“Gentlemen’s Agreement”

The post I’m now gonna look at… It’s bad, alright? The name is “The Gentlemen’s Agreement: Making it more precise“. So first of all, if you make a written version and make it as precise as possible, how is it a Gentlemen’s Agreement? Ugh… Let’s just get this show on the road… I’m getting a headache already.

These principles are intended as broad guidelines for D&D games, and should be interpreted by their spirit primarily. This list is not intended for use in arguments or disputes, but as precepts to prevent such disputes from arising in the first place.

 

Yeah, if we follow this guideline, I wouldn’t dispute anything, I’d just leave the table.

Players should endeavor to make characters that are reasonably useful to the party in a mechanical sense, reasonably acceptable to the party in a roleplaying sense, and reasonably compatible in playstyle.

…And here we have the first problem. Wanted to make something precise, huh? So what is “reasonable”? Where are the precise stats and charts for that? “Reasonably” compatible, huh? Okay, what I THINK is meant is that everyone should play the same tier, same alignment and… compatible in playstyle? Ok, I’m gonna hope you mean complementary there, otherwise you’ll end up with a party of only a single type of class.

Players should not optimize their characters or tactics beyond the capacity of the DM to produce reasonable encounters and antagonists, or beyond the capacity of other players to meaningfully contribute.

“Reasonable”, huh? Riddle me this: If I were told to play in a game where I’m supposed to play bad and constantly gimp myself, would I continue to play it? No. No I wouldn’t. The capacity of the DM… The DM has pretty much unlimited power. You can concievably beat a Dire Bear at level 1? Huh, guess the DM is now entirely stumped and cannot just, I don’t know, throw in two Dire Bears? I’m just gonna go on now and don’t comment on the fact that “beyond the capacity of other players to contribute” should be meaningless if someone actually uses this, unless the writer consider someone beyond the capacity of others to meaningfully contribute “reasonable”… Which I’m actually starting to believe.

The DM is to provide dynamic, active, and challenging encounters for the players, and should seek to maintain player engagement as much as possible in the encounter, usually and in most cases by ensuring that no character is effectively removed from all or most of the combat.

What? Just… what? Ok, the writer had to realize that he already pushed it onto the players to have the encounters be challenging, right?

You know, you have two options: You either say “the players must make their characters so weak the DMs encounters are challenging” OR you say “the DM must make encounters that are challenging to the players regardless of  their strenght”. If you have both, then no one has a guideline and it turns into chaos. One could assume that everyone orients at the weakest player, but if that is the case, then the only one who has to provide is the DM, because all players are bound to gimp themselves due to rule 2’s second half, rendering the first one pointless.

One could say that everyone is supposed to be in the same Tier, but in that case, why not just SAY that?

Players are expected to comply with such railroading as may be essential to a smooth game. The DM is not to use excessive railroading.

Oh, so one could say that the other railroading is “reasonable”?

The DM should familiarize himself with the rules as much as practical, and when a rapid decision is necessary for smooth play, should consider revisiting that after the session to be sure it’s correct and sensible; houserules should be used with care.

…Alternatively, just have the rules handy and DON’T do that.

Neither players nor DM are to use inherent flaws in the rules to break the game.

Oh god, where to begin with this one? What is an inherent flaw? Would you need this if there weren’t inherent flaws? Is character-disparity an inherent flaw? If no, why not? If yes, then what do you even need the other rules for? Is CR inherently defective? Should we abandon CR then? If no, why not, afterall, the CR system comes from the system, but quickly stops working later on, right?

I’m just gonna say this is redundant, especially as abusing a rule or situation would be quite a tactic, and we are forbidden from having tactics, aren’t we?

Players are expected to avoid providing the DM with easy hooks with which to render their characters irrelevant. The DM is allowed to use any of these hooks so long as they are not mandatory class features, but only a few times, unless the character has already had ample opportunity to develop reasonable protections for them.

So let me break this down for you: You are not allowed to have a weakness. If you do, the GM is allowed to use that against you, except if they are part of your class, but he’s not allowed to do it all the time, unless you could not have had that weakness.

Why. The hell. Do you need. That second damn part? If you make a rule that no one is allowed to have a weakness, why invent a ruling for a scenario where it occurs? Why excempt Paladins from it if one could just NOT PLAY A PALADIN? And if no one has a weakness, then how are you supposed to beat them? Player characters need a weakness, otherwise you cannot challange them. Heck, it outright conflicts the “all characters have a mandatory level of suck” part of rule 2, no? What the hell?

Players should be allowed to define and control their characters in all ways for the most part, barring such interactions as the DM or group may consider unfitting for the world or the game; likewise, the DM defines and controls NPCs, even those the player characters may be closely connected to, subject to reasonable suggestions.

The player is allowed to control their characters… Except if a different player/the DM decides otherwise. Likewise, the DM may just screw you over by having your familiar commit suicide, costing you XP in the process, and have your characters mother, who lovingly got you through childhood, sell you for a copper piece. No, no, no. Control, alright, that’s absolutely fine, but DEFINING them is a different beast altogether.

