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. 

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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.

Nobilis and Eclipse – Estates, Persona, and Domain

“Estates” are one of the core concepts of Nobilis – and are entirely subjective, described by seven “points” worth of sentences, assigning more “points” to more central properties. Your estate could be Time, or Dragons, or Clockwork, or Pillows, or Cooking Programs, or Sid Mier’s Computer Games, or pretty much anything else. It really doesn’t matter what you call it, since it’s defined by those (usually four or five) sentences – not by external expectations. Are you a power of “Cold”? Perhaps…

  • (2) Cold isolates the heart, destroying an entities traits.
  • (2) Cold is an undisturbed void, rejecting reality through not caring.
  • (1) Cold is the death of self, with mind and body soon to follow.
  • (1) Cold is outside, always waiting to force its way in.
  • (1) Cold is eternal and timeless, while all else passes.

Or perhaps…

  • (3) Cold negates energy, for all ends in cold.
  • (1) Cold crystallizes, preserving what lies within.
  • (1) Cold allows things to function far beyond their limits.
  • (1) Cold opens the way for new beginnings.
  • (1) Cold lurks in the depths.

Or perhaps…

  • (2) Cold rides the winds everywhere, stealing heat and life.
  • (1) Cold kills, desiccates, and shatters.
  • (1) Cold is winter, the season of scarcity, famine, and death.
  • (2) Cold is ice, from the smallest snowflake to the greatest glacier.
  • (1) Cold isolates and entraps, preventing or forcing interaction.

The Nobilis book also gives a couple of other examples for “cold”.

  • (2) Cold freezes things.
  • (2) Cold makes things sick.
  • (1) Cold is melancholy.
  • (1) Cold descends.
  • (1) Cold is the snow and the ice and the dark.

Or:

  • (1) Cold slows things down.
  • (1) Cold chills the heart.
  • (3) Cold brings silence, stillness, and peace.
  • (2) Cold is driven to fill emptiness.

Or you could be a power of mathematics, necessity, finance and logic, and still call it “cold” (although altering the rules of logic is a REAL headache).

For that matter, you can be a power of Illogic or Acausality and make anything at all happen as long as it has no rational connection to whatever you did to cause it. You could also make A = Not-A – at which point nothing can be distinguished from anything else.

In any case, Domain and Persona give you powers based on your Estate – Domain focused on affecting objects and the environment and Persona focused on affecting creatures (including yourself). You get a bunch of minor stuff that you can always do and you get major stuff that you can do, but not at all often.

Of course, Nobilis then goes on to say that “The Power of Fire can make someone more fiery, or give them a dangerous feel, or make sure that now and again in life their plans will burn them.” – without talking about what Estate of Fire it’s referring to. What if the Fire Estate that’s currently in play is all about nuclear fusion, metabolism, explosions, and cooking?

I’m going to ignore that bit. D20 focuses a lot more on consistency.

Buying the Domain and Persona Attributes:

  • Both of them are 4d6 Mana, with Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all Specialized and Corrupted / only for use Spell Enhancement, only for use with the “Shaping” ability below, only for effects targeting objects or the environment (Domain) or effects targeting creatures, including yourself. Rite of Chi, only recharges the specific mana pool it was purchased for and then only between sessions or when the game master opts to award a die (24 CP in total).

You’ll also need:

  • Dominion (Your Estate). This lets you draw power from administering, defending, and otherwise promoting your Estate, as well as allowing you to use it to influence large-scale events (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/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).
  • You can produce minor effects related to your estate. That’s 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 (6 CP).
    • This is also the foundation for higher-level Estate-related “Miracles”/Spells. 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. “Imperial Miracles” or Grandiose Edits can reach level 13, but pushing things that far generally leads to all kinds of backlash.

This is incredibly cheesy. Applying “Specialized For Increased Effect” to the Mana used in Spell Enhancement is pretty ridiculous. This sort of thing is only acceptable if EVERY major character is using equally horrible cheese. Fortunately, in a Nobilis styled setting… they all will be.

  • Adaption: Nobilis characters are avatars of their Estates, As such, they adapt to how their Estate fits into the local environment as a basic function of their Persona attribute. They will learn local languages within a few moments of their arrival, take on a suitable local guise (while remaining clearly themselves), and fit into their local role – whether that happens to be as one of the octopus people of an undersea dimension, a towering kaiju in a dreamworld of battling powers, the depths of space, or a mere exotic culture. Thus, if the game master decides to set a session in an exotic city or an alien dimension or something, Nobilis characters need not worry about “can they speak the local languages?” or “can they breathe the local air”.

    • This is an automatic self-polymorphing effect – a small part of their innate Estate-related Shaping – which is entirely under the game masters control (although a Noble may ask the game master to spend 1-3 of his or her Persona mana to trigger it – (lets say if they’re lost at sea with no boat and are about to drown). This will occasionally call for effects of well above level one, so this is they need to buy +1d6 (4) Mana that counts as part of the Persona Pool for recharging purposes, Specialized and Corrupted for Reduced Cost; controlled by the game master, only to power self-transformation spells to adapt the user to the local environment, has whatever effects that the GM thinks will be fun (2 CP).
  • You can become one with your Estate, either possessing an instance of it (wherever that is) or “communicating” with it. That’s 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). Sadly, possessing more than one instance of your Estate at once requires an Immunity to disorientation to work effectively. Ergo, buy 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.
  • You may take on an Affliction related to your Estate – or give one to someone else. That’s two instances of Double Enthusiast, Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only to take on an Affliction 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).

