Dark City Heroes I – Majestic

Gotham City, founded in 1635 by Captain Jon Logerquist on a site where a eldritch entity has lain imprisoned for forty thousand years. As the city grew its occult influence has expanded as mortals unknowingly tapped and channeled it – fostering cultists, empowering arcane rites, and awakening mystical potentials. The first heroes appeared in the 1800’s, exploiting the concealing shamanic magic of Masks* to fight the gangs that controlled the city without exposing their civilian identities and connections to the gangs revenge.

*To don a mask (or, for those with the right powers, to shapeshift) with the intention of being someone else… is to draw a mystical line dividing those identities that only powerful magic, skilled, determined and lengthy investigation, or direct revelation can violate. Thus has Superman concealed his identity for decades with nothing more than a pair of glasses.

Today Gotham remains, as it has for centuries, a city of twisting alleys, archaic secret-laden neighborhoods, forgotten nooks and structures, eldritch nexi, and hidden sorceries. It is older far than Batman – so what heroes might he have Eclipsed in his rise?

The game-setup question is more or less “What sort of young heroes might Batman have grown up around in Gotham City?” – and the rules of the that game are:

  1. Level One Eclipse Builds.
  2. Human – although human-looking Variant Humans Races or Birthrights are available for Heroes and Villains.
  3. Half Cost for buying up Attributes with CP (commonly 6 CP for +1)
  4. Bonus Feats at L0, L1, L2, and every two levels thereafter.
  5. Handguns are considered to be Simple Weapons. Long Arms are Martial.
  6. A Condensed Skill List – in this case:
Acrobatics (Dex) Balance + Escape Artist + Tumble
Arcana (Int) Spellcraft + Knowledge: Arcana
Athletics (Str) Climb + Jump + Swim + Escape Artist (STR)
Background (Int) Covers any five Craft, Profession, or Perform skills.
Deception (Cha) Bluff + Disguise
Endurance (Con) Control Shape + Concentration + Endurance
Handle Animal (Cha) Handle Animal, Ride, Profession/Teamster, etc.
Insight (Wis) Sense Motive + Gather Information
Linguistics (Int) Speak Language + Decipher Script + Forgery
Martial Arts (Var) It’s a superhero setting; invent two with attribute modifiers and give them a each a +4 bonus.
Perception (Wis) Search + Spot + Listen
Persuasion (Cha) Diplomacy + Intimidation
Religion (Wis) Knowledge/Religion, Knowledge/The Planes, Heal, and performing various religious services and rituals
Scholar (Int) Covers Knowledge / Architecture and Engineering, Geography,
History, Local, and Nobility
Stealth (Dex) Hide + Move Silently
Survival (Wis) Survival + Use Rope + Knowledge/Nature
Thievery (Dex) Appraise + Disable Device + Open Locks + Pick Pocket / Sleight of Hand
Use Device (Cha) Use Magic Device, Use Psionic Device, and Use Technological
Device. For practical purposes there isn’t much difference.

Majestic (Edmund Wells):

According to ancient tales, unicorns shed their horns every seven years – and those alicorns retain potent magic, being tokens of healing, purification, and strength. But unicorns are rare, and thus true alicorn is almost unheard of.

According to the modern world, unicorns never existed in the first place, and such tales are simply tales.

Meridith knew that it was nonsense, and the her grandmothers “unicorn horn” pendant was doubtless carved from the horn of some other animal – but if her sickly baby didn’t want to let it go and it amused him… it merely took fastening the chain to the side of the crib to keep it too high for him to do more than hang onto it.

She panicked a bit when she came back and found the pendant missing from the chain – but her son wasn’t choking and didn’t have it in his mouth. It wasn’t in the bedding or under the crib either – and he couldn’t possibly have swallowed it. He’d probably thrown it somewhere – and it would surely turn up eventually.

It never did, but eventually she forgot about it. The distraction of seeing her baby son fully recovered and happy again – and, later, of seeing him growing up strong and healthy – was more than enough to keep her from thinking about the mysteriously missing pendant until the memory faded.

She never knew that her grandmothers pendant – carved of true alicorn and given with love unknowing of its power to an innocent – had merged with her infant son, rendered him once  more healthy – and giving him the potential for unicorn powers.

As he grew young Edmund has often found himself acting as the protector of the smaller children. When he hit adolescence, he soon discovered his ability to transform into a Unicorn Stallion – as well as the ability to sense those who were truly evil, and who had to be stopped.

Since then… rumors that the Wild Hunt rides once more are whispered around the city. The police are equally puzzled, but are unwilling to publicly admit that they are keeping an eye out for a sword-wielding vigilante who reliably assaults only the most vicious and evil criminals.

Race: Human Variant (Atherian Light Birthright, 30 CP / +0 ECL).

All of their racial abilities are Corrupted. The Children of Light suffer a -5 penalty on all attempts to be stealthy or to deceive people, are easily identified by their radiant auras by any form of magical detection or by perceptive observers (Spot DC 20).

  • +2 Charisma, +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, and +2 Wisdom (16 CP)
  • Innate Enchantment (7500 GP, 6 CP):
    • Command (2000 GP).
    • Protection From Evil (personal only, 1400 GP)
    • Enhanced Insight: +3 to the Insight Skill (personal only, 1400 GP)
    • Inspiring Word (personal only, +1 Morale bonus to Saves, Attacks, Checks, and Damage, 1400 GP)
    • Immortal Vigor I (+12 + 2x Con Mod HP, personal only, 1400 GP).
  • Fast Learner (often Specialized in Channeling for Double Effect, 4 CP).
  • Channeling/Positive Energy: 3 + Cha Mod uses/day (6 CP) with a +4 bonus to their Base Intensity (4 CP).
  • Immunity/Time (reduced aging) (Common/Major/Minor, usually 4 CP but reduced to 0 CP due to relatively short campaign timescale (and standard comic book time).

The Children of Light suffer from some automatic disadvantages: they are Compulsively Truthful and Blocked (they can’t use negative-energy channeling, darkness-related magic, magical enhancements to stealth, non-healing necromantic magic, or anything else related to Darkness), for a total of -6 points

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Dex 12 (+2 Racial = 14), Con 12, Int 14 +2 Racial = 16), Wis 14 (+2 Racial = 16, Cha 14 (+2 Racial = 16). (3.5 28 Point Buy. For Pathfinder 20 point buy go to Con 13). In Unicorn Form: Str 20, Dex 17, Con 21.

Available Character Points: 48 (L1 Base) +10 (Disadvantages: Valuable, Hunted, and Broke, see below) +12 (L0 and L1 Bonus Feats) +2 (Duties) +6 CP (Fast Learner, only for Channeling) = 72 (78) CP

  • Valuable. He turns into a Unicorn. There are any number of mystics out there who would like to have a Unicorn – or some pieces thereof – on hand.
  • Hunted: He’s attacking the most evil mobsters, street gangers, and petty villains around. Some of them have surely taken notice.
  • Secret (Identity). Well, superhero setting. This is almost a given for most heroic characters.

Basic Purchases (48 CP):

  • Base Attack Bonus: +1 Specialized in Melee Combat (3 CP)
  • Hit Points: 24 (L1;4d6, 32 CP) +12 (Immortal Vigor) +6 (6 x Con Mod) = 42 (Unicorn 66)
  • Saving Throws (all gain a +2 Resistance bonus versus Evil):
    • Fortitude +0 (Purchased) +2 (Template) +1 (Con) +1 (Mor) = +4 (Unicorn +8).
    • Reflex +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +2 (Dex) +1 (Mor) = +5 (Unicorn +6).
    • Will +1 (Purchased, 3 CP) +3 (Wis) +1 (Mor) = +5.
  • Proficiencies: All Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Skill Points: 4 SP (4 CP) +12 (Int Mod x 4) = 16 SP.
  • Athletics (+4 SP +4 Str +1 More = +9, extra +24 for Jumping), Insight (+4 SP +3 Wis +1 Mor +3 Enh = +11, extra +5 to Detecting Lies), Martial arts (+4 SP +5 Str +1 Mor = +10), Stealth (+4 SP +3 Dex +4 Racial = +11), and Survival (+0 SP +3 Wis +1 Mor +3 Racial = +7).
  • Human Armor Class: 10 (Base) +2 (Dex) +4 (armor) = 16 (+2 Deflection vrs Evil)
    • Modified Unicorn Armor Class: -1 Size, +1 More Dex +6 Natural = 22 (+2 Deflection vrs Evil)/
  • Initiative: +2 (Dex). (Unicorn +3)
  • Movement: 30 (Base) +30 (Enh) = 60 (Unicorn 90).

Usual Weapons:

  • Unicorn Horn: +10/+10 (+1 BAB +3 Enh +5 Str +1 Mor) for 1d8+9, Crit 20/x2, 5′ Reach,
  • Unicorn Hooves: +7/+7/+7 (+1 BAB +5 Str +1 Mor) for 1d4+6, Crit 20/x2, 5′ Reach,

I’m not worrying about the “Natural Weapons” rule. This is a PC, and doesn’t need to use GM shortcuts. In any case, rearing up to kick – or back kicking – isn’t too compatible with stabbing with a horn.