A reasonable effort should be put forward by each player and the DM to accurately present their own desires and expectations for the game and to understand the others’ expectations and desires of the same; compromise may often be necessary to make the game fun for all.

Fun for all, huh? How? My character must be incompetent, my enemies must be incompetent, I must be incompetent and I can neither control my character nor count on any friendly NPC to not cut me apart at random.

 

I’m sorry to say, but to me, it is a trainwreck, from start to finish. I’ll be continuing to use the Manifesto for reference.

I wanna be fair though: The person making this KNOWS it and stopped developing this agreement January 2013 and started it the same month. This isn’t to attack that person, this is just as a reminder to show that “with power comes responsibility”… And the person with power at the table isn’t a player, and that’s where the biggest part of the responsibility has to lie too.

Another pony race: The… Non-Ponies (I’m not too creative with names)

Aaaand it’s me again. With ponies… Again.

Ok, so I always wanted to do something similar to the Incarnum Builds over on ruscumag, but for the longest time, I had no idea what to do. I liked the overall idea, but the Mana-Redirect and the advanced adaption (which I didn’t find in the book) made me somewhat unsure about it, or at least unsure enough to make it the cornerstone of a build. So I figured that I might as well decide to avoid this and change it a little bit.

The aliens are Incarnum-Users too (not the best ones, but it’s one of their primary features), so I figured, why not make an artifical, pony-like servant species? Well, it didn’t go according to plan (they were too much “pony-like” and not enough “servant species”), the aliens couldn’t be bothered to wipe them out. Why waste even MORE time on them anyway?

Since I’m not the most creative person, and they aren’t really ponies, I just named them Non-Ponies.

 

The Non-Pony Template (+0 ECL/30 CP)

Cyberware:

  • Innate Enchantment (“Magitech”) 4 CP (all of them are continious personal-only CL 1 Level 1 effects, thus costing 1,400 GP [except for Resistance, which is a Level 0 use-activated effect, thus costing only 700 GP])
    +2 to Strenght
    +2 to Dexterity
    +2 to Constitution
    +2 to Intelligence
    +2 to Wisdom
    +2 to Charisma
    Mage Armor
    Resistance
  • Immunity/Stacking limits when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial; covers effects of up to level one, 1 CP)
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial; only covers up to first level effects at caster levels of one, 1 CP)

This is the basic “cyborg”-cyberware: A little overall improvement, a bit of armor and a something to help you out in critical situations. This isn’t gonna be too great later on, but for now, it’s a big boost.

  • Cloaking (Relics) (This simply disguises the relics to look, sound, smell and feel like actual, natural parts of the body) 2 CP
  • Disharmony-Subtype 2 CP (Specialized: Automatically fails all saves and has no SR, AC or Immunities against Harmony-Artifacts and only reduces the damage taken by Disharmony-damage by 50%; Takes only 50% more Harmony damage)

The cloaking is the little brother of the full-on immunity in the Incarnum-entry. These relics are still soul energy, but it manifests externally, with additional (but basic) mechanical parts providing stability to them. They look like normal bodyparts until cut-off, sundered or exposed via other means (such as the cloaking crashing).

The Disharmony-Subtype is fairly Equestria-only and explains how Harmony always wins for no good reason (and sometimes against all good reasons). Interestingly enough, the core that provides the subtype can fail just as much as other systems. If confronted with a Harmony-Artifact, self-harm can be inflicted to obtain a fighting chance, provided you know about the Artifact before it blasts you.

“Incarnum”:

  • Create Relic (Specialized: can only be used to create a limited (Int) set of predetermined personal relics, no more than (Con-10) may be created at a time, all of them must be related to a specific theme, and such relics can have a maximum cost of 6 CP (8 if they occupy a magic item slot).) 3 CP
  • Enthusiast/Adaption/Double 9 CP (Specialized: Only to invest points in relics; Corrupted: You can only create melds/relics that occupy a related (GMO) item slot; You can buy this specific version of Enthusiast multiple times.)
  • Enthusiast/Adaption/Double 9 CP (Specialized: Only to invest points in relics; Corrupted: You can only create melds/relics that occupy a related (GMO) item slot; You can buy this specific version of Enthusiast multiple times.)
  • Enthusiast/Adaption/Double 9 CP (Specialized: Only to invest points in relics; Corrupted: You can only create melds/relics that occupy a related (GMO) item slot; You can buy this specific version of Enthusiast multiple times.)
  • Eldritch (If the use the unicorn’s horn meld, it glows when using innate enchantments or spellcasting, and a matching glow surrounds the target) 0 CP

The Eldritch for the glow is typical.

The change to Incarnum is that instead of requiring Mana-Points, it forces the user to take up an item slot. This increases the points you can add to it, but I figured that the GM will make good on the idea that it blocks important equipment-slots.

Personally, I’m always suspect to allowing more than one instance of Enthusiast, but in this case, it’ll have to do.

