Ponies Of The Eclipse – Starswirl The Bearded

And for today we have a special request from Alzrius…

Star Swirl The Bearded. Pillar of Sorcery. A pony who invented more spells than anyone else in history.

So what do we know about his various abilities? He…

  1. Is stated to be “the father of the amniomorphic spell”. While this implies that it’s a thing that he invented but left to others to develop fully, all we really know about the spell is that it might be a pun. (Amnio = Pot, Morph = Shaping, ergo “pot shaper” – making Starswirl the Bearded a Hairy Potter).
  2. Created a Dimensional Travel spell and device that apparently risks destroying the world if overused. Putting it into a mirror with very limited access apparently helped, but still made quite a mess later – at least until Twilight fiddled with it.
  3. Created a Destiny Switching spell that really messes up peoples lives and needed revising by someone who understood what they were doing to work properly. It MIGHT have been designed to combine ponies powers or to allow him to ascend into alicornhood or for any of several other things. Who knows?
  4. Created a Time Travel spell that was very limited use, apparently only caused closed casual loops, and which didn’t work very well. It was left to Starlight Simmer to turn it into something more useful.
  5. Dumped the Sirens into another world for the people there to deal with. This has been shown in two versions – one involving several unsuccessful musical battles against the Sirens, the other apparently simply using his dimensional portal spell. In either case, it made a lot of trouble later.
  6. Is stated to be more powerful than Twilight – although how they’re measuring “power” is never defined.
  7. Generated a pretty good shield bubble, although the Pony Of Shadows seemed to readily shatter it.
  8. Taught various students. Whether or not he taught them WELL is quite another question.
  9. Was an arrogant insensitive jerk and really messed things up with Stygian.
  10. May have moved the sun and/or moon (there are some serious problems with the accounts), but this too apparently did not go very well.
  11. Used a candle to light the way in a cavern. Why he didn’t just make magical light is unknown. Even presuming that it was early in his career… making light seems to be a basic part of being a Unicorn.
  12. Apparently managed to turn the Changelings loose by monkeying with things that he should have left alone (something of a personal theme there).
  13. Apparently became friends with Scorpan (despite not really understanding friendship). That’s a bit weird, but maybe they had some mutual hobbies or something.
  14. He probably had a high constitution, since he seemed pretty enduring and didn’t seem to slow down much with age.

Secondarily…

  1. Given that Twilight is a fan and that Starswirl made a lot of spells, it wouldn’t be too unreasonable to guess that some of the spells she’s studied were his creations. So he might have made one or more of the Mustache, Musical Breeze, or other minor spells that she’s learned. Sadly, we’ve no further evidence on this front – and even if we did, it’s not like most of those are fabulously impressive spells. Perhaps they were early efforts?
  2. Twilight Sparkle stated that “everypony knows that Star Swirl was an expert at everything from transfiguration, [to] dimensional calibration, [and] teleportation”. On the other hand, most ponies have never heard of Starswirl, so this goes wrong in the first two words. Given that Starswirl is a legendary figure and that Twilight is a blatant fan, this statement needs to be regarded with some skepticism.
  3. In Princess Twilight Sparkle and the Forgotten Books of Autumn (a decidedly secondary source), Moon Dancer mentions the spell “Star Swirl’s Seven Safeguards”. Perhaps he felt a need for a lot of safety precautions? Of course, we’re never told what this spell did or if it worked properly. It could have been pretty much any set of defensive spells.

So… Starswirl The Bearded. Amazingly powerful magical genius? Or sloppy jerk of a magician who consistently fouls everything up? Perhaps both? After all, they’re hardly mutually exclusive – and there is something that connects them. We are explicitly told that Starswirl never understood friendship. And isn’t “Friendship is Magic” a bit of a theme on the show?

In Equestria, failing to understand Friendship is failing to understand Magic.

And with that we have consistency; Starswirl had experience. He had raw power. He had intelligence. He was experimentation and inventive – but he was a solitary medieval-style wizard. He used rules-of-thumb, ill-understood and unconnected theorems (some doubtless quite wrong), and intuitive leaps to design his spells – so it’s not surprising that his forays into designing major spells had considerable problems. It’s the same reason why so many cathedrals collapsed (often more than once) while they were being built; the architects were trying to scale up from smaller buildings by rule-of-thumb, rather than really knowing what they were doing.

So:

Starswirl The Bearded.

ECL 7 (including +1 ECL racial template) Unicorn Pony Sorcerer.

Starswirl was unlucky. While he was born with an enormous well of magical power, it was actually too much; it overwhelmed the instinctual spells that Unicorns usually had available and left him unable to do anything EXCEPT have wild surges long past his early childhood. As a foal, Starswirl was forced to study magic intensively, and explore exotic methods of casting spells, simply to keep up with other Unicorn foals and get some use out of his power. Still, while he wound up socially isolated, that intensive focus allowed him to eventually learn to harness his raw power – and to channel it into an ever-expanding array of powerful effects, far beyond what any normal unicorn could ever be expected to master.

As an adult, Starswirl found himself respected, but still isolated and without friends. Worse, his somewhat erratic greater abilities often frightened those around him. Unsurprisingly, he took to wandering – exploring foreign lands, meeting people that he hadn’t frightened, seeking out ever more exotic magic, and cultivating his power.

He would return to Equestria more than a century and a half later, to find the population arguing and the realm under siege by various perils. He helped move the sun and moon, took apprentices, taught a youthful Celestia and Luna, and eventually passed on his celestial duties to them – and when they took charge took to wandering the land helping to drive back the monsters. He would eventually be recruited by Stygian as one of the Pillars of Equestria – but his old inability to deal with people fouled up that relationship as well, leading to him and the other pillars being quite unnecessarily trapped for somewhat more than a thousand years (timekeeping was sort of difficult while Discord was in charge: various accounts place the duration of his reign at anywhere from “about an hour” to “several thousand years”. He apparently saw no need for the passage of time to be at all consistent).

To summarize the low-level adventurer template, those affected get:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • Very slow level advancement, by direct session-based character point awards rather than experience points. Succeeding in goals helps, but killing things and taking their stuff does not.
  • The status of valuable trouble magnets – they’re rare and find trouble everywhere they go.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active magical skills.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents. For the full list see the Template, for Starswirl we’ll take Evasive (a +2 bonus to his AC) and Enduring (providing him with a +1 bonus on his Saves).

To summarize the Basic Pony Modifiers:

  • Quadruped. In general ponies are slow and have trouble moving while using tools or weapons.
  • Attribute Modifiers: -2 Dex, +2 Con. An additional +2 Con and +2 Chr are dispellable magical bonuses.
  • Damage Reduction 9/- versus both Physical and Energy Attacks, only DR 2/- versus melee attacks by living creatures.
  • Endure Elements. Ponies pretty much ignore the weather.
  • Ponies heal 1d8+1 damage per round three times per day.
  • Ponies are always treated as having lots of pockets, even in the nude.
  • Ponies get minor cartoon effects, such as hair that responds to moods, blushing through fur, and so on.
  • Ponies may begin or participate in spontaneously choreographed musical numbers that provide bonuses for group tasks.
  • Have a base pool of 1d6+3 Mana, regaining 1d6 with an hours rest up to three times a day and 1-2 points per day regardless.
  • Get a +2 Racial Bonus to Perform/Sing

Here we have a small problem: a Basic Pony’s Mana is “Specialized/only usable with innate racial talents” and “Corrupted/no natural magic option”. The Unicorn Template buys off the Corruption, but Starswirl needs to be able to use his Mana with learned abilities – so he needs to replace that racial specialization with with Corrupted / Only usable for Spell Enhancement” at a net cost of 2 CP.

To Summarize The Unicorn Subrace Modifiers:

  • Occult Talent provides their usual minor spellcasting – but in Starswirls case this is Blocked.
  • Immunity/Being unable to Concentrate on more than one thing at a time (covering up to three tasks and/or spells of up to level three at any one time).
  • Upgrade their basic Mana supply with the Spell Enhancement Natural Magic option.
  • Metamagic: Amplify / Only applies to Occult Talent abilities.

This is another item that needs upgrading. In Starswirls case it needs to apply to both his Path Of The Dragon effects and Inherent Spell – but since he’s taking them to build his own magic system that’s allowable. It will, however, cost another 4 CP.

  • A +2 Racial Bonus to Knowledge/Arcana (2 CP).
  • +2 Intelligence/-2 Strength.
  • One Bonus Feat.
  • Executive, Corrupted for Increased Effect (add the user’s Int Mod to his or her effective level of use)/requires 2 Mana/hour to power. Unicorns are good at coordinating groups, and can provide substantial bonuses.

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (-2 Unicorn = 6), Dex 12 (-2 Pony = 10), Con 18 (+2 Level +4 Pony = 24), Int 16 (+2 Unicorn +2 Age = 20), Wis 10 (+2 Age = 12), Chr 8 (+2 Pony +2 Age = 12). (Pathfinder 25 Point Buy).

Starwswirl is Old, even with his extended lifespan. He thus would normally suffer –3 to Str, Dex, and Con while gaining a +2 to Int, Wis, and Cha. Fortunately for him, he is capable of casting Greater Age Resistance daily – effectively negating his aging penalties.

Available Character Points: 168 (Level Six Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Incompetent (-3 on all Social Skills), History, and Blocked (Starswirl does not get the usual innate Unicorn spells; he had to develop them), Compulsive (defender of Equestria)) +30 (Unicorn and L1, L3, L5, and L7 Bonus Feats) = 208 CP.

Basic Abilities (95 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 12 (L1d12, 8 CP) +29 (L2-L6d6, 10 CP) +26 (12 + 2 x Con Mod Template) +49 (7 x Com Mod) = 116 HP.
  • Skill Points: 17 (Purchased, 17 CP) + 45 (Int) + 18 (Fast Learner) = 80 SP
  • BAB +3 (18 CP), +2 BAB Specialized (only with spells and rays, 6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +4 (12 CP) +7 (Con) +1 (Tem) = +12
    • Reflex +3 (9 CP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Will +3 (9 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Tem) = +5
  • Proficiencies: Light Armor (3 CP) and Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +0 (Dex)
  • Move: 40 (four legs, 20 on three or less).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) + 0 (Dex) +2 (Tem) +4 (Armor; Chain Shirt Equivalent) +3 (Martial Art) = 19

Normally I’d note some of his usual attacks here – but Starswirl is very much a primary caster, so they really don’t matter much.

