease, each with a +5 bonus.
  • Ephemera: This drug greatly accelerates cognition. The user gets to ask (Int Mod +2) extra questions as free actions each round. In combat the user may give up two questions (presumed to be about possible openings) in exchange for a +1 Insight Bonus to an attack or a +1 Insight Bonus to their AC. The effect lasts for about ten minutes, but it seems much longer.
  • Fleshknitter: Fast Healing II (The Practical Enchanter, lasts 2d8 + Caster Level (max 10) rounds).
  • Halcyon Tonic: Cures vitamin and mineral deficiencies, +2 on all rolls against diseases for one week.
  • Hypercaf: Postpones all feelings of Fatigue or Exhaustion for a full day. Then you crash.
  • Hyperstim: Negates the effects of one negative level for twenty-four hours.
  • Immunobooster: Rite of Bodily Purity (Pathfinder). It does not require an hour to administer, but does to take effect.
  • Intoxicant: Touch of Idiocy.
  • Lethe: Confuses memories of the last hour and prevents the effective formation of new memories for another hour.
  • Lifebane: Victim must save or Heal Checks on the victim take a -12 penalty and using healing magic on the victim requires a DC 27 caster level check. This effect lasts for 24 hours.
  • Metset: Adjusts the user’s metabolic rate. May be used to induce (relatively) rapid weight loss (Heal DC 10), induce a deep coma approaching true suspended animation in a willing recipient (Heal DC 20), or reduce the aging rate to 50% of normal (Heal DC 30). A dose lasts for 1d4+1 weeks.
  • Muscle Relaxer: Ray of Enfeeblement.
  • Neurostim: Remove Paralysis.
  • Numbwort: Delay Pain (Pathfinder).
  • Paralytic: Ghoul Touch; 10 minutes/level but no odor.
  • Physiological Regulator: Soothing Word (Pathfinder)
  • Psybane: Allows the user to voluntarily suppress memories, possession, lycanthropy, and similar disorders leading to the loss of mental control for twenty-four hours.
  • Rejuvenation Serum: Lesser Restoration. No fatigue if simply used to eliminate the effects of over-indulgence (hangovers, etc) or to eliminate fatigue or reduce exhaustion.
  • Soma: Makes the user cheerful and happy for twenty-four hours.
  • Sophoric (Nightsnare, Pathfinder). No range, but the victim will remain normally asleep after the effects wear off until they awaken or are awakened naturally.
  • Soulflight: Gives a willing user strange visions, out-of-body experiences, glimpses of the afterlife, and similar experiences – none of them predictably. Usually has a subjective duration of 1d6 x 1d6 hours, lasts about an hour on the physical level.
  • Suppressant (Strength, Intelligence, Etc. -4 for one hour per level). Note that most intoxicants and hallucinogens are simply wisdom suppressants with exotic special effects. Specialized Suppressants – for example, reducing Wisdom for Perception purposes only – are doubly effective.
  • Susparin: Corrects homeostasis malfunctions, such as diabetes, hypo- or hyper-thyroidism,
  • Thermaset: Allows the user’s body to quickly adjust to livable (if possibly very uncomfortable) environmental extremes, including desert heat, arctic cold, water scarcity, and high altitudes.
  • Tranquilizer: Calm Emotions (single target, but ten minutes per level).
  • Troll Serum: User automatically stabilizes if below zero hit points and automatically stops bleeding after the first round. This effect persists for one hour per level.
  • Truth Serum: Touch of Truthtelling (Pathfinder) plus Suggestion (Babble). If the first save fails, the ongoing Suggestion effect will require a save for each question to resist answering – usually with many digressions and at excessive length.
  • Universal Antitoxin: Gain a +10 bonus versus Poison for one hour.
  • Vermifuge: Renders the user’s blood mildly poisonous to other organisms, eliminating various worms, bloodsucking insects, and other parasites for the next day. They’ll need an hourly save.

What with the various variations on aphrodisiacs (or general mood-influencing drugs), augmentations and suppressants, that should easily provide you with eighty or so drugs to work with – which should be more than enough.

  • Ventriloquism/Witchfire: You may create noises, including voices, music, footfalls, and even deafening roars or claps of thunder (fortitude save or deafens for 1d4+1 rounds), anywhere within a sixty foot radius. Extremely loud noises, or very complex ones (including music and equivalents of Shatter and Sound Burst) cost 1 power to generate, voices and simple noises of reasonable volume have no cost.
  • Visage Of The Dragon/Glamour: You may spend 2 Power as a part of an Intimidation check to target all non-allies within a sixty foot radius. If you focus on a single target and succeed you may cause them to freeze in terror as long as you continue to concentrate and they are not blatantly distracted (perhaps by the interposition of a barrier, or being attacked) from your terrifying visage.
  • You Cheat!/Witchsight: You almost invariably win at games of chance and can find any game that happens to be in the vicinity. This can be a good social gateway – no one will mind much if you join in, win twenty dollars, and buy everyone a round of drinks – but using this gift to get large quantities of money tends to attract a LOT of hostility. Unfortunately, you cannot try to turn a situation into a game to get a guaranteed win; betting your companion that you will win a solo fight against thirty opponents is not a game of chance.