Disadvantages (cost reducing, -10 overall):

  • Dependant. They are dependant on a regular Equestrian environment. Whenever a character sees another creature die, a successful lethal-damage critical hit or delibitating called shot occurs, an effect or condition causes a gruesome or bloody sight or the character is confronted with a creature he knows to have the evil subtype, he takes the listed -3 (morale) penality until calmed.

This is what I meant by saying that they are too pony-like: They are rather vulnerable to bad things happening around them. Humans are vulnerable to that too (for example, take a baby, throw it in a wood chipper and watch the people around you react… On second thought, DON’T), but ponies are a whole ‘nother league of squeamish.

  • Secret (Race). You are a creature with the Disharmony-Subtype. Due to Equestria being Equestria, you are not gonna be a full-on Outcast if this is revealed… But you still gain the “Poor Reputation” disadvantage. Furthermore, your internal technology is rather advanced for Equestrian standards… And the standards of the countries around it. As such, you are now also “Valuable”.

If discovered, keep in mind that you are the antithesis of the thing ponies basically worship and are a technological breakthrough that would set the family of the pony that discovers you for life. So yeah… AVOID THAT.

  • Accursed. Their melds cause some additional interferences. A non-pony cannot create non-incarnum relics by any means (but can adopt premade relics) and the Melds/Relics can be supressed by Incarnum-supressing magic

Anti-Incarnum spells work against them. The general anti-relic thing is the real disadvantage: Outside of their racial package, making relics is impossible, meaning anything that requires you to go beyond 8 CP is sorta off-limits.

Disadvantages (additional):

  • Accursed. Any damage, or other harmful effect, that befalls the unicorn’s horn meld (e.g. must target the horn specifically, rather than the non-pony overall) causes all innate enchantments and spells cast to immediately end. No more can be used until the effect is healed

This makes the “Horn”-Relic a double-edged sword: Yes, you can cast spells, but if it’s hit, your magitech fails too.

  • Accursed. Unless they have the unicorn’s horn meld in effect, they cannot cast regular spells or use powers

Unicorn. Masterrace. Welcome to Equestria.

 

That’s a few additional disadvantages that don’t contribute points, but fit with the overall Equestria-Theme.

This is a ECL +0 race, and a fairly powerful one at that. Still, before we wrap this up, here we have a few (Incarnum-)relics that I made with the theme of “Equestrian Inhabitants”.

Legendary Power (1 CP meld; 6 CP return):

  • Enthusiast/Double (Specialized and Corrupted: Relics only; Premade relics only)

This is less creature-specific as it is the potential for all Equestrians to attume to objects like the Crystal Heart of the Elements of Harmony. A “Relic of more Relics” of sort. Cloaked, this is a Cutie Mark, visually changing to represent the attuned relics. Uncloaked, it’s an ugly, complex metal plate that pulses with energy.

Changeling Drain (2 CP meld; 11 CP return):

  • Inherent Spell (Bestow Curse)/+4 Bonus Uses (Specialized and Corrupted: target must be experiencing the emotion of Love or Friendship and the effect fades over the next few days whether removed or not)
  • Major Privilege (Can ignore the negative side effects of bad karma) (Specialized: Requires 4 Love Points per Bad Karma)
  • Karma (Corrupted: Cannot accumulate Good Karma (every Good Karma gained turns into Bad Karma))

This grants the basic Changeling-Drain and the ability to convert Love (and important deeds) into a temporary source of power. Cloaked, the user’s eyes become emerald green. Uncloaked, it looks like the user has solid blue insect-eyes.

Earthpony Stamina (3 CP meld; 18 CP return):

  • Presence (Cat’s Grace) (Specialized for double effect: Self-only)
  • Presence (Bear’s Endurance) (Specialized for double effect: Self-only)
  • Presence (Bull’s Strenght) (Specialized for double effect: Self-only)

A +4 to all physical stats. This doesn’t stack with enhancement boni, but it’s a great overall boost at low levels. Cloaked, it simply makes the user muscular, especially the area where it is bound. Uncloaked, you can see black veins spreading from the bound point through the entire body, pulsating with glowing energy at basically all times.

Gryphon’s Claws (4 CP meld; 24 CP return):

  • Bonus Attack/Improved
  • Bonus Attack
  • 2x Martial Arts

In return for a -2 penality, you gain 2 additional attacks, dealing 1d6 damage each. Cloaked, it just looks like you have the upper body of a gryphon. Uncloaked, your body turns pitch-black and the features become exaggerated, making you look more like a complete monster than a sapient being.