Persona and Domain 4-5 are a problem; they’re where you can Create, Animate, Summon, Destroy, Adopt, or Cast Out (make something a part of your estate or not a part of your Estate, so that it transforms – although how is up to the game master). And while this is limited to a relatively small scale… unlimited Raise Dead, Create Undead, Slay Living, Animate Object, Summoning, and similar effects generally wreck the game.

The trick here is to recognize that such abilities aren’t really “unlimited” in Nobilis either; they may not have a base cost at this level – but trying to use your “Life” Estate powers to raise all the dead of a great battle will very shortly bring you into conflict with other powers. Nobilis conflicts expend resources to pump up your miracles very quickly too – so there won’t be many chances to use the free stuff there either. Finally, of course, the game master has a lot more input on what you get from any given attempt in Nobilis than in d20, where they’re basically just high level spells. That’s one reason why I’ve given the various Nobilis “Attributes” mana / “Miracle Point” pools of 4d6 instead of 5. They have some to spend on such effects, and so will get to use them about as often as they get to use them in Nobilis anyway. There’s no further cost here, since I’ve already included that.

That gives the equivalent of Domain and Persona 5 a total cost of 60 Character Points. Once again, that’s relatively cheap in d20 because most Nobilis “Miracles” are actually pretty straightforward in d20 terms. They may be high-level spells – but they’re just spells. D20 is a system where Raistlin – a mortal wizard – could challenge the entire pantheon of his world and destroy them all (OK, that was second edition, but the settings haven’t changed that much). In d20, power is a smooth scale; there isn’t any sharp division between “Mortal Magic” and “Divine Powers”.

Ponies Of The Eclipse – Stygian and The Pony Of Shadows

After the write-ups for the six Pillars of Old Equestria Alzrius requested a writeup for Stygian, the Pony Of Shadows – and so here we go. As always, the first thing to do is to look at what Stygian and The Pony Of Shadows are actually shown doing – admittedly, mostly in campfire tales and in the My Little Pony: Legends Of Magic comic book series.

  • To start with the obvious, pony names are often pretty good indicators of their talents. Stygian is “of or relating to the river/deity Styx”- a part of the Greek underworld, associated with darkness, witchcraft, and hidden lore, and with dark waters that granted near-invulnerability,. That’s really rather suggestive. Moreover, Equestria includes Tartarus (another part of the Greek Underworld), Minotaurs, Centaurs, Hydra, Manticores, and more – all elements of Greek Mythology made real and tangible in the setting. It may be worth taking Greek Mythology references fairly seriously.
  • Stygians Cutie Mark has never been revealed. He covers it all the time, just like Sombra. That’s also rather suggestive, and more than a bit ominous.
  • Stygian is supposed to be fairly young. Of course, given that it’s a kids show, most of the characters are fairly young – so this isn’t exactly a power unless he’s immortal as the Pony Of Shadows. (The Pony Of Shadows was no longer in charge when his world was revisited more than a thousand years later – it had apparently been taken over by an alternate version of Discord – but we aren’t exactly shown that much of the alternate world in either case and we’re not told why there was a change).
  • Stygian is an expert on the sea, biology, and folktales, is at least competent at strategy and tactics (that’s probably pretty rare among generally-peaceful ponies) and astronomy, and is apparently quite knowledgeable about the various creatures of Equestria. That’s more than a bit weird for a villager. Serious scholarship kind of calls for either access to libraries, mentors, and support for your studies or a great deal of natural talent in a field to develop everything from scratch (and is likely to go badly wrong even then; Aristotle was very clever, but most of his “scholarship” was very badly flawed, to say the least). Secondarily, that’s a LOT of fields of study for a youngster with no resources to master. A way to support himself and a teacher or teachers of some sort would make this a lot more reasonable.
  • On the practical level he’s a competent sailor, a skilled maker of baskets, a horticulturist, a good housekeeper, and can apparently handle an immense list of other chores (presumably involving other practical skills) in one evening. He’s good enough at survival to wander the wilderness in relative safety, became a successful commercial author (after being freed from the darkness) and may have various other practical “village” skills or spells.
  • He was a skillful telekinetic, with excellent fine control and – as shown in My Little Pony: Legends Of Magic #8 – enough telekinetic strength to hold back water across a canal with force barrier. Even if it was only ten by ten… that puts the total force in the ten to twenty ton range. Admittedly the writers probably had no idea of what they were showing, and unicorn telekinesis tends to be as strong as the story calls for (since he then found lifting Rockhoof mildly awkward), but even lifting Rockhoof seems likely to be fairly impressive for your basic unicorn. Perhaps it was a force barrier or “wall” effect though? Those might be a lot easier.
  • As a unicorn scholar, who has specifically noted that “he wanted to go back to studying spells (Legends Of Magic #9), his magic is probably fairly versatile, even if mostly focused on practical spells and effects that could be found and practically employed in a seaside village.
  • When the Sirens attacked his village, he was the only one to escape their influence. He stated that it was because he was “out of range” – but he got more than close enough, and then resisted for long enough to go and consult his books before running away. Even if the sirens gave a concert, surely the place had farmers, woodcutters, and others who worked much further away and who didn’t come? Why didn’t any of THEM get away? Some special resistance seems likely.
  • He then evaded, escaped, or fought giant sea serpents, crab monsters, timberwolves, and gryphons, and possibly more obstacles than would fit in the single page devoted to his solitary travels to reach Rockhoof’s distant, apparently “northern”, viking-styled village.
  • He gathered a group of heroes to stop the sirens, even getting crochety old Starswirl to come along. Sure, ponies are generally helpful and willing to go a long ways to help others (as established in the first couple of episodes!) but surely legendary heroes had other urgent requests to deal with. Ergo, he’s probably fairly – and perhaps unnaturally – persuasive.
  • He could command the minions of an alternate-universe version of himself. This might be a power, or it might just be that they were too obedient/cursed/stupid/whatever to tell the difference.
  • That alternate-universe version of himself had, however, apparently killed off most of the pillars, eliminated or chased away all other ponies (at least there were none shown), commanded many minions, had corrupted large areas of the world, and wanted to become a cross-universal corruptor (strongly implying that he’d either finished with his current world or was being forced to run – and he didn’t seem to be running). Evidently, given time, the Pony Of Shadows became fairly dangerous directly and extremely corruptive.
  • When he confronted the alternate-universe Pony Of Shadows, their magic proved ineffective against each other – canceling out, despite the Pony Of Shadows supposedly being much more powerful than plain Stygian.
  • He borrowed the Pillars signature artifacts and went to Ponehenge to make copies of them so that he “could be a Pillar too”. Given that several of those artifacts are purely symbolic, that may have been purely irrational thinking – which would help explain why the Pillars misinterpreted what he was up to. It’s hard to understand something that makes no sense.
  • When he was prevented from making copies of the Pillar’s artifacts he wandered off, only to return later hosting a powerful force of darkness. Again, that seems likely to be an uncommon (if dubious) talent, simply because – while it seems likely that a lot of ponies get really upset – most of them don’t wind up hosting mighty evil forces.
  • Starswirl The Bearded, scholar of magic, didn’t know how to deal with him as The Pony Of Shadows. That rather implies that there was something pretty unusual about the magic that was in use in that form – and perhaps normally.
  • Stygian actually seemed to be fairly strong and versatile for a Unicorn in practice. Why wouldn’t that power be apparent to others?
    • Stygian can Teleport at least three ponies at a time for fairly long distances – possibly hundreds of miles – in Nightmare Knights #2 – but that series is only halfway completed, and didn’t even start until October 2018, so I think that it probably represents a somewhat later version of the character who has picked up at least one more level; otherwise his journey to find the Pillars would be just a bit less impressive. So no teleportation for this version.

