Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Cleric

July 19, 2014

I’ve always thought of clerics as being among the D&D game’s – and by extension, all of fantasy role-playing’s – first attempts to deal with the issue of multiclassing. The cleric stands between the two great archetypes of fantasy – the muscle-bound fighter hacking his way through enemies with sheer strength and toughness, and the old wizard calling on eldritch magic to deal with his foes – combining aspects of both, and compensating for this versatility with diminished capabilities in each area.

Cleric

50% bashing. 50% healing. 100% god-approved.

Of course, the cleric has its own tropes too. The idea of being a servant of the divine, imbued with powers of your god, is one rich with mythological and literary traditions. More specific to D&D, clerics have had power over the undead, as well as near-exclusive dominion over healing spells, since the beginning.

These are traditions that continue in the Basic version of D&D Fifth Edition. The cleric here seems to be a fairly direct call-back to its presentation in earlier iterations of the game, such as 3.5 and Pathfinder. As such, we can break it down using the point-buy rules in Eclipse: the Codex Persona and see how it compares to its counterparts.

The Basic 5Eclipse Cleric

Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base).

Right off the bat, we’re going to break from tradition for clerical characters, and not say that it has duties for +2 CP/level. In this case, the cleric will not find himself burdened with ecclesiastical responsibilities, and will be able to spend the whole of his time adventuring. Which is sort of how PC clerics tend to act anyway.

Basic Abilities (155 CP)

  • 20d8 Hit Dice: 80 CP.
  • Proficiencies: Light and medium armor (9 CP), shields (3 CP), and all simple weapons (3 CP).
  • BAB: +6 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to weapons that you have proficiency with, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (12 CP).
  • Saves: +6 to two saving throws (36 CP).
  • Skills: +6 to two skills (12 CP).

It’s fairly obvious at this point that, in terms of basic abilities, most Basic 5E characters are going to look the same in their presentation. More specifically, the last three bullet points will be the same for each class – only their Hit Dice and weapon and armor proficiencies will be different. Between this and the low ceiling on these numbers, it’s not a bad idea for keeping things “balanced,” even if it may seem a tad restrictive.

Clerical Spellcasting (120 CP)

  • 20 clerical levels magic progression, no package (Wisdom-based; spontaneous casting; divine magic; conduct and restrained limitations), corrupted for two-thirds cost/reduce the spells per day at each level by two-thirds (round up), specialized for increased effect/may rearrange spells known each day, cannot use any metamagic theorems (60 CP).
  • 20 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/only for the wilder progression (60 CP).

The clerical spellcasting table in Basic 5E is somewhat troublesome to recreate, for several reasons. The first is that the number of spell slots it grants per day are highly limited compared to clerics from previous editions. Counting 0-level spells, by 20th level it grants a total of twenty-seven spells totaling 91.5 spell levels. The clerical progression in Eclipse, by contrast, at 20th level grants a total of forty-five spells totaling 181 spell levels. In other words, the Basic 5E cleric is casting about half as many spells as its counterparts from earlier editions.

Normally we’d simply specialize the clerical progression so that it grants half as many spell slots per level to simulate this, but I’ve elected to go with a corrupted version instead. That’s because halving the spell slots per level would be a fairly severe imposition at the lower levels, only evening out at the higher ones. This way, we’re giving a bit of a boost to the guy who elected to play a cleric at the beginning, when those spells are arguably most needed.

The other issue is the manner of how the cleric’s spells are prepared. Clerics (and wizards, for that matter) in Basic 5E are essentially spontaneous spellcasters, as they get to determine what their daily spell slots are for as they cast them, choosing from among a list of spells known. The difference is that they get to change what their spells known are each day, picking a total number of spells equal to their Wisdom modifier plus their class level (with no regard for the levels of those spells).

Here, I’ve elected to simulate this by just using the spontaneous version of the clerical spellcasting progression, and specializing it for increased effect. This doesn’t grant quite the freedom that comes from picking your spells known without worrying about having to divide them among a level progression – though you can get that by spending 6 CP to purchase Spell Flow – but I think that’s a good thing. Otherwise you’re likely to overspend on either high-level spells (leaving your lower-level spell slots useless) or low-level spells (which are a waste of your high-level slots, even if the effect automatically scales as per the old Heighten Spell feat).

As for the degree of versatility that comes with being able to change your Spells Known each day, that’s gained by specializing the entire progression for increased effect. Giving up all access to metamagic is a fairly big loss for an Eclipse-based spellcaster, so that should be sufficient for being able to pick their Spells Known off of their class spell list each day – though of course, each GM will have their own opinion regarding whether or not that’s a sufficient sacrifice. That said, since Basic 5E spellcasters don’t get metamagic anyway, it works perfectly here.

Class Features (152 CP)

  • Channel Divinity: Turn Undead: channel energy [3 + (3 x Charisma bonus)] uses per day, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not use more than three attempts before needing a one-hour rest (14 CP). Base intensity as character level +4 (6 CP).
  • Ability Score Improvements: +10 ability score improvements (120 CP).
  • Divine Intervention: Inherent Spell with two uses of Advanced, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only as prerequisites (6 CP). One further use of Advanced, corrupted for increased effect (miracle)/may not be used again for 7 days after use (6 CP).

The use of the turn undead rules as presented in Eclipse subsume several of the Basic 5E cleric’s class abilities, specifically those related to destroying the undead. The mechanics are slightly different, but not so much that we need to worry about altering the abilities to try and get an exact match.

Divine Domain: Life (62 CP)

  • Domain Spells: Domain (healing) (6 CP).
  • Bonus Proficiency: Heavy armor proficiency (6 CP).
  • Disciple of Life: Ability Focus/healing spells (variant ability, granting +2 hit points of healing rather than +2 DC) (6 CP).
  • Channel Divinity: Preserve Life: Conversion – mass cure moderate wounds (12 CP).
  • Blessed Healer: Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only for hit points, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only used when casting a healing spell on others, restoring no more than (2 + spell level) hit points each time (6 CP).
  • Divine Strike: +2d8 damage, triple cost – always with your deity’s favored weapon, specialized for one-half cost/only once per round (12 CP).
  • Supreme Healing: Amplify metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost/only grants the Maximize effect, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may only be used on healing spells (2 CP).

We’re slightly bending some things here to approximate the effect’s of the Basic 5E cleric’s life domain abilities. For example, we’re not worried with changing the domain spells that this domain grants – that’s a minor variant. Likewise, we’re not going to be too worried about Preserve Life’s specifics regarding only being able to heal those under half their hit points, etc.

A few specific notes would be that it’s simpler to roll all of the dice for Blessed Healer at the beginning of the day, and then parcel the hit points out as the ability is used. Likewise, we’re specifying an exception on this class’s prohibition to metamagic for its domain ability. Normally that’d be the GM’s prerogative, but we’ll allow it here.

All of these features together bring us to a grand total of 489 CP, which is within a single level of the 504 CP allotment for the class. Once again, the Basic 5E classes are quite balanced overall.

For those that prefer it, here once again is a level-by-level breakdown of the Basic 5E cleric’s abilities:

Every Level: d8 Hit Die, +1 caster level specialized in cleric, +1 level of clerical spellcasting (no package) specialized and corrupted as above = 10 CP.

Level Cost Purchases
1st 63 Proficiency with light and medium armor (9 CP), shields (3 CP), and all simple weapons (3 CP). +2 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (4 CP). +2 to two saves (12 CP). +2 to two skills (4 CP). Domain (life) (6 CP). Heavy armor proficiency (6 CP). Ability Focus/healing (variant) (6 CP).
2nd 38 Turn Undead. [3 + (3 x Charisma bonus)] uses per day, specialized for one-half cost/may not use more than one attempts before needing a one-hour rest (10 CP). Base intensity as character level +4 (6 CP). Conversion (mass cure moderate wounds) (12 CP).
3rd 10
4th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
5th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
6th 16 Specialization on number of uses per day for Turn Undead increased to two attempts before needing a one-hour rest (0 CP). Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only for hit points, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only used when casting a healing spell on others, restoring no more than (2 + spell level) hit points each time (6 CP).
7th 10
8th 46 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP). +2d8 damage, triple cost – always with your deity’s favored weapon, specialized for one-half cost/only once per round (12 CP).
9th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
10th 19 Inherent Spell (miracle) with two uses of Advanced, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only as prerequisites (6 CP). One further use of Advanced, corrupted for increased effect/may not be used again for 7 days after successful use, specialized for one-half cost/requires a successful d% roll equal to or less than your level (3 CP).
11th 10
12th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
13th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
14th 10
15th 10
16th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
17th 34 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP). Amplify metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost/only grants the Maximize effect, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may only be used on healing spells (2 CP). Streamline, specialized for double effect/may only be applied to Amplify, corrupted for increased effect/only applies to maximizing spells (6 CP). Fast modifier (6 CP).
18th 14 Specialization on number of uses per day for Turn Undead bought up to corruption/three attempts before needing a one-hour rest (4 CP).
19th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
20th 13 Buy off specialization on final Advanced modifier for Inherent Spell (3 CP).