Pegasus’ Wings (5 CP meld; 29 CP return):

  • Acrobatics/Light Foot (Corrupted: Only while wings can be used freely and are undamaged; Can always make a Perform (Stuntflying) in place of a different roll)
  • Celerity/Stunt Double/Additional (Specialized: Will not function properly if the user’s wings are entangled, damaged, or otherwise restrained (although, weirdly enough, as long as the user’s wings are free to move, it doesn’t matter if they are actually moving), is subject to dispelling (Caster level=Character level), antimagic, and similar effects, and makes the user magically conspicuous)

This allows you to look like a pegasus. Light Foot allows the user to get unconsciously pushed up while “moving” down through (as in, falling through) or on a cloud, substituting for cloudwalking (though it will seem somewhat odd to observers that know how pegasi-magic normally works). Stunt Double substitutes for weirdness like a Rainboom… Yet, it doesn’t provide the actual speed. Pony-flight is an odd thing at best that makes physics cry, so simulating it isn’t easy. Cloaked, it looks like a regular pair of wings, their physical description being up to the user. Uncloaked, the wings loose all detail and appear to be made out of streams of light, with metal discs, stationed where the alula would normally be, seemingly controlling the flowing energy.

Unicorn’s Horn (6 CP meld; 36 CP return):

  • Shaping
  • Dragonfire (Specialized: Prerequisite only)
  • Eye of the Dragon (Specialized for reduced cost: Can only be charged with Pulse of the Dragon)
  • Pulse of the Dragon
  • Heart of the Dragon (0 and 1st level) (Corrupted: The Disharmony magic is not visible, but still there. Spells cast via Heart of the Dragon deal only half damage and offer a +6 on saving throws against them to Disharmony-Subtyped creatures)
  • Blood of the Dragon (Specialized: Only for Shaping effects)
  • The Dragon’s Bones (Specialized: Heart of the Dragon spells only)

This provides basic unicorn-magic on the cheap. Keep in mind that Heart of the Dragon spells deal no additional damage to harmony-subtypes creatures (assuming they exist). This is a great deal more flexible than normal racial unicorn magic otherwise though. Still, keep in mind that you should probably resort to other abilities when fighting a disharmonic enemy. And protect it well, or the accursed-disadvantages will strike pretty hard. Cloaked, it looks like a unicornhorn, albeit a bit bigger and pointier. Uncloaked, it looks like you have a metal plate in your forehead with a metal rod sticking out of it.

Pony Magic (7 CP meld; 40 CP return):

  • 10d6 Mana, with the spell enhancement natural magic (corrupted for two-thirds cost: May only be used for Rune Magic or Natural Magic)

If superheroics are in play, there is a good chance no one will bother with this. If not, however, this provides a great source of metamagic, and, more importantly, fuel for Rune Magic. This is a failed attempt at Alicorn-Magic: The fuel is there, but the control still lacks. Cloaked, this makes your hair weirdly wavy. Uncloaked, it looks like you have a metal plate covering up your entire underbelly, leaking green fluid and has you project the afterimage of a monsterous alicorn whenever you move.

Mechanical Chaos (8 CP meld; 48 CP return; Grants Cyberware Hexcrafting (Cha-based; Chaos Deck):

  • 26 Caster Level (Specialized in Hexcrafting)
  • One fixed card (Specialized: This cards powers aren’t all that useful for combat and can easily be undone via harmony magic)
  • 12 Cards (Specialized: Can only use three+ card magic and the effects are easily dispelled and reversed by the use of Harmony (Friendship, Rainbow, Elements of Harmony – all the same) Magic)

This additional Cyberware is already inside (albeit in biological form) a Non-Pony, but requires this outlet to be activated and put to use. However, the moment it is turned from organic matter to metal, gears and magic, it provides all the downsides of Cyberware… Which, with a 48 CP cost on top of the 10 CP cost a Non-Pony already has, are going to trigger, and trigger hard. The benefits, however, are immense: A Non-Pony can invoke Epic-Level effects when this is in play. Of course, Chaos Magic is random unless used for… useless things and you might not have as much control as you think. When cloaked, it looks like your body is shuffeled, every part that isn’t predetermined by other melds changing into that of a random animal. Uncloaked, you appear mostly normal… If it weren’t for the fact that every part that isn’t predetermined by other melds is replaced by clockwork and you appear to twitch uncontrollably.

 

 

In conclusion, Non-Ponies aren’t as adorable as normal ponies, but pack quite a punch and are one of the more powerful +0 ECL races.

Really short posts: Are infinite CP possible?

I’m sure you’ve all asked this yourself one way or another the moment you read the book.

For this incredibly short post, I just want to tell you: Yes, it’s possible.

We all know the highest CP-multiplier in the book is 18* (Specialized and Corrupted Relics), so we can say that if there is a method that permanently adds more than 1 CP for an 18 CP cost, stacks with itself, and is infinitely repeatable, we have reached our goal.

In reality, we don’t actually “need” 18 CP… A regular relic for 6 CP is fine. Just get Self-Development (Intelligence) and undergo Unique Training. Every point of Intelligence will yield 2 CP, which is one more than we need to get an additional 2 CP increase that way.

To put it differently: You gain 1 CP per relic made, infinitely.

Of course, you’d have to carry it. Well, if you want, corrupt the relic and add Mystic Link. Should you have already bought Power Link, you can get the benefits even if you don’t have the relic on hand.