For his primary attributes…

  • Strength: He’s a really scrawny little guy, so his Strength is going to be pretty underwhelming.
  • Constitution: He seems to be reasonably tough and enduring though, pointing towards a decent Constitution. Sure, he needed more rests than Rockhoof while they were traveling together, but a stream locomotive probably needs more rests than Rockhoof.
  • Dexterity: When it comes to Dexterity Stygian is probably fairly average for a pony. He did move pretty quickly, and with no obvious fumbles, when he needed to – but it was nothing all that impressive.
  • Intelligence: Genius plus. He definitely seemed to have a better appreciation for what might go wrong with a plan than Starswirl did despite being much younger and presumably less experienced, he’s apparently a self-trained scholar in many fields, and he has a LOT of skills.
  • Wisdom: Wisdom is always a bit harder to pin down, but being a field naturalist, and surviving solo journeys across the wilds of early Equestria, implies that (at the least) there’s no major deficiency here – and he certainly shows a reasonably strong will, both in resisting the Sirens (whether he used a power or not) and in setting out on a solo quest to bring help.
  • Charisma. Rockhoof finds Stygian pretty affable, and he’s apparently pretty persuasive – but he’s certainly not that good at being the center of attention, dominating a group, or showing that much force of personality. Of course, some Charisma is pretty much built into ponies.
  • Finally, while Stygian is fairly adamant about “not being a hero”, he certainly is one from an observers standpoint – so I’m going to use the same 25-point attribute buy as I did for the rest of the Pillars.

When it comes to level, Stygian did a lot of wandering around as a scholar, then went on a quest to find the Pillars, and then participated in some degree in the various adventures after he started finding them. Since the low-level adventurer template would keep him from advancing at the breakneck speed of a normal d20 character, I’m going to put him at level three. That would actually be a bit high for his known “number of encounters” – but presumably he did some things that didn’t make it into the comics. After all, he was a pretty busy guy even before he started collecting the pillars.

The world of My Little Pony is a world of friendship, harmony, and rainbows. So… why ARE their true villains? Sure, Trixie, the Flim-Flam Brothers, Spoiled Rich, pre-reformation Diamond Tiara, and even Discord were really annoying, but they mostly just misinterpreted or failed to “get” all that happiness.

So what is powering a (possessing) Nightmare? Or Tirek? Or Sombra? What powers dark magic?

For Nightmare… it was Jealousy. For Tirek, Greed. For Sombra, Fear.

For the Pony of Shadows? He seemed to be powered by the greatest of all dark magics in the world of Friendship Is Magic – Friendship Betrayed. For the Pony Of Shadows may have been somewhat separate from Equestria-primes version of Stygian – but as the MLP: Legends Of Magic annual showed… over the years they would have become one, for that alternate version of Stygian bore tattered batlike wings. He had ascended to become a Dark Alicorn. So it is time to create…

Stygian Shadow, potential Prince Of Friendship Betrayed.