Abilities (30 CP):

Shapeshift with Growth, Beasts, Enchanted, and +4 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost (8 CP) / only to take (Urban) Unicorn Form.

Urban Unicorns are anthracite-coal black, with green, gold, red-gold, or orange eyes instead of white with sea-blue, violet, brown, or fiery gold eyes, their 1/day Teleport operates within their city and it’s suburbs instead of within their forest, and their “Wild” (City) Empathy works on police, officials, and city employees rather than animals. Otherwise, they’re just the same as standard SRD forest-dwelling Unicorns.

Unicorn Powers:

  • Senses: Darkvision 60, :Low-Light Vision, Scent
  • Constant Defenses: Magic Circle Against Evil, Immunity to Poison, Charm, and Compulsion.
  • Spell-Like Abilities
  • Detect Evil: at will, as a Free Action.
  • Greater Teleport: from anywhere in Gotham to anywhere in Gotham 1/Day.
  • Cure Light Wounds (1d8+5) 3/Day
  • Cure Moderate Wounds (2d8+5) 1/Day
  • Neutralize Poison 1/Day.
  • Skills: +4 to Stealth, +3 to Survival.
  • Damage Reduction 2/-, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / Only versus Physical Attacks, only works against metallic weapons (6/Non-Metallic Weapons, 3 CP).
  • Enhance Racial Innate Enchantments/+4000 GP Effective Value (4 CP).
    • Personal Haste: +30′ Movement, +1 Attack when making a Full Attack (2000 GP).
    • Unseen Servant (2000 GP).
  • Channeling:
    • Conversion to four Radiance effects of up to level two: Solar (Scorching) Ray, Glitterdust), Extended Color Spray (30′ Cone), and Pyrotechnic Flare (as per Pyrotechnics (Fireworks option only, but no fire is required) (6 CP).
    • Conversion to one Healing effect (Cure Moderate Wounds, 3 CP). .
  • Use of Charms and Talismans (6 CP): These are actually more-or-less inherent – the difference being that, while they’re free instead of having a small cost, it will take days or weeks to trade them out via meditation and practice.
    • Charms (7):
      • All-Weather Cloak: He is not bothered by normal weather conditions. Of course, unicorns aren’t.
      • Amulet Of The Stallion: He has the sexual potency of a stallion.
      • Mandarin’s Pin: Mud, rain, and other crud slides right off him, he is always nice and clean and freshly groomed.
      • Silken Tongue: He can speak clearly, and cast his voice up to fifteen feet, even if his mouth is full or something is wrong with his voicebox (like being a Unicorn).
      • Sovereign Ointment: Can use Cure Minor Wounds up to 30x a day, but no more than 1d4+1 times per target.
      • Trackless Boots: He leaves no trail and cannot be tracked by non-magical means.
      • Vanishing Cloak. He can become invisible for 6-12 seconds (3 + Level/3) times per day.
    • Talismans
      • Dao Sigil: He heals an extra 1d6 damage and one attribute point per day and can (very slowly) regenerate lost limbs and organs.
      • Helm Of War: May reduce a critical hit to a normal hit up to seven times – but only regains one use of this per week.
      • Shimmermail: He gets a +4 armor bonus from his mythic aura.

Majestic isn’t particularly subtle. He’s a rather brutal vigilante who relies on closing with serious bad guys at high speed, goring them, relying on his resistance to bullets, knives, and similar weapons to let him deal with their thugs, and on his (rather modest) healing abilities to let him handle what damage does get through – or with injured bystanders. His usual routine is to go  out, quietly turn into a unicorn in some back alley or hidden location, and roam around dealing with the bad guys. If cornered, or when he’s done… he uses his once-per-day teleportation power to return to one of his “lairs” – hidden cubbyholes in abandoned buildings or unused subway stations – makes sure that no one else is currently around, turns back to human, and goes home.

So far it has worked reasonably well.

In play, like any other narrow specialist, Majestic is quite formidable – even before customizing with some unicorn martial arts. On the other hand, that’s not going to last. Unicorn powers are pretty useful at low levels – but they’re fairly trivial at higher levels. Like it or not, there all too soon comes a time in d20 where being kicked by a horse is no longer much of a worry.

Using Valdemaran Gifts, Part I

In this case the question is “What can you actually do with Valdemar-Style Gifts”?

Well, the answer in the original books is, of course, “whatever the plot demands and nothing more” – and over time we tend to see fewer magical options rather than more. After all, every time an author puts in a magical solution for a problem that actually works they close off future plotlines involving that problem – and that’s exactly what you don’t want when you’re writing a long-running series. If you keep it in mind, you lose plot options – and if you forget it, you can be sure that a lot of your readers will not. Either way, why make extra trouble for yourself?

Games, of course, are exactly opposite: Players who can’t use their characters special powers to solve problems get frustrated. Players who find their options too limited feel constrained, and lose interest. Players want to come up with clever, original, applications for things. If you tell them that they can’t do something they just thought of, they will want to know why not. The characters are not under the control of an author, they don’t have to follow the plot, and they don’t have plot armor. A bad die roll can kill off any character pretty much at random. Those are the things that make it a RPG rather than a novel. In a RPG… characters regularly wreck the setting, rather than leaving it more or less intact for the next book to be set in. ”

So this is going to focus on what the d20 RPG-style Valdemaran characters can use their powers to do, not just on stuff that would fit into the books.

On the other hand, I’m going to limit it to the general list of Gifts from the books; while there is nothing in d20 – or in the way that the Gifts are built – that would prevent you from having a Gift in Shape Shifting, Weaving Illusions, Destiny Manipulation, Building Guns, Self-Enhancement, Making Power Armor, Creating Ectoplasmic Constructs, or Necromancy, the setting is not set up to handle it.

The way the Gifts are built is fairly straightforward; a Gift lets you pick some sort of relatively narrow theme and produce level zero magical/psionic effects that fit into that theme pretty much at will. Stronger Gifts come in three levels: providing a limited (and slow to recover) reserve of power that can be used to boost your level zero effects up to level one (for strong Gifts), level two (for major Gifts), or even level three (for incredibly powerful Gifts). There are a few more details about how big the reserve is and how fast it recovers – but that’s about it.

The problem is that – when it comes to magic – a lot of gamers are much more used to “here is a list of things that you can do with that power” than they are to “you have a hammer; what are you going to build with it?”.

First up, a couple of general notes:

  • Anyone with one or more trained Gifts gains access to Rite Of Centered Mind as a L0 effect.
  • Two trained characters with the same gift can work together – each paying the cost (if any) for a use of their gift at a particular level to produce a combined effect of one level higher. That’s really only useful if you want first level effects (since level zero effects have no cost) or level four effects (requiring two characters with the same incredibly powerful gift working together to produce effects which are normally out of reach of even the most powerful Gifts).

Now, as for some options for specific gifts… I’m going to list some general uses and – since this is d20 and 3.5 and Pathfinder have an enormous list of spells to draw from – some spell effects that a Gifted character should be able to emulate.

Animal Mindspeech:

  • Basic Level Zero Effects: Communicate feelings to animals and sense what they are feeling, quiet an upset animal, let an animal know that you mean it no harm, lure birds to feed from your hand, gain small (+2) bonuses to ride or handle animals, detect hidden animals nearby given some time to look for them, give animals simple ideas, get spiders to spin webs over an opening or object, get bees to let you have a honeycomb, get a dog to bark, keep bugs out of your bed, gain a general impression of what an animal saw or heard, get a bonus to spot incoming threats by sensing the reactions of animals in the area. Basically… you can relate to animals really well, train them much more quickly, and get some basic information from them.
  • Level One Effects: Animal Messenger, Speak With Animals, Calm Animals, Charm Animal, Hide from Animals, Call Animal, Commune With Birds, “Alarm” (via animal lookouts), and Enrage Animal. You can also get small animals to harass someone, get animals to bring you small objects, send them to a destination, get larger bonuses to ride or handle them, or make a normal horse behave as if it was combat-trained for a few minutes.
  • Level Two Effects: Animal Trance, Hold Animal, Wartrain Mount (variants induce other types of training), Alpha Instinct, and Summon Swarm, Safe Clearing (only affects animals and magical beasts), and Share Husk. You might also frighten or calm a group of animals, cause a normal animal to attack it’s master or to do something else quite abnormal, or very rapidly train or domesticate animals.
  • Level Three Effects: I can’t think of many actual spells for this level – most characters have better things to do with third level spells than influence relatively normal animals – but at this level you might make animals fear an area for weeks or months, redirect a stampede, instantly domesticate and train an animal, direct an animal to do something extremely complex, get a map of an area and details about the people in it by surveying the minds of the animals there, reliably keep a powerful beast under control, or even spread disease though an area by manipulating rats, mice, and other vermin.

Yes, yes, I know… there was never anyone in the books who used Animal Mindspeech to do anything like THAT. Of course, there was never anyone in the books who had Animal Mindspeech on the level of Lavan Firestorms Firestarting Gift was there? You’ll see the same sort of thing in later gifts too.