There are some interesting things to note when comparing this cleric to the 3.5 and Pathfinder versions. The 3.5 cleric has the aforementioned religious duties that grant him an extra 40 CP. The Pathfinder version makes a few minor changes, but the big one is that it spends 6 CP to buy Fast Learner, specialized for double effect in domain abilities; that’s a net gain of 34 more CP over twenty levels – even more than that when you realize that it paid for that 6 CP by dropping some other things.

The take-away from that is that the Basic 5E cleric is actually working with far fewer Character Points than clerics from earlier editions of the game. Of course, that’s self-evident due to the seriously-reduced BAB, save, and skill progressions, as noted above. Beyond that, using a corrupted version of the no-package clerical spell progression, rather than an uncorrupted version of the with-package progression, is the cause of the remainder of the savings. Even expanding the domain abilities (and taking a heaping helping of ability score improvements) can’t account for all the unspent CPs.

Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – Races

July 6, 2014

Continuing in our series of converting the character options of Basic 5E to Eclipse: the Codex Persona, we take a look at the various PC races presented in the Basic rules.

The Basic version of D&D Fifth Edition restricts the options for PC races to the classic four: dwarves, elves, halflings, and humans. All of the half-breed races (half-elves and half-orcs) as well as the outre races (dragonborn, tieflings, and apparently gnomes) are relegated to the full version of the game.

In a forward-thinking move, options for various sub-races are built into the main racial presentations, rather than presenting single default standard for each race. Humans are the exception here – two completely different versions of human racial traits are presented, and unlike the sub-racial options for the demihumans, there’s no in-game flavor text that presents the option of having two different “breeds” of humans in the game world (though there’s certainly no reason you can’t do so).

Given that, let’s see how Basic 5E’s presentation of the classic four races compares to their 3.5 and Pathfinder counterparts under the Eclipse rules.

Dwarves (25 or 31 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • +2 Constitution (12 CP).
  • Occult Sense/darkvision (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws against poison, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not take 20 (4 CP).
  • Immunity to poison (uncommon/major/trivial – reduces poison damage by 5), specialized for one-half cost/reduces the damage by 5 or one-half, whichever is less (1 CP).
  • Proficient with dwarven weapons (battleaxe, handaxe, throwing hammer, and warhammer) (3 CP).
  • 6 skill ranks in Craft (smithing), Craft (brewing), or Craft (stonemasonry) skill checks (pick one), specialized for one-half cost/does not stack with existing skill ranks, corrupted for two-thirds cost/requires artisan’s tools (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the speed reduction from heavy armor (common/minor/trivial), specialized for one-half cost/only reduces the penalty by 5 feet (1 CP).
  • Speak, read, and write Dwarvish (1 CP).
  • Sub-racial package (choose one):
    • Hill Dwarf:
      • +1 Wisdom (6 CP).
      • Fast Learner, specialized for double effect/only for Hit Dice (6 CP).
    • Mountain Dwarf:
      • +2 Strength (12 CP).
      • Proficient with light and medium armor (9 CP).

The basic suite of abilities for dwarves is 30 CP, just barely within the cutoff for a +0 ECL race. Adding in the sub-racial traits, however, pushes things far over the limit, with hill dwarves and mountain dwarves having, respectively, 42 and 51 CPs’ worth of abilities. That’s solidly in +1 ECL territory.

To rectify this, we’ll say that the entire race is corrupted for two-thirds cost/dwarves tend towards being greedy, dour, stubborn, and slow to trust – tendencies that are well-known to other races. That reduces the costs to 28 CP (hill dwarves) and 34 CP (mountain dwarves).

That’s enough to bring hill dwarves down to +0 ECL territory, but mountain dwarves are still over the line. Luckily, there’s one more change to implement. The entire race also has the Slow disadvantage/-5 feet to their base speed, but this does not stack with the penalty for wearing heavy armor (-3 CP). That lowers their speed to 25 feet, without heavy armor changing it. It also gives us final costs of  25 CP for hill dwarves and 31 CP for mountain dwarves, making both of them +0 ECL races.

Here we can see the general trend for racial abilities in Fifth Edition: that each race has received a not-insubstantial boost. This seems odd for a game that wanted to rein in the massive power-ups from earlier editions. On the other hand, a character’s race was usually a footnote with regards to what they were able to do; maybe increasing the power of racial traits while lowering the power of character classes was the designers’ attempt to create greater parity between the two.

Elves (30 or 31 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • +2 Dexterity(12 CP).
  • Occult Sense/darkvision (6 CP).
  • +6 skill ranks in Perception (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws against enchantments, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not take 20 (4 CP).
  • Immunity/sleep effects (uncommon/minor/major) (3 CP).
  • Deep Sleep (6 CP).
  • Speak, read, and write Elvish (1 CP).
  • Sub-racial package (choose one):
    • High Elf:
      • +1 Intelligence (6 CP).
      • Proficient with elven weapons (longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow) (3 CP).
      • 1 cantrip known (1 CP).
      • 1 extra language known (1 CP).
    • Wood Elf:
      • +1 Wisdom (6 CP).
      • Proficient with elven weapons (longsword, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow) (3 CP).
      • Celerity, specialized for one-half cost/only add +5 feet of movement (3 CP).
      • Immunity/needing to have cover or concealment to hide (common/minor/minor), specialized for one-half cost/only in natural terrain; corrupted for two-thirds cost/still requires light concealment (e.g. falling snow, heavy rain, etc.) (1 CP).

Even more than dwarves, the racial abilities of given to elves push them far beyond what a +0 ECL race can afford, costing 38 CP just for the basic traits. The sub-racial abilities granted to high elves (11 CP) and wood elves (13 CP) push things to a total of 49 and 51 CPs, respectively.

Again, we’ll corrupt the entire racial build for two-thirds cost/elves are arrogant, condescending, and aloof towards other races, and have gained a racial reputation to that effect. That lowers the total costs to 33 CP (high elves) and 34 CP (wood elves). Throw in the History disadvantage/elven civilization is in decline, with their great empires, powerful magics, and eldritch secrets having been lost to time (-3 CP), and the final costs come to 30 CP for high elves and 31 CP for wood elves.

Using role-playing-based corruptions and disadvantages might strike some as being poor justification for reducing the CP costs of these races. To the contrary, these limitations reflect the baggage that these races carry, not just within the context of the game world – where these stereotypes are very much alive – but also in the conceptions that most players have of these races. When’s the last time you saw somebody play a dwarf that wasn’t gruff, or an elf that wasn’t standoffish?

Halflings (24 or 27 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • +2 Dexterity (12 CP).
  • Shrinking I, corrupted for two-thirds cost/reduces speed to 25 feet (8 CP).
  • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, specialized/may only be used when a natural 1 is rolled; corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not take 20 (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws versus fear effects, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not take 20 (4 CP).
  • Immunity/being unable to move through a creature’s space (common/minor/minor), corrupted for two-thirds cost/only works versus larger-sized creatures (3 CP).
  • Speak, read, and write Halfling (1 CP).
  • Sub-racial package (choose one):
    • Lightfoot:
      • +1 Charisma (6 CP).
      • Immunity/needing to have cover or concealment to hide (common/minor/minor), specialized for one-half cost/only when obscured by another creature; corrupted for two-thirds cost/obscuring creature must be at least one size larger (1 CP).
    • Stout:
      • +1 Constitution (6 CP).
      • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws against poison, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not take 20 (4 CP).
      • Immunity to poison (uncommon/major/trivial – reduces poison damage by 5), specialized for one-half cost/reduces the damage by 5 or one-half, whichever is less (1 CP).