Other Abilities (113 CP):

  • Racial Ability Upgrades (Noted Above, 6 CP).
  • Block (Arcane) with Master (DC reduced to 15) (12 CP):
  • Fast Learner, Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Adept (6 CP): Half Price for Craft (Alchemy), a Ray Mastery Martial Art, Spellcraft, and Survival.
  • Adept (6 CP): Half Price for Knowledge/Arcana, Geography, History, and the Planes.

Skills:

  • Craft (Alchemy)+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Heal +4 (4 SP) +1 (Wis) = +5.
  • Intimidate +3 (3 SP) +1 (Cha) -3 (Incompetent) = +1
  • Knowledge/Arcana +9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Knowledge/Geography+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Knowledge/History+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Knowledge/Nature +9 (9 SP) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Knowledge/The Planes+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Linguistics +9 (9 SP) +5 (Int) = +14
  • Perception +9 (9 SP) +1 (Wis) = +10
  • Perform (Singing) +5 (5 SP) +1 (Cha) +2 (Pony) -3 (Incompetent) = +5
  • Profession (Sailor) +4 (4 SP) +1 (Wis) = +5
  • Ray Master+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +17
  • Spellcraft+9 (4 SP*) +5 (Int) +2 (Unicorn) +3 (Tem) +2 (Syn) = +21
  • Survival+9 (4 SP*) +1 (Wis)
    • Specific Knowledges: Equestria In The Pre-Discordian Era (1 SP), Races Of The Pre-Discordian Era (1 SP).
    • +3 Skill Specialties: Spellcraft/Spell Research (1 SP), Spellcraft/Celestial Manipulation (1 SP), Knowledge/Arcana/Exotic Magical Systems (1 SP).
    • Martial Arts Abilities (9): Attack +2, Defenses +3, Synergy/Spellcraft, Mind LIke Moon, Inner Strength, and Healing Hand. Starswirl isn’t much of a healer, but in an emergency he can do a bit of it. It is extremely draining if he does too much though.

This comes to 80 skill points.

  • Occult Contacts x 3 (Celestia, Luna, Scorpan, 6 CP). Starswirl may be a cranky old man, and has had is arguments with all three of these folks – but they know him, will listen to him, and generally feel that he’s owed something. Note that, if Scorpan is no longer around, Starswirl will soon pick up a new powerful contact – most likely Twilight Sparkle.
  • Privilege: Crown Stipend (3 CP). Starswirl is effectively retired, and his (reasonable) expenses are covered by the Equestrian Crown.
  • Create Artifact (6 CP). Starswirl is capable of creating potent magical devices, but it usually involves quests and enormous amounts of trouble.
  • Mystic Link with Communications, Specialized and Corrupted/his notes and journals automatically record a great deal of information about his adventures, notes on his various spells, and other information. Even when he has little time to update them, they are generally quite complete. Sadly, there is no direct communication, they tend to require extensive study to decipher, and important bits may be scattered all over the place – although as long as any fragment of his journals survives, the rest can always be found and recovered (2 CP).
  • Life Extension: Immunity / Age (Uncommon, Major, Minor, 4 CP). Starswirl has lived a great deal longer than the average pony, and has a good long time to go.
  • Action Hero / Invention, Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only to invent spells, spells with base levels beyond what a Unicorn could use “naturally” (via Occult Talent) are invariably flawed – with dangerous environmental side effects, being partially uncontrollable, or other similar problems, spells are very difficult for others to study and learn (20 CP). At level six this means that he’s had a total of 510 action points to spend on creating spells.
  • Shaping and Pulse Of The Dragon, both Specialized / only as prerequisites (6 CP).
  • Heart Of The Dragon, may cast L0 and L1 spells (powered by Mana), Specialized and Corrupted / can only cast spells that he has personally researched (at a cost of 1 Action Point per L0 spell and 2 per L1 Spell), while he may use additional Mana to boost the effects as Unicorns usually do, each additional boosted spell in the sequence must also be researched – albeit as a L0 (if starting with a L0 effect) or L1 (if starting with a L1) effect (6 CP). As usual for a Unicorn, he needs to have his horn free to cast his spells.

Known Level Zero Spell Sequences (0-3 Mana, 4 AP per sequence, 13 sequences – 52 AP).

  1. Message. (Boosted: L1) Enhance Backround Music, L2) Whispering Wind, L3) Gust of Wind).
  2. Dancing Lights. (Boosted: L1) Light, L2) Scorching Ray, L3) Fireball).
  3. Daze. (Boosted: L1) Daze Animal, L2) Daze Monster, L3) Daze 1d4 Monsters),
  4. Detect Magic. (Boosted: L1) Identify, L2) Greater Detect Magic, L3) Witness).
  5. Spellcraft Mastery (+3 competence bonus for ten minutes per level). (Boosted: L1) Ray Mastery (+3 Competence Bonus to hit with Rays for one minute/level), L2) Sidestep (+2 Competence B0nus to all Saves for 10 minutes/Level), L3) Celestial Intervention (+30 Competence Bonus to Spellcraft rolls to manipulate the heavens in realms where this is possible)
  6. Moustache. (Boosted: L1) Disguise Self, L2) Disguise Other, L3) Adjustable Disguise).
  7. Drench. (Boosted: L1) Hydraulic Push, L2) Flurry Of Snowballs, L3) Hydraulic Torrent).
  8. Alter Scent. (Boosted: L1) Cleansing Sphere, L2) Instant Campsite, L3) Nauseating Trail.
  9. Breeze. (Boosted: L1) Alter Winds, L2) Gusting Sphere, L3) Wind Wall).
  10. Lullaby. (Boosted: L1) Sleep, L2) Calm Emotions, L3) Deep Slumber).
  11. Virtue. (Boosted: L1) Phantom Blood, L2) Heroism, L3) False Life (Lasts up to one day).
  12. Sift. (Boosted: L1 Detect Chaos, L2) See Invisibility, L3) Arcane Sight).
  13. Dust Cloud, (Boosted: L1) Grease, L2) Glitterdust, L3 Ash Storm).

Known Level One Spell Sequences (1-4 Mana, 8 AP each, 9 Sequences = 72 AP):

  1. Dispelling Touch (Boosted: L2) Dispelling Ray, L3) Dispel Magic, L4) Ruin Delvers Fortune).
  2. Greater Mage Hand. (Boosted: L2) Telekinetic Volley, L3) Telekinetic Maneuver, L4) Mass Unseen Servant).
  3. Obscuring Mist (Boosted: L2) Fog Cloud, L3) Stinking Cloud, L4) Hallucinogenic Smoke).
  4. Benign Transposition (Boosted: (L2) Baleful Transposition, L3) Dimension Step, L4) Dimension Door)
  5. Stand (Boosted: (L2) Dimension Hop, L3) Swipe (Pathfinder), L4) Dream Walk).
  6. Wizard’s Pack (The Practical Enchanter) (Boosted: L2) Knights Move, L3) Blink, L4) Dimensional Anchor).
  7. Barrier (Immediate Action, 5×5 Force Wall absorbs up to 20 damage, similar to Stone Shield). (Boosted: L2: Barrier Dome (As per Barrier, but protects a small group), L3) Greater Barrier Dome (as per Barrier Dome, but up to 40 damage), L4) Lesser Globe Of Invulnerability.
  8. Magic Missile (Boosted: L2) Spiritual Weapon, L3) Force Punch, L4) Resilient Sphere).
  9. Spell Focus (+3 to Caster Level for next spell), (Boosted: L2 Alchemical Tinkering, L3, Amplify Elixir, L4: Silent Arcane Concordance).

Starswirls Greater Magics are bought as Mana-Powered Inherent Spells. While these can be boosted as usual for Unicorn Ponies, each effect costs one mana per level of the effect (instead of 2 + 1 to 3 for boosts). must be researched at a cost of (2 AP per level of each spell in the sequence), and becomes unstable and dangerous once he exceeds what he can safely cast (ECL / 2, Rounded Up – currently 4). His Inherent Spells are thus considered Specialized.

Amniomorphic Magics (6 CP, 80 AP):

  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell I: L3) Cosmetic Shift (permanently alters minor details, such as hair color). (Boosted: L4) Elemental Body I, L5) Geniekind, L6) Sonic Form).
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell II: L4) Aspect of the Wolf. (Boosted: L5) Baleful Polymorph, L6) Extended Polymorph (lasts 10 minutes/level), L7) Greater Age Resistance.

Dimensional Magics (12 CP, 192 AP):

  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Corrupted/costs 1 Mana per spell level, not just 2 (4 CP): L3) Dimensional Grotto (The Practical Enchanter, Spacewarp with the Supportive modifier). (Boosted: L4) Greater Blink (this version costs 1 extra Mana), L5) Teleport, L6) Baleful Teleport)
  • Mana Powered Inherent Spell II, Corrupted/costs 1 Mana per spell level, not just 2 (4 CP): L4) Bard’s Escape (Pathfinder, costs +1 Mana). (Boosted:, L5) Precipitate Minor Breach, L6) Mass Planar Adaption (Pathfinder), L7) Greater Teleport).
  • Mana Powered Inherent Spell III, Corrupted/costs 1 Mana per spell level, not just 2 (4 CP): L5) Plane Shift, (Boosted: L6: Tactical Teleportation, L7) Teleport Object, L8) Maze).
  • Mana-Powered Inherent Spell IV: L6) Tides Of Time (Limited Time Travel; Creates Closed Casual Loops only), L7) Gravatic Sphere (60′ Radius), L8) Destiny Exchange (the cutie-mark exchange spell). L9) Time Stop.

Starswirls spell lists cost a total of 396 AP and contain some 112 spells. He has enough AP left to have created another 64 cantrips and additional 25 first level spells (albeit with no further boosted versions unless you buy him some more action points), for a total of 201 spells (“More than two hundred spells!”). It also contains a number of spells at the higher end that are beyond what he can safely control even if he didn’t have that limitation already built in – which makes them very likely to go wrong indeed. Personally, I’d assume that he has the full list of level zero and level one Hedge Magic spells, another 31 assorted Cantrips, and four more first level spells of choice.