Bardic Gift:

This one is never even clearly defined as far as I know, but here are some possibilities:

  • Basic Level Zero Effects: Lullaby, Haunted Fey Aspect, Message, Ghost Sound, and (individual) Polypurpose Panacea effects. You can also induce various moods, make ideas occur to people your listeners, and convey vague impressions – making your tales so real that listeners can “almost see the battle!” or get “the distinct impression of the goddess comforting them!”. This tends to make listening to your music or stories very popular.
  • Level One Effects: Aid, Heroism, Cause Fear, Lesser Confusion, Remove Fear, Charm Person, Aphasia, Hypnotism, and Demoralize. You could use this sort of manipulation to slowly addict someone to you or brainwash them, but it would probably take some time.
  • Level Two Effects: Sleep, Calm Emotions, Enthrall, Heroism, Rage. Absurdity, and Inflict Pain. At this point you can inspire a mob, rabble-rouse very effectively, and spread rumors without becoming known as the source.
  • Level Three Effects: Bestow Curse, Good Hope, and (Mass) Inflict Pain. You MIGHT be able to create a Major Image if the game master is feeling generous. You can also induce various minor mental problems in those exposed to your abilities – inducing terrible dreams, general depression, and other minor mental / emotional effects, such as undermining support for a leader. You can do the reverse as well of course – but it takes longer and rarely works as well.

Earthsense:

  • Basic Level Zero Effects: Detect Poison and Know Direction. You can also do a lot of things which aren’t really in d20 but which probably should be – Detect Cursed/Wild Magic Areas. Detect Ley Lines and Nodes. Detect Quicksand and Unsafe Ground. Sense disturbances of Nature. Detect Pure Water. Identify Plants and Animals. Determine if something is safe to eat. Identify minerals – and get a +5 bonus on a Survival check.
  • Level One Effects: Entangle, Goodberry, False Life, Detect Animals or Plants, Detect Snares And Pits, Hairline Fractures, Natures’s Paths, Pass Without Trace, Shillelagh, Underbrush Decoy, Enhance Herb (Paths of Power), and Greensight. You may also make small plants grow, detect the potency of herbs, follow trails more quickly, identify causes of death, get a +10 bonus on a Survival check, determine someone’s parentage, and detect aberrations,
  • Level Two Effects: Tremorsense, Lay Of The Land, Expeditious Construction, Expeditious Excavation, Lesser Curse Terrain, Binding Earth, Forest Friend, Wild Instinct, Hide Campsite, Dentistry (Hedge Magic) and Briar Web. You can also dowse for water, oil, or mineral deposits, get a +20 on a Survival check, trace someone’s ancestry with a drop of their blood, cause corpses, wooden doors, and other unattended organic items to rot away in mere minutes, and bless children (allowing them to reroll their lowest attribute once per child).
  • Level Three Effects: Defoliate, Plant Growth, Shifting Sand, Speak With Plants, Snare, Spike Growth, Stench Of Prey, Greater Thunderstomp, Forestfold, Nature’s Rampart, and Safe Clearing. You may also slowly heal regions of land, sense major disturbances in the realm, get a +30 to a Survival check, grow a tree (as per a Feather Token: Tree), or reroute ley lines – again, slowly.

Empathy:

We do have some ideas for Empathy thanks to Herald Talia – but she’s got all those pesky ethics to take the fun out of things.

  • Basic Level Zero Effects: Empathy and (half-strength) Telempathic Projection. You can also tell if someone is being mentally influenced, let other creatures know what you’re feeling, find really meaningful presents for people, fit into groups easily, detect salesmen, manage children, tell when someone is trying to manipulate you, and get fairly reliable impressions of people (“I never liked him…”).
  • Level One Effects: Telempathic Projection, Beguiling Gift, Adoration, Compel Hostility, Hideous Laughter, Innocence, Remove Fear, Unbreakable Heart, Undetectable Alignment, Unnatural Lust, Qualm, Rage, Reckless Infatuation, Cause Fear, and Miserable Pity. At this point – at least if you’re ethically challenged – you can play on peoples emotions, get them infatuated with you, sell them rubbish they don’t need, and tune your stories to their emotional responses.
  • Level Two Effects: Detect Hostile Intent, Anonymous Interaction, Calm Emotions, Charitable Impulse, Detect Desires, Heckle, Heroism, Jealous Rage, Compassionate Ally, Matchmaker, Oppressive Boredom, Scare, Unadulterated Loathing, Draconic Malice, Dreadscape, Fear, and Zone of Truth. You can now read emotions with ease and override them almost entirely – a talent likely to get you ridden out of town on a rail or burned as a witch if you use it a lot and are silly enough to let people figure it out.
  • Level Three Effects: Bestow/Remove Curse, Charm Monster, Confusion, Crushing Despair, Curse of Disgust, Detect Anxieties, Good Hope, Overwhelming Grief, Terrible Remorse, and They Know. You’re now able to warp minds severely and with effects that can last for years in extreme cases.

Farsight

  • Basic Level Zero Effects: Know Direction. At this point you can have meaningful dreams, see around corners, give yourself minor sensory boosts, avoid stubbing your toes and knocking things over in the dark, and swear blood brotherhood – creating a low-grade link. You can also tell if people are all right by looking at a picture of them and boost your abilities with mystic links.
  • Level One Effects: Aspect Of The Falcon and Improvisation. You can also “see” through minor obstacles, locate lost or mislaid personal items, tell who is on the phone or knocking on the door before you answer it, just know what escape routes are available, and ignore effects such as Blur and Concealment.
  • Level Two Effects: L2) Locate Object, See Invisibility, Darkvision, Augury, and Sense Minds. At this point serious prophetic dreams are possible, you can buy knowledges without regard for actually learning them, see past closed doors and on the other side of walls, and use “gather information” as an instant effect.
  • Level Three Effects: Clauraudience/Clairvoyance, Minor Dream, Pierce Disguise, Scrying, Stage Fright, Witness, See Beyond, Spirit Bonds, and Darkvision. Congratulations. You are a major seer and prophet, You can evaluate complex situations at a glance, easily get a “birds eye view” of most situations, and know far more than is strictly reasonable.

Next time around on this, the rest of the Gifts.

Apex Campaign, Star Fleet Timeline Cluster, Augment Victory Timeline. The Augment IV Racial Package

The human mind is built on ancient neural patterns – deep instincts, systems that process sensory information, logical and emotional feedback loops that keep it running, and even the patterns of motor neurons that operate the body. If you change any of those too much… the mind warps and changes, taking on a new form. The result is unpredictable, often no longer functional at all, and never much like a normal human being even when it still functions – and, so far, it has never been sapient. No one is quite sure why that’s true, but (at least in the Apex setting) there seems to be a component beyond mere physical reality.

So there are limits. You can transfer an existing mind into a mostly-artificial body – but if you want a NEW mind to develop properly… there has to be a childhood. You can make the senses sharper, or even very slightly expand their range – but not much past the limits of normal human potential or even an existing mind will soon go mad. There need to be bones, and muscles, and various internal organs. You can boost intelligence and reaction time somewhat, and you can enhance durability and strength considerably – but not too much or instabilities will soon develop.

And, at least so far… redesigned humans only develop more-or-less normally if they are born to existing redesigned humans. Trying to leave out a recognizably-human set of parents, infancy, and childhood, leads to failure at best and rampaging monsters at worst. At least the first generation (no second generation births have yet occurred) have to have transferred minds.

That need for growth, development, and maintenance along human lines is pretty limiting for the engineering too. You can’t just install bigger parts; they have to GROW in situ – for which you need something analogous to a circulatory system to transport materials, as well as something analogous to a metabolism and to both taste and smell (and eating thanks to those copied-over instincts). Sure, most of the bone structure can be magnetically-reinforced nanotubes and diamond with reinforcing magnetic fields instead of calcium – but it still has to grow and be filled with channels to integrate it into the circulatory system. The electro-contractile muscles and tendons may be stronger (and powered by the electrical energy delivered by the “nerves”), but the layout – and ways in which the arrangement doesn’t bend – is much the same. Joint locks work almost as well (given that they are generally stronger and tougher) on augmented humans as they do on regular ones. The skin may incorporate tougher polymers and resist chemicals a lot better, but it still has to grow, stretch, heal, and shed itself.

Fourth generation Augments were little more than speculations at the beginning of the Eugenics Wars (A.K.A. WWIII). While prototypes of limited parts of the technology where in testing, no complete design (let alone implementation) was available. Thanks, however, to an open-ended time loop engineered by one or more members of the so-called Q Continuum, development of the Type IV design continued – albeit with only a single sample and a small research team that spent most of their time catching up on what they did last time – through 281,223 iterations of the relevant several-year section of the loop before Armand, Blueblood, and Scotty intervened to prevent further looping. While progress – especially during the later loops – was infinitesimal each time, that many loops eventually resulted in a fully-developed design. Combining a through understanding of the physical side of the human brain, advanced genomic and proteomic systems, computers, cybernetics, and nanotechnology, researchers were eventually able to complete a full rebuild of the human body – including a virtualized and optimized brain replacing the old-style natural neural network, am optically-based peripheral nervous system, and superconducting energy storage system fed by a high efficiency fuel cell.