Basic Attributes: Str 8 (-2 Unicorn = 6), Dex 12 (-2 Pony = 10), Con 12 (+2 Pony +2 Enh = 16), Int 18 (+2 Knack, +2 Unicorn = 22), Wis 13, Cha 13 (+2 Enh = 15) (Pathfinder 25 Point Buy).

Available Character Points: 96 (Level Three Base) + 10 (Disadvantages: History (a bit of a freebie for most converted characters), Obligations (takes responsibility for all kinds of things), and Accursed (tends to be misunderstood, ignored, and uncredited) +18 (Unicorn, L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 124 CP.

Basic Abilities (36 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 6 (L1d6, 2 CP) +9 (L2-L3d6, 4 CP) +12 (Template) +15 (5 x Con Mod) = 42 HP. With pony damage reduction this makes him reasonably durable.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) + 36 (Int) + 18 (Fast Learner) = 60 SP
  • BAB +1 (6 CP). Stygian isn’t stupid, but he just isn’t a physical fighter.
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +0 (0 CP) +3 (Con) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Reflex +3 (9 CP) +0 (Dex) +1 (Tem) = +4
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +1 (Wis) +1 (Tem) = +4
  • Proficiencies: Simple Weapons (3 CP).
  • Initiative: +0 (Dex)
  • Move: 40 (four legs, 20 on three or less).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +7 (Force Armor III) = 17. May rise to 24 when he adds a Force Shield III.
  • Stygian really doesn’t do physical combat, so he has no “usual attacks”.

Sage (35 CP):

  • Adept x 2 (12 CP). Pays half cost for Knowledge: Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nature, and Planes, Linguistics, and Spellcraft.
  • Fast Learner (6 CP), Specialized and Corrupted for Increased Effect / only for Knowledge Skills.
  • Universal Jack Of All Trades, Specialized and Corrupted / Only for Craft and Profession skills (4 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds (Int Mod) to (Wis Mod) for Skill Check Purposes, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Profession Skills (2 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus / Adds (Con Mod) to (Int Mod) for Skill Check Purposes, Specialized in Knowledge Skills Only (3 CP).
  • Tactician (8 CP): Mystic Artist (Knowledge / History) with Echoes, Specialized for Double Effect, Corrupted for Reduced Cost / only to use the inspiration abilities, only to provide bonuses in combat against specified enemies, requires that the player provide a plausible plan.
    • This is actually pretty potent; sure, it only lasts for ten rounds once a fight starts – but a good plan / +2 Positive Levels from Mass Greatness can go a long ways in ten rounds.

Skills:

  • Craft (Universal): +1 (JOAT) +6 (Int) = +7
  • Diplomacy: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Cha) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Fly: +3 (3 SP) +0 (Dex) +8 (Fly Speed as the Pony Of Shadows) = +11
  • Heal: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) = +7
  • Knowledge: Arcana, Geography, History, Local, Nature, and Planes: +6 (3* SP x 6 = 18 SP) +6 (Int Mod) +3 (Con Mod) = +15.
  • Linguistics: +6 (3* SP) +6 (Int) +3 (Tem) = +15
  • Perception: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) +3 (Tem) = +10
  • Perform (Sing): +3 (3 SP) +1 (Cha) +2 (Race) = +6
  • Profession (Universal): +1 (JOAT) +1 (Wis) +6 (Int) = +8
  • Spellcraft: +6 (3* SP) +6 (Int) +3 (Tem) +2 (Race) = +17
  • Survival: +6 (6 SP) +1 (Wis) +3 (Tem) +3 (Unicorn Skill Mastery) = +13
  • Swim: +6 (6 SP) -3 (Str) = +3

Stygian Magic (53 CP).

Like Trixie Lulumoon centuries later, Stygian wields a strange, and often frightening magic. He is so used to thinking of it as “wrong” that he conceals his cutie mark and has denigrated his own skills to the point where he believes himself weak, ineffective, and incapable of fighting. Stygian doesn’t lack power though, even if it doesn’t show up very well on Equestria’s usual scales. What he lacks is self-confidence.

Mana-Powered Witchcraft III (18 CP) with Finesse (Uses Int Mod in place of Cha Mod for Witchcraft, 6 CP). Will Save DC 19, Base Power 11. (The Superheroic World Template provides him with 3 Mana – equivalent to 12 Power – per round).

Basic Witchcraft Abilities:

  • The Adamant Will. This allowed him to resist the Sirens,
  • Elfshot: He can inflict minor hindrances on opponents. This is rarely worthwhile unless he’s trying to do something subtle or create an opening for someone else.
  • Hand of Shadows: He can perform a wide variety of telekinetic tricks (and do lots and lots of chores).
  • Infliction. The basic “I do magical damage” effect. In his base form Stygian isn’t very good at this, although he can vary his attacks to whatever he thinks is most likely to scare off his targets. It’s not generally his first option though.
  • Glamour, He can enhance his persuasive abilities and project mental orders to creatures that have been bound to his will – even if they were so bound by an alternate version of himself.
  • The Inner Eye, Specialized for Increased Effect / Only to “hear” whispers of the Akhasic Record (+10 Insight Bonus to a skill check for 1 Power) or the outer ones beyond reality (this provides an excuse for taking any desired knowledge skill, for prophetic or weird dreams and nightmares, and so on).
  • Witchfire. Stygian uses this – in conjunction with boosting metapsionics – to generate basic force effects, such as Mage Armor, Shield, basic barriers – such as the one he used to hold back all that water.