Obviously enough, when you get a set of five powers for your investment, a lot of characters will have themed sets. To cover those here are thirty sets of themed abilities for making quick characters or gathering inspiration.

  1. Academic: Defining Aura (famous world-class expert with invaluable expertise and impeccable credentials), Focused Mind, Synergistic Knowledge, I Planned For This Contingency, and Instant Inclusion.
  2. Artiste: Defining Aura (Celebrity Artist, to be pampered and indulged), Grandiose Gesture, Impeccable Image, Instant Inclusion, and Razor Tongue Technique.
  3. Cavalier Cowboy: Adroit Cavalier, Forced March, Greased Lightning, Visage Of The Dragon, and Second Wind.
  4. Doctor: Bioawareness, Defining Aura (Noncombatant healer; an authorative physician and an amazing expert to be recruited if possible), Mystic Adept (Healing), Simulate Death, Venemous Infusion, and You Cheat!
  5. Dragonborn: Blinding Flash, Elemental Mastery, Gliding, Longevity, and Ventriloquism.
  6. Ghost Hunter: Elemental Mastery, Ghost Strike, Medium, Mystic Adept (Dreamfaring), and Soul Sight.
  7. Interrogator: Analytical Gaze, Handwriting Analysis, Lay Of The Land, Sensory Filtering, and Thought Sensing.
  8. Jungle Lord/Lady: Animal Companion, Animal Friend, Outrun The Fireball, Scent, and Surge Of Strength.
  9. Mafia Don: Defining Aura (A deadly criminal mastermind, with wealth, favors, and minions to call upon and a deserved reputation for dealing harshly with those who cross him), I Planned For This Contingency, Inspiring Presence, Instant Inclusion, and Providential Privacy.
  10. Martial Artist: All-Around Sight, Athletic Paragon, Focused Mind, Pressure Point Mastery, and Talons.
  11. Master Investigator: Analytical Gaze, Bioawareness, Handwriting Analysis, Lay Of The Land, and Providential Privacy.
  12. Mechanic: Demolitions, Intuitive Operator, My God That’s A Big Gun, Signature Weapon, and Tinker,
  13. Mercenary: Forced March, Outrun The Fireball, Perfect Healing, Second Wind, and My God That’s A Big Gun.
  14. Munitions Master: Blinding Flash, Demolitions, Kangaroo Pouch, My God That’s A Big Gun, and Signature Weapon.
  15. Mystic: Gliding, Draught Of Eternity, Hypnosis, Mystic Adept (Shadowweave), and Ventriloquism.
  16. Night Phantom: Adhesion, Gliding, Providential Privacy, Sensory Filtering, and Visage Of The Dragon.
  17. Officer: Inspiring Presence, I Planned For This Contingency, Papers Please, Thundering Command, and Visage Of The Dragon.
  18. Operator or Special Agent: A Thousand Faces, Kangaroo Pouch, Demolitions, Impeccable Image, and Signature Weapon.
  19. Orator: Grandiose Gesture, Inspiring Presence, Linguistic Acquisition, Papers Please, and Ventriloquism.
  20. Physical Adept: Athletic Paragon, Draught Of Eternity, Mind Over Body, Perfect Healing, and
  21. Psychic Master: Cloud The Senses, Focused Mind, Prophecy, The Reaching Hand, and Thought Sensing.
  22. Shadow Walker: A Thousand Faces, Cloud The Senses, Darkness, Darksight, and Shadow Meld.
  23. Shaman: All-Around Sight, Ghost Strike, Shamanic Adept, Soul Sight, and Thundering Command.
  24. Socialite: Defining Aura (Utterly harmless, if extremely good-looking, and wealthy party-goer who should be invited to all the best parties and have their expenses paid), Venomous Infusion, Grandiose Gesture, Instant Inclusion, and Razor Tongue Technique.
  25. Speedster: Athletic Paragon, Clouds Above The Earth, Evasive Jinx, Greased Lightning, and Outrun The Fireball.
  26. Stage Magician: Blinding Flash, Stage Magic, Simulate Death, Hypnosis, and Grandiose Gesture.
  27. Street Urchin: Defining Aura (Young, Innocent, Trustworthy, and other descriptives of choice), Demolitions, Evasive Jinx, Lay Of The Land, and You Cheat!
  28. Survivor: Forced March, Outrun The Fireball, Perfect Healing, Second Wind, and Venomous Infusion (usually rare herbs).
  29. Tenacious Bruiser: Athletic Paragon, Forced March, Greased Lightning, Second Wind, and Surge of Strength.
  30. Wandering Exorcist: Focused Mind, Ghost Strike, Medium, Prophecy, and Thundering Command.

Next time around on this; other pulp abilities – including how to acquire early modern-style vehicles.