Equipment: Equestria is normally considered to be a world of Literary Magic Items – allowing the use of Charms, Talismans, and Relics. Starswirl doesn’t seem to use any Relics – and Charms and Talismans are kind of redundant for him; he doesn’t need minor magical conveniences, he has an immense array of magical powers with no real usage limitation. A few bits of normal equipment (most notably the pony equivalent of a Chain Shift and various basic supplies) can be presumed, but Ponies usually aren’t too big on equipment either. I could make his Bells minor relics of some sort – perhaps they’re relics that provide protection from particular major threats – but there’s really nothing to justify it.

In Equestria, with the Superheroic World Template in play, Starswirl is on the boundary of demigodhood. Sure, his most potent spells cost him some of his personal Mana to cast (and so can’t be used very often even if they DID work reliably) – but he’s a powerful, experienced, superheroic mage. He’s not quite up to competing with Dr Strange, Dr Fate, the Dread Dormammu, Black Adam, or the superheroic versions of Merlin and Morgan Le Fey – but he’s definitely up there with Magick, Agatha Harkness, Mordred The Mystic, Shaman, Zatanna, and the other second-tier types. About all he needs is the four-color template and a couple more levels and he’d break into the top tier.

Without the Superheroic World Template this build really will not work unless you tack on three to five levels devoted to building up a nice big Mana Pool and lots of Rite Of Chi to recover it – at which point you have a rather specialized mage who mostly uses lower-end spells but who has access to a few higher-level and quite expensive spells in emergencies. That’s not even a particularly exotic build.

Advertisements

Adventurers Of The Anomaly – oAllandras Rasil de’Radoen Van Des-Prosium de’Taliaemente’ ip Carthoran

And here we have an extremely complicated character – an Eclipse conversion of a higher-level character from an old Continuum II campaign exported to the Anomaly setting – which is, in itself, probably far too complicated. Allowing characters from virtually any setting to interact will get that way.

I would probably have recommended something simpler for a first Eclipse character – but who am I to argue with nostalgia?

The open road. Fresh air and soaring birds. No walls, just limitless skies and distant horizons. The sound of the wheels turning over the bumps in the road, urging the horses onward, the dogs rushing through the brush,leaving irate parents yelling threats as they discover what you’ve been doing with their cuter daughters, a belly full of good food, and a purse full of coin. There was no better feeling for a wanderer – or at least not for him. Something about the open road had always called to him, it felt like home. Besides, the customers were out there. He might no longer need to rely on scams, but there was only so much of a market for magical trinkets in any one place.

It felt good to finally be on the road again. He’d spent far too long apprenticed to the mages guild and spending all his time in one city – but (in the time that wasn’t spent with friends or frantically avoiding marriage) there had been so much to learn. Runes and sigils, the dragonlore, anchoring, crafting, and mastering his knack for opening the doors between realms, to link distant places, and to bind energies together. Well, OK, maybe master was a bit strong a word – but at least he’d learned and practiced enough to significantly reduce the chances of accidentally killing himself, or the local countryside, whenever he messed around with his dimensional magics.

And linking had come in really handy that time he accidentally gated to the desert instead of the arctic. Or when Chandra’s father came home early. Or when the guards showed up while he was selling those spices that totally fell off a wagon somewhere on a dusty road well outside of town and that nobody else had come across before he did, honest. And when Sharae’s husband didn’t stay out drinking as long as expected. And… well, a good escape route was a great thing. Plus, being able to woo women and find lost property to sell in places outside your base of operations made it much easier to keep a good reputation at home, as well as not have to drop out of school.

Anyway. The road. A new wagon, recently made to his specifications. Months carving in all the runes to strengthen it and make sure it was anchored to him so he could always access it and find his way back to it. Plenty of cargo to sell: he’d spent a fair bit of time turning standard open air market vendor trash into magical trinkets that even worked as advertised. Charms to keep clothes clean, fit, and well-mended. Amulets to keep youngsters from becoming young parents. Pitchers that kept beverages cool, plates that kept food warm, brooms with cleaning charms, sponges that actually removed stains. Enough to keep him fairly respectable.

Mind you, it didn’t count his supply of fireball darts, sleeping powder, lock picks of opening, soft soled boots of climbing, delayed alarm buttons, illusory fireworks, and various other gadgets – but only adventurers usually wanted those, and they were never a reliable market. He’d used some himself though – such as when Isabel’s father put his daughters art studio at the top of a tower – but it was better not to need to!

Anyway, up ahead was the nexus he’d come to find. A shortcut to bypass some of the open road that was known to be a bit more, problematic for lone travelers. He had defenses of course, his rod of force, and wand of light, a few fireball darts (not too potent, but enough to scare off the easily discouraged), a bag of pepper, some minor combat skills if they got in close, and of course as a last resort, he had a crossbow and dagger (even if he had little idea of how to use htem). But why risk it if this bit of the old roadways would get him over to the other side of the mountains immediately? The crops had been poor over there this year, and his load of grain and vegetables should fetch a pretty good price. And lumber. After all, he’d had some space left and the forest was just sitting around and wouldn’t miss a few trees.

Right, there was the nexus… push on those energies there, right, portals open. And in we go…

Allandras is something of an oddity, having left the clan to study in the Mageocracy of Cisnaud. While he could always return, his time amidst the great magi and the merchants guilds have fanned the flames of both ambition and greed. Seeing the raw power of the Arch-magi, and the chests of gold – and even promissory notes, when so much gold would be difficult to carry – has shown him that he wants those things as well. Power and Wealth are there for the taking; the streets teem with tales of adventurers gaining both – and both shall be his as well!

He hasn’t much direct power-handling capacity – but Allandras has a knack for using rituals involving dimensions/gates, and binding/linking,which has served him well. He plans to use it to short circuit a lot of travel time that his competitors have to take. He’s not above a bit of larceny, and there’s not much he wouldn’t consider selling, depending on local rules/mores/and black market availability – but he isn’t in such a rush as to take stupid risks. His training in the guild rapidly focused on his gifts as a crafter, but he rapidly because unsatisfied when he realized that he did best with relatively minor enchantments. Still, that has allowed him to make a host of different items so that he almost always has what he needs with more to sell.

Naturally enough, when adventuring he relies on his items – his Wand of Light, Rod of Force, Fireball Darts, Lockpicks of Opening, Boots of Climbing, and a wide variety of spell tokens in one form or another. A Caravan means that he doesn’t have to walk – and makes pulling out heaps of goods look a lot more plausible (and reduces suspicion of illusion).

Some of the talents from his upbringing still serve him well though. An ear for languages that turned into an ability with tongues, great for a traveling merchant. From Esmelia an appreciation for dance, and song. And while his voice doesn’t yet influence people the way hers did, it’s enough to help attract customers and put them at ease in the market place.

So, a wagon more full of good than can reasonably fit in a couple of them, some gear that looks finer than it is, an assortment of trinkets for sale and use, an ability to start crafting more valuable items, both artistic, useful, and magical, which will get stronger over time.


Characters in the Anomaly setting all get the Low-Level Adventurer Template, 24 CP worth of abilities drawn from their home dimension, a racial template that spends most or all of the points available for a baseline species, 25-point Pathfinder Point Buy attributes, and a starting level of two. That’s enough to make them pretty formidable in their own ways.

The Low-Level Adventurer Template provides:

  • A -3 penalty on unskilled skill checks.
  • Slow level advancement, by direct session-based character point awards rather than experience points. Succeeding in goals helps, but killing things and taking their stuff does not.
  • A +3 bonus on five skills which suit their backgrounds and training. Sadly, this cannot be applied to active psionic or magical skills. These are, however, considered to be natural skill ranks.
  • Extra hit points equal to [12 + (2 x Con Mod)].
  • Two minor special talents or “knacks” appropriate to their home universe – one Class-A (roughly equivalent to the effects of a first level spell or power) and one Class-B (roughly equivalent to the effects of a cantrip).
  • In his case these are Enduring Health (+2 Constitution) and Mage Sense (Detect Magic).

Characters will be using the Condensed Skill List, complete with the various skills special functions. These may, however, be adjusted for world or origin; Sci-fi characters rarely spellcast, but often have other special talents. Skill Checks are normally made on 3d6, and characters may “take 15″ instead of “20″. They are normally assumed to get a “5″ for passive checks, such as to notice something in passing.

Malavon (His Dimensional Origin and Birthright) World Laws grant him…

  • Flux Tapping: Characters from Malavon do not need sleep or rest to replenish their abilities: they can tap into the energy flux from hyperspace, or into subspace, that occurs at dawn or dusk. They tend to be limited by how much power they can store and handle, rather than by how much is available to tap into. In d20 that’s Immunity/The need to sleep or rest to recover “daily uses” of powers and abilities (Common, Minor, Grand, 12 CP).
  • Use of Charms and Talismans: Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce effects for which the user has the appropriate foci ready, can only support a limited number (seven and three) of minor charms and more notable talismans at one time, charms and talismans are modestly expensive and take some time to attune for use (6 CP).
    • Usual Charms: Alchemists Flask (easily fractionate or extract chemical), Contraceptive Charm, Dust of Illusion (produces minor illusions), Ice Chest (keeps things cold), Mandarin’s Pin (stay fresh and clean), Merasian Vapors (instant makeovers), and a Vanishing Cloak (grants a few seconds of invisibility up to (3 + L/3) times daily. .
    • Usual Talismans: Bracers of Hurling (throw small items with the speed and accuracy of a light crossbow), Preserving Chest (Closet, keeps thins from spoiling), and Shimmermail (+4 Armor Bonus to AC, no encumbrance or penalties).
  • Use of Relics: Double Enthusiast, Specialized in Relics for Increased Effect, may use up to 4 CP worth of relics at any one time (6 CP).

As an adventurer with some history – but without the skill to make major relics – Allandras has one minor item (The Favor of the Rom: Provides Fortune (Reflex Saves) and Luck Specialized in Saving Throws – allowing him to take no damage on a successful Reflex save and to either reroll a save or “take 20″ in advance once per day. The other three points are usually used with his Artificer ability to get more limited-use gadgets.

Racial Template: Fantasy Human (31 CP / +0 ECL).