Advanced Witchcraft Abilities:

  • 2d6 Mana as +6d6 (21) Power (12 CP). Even if somehow cut off from the flow of Mana, Stygian has some reserves.
  • Metapsionics / Amplify, Specialized and Corrupted / only for Hand of Shadows and Witchfire (force effects) (2 CP). With this ability Stygian can spend more Mana to boost his Hand of Shadows to handle much heavier weights and his Witchfire force-effects to create reasonably durable force barriers and Force Armor/Shield effects of up to level three.
  • Tenebrium’s Coin, Specialized and Corrupted / Stygian always has access to basic supplies for a scholar – food and drink, camping gear, ordinary clothing (such as it is for ponies anyway), reference books, a lamp or candles, blank journals, pens and ink, and a comfortable lifestyle, but cannot accumulate or spend funds from this ability (2 CP).
  • Ridden By The Loa, Specialized and Corrupted / Stygian only knows of one entity to channel per +2 or part thereof of his total Knowledge: The Planes bonus, must intentionally seek out a “weak point” between the dimensions and conduct a ritual to for the first “summoning” of such an entity (and must do so again if the link so created is later broken), cannot upgrade his level of control or use The Adamant Will to resist or expel such an entity, and (unfortunately) is focused on nigh-incomprehensible Lovecraftian Entities (2 CP).
  • Metapsionic Theorem / Elemental Manipulation with two levels of Streamline, Specialized and Corrupted / only to automatically add a Dispel Magic or Dispel Psionics effect to his Witchcraft-based single-target attacks (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training (Three extra actions per day variant) with +3 Bonus Uses, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only to use Witchcraft (5 CP).

The Pony Of Shadows: Stygian plus a (157 CP / +4 ECL Acquired “Black Pharaoh” Template):

The Pony Of Shadows is Stygian channeling Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, Corrupter Of Worlds. Unfortunately, even with a +4 ECL Lovecraftian Template stacked onto him… Stygian is still only an ECL 4 character at base. Without time to grow he is severely limited.

  • Journeyman, Master, and Grand Master (Hit Dice, 24 CP)
  • +6d4 Hit Dice (48 CP). While an extra thirty-five hit points never hurt, the real bonus here is that Witchcraft’s “casting level” is based on hit dice – so this gets his “casting level” up to nine. In Equestria that’s a fabulous level of raw power.
  • Apparition, Specialized for Increased Effect (Construct VIII) / must take the “Enveloping” ability (see The Practical Enchanter / Psychic Constructs), can only be manifested around himself, can only take one specific construct-form with the choices of A) Fly 40′, Armored (+1 Deflection Bonus to AC), B) Fast Healing II, Trample, Versatile (Increased Flight to 80′), and C) Energy Bolt (Adds +5d to Infliction effects) and Enveloping (6 CP). This forms the dark body of the Pony Of Shadows.
  • Immunity to Casting Level Requirements (Very Common, Major, Major, for six levels off the requirement, Specialized and Corrupted / only for the Construct-VIII effect, as given above (5 CP). This gets his casting level for the Apparition effect up to level fifteen.
  • Additional Advanced Witchcraft Disciplines:
    • Master Of The Sabbat, Specialized and Corrupted / only for use with Elfshot, only to lay curses of slow corruption, only usable once per day to a game master decided maximum effective level of curse (2 CP). The Pony Of Shadows can corrupt lands, creatures up through Alicorns, and entire worlds – but it will take considerable time and effort.
    • Seize The Wandering Soul (6 CP): Entrap unanchored souls. A dark and terrible power.
    • Spirit Binding (6 CP): Bind souls into creatures or objects. Another dark and terrible power.
    • Nightforge (6 CP): Create solid objects of shadow.
    • Mouth Of The Earth (6 CP): Upgrade Infliction to d8’s and add other effects.
    • Ashen Rebirth (Shadow) with Teleportation (12 CP). Become a creature of shadow.
    • Leaping Fire (6 CP): Accelerate it’s own movement, healing, and attacks,
  • Other Abilities:
    • Cloaking. Detection and Scanning Magic will simply show a normal unicorn pony of little power (6 CP).
    • Celerity: +10′ Ground Movement (6 CP).
    • Reflex Training (three extra action per day variant) (6 CP).
    • Amorphous (6 CP). The Pony Of Shadows can move through cracks and spaces that are logically too small for it.
    • Immunity to Aging (Uncommon, Severe, Major, 6 CP).

The Pony Of Shadows does not wish for simple destruction, It seeks madness, corruption, and to lead intelligent beings into destroying themselves. Thus it’s attempt to corrupt Celestia and Luna, so as to send them against still more worlds, rather than simply passing through the mirror-portal, lurking, and slowly corrupting the world with it’s own power. Unfortunately for it, it’s not really all that good at interacting with normal creatures, so it’s attempts at corruption are both direct and more than a little crude.