Unfortunately, attempting to generalize from the original single test case has left the basic design in the “open beta-testing” phase as bugs and issues are worked out.

Perhaps worst of all, Type IV Augmentation only seems to work on Star Fleet Timeline Terrans – the “reality-manipulating” homid subspecies – and cuts off all access to magic, psionics, temporal manipulation, and all the other natural-law-violating tricks of the “natural” races.

Name: Type IV Augment

Val Char Cost
8/30 STR -2
13/20 DEX 9
9/20 CON -2
7 BODY -6
8/30 INT -2
11 EGO 2
10 PRE 0
15 COM 2
7 PD 1
7 ED 3
3/4 SPD 0
10 REC 0
0 END -20
32 STUN 0

Characteristic Rolls: STR: 11/15-, DEX: 12/13-, CON: 11/13-, INT: 11/15-, EGO: 11-, PER: 19/23-. Run: 6″, Swim: 2″, Jump: 6″, Lift: 76kg/1600kg

Cost Powers END/Roll

6 Elemental Control: Artificial Body (15-pt reserve); Generic Limitation (User may not develop Psionic or Magical Abilities): -½; Generic Limitation (Cannot alter or improve these abilities): -1

  • a-10 3d6 Aid to Attributes (Fade/5 min., Max. 22); Range: 0; Affects: All Powers of Special Effect, +2; Generic Limitation (Str, Dex, Con, Body, Int, and Spd Only.): -1; Generic Limitation (Does not heal damaged attributes.): -½; Generic Limitation (Effect does not stack with buying up base attributes above “10” or with buying up speed at all, cannot take speed above 4 in any case.): -½. 5 End when activated.
  • b-5 Power System: END Reserve (180 END, 12 REC/turn); Side Effects (When an Augment takes BODY damage, a roll of 15+ will detonate their power reserves, causing a 3d6 physical killing explosion centered on them. ): 60/All,
  • c-4 Armor (8 PD/8 ED); Always On (User is immune to normal medical techniques and healing powers.): -1; Hardened: ×1, ¼; Linked (To Attribute Enhancement): -½.
  • d-6 Life Support (total); Generic Limitation (Technological Limitations: Provides high resistance and duratbility, not immunity.): -½; Costs END: -½; Reduced END: Half, +¼.
  • e-5 Enhanced Perception (all) (+8 to PER); Linked (To Augmented Attributes): -½; Champions Advantage (Can record sensory input. ): +¼.

Integrated Electronics; Linked (To augmented attributes): -½

  • (2) Absolute Time Sense
  • (2) Ambidexterity
  • (2) Bump of Direction
  • (7) Eidetic Memory
  • (2) Lightning Calculator
  • (2) Perfect Pitch
  • (2) Speed Reading

Package Disadvantages

  • 5 Distinctive Features: Android; Concealability: Easily, 5; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
  • 20 Normal Characteristic Maxima
  • 10 Unable to interbreed with normal life forms, greatly reduced fertility even with other Augment IV’s, usually need “repair” effects rather than “healing” effects (Infrequently, Greatly)
  • 10 Cannot buy off restrictions on magical and psionic powers. (Infrequently, Greatly)
  • 5 Cannot buy up Body (Infrequently, Slightly)
  • 30 Susceptibility to Technology Nullifying Effects (1d6 STUN and BODY/Phase); Condition: Uncommon, +5. Note that this drastically restricts the range of universes that they can function in.

As normal for Apex racial packages, the “package” disadvantages are only counted at half value – leaving the Augment IV baseline “Race” with a grand total of zero points, just like the other races.

OCV: 7; DCV: 7; ECV: 4; Mental Def.: 0; Phases: 3, 6, 9, 12, PD/rPD: 15/8; ED/rED: 15/8

As perhaps befits a superhero campaign, the Apex game currently involves the primary timeline (consisting of several merged timelines, with – courtesy of Blueblood – the Astral Vortex that the Ethereal Cataclysm had left in place of the lost pacific continent of Mu replaced by Equestria and a scattering of other cartoon and anime locations), the Primary Mirrorverse, traces of an alternate Timeline and Mirrorverse that are proving difficult to remerge with their primaries, a timeline where the planet was collapsed into a Black Hole (the ongoing efforts to get rid of that thing are apparently giving rise to a likely future Shadow Universe), the High Astral (a source of mystical energy), an assortment of Afterlives in the Middle Astral, the Lower Astral domain of the Elder Ones, the Exile pocket realm (apparently located between the Middle and Lower astral), and Mars. Kicking around those areas (and wandering back and forth in time) the group has revived the Rolassin and the Ethereals, brought the Freshwater and Saltwater Lemurians, out of hiding, and restored the Hyberboreans to go with the existing Atlanteans, and the Africaans species, as well as several relic species of presapient Homids. Mars, of course, has it’s five sapient species as well, all now revived from extinction or near-extinction.

In the Star Trek universe next door there are several alternate timelines, including one where the Augments won the Eugenics Wars (courtesy of the player characters) and one where they lost – both with Elder Martians, possibly with something on Venus, and with the full selection of Star Trek aliens.

Saber Class Federation Starship (Hero System)

Space. The Final Frontier.

A quite unimaginably huge quantity of nothing in particular with occasional nuggets of passively-hostile matter in it (stars and unlivable planets), an even rarer sprinkling of habitable planets, and a very, VERY, few sapient races. Really, the defining feature of Space is that there isn’t really a lot going on there. After all, those nice, happy, biospheres? They take many millions of years of relative peace and quiet to develop.

What do we see in Star Trek though? From the original series alone we have “Errand Of Mercy”, “The Alternative Factor”, “Operation Annihilate”, “The Changeling”, “The Doomsday Machine”, “Obsession”, “The Immunity Syndrome”, “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky”, “The Empath”, and “All Our Yesterdays” – all episodes of the original series dealing with world-wrecking threats.

Honestly, if the universe was actually anywhere near that dangerous there shouldn’t be any life-bearing planets LEFT. It’s pretty obvious that something was going on. For some reason… once a species starts using “Star Trek” level technology narrative starts becoming an actual force that influences events, all kinds of weird hazards appear, and planets start dying. Maybe Star Fleet is letting people haul along families and kids on their extremely dangerous quasi-military missions because they’re actually in no more danger there than they are on “civilized planets” – and represent a species-survival insurance policy to boot.

For our purposes, we’re assuming that Star Trek technology deals with one of the most fundamental aspects of reality – the informational level, which tells space, time, matter, and energy, what it is and how it acts. That’s why their devices run on technobabble and often make very little sense.

The trouble is that monkeying with that aspect of reality damages it. And the universe has mechanisms to fight back against things that damage it. That’s why it’s still here after all these billions of years. Monkey around with it’s structure too much and really weird, unlikely, and dangerous stuff starts to happen. Keep doing it, and it starts to personify it’s resistance. That’s where Q, The Squire Of Gothos, and Apollo come from. It’s why the barrier at the edge of the galaxy hands out superpowers and insanity with an even hand. It’s why absurd ancient war machines run perfectly but ships need constant maintenance. If you’re using FTL, and Replicators, and other insane technologies… the universe really is out to get you. Your best hope is to plant a few colonies that revert to primitivism. They’ll be left alone.

Of course, those few species that manage to hit that barrier going fast enough to crash on through… tend to figure out what they’re doing before they destroy themselves, ascend to some form of semi-godhood, and pretty much retire. After all, nothing in this level of the universe really means anything much to them any longer (even if some do hang around giving patronizing lectures to everyone else).

That’s why building a Federation-Style ship in the Hero System is relatively cheap – and ANYTHING but safe or reliable.

In any case, these are the voyages of the ESS (Equestrian Space Ship) Crazy Horse – Prince Bluebloods personal space yacht. He, of course, wears a gold shirt and follows in the womanizing footsteps of Captain Kirk.

Saber Class, Federation Light Cruiser:

  • Crew: 1 Short-Term Emergency, 3 Minimum Sustained, 30-50 Normal Mission Crew, Emergency Transport up to 200.
  • Power Plant: Cochrane Matter-Dilithium-Generated Antimatter Warp Core. Maximum pseudovelocity ~1000 C (Old-style approaching Warp 10, New-Style about Warp 8).
  • Length: 30 Meters, Width: 12 Meters, 3 Decks (Primary, Lower Engineering Space, Upper Bridge) totaling 5509 Square Feet
  • Mass: 425 Metric Tons.
    • Like it or not, much of every Federation ship is made of force fields and wishful thinking. – which is why it has a Cargo Capacity of some 300 metric tons and room for a years supply of raw materials and spare parts.
  • Armament: Phaser Batteries, Photon Torpedo Launchers, Tractor/Pressor Beam.