  • Highly Adaptable: Racial Bonus Feat (6 CP).
  • The Quick And The Dead: Fast Learner Specialized in Skills for +2 SP/Level (6 CP)
  • Narrative Skills: May roll a skill check without a penalty if an attempt to describe how he or she is resolving a relevant situation does not work out (Opportunist, 6 CP).
  • Pacts and Blessings: Double Enthusiast, Specialized in Innate Enchantments for increased effect (up to 3500 GP effective value) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (the user need not worry about the XP cost of these innate enchantments) (6 CP).
    • 3500 GP isn’t very much – but it does suffice for a couple of first level effects and a Cantrip. Due to the dangers of the road, Allandras is currently maintaining Force Shield I (+4 Shield Bonus to AC), a +2 Enhancement Bonus to Wisdom, and Resistance (+1 Resistance Bonus to Saves).
  • Social Ties: Fantasy Humans come in tightly-knit clans, guilds, gangs, and other organizations. Hermits… are rare, generally considered insane, and highly vulnerable. Ergo, these humans get 7 CP worth of social benefits – privileges, contacts, favors, and reputation, or similar items (7 CP). He has…
    • Minor Privilege: Allandras is an obvious wandering merchant, and will be accepted as such pretty much anywhere he goes (3 CP).
    • 1 Contact with the Well-Travelled Modifier. Given 1d4 days Allandras can find a standard level Contact of his choice somewhere in the local area (4 CP). This also applies to the three bonus contacts from his Socialize skill.

Available Character Points: 72 (L2 Base) +6 Disadvantages (History, Compulsive / sees pretty much everything in terms of business, always looking for a potential profit) +12 (Human and L1 Bonus Feat) = 90 CP. Currently has 4 CP as experience, and so is considered to have started L3.

Basic Attributes (Pathfinder 25-Point Buy): Str 9, Dex 14, Con 12 (+2 Knack = 14), Int 18, Wis 10 (+2 Enh = 12), and Cha 12

Known Languages: Tradetongue (“Common”), Elvish, Aeran, Draconic, and one of choice.

Basic Abilities (23 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +6 (L2d6, 2 CP) + [12 +4 (2 x Con Mod), Template] +6 (3 x Con Mod; he hasn’t put points into his L3 HD as of yet, so it starts as a d0 – but still counts) = 34 Hit Points.
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) + 2 (Dex) +4 (Shimmermail) +4 (Force Shield) +2 (Martial Art) = 22
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex).
  • Move: 30′
  • Proficiencies: Staves (1 CP).
  • Skill Points: 24 (Int Mod x 6) + 12 (Fast Learner) + 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) = 42 SP.
  • BAB +0 (0 CP)
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +1 (3 CP) +2 (Con) +1 (Res) = +4
    • Reflex +1 (3 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Res) +1 (Per) = +5
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Res) = +4

Special Abilities:

  • Adept (Appraise, Deception, Persuasion, and Socialize, 6 CP)
  • Adept (Local Knowledge, Perception, Perform, and Scholar, 6 CP).

Skills:

  • Appraise +6 (3* SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +13. Effectively gain +20% on treasure.
  • Craft +4 (6 SP) +4 (Int) = +8
    • Covers: Armorer, Carver, Etcher, Jeweler, Smith, Tailor, and Wainwright.
  • Deception +6 (3* SP) +1 (Cha) +3 (Tem) = +10.
  • Local Knowledge +4 (3* SP) +4 (Int) = +8
  • Martial Art (Unarmed) +6 (6 SP) +2 (Dex) = +8
    • Covers Strike, Defenses 2, and Versatility.
  • Perception +6 (3* SP) +1 (Wis) = +7. Provides +1 on Reflex Saves.
  • Persuasion +6 (3* SP) +1 (Cha) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Perform +6 (3* SP) +1 (Cha) = +7
    • Covers: Dance, Oratory, Seduction, Singing, Strings, +2 Additional.
  • Profession/Merchant +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) = +7
  • Scholar +6 (3* SP) +4 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +13. Provides +2 levels worth of any one Favored Foe or Favored Enemy variant. Since this is likely to provide bonuses to various forms of crafting or merchandising, this will be determined in play.
  • Socialize +6 (3* SP) +1 (Wis) +3 (Tem) = +10. Provides +3 Bonus Contacts.
  • Use Magic Device +4 (6 SP) +1 (Cha) = +5

Allandras is just below the threshold to get special abilities from several of his skills. He should achieve it for several of them next level.

  • Intuitive Linguist: Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for languages, but allows two, languages can be changed at a moments notice with a use of Comprehend Languages (3 CP).
  • Dimensional Ritualist: Inherent Spell, Specialized for Increased Effect (Level Six Base) / requires a 15-30 minute ritual. (Level Six Greater Invocation of Dimensional Manipulation, produces any arcane dimension-warping effect of up to level five. 6 CP), plus Four Bonus Uses, Specialized the same way but for reduced cost (3 CP).
    • Normally he maintains a small pocket dimension linked to his caravan or to an unfolding pouch or some such – Spacewarp (L2, +1 for 1 Day/Caster Level, +1 for Mobile, and +1 for Furnished. His space is about 50 x 60 x 10, and comes with racks, tables, a magical workshop, and so on. Other ritual applications include keying gates, plane shifting, joining dimensional caravans, putting a similar pocket dimension in his wagon (if he doesn’t feel like carrying it, the same modifiers apply), setting up a Dimension Door escape on a delayed trigger, and similar tricks.
  • Linking Ritualist: Inherent Spell, Specialized for Increased Effect (Level Six Base) / requires a 15-30 minute ritual. (Level Six Greater Invocation of Linking Magic, produces any arcane linking effects of up to level five. 6 CP), plus Four Bonus Uses, Specialized the same way but for reduced cost (3 CP).
    • Linking magic is a bit of a specialized field, but it’s good for locating things, establishing local dimensional overlays, communications, binding things together (whether that means holding a rockslide stable or causing an opponent to split incoming damage with you), and tapping into various power sources. His most common use is to toughen his Caravan – and to link himself to it so that he can always find it again.
  • Dragonfire Forgemaster (24 CP): Path Of The Dragon: Shaping (allows endless Prestidigitation, 6 CP), Way Of The Artificer: Charmsmith (allows the crafting of very trivial magic items, as well as Charms and Talismans for those who can use them, with sales prices of 20-50 GP, 6 CP), SpellForging (allows the crafting of items with a cost of up to 4000 GP, 6 CP), and Harvest Of Artifice (the first 100 XP worth of item crafting each month does not cost any XP, 6 CP).
  • Expert Artificer (10 CP). Create Relic: Specialized and Corrupted / only to make limited-use items (Apply “Specialized / Does Not Recover to the items created, only select abilities that normally offer a limited number of daily uses) costing a maximum of 3 CP each, only using points from Enthusiast (2 CP) and Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect (provides four floating CP) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / points may only be used with Create Relic, limited as above. Taken twice (8 CP).

This package turns various limited-use innate magical abilities into charms, fetishes, potions, dusts, bags that “contain” spells, strange crystals, and even quasi-technological gadgets. At the moment, his stockpile consists of

  • Fireball Darts (5 uses of Fireball, 1 Point). Sadly only 3d6 and prone to malfunctions.
  • Lockpicks of Opening (6 uses of Knock, 1 Point). .
  • Boots of Climbing (6 uses of Spider Climb, 1 Point).
  • Dusts of Vision and Sleep (6 uses of Minor Image and 6 uses of Sleep, 1 Point).
  • Dusts of Earth and Fire (6 uses of Entangle and 6 uses of Produce Flame, 1 Point).
  • Wand of Light (14 uses of Cure Light Wounds and 14 uses of Color Spray, 1 Point).
  • Rod of Force (6 uses of Magic Missile and 6 uses of “Hydraulic Push”, 1 Point).
  • Pouch of Tricks (6 uses of Grease and six uses of Magic Mouth, 1 Point)
  • A pot of Curative Ointment (3 Points).

Yes, this comes out to 11 CP worth of items instead of 8. That’s because he’s using the three points left over in the personal relic allotment that comes from his Malavon Birthright.

Major Equipment:

As a traveling merchant with a multitude of ways to make money, Allandras gets to start off with level three wealth-by-level instead of level two – and so gets 3000 GP worth of gear. In addition, since he can make items of up to 4000 GP value, qualifying magic items are half cost.

  • Prehensile Cloak (Original): Can act as a third arm or be used with any “unarmed” martial art without having to take a special ability to do so (1000 (500) GP).
  • Healing Belt (MIC, 750 (375) GP) 3 charges/ day, spend 1/2/3 as a standard action to heal 2d8/3d8/4d8 and +2 to Heal checks.
  • Phantom Mill (The Practical Enchanter, 2000 (1000) GP) Provides a small legion of Unseen Servants.
  • Two-person furnished Caravan (Horse or Mule-drawn). Includes built-in seats, cabinets, and wardrobe, a two person bunk in the rear, chest of drawers (the top serves as a table), larder, wine rack, glass-fronted china cabinet, and shelves with bars to keep things from falling off (these are on hinges, and can serve as a door for his extradimensional warehouse). Small windows and a skylight allow for light in the daytime, at night there are brackets for oil lamps. There is a small porch on each end. Racks and cases along the outside fold out to provide storage for trade goods, a set of masterwork artisans tools and a workbench, a small forge, and a wide variety of storage spaces and barrels. An assortment of minor items – pots and pans, water tank, supply of foodstuffs (about a months worth for one), clothing, bedding, an (average) door lock, soap, and similar miscellany – is included at a net cost of 350 GP (Caravan 250, Tools 55, minor goods 45).
  • Minor Adventuring Gear: explorers outfit (and a spare), rope, grapples, a couple of flasks of oil, staff, light crossbow and bolts, a lantern, small metal mirror, ritual pouch, small prybar, a pair of mules, sacks, two knives, twine, wire, paper, pens, and ink, wax, chalk, etc. 175 GP.
  • Materials and trade goods: 600 GP.

Allandras hasn’t much of any direct spellcasting (picking up Power Words to store his ritual effects might be a good idea), but he does have an extensive arsenal of magical gadgets – and can easily provide gadgets, transport, and support for an entire party. That’s well worth investing his first couple of levels in. Direct magic – or whatever else he chooses to do – can come later.