Equipment:

  • Charms: Astrolabe, Foulflesh Amulet, Loaded Brush, The Ocean’s Arms, Sands Of Time, Traveler’s Bedroll, and Vanishing Coat (Cloak),
  • Talismans: Preserving Chest (for specimens), Rubydraught, and Stone Of Sustenance.
  • Stygian presumably keeps a pocket-knife, current journal, bit of rope, snacks, and other minor items wherever it is that ponies keep things, but ponies don’t rely on equipment very much.

Stygian is more or less right. He’s not a hero. Under normal circumstances he can provide a nice boost to a group of heroes, repair or build pretty anything, is a bottomless well of exposition, and can throw some decent protective spells. He’s an invaluable sidekick to a hero or heroes, but just doesn’t have much offensive punch – leaving him safely in the rear echelon providing support services. Of course, he has a lot more offensive capability and options when channeling a spirit – but when he resorts to that he pretty much loses control to the spirit he’s channeling. .

Now, if only he could figure out what this odd little golden thing – like a bit with most of the center drilled out – that he found in Rockhoof’s volcano was. He keeps getting this odd urge to put it on, but it’s not like there’s any portion of his anatomy where the silly thing would fit.

Since these have appeared over and over again, they’re here at the bottom for easy skipping:

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 Stygian we’ll take a +2 bonus to his Intelligence 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

To Summarize The Unicorn Subrace Modifiers:

  • Occult Talent provides their usual minor spellcasting while the use of Mana powers it.
    • L0: Dancing Lights (in many trivial variants), Daze (with various special effects), Detect Magic, and (Skill) Mastery (provides a +3 competence bonus on a particular skill for ten minutes per level, +6 if it only covers a limited aspect of a skill).
    • L1) Greater Mage Hand.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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

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

Ponies Of The Eclipse – Somnambula, Pillar of Hope

The “Power Of Hope” is just about as undefined as the “Power Of Heart”, and can range from simply inspiring others on through being virtually all-powerful (at least if you go with the “Heart is an AWESOME power!” trope). Ergo, the first thing to do when writing up Somnambula is to take a look at what she’s actually shown doing. She…

  • Helped out her neighbors when they were in need. So she’s a nice person. Of course, being a nice person doesn’t require any special powers – and, to be fair, it seems like “being a nice person” is pretty much the default for a pony. Really obnoxious ponies are fairly unusual.
  • Guessed a riddle. Of course, it was one that was uniquely suited to her thanks to a bit of narrative causality and anyone can guess a riddle. That doesn’t necessarily call for any special powers, but perhaps a bit of Lore or (more likely) Luck is in order. Maybe a Narrative skill too, although that is a bit farfetched.
  • Crossed a narrow bridge while blindfolded. Well… lots of real people have crawled across catwalks and ledges and such when they couldn’t see. She had a voice to guide her, could feel her way, and is inherently on all fours to start with. This required some determination, but no special powers. Still, perhaps some Luck is in order again.
  • Got swallowed by a giant snake – which happened to have a livable interior – and directed other ponies towards the mouth to get out, giving them bits of her necklace to light the way. This required determination, unbridled optimism (most animals DIGEST the things that they swallow), and a plentiful supply of light sources. Still no real indication of any major special powers though.
  • Kicked the head off a large timberwolf. This calls for a decent knack with Pegasus Pony Air Magic (to use the high-pressure impact-boosting effect) – but it’s not that impressive in My Little Pony terms. Rainbow Dash kicked chunks out of four sizeable trees (starting 56 seconds in) just to set up a campsite. Given that timberwolves have been shown to be fairly easy to knock apart (if difficult to “kill”), this doesn’t seem to be beyond the basic powers of a normal pegasus pony.
  • Created an effect which hurls away a bunch of… well, semi-illusory (and apparently pretty light) mummy/zombie things created out of dreams by a cursed amulet. This was centered on her, but didn’t have much effect on her or her friends. So… a Whirlwind Push maneuver? Using Pegasi Air Magic to create a high-pressure blast of air to toss them away? Some sort of Light Burst from her necklace? Some combination of those? Positive Energy Wave? A variation on Pathfinders level three Anti-Undead Shell effect? Calling on the Vishanti for the Light of Truth? Dispel Illusion? Hard to say, but SOMETHING. Still… an air blast and bright light from her necklace certainly seems to cover what we’re shown. I’ll probably give her some alternatives anyway, just in case.
  • Threw a potion bottle and hit a small target. Either good aim, a bit of air magic to guide the shot, or Luck (whether a power or the basic “the heroes make the shot when they need to” narrative imperative).
  • Made a fairly high-speed loop and a sharp turn in flight. So she’s a reasonably agile flyer. Of course, Pegasus Ponies have “Perfect” maneuverability anyway. This still helps to justify some Luck or a skill booster though.
  • Is a cheery optimist who always hopes for the best and she apparently offered advice on politics and rulership that was better than what someone who was raised to rule could come up with. I’m going to call that “Luck” again (for taking 20 on coming up with some good advice), simply because “divine providence warps the universe so that whatever advice you gave works out” really isn’t a reasonable power to buy and because actually being sensible enough to offer good advice normally doesn’t fit in well with plans that involve “letting the giant monster eat me….”. It also means that I’m really reaching here, but so be it!
  • Makes a good motivational speaker. Admittedly, that’s a knack, but – once again – it doesn’t really call for any special powers. A professional-level skill (that’s +5 to +8 or so), Luck, or a skill booster would probably do it – but I think I’ll call it evidence for Bardic-type powers, simply because otherwise all I’ve got so far adds up to very little more than “Luck with Bonus Uses”, “a bit above average with her racial air magic”, and “shiny necklace”.