 

There are other variations of this (personally, I kinda like the idea of using Cyberware and Corruption to create a 27 CP relic that way, taking Self-Development of all mental attributes to apply only to counteract the penalities and then paying 6 CP to make it a full-blown +1 Int while also adding the Mystic Link), but that’s the basic idea behind of it. Of course, this should never be done in an actual game. Ever. There is no way to properly balance this, so you just shouldn’t use it.

That’s it for this post… like I said, a rather short one.

 

 

*Cyberware allows an additional instance of specialization, raising the multiplier to 36. Double-Specializing something should only ever happen in templates, and even then it’s something one should avoid unless it’s absolutely necessary for the concept to work.

Eclipse, Paths and Powers: Path of the Dragon, Part I

Ok, so Path of the Dragon doesn’t have much base material to talk about. Path of the Dragon is the most immediately powerful path, second only to Channeling, and even then only in terms of CP-Power-efficiency.

It’s the most… let’s say “direct”-style of abilities: You want something, here you go. No big fuss, no real complications, just pay and go on. There is no big theme you have to follow, no different versions you need to wrap your head around, only a few truly bizzare interactions and, aside from the high CP-cost of some abilities, no further drawbacks. That might be the reason why I never really used it, despite it’s power. It’s kinda… flashy, but dull?

Anyway, here we go:

Shaping: 

Pretty much Prestidigitation at will. Prestidigitation is a great spell… But that’s part of the spell, not of this ability. It also forbids effects to stick and is supernatural instead of an SLA… But yeah, that’s pretty much it.

So… that’s all basic abilities. That would be a rather short post… So I’m just gonna start reviewing the subpaths now:

The Way of the Artificer:

Charmsmith:

This represents the ability to create specific-effect use-activated Prestidigitation items for 12.5 gp and 1 xp. Sounds good so far, has a lot of interesting uses and sells for twice to four times the price. If you are creative, this can create some less-powerful, but interesting items. You will mostly be restricted to joke items or minor conveniences though.

Spellforging:

This is powerful. It allows you to make up to 4000 gp items for free. Normally, this ability is used to make potions or, if you have the Unity-ability, powerstones. It still costs XP though. I’d say the most interesting feature of this is the fact that you can corrupt and specialize it so you can only make use-activated items of spells and powers of level 2 or lower and add something like a suspicious alien/evil magic modifier to your items to be able to utilize 12000 gp. Other than that… yeah, this is obviously for potionmakers.

Dragonsmith and The Philosophers Stone:

Both of these abilities represent things from the Create Magic Item-ability. This is only here so you can specialize a relic for Path of the Dragon, specialize a crafting ability to oly apply to Path of the Dragon or use “Wings of Magic” to gain crafting access or somesuch… I think. I don’t actually KNOW why these abilities exist, but well… Here they are.

The Way of Inner Fire:

Dragonfire:

This allows you to shield someone, make an AoE and a single-target attack. You have to sacrifice spell levels for that. I can’t say much more about that than the ability itself does.

Breath of the Dragon:

Ok, so I had to read this ability several times and I think I still don’t fully get it, but here’s the thing I consider the most important: It allows you to change it into different energy types, not different damage types, which greatly reduces the list of options. Unless you are a deity, “Divine” energy is off-limits (I suppose that’s Divine Damage) and so is… “Infernal” energy? What the heck is infernal energy? The only time I can remember hearing of infernal energy, it was in a spell description describing the power that allows devils to see in the dark. I think that simply means untyped damage, but I’m not sure, especially since there are two listed damage types for it in the ability, which would be weird if they were mechanically 100% identical. The final thing is that you need to fit the alignment. Well, given that there are evil deities, but no… Good evil deities (?) I suppose Divine fits every alignment, while “Infernal” fits every evil alignment. There are also Holy, Unholy, Lawful and Chaotic energy types… Which I suppose refers to Sacred, Profane, Force and Sonic, because while D&D 3.5 HAS “chaotic” as a damage type, said damage is not an energy type and can thus not be dealt with this ability.

Living Fire:

This is two good spells, the good old “no Toxins, Diseases and Parasites” and shaping for your dragonfire. Pretty solid, even if I’m kinda sad that you are restricted to fire-elementals even if you substituted out your Dragonfire via Breath of the Dragon… Though I suppose it’s understandable, given that there are not always elementals for every type. It’s a solid ability, especially since it doesn’t set a limit on your Astral Construct level that the spell itself doesn’t have.

Body of Fire:

It’s not quite The Living Darkness (doesn’t give you bonus Mana or CL or makes saves for you, stays with you all the way through no matter how much damage you have taken and has you take on all attributes, not just strenght), but.. if you take Living Fire, you’ll want this. It allows you to become one with the Astral Construct OR the Fire Elemental. So basically, you have two options:

Astral Construct gives you nice special abilities and strenght beyond what you would normally have… But dumps your Dexterity and makes you non-living for the abilities duration.

The Fire Elemental yields good dex and more hp than it’s relevant counterparts from Large up and gives you all-around decent base-attributes from Huge up… But their special ability, burn, is pretty useless.