For some examples of things that you can make with the Expert Artificer package:

  • Spell Talismans:
    • Innate Spell with Multiple Uses:
      • Two L1 Effects: 6 Uses Each (1 CP), 14 Uses Each (2 CP), 22 Uses Each (3 CP).
      • L2 Effect: 6 Uses (1 CP), 14 Uses (2 CP), 22 Uses (3 CP).
      • L3 Effect: 5 Uses (1 CP), 13 Uses (2 CP), 21 Uses (3 cp).
      • Related L3 and L4 Effect (1 CP), either 5 Uses of Each or a Related L5 and L6 Effect (2 CP), 9 Uses Each of a related L3 and L4 effect (3 CP).
      • Related Set: One effect of each level 3-7 (3 CP).
    • Unfortunately, this doesn’t bypass the level requirements for using innate spells, so low-level artificers must wait a while before using the high-level stuff. On the other hand, there’s nothing at all wrong with taking along a plentiful supply of Multiplying Shuriken (Magic Missile), Rainbow Crystals (Color Spray), Healing Draughts (Cure Light Wounds), and Origami Golems (Unseen Servants) on your early adventures.
  • Curative Ointment:
    • Healing Touch with Bonus Uses (enough to cure (5 x Chr Mod x Level HP) and Improved/Switch/Empower with Bonus Uses to provide (4+Level/3) total uses of Remove Disease, Remove Blindness/Deafness, Cure Serious Wounds, Remove Curse, Neutralize Poison, and Restoration (3 CP).
    • Curative ointment isn’t all that level-dependent, so a low-level party may find having a pot along very VERY helpful.
  • Sorcerer’s Bag:
    • Improved Occult Talent, Corrupted for Increased Effect (spell level) / slots must be preset. provides 5L1 and 3L2 charms/fetishes/scrolls/whatever with whatever you like in them for (1 CP).
    • That’s not as many uses as you can get from Innate Spell, but you do get a wide variety of effects. This is taking cheesy advantage of the rounding rule, but Improved Occult Talent is not likely to break the game.
  • Ring of Whispered Wishes:
    • 6d6 Mana with Reality Editing, Corrupted / cannot be used for other purposes (3 CP).
    • This useful little item answers small wishes – that there be something solid to catch onto when you’re sliding towards the cliff, that an opponent suffer some brief disadvantage, that a spell operate in a way it really shouldn’t or pierce that spell resistance. There’s usually enough power for nine or ten very minor requests, but larger boons expend the rings power far more rapidly.

Someone with this package makes a wonderful seller of potions and items that provide more uses of your own abilities, rather than independent abilities. Even better, they don’t need expensive ingredients, or to spend experience points, or to have all kinds of spell formula available. If you kill them, their stock ceases to work. If you steal their stock, it will soon cease to work as they invest their Enthusiast points in making some new stock. You can’t even accumulate it, because unused purchases will lose their power after some agreed-on date (when they make new stuff). On the other hand, buying from them can be quite inexpensive.

The Anomaly – Wealth, Religion, and Obols.

The primary high-end currency of the Anomaly is not a fiat currency, or credits backed by some sort of political unit, or precious metals and gems, or anagathic drugs, or magically-imbued feathers, or souls, or shells, or packets of herbs, or potion-coins, or any of the hundreds of other exotic currencies used in one location or another.

It’s the Obol.

Obols appear to be moderately sized coins or tokens, usually embossed with some strange sigil or image – although the exact nature of that symbol does not matter in the least (it appears to be determined by the unconscious beliefs of whoever or whatever initially created a particular Obol or by the people who have carried it since). Most commonly there are…

  • The black, “tarnished gold” Obols, of Death, Destruction, and Endings.
  • The glittering sunlight-silver Obols of Life, Creation, and New Beginnings.
  • The opaline crystal Obols of Destiny, Chaos, and Transformation.
  • The deep red-iron Obols of Order, Preservation, and Spirits.

Far more rarely are found the translucent star-filled Obols of Time, Space, and Memory, the Ruby Obals of Will-Working, the various tints of Mind-Obol Diamonds, or several other exotics.

Obols are not made of matter. They are links to the realm of the power they represent and a reserve of unfocused energy operating under that realms rules. Unless they are being interacted with by a being capable of interacting with other realities – a quality associated with higher life forms – they are essentially inert. They can be moved about, but cannot be damaged, show no chemical properties, are usually impervious to radiation or other energies (although some types transmit particular energies as if the Obol did not exist at all), have no temperature (although each type and value produces the sensation of a characteristic temperature to the touch), and chime when struck with distinctive tones – although no one two observers quite agree on what they “really” sound like. They can be clearly seen in the dark (although they do not photograph well in the dark), since the sensation of their appearance seems to transmitted directly to the minds of observers, rather than being primarily reliant on their eyes. Their mass appears to be derived from the boundary effect that defines their surfaces (or so say some scholars who have spent a lot of time fiddling about with and spinning Obols of various shapes).

If handled by a creature that is capable of other-dimensional interaction, Obals are somewhat more mutable. The sigil they bear can be changed with a period of concentration (although few bother). Multiple Obols can be combined into a single, higher-value Obol – and higher-value Obols can be divided into multiple lower-value Obols, down to a minimum value of one.

And any intelligent creature will recognize their value. Obols can be spent at full value anywhere at all. The guards at the gates of death may have no regard for ordinary treasures, but they – like elemental beings, demons, aliens, and spirits – will accept Obols in payment.

For Obols are the very stuff of magic. Anyone who holds one can expend it as a standard action, leaving behind nothing but whatever bits of dust were stuck to it’s surface at the time, to invoke a magical / psionic / occult effect suited to the type of Obol they are expending.

  • One Obol is worth one first-level effect, with a caster level equal to the user’s (Wis Mod + Base Will Save).
  • Larger numbers of appropriate Obols can be expended to produce higher level effects. Provided that the user’s effective caster level is at least (twice the level of the effect to be created minus one) it costs 3 Obols for a L2 effect, 5 for a L3 effect, 12 for L4 effect, and 25 for L5 effect – the usual maximum.
  • It is possible to add special components, or amplification circles, to increase the effect – but if the user is duplicating a specific effect that calls for such things already, they must either be provided or the base level of the effect used must be increased to compensate for their absence.

If you wish to give a delirious dying man a few minutes of painless clarity to say his farewells and a quick, clean, passage into death… a Deathly Obol will suffice. An easy childbirth, saving a child dying of some injury, or a conception when there seemed no chance of such a thing? A Life-Obol will grant your desire. A blessing for a farm to avoid accidents during the harvest? An Order-Obol can meet your needs. Giving a newborn a true name and a destiny? A Chaos-Obol can weave your will into the fabric of reality (Often with greater success than another type of Obol would grant, although (with Chaos) success is never guaranteed. Still, Chaos Obols are one of the few types that can bend the odds of the future, rather than affecting the present).

Carrying such links to powers and principles does have it’s side effects however.

  • Carrying more than six Obols of a particular type will bring the bearer into closer touch with the powers that the coins represent. They will touch his or her dreams, or even sometimes whisper to the bearer when he or she is awake. They may attempt to manipulate the bearer for their own ends. Still, at the end… a few will be expended on the bearers dying whims. Thus do death-words gain their power.
  • Carrying more than twenty-seven Obols of a particular type will bring the forces that that represent into play in your daily life and make the bearer disquietingly aware of their presence. Obols of Life might cause any contraceptive measures you take to fail, lead to encounters with life-spirits, inspire artists to create new (and sometimes terrible) things, or attract predators or other nuisances – as well as allowing the bearer to detect new pregnancies, some illnesses, and tell whether or not an artwork is truly original. Obols of Death might reveal the approach of death in the injured and ill (attempting to play a double-or-nothing game with Death is a classic tradition, but very risky), stir unquiet spirits, cause someone to become sick, or something similar. Sometimes… when the powers of a particular realm manifest most powerfully (and usually inconveniently), another Obol of that type will be found in the vicinity. Few consider such “interest” worth the trouble.
  • Carrying more than 280 Obols of a particular type will link the bearer to the force they embody quite directly – weakening the user’s ability to do things opposed to the nature of his or her horde. Carrying many Obols of Death will make it difficult to heal others or be healed, while Obols of Life may make it difficult to inflict harm. On the other hand, the user may now expend Obols of the appropriate type as an Immediate Action until his or her horde drops below the critical value.

Despite these dubious flaws / advantages, Obols are in many ways an ideal coinage. They are, after all, impossibly durable, have an inherent value that is easily recognized by anyone, are as fungible as entries in a bookkeepers tome, are easily converted into other valuable things, and are easily concealed and transported.

For conversion purposes, an Obol can be roughly valued at 25 GP, and can be expended in lieu of 5 XP in games which feature XP costs for various enchantments or spells. Unfortunately, since Obols function both as money AND a source of magic, it’s much easier to convert Obols into lesser currencies than it is to do the reverse. You can sell an Obol almost anywhere, but most people will prefer to keep their money in the form of Obols if they can (at least up to the point where the weird effects start happening). After all, mere gold will not help much when you need some magic in an emergency situation.Thus Obols are rarely traded for mere gold and trinkets.

Still, since Obols are far TOO valuable for minor purchases, lesser currencies are actually much more commonly traded.

So where do Obols come from?

  • They can be created as Wondrous Items.
  • They are fairly common gifts from otherworldly visitors. For example, according to tales of the lands of Leros and Nilander…

On the day of dead, when tombs and graves open as the mouths of the underworld, and the spirits of the long-deceased walk the lands of the living, those daring enough to open their doors to such wandering shades – and who welcome their cold and spectral guests with the warmth that only the living can muster – may be paid for their hospitality with the imperishably tarnished black coins of the underworld, where even gold is touched by decay.

How much of that is truth, and how much is fancy distorted by thousands of miles of distance and travelers tales is difficult to say.

Priests of the Powers get some regularly, for they have:

  • Create (Wondrous) Item, Specialized for Increased Effect (time spent on religious affairs and obligations counts towards item creation time) and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to create a particular type of Obol (4 CP).
  • Harvest of Artifice, Specialized for Increased Effect and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for use with Transmutation to create Obols, user must act as a priest of the powers he or she is tapping into and must spend a good deal of effort displaying the benefits of aligning yourself with such powers to the local populace (4 CP). This provides 200 XP a month that can only be used for “transmutation”.
  • Transmutation, Specialized for Increased Effect (Produces Obols instead of normal valuables) and Corrupted / only to produce a specific type of Obols (4 CP).