The basic halfling abilities are only barely over the cost limits on a +0 ECL race, having a 34 CP cost. The sub-racial bonuses raise that by 7 CP for lightfoots, and 11 CP for stouts. Coming to a grand total of 41 and 45 CP for each sub-race, we can corrupt these totals for two-thirds cost/halflings have no country of their own and very little cultural identity, living as “permanent guests” in the nations of other races. We’ll then add in the the Poor Reputation disadvantage/halflings have a reputation for being either thieves or lazy hedonists, if not both (-3 CP). This lowers the final costs to 24 CP for lightfoots and 27 CP for stouts, both well within the 31 CP limit for +0 ECL races.

Strictly speaking, adding in a disadvantage here is unnecessary, as the corruption lowers the total costs for both sub-races below 31 CPs. It was added anyway to apply the classic outlook that other races have of halflings, and to keep mechanical symmetry with the other demihuman races. Remove the racial disadvantage if you want halflings to be seen as basically just “short humans.”

Humans (24 CP/+0 ECL)

  • +6 Improved Self-Development, corrupted for two-thirds cost/must be set at +1 to each ability score (24 CP).

Humans are still the most flavorless race. But at least now they’re using more of their racial CPs than they were in previous editions, though still nowhere near as much as their demihuman counterparts.

It was perhaps in recognition of how phenomenally boring it is to just give humans a +1 to each ability score that the Basic 5E rules present an alternate take on humans.

Variant Humans (24 CP/+0 ECL)

  • +2 Improved Self-Development (12 CP).
  • +6 ranks in one skill (6 CP).
  • One bonus feat (6 CP).

This isn’t much better, being essentially the same as the Pathfinder version of humans. Still, it has some potential for customization via its skill ranks and bonus feat. This is the version that’s better able to represent individual, or even regional/ethnic, differences – variations that don’t quite rise to the level of being a sub-race.

One thing that should be mentioned is that these races – and the various classes – are presented according to the Basic 5E standard that a +6 is the highest single bonus you can have for attack, save, and skill progressions.

If you want to enforce that limit in an Eclipse game, it’s best to present those caps as a world law (though with some exceptions to allow for abilities focused on specific areas – such as a fighter’s “fighting style” bonus – to go slightly above these limits).

In worlds that have no such limits, however, the intent of providing a +6 bonus – that it grants a full progression  – are lost. As such, here’s a variation on the variant human, which we’ll call the adroit human, that fulfills that particular niche without the bonus cap.

Adroit Humans (20 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • +2 Improved Self-Development (12 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills; corrupted for two-thirds cost/only for a single skill, chosen by the player (2 CP).
  • One bonus feat (6 CP).

This fulfills the same niche as the Basic 5E variant human, while allowing for settings in which humans can reach truly stratospheric heights of accomplishment.

Next time, we’ll return to taking a look at Basic 5E class progressions!

Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Fighter

July 4, 2014

As you may have heard, the newest edition of Dungeons & Dragons was released yesterday.

Well, sort of.

What came out was the alpha version of the Basic version of D&D Fifth Edition. That’s a bit of a head-scratcher for anyone who hasn’t been following the development of the game, so it’s worth reiterating just what exactly that is.

To put it plainly, D&D Fifth Edition is bringing back a Basic version of the game, distinct from the “Advanced” version (though they’re not going to call it that – the non-Basic version is just going to be called Dungeons & Dragons). This Basic version is going to be a free-for-download PDF on WotC’s website, with no physical version planned that I’m aware of.

The Classic Fighter

Bold new edition, same “KILL EVERY @#$&ING THING IN THE ROOM!” attitude.

Currently, the Basic version is incomplete, having the character-creation rules, as well as spells and combat mechanics. However, until the full version of D&D is released (staggered over a few months later this year), the Basic version won’t have things like monsters or magic items. Still, the plan is for Basic to be updated as these parts of the full game are released, and the Basic D&D PDF will be complete by the end of this year.

Having read through the initial Basic rules, I’m struck by how much what’s there is reminiscent of Third Edition D&D. Strictly speaking, it seems like 75% of changing your 3E game into a 5E game would involve capping the total bonuses of various mechanics, such as ability scores, BAB, saving throws, skill bonuses – all have a hard ceiling on how high they can get.

There are other big changes too, of course, such as the advantage/disadvantage mechanic (roll 2d20 and take the better/worse result, respectively), or how there are now six saving throws – one for each ability score. But for the most part, this seems like Third Edition with some comparatively modest tweaks.

Of course, I was quite happy with that, since 3E is my favorite version of D&D, mechanically speaking…or at least, a variant of it is.

Eclipsing Fifth Edition

That variant, of course, is Eclipse: the Codex Persona, a class-less point-buy character-generator for Third Edition’s d20 system. Since it breaks the shackles of class-levels, and since Fifth Edition (unsurprisingly) uses class-level progressions for its characters – and since it has such a close resemblance to Third Edition – I decided to try my hand at breaking down its classes and races using the Eclipse rules.

Given that, I elected to start with the “simplest” of Basic 5E’s classes, the one that’s the typical benchmark for comparing classes: the fighter.

One thing that should be noted right off the bat is that this isn’t a comparison between the fighter and the other classes in Basic 5E. Rather, this particular article looks at the Basic 5E fighter in comparison to its 3.5 and Pathfinder counterparts – comparisons with the other Basic 5E classes will have to wait for future articles that break down their Eclipse costs.

With that said, let’s look at what a Basic 5E fighter gets over the course of their twenty levels.

The Basic 5Eclipse Fighter

Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base).

Basic Abilities (207 CP)

  • Light, medium, and heavy armor and shield proficiencies (18 CP). All simple and martial weapon proficiencies (9 CP).
  • 20d10 Hit Dice (120 CP).
  • +6 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to weapons that you have proficiency with, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (12 CP).
  • +6 to two saving throws (36 CP).
  • +6 ranks to two skills (12 CP).

This is the major dialing back of “bonus bloat” that typifies 5E. In the Basic rules, all characters have a “Proficiency Bonus” that is +2 for the first four levels, and then goes up by +1 every four levels after that (e.g. +2 at 1st-4th levels, +3 at 5th-8th levels, etc.). Your class and race determine what weapons, saves, and skills this proficiency bonus applies to…which is very important, because that, and your ability score bonuses, are the primary (and often only) modifiers to your die rolls.

Here, rather than trying to come up with some sort of universal bonus, it was easier to buy the proficiency bonuses separately for the various categories of die rolls that they applied to. This was surprisingly easy to do, since the low numbers kept the costs down.

Class Features (240+ CP)

  • Fighting Style (pick one):
    • Archery: +2 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only for ranged weapons, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (4 CP).
    • Defense: Improved Defender, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only applies while wearing armor (4 CP).
    • Dueling: Augment Attack, +2 damage when wielding a melee weapon one-handed, with nothing in your off-hand (2 CP).
    • Great Weapon Fighting: Doubled Damage, specialized for increased effect/functions with any two-handed or versatile weapon, only allows for a single re-roll of a 1 or a 2 for damage (6 CP).
    • Protection: Block/missile, corrupted for increased effect/may be used on any creature within 5 feet of you, requires use of a shield; specialized for increased effect/no saving throw necessary, only applies disadvantage (roll 2d20, taking the lower roll) to the attacker’s roll rather than great immunity to damage (6 CP).
    • Two-Weapon Fighting: Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus, apply Strength or Dexterity modifier to weapon damage rolls, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to off-hand melee attacks (9 CP).
  • Second Wind: Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only applies to hit points; corrupted for two-thirds cost/must rest at least one hour between each use (6 CP).
  • Action Surge: Reflex Training (3/day variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, corrupted for two-thirds cost/must rest at least one hour between each two uses (12 CP).
  • Ability Score Improvement: +14 Improved Self-Development (168 CP).
  • Extra Attack: Three instances of Bonus Attack, each with the Improved modifier (36 CP), and Immunity/needing to specify specific situations where each bonus attack applies (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
  • Indomitable: Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not choose to take 20 (3 CP).

Martial Archetype (Champion) (39+ CP).

  • Improved & Superior Critical: Improved Critical with the Lethal modifier (12 CP). Immunity to needing to apply these to a particular weapon (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
  • Remarkable Athlete: Immunity to not being able to add your proficiency bonus to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution-based skill that doesn’t already use it (common/minor/trivial – grants a +3 bonus) (2 CP). Skill Focus (athletics), specialized for double-effect/only applies to running long-jumps; corrupted for two-thirds cost/only grants a total bonus equal to your Strength modifier (4 CP).
  • Additional Fighting Style, one additional choice under Fighting Styles, above.
  • Survivor: Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only applies to hit points; corrupted for two-thirds cost/only applies when below one-half of your total hit points, but still above 0 (6 CP).

