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User Pays

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Machier often thought of himself as an object. If he knew much about psychology it was subconscious and so it was hidden from him that his abuse at the hands of his step-parents was why he disassociated so well. Still, he had developed a “talent” and that was an affinity for stealth and explosive deadly violence. It didn’t help that he was smaller than most of the other neighbourhood kids so he had to learn how to be more vicious and if a fight started he had to be able to end it quickly, or he’d be the on in the gutter being stomped on.

One day, years ago, Machier was approached by another small boy, Haim. This was different. It wasn’t urged on by the bullies of the street, people like Bonegrinder and Smash. Haim wanted Machier to help him and he had coin. Machier liked coin and all the things he could buy with it so he agreed to take on Smash.

To call it a fair fight is to prove you didn’t see what Machier did. He sneaked into Smash’s small room and bound the boy to the bed. Smash screamed and screamed but no sounds escaped that night. Machier could block sound. His stepfather was a drunk and a horrid bully but he was also a sorceror and Machier had picked up a few tricks. He’d not used them in earnest until Haim paid. Machier beat that boy, Smash, until his hands bled and worst of all he liked it. Before he left he whispered over and over again into the barely conscious Smash’s ear, “Touch Haim again and I will come back. Touch Haim again and I will come back…” Then Machier left to spend his coin.

Haim was the first of many but it was Teltonn that led Machier into the Guild. They had many other names, Assassins, Knives for Hire, Darkcloaks, but members just called it the Guild. Teltonn became Machier’s mentor and helped him refined technique as well as acquire jobs. Machier made some mistakes but with Teltonn’s help, and extra guild fees, he remained free.

“The user always pays,” was the guild motto. Machier agreed. He was a weapon and the user always paid.

http://cdn.obsidianportal.com/assets/37107/Nighthawks.jpg

Eclipse Build

Machier is a level 3 character. The premise is a stealth oriented character with some spells to aid the skills as well as sneak attack, and a strong mind. The BG has to be covered in the build, too, so Mentor will come into it early on (L2).

Basics: Human, with Fast Learner, +1cp/lvl.

Disadvantages: Valuable (bounty from previous crimes), Secret (identity as assassin & guild member) for 6cp gained. Duties (to the Guild) for 1cp/lvl.

Machier starts with 48cp (L1) + 6cp human bonus feat, +3cp from Fast Learner (L-2, L-1, L0), +6cp from disadvantages, giving total of 63cp.

Abilities, L1

Proficiencies: All simple, martial weapons. Light armor & shields, 15cp.

Warcraft, +1 BAB, 6cp

Adept (Bluff, Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth), 6cp

Fast Learner (specialized for skills, +2skill points/lvl), 6cp

Inherent Spells:

  • Silence, 2/day, 6cp
  • Invisibility, 2/day, 6cp
  • Unseen Servant 2/day AND True Strike 2/day. 6cp

Magic Levels: Wilder, dbl spec: no spells gained, only use PP on inherent spells and purchased spells, spec: dbl PP, 2cp/level

Purchased Spells:

  • Conceal Thoughts, 3cp
  • Hustle, 1cp (not augmentable and Wilder available, so no extra cost on this one)
  • Spider Climb, 3cp

Augment Attack, sneak attack conditions, 1d6 damage. 3cp.

Leaving 15cp to be spent on HP, skills and saves.

That gets Machier to the point where he could achieve his background and entry to the Guild.

L2

Resistant: spec, at night, Mind-affecting +4, 3cp

Mentor: Teltonn (guild), +10% xp gained, only on Guild missions and business, 4cp

More saves, Magic levels, skills and Augment Attack (2d6)

L3

This level Machier becomes quite a bit more effective in toe-to-toe.

Warcraft, +1 BAB, total +2, 6cp

More magic-level (CL3, base PP of 11), saves, and HP.

Reflex Training, Improved Feint, 6cp

Augment Attack: Shortsword expertise, +1d6 damage, corr: light armor & light encumbrance req’d. 6cp

Mentor: buy off corruption (Machier has learned to apply all the advice to life), 2cp

Resistant: buy off specialization, 3cp

Remainder on skills.