The net result? For 12 CP and a fair amount of time spent on being a priest of a particular set of powers you get a divine “salary” of 16 Obols per month. That’s pretty good for a non-adventurer, even if you’re likely to “spend” at least half of them performing your duties. Priests with more personal power do usually get to keep more of their Obols for emergencies though, so abilities such as ritual magic, shamanic magic, healing touch, and so on, are quite common among them.

Obols are also convenient in games for several reasons; they give non-casters more access to magic, they discourage the looting of villages (since the people are likely to use up their Obols defending, healing, and fighting back if they’re attacked), they are a highly versatile but temporary source of magic for particular missions, and they are an excellent incentive for characters to undertake missions that aren’t likely to yield a lot of cash otherwise.

More Gryphon Species Affinities for Eclipse and Equestra

And today it’s the answer to a question…

I wanted to request a few more gift packages: what would Owl and Snow Lion Gifts look like? (I figured we needed one mythological cat in there, to balance out the phoenix.)

-Alzrius

Well, now that I’ve gotten to it… here is the owl, one mythological bird, and two mythological cats, with a refresher on how these packages are built first.

Many gryphons have secondary species affinities, most often powered by Mana – but that’s about the limit of their instinctive channeling. Beyond that point, they generally need to learn to use it consciously, from scratch.

Secondary Species Affinity: Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect: only to buy abilities related to the users feline OR avian species morphology (not both), can only be changed to a total of [(Con Mod x 2) + 2], 2 minimum) specific abilities or combinations of abilities. (6 CP). While this does not inherently bypass the minimum level requirements for full control of spellcasting (inherent or not), reducing those spells to level three by spending mana on them means that even the most powerful effects require a maximum level of five to fully control – so it isn’t much of an issue. Given that a gryphon will normally only have one or two such effects it can usually be excused. If it matters, however, buy a small Immunity (+4 on your effective level for controlling inherent spells (Common, Minor, Minor, Specialized and Corrupted / only to cover the minimum level requirements for the two possible secondary species affinity spells) for 1 CP and drop it later. A Gryphon may purchase a Secondary Species Affinity twice: once for each of the user’s contributing species.

The Owl is noted for silence, seeing in the dark, and striking suddenly from that darkness to bring sudden, violent, death.

Possible Owl’s Gifts Include:

  • Con Mod 0-: Either a +6 Racial Bonus to Stealth or +2d6 Sneak Attack.
  • Con Mod +1: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Specialized for Decreased (Mana) Cost / only allows a single first level spell. Either Low-Light Vision or Instant Search
  • Con Mod +2: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, either Blindsight or Wraithstrike
  • Con Mod +3: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Four Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 3 Mana to activate. Either Implacable Pursuer or Heart Ripper.
  • Con Mod +4: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Five Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 4 Mana to activate. Either Doomtide or Summon Undead V (rather grotesquely, the owl-gifted vomits up a wad of bones which turns into the summoned undead).
  • Con Mod +5: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Six Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 5 Mana to activate. Either Aura Of Terror or Disintegrate.

The Pard is a beast of legend, a thing of mystery, known only by rumor and tales of cunning. It cuckolds lions, evades hunters, and vanishes like a mist before the dawn.

Possible Pard’s Gifts Include:

  • Con Mod 0-: Either a +6 Racial Bonus to Stealth or Favors (The Spirits of the Land) and Favors (The Spirits of the Sky) (6 CP).
  • Con Mod +1: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Specialized for Decreased (Mana) Cost / only allows a single first level spell, either Obscuring Mist or Camouflage.
  • Con Mod +2: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, either Personal Greater/Improved Invisibility or Freedom Of Movement.
  • Con Mod +3: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Four Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 3 Mana to activate. Either Shadow Form or Dimension Door.
  • Con Mod +4: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Five Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 4 Mana to activate. Either Phantasmal Thief orJungle Mind.
  • Con Mod +5: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Six Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 5 Mana to activate. Either Superior Resistance or Transport Via Plants

The Snow Lion is an emblem of Tibet, representing – among other things – glaciers, the element of earth, snowy mountain ranges, strength, fearlessness, the joy of creation, east, and (magical?) power. It’s roar is courage and truth, the sound of emptiness that breaks the bonds that hold one to the illusion of reality. It is a guardian and guide upon the path to becoming a Buddha. White, with a turquoise mane, it ranges over the mountains, bounding joyfully from peak to peak – never flying, yet it’s feet never touching the earth. Not a creature, but a personification of concepts and a symbol of Buddhism.

This one… is a bit awkward. Sorting out a set of “tiger powers” calls for a bit of stretching since tigers are actual creatures, and we needed to dip into what they’re usually taken to symbolize to find enough items. The Snow Lion, however, is a symbolic creature to start with, and has the opposite problem; there are thousands of powers that can easily be said to fit a demi-deity and how should it be narrowed down?

So I won’t. Any Gryphon with a Snow Lion aspect is a pretty obviously some sort of destined avatar or something – and certainly should be a full-blown spellcaster. Ergo… they will need an intuitive knowledge of the spells and powers they will need to fulfill whatever their destiny is.

  • The Snow Lions Gift – at each level – has the same structure: it’s knowledge of 12 CP worth of Spell Formula, Specialized / such spells are intuitive, they cannot be taught to others, recorded in spellbooks, of put into scrolls or other items. Only the person with the gift can cast them. Those who prepare spells will get 6 formulas at each level of this gift, but will need no spell books or similar items to prepare them. Those who cast spontaneous spells will get 4 spells added to their list. While such spells must have something to do with the Snow Lion, and each level accessed will be a specific set unique to the individual user, there are still many, MANY, options.

The Thunderbird is an avatar of storms, bringer of rain, and controller of winds. It is a fury which sweeps down upon the land.

Possible Thunderbird’s Gifts Include:

  • Con Mod 0-: Either Resistance to Electricity 12 (Immunity; Common, Major, Minor, 6 CP) or Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized in Saving Throws (6 CP).
  • Con Mod +1: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Specialized for Decreased (Mana) Cost / only allows a single first level spell, either Commune With Birds or Shocking Grasp.
  • Con Mod +2: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, either Call Lightning or Thunderous Roar
  • Con Mod +3: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Four Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 3 Mana to activate. Either Ball Lightning or Eye Of The Hurricane.
  • Con Mod +4: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Five Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 4 Mana to activate. Either Control Winds or Fickle Winds
  • Con Mod +5: Mana-Powered Inherent Spell, Level Six Effect reduced to Level Three by costing 5 Mana to activate. Either Summon Elder Air Elemental or Summon Storm (as per Control Weather, but simply summons a storm, offering no further control).

Eclipse – Elder Eidolons And Accursed Priesthood

Today it’s a query about setting up a fairly modest Cult with the power to change the world – albeit only very slowly and gradually. That’s pretty classic; the dreadful cult may not be very large, but over the years it’s terrible ceremonies slowly twist a substantial area towards becoming a realm of Lovecraftian horror, accomplishing some mighty summoning, or something similar.

Obviously, some heroes will just have to intervene at the last minute. Sadly, however, that may not be enough. If it’s a genuine Lovecraftian cult… any “victory” against it is always purely temporary. For some day the Elder Ones will reign once more – and that day may be delayed somewhat, but never stopped entirely.

Of course, in Eclipse, there are several ways to do this.

The idea is that a town worshiping Father Dagon would use a Magic Item in conjunction with Power Amplification Circles (from The Practical Enchanter) to be able to achieve together and over time what they couldn’t do alone in the here and now. They set up two Power Amplification Circles (one boosting a specific Greater Invocation and one boosting a Spell Group). The Magic Item would be casting a Greater Invocation with a Very Broad Range of Effects (+3 Levels) with Metamagic Modifiers of elaborate Component (-2), specific place (-1) and of course the circle (-4) making it a total -7 reduction). The Greater Invocation would only produce long-term Cantrip effects, with the duration further boosted by the second circle (-4), elaborate component (-2), specific place (-1), 10x casting time (-1) and the reduction for having lots of built-in metamagic (-3) for a total reduction of -11 and a final level of 6 – rendering the final Greater Invocation (Dagon’s Blessings) a level 2 spell (6 Base + 3 for Very Broad Theme – 3 for Metamagic -4 for Power Amplification Circle = 6+3-4-3 = 2).

Now that would mean it’d take days working in shifts to make sure anything gets done and requiring possibly months of continuous activation, but technically they could do everything nature magic would allow for if they were just competent, patient and smart enough to figure out how to craft those high-level spells from lower-level ones.

Now my question is: As ridiculous as the setup is (probably requiring a lot of people to basically just kill themselves irreversibly while casting to get it going in the first place), is it technically possible to stack it up like this?

-krackothunder

Well, lets take a look!

The basic spell is Greater Invocation (from The Practical Enchanter, Any Nature Magic Cantrip Effect, a very broad range of effects and so level three – although I’d probably let someone get away with taking it as level two since it IS only cantrips). On top of that, we’re throwing in +16 levels of the Persistent Metamagic to make the results permanent – reducing the level of the resulting spell with an elaborate component (a dedicated temple of Dagon, -2), a specific place (built on an ancient site holy to Dagon, -1), ten times the usual casting time (-1), the credit for having lots of built-in metamagic (-3) and a maxed-out Power Amplification Circle (-4) for a final spell level of seven.

We can squeeze another (-2) levels out of the Compaction metamagical theorem, so I’d throw in having a few of the worshipers take some attribute damage (-1) and beginning or progressing their slow transformations into Deep One s(-1) to get it down to level five.

So far, that works just fine. Unfortunately, throwing in another Circle runs afoul of the general rules on bonus stacking. A Greater Invocation can produce the effects of a wide variety of spells but doesn’t actually produce those spells; it just mimics them. The Greater Invocation is producing a permanent cantrip-level effect, but it isn’t actually creating permanent cantrips – and so another circle won’t help; it hasn’t actually got a fresh spell to start with.