That’s a total of 486 CP, before adding in the costs of taking two Fighting Styles. Since those together can cost as little as 6 CP or as much as 15, the grand total for this class ranges from 492-501 CP. That’s incredibly balanced!

For those that want a more detailed breakdown, rather than an overall summary, the following chart shows how the Basic 5E fighter’s CPs are spent at each level:

Every Level: d10 Hit Die = 6 CP.

Level Cost Purchases
1st 59+ +2 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (4 CP). +2 to two saves (12 CP). Proficient with light, medium, and heavy armor (15 CP) and shields (3 CP). Proficient with all simple and martial weapons (9 CP). +2 to two skill ranks (4 CP). Mighty Grant of Aid, specialized and corrupted (6 CP). Fighting Style (variable CP).
2nd 15 Reflex Training (3/day variant) with +8 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/must rest at least one hour between each two uses (9 CP).
3rd 27 Improved Critical (6 CP). Immunity to needing to apply these to a particular weapon (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
4th 30 +2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).
5th 43 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). Improved Bonus Attack (12 CP). Immunity/needing to specify specific situations where each bonus attack applies (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
6th 30 +2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).
7th 12 Immunity to not being able to add your proficiency bonus to Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution-based skill that doesn’t already use it (common/minor/trivial – grants a +3 bonus) (2 CP). Skill Focus (athletics), specialized and corrupted (4 CP).
8th 30 +2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).
9th 18 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). Luck, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not choose to take 20 (2 CP).*
10th 6+ Fighting Style (variable CP).
11th 18 Improved Bonus Attack (12 CP).
12th 30 +2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).
13th 17 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). +1 Bonus Use to Luck (1 CP).*
14th 30 +2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).
15th 12 Lethal modifier to Improved Critical (6 CP).
16th 30 +2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).
17th 19 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skill ranks (2 CP). Upgrade Reflex Training from specialized to corrupted (3 CP). +1 Bonus Use to Luck (0 CP).*
18th 12 Mighty Grant of Aid, specialized and corrupted (6 CP).
19th 30 +2 Improved Self-Development (24 CP).
20th 18 Improved Bonus Attack (12 CP).

*The CP totals for Luck here are taken by always applying the CP reductions of corruption and specialization after adding in the cost for Bonus Uses.

While it’s good to have a fighter that’s finally spending almost all of its Character Points, that doesn’t mean that this is an efficient build. This class is spending a huge amount of CPs on bumping up its ability scores, and there are far cheaper ways to do that in Eclipse – particularly since Eclipse characters receive Improved Self-Development every four levels anyway. The tradeoff for this is that the class’s BAB is lagging hideously behind that of a fighter from earlier editions. Most players are likely to want to trade some of those points in Improved Self-Development for some extra BAB, saves, and even skill points.

That said, the above build does reflect the underlying assumptions of Fifth Edition, chief among them being the “flatter math” that caps ability scores at 20 and other bonus progressions at +6. There are also some different assumptions regarding how combat works that are reflected in the above build, such as its eschewing iterative attacks in favor of bonus attacks.

All of this is enough that, if we want to have the Eclipse version of the Basic 5E fighter to adhere more closely to its Fifth Edition underpinnings, we’ll go ahead and apply a package deal to 5E characters.

The Fifth Edition package deal provides for:

  • Immunity to needing to confirm critical hits (very common/major/major) (15 CP).
  • Immunity to not being able to make multiple attacks as a standard action (very common/major/great) (30 CP).
  • Split Movement/Attacking (6 CP).

Of course, that’s 51 CP, which is way too expensive since package deals are normally limited to 12 CP. However, the entire package is specialized for half-cost/may not raise ability scores over 20 by any means, and corrupted for one-third cost/does not receive Improved Self-Development for free every fourth level. That brings the cost down to 17 CP.

That’s still too expensive, so we’ll add in two disadvantages:

  • Accursed; must take the Fifth Edition version of feats and spells even where those have been downgraded. (-3 CP)
  • Accursed; must make three (non-consecutive) stabilization checks to stabilize when below 0 hit points. (-3 CP)

That lowers the cost to 11 CP, just inside the limit.

The above seems to split the difference nicely; bringing in some of the underlying assumptions of 5E combat to how this character functions – without making the character pay for it – while still leaving off some of the heavier restrictions, such as how much BAB or saves they can buy. In an Eclipse game, it’s usually easier (not to mention more fun) not to operate under quite such onerous restrictions.

One thing that I deliberately didn’t address in this build is that Fifth Edition characters have six saving throws – based around the six ability scores – instead of three. Bringing that into a typical Eclipse game would require changing some underlying assumptions that go far beyond a single character’s build, such as having NPCs and monsters that use attacks versus those other three saves. That’d be awkward if used against another character that used the traditional three-saves mechanics. Ergo, that particular restriction was ignored here.

Next time, we’ll go over more of the Basic 5E classes and races in Eclipse terms!

More Horsing Around

June 28, 2014

“It is not enough to be the possessor of genius—the time and the man must conjoin.” -Stephen Vincent Benet, The Curfew Tolls

In most worlds, being born with a mild neurological disorder that inhibited social interaction would have been a challenge to overcome. For Lex Legis, a unicorn pony from the realm of Equestria, however – where such conditions were completely unknown, and where a premium was placed on interpersonal relationships – it made life horrendously difficult.

Born just over a thousand years ago, Lex showed a remarkable intellect from a very young age, with an equally prodigious grasp of magic. However, he had no ability to make friends, despite many earnest attempts to do so. Each time he tried, things inevitably fell apart – whether immediately or after some time had passed – as his high intelligence but lack of social graces invariably upset the ponies around him.

Dispirited by his friendlessness, Lex threw himself into studying the sciences. Highly gifted at virtually any academic pursuit he tried, he gravitated most strongly to theoretical frameworks, particularly enjoying the philosophies behind both magic and governmental structure. He wrote long letters to various ponies that occupied political positions – including Princess Celestia and Princess Luna – proposing ideas of economic regulation, progressive taxation, and public services, but was either completely ignored or politely dismissed in every case. After all, the general sentiment went, Equestria was already an idyllic society, so why change anything?

He easily enrolled in Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, but boarding away from his parents (who were the only ponies who truly cared about him) quickly caused him to become completely isolated, and he dropped out after less than a year. By now bitter and frustrated, Lex continued to study magic independently. Unsurprisingly, at least to him, he formulated a method for magic that was far and away more powerful than what was taught at the School.

However, his methodology of magic was flawed. While it generated far greater magical energy than the traditional manner of spellcasting, it required enormous amounts of magical energy to fuel, more than could be gathered from ambient sources. Unwilling to abandon his research in the face of this setback, Lex set out looking for a magical battery so as to further advance his studies.

After several initial travels, he went to the Crystal Empire to study their Crystal Heart, but arrived just in time for disaster to strike as King Sombra performed a coup. Using his magic to escape the King’s mass enslavement of his subjects, Lex was nevertheless caught in the curse that kept the Empire locked away in stasis for a thousand years, King Sombra’s last spiteful act as Celestia and Luna sealed him away.

Having been returned with the Empire when King Sombra was freed (and subsequently destroyed) six months ago, Lex is struggling to adapt to his situation. He’s disgusted that Equestria has advanced not at all in a thousand years, something that he blames Princess Celestia’s laissez-faire system of government. Truly alone now, Lex has decided that he needs to be more proactive in showing everypony why his style of governance is better for them.

But how to go about doing it…?

Lex Legis, level 4 unicorn arcanomancer

Available Character Points: 120 (level 4 base) + 10 (disadvantages) + 12 (levels 1 and 3 feats) = 142 CP.

Lexis’s disadvantages are Compulsive (he’s obsessive regarding the letter of laws, agreements, codes, etc.), Incompetent (all interpersonal skills), and Outcast (his arrogance and lack of tact quickly isolate him from others).