Both of these are options that can be handy… But it’s the prospect of Natural Invisibility, Flight and small-distance teleport that get’s me. Also, it increases the duration… And as a matter of fact, it might even STACK with The Living Darkness, which can make this ability rather frightening.

Eye of the Dragon:

If someone wants to take this path, this is normally one of the reasons. You remember that Power Word Kill your opponent threw at you with his last breath? Yeah, that didn’t affect you. Neither did his Wish. Sucks to be him, expending XP for that, right?

Yeah, this ability allows you to absorb spells, even AoE’s, store the spell-levels and let’s you power spells with it. No Save or SR or nothing, just your absorption-limit and the off-chance that your opponent wasted 4 levels on Brackish as opposed to anything else.

Now this sounds broken, and if Glory weren’t a thing, it would be. Luckily, this ability is MAD. No, not mad, MAD. Multiple Attribute Dependant. You need Constitution (at least a little bit of it) to store spells, Intelligence to absorb them and Wisdom to expand the limit. Of course if you have more Wisdom and CP, you might as well just buy more. For more CP, you can also power your spells instead of expending them and drain items if you pay more CP… Let’s just say this is good, but pricey.

Venom of the Dragon:

This allows you to use Eye of the Dragon to store spells. If someone throws a spell at you and allows you to allow it, you can use it at any point in time, provided you stored it (and didn’t expend it) first. These are limited to Intelligence spells and STACK with Eye of the Dragon, so if you have both, you can absorb a total of 2x Intelligence spell levels. It also has the sentence “the absorption limit of the Eye of the Dragon”, but I suppose that means that it HAS that limit, even if it seems to be unclear first.

Bones of Jade:

Allows Venom of the Dragon to absorb ALL spells that way. As simple as that, and as powerful as you think it is too. Now your opponent didn’t just waste a Wish; he gave you a free one to throw back.

Ride of the Dragon:

You get 10 spell levels you can spent to learn spells you can use via spell-levels given to Dragonfire, of up to level 4. This counts as spontaneous casting and takes a Standard action in any case. This has, again, a Wisdom-based limit on the amount you can take these abilities.

Wings of the Dragon:

This gives you a Level 5 or 6 spell to add to the list. This is expensive, with 6 CP per spell, but has no maximum limit on the number of times you can take it.

Hmm… Level 5 to 6. Does that maximum limit sound familiar? Yeah, this is the Path of the Dragon-Equivalent to Channeling’s Conversion. Except it can be taken as often as you want and doesn’t need a theme. However, you don’t have all the possible options, as there is no “up to level 6”, but it is specifically 5 OR 6, so specializing and corrupting this ability and Ride of the Dragon can never yield you spells of the levels 13, 14, 16 or 17 (or, well, beyond 18, obviously). Maybe you can bargain for a heightened version… but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Still, let’s say you want 1/day Excellent Lore, which is a good spell and thus a reasonable assumption, then (assuming specialization and corruption) you need to pay 18 CP to get it via Channeling (1 Channeling attempt for 3 CP, 12 CP for Level 6 Spells, 3 CP for a group related to a theme) and getting it via Path of the Dragon takes 30 CP (Shaping, Dragonfire, Eye of the Dragon, Ride of the Dragon and Wings of the Dragon, 6 CP each).

This is it for this time. I will review the rest of the Path of the Dragon sometime soon. See you then!

Short stuff: Unity and the Theurgy special ability

So I’ve found a bit of time and figured, why not write a bit about these two?

See, these two abilities, if used together, allow you to convert between all lists. Yes, you heard that right, ALL lists.

Unity allows you to treat everything psionics related like magic, meanig your power-list now counts as a spell list. Sure, they couldn’t be augmented as spells (unless there is the whole mythic magic thing going on), but it made it possible.

Theurgy is the kicker though. Sure, it sounds all weird at first (“What, I can only convert Divine to Arcane and back?”), but the second sentence mentions conversions between Cleric and Druid spells… Which are both (normally) divine in nature. As such, it is pretty obvious: You can mix and match what you want for +2 spell levels.

Sure, it doesn’t seem that impressive from the spell side of things… Yet, from the power side, it was far more attractive: You could still augment your powers AND got free caster-level-based benefits from the converted spells.

Here are the most interesting conversion-options you shouldn’t overlook:

Miracle: Because let’s face it, despite the abilities of Wish, this spell blows everything out of the water in sheer terms of versatility. You can copy EVERY spell of level 7 or lower you like. If it weren’t for the fact that the spell requires you to use Material Components in the description rather than stating it as a component (meaning Easy-Metamagic doesn’t work), we would’t be looking at most of these options.

Domains: Starting off with a big one, any normally exclusive domain spell can now be yours. In most cases, I will admit, Miracle does the job, but sometimes you don’t have expensive components at hand, in which case an Easy Domain spell might suit you better.