Still, you don’t actually need another circle to pull off this trick. A Dread Relic Of The Elder Ones (an item) capable of casting that spell as a Unlimited-Use Command-Word item has a cost of (Spell Level 5 x Caster Level 9 x 1800 GP for Unlimited-Use Command Word x .6 (only for members of the Church of Dagon) x .8 (requires at least some ability to cast clerical spells calling on Dagon) x .5 (Immobile, so it can’t be hidden for later if adventurers find you) x .6 (requires a congregation and regular religious services in honor of Dagon to keep activated) x .6 (effects are always twisted towards the purposes of Dagon, regardless of the user’s intent) = 6998.4 GP. (Call it 7000). Lets say that it requires the sacrifice of two first level spell slots daily as well (using the Dedicated Item) modifier, for a net cost of 5000 GP – and our cultists can now chain together masses of those cantrips to produce higher-level effects, all of which will be permanent because the Cantrips making them up are permanent.

The two major remaining problems are that chaining together that many cantrips is likely to go horribly wrong every so often (which, to be fair, is as expected for a Lovecraftian cult) and that – since this relies on tying together a lot of permanent cantrips – messing up a few of them is likely to ruin the effect – and cantrips are fairly easy to break. This means that some pesky adventurers could all too easily ruin everything!

To get around the “easy to ruin” problem we’ll want something with an instantaneous effect.

To get that start with Limited Wish instead. Add (+2) spell levels to get rid of the component requirement, then throw in some of the modifiers from earlier – requires an elaborate temple (-2), ten times the usual casting time (-1), and only works using a +4 level amplification circle (-4), for a net level of two.

As an item this will require (Spell Level 2 x Caster Level 3 x 1800 GP for Unlimited-Use Command Word Activated x .6 (three uses per day) x .6 (requires holding a religious service with at least a dozen other cultists in honor of Dagon to activate) x .6 (effects – and side effects – are always twisted towards the terrible purposes of Dagon, regardless of the user’s intent) = 2333 GP.

Admittedly our nifty item – call it an Elder Eidolon (Of Dagon, although presumably other Elder Ones use the same basic design) – has to be installed in the center of a intricate magic circle in a temple of Dagon and be the center of worship by a Cult of Dagon to work – but three Limited Wishes per day can quite reasonably be used to gradually cause all sorts of effects, Even better, the effect of any given Limited Wish or chain thereof can probably be taken as Instantaneous and hence non-dispellable.

It will take quite a while to build up to really high-end effects – whether using one “limited wish” to hold the next one ready to go in a chain to exploit Lerandors Rule or simply stacking up small and gradual changes. Either way will probably result in it taking ten days to reach a ninth-level effect (such as cursing an area), a year for a fourteenth level effect, a century for a twentieth level effect, and perhaps two thousand years for a twenty-fourth level effect – but that actually seems fairly reasonable. and allows plenty of time to figure out the next step as you go. Even better, using instantaneous effects allows for interruptions. If the cult is driven off for a decade or so, they can just pick up where they left off when they manage to take their temple back.

And if the rest of the world is stupid enough to let the Cult of Dagon just do what it wants for two thousand years while the side effects and intermediate effects build up all around them… well, if the planetary population is THAT stupid than SOMETHING is going to get them anyway, and it might as well be the Elder Ones, who will at least appreciate the snack.

Worse, even if someone simply exploits the cult and the Limited Wishes for their own ends, the side effects will accumulate. It might take ten or fifty times as long for major effects to build up – but it will still happen. As long as people fall to the seductive lure of easy power, the countdown to doom will continue.

For even more fun have the high priest take…

  • Three Specific Knowledges: the required runic circle, how to make proper temples to Dagon, and the theology of the Elder Ones (3 CP in total),
  • Innate Enchantment: an Elder Edolion (as above) and (Skill) Mastery (Spellcraft, L2, +20 Bonus to one roll for creating Circles, 1 Use/Day (x.2), only for the circle for the Elder Eidolon (x.3) = 720 GP) for a net value of 3050 GP or 4 CP.
  • Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to pass on this package to a successor when slain, the user (or perhaps “host”) has no control over whether or not to do so; it will happen (2 CP)

All Corrupted (again, for the blessing, but this is Cthulhu Mythos stuff and it only saves 1 CP) / the user will find himself or herself creating a temple and gathering a cult to serve Dagon even if he or she has to sleepwalk to do it

This results in a net “cost” of 6 CP – but it was paid long ago by the first Priest of Dagon to develop this infectious accursed feat to empower himself and his successors – driving them to both service and madness whether the unfortunate priest-victims like it or not.

They might like it. There are always some people who would do anything for that kind of power.

So you have slain the high priest? Then the curse is upon you! You have done us a great service, but we must cast you out! Perhaps your friends can restrain you – but if not, it might be best to kill yourself. The curse would still return eventually – but if it inflicts itself upon an infant it may require many years.

Or you could just give your high priest the Ritual Magic ability for (6 CP) and let the cult work on gathering the components for some horrific ritual. That’s a good deal simpler, and will almost certainly take a lot less time – but if it gets interrupted by adventurers the cult will usually need to start over from scratch. That’s good for a mystery scenario though, where the characters find out a few of the things the cult is after, and must stop them from obtaining them, trace them to their base, derail whatever ritual they’ve managed to scrape together, and then deal with whatever lesser horror the disrupted ritual managed to produce.

And I hope that covers what you wanted to know!

Halfbreeds and Ponyfinder in Equestria – Kirin in Eclipse

And here we have another Ponyfinder type – the Kirin.

In Ponyfinder the Kirin are strongly dragonblooded ponies from distant lands. They have scaly coats, vaguely draconic features, and colors based on their elemental affinity – red, orange, and yellow for fire, blue, green, and white for water/ice, deep greens, browns, stony colors for earth, and the many colors of the sky for air. It’s implied that their cultures are basically eastern asian (with no particular reason given for that), but I’m having to rely on online sources here; I don’t have that particular book and they seem to be purely a fanon creation as far as the actual program goes.

Personally, I’d see a Dragon-Pony crossbreed – or race thereof – as creatures of great internal contradictions.

  • Dragons: Arrogant. Solitary. Predatory. Violent. Touchy. Hoarding. Hot-Tempered. Dominating.
  • Ponies: Sociable. Gregarious. Friendly. Mostly Nonviolent. Herbivorous. Generous. Enthusiastic. Group Oriented.

One could assume that a lot of those traits cancel each other out – but a lot of the point of playing a hybrid is to combine dissimilar traits and see what you can make of them. So trying that for Dragon-Ponies I see…

  • Generosity versus Hoarding. Kirin want stuff – and also see the value in being liked, owed favors, and impressing others. Thus they exchange gifts, especially when greeting others. Whoever gives the most impressive (but still reasonable for the recepient) gift will gain a substantial social edge, and the more impressive the gift, the greater the edge.
  • Solitary and Gregarious. Kirin DO live in tightly-packed groups, but they’re relatively small groups and they try to create an appearance of privacy and solitude through careful etiquette, privacy screens, thin “walls” that do little more than block line of sight, and similar stratagems. Many things are simply carefully “not seen”.
  • Nonviolent and Forgiving versus Touchy and Violent. Kirin are capable of savage violence and are easily offended – but are also well aware that violence is problematic and that most offenses are quite unintentional. Thus their social interactions tend to be filtered through layers of social rules, etiquette, and formality.
  • Herbivorous versus Predatory: This one is pretty simple. Kirin cusine tends to mix a bit of pretty much everything – a little meat, some gems and minerals, and simple vegetable fillers and sauces that let the exotic flavors shine through.
  • Arrogant and Enthusiastic: Kirin tend to throw themselves into their projects – but rarely, if ever, spend much time thinking about potential failure modes or whether or not whatever they have in mind is a good idea.
  • Sociable versus Hot-Tempered: Kirin like to share their projects and interact with each other – but criticism, rivalries, and even minor arguments tend to lead to contests to “settle the issue”, rather than to any kind of rational debate. Admittedly, having two fruit-growers involved in a heated, high-stakes, jam-making competition is a bit weird by most other races standards, but it works tolerably well.
  • Dominating (Me First!) versus Group-Oriented: Kirin want a hierarchy (SOMEONE needs to be in charge!) – but while anyone will enjoy the social status and rewards of leadership, any sane Kirin leader knows that the way to earn those rewards is to promote the welfare and goals of the group – not to simply exploit your followers. Kirin leaders thus focus on wisdom – knowing how to effectively promote those goals – rather than power. Their leaders tend more towards scholars, wise elders, teachers, and problem-solvers rather than warlords, demagogues, and combatants. A respect for age tends to go with that.

Ergo, we can reasonably say that many “eastern” elements of their culture and behavior are more or less rational social systems for dealing with their natural tendencies rather than an arbitrary way to reflect Earth’s mythology. That also means that they might reasonable appear in (surviving) relatively isolated kirin settlements without being a part of a greater culture. And that’s a good thing, because Dragon-Pony crossbreeds are likely to be scarce.

As for their abilities…

In Ponyfinder they get:

  • +2 Constitution, +2 Wisdom, and -2 Dexterity, to be Fingerless Quadrupeds with a boost to ground movement while on all fours, and Low-Light Vision just for being ponies. I personally don’t agree that ponies have Low-Light Vision – I see little evidence of it in the show – so that isn’t included in the Eclipse basic pony package, but a lot of other stuff is.
  • Fast Healing II whenever they take at least 1 Damage from the type of energy they’re resistant to to a maximum of 2 hit points per level per day. Honestly.. that’s over complicated and not very useful. Fortunately, basic Eclipse ponies get boosted healing (averaging 16.5 points per day) anyway. If you really must specialize for double effect / only work when exposed to appropriate elemental energies go right ahead.
  • 60′ Darkvision from having the Dragon type. I don’t think I’ll put this in though; at least judging by Owl’s Well That Ends Well, Spike can’t see well in the dark; we can’t be seeing as he does in the green dragon’s cave since there are shadows, Twilight needs Owlowiscious to guide her in the dark, rather than getting directions from Spike, and she wants a night assistant. Ergo it looks to me like Equestrian Dragons don’t have Darkvision.
  • Immunity to Spells and Psionic Effects causing Sleep or Paralysis from having the Dragon type again. Again, there’s little evidence of this from the series, although there is some evidence for general magic resistance – such as Greed-Growth Spike being immune to most magical attempts to stop him.
  • +1 Natural Armor. Well, that’s reasonable enough.
  • Resistance 5 to one energy type and “a corresponding elemental vulnerability”. Whether that means double damage or merely +5 damage or a penalty to saves or something is not entirely clear. Fortunately this can be ignored, since basic Eclipse ponies come with Resistance 9 to all kinds of energy straight out of the box.
  • Once per day they can spend a swift action to add +1d6 of the appropriate elemental damage to their melee attacks for up to one round per level. A modest, but worthwhile boost.