Ability Scores (32-point buy):

Ability Scores Initial Scores (point cost) Racial Bonuses Level Bonuses Innate Enchantments Total
Strength 12 (4) -2 10 (+0)
Dexterity 12 (4) +2 enhancement 14 (+2)
Constitution 14 (6) +2 enhancement 16 (+3)
Intelligence 17 (13) +1 (4th level) +2 enhancement 20 (+5)
Wisdom 15 (8) 15 (+2)
Charisma 5 (-3) +2 7 (-2)

Technically, a character using a 3.5 point-buy for their ability scores shouldn’t be able to have a score lower than 8. Since the point cost is on a 1-to-1 basis for the smaller expenditures, I simply used that same ratio in reverse to lower Lex’s Charisma score from 8 to 5, gaining a corresponding 3 points to spend elsewhere.

Unicorn Pony Traits

  • Attribute Shift, +2 Charisma/-2 Strength (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, caster level x spell level 1 x 2,000 gp x .7 personal-only modifier where appropriate (7 CP; 5,400 gp).
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • +3 competence bonus to all Intelligence-based skills (1,400 gp).
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Immunity/needing to concentrate on spells (common/major/trivial – only for spells of level 0 or 1), specialized for half cost/only applies to innate enchantments (1 CP).
  • Immunity/verbal, somatic, and material components when casting spells (very common/major/minor – only for spells of level 3 or below) (10 CP).
  • Eldritch, a unicorn’s horn glows when using innate enchantments or spellcasting, and a matching glow surrounds the target (0 CP).
  • Skill Focus, Governance (6 CP).
  • Accursed. Any damage, or other harmful effect, that befalls a unicorn’s horn (e.g. must target their horn specifically, rather than the unicorn overall) causes all innate enchantments and spells cast to immediately end. No more can be used until the effect is healed (-3 CP).

In accordance with his Skill Focus, Lex’s cutie mark is a podium in front of an amphitheater.

Basic Abilities (35 CP)

  • No weapon or armor proficiencies (0 CP).
  • d10 Hit Die (1st level) (6 CP) + 3d4 Hit Dice (0 CP).
  • +2 BAB, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (8 CP).
  • Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1 (21 CP)
  • 0 skill points (0 CP).

Flawed Arcanism (46 CP)

  • 6 sorcerer magic progression levels (Intelligence-based; arcane magic; components and restrained limitations), corrupted for two-thirds cost/must locate or invent new spells to be able to prepare them, specialized for one-half cost/can only replenish spell levels with Rite of Chi (24 CP).
  • 6 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/sorcerer progression only (18 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, corrupted for two-thirds cost/requires a one-hour ritual, specialized for one-half cost/only works with a large external source of arcane power, such as a major magical relic, nexus of mystical energy, or specific days of the year (4 CP).

Lex prepares his spells in a manner akin to a cleric, but must learn them like a wizard. That is, he must locate and learn each spell the same way a wizard would. However, once learned he doesn’t need a spellbook or other focus to prepare his spells – he simply prepares his spells from among those he knows.

His restrained limitation is with regards to wide-area destructive spells. Besides those, he uses the sorcerer/wizard spell list.

Manipulate the Imperfect Power (31 CP)

  • Action Hero/Crafting, corrupted for increased effect/only for magic items (27 AP; 6 CP).
  • Spell Storing/multiple embedment level I (9 CP).
  • Superior Improved Power Words, corrupted for two-thirds cost/requires a standard action (10 CP).
  • Compact metamagic theorem (6 CP).

This suite of abilities allows Lex to get more out of his limited spellcasting abilities. He’ll use spell storing in conjunction with his Foresight ranks (below) to have a useful power word prepared. Likewise, he’ll use Action Hero/Crafting together with Spell Storing to be able to produce a gemstone (his focus of choice for storing spells) with up to 10 instances of a spell for each AP spent.

He saves his Compact metamagic theorem for his actual spell slots, often preparing spells that would otherwise be beyond his casting ability. He uses these very carefully and with great purpose, since refilling his spell slots is something he can only do rarely.

Intuitive Aptitude for Magic (10 CP)

  • Adept/Concentration, Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for double effect/skills only, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only for Adept skills (4 CP).

Fruits of Lesser Experiments (14 CP)

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only versus magical effects (4 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment (10,400 gp; 10 CP)
    • Shield (2,000 gp)
    • Mage armor (1,400 gp)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Dex (1,400 gp)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Con (1,400 gp)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Int (1,400 gp)
    • Immortal vigor I (1,400 gp)
    • Shield of faith (1,400 gp)

Lex’s additional innate enchantments here build on his racial innate enchantments in terms of overall costs. This allows his racial immunity to XP costs for them to extend to these also; a bit cheesy, but acceptably so.

Potential for Greatness (6 CP)

Magic Items

  • Circlet of wizardry (4,880 gp). This circlet grants the wearer a +2 competence bonus to Concentration checks while worn, and allows the wearer to use detect magic at will. It possesses 3 charges that are automatically replenished each day. When casting a spell, the wearer may expend a number of charges equal to the spell level to cause the spell to remain prepared after casting. A circlet of wizardry functions only for characters able to cast arcane spells.
  • The Horn of King Sombra (relic)

The circlet of wizardry is an improved version of the circlet of mages from the Magic Item Compendium (p. 86). Lex found it on one of his earlier travels, and thinks it might have belonged to Star-Swirl the Bearded. The circlet is Lex‘s most prized possession, and he will not part with it willingly.

As for the Horn, Lex stumbled across it when he left the newly-returned Crystal Empire. He typically holds it in reserve for emergencies, as he doesn’t fully understand the nature of its powers yet.

The Horn of King Sombra (2-CP relic)

Torn from his brow when the monstrous unicorn tyrant that conquered the Crystal Empire was destroyed, this blood-red horn lacks the concentric spiral pattern of most unicorn horns. It seems to suggest malevolence in a way that defies articulation.

  • Witchcraft II, granting Elfshot, Infliction, and Shadowweave. Note that this also grants (Str+Dex+Con/3) power. (12 CP)
  • Advanced Witchcraft/The Umbral Form (6 CP)
  • Gateway pact (-6 CP). This produces anxiety in non-evil creatures nearby, as well as causes black crystals to spontaneously form near the user.
  • 3 levels of wilder progression (no caster levels), corrupted for two-thirds cost/no actual powers learned. Note that this grants no bonus power for a high casting attribute. (6 CP)

The entire relic is corrupted for two-thirds cost/blatantly utilizes dark magic, the wielder is vulnerable to spells and effects that affect evil-aligned creatures when using this relic.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 10 (d10 1st level) + 7 (3d4) + 12 (2d6 1st level) + 18 (Con bonus) = 47 hp.
  • Speed: 30 ft.
  • Alignment: Lawful Neutral.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +3 (base) +3 (Con bonus) = +6.
    • Ref: +3 (base) +2 (Dex bonus) = +5.
    • Will: +1 (base) +2 (Wis bonus) = +3.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +2 (Dex bonus) +4 (mage armor) +4 (shield) +2 (shield of faith) = 22, touch 14, flat-footed 20.
  • Attacks: +2 (BAB) +0 (Str bonus) = +2 unarmed strike (1d3 nonlethal).
  • Skills: 35 skill points (Int bonus), plus 14 skill points (Fast Learner; only for Concentration, Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device at half cost each).
Skills Ranks Ability Modifier Misc. Modifier Total
Bluff 0 -2 Cha -3 disadvantage -5
Concentration 7 +3 Con +2 competence (circlet) +12
Decipher Script 3 +5 Int +3 competence +11
Diplomacy 0 -2 Cha -3 disadvantage -5
Foresight 2 (4 points) +5 Int +3 competence +10
Gather Information 1 (2 points) -2 Cha -3 disadvantage -4
Governance 2 (4 points) +5 Int +3 competence, +3 Skill Focus +13
Heal 1 (2 points) +2 Wis +3
Jump 1 (2 points) +0 Str +1
Knowledge (arcana) 7 +5 Int +3 competence +15
Knowledge (geography) 3 +5 Int +3 competence +11
Knowledge (history) 3 +5 Int +3 competence +11
Knowledge (local) 3 +5 Int +3 competence +11
Knowledge (nobility and royalty) 3 +5 Int +3 competence +11
Listen 1 +2 Wis +3
Search 2 +5 Int +3 competence +10
Sense Motive 0 +2 -3 disadvantage -1
Spellcraft 7 +5 Int +3 competence, +2 synergy (Knowledge (arcana)), +2 synergy (Use Magic Device) to decipher scrolls +17
Spot 1 +2 Wis +3
Swim 1 (2 points) +0 Str +1
Use Magic Device 7 -2 Cha +2 synergy (Spellcraft) on checks related to scrolls +5

Lex’s class skills are Craft and Profession, in addition to the twelve skills on the above table that have ranks that were bought on a 1:1 basis.