Summary

Machier is particularly good at what he’s built for. He’s not overpowered in the amount of damage that can be inflicted, or by using various immunities (there are none), but he can fight quite well against one or two other opponents. He has little in the way of defences and with only 18hp will certainly not be a frontline fighter. Combined with the control mechanisms (Duties, Valuable and Secret) any GM could make use of this character with relative ease. The one “dicey” thin is the double PP. That allows Machier to use his powers, inherent spells and purchased spells, quite a lot compared to other characters. However, it must be noted that they are still subject to the same limitations (eg. his own Silence) as other casters.

Future: Machier will need to either develop an immunity to his own Silence effects, or utilize Power Words, or even Metamagic: Triggering. A standard action to dispel his own Silence is tactically costly.

Tell me what you think and leave a comment.

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Eclipse: Character Builds

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A friend and gaming-buddy was linked to by the author of Eclipse, whose net-handle is Thoth. It’s a good thing to get some recognition from someone who has such a solid grasp of gaming and has produced such a great product such as Eclipse: the Codex Persona, and others.

 

Check out the commentary on Chris’ articles here and the articles on his blog.

 

Compare them to Thoth’s own builds, and the builds of a few others, on this long page.

 

image

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How to make a real Archmage

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One of the constraints of general d20 is the lack of a cross-realm caster like Rolemaster’s archmage. By cross-realm I mean conversant in the use and knowledge of all types of magic. In d20 this is arcane, divine and psionics. In Rolemaster (RM) it was Essence, Channelling and Mentalism.

It might be easy to say that a character could multi-class their way to approximate the RM archmage.  But what if you want to start from level-1 and take the various hits to your powers so that you can stay true to your concept?

Eclipse: the Codex Persona, to the rescue.

Sejanus, Archmage

Sejanus is an archmage. A caster of any types of magic. He is a member of the esoteric order of Ogham Divina. Part of order membership is various duties. They members are respected and privileged as scholars and lawyers. They are often expected to adjudicate legal matters. Members also must contribute 20% of their monies to the order or to certain charities is the order is not present in that area. To even join the order one must have the aptitude to learn magic (Fast Learner: Magic) and to absorb knowledge quickly (Fast Learner: Skills). Most of his time is spent tracking down obscure parts of old books, rumours of magic, and testing formulae or potential members.

Sejanus is in late middle-age (tends to overlook simple things like catching a carriage instead of walking to the next town), blocked from learning martial feats, and a terrible liar (bluff –5, incompetent).

The cross-realm magical abilities have restricted the way Sejanus can learn spells. He must make a Spellcraft check to recognise the spell he wants to learn. If he fails, he misses out on learning that spell/ability. However, he can use Spellcraft as Psicraft and vice versa. At low-levels this is not a big risk of missing a known spell. At higher levels it becomes more likely that powers will not be learnt (DC=[Spell Level + 1] times 5)

Sejanus’ main magical usefulness is in preparing powers and having them available to Triggering. He can “programme” a string of spells if need be and they can be activated based on his wherewithal in the preparation.

Here’s the gritty bits.

Sejannus: Archmage, level-4

Human: racial bonus feat, fast learner (skills), fast learner (magic), bonus feats (L-1/3/6/9 etc.), bonus attributes (+1 L-4/8, etc.)

BAB/Warcraft: +2

Saves: Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +3

Hit Points: 17 (4d4 + Con)

Proficiencies: all simple weapons

Skills

Appraise +2

Concentration +5

Decipher Script +3

Gather Info. +3

Heal +1

Know: Arcane +2

Know: history +2

Know: religion +2

Move Silently +2

Prof: Lawyer +4

Sense Motive +3

Spellcraft +5

Magic Abilities

+4 Base Caster Levels: for all magic types

L-4 Psion: specialised, spellcraft check to learn new powers

L-4 Wizard: specialised, spellcraft check to learn new powers

L-4 Cleric (no package): specialised, spellcraft check to learn new powers

 