Feat-based spells: I have to say, this is an odd one. Some of the spells require you to have the relevant feat (which means that spells like “Necrotic Cyst” are still off-limits), but most of the feat-based spells (like “Stone Walk”) don’t. I think there are 30 orso Initiate feats alone… so yeah, that’s an investment I can get behind. They are added “to your spell list”, but list their levels etc. as being part of this feats “spell list”… Of course, if your DM disagrees, just take the spell directly from a friendly Cleric who has them. They are on his spell list, after all, and his spell list is the cleric spell list, even if it’s been expanded.

Sanctified and Corrupt spells: This is a funny one. Technically, everyone can cast from this list, but needs to fulfill specific requirements to access it in the first place. Of course, once you’ve made a Sanctified spell a Wizard spell, these restrictions no longer apply. Sadly, you will still have to pay the Sacrific/Corruption costs.

Pathfinder/3.5-spells: This only works if the Pathfinder package deal is available. When it comes down to it, a lot of Pathfinder spells are weaker versions of the original 3.5 stuff. Yet, some of it is new and some of the nerfs made up for it (we can Easy a PF-Wish, for example, while the XP cost of a 3.5 wish can’t be… Well, wished away). We now have the weird scenario of a Wizard-to-Wizard-conversion with different spell lists. While this seems weird, it’s simply an unlisted conversion, and as such, a +2 cost.

 

With that, this short little post pretty much already ends.

Before you leave, keep in mind that, while Innate Magic makes it really attractive to get something like “Glibness” as a new shiny supernatural ability, it must come from spells that YOU CAN CAST. As such, said Glibness is a level 5 spell, as that’s the kind of Glibness you can cast…

It still get’s rid of the pesky XP-cost though, even if specifics trump the general rules. So no… You do not get free items out of SLA-Wishes, as much as you’d like that.

Package-Deal: Cyber-Journeyman

Whenever I read Eclipse and look at the Journeyman-chain of abilities, I have to wonder: Why would someone choose to take this over Transcendence?

Journeyman allows you to buy some stuff as if you were of a higher level. The maximum for this is an additional +3. Transcendence removes this limit and works for everything.

For the original question, well, there were a few reasons that I was able to see:

  1.  RP-requirements for Transcendence might annoy the player or don’t fit into the concept.
  2. If you only require a small boost to what you can buy for your character and thus don’t buy the full chain, Journeyman is cheaper.
  3. As you are limited on CP, you might only choose Journeyman because you know that you won’t have the CP to go far above your limits anyway.

Still, this was not enough to entirely convince me. So instead, I made a little Package-Deal. First, however, I would like to point you over here, so you can understand what I mean when I say that everything in this Package-Deal is Cyberware.

  • Journeyman/Master/Grandmaster 4 CP (Specialized for reduced cost: Instead of applying to a type of ability, it applies to a specific ability)
    • For example, instead of applying to spellcasting, it may only apply to a specific progression.
  • Innate Enchantment (“Magitech”) 4 CP (all of them are continious personal-only CL 1 Level 1 effects, thus costing 1,400 GP [except for Resistance, which is a Level 0 use-activated effect, thus costing only 700 GP])
    • +2 to Strenght
    • +2 to Dexterity
    • +2 to Constitution
    • +2 to Intelligence
    • +2 to Wisdom
    • +2 to Charisma
    • Mage Armor
    • Resistance
  • Immunity/Stacking limits when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial; covers effects of up to level one, 1 CP)
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (Uncommon, Minor, Trivial; only covers up to first level effects at caster levels of one, 1 CP)

For downsides, we have the following:

  • Valuable (Magitech can theoretically be salvaged from your body… But you wouldn’t survive the procedure)
  • Stigmata (The implants sometimes act up inside of your body, causing penalities if they do so while your body is in a moment of weakness)
  • Hunted (It’s arcane-magical technology. The more violent druid-sects disapprove of both greatly, meaning you just made yourself an excellent target for their “Rage against the Machine”)

 

This makes this package a lot of trouble (especially since it’s Cyberware), but otherwise free.

With 10 CP invested in Cyberware, a lot of the downsides haven’t come into play yet (thanks to the enhancement boni), and when it comes to system-crashes, there is a chance it hits Journeyman, which doesn’t do anything at all in combat anyway (though you will want it repaired before your next level up).

 

Of course, with 10 CP, you could also go Transcendence…But good luck finding a restriction that works well enough to specialize the entire chain further (and have it allowed for that matter).

Ponies (yes, again) and Martial Arts

So over here, Thoth suggested to “go completely over the top” and make a full Martial Artist. So I kinda did. And, as surprisingly many things in my life, the end result has to do with ponies. Specifically, a fandom variant: The Tatzlpony.