Currently, Lex has no venue for using his Governance skill, though he intends to change this very soon. He usually uses his Foresight ranks in accordance with preparing his spells.

At the moment, Lex is very close to making his move to change Equestrian society. He has already discovered the long-abandoned Castle of the Two Sisters, and has raided its archives of magical knowledge extensively. He’s recently pulled back from further exploration after a near-miss with Twilight Sparkle and her friends, since he wants to keep a low profile for now (that’s his shadow that’s seen at the end of Castle Mane-ia).

As it is, once he discovers that the Tree of Harmony – exactly the sort of major magical force that he’s looking for – is just outside the castle grounds, he’ll be galvanized into gathering enough resources to start putting his plans into motion. He’ll declare the area to be an independent sovereignty under his rule. While he hopes that this will be recognized by the Equestrian Princesses, he knows it’s more likely that they’ll attempt to invade “his” lands.

Such an action, of course, would give him casus belli – at which point he can lawfully attempt to overthrow them and install himself as the ruler of Equestria, and finally start making the policy reforms he’s long dreamed of. And maybe, just maybe, once he does so…then everypony will appreciate him.

I hadn’t planned on writing any more pony-related posts after the previous entry. However, I was in the mood to write an original character, and original characters need a setting to help ground their concept. Since Equestria is a fully-formed setting already, it was convenient for making a new character from there.

Celestial Aspirations

June 16, 2014

Writing up stats for the subject of today’s post didn’t go as I expected. My goal, as I mentioned in the previous entry, was to write Eclipse d20 stats for Princess Celestia – the demigod-like ruler of Equestria in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I had assumed that she’d have a great deal of powers displayed over the course of the show that I’d need to translate into game statistics. In fact, it turned out to be the opposite.

Princess Celestia

Hoof-manicure: 200 gp. Sparkling-hair perm: 900 gp. Making everyone respect the tramp stamp on your ass: priceless.

It didn’t take long to figure out why this was. In the context of the show, Princess Celestia has a very specific role: she acts as a mentor to Twilight Sparkle (and, by proxy, to the rest of the Mane Six). Mentor characters aren’t meant to occupy the spotlight; they’re meant to set the stage for the main cast members, which is what Celestia does. The vast majority of her appearances have her delivering exposition and adventure hooks, and the remainder have her either being defeated or explaining why she can’t fight…all the better to set the stakes with.

As such, there were comparatively few abilities of hers that required translation into game mechanics. Let’s go over what powers Celestia does have and see if we can quantify them.

Spellcasting: Princess Celestia seems to be an accomplished spellcaster. In The Cutie Mark Chronicles, she stops the young Twilight’s out-of-control burst of magic, similar to how she undoes the “want it, need it” spell Twilight cast on a doll in Lesson Zero, both of which look like dispel magic.

Some other spells she casts are in Return of Harmony to keep a door sealed shut (arcane lock), in Keep Calm and Flutter On to stop some things from being moved via magic (dimensional anchor), and in A Canterlot Wedding she fires a beam of magical energy at Queen Chrysalis (searing light).

She also demonstrates that she can use the dark magic of King Sombra in The Crystal Empire, causing black crystals to erupt from the ground. That particular spell is difficult to classify, but I’d call it a lesser version of black tentacles – one that causes damage on the initial round when it takes effect (save for half), and thereafter makes the area difficult terrain; call it one level lower than the basic version, since it’s not grappling anyone. Oh, and it has the [evil] descriptor – maybe the damage type is unholy?

Either way, none of these spells are above fourth level, which nicely matches the show’s nature of having magic be prevalent but not powerful.

Ageless: Princess Celestia is well over a thousand years old, already having been the ruler of Equestria with her younger sister, Luna, when the latter attempted a coup a millenium ago. Given that the show’s head writer has tweeted that Twilight – after becoming an alicorn – will not outlive her friends, it seems that Celestia’s immortality is something specific to her and Luna, rather than to all alicorns in general.

Raising and Lowering the Sun (and the Moon): Princess Celestia is the princess of the day in Equestria, with Luna being the princess of the night. Each day Celestia raises the sun to start the day, and ends it by lowering the sun to make room for the moon and the stars. During Luna’s banishment, Celestia also takes over her job of moving the moon and the stars each night, also.

Interestingly, in Hearth’s Warming Eve, it’s mentioned that before the Equestria was founded, the unicorn tribe collectively was responsible for moving the celestial bodies. That, and Celestia’s cutie mark being the sun (as well as her nature of an alicorn), conveys how extraordinary it is that she’s able to perform this task on her own.

Prophetic Dreams: In Twilight’s Kingdom, Celestia has a dream of Tirek’s return. She doesn’t question this vision, immediately (and correctly) interpreting it as being true.

Defeating King Sombra: In The Crystal Empire, Celestia tells how she and Luna defeated King Sombra a thousand years ago, changing him into shadow and sealing him in the ice of the arctic north. That’s…somewhat problematic. For one thing, changing him into shadow doesn’t, by itself, seem to have done anything to hinder him. In fact, he seems more fearsome that way.

Worse, sealing someone away in ice for a millenium isn’t functionally different from sealing them deep underground, or in the moon, etc. It’s still essentially an imprisonment spell, which Celestia and Luna apparently used under their own power here, but Celestia needed the Elements of Harmony to seal away a corrupted Luna.

We could possibly chalk this up to Celestia and Luna achieving greater power by working together, or even positing that the Elements of Harmony were used, despite their not being mentioned in the exposition. However, I think it’s easier to just give Celestia a way to use a powerful spell on rare occasions.

Alicorn Nature: As an alicorn, Celestia has all of the abilities of the three types of ponies – the flight of pegasi, the magic of unicorns, and the strength of earth ponies. It’s also mentioned that she and the other princesses have “alicorn magic,” though this isn’t expounded upon beyond some general intimations of it being stronger than “normal” magic.

One notable exception is in Twilight’s Kingdom, where Celestia – along with Luna and Cadence – give Twilight their alicorn magic, leaving themselves drained of all mystical abilities. Twilight, by contrast, is super-powered to the point of having difficulty controlling it all (at least until her epic showdown with Tirek).

So what does all of this look like in Eclipse? My guess would be something like the following:

Princess Celestia, level 8 alicorn (ECL 9)

Available Character Points: 216 (level 8 base) + 18 (levels 1, 3 and 6 feats) + 16 (duties) + 6 (disadvantages) = 256 CP.

Celestia’s disadvantages are History (we’ve seen a lot of her old enemies making reappearances) and Unarmored. Her duties involve administrating an entire kingdom.

Ability Scores (32-point buy):

Ability Scores Base Racial Levels Items Total
Strength 12 +2 14 (+2)
Dexterity 14 14 (+2)
Constitution 14 +2 16 (+3)
Intelligence 14 +1 +2 (crown) 17 (+3)
Wisdom 12 +1 13 (+1)
Charisma 14 +2 16 (+3)

Given Celestia’s status as one of the oldest and most powerful characters in Equestria, it seemed appropriate to give her the largest point-buy for her ability scores.

Alicorn (62 CP/+1 ECL race)

  • +2 Charisma (12 CP)
  • Innate Enchantment, caster level 1 x spell level 1 x 2,000 gp x .7 personal-only modifier where applicable. (11 CP; 10,200 gp).
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Strength (1,400 gp)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Constitution (1,400 gp)
    • Cloud walk (1,400 gp)
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • Heavenly lever (2,000 gp).
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Workhorse, corrupted for two-thirds cost/subject to dispelling, antimagic, and similar effects (4 CP).
  • Celerity with the Additional modifier, all set to flight, corrupted for two-thirds cost/subject to dispelling, antimagic, and similar effects (12 CP).
  • Immunity/needing to concentrate on spells (common/major/trivial – only for spells of level 0 or 1), specialized for half cost/only applies to innate enchantments (1 CP).
  • Immunity/verbal, somatic, and material components when casting spells (very common/major/major – only for spells of level 5 or below) (15 CP).
  • Eldritch, an alicorn’s horn glows when using innate enchantments or spellcasting, and a matching glow surrounds the target (0 CP).
  • 1d6 Mana, with the spell enhancement natural magic, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may only be used to pay for spell enhancement or other special abilities (4 CP).
  • Skill Focus (Spellcraft), specialized for double effect/only for checks to move celestial bodies (6 CP).
  • Accursed. Any damage, or other harmful effect, that befalls an alicorn’s horn (e.g. must target their horn specifically, rather than the alicorn overall) causes all innate enchantments and spells cast to immediately end. No more can be used until the effect is healed (-3 CP).
  • Valuable. Alicorns are desirable to dark forces for their purity and magic (-3 CP).