Sabers are one of the smaller starships (and are much smaller still in the Hero System, which is mostly set up for personal craft rather than naval vessels), the Saber Class is used for Diplomatic and Science Missions, Scouting and Secondary Exploration (after larger and better-equipped vessels deal with the preliminary surveys), Combat (Fleet Support and Skirmish), and System Patrol functions. While surprisingly powerful for it’s size, it’s size is still “small”. Compared to major ships it’s defenses are relatively weak and it’s armament light. It is, however, fairly fast, it’s laboratories are excellent (if cramped), and it’s sensor systems very good. Notably, most of it’s crew and passenger spaces are pretty cramped.

That does, however, bring us to Transporters:

Transporters are marvelous things! They allow you to teleport yourself across tens of thousands of miles, straight into the action! Of course they also…

  • Allow you to park your ride tens of thousands of miles away, leaving you unable to get back to it when something (all too commonly) goes wrong, or if your ship is on the far side of the planet, or is under attack and has to have it’s shields up (or, even worse, leave without you), or if there is unspecified interference.
  • Create massive safety hazards. They can get you lost in weird dimensions or distant worlds, accidentally move you through time, destroy vital equipment, give you weird disorders, make you older or younger, turn dangerous injuries into fatal ones in trying to get you to the doctor, materialize you high in the air or in solid rock, turn you into a ghost, become unreliable at short (intraship) ranges, embed random objects in your body, be diverted to unintended destinations by various external means, fuse creatures together into new ones (who want to live!), and can even malfunction and outright maim or kill you.
  • Are horrendous bottlenecks. They’re the only reasonably quick way on and off the ship, require targeting locks, cannot penetrate shields and various dense materials, are disrupted by various force fields, ores, and materials, are extremely hazardous or impossible to use at warp speeds (even if careful matching of direction and speed makes it possible sometimes), and require skilled operators. At least as importantly… they NEVER seem to be working when simply getting out of there would solve your current difficulties.
  • Are Security Risks: They can trade you for evil twins, split you into good and evil halves, be activated from the outside regardless of your attempts to stop them, are fairly readily traceable, record all kinds of personal data, can be hacked to control, modify, or transform the subject in all sorts of ways, can be used to duplicate or steal sensitive devices and information, or even be used to duplicate people – allowing one, for example, to tap into a transporter and capture people for interrogation without anyone ever missing them because they’re only copies.

Sure, all of this stuff was supposed to be very rare – but when it comes to major characters, one in a million shots come up nine times out of ten. Personally, I would say that having transporters as your primary method of getting on and off a ship is quite a big disadvantage – so that’s how I’m classifying them. They give the game master free license to fool around whenever they’re used. That also saves having to build the things, since they’d probably cost more than the rest of the ship functions put together, would far, FAR, exceed the active points limit of the game, and really aren’t nearly useful enough to be worth that kind of price tag.

Vehicle Characteristics

  • STR 10/70 (0 Points)
  • DEX 5 (-15 Points)
  • BODY 6/18 (-4 Points)
  • SPD 2 (5 Points)
    • Size Increase-12 (60 Points): 128 hexes (5,509 sq ft), 64 inside, 128 passengers, 18″ long x 7.1″ wide, 400,000 kg, KB -12, DCV -5 (Mod -7)
    • DEF 3; Coverage: Complete, -0; Protects: Top and Bottom, -0 (3 Points).
    • Ground Movement (0″, NC: 0″, 0mph); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×2, +0 (-12)

Elemental Control: Starship Powers (15-pt reserve); OIF (Drive and Power Systems): -½; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Primary Starship Systems Only: -½; Attracts Q, Negative Space Wedgies, and General Weirdness: -½, Subject to dramatic systems failures as hits, damage, or drama accumulate, regardless of actual “damage”: -½ (4 Points)

Drive Systems;

  • Impulse Drive / Flight (10″, NC: 1,250″, 930mph); Non-Combat Multiplier: ×125, +30; Stall: None, -0; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½ (8 Points).
  • Warp Drive / Faster-Than-Light Travel (1000 LY/Year); Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½ (3 Points)
  • Poorly-Controlled Time Warp / Extra-Dimensional Movement; Dimensions: One, +0; Time Travel: Any Time, +40; Extra Time: 5 min., -2; Generic Limitation (Time and Timeline Travel Only): -½; Generic Limitation (Unreliable in GMO ways.): -2; Mass Multiplier: ×1, +0; Carrying Mass: None; Charges: 1, -1¼; Recoverable Charges (Must resolve mission): -2 levels (5 Points).

Defensive Systems;

  • Shields / Force Field (10 PD/10 ED); Reduced END: Zero, +½; Hardened: ×1, ¼ (5 Points).
  • Shields / Power Defense (12 pts); Champions Advantage (Defends against informational attacks): +½; Linked (To Force Field): -½; Hardened: ×2, ½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (3 Points).
    • “Informational Damage” is a +1 advantage for attacks that target Power Defense or Mental Defense. Basically such attacks bypass defenses that don’t have a +1/2 advantage “stops informational attacks” – a variant on NND applied to attacks that already target a relatively rare specific defense.
  • Shields / Mental Defense (12 pts); Champions Advantage (Defends against informational attacks): +½; Linked (To Force Field): -½; Hardened: ×2, ½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (3 Points).
  • Outer Hull Integrity Field / Armor (7 PD/7 ED); Hardened: ×1, ¼; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (5 Points).
  • Flash Defense (Sight, 6 pts); Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (5 Points).
  • 4d6 Damage Control / Aid To Any One Damaged Cunction (Fade/turn, Max. 24); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Restore Only Lost Characteristics and Powers: -½; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1; Charges: +8, -½ (3 Points);

Sensor Systems;

  • Computer Augmentation / Enhanced Perception (all) (+7 to PER); Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (4 Points).
  • 360-Degree Sensing (All); Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (5 Points).
  • Ship Scans / Radar Sense; No Range Penalty: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (3 Points).
  • Navigational Warp Sensors / Danger Sense 14- (Out of Combat, Anywhere); Works: Out of Combat, +5; Range: Anywhere, +15; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Extra Time Required: Only At Startup, ½; Generic Limitation (Only to detect upcoming navigational hazards during high-speed travel): -2; Auxiliary Cost (Analytical; Provides data on the nature of the navigational or ship hazard): 1 (cost 5); Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½; (5 Points).
  • Life Sensors / Detect Life Forms (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Addition (Discriminatory Sense): +5; No Range Penalty: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (3 Points).
  • Deep Scans / Detect Technology (+0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Addition (Discriminatory Sense): +5; No Range Penalty: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (3 Points).
  • Environmental Sensors / Detect Environment (++0 to PER); Time Required: Instant, +2; Range: Ranged, +5; Addition (Discriminatory Sense): +5; No Range Penalty: +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (3 Points).

Environmental Systems;

  • Life Support (total); Generic Limitation (Subject to upper limits, weird effects often penetrate): -1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (5 Points).
  • Internal Lights, Gravity, Etc / Change Environment (2″ rad.); Effect: Variable, +1; Reduced END: Zero & Persistent, +1; Selective Target: +¼; Generic Limitation (Only internal): -1 (3 Points).

Facilities;

  • Hailing Frequencies: High Range Radio Hearing; Based on EGO Combat Value (No lightspeed delay, interstellar range): vs. ECV, +1; Invisible (Encrypted, Frequency-Hopping, Etc): To All Senses, +1; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (4 Points).
  • Labs and Computers / +3 to Crew Skill Checks; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Costs END: -½ (5 Points).
  • 1d6 Synthesizers / Transform to Supplies (Major, Limited Class); Range: 205; Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Cumulative: +½; Extra Time: 1 turn, -1 (5 Points).

Weapons Multipower (60-pt reserve); Original Series Powers Only: -½; OIF (Weapon Systems): -½; Focus Type: Vehicular, -½; Focus Mobility: Bulky, -½; Starship Weapons Only: -1; Attracts Q, Negative Space Wedgies, and other Weirdness: -½; Subject to dramatic systems failures as hits, damage, or drama accumulates: -½ (12 Points).

  • Phaser Battery: 1D6 Transform (Damaged Systems) (Minor, Limited Class); Based on EGO Combat Value: vs. ECV, +1; Autofire: 5 shots, ½; Reduced END: Zero, +1; No Normal Defense (Only blocked by informational defenses): +½; Cumulative: +½; (1 Point Ultra Slot). Thanks to the limitations on the ship defenses in this setting, this generally produces weird malfunctions and alarms rather than definable “damage” – even if not much actual effect is getting through.
  • Phasers On Stun: 2D6 Energy Blast; Based on EGO Combat Value: vs. ECV, +1; Reduced END: Zero, +1; Area Effect (Radius): 64″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×16, +1; Autofire: 5 shots, ½ (1 Point Ultra Slot).
  • Photon Torpedoes: 1D6 Ranged Killing Attack; Area Effect (One-hex) +½; Autofire: 5 shots, +½; Penetrating: +½; Armor Piercing: 1, +½; Charges: 250, +1 (1 Point Ultra Slot). Only usable at reasonably “close” range.
  • Tractor Beam: Telekinesis (STR 11); Manipulation: Coarse, +0; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Area Effect (Radius): 32″ radius, +1; Increased Area: ×16, +1 (1 Point Ultra Slot). Only usable at reasonably “close” range.