So, presuming that it IS Bardic Powers… Well, she was in a small village. Farming villagers usually don’t have either a lot of time or need for motivational speakers, yet rather a lot of ponies were gathered to hear her speak in what was apparently a regular event. Evidently whatever benefit her powers provide, it is both well worthwhile and temporary (to keep them coming back). Well, that’s easy enough.

Finally, of course, she strikes me as a bubbly, happy, teenage almost-hippy who wants you to get in touch with your “inner self” and let “the light within” shine forth to illuminate the world – thus the bit about the light from her necklace illuminating the whole kingdom (which seems unlikely physically, but makes a good metaphor for being an advisor to the throne). Ergo, I’ll put her at Level Three, just like Flash Magnus.

Pegasi: live fast, get sealed into limbo young.

Oh well. Fortunately, when you’re using four templates – the Superheroic World Template (providing free Mana to work with every round), the Low-Level Adventurer Template, the basic Pony Template, and the Pegasus Template, you don’t need a lot of levels to have a good deal of power.

Somnambula, Pillar of Hope

Level Three (ECL 4) Pegasus Inspirational Traveler

Since most of the template summaries are pretty much the same as last time, I’m boxing them for easy skipping if you’re so inclined.

.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 Somnambula we’ll be taking Impervious (for a+2 to Saves) and Photographic Memory.

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. For Somnambula I’ve rolled 6 – low-average. Still, she usually only needs it for her Harmonic Convergence power, and then only one point.
  • Get a +2 Racial Bonus to Perform/Sing

To summarize the Pegasus Subrace Modifiers:

  • 40′ Flight, with perfect maneuverability
  • Cloud-Walking
  • Adept (Rune Magic/Air, Mastery and Casting, Flight, and Knowledge/Nature (Specialized for Double Effect in Weather Prediction and air-related phenomena).
  • +3 Racial Bonus on all Adept Skills (effectively +6 for the specialized Survival)
  • Damage from high-speed collisions, crashes, and similar impacts is one-fourth normal to a maximum of 6d6.
  • Resist Lightning 10 (stacks with general energy resistance).
  • +2 racial bonus to Spot (Perception in Pathfinder).
  • Additional +6 Racial Bonus to Spot (Perception)/Specialized, only to make up for range, fog, and other atmospheric penalties (3 CP).

 

Basic Attributes: Str 10, Dex 12 (-2 Pony = 10), Con 14 (+2 Pony +2 Magic = 18), Int 14, Wis 13, and Cha 16 (+2 Magic = 18) (Pathfinder 25-Point Buy).

Available Character Points: 96 (Level Three Base) +6 (Disadvantages: History and Foolhardy – a version of Insane) +12 (L1 and L3 Bonus Feats) = 114 CP.

Basic Abilities (36 CP):

  • Hit Dice: 16 (L1-3, d6, 6 CP) +20 (12 + 2 x Con Mod Template) +12 (3 x Con Mod) = 48 HP.
  • Skill Points: 6 (Purchased, 6 CP) + 12 (Int) +24 (6 x Cha Mod) = 42 SP.
  • BAB +1 (6 CP).
  • Saves:
    • Fortitude +2 (6 CP) +4 (Con) +2 (Knack) = +8
    • Reflex +2 (6 CP) +0 (Dex) +2 (Knack) = +4
    • Will +2 (6 CP) +1 (Wis) +2 (Knack) = +5
  • Proficiencies: None.
  • Initiative: +0 (Dex)
  • Move: 40 (four legs, 20 on three or less), Flight 40 (Perfect, +8 on Fly Checks).
  • Armor Class: 10 (Base) +4 (Shimmer Mail) +4 (Martial Art) = 18

Other Abilities (78 CP):

  • Adept (Perform/Acting, Wing Dancer Martial Art, Diplomacy, and Bluff, 6 CP).
  • Luck (6 CP) with +12 Bonus Uses Specialized in Saving Throws (9 CP), +8 Bonus Uses Specialized in Skills and Checks (6 CP), and +4 Bonus Uses Specialized in Attacks (3 CP). This is spectacularly unexciting, but quite useful. When it’s really important… Somnambula pretty much ALWAYS pulls through.
  • Mystic Artist (Perform / Acting), Specialized for Double Effect (double potency of effects) and Corrupted for 2/3’rds cost (4 CP); The initial activation requires at least three minutes of exposure to the user’s performance, only allows the use of Inspiration and Synergy Mystic Artist Abilities (never Manipulation), can only produce beneficial effects, and requires a compatible alignment and general philosophy to take effect on listeners.
    • Basic Modifier / Echoes, Specialized and Corrupted: Does not work with advanced mystic artist abilities, only allows the use of Inspiration and Synergy Mystic Artist Abilities (never Manipulation), can only produce beneficial effects, and requires a compatible alignment and general philosophy to take effect on listeners (2 CP).
      • Somnambula’s entire life, like Pinkie Pie’s, is basically performance art – in her case, outrageous optimism, bubbly good cheer, and a deep surety that everything will turn out all right in the end.
  • Harmonic Convergence: Mana Powered Innate Spell / High Prayer (The Practical Enchanter, basically a double-strength Prayer) L5, reduced to L3 by costing 5 Mana instead of 2 to cast (6 CP),
  • Indefatigable Optimism: Augmented Bonus / Adds (Con Mod) to Charisma-based skills (6 CP).
  • Universal Jack Of All Trades (12 CP): +1 to all Charisma-Based Skills, effectively has one skill rank in all unrestricted skills – avoiding the -3 penalty for being unskilled. Somnambula is annoying that way; she can throw together a good legal defense, sail a ship, analyze molecular structures, cut gems, forge swords, and do pretty much anything else with great competency based on nothing more than luck and a positive attitude.
  • Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Adds Cha Mod to Int Mod for skill purposes), Specialized and Corrupted/only applies up to level five, only for calculating skill points, points may only be spent on Charisma-based skills (6 CP).
  • Occult Skill / Narrative, with +3 SP on paying off the “irrelevant” surcharge (6 CP).
  • Occult Skill / Stealing The Scene, with +3 SP on paying off the “irrelevant” surcharge (6 CP).