MAGIC Save DCs Slots/Known Effects Learn DC
SPELL LVL Psi/Arc Div Psions Arcane Divine Spellcraft
0 14 14 PP/25 5/10 6/7 5
1 15 15 4/9 4/4 10
2 16 16 9 pwrs 3/4 3/3 15

This means Sejanus has a lot of powers (if he made his Spellcraft checks). The odds are that he’ll know most of those powers listed. Still, he is only one person and has quite a few limitations that are permanent. Ie. they can’t be overcome later with “feats that create exceptions”. I can see for some GM’s they’ll balk at this but I’d be happy to run such a PC because there’s so much control over it via the Duties.

Metamagical Theorems

Compact

Triggering

Glory

Streamline

Magic Efficiency

SR/PR Improved, 10 + Level, 14

Lore: loremaster

Privilege: loremaster, lawyer, minor legal powers, receive hospitality

Disadvantages

Aged (does silly things, like walk instead of ride unless reminded), Blocked (martial feats), Incompetent (bluff –5)

Advancement Ideas

Metamagic: Amplify (once have SL4 slots), Mana, BCL Increase, Magic Progressions increase, SR/PR Improved, Conversion (evasion/location spells), Spell Pool (wiz/clr), Skill Emphasis (sense motive), Persistent (metamagic)

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Making d20 Fun Again

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For quite some years I refused to play d20 system games. The prestige-classes, the convoluted rules and feat-based exceptions, the general idea of new classes being made as a one-upmanship of existing classes, and the third-party stuff that just broke the game – all combined to put a foul taste in my mouth as soon as d20 was mentioned.

Then along came Eclipse: The Codex Persona (E:CP). A point-buy character creation system for d20/OGL. It is totally flexible and with a bit of work you can create any character-concept you would like right from level one. It’s clear that the Distant Horizon Games’ designers have done their testing and the comments through-out the product show it. They pull no punches in letting you know it can be abused, and as they say, if your players are making fireball-throwing wizards for a grim and gritty rogue game then the problem is not the game-system. Unlike mainstream d20 products who seem to pretend it can’t happen E:CP shows you examples of broken builds so you can get a good idea of what not to do and what to look out for when new players pick up the book and make characters.

E:CP’s point-buy works on the basis of one feat is 6 character points. A PC has about 24cp per level, and starts with 48cp. E:CP considers characters to have 3 levels prior to level-1 (-2, -1, 0). It expands on the idea of abilities and feats with Corruptions and Specializations: basically they are ways to alter the feat/ability to either be increased in effect (eg. Specialized for double-effect), or reduced in utility (eg. Specialized only to be used in a thunderstorm). The cost either alteration (specialization or corruption) increases or reduces the cost of the ability based on its application.

At first E:CP is a bit difficult to understand. There’s a few points of understanding that are implied and not stated as clearly as I would like. The scope of what is a corruption versus what is a specialization takes a fair bit of reading to get used to. On top of this the magic-progression descriptions are a little clunky in how they function, and combined with Base Caster Levels really could use a clean-up for clairty. A more straight-forward, step-by-step, description could be better for dullards like me but I got there in the end.

As the designers rightly say you need a strong concept before you can make a character. Since point-buy can be like a massive market with near limitless choices you can get into a rut trying to finish spending the last few character points. That’s why a clear concept, with abilities and why the character has them, is so necessary.

For me Eclipse: the Codex Persona has returned me to the fold of d20 gaming. Without it I would still be out in the wilderness of the less popular systems. I strongly recommend getting this excellent piece of OGL work and trying it out. As they say in "How Do I Use This Product?”:

We’ve play-tested, pushed, prodded, and pulled every corner of this system. And it works. None of our players are willing to play d20 with any other system anymore – and we think it would be cruel to try and make them.

Eclipse: the Codex Persona, by Distant Horizon Games is shareware available from RPGNow and Lulu.com. When you’re converted go back and drop the $9.95 for Eclipse: the Codex Persona and get Eclipse II: Libram Arcana thrown in for free with more examples and goodies. Totally worth it.

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