Total Vehicle Cost: 145 CP, -70 CP Disadvantages = 75 CP. Cost to Character: 75/5 = 15 CP.

  • (-15): Distinctive Features: Federation Starship; Concealability: Not Concealable, 15; Reaction: Noticed and Recognizable, +0
  • (-10): Requires Dilithium, Antimatter (Infrequently, Greatly)
  • (-15): Reputation: Federation Starship (14-)
  • (-10): Watched: The Authorities (8-); Capabilities: More Powerful, 15; Non-combat Influence: Extensive, +5; Geographical Area: Unlimited, -0; Only Watching: ×½; Punishment: Harsh, 0
  • (-20): Uses Transporters as the primary way to get on and of. (All the Time, Greatly)

Putting virtually everything into a Starship Powers elemental control – and adding “costs endurance / zero endurance cost” on powers to make them eligible to be in an elemental control – is definitely a cheap way to build this ship. On the other hand, it says that – if the power goes out – pretty much EVERYTHING stops working,

It’s also not too important. The characters are superheroes. as a general rule their best bet at doing much of anything is to get out and do it themselves rather than try and rely on a vehicle to do it for them. As such, this entire ship is mostly an excuse to cruise around and get into trouble – and why should they have to pay a lot of points to do that? They do THAT anyway. 

Eclipse d20 – The Demigodling-Noble Template

So you want to play a Nobilis-style character in d20 – someone who has suddenly been drafted into a war against terrible threats to the world and has been granted great power to fight that war with, suddenly becoming a part of an elite group with similar power sources but with differing styles. Congratulations! You are now a Green Lantern / Empowered Warlock / New God / Wielder Of The Power Cosmic / Knight Of The Fey / Tailed Beast Host / Harbinger / Animorph / Power Ranger / Exalt / Noble!

Or you might just be a Wild Card Virus Victim or something. It can be hard to tell.

So what are the requirements for being given this power? In Nobilis it basically comes down to “being there”, but Nobilis doesn’t actually concern itself with distinctions between mortals – whereas in d20 Mortals can surpass Gods and other cosmic powers. Granting the power of a Noble to an infant or low-level character won’t necessarily make for an effective soldier in the cosmic war. Just like Green Lantern Rings need somebody who’s strong-willed, competent, and reasonably healthy to make for effective Green Lanterns, the Nobilis Package needs someone who’s already competent (in d20 terms) to make an effective Noble.

Ergo, this is going to be an Acquired Template that may be applied to any sapient, playable, creature that is at least Level Eleven or equivalent.

So to convert your character into a Noble take the following Acquired Template – compiling the various design elements from the previous articles.

Mythic Noble Acquired Template

(210 CP / +6 ECL, Requires Sapience, Level 11+).

Choose Your Estate – the aspect of reality you are bound to (52 CP).

  • Describe your Estates major traits in four or five sentences. Rate them with values of 1-3 (one for minor qualities, 2 for notable ones, 3 for really central ones) totaling seven (0 CP).
    • Perhaps Sunlight… Brings Warmth And Life (2), but can Sear And Burn (1), It Returns Each Morning To Awaken The World (2), and it Reveals The Hidden (2).
  • Gain Dominion (Your Estate) (6 CP).
  • Gain Occult Sense/Your Estate. You can detect things related to your estate, whether that’s something affecting it on a large scale or its relationship to particular creatures. Note that – since you are the embodiment of your Estate – you can make perception rolls to figure out where attacks are coming from, even if they’re being launched by magic from another dimension. They are, after all, “things affecting your estate” (6 CP).
  • Gain Returning with Rewrite (12 CP). You may only be permanently killed by breaking your connection with your Estate and may make minor rewrites of your abilities between adventures.
  • Gain +1d6 (4) Mana, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost; controlled by the game master, only to power self-transformation “Persona” spells to adapt the user to the local environment, has whatever effects that the GM thinks will be fun (2 CP).
  • Gain Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Treats “your Estate” as a valid target, permits easy communication) / only to allow communication with the Estate and to get instances of it to act within their nature (for example, a gun might go off or misfire) or to fully transfer yourself into your Estate, leaving your body behind and undefended to possess and act through one or more instances of it (6 CP).
  • Gain Immunity to the disorientation of spreading your “self” over massive areas (Uncommon, Minor, Major, 6 CP), allowing you to – for example – find which of the hordes thousand fires has the chieftains council going on around it, at least presuming that you have an appropriate estate.
  • Gain two instances of Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to take on an Affliction (below) related to your Estate (12 CP) plus Adaption (Specialized for Increased Effect / may spend 2 Mana to change the points around instantly, Corrupted for Reduced Cost (cannot change otherwise), only for your Estate-Related Afflictions, above, 2 CP), plus Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted / only to lend someone else an Affliction (2 CP). You may take on an Estate-Related Affliction (below) and give one to someone else too.

Roll Your Miraculous Attributes (50 CP):

  • Aspect: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted/only for use in Reality Editing, only to produce effects calling for raising the user’s normal abilities to superhuman levels (8 CP).
  • Domain: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use Spell Enhancement, only for use with the “Shaping” ability below, only for effects targeting objects or the environment (8 CP).
  • Persona: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use Spell Enhancement, only for use with the “Shaping” ability below, only for effects targeting creatures, including yourself (8 CP).
  • Treasure: 4d6 Mana, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with “Treasure” effects (8 CP).
  • Gain Rite of Chi with +20 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to recharge the “attribute” pools above, only works between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (12 CP).
  • Gain Shaping, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Level 0 and 1 Effects) / only for effects related to your Estate. Note that this includes Destiny Spells related to your Estate, but they’re no more controllable than usual. Thanks to that “Increased Effect” modifier, 1 Mana will get you up to fourth level effects, two to seventh level effects, and three to tenth level effects. Going beyond that requires adding some of the “Compact” modifiers to the effect (6 CP).

Select Your Bonds and Afflictions (48 CP):

  • Gain Reflex Training / Can invoke a Bond as an Immediate Action when it’s trigger condition is met (6 CP).
  • Take a Major Bond: Inherent Spell (Improvisation, Level One) with Multiple +4, Specialized for Increased Effect (Double the effect of points) and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Points spent stack with the benefits of the Aspect Innate enchantments and may also be spent on Caster Level Checks and to increase the DC of saves against your abilities – although it costs 2 points to increase the DC by +1) / can only be activated when a specified trigger condition applies and the user only gets a single first level spell, rather than the two that Inherent Spell would normally provide (12 CP).
  • Take Two Minor Bonds: Inherent Spell (Improvisation, Level One) with Multiple +4, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Points spent stack with the benefits of the Aspect Innate enchantments and may also be spent on Caster Level Checks and to increase the DC of saves against your abilities – although it costs 4 points to increase the DC by +1) / can only be activated when its trigger condition applies and the user only gets a single first level spell, rather than the two that Inherent Spell would normally provide (6 CP each, for a total of 12 CP).
  • Take 18 CP worth of Afflictions – rules that you must live by (18 CP). Possible Afflictions include:
    • Power From Adversity: An “Accursed” Disadvantage (-3 CP) coupled with Rite of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, never activates at all unless the associated “Accursed” disadvantage is proving to be a serious hindrance at the moment (9 CP).
    • Strength Of The Phoenix: An “Accursed” Disadvantage (-3 CP) coupled with Grant of Aid with Mighty and +6 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, never activates at all unless the associated “Accursed” disadvantage is proving to be a serious hindrance at the moment (9 CP).
    • A Natural Imperative: 1d6 (4) Mana with Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for enforcing a particular personal “rule” (6 CP), plus Rite Of Chi with +8 Bonus Uses, Specialized and Corrupted / only to refill the pool above (6 CP). Both are Specialized Again for Reduced Cost / activation is under control of the game master, may backlash if blocked or logically impossible within the limits of the level of Reality Editing it can handle.

Claim Your Destiny (12 CP): Select two from…

  • Creation: Action Hero / Crafting if you want to create some mighty work, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Growth: Action Hero / Invention if you want to discover or develop new things for all to use. Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / spending Action Points requires a great deal of inter-player discussion and planning. (6 CP).
  • Transformation: Action Hero / Influence if you wish to restructure the relationships between the great powers of the world – or to raise up new powers and cast down old ones (6 CP).