In Eclipse…

Kirin tend to be found in small clusters and villages, tucked away on mountain peaks, or in hidden valleys, or distant islands – wherever a dragon or two and some ponies had kids without too many others about to dilute the bloodlines before they settled into a reasonably stable culture. Unfortunately, this means that there are no mighty kirin empires out there; there simply aren’t enough kirin. Instead they tend towards isolated settlements, wizened elders who have settled down to meditate on a mountaintop for a few years (perhaps the equivalent of a draconic long nap), and wandering adventurers. Following their natural tendencies, Kirin are among the few ponies who have extensive inherent combat talents backing up their focus on formal etiquette and contemplative wisdom. Mucking about in a Kirin settlement is all too likely to trigger an “everyone’s a martial artist” episode. In Eclipse Equestria they get the following racial abilities:

Kirin (+32 CP, 63 CP Total with the Basic Pony Template for a +1 ECL).

  • Bonus Language: Draconic (1 CP).
  • Adept, Specialized for Increased Effect (+4 to the skill per SP) / only to determine the cost of their racial skill bonuses (6 CP). Their adept skills are:
  • Any one (Elemental) (Air, Death, Earth, Fire, Life, Spirit, Void, or Water) Dragon Style Martial Arts (Con Based), Specialized for Increased Effect (normally double the effect of each ability purchased, but variations – such as combining two base abilities – are possible) / only if the user is unarmored and unencumbered, user radiates elemental magical energies and is easily sensed by other elemental martial artists.
  • The same style, without the Specialization, for use when armored, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / must take the same abilities (or only one of the two options of “mixed” abilities) as the specialized version.
  • Rune Magic (Same Element) Casting.
  • Rune Magic (Same Element) Mastery.
  • Racial Skill Bonuses: +12 each to their two innate Martial Arts (5 CP), +12 Rune Magic Casting (3 CP), +4 Rune Magic Mastery (1 CP).

This means that a Kirin starts off with at least six, and more likely seven or more, martial arts selections and can start with one or more advanced techniques – and gets double effect out of them when unarmored and unencumbered. Thus, for example, an Earth Dragon Stylist could start off with DR 4/- (8/-) over and above their basic pony DR, a Weapon Kata (perhaps with a damage boost), and an Occult Technique (or two).

  • +2d6 (7) Mana with the Resilience Natural Magic Option, Specialized / only for use with their racial branch of rune magic and Resilience (6 CP). Note that, in Equestria with the Superheroic World Template, they may spend up to (Con Mod) Mana each round to fuel their Elemental Magic or Occult Martial Arts Powers without having to draw on their pool.
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / requires one hour of rest or meditation per die, only to refill the mana pool above (4 CP).
  • Spell/Power Resistance. Either Generic or Specialized for Increased Effect / only Spells and Psionic Effects causing Sleep or Paralysis (6 CP).

This type of Kirin – like half-orcs in a more conventional game – are always a bit of a sideshow even in an Equestria game. After all… if they even EXIST, they’re going to be pretty rare. Still, making an exotic character is another large part of the point of playing a hybrid in the first place. After all, this is Eclipse; any special power a hybrid gets can be developed in some other way if you want them.

Of course, this power package can be applied to other races as a +1 ECL level adjustment – a handy way to start off as an expert elemental martial-artist mystic if you so desire.

Currency and Economics on the Anomaly

And for a bonus post today it’s some more of the background for the Anomaly setting – in this case the…

Economic Basics:

While they look like a minor race, the Gathri are actually one of the major economic influences in Avrinthos and several of the neighboring realms. Whether gathered in little clans (their natural tendency), spread out as freeholders, or held as slaves, serfs, or peasants, their racial mastery of “Hedge Magic” allows them to be incredibly productive. An average Gathri has enough power to – in just a few minutes – plow a field, fertilize it, plant it, remove the weeds, and ward it against vermin or harvest it. Sure, that will be it for the day (unless they’ve developed their abilities a bit more) – but that’s still normally two or three weeks of work for a team of four to six peasants. Even without the use of any Charms, Talismans, or other special powers (such as their modest allotment of “city magic item” equivalents), the Gathri are fifty to a hundred times as productive as a “normal” farmer. Enough so that their basic survival strategy tends to be “we supply all of you warlike sorts and you protect us”. Most of the time… the local Gathri are treated as a part of the loot, rather than opposition.

So things like “a hearty meal and someplace warm and reasonably comfortable to sleep for the night”, “traveling supplies for a week”, or “basic clothing” tend to be available for the equivalent of pocket change. Starving street children, crude mud huts, and desperate beggars simply are not at all common despite the superficially unindustralized appearance of most rural settlements.

So for the most part, there’s not much point in trading in basic commodities. Any settlement that doesn’t have some Gathri will soon import some, and any settlement that does will have plenty of food, cloth, rope, water, and housing. Moving small amounts of exotic foodstuffs, spices, fine wines, and similar items supports some local traders – but differing racial tastes and Gathri clannishness tends to keep the markets fairly limited. It’s a pretty good job if you want to take the risks – but it certainly isn’t a road to fabulous wealth.

Trade Goods – Exotic Materials:

The Anomaly is full of plants with strange properties (physical or biological) that only grow in limited areas, exotic materials, locations where rare metals and crystals are mined, and more. The demand for such things tends to vary – but near Vitromasse alone, Ironwood is as tough as highly advanced starship hull material, Firesap Vines produce incendiary sap that serves as fuel as-is and can be crystallized into a powerful explosive, and Bronzefruit rinds supply metal. For those with the capacity to transport reasonable quantities of such things – and willing to put up with the erratic markets and risks – simply wandering from settlement to settlement can provide excellent profits. It does tend to require tying up a lot of cash and carrying capacity in various cargoes while you roam about looking for a buyer however – so only bold and well-funded merchants are likely to take this route.

Trade Goods – Devices:

On the Anomaly – or at least in the local area – “Devices” usually refers to anything that most people can use without a lot of training but which are tricky to produce – requiring either special talents or special resources. Items in this category include:

  • Basic Chemistry, Advanced Medications, and Alchemical Items, including things that have been “distilled into their ideal forms” by someone with the right knack or various semi-unique compounds derived from special local resources – allowing there to be trading in things like “2000 Proof” alcohol and very high grade explosives as well as powerful medicines. Fortunately, alchemically enhanced curatives tend to be effective on an immense variety of species.
  • Charms and Talismans from The Practical Enchanter (or psionic equivalents), When linked with a user these devices can help focus the ambient energies of the Anomaly into an immense variety of minor-but-useful abilities. Unfortunately, many of them require special materials or particular affinities to make – so they’re a common trade item to places that cannot produce a desired charm or talisman. Most people can only use a few at a time, but several Birthrights allow more.
  • Basic Technology includes steam engines, chemical batteries, explosives, flintlocks, and similar items – which can be unexpectedly powerful by off-realm standards given alchemy, materials with weird properties and alchemically-boosted materials can result in flintlocks that fire the equivalent of small cannon shells. Oddly enough, a selection of microtronic devices work as well – but the vast majority of places near Avrinthos cannot produce them.
  • Low-End Magic and Psionics (Mostly levels 0-2, most Witchcraft) can be learned and used by pretty much anyone – and so devices built using such effects work for anyone who knows how to use them. While such devices are relatively low-powered in high-magic worlds, they can be remarkably potent and very, VERY, useful in less magical realms.
  • The Elemental Forces may or may not be distinct from Psionics and Magic. They are popularly believed to have a different origin and mechanism, but the actual effects are similar enough to Magic and Psionics to lump them into that category.
  • Midrange Social Constructs aren’t usually direct-export items – but experts capable of organizing things on a higher level than that, and books and courses that help out the less talented ARE. This isn’t usually a major field of trade, but it is a requirement for building major trading networks, organizing large projects, going past the city-state level, or organizing large-scale religions. Thus most religions are local cults. Interestingly, the domestication of animals falls into this category; skillful trainers have a very marketable ability.
  • Ceremonial Magic – using the exotic energies inherent in times, places, and materials – works for anyone with the skill to use it, and underlies a great many superstitions. It’s a fairly important trade item in itself, since ceremonies often call for exotic components and ceremonial magic is easy to adapt to very specific tasks and the creation of minor devices, b ut isn’t very powerful.
  • Religious Powers are based in the Four Spiritual Elements – Life, Spirit, Death, and Destiny – although they only function at relatively low levels in most of the Anomaly, leaving much confusion about the nature of the afterlife and similar issues. Oddly enough, however, they still have a fairly massive impact since minor and major tokens of the four powers are easily invoked by anyone who holds them and are easily recognized as valuable by any sapient being – making religious faith a basic part of the system (such as it is) of currency.
  • Gems, Crystals, and Rare Metals are valued somewhat for their durability and beauty, but mostly because they’re used in a wide variety of Devices. They don’t have the blatant inherent value that the Tokens of Life, Spirit, Death, and Destiny have – but they’re compact, fairly valuable, and easy to carry, making them common and reasonably important trade goods almost everywhere.

Trade Goods – Living Beings:

  • Racial Powers – including the exotic properties and abilities of various plants and animals – seem to work almost everywhere, even if they offer access to to abilities that the Anomaly does not normally readily support. This seems to be linked to the Anomalies life-supporting properties. Plants, Beasts, and Indentured Servants or Slaves with exotic abilities or talents are a major trade item.
  • Birthrights – the dimensional attunements that are acquired at the moment of birth – seem to be more or less unique to sapient beings and travel with them. While relatively few individuals are capable tapping into the full power of their Birthright (it takes great personal strength and a lot of practice / being higher level), once again, Hirelings, Indentured Servants, and Slaves with the more useful (and controllable) Birthrights are a major trade item.