Celestia’s Skill Focus, and the last item in her Innate Enchantment, are specific to her. Other than that, the above is the racial writeup for alicorns in general.

Alicorns are essentially a mix of the racial abilities of pegasi, unicorns, and earth ponies. The notable differences are the addition of “alicorn magic” – which is their racial mana, the increased ability to use spells without verbal, somatic, or material components, and an additional disadvantage.

Celestia’s last Innate Enchantment spell, heavenly lever, is a 1st-level spell that grants a +10 competence bonus to Spellcraft checks to move celestial bodies. According to The Practical Enchanter, a spell of this level would normally grant a +5 bonus; given the limited circumstances of the check, doubling it seemed appropriate.

Fans of the show might realize that there’s a slight issue with making alicorns a +1 ECL race.

When Twilight changes her base race from unicorn to alicorn at the end of season three, that would put her a level behind her friends, since she needs to pay for the effective level in assuming a more powerful race, whereas they can level up normally. That’s a little awkward, since Twilight doesn’t seem to be any less capable than her friends after her transformation.

The answer here ties into Princess Celestia’s primary role on the show being Twilight’s mentor, as mentioned above. Specifically, she’s the justification for Twilight taking the Mentor ability, specialized for double effect/only to pay for a racial ECL modifier. That grants her +20% extra XP, used only to pay (proactively) for changing up from a +0 ECL race to a +1 ECL race. (She likely retrains this to remove the specialization afterwards, since it’s no longer needed as-is.)

Of course, given that the XP awards on the show are probably fairly small overall, it’s likely that Twilight was still at an XP deficit when the transformation actually happened. Hence the Equestria Girls movie following immediately thereafter. That’s exactly the sort of solo adventure a GM would run for a character that needs just a little more XP to get over the top.

Basic Abilities (138 CP)

  • No weapon or armor proficiencies (0 CP).
  • 8d10 Hit Dice (48 CP).
  • +6 Warcraft, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (24 CP).
  • Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +2 (36 CP).
  • 30 skill points (30 CP).

Celestia’s basic abilities showcase her background. She hasn’t had to fight many battles, but she’s fought enough to have invested in large Hit Dice and a decent BAB, though not in iterative attacks or high saving throws (most of the spells she faces involve attack rolls anyway). She’s spent a fair amount on skill points, as you tend to learn quite a bit over such a long lifespan.

Regina Magica (59 CP)

  • 11 caster levels, specialized in the ranger progression for one-half cost (33 CP).
  • 11 levels of ranger magic progression (spontaneous casting, arcane magic, studies and restrained limitations). Specialized for one-half cost/not usable in armor (11 CP).
  • Spell Flow (6 CP).
  • Spell Pool (6 CP).
  • Enthusiast, specialized for double effect/only for spells (3 CP).

I’ve mentioned before that magic is provident but not powerful in Equestria. My interpretation of that is that the most “advanced” form of magic – the kind likely taught at Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns – is the spontaneous arcane variant of the ranger/paladin progression listed above. Celestia’s casting attribute is Charisma.

Since she has Spell Flow (taken at 1st level) Celestia has 22.5 spell levels that she can spend to “learn” various Spells Known (0-level spells are a half-level), though these must be on her spell list (which isn’t defined here, but as a four-level arcane progression with the “restrained” limitation, is going to be quite small). Once made, these choices cannot be changed.

As mentioned above, some of the spells she already knows (and their level on her spell list) are arcane lock (1), dimensional anchor (4), searing light (2), and “dark crystals” (3). I’ll also throw light (0.5) in there as a utility spell that every spellcasting pony is likely to know. That leaves her with 12 levels’ worth of spells she can add to her Spells Known List.

Likewise, her Spell Pool ability means that Celestia has a grand total of 14.5 spell levels that she can cast in a day. She can use these in any combination of spell levels, save that she cannot use more than four 4th-level, five 3rd-level, six 2nd-level, seven 1st-level, or eight 0-level spells.

Finally, her having Enthusiast allows her to know any particular spell, even if it’s of a higher level than she’d normally be able to have. This is usually used in conjunction with mana and/or a Dominion Point to cast a spell of extraordinary power.

Eternal Princess of Equestria (24 CP)

  • Immunity to aging (uncommon/minor/great) (6 CP).
  • Major privilege (6 CP).
  • Dominion (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized in skills for double effect (6 CP).

Technically, Celestia and Luna both have Dominion for Equestria. That seems odd, but there’s nothing particularly counterintuitive about it; it’s not unusual to have areas ruled by multiple people simultaneously. Though at this point Celestia has a much greater store of Dominion Points than Luna does.

On an interesting note, Celestia has spent a Dominion Point on assigning at least one office; that of the Captain of her Royal Guard. Until the end of the second season of the show, this was Shining Armor, Twilight’s older brother (hence how he was able to cast such a large force field around the city).

Mystic Insight

  • Deep Sleep with Cosmic Awareness (12 CP).

This explains not only Celestia’s prophetic dreams, but also how she was able to rule over the day and night for a thousand years. Not needing that much sleep makes it easier to get a lot done.

Alicorn Magic (14 CP)

  • 3d6 additional mana, corrupted for two-thirds cost/as per her racial mana (12 CP).
  • Blessing, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only for mana, causes her to lose all magical abilities while mana is donated (2 CP).

Twilight confirms in the fourth season finale that alicorn magic, while inherent, is something an alicorn learns to control (and presumably strengthen) over time. Hence, Celestia has a fairly high amount of mana. Likewise, she can bestow it on another, though doing so leaves her severely weakened.

She Who Moves the Sun

  • Skill Emphasis (x2), specialized for double-effect/only to move celestial bodies (6 CP).

Between her +16 skill bonus in Spellcraft (below), the +6 from her racial Skill Focus, the +10 from her racial Innate Enchantment, and the +8 from this ability, Celestia has a total of +40 to Spellcraft checks to move celestial bodies. Ergo, by taking 10 on the check, she can hit a DC 50, which is the result needed to be able to rearrange the heavens.

Note that this particular application of Spellcraft – which has no prerequisites besides being able to cast spells – only works in Equestria (or realms with similar cosmologies). In a “normal” fantasy world, this would be an Epic Stunt (from Skill Focus), and the DC would be much, much higher. For a good comparison, see the 23rd-level spell orbital adjustment in Eclipse.

Weapon of Last Resort

  • Martial arts, 1d4 damage with unarmed strike (3 CP).

This is to represent that Celestia can use her horn as a melee weapon. We never see her do this, save for momentarily locking horns with Queen Chrysalis in A Canterlot Wedding, but it’s not a bad idea for her to have the option anyway.

Magic Items

  • Crown of Insight. This crown grants the wearer a +2 enhancement bonus to Intelligence, as well as a +2 competence bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge (nobility and royalty), and Sense Motive (5,540 gp).
  • Torc of Royal Aegis. This torc combines the effects of bracers of armor +4 and a cloak of resistance +3 (25,900 gp).
  • Horseshoes of Swift Travel. The wearer of these horseshoes is under a continual personal haste spell (from The Practical Enchanter) (4,000 gp).