Choose Your Panoply (48 CP): Possible options here include:

  • Spark Of The Divine (12 CP): Innate Enchantment (11,100 GP value):
    • Inhuman Speed: Personal Haste (2000 GP): +30′ Move, +1 Attack when making a full attack sequence.
    • Immortal Vigor I (1400 GP): +12 + 2 x Con Mod HP.
    • Inspiring Word (1400 GP): +1 morale bonus on saving throws, attack rolls, checks,and weapon damage.
    • Wrath Of Heaven/The Infernal (1400 GP) +1 Sacred (Infernal) bonus to Attacks and Damage.
    • Skill Mastery (1400 GP): +2 Competence Bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
    • Fortune’s Favor I (1400 GP): +2 “Luck” bonus to all Skill and Attribute Checks.
    • Resist: (700 GP): +1 Resistance Bonus on all Saving Throws.
    • Divine Health (1400 GP): Fast Healing I (for 18 Rounds) 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter).
      • This package provides +2 to Saves, +2 to Attack Checks, +5 to Skill and Attribute checks, +2 to Damage, +30′ to all Movement Modes, +(12 _ 2 x Con Mod) hit points, +1 Attack when making a full attack, 36 points worth of Rapid Healing per day, and helps out with poisons, diseases, and attribute damage – quite enough to make you significantly superhuman even without Miracles or Heroic Scaling.
  • Heroic Durability (12 CP).
    • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Physical Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you bounce small-caliber bullets, arrows, and similar annoyances unless they’re backed by more-than-human power.
    • Damage Reduction 3/-, Specialized in Energy Damage for Double Effect (6/-) (6 CP). That will let you dip your hand in molten metal, stand around in a burning building to have a chat, handle considerable electrical shocks, and even helps with spells, force bolts, and “divine” or “infernal” damage. It’s all energy.
  • Treasures (6 CP Each):
    • Mundane Treasures are normal things that get souped up. For this you want some Rune Magic (Specified Treasure, such as Cars), Specialized and Corrupted for Triple Effect / only for that particular treasure at (3 + Att Mod) x 3 (6 CP). This will let you summon, repair, and boost beyond all reason, mundane treasures of the appropriate type.
    • Followers and Allies and such get are bought as Leadership or Companion with various modifiers, all Specialized / you have to spend Mana to get them to do anything important for you (6 CP).
    • Symbolic Treasures – where a particular symbol or set of symbols acts as channels for your power and senses – can be purchased as Immunity/The Distinction Between the Symbol and You (Uncommon, Major, Great, Specialized / must expend 2 Mana to activate with respect to specific instances of the symbol) (6 CP).
    • A collection of minor devices (Charms and Talismans from The Practical Enchanter) can be purchased as: Shaping, Corrupted and Specialized for increased (level one and possibly weak level two) effects/can only produce the 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 take some time to attune for use (6 CP). Another option that doesn’t cost Mana, since they’re pretty minor by d20 standards even in less-magical worlds.
    • Powerful Magical Devices are usually purchased as a Create Relic package: Create Relic, Specialized and Corrupted/only for making a particular four-point Relic or four-point collection of lesser Relics (2 CP), plus Double Enthusiast, Specialized for Increased Effect and corrupted for Reduced Cost / only for making those particular relics (4 CP) – for a grand total of (6 CP). They don’t usually require Mana, since they’re associated with a very high Treasure rating anyway.
    • Labs and such can be purchased as “Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys” from The Golden Ones sample powers list. These can allow you to have a collection of minor items to use on your adventures.
    • For a collection of more-or-less “normal” d20 magical devices, buy Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to summon, repair, or briefly boost up your normal wealth-by-level equipment (6 CP). Now you have a full-scale panoply of stuff – at least once you’re of a high enough level.
    • Mysterious Devices – like the sword Severance, or the Chalice Of Spring, or the Remote Control Of The Machine God or The Flying Dutchman’s Phantom Pirate Ship – are purchased as Natural Magic / Reality Editing, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Reality Editing, only to produce effects within a specific theme (6 CP). This can produce some pretty impressive miracles at times – but not very often.
    • For a mess of Technological Tools and Gear, purchase Innate Enchantment (5000 GP = 100,000 Dollars or Credits worth of d20 Modern / Future equipment) for (6 CP) and supply yourself with gear that simply appears when you need it and disappears otherwise.
    • If you just want Money, buy a Stipend or Privilege/Landlord. In either case, this basically defines you as being rich, having a nice lifestyle, and so on (6 CP).

But wait! Don’t I get any credit for being drafted into a cosmic war?

No you don’t. EVERY high-level d20 player character is a part of the cosmic wars. That sort of thing is what the game is all about – and it’s important to remember that – while your Noble is going to be ECL 17+, a level 17+ “Mortal” can be just as formidable as you are.

And there you go. You are now a Lesser Power, a lieutenant of the Great Powers in the War Of Seven Spheres / Battle Between Good And Evil / war between Apokolips and New Genesis / Transformer-Decepticon War / Sith Wars / Blood War / Heralds And Voidbringers / Shadows And Vorlons / Dalek-Timelord Time War / Khorne and Tzeentch / War For Reality!

This really isn’t anything new, but why not?

What about Excrucians and Imperators?

  • Excrucians get +2d6 on each of their Miraculous Attributes (16 CP), an extra +12 Bonus Uses on Rite Of Chi (6 CP) to restore those attributes (increasing the cost of their template to 232 CP or +7 ECL) and are created from Sapient Undead of CR 13+. Like all undead, they can be clever and pleasant – but they exist to destroy all life and return the universe to the void.
  • Imperators are true Gods with Godfire. Their Avatars usually have the Excrucian’s boosted version of the Noble Template.

And that’s about it – save for noting that it’s important to remember that the default d20 universe is a lot bigger and more variegated than the Nobilis universe and there are lots of pieces of it that other powers control. YOU may be the Sun Lord, but there are plenty of other Sun Lords out there with control of their own suns.

Hero System – Artifact Smartphones

And as a whimsical bonus for today… it’s Blueblood‘s Artifact Smartphone, for those times when you just HAVE to stay in touch.

Not surprisingly, a Smartphone is purchased as exactly what it is – a Computer. In fact, it’s a not particularly powerful computer. Still, even the basic zero-point model is has all the usual Smartphone functions and – as a magical artifact – is capable of getting onto pretty much any network from pretty much anywhere in the multiverse, can control your household gadgets, can straighten your desk, can fetch you coffee, and can feed local languages (and some other stuff) directly into your head.

Advanced models are quite another thing altogether. At a cost of four, five, or six points they can have all kinds of functions, even if they DO tend to drain the supplemental battery at great speed. Blueblood has never bothered to upgrade though; he generally prefers to use his own powers.

Smartphone Computer

Value Characteristic Points
8 INT -2
1 SPD 0
Total -32

 

Points Powers END
32 Artifact Smartphone (0 Points)
(2) Elemental Control: Electronics (4-pt reserve); Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼; OAF (Phone): -1
a-4 Radio Listen and Transmit; Datalink: +½; Cellular / WiFi / Bluetooth Service Only: -1; No Range Penalty: +½; Transdimensional: Any Dimension, +1,

This will let you connect to any network from pretty much anywhere.

b-2 Eidetic Memory; Always On (Memory is either perfect or utterly gone): -½, Limited Storage Space: -½.
c-2 Images (Normal Sight); Reduced END: Zero, +½; No Range: -½; Generic Limitation (Screen Only): -4; Observer PER Penalty: 0, +0. 0
d-6 Pocket Secretary and Remote Control / Telekinesis (STR 10); Manipulation: Fine, +10; Reduced END: Zero, +½; Strength 0 Only: -2; Maximum range of 6 Hexes: -¼; Only functions as a secretary – operating devices, fetching coffee, sketching, etc: -2. 0
e-5 2d6 Aid: Programs/Databases (Fade/week, Max. 12); Range: 0; Affects: Single Power of Special Effect, +¼; Extra Time: 1 min., -1½; Activation: 11-, -1; Must have program available to load: -2; Reduced END: Zero, +½.

This allows the user to load maps (area knowledge), languages, databases, and so on. All of it should be Usable By Others/Power Lost, so you can load a total of 10 points worth of information.

0
f-6 Basic Computer Functions
(2) Internal Clock / Absolute Time Sense.
(2) GPS/Bump of Direction.
(2) Calculator / Lightning Calculator.
(1) File Loading / Speed Reading; Computer Files Only: -1.
(0) Camera (Eyes)
(0) Microphone (Ears)
(0) Speakers (Voice)
(2) High Fidelity Playback / Mimicry 11-
(0) Touchscreen (Touch)
g-5 Standard Software:
(2) Security Features / Immunity To Unauthorized Use; Frequency: Common.
(1) Voice Mode / English (Or language of choice) (Fluent Conversation); Literacy: Standard, 0.
(1) Office Software / Professional Skill: Secretary. 11-
(1) Media Library / Knowledge Skill Digital Media. 11-
(1) Games Library: Professional Skill / Entertainer. 11-
(1) Map Database / Knowledge Geography. 11-
(1) Virtual Object/Image/Map Generator / Professional Skill Artist. 11-
(0) For Translation, local maps, and databases, use the “Aid” to load an appropriate skill.
32 Advanced Artifact Smartphone (2/7/All Multipower functions for 4/5/6 points).
(4) Superior Battery / END Reserve (64 END, 4 REC/turn); Focus (Phone): Obvious Accessible, -1; Generic Limitation (Only for use by user; The phone cannot use this power): -¾; Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼.
(16) Special Functions / Multipower (48-pt reserve); Focus (Phone): Obvious Accessible, -1; Generic Limitation (Only for use by user; The phone cannot use these powers): -¾; Usable By Others: Power Lost, +¼; Concentrate: 0 DCV, -½; Extra Time: full phase, -½
u-1 Security Override / Security Systems; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½ 21-
u-1 Systems Override / Systems Operation; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½. 21-
u-1 Air / Water Vehicle Controller / Combat Piloting; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½. 21-
u-1 Ground Vehicle Controller / Combat Driving; Ranged: +½; Costs END (4 per use): -½. 21-
u-1 Holoimager / Images versus Sight (Hearing, Sight, 2″ radius); Range: 215; Observer PER Penalty: 3, +9; Increased END: ×2, -½. 8
u-1 6d6 Regeneration Ray / Standard Healing; Ranged: +½. 5
u-1 Environmental Field / Life Support (total); Area Effect (One-hex): 1 hex(es), +½; Costs END (4 per phase): -½.
u-1 Shields / Force Field (10 PD/10 ED); Area Effect (Radius): 3″ radius, +1. 4
u-1 1d6 Reality Reprogramming / Transform (Major, Anything); Range: 205; Increased END: ×2, -½; Cumulative: +½. 8
u-1 Summon Pokemon (1 50-point creatures); Range: 0; Summon: Limited Group, +¼; Increased END: ×2, -½.