First, we take Alzrius pony-bases  (I tend to default to them due to them being ECL +0 races) and take the following:

3x Extra Limb (Corrupted for reduced cost: A single tongue can only wield light weapons, two can wield a one-handed weapon and all three together can wield a two-handed weapon) 12 CP
Anime Master (Specialized: Grappling only) 3 CP
Trick (Swallow Whole) 6 CP

This makes a Tatzlepony a +1 ECL race. At least in most cases. Fortunately for some, the entire Tatzlpony-Template is Corrupted:

A Tatzlepony looks rather wierd, haing a draconic tail and marking under their eyes. Their animal-like behaviour also inflicts a -2 penality on all Wisdom, Intelligence and Charisma Attribute and Skill Checks and a flat out -1 to all herbivore-starting-attitudes towards them.

This means that all Tatzlponies, except for Earth-Tatzlponies, are a +1 ECL Template.
Now let’s look at what a Martial Tatzlpony would need:
A Martial Art.
Martial Maneuvers.
Martial Stances.
Path of the Dragon-Style Martial abilities.
Let’s do them one after another from the bottom up:
The Path of the Dragon-Style Martial abilities will be done via a relic, as they are the most naturally expensive ability (but aren’t above the limit of a renewable relic).
We snatch Immunity: Melds/Relics cannot be damaged or removed. (Common/Minor/Great, 12 CP) from over here, we take Enthusiast/Double (Specialized and Corrupted for Increased effect: Relics only, only for a specific relic) 6 CP and then we take Create Relic (Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect: Only for special abilties related to “Basic Maneuvers”, only with points from Enthusiast) 6 CP.
This results in a 24 CP cost for our Level 1 Tatzlpony and grants the following abilities:

Shaping (6 CP), Pulse of the Dragon (L1 for 6 CP, L2 for 12 CP, and L3 for 24 CP), and Heart of the Dragon (L1 for 6 CP, L2 for 12 CP, and L3 for 24 CP). This is specialized and Corrupted as we could see over on ruscumag.
Immunity to Antimagic (Common, Minor, Epic, 18 CP base), Specialized and Corrupted/only protects Path of the Dragon abilities, and only those which can reasonably be interpreted as skill-based effects (6 CP)

This puts us at 96 CP, which means we still have 12 points left… So we just get 3 Stances for 6 CP and Fast Learner (Specialized for Double Effect: To buy Maneuvers only) for the final 6 CP.
Martial Stances are seen over here.
After looking through the available stuffs, I decided that Strategos doesn’t fit… So we just take the rest at a 58 CP cost.

Martial Maneuvers are handled over here. This costs 146 CP, but allows for a great deal of versatility.

Finally, a Tatzlpony uses a Tatzlpony-specific Martial Art. Instead of flat-out buying it, we instead take two restrictions:
Cannot use Medium or Heavy Armor AND can not wield weapons with any limbs but their tongues.
That provides it with 2 CP per level for their Martial Art (and when they can’t take any more Skill Rank, they can take more Basic Maneuvers).
However, we also give them an Advanced Finesse: Substitute any one Attribute for Constitution when it comes to Hit Point rolls (it’ll probably be Strenght).
Now, that gives us a cost of 240 CP.
We are gonna assume 20 Levels for a 504 CP base.
This leaves us with 264 CP.
For that we buy the basic expenditures of a Fighter:
46 Skill Points for 46 CP
24 total base Saving Throws for 72 CP
20d10 HD for 120 CP
+20 BAB for 120 CP
Proficiency with all Weapons and Armor for 27 CP

That is far more than we have left. So where do we reduce stuff?
Well, first off we reduce the Proficiencies to 6 CP (Light Armor and Simple Weapons only)
Then we drop the HD from a d10 to a d8, reducing the HD cost to 80 CP
Finally, we Corrupt the BAB (only applies while using the Tatzlpony Martial Art) to reduce the cost to 80 CP

This leaves us at 524… Still 20 too many!
But 20 is the amount of levels we have too…
So we take another restriction: Cannot use Metal Weapons and Armor. This is the standard druid restriction, but it still applies well enough, even if a Tatzlpony rarely uses weapons… Because honestly, neither does a druid.

And that would conclude the Tatzlpony-Martial-class. Of course, only an Earth-Tatzlpony will actually be able to take 20 Levels and stay below epic. A different Tatzlpony-type, should it for whatever reason choose to become a Martial Artist, will probably loose out on some Stances…

The Tatzlpony Martial Art (Str)
The Tatzlpony path is more of a way to eat than it is a way to fight: The Style does nothing but has the Tatzlpony jump out and pelt the enemy into submission so it can use it’s Swallow Whole Trick. While Tatzlponies have a tendency to subdue rather than kill, prefering to allow their insides to crush the life out of their opponents, the vicious strikes and lashes are more than capable of doing some serious damage. A powerful Tatzlpony can thus even crush rocks with it’s tongues. While the tongues are rather agile, the core of the style is focused on brute Strength. This is normally a Tatzlpony-only style… Yet there are stories of a tribe of Mind Flayers that “season” their victims with pain by crushing said victims lower body in their throats.
Techniques: Power 4 (1d10 unarmed damage), Strike and Synergy (Jump)
Advanced Techniques: Breaking, Reach and Battlecry
Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Focused Blow and Paralyze