Skills (42 Skill Points Total):

  • Bluff +6 (3*SP) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +3 (Tem) +1 (JOT)= +18
  • Diplomacy +6 (3*SP) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +3 (Tem) +1 (JOT) = +18
  • Flight +6 (3* SP) +3 (Race) +1 (Dex) +8 (Perfect Man) +3 (Tem) = +22
  • Knowledge/Nature (Specialized for Double Effect in Weather Prediction and air-related phenomena) +6 (3* SP) +3 (Race) +1 (Int) = +10, effectively +20.
  • Linguistics +2 (2 SP) +1 (Int) = +3. Somnambula speaks three extra languages.
  • Narrative +6 (6 SP) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +1 (JOT) = +15
  • Perform/Acting +6 (3* SP) +4 (Cha) +3 (Tem) +4 (Con) +1 (JOT) = +22
    • Mystic Artist Abilities (9): Inspiration: Competence, Greatness, Excellence, Mass Greatness, and Mass Excellence. Synergy: Group Focus, Amplify, Harmonize, and Serenity.
  • Perform/Dance +1 (1 SP) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +1 (JOT) +2 (Syn) = +12
  • Perform/Singing +1 (1 SP) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +2 (Race) +1 (JOT) = +12
  • Rune Magic/Air Casting +6 (3* SP) +3 (Race) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +1 (JOT) = +18
  • Rune Magic/Air Mastery +6 (3* SP) +3 (Race) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +1 (JOT) = +18
  • Spot +1 (JOT) +1 (Wis) +2 (Race) = +4, extra +6 only to counter penalties for range and atmospheric conditions.
  • Stealing The Scene +6 (6 SP) +4 (Con) = +10
  • Wing Dancer +6 (3* SP) +4 (Cha) +4 (Con) +3 (Tem) +1 (JOT) = +18
    • Known Techniques (9): Defenses 4, Mind Like Moon, Synergy (Dance), Instant Stand, Inner Strength, and Healing Hand. This gives her just a bit of healing ability and considerable skill at dodging attacks.

+3 Skill Specialities: Air Mastery / creating pressure waves (1 SP), Offering Good Advice (1 SP),

Somnambula’s Glowpaz Necklace:

“Glowpaz” is a greenish crystal that is apparently plot-luminescent. It glows brightly when given as an award, somewhat when the bearer needs light, and apparently not much at all when the bearer is trying to be sneaky – but I’m going to presume that it’s based on the will of whoever’s holding the stuff rather than on plot points and that the Prince who gave it to her wanted it to glow brightly. In Eclipse terms, it’s a relic:

  • +2 in Charisma Based Rune Magic/Light Magic Mastery and Casting, Specialized for Reduced Cost / only to generate basic light effects (no worthwhile illusions, hypnosis, etc – although a Color Spray would work), does not stack with similar items or actually having the skill, and Corrupted for Increased Effect (the user need not spend Mana to produce illuminating effects (2 CP).

As a “natural” relic, this has an effective cost of 1/3’rd point (generally rounding down to 0) and will allow anyone with a +0 or better Charisma Modifier to generate cantrip level light effects at caster level one. Those with a +2 or more can get first level effects at higher caster levels. Somnambula, with an effective +9 for charisma-based skills due to her Indefatigable Optimism and Jack Of All Trades abilities, can generate second level light effects at caster level five.

  • Larger chunks of Glowpaz or collections of smaller pieces can fairly readily be turned into slightly more powerful (1 CP) relics – providing a +8 base in Light Magic Mastery and Casting as above, but otherwise essentially the same. If the necklace is this powerful, Somnambula will have an effective skill of +17 – enough to generate fourth level light effects at an effective caster level of eight. That’s sufficient for effects like Brightest Light, Celestial Brilliance, and Wrathful Mantle (at least if the game master feels that it fits under “basic light effects”. It is a fairly good candidate for her anti-dream/undead/whatever burst however).

Somnambula is, of course, the party bard. She isn’t bad on her own, but she really shines when she’s boosting the rest of the party; After all, she can use Harmonize to combine double-strength Mass Excellence (Two +8 Bonuses – Saves? AC? Attributes? Attacks? Damage? All good!) and Mass Greatness (two positive levels and 2d10 temporary hit points) – triggering it with a quip or phrase. Then she can stack a double-strength Prayer effect on top of that. That’s pretty impressive even by superheroic standards – enough to make a bunch of random villagers into a reasonably effective force.