Training your Pokemon effectively is up to you.

 

12

u-1 Beam Me Up: Extra-Dimensional Movement to the Enterprise (or another specific locale); Dimensions: One, +0; Time Travel: None, +0; Mass Multiplier: ×4, +10; Carrying Mass: 200; Increased END: ×2, -½. 8
u-1 3d6 Disintegrator Beam/Killing Attack (RKA); Range: 280; Increased END: ×2. 12
32 Total Powers  

 

Nobilis and Eclipse – Bonds, Gifts, Shine, and Cool

And to finish up with Nobilis’s major mechanics…

Bonds:

Bonds, at least as Nobilis defines them, can be strengths, motivations, emotional commitments, beliefs, or weaknesses – but, unlike an Affliction, invoking them is voluntary. Nobody is forcing your character to act on their “Love For My Family” bond; they just get bonuses when they do (or, if you’re using them like Mortals do… they can help reduce penalties that would otherwise hinder you). Invoking a powerful bond can help a Nobilis “Miracle” break through an opponents defenses. You make an extra effort because something is important to you. Bonds help define who and what you are and what you stand for.

Of course, in Nobilis not all bonds are created equal. “Love For My Family!” will give you a nice boost when you need it to help out your family – but “Demonstrate My Might!” will probably give you that nice boost on two-thirds of the things you do. That is not a good thing, especially given that d20 games are full of character optimizers. Ergo, the boosts from a Bond are going to have to be limited uses to help hold that sort of thing in check – and the game master will have to keep a careful eye on what the activation conditions are to make sure that they aren’t effectively “at any moment I find convenient”.

Still, common Bonds include things like “I always escape!”, “I love my family!”, “Nobody drives Megas but me!”, “I will save them all!”, “No one can take what is mine!”, “I am the good guy!”, “I love to gloat and monologue!”, “I can’t resist drinking!”, “I follow the Code of Bushido!”, “I leap into things without thinking!”, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night shall stay me!”, “Protect the Innocent!”, and “Follow the Plan to Victory!”. When a bond is threatened or can be invoked, its trigger condition is met. “I always escape” can thus be activated whenever you’re about to be captured or have been captured and need to escape. “I love my family” can be activated whenever your family is threatened or you want to do something for them. “I love to gloat and monologue!” can be activated whenever you get a chance to gloat and monologue, and so on. Basically you should have a chance to activate a Bond fairly often – but not all the time.

The basic structure for Bonds is thus

  • Reflex Training / Can invoke a Bond as an Immediate Action when it’s trigger condition is met (6 CP).
  • Each Bond is purchased as an Inherent Spell (Improvisation, Level One) with Multiple +4, Specialized for Reduced Cost and Corrupted for Increased Effect (Points spent stack with the benefits of the Aspect Innate enchantments and may also be spent on Caster Level Checks and to increase the DC of saves against your abilities – although it costs 4 points to increase the DC by +1) / can only be activated when its trigger condition applies and the user only gets a single first level spell, rather than the two that Inherent Spell would normally provide (6 CP).
    • If you want a stronger bond, Specialize it for Increased (Double) Effect and pay 12 CP. A weak one? Cut down on the number of uses and pay just a bit less. A major motivating factor? Pay some more for even more uses.

Gifts:

In Nobilis, Gifts are special powers that aren’t necessarily related to your Estate. You have them just because you have them. Perhaps you’re unaffected by fire, or have wings and can fly, or can touch people and cast them into another realm. In Nobilis these are specialized miracles. In d20… these are absolutely normal. Can you materialize a deadly sword from nothing? That’s Spirit Weapon and Imbuement – and is a trick that every Soulknife, or Bokor (Binder), or any of dozens of other character types can pull off. You’re a shapeshifter? A werewolf? An elf? You have dragon powers? You can use mystic martial arts? You can touch people and toss them forwards through time?

Congratulations. You’re an d20 character, just like everybody else. Just buy some powers to suit yourself.

Shine and Cool:

For the last of the major Nobilis mechanics we have Cool and Shine. Both Cool and Shine are technically skills (passions? qualities?) available to Mortals, but in Nobilis we’re only really interested in player characters – and these are two of the Nobilis mechanics that go out of their way to illustrate that. Most Nobilis characters will have some of both, and it’s not at all hard to have “5″ in one or both since mortal qualities are cheap. Lets have a look at Shine first.

Shine:

According to the Nobilis rules, whenever a mortal wants to honor you or implement your agenda they can use your Shine as if it were one of their own Passions or Skills, making it the basis for an Intention. You don’t have to interact with them to this happen, although you do have to more-or-less approve of their action (you don’t have to know about it though; you’d only have to be inclined to approve if you did know about it).

So my Estate is “Making An Effort” (Side benefit! The game master can’t even get rid of me without ending the game since no one will ever be able to make an effort to do anything again if I’m destroyed). Any mortal who decides to make an effort honors me. So any mortal who decides to get up and do something (or invest a point of will in an intent) can draw upon my Shine 5 in place of their own Passion or Skill.

Yay! Without any real effort on my part, I have just given every mortal in the universe great skills, health, wealth, magical powers, athletic abilities, and unending happiness! At least as long as I approve of whatever it is they want to do… Fortunately, I dislike Child Abuse, Murder, and a lot of other stuff like that.

Although that may not help much. After all, even Nobilis’s relatively tiny cosmology includes a few billion worlds and Shine 5 isn’t that uncommon among Nobilis characters. How likely is it that pretty much any action you could want to take has a patron with Shine 5 somewhere out there? Presumably the Gods of Murder, Massacre, Crime, Anger, Weapons, and more all approve of Murder and at least one of them is sure to have a nice high Shine score.

Er… no. Eclipse does include a way for actual gods to bestow enhancements on their followers – Endowment and Greater Endowment – as well as plenty of ways to buff up people in the area (Mystic Artist, boosting spells, Presence, Executive, Dominion, and a lot more) – but there isn’t any equivalent to Shine because Eclipse tries to have mechanics that will actually function in a game. This mechanic doesn’t even function as written in Nobilis. There’s no cost, because abilities that don’t work are free.

Cool:

Then, of course, we have the opposing ability – Cool.

Cool acts as a penalty on mundane actions that cause problems for, injure, or influence someone cool or an organization, person, or situation that the Cool person is actively watching over

So if I have Cool 5 and my Estate is “Depression” (“Depression is not doing anything”), anyone who actually does something is injuring my Estate/Self. As long as I am watching over my estate… all mundane actions everywhere in the Nobilis multiverse take a -5 penalty. Mortal magicians may still derive some motivation from their Bonds, but for the most part… all the mortals in the multiverse lie down and die because Depression is so Cool.

No, Eclipse doesn’t really include any way to make everyone, everywhere, fail at everything, with little or no effort on your part. That’s because it’s really, REALLY, boring. Especially since it’s a VERY big multiverse, and that means that this will have been going on since long before the player characters were born. (And would mean that they were never born at all since having and caring for children involves doing stuff).

So according to these rules in Nobilis… mortal abilities are actually totally irrelevant to mortals. Only Nobles – who are immune to other people’s Shine (although not to Cool when taking mundane actions) actually have any use for mortal abilities – although there’s no reason that they would ever have acquired any in the first place since they spent their time as mortals in a world where mortal skills are totally irrelevant.

Nobilis isn’t actually played that way of course. Its “mechanics” really only apply to player characters. They only exist to differentiate them, to give the players something to fiddle with, and to provide a way for the characters to say “I’m just coasting”, “I’m making an effort”, and “I’m going all in” – which the game master compares to an internal difficulty scale consisting of “they can win this one easy”, “they can win this one if they make a minor/major effort and/or get really creative” and “they can’t win this one” – with the definitions of “winning”, “losing”, and “injuries” being open to interpretation and discussion by everyone at the table.