As a 9th-level character, Celestia has 36,000 gp (using the PC wealth-by-level table). However, like most characters from popular media, she isn’t shown to wrap herself in magical gear the way d20 characters do. Ergo, the best compromise is to say that what few items she does wear are themselves magical, providing continuous but unobtrusive effects.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 10 (1st level) + 38 (7d10) + 24 (Con. bonus) = 72 hp.
  • Speed: 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (perfect) + 30 ft. (horseshoes) = 60 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +5 (base) +3 (Con. bonus) +3 (torc) = +11.
    • Ref: +5 (base) +2 (Dex. bonus) +3 (torc) = +10.
    • Will: +2 (base) +1 (Wis. bonus) +3 (torc) = +6.
  • Armor Class = 10 (base) +2 (Dex) +4 (torc) = 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14.
  • Attacks: unarmed strike +6 (BAB) + 2 (Str) = unarmed strike +8 (1d4+2).
  • Skills: 30 skill points (30 CP) + 22 (Int. bonus) + 22 (Fast Learner) = 74 skill points.
Skills Ranks Ability Modifier Misc. Modifier Total
Bluff 0 +3 Cha +2 competence +5
Concentration 5 +3 Con +8
Diplomacy 4 +3 Cha +2 synergy (Knowledge (nobility and royalty)), +2 competence +11
Gather Information 2 (4 points) +3 Cha +2 synergy (Knowledge (local)) +7
Intimidate 3 +3 Cha +6
Knowledge (arcana) 5 +3 Int +8
Knowledge (geography) 5 +3 Int +8
Knowledge (history) 5 +3 Int +8
Knowledge (local) 5 +3 Int +8
Knowledge (nobility and royalty) 5 +3 Int +2 competence +10
Knowledge (the planes) 2 +3 Int +5
Listen 2 (4 points) +1 Wis +3
Perform (sing) 4 +3 Cha +7
Search 2 (4 points) +3 Int +5
Sense Motive 4 +1 Wis +2 competence +7
Spellcraft 11 +3 Int +2 synergy (Knowledge (arcana)) +16
Spot 2 (4 points) +1 Wis +3
Survival 0 +1 Wis +2 synergy (Knowledge (geography)) to keep from getting lost or avoiding hazards or when on other planes +1

Celestia’s class skills are the twelve in the above table that have ranks which have been bought on a 1:1 basis – Concentration, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana, geography, history, local, nobility and royalty, the planes), Perform, Sense Motive, and Spellcraft. Craft and Profession are also class skills for her, though she has no ranks in either.

There’s no Pathfinder presentation for Princess Celestia, unlike in the previous article. That’s because using the Pathfinder rules in Eclipse – not just the package deal and the extra CPs, but the Pathfinder ability score point-buy values, skill system, and even PC wealth-by-level table – present just enough differences that, for a higher-level character like Celestia, she’d need to be near-totally rewritten.

Needless to say, that was a little more than I wanted to portray, so I’ve elected to show only her 3.5 game stats.

Overall, Princess Celestia is a moderately powerful character for her level. She presents a fairly mixed balance between skills and spellcasting, being capable at both while overwhelming at neither. Of course, to the citizens of Equestria she’s akin to a demigod – that’s to be expected, since the disparity in power between a 9th-level character compared to a 1st-level one is overwhelming.

Insofar as the other alicorns on the show are concerned, Luna’s build would probably look extremely similar to Celestia’s (which is to be expected, given that they perform extremely similar tasks), being maybe a level or two lower and swapping out the prophetic dreams for actual dreamwalking. Cadence would be more of a support character, having buffing and healing instead of offense and utility powers.

And Twilight…well, we’ll just have to see where the show takes her.

A Level One Rarity

June 7, 2014

Having presented the pony races of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in general, I wanted to go ahead and give Eclipse stats to some specific individuals from the show. While my initial inclination was to portray Princess Celestia – one of the most powerful characters in the series – I instead decided to showcase an average pony, as that better sets up a contrast to the alicorn princess.

Given that the Mane Six are the characters with the most presentation on the show, and are ponies from average walks of life, choosing one of them was a no-brainer. But surprisingly, several of them were unsuited for being presented as your typical, average pony in Equestria.

Rarity

Bold choice, being a fashionista in a world where no one wears clothes.

Twilight Sparkle, for instance, is indicated early on to have untapped potential greater than other ponies, foreshadowing that comes to a head at the end of the third season with her alicorn transformation. Rainbow Dash is athletic, which by itself isn’t a deal-breaker, but some fans have posited that her physical prowess is such that she could defeat Starscream – yes, that Starscream – in a fight. Pinkie Pie’s antics are over-the-top to such a degree that she seems to have narrative powers (and quite possibly some immunity to the fourth wall), which is very interesting but in no way “average.”

Given that Applejack seems to be notably strong (even for an earth pony) and that Fluttershy’s rapport with animals seems to be at least somewhat mystical in nature (to the point of being able to communicate with them verbally), that left only…

Rarity, level 1 unicorn pony

Available Character Points: 48 (level one base) + 6 (level one feat) + 2 (duties) = 56 CP.

Rarity’s duties are focused around her business, the Carousel Boutique. Considering that there have been several episodes that involve her running or promoting her shop, this seems to be appropriate.

Ability Scores (15-point buy): Str 9, Dex 10, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 10, Cha 13. These include her racial ability score modifiers.

The point-buy for the above ability scores uses the 3.5 rules, from the DMG p. 169. Here, all ability scores start out at 8 rather than 10, and 15 points is the “low-powered campaign” option, which seemed appropriate.

Unicorn Pony Traits

  • Attribute Shift, +2 Charisma/-2 Strength (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, caster level x spell level 1 x 2,000 gp (7 CP; 6,000 gp)
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • Detect gemstones (1,000 gp).
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Immunity/needing to concentrate on spells (common/major/trivial – only for spells of level 0 or 1), specialized for half cost/only applies to innate enchantments (1 CP).
  • Immunity/verbal, somatic, and material components when casting spells (very common/major/minor – only for spells of level 3 or below) (10 CP).
  • Eldritch, a unicorn’s horn glows when using innate enchantments or spellcasting, and a matching glow surrounds the target (0 CP).
  • Skill Focus, Craft (tailor) (6 CP).
  • Accursed. Any damage, or other harmful effect, that befalls a unicorn’s horn (e.g. must target their horn specifically, rather than the unicorn overall) causes all innate enchantments and spells cast to immediately end. No more can be used until the effect is healed (-3 CP).

Rarity’s detect gemstones ability functions as per detect magic, save that it locates gemstones only. Luckily, in Equestria, perfectly-cut gemstones are often found just a foot or two underground, or waiting inside large rocks that can be cracked open like piñatas.

Her Skill Focus being used for Craft (tailor) is, of course, representative of her cutie mark. This skill was used rather than Profession (fashion designer) because the former represents her creative ability itself, whereas the latter skill is focused on her ability to market and make a living off of her talents.

Basic Abilities (44 CP)

  • No weapon or armor proficiencies (0 CP).
  • 1d6 Hit Die at 1st level (2 CP).
  • +0 Warcraft (0 CP).
  • Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +2 (12 CP).
  • 30 skill points (30 CP).

Soul of Generosity

Since the Elements of Harmony are retired in the fourth season premiere, and since the characters in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic seem to gain experience quite slowly, it’s not unreasonable that Rarity retrained these 2 Character Points to spend elsewhere after the Elements are gone.

Upwardly Mobile

  • Contacts x3 (3 CP).

These contacts represent the celebrity and high-society connections Rarity makes over the course of the show.

Minor Spellcaster (7 CP)

  • 1 caster level, specialized for half cost/only for generic spell levels (3 CP).
  • Mana, 2d4 (5) generic spell levels option, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no form of natural magic (4 CP).
  • Spells known: light, mending, prestidigitationshear (0-level Compact version; 2 min./level duration) (0 CP; purchased with gp).

It’s off-handedly mentioned near the end of the first season that Princess Celestia has a School for Gifted Unicorns. Given that it’s for unicorns only, and that its entrance exam is a test of magic, it seems to follow that this school is for formal education in spellcasting.

There’s no indication that Rarity ever attended this school, however. As such, her spellcasting abilities don’t use a formalized progression. That’s fine for her though, as she only uses – and only needs – a few cantrips anyway.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 6 (1st level) + 0 (Con mod.) = 6 hp.
  • Speed: 30 feet.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +0 (base) +0 (Con mod.) = +0.
    • Reflex: +2 (base) +0 (Dex mod.) = +2.
    • Will: +2 (base) +0 (Wis mod.) = +2.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +0 (Dex mod.) = 10.
  • Attacks: unarmed strike +0 (BAB) -1 (Str mod.) = -1 (1d3-1 nonlethal).
  • Skill points: 30 (CP) + 0 (Int mod.) = 30 skill points.
Skills Ranks Ability Bonus Misc. Bonus Total
Appraise 3 +0 Int +3
Bluff 2 +1 Cha +3
Concentration 2 +0 Con +2
Craft (tailor) 4 +0 Int +3 Skill Focus +7
Diplomacy 2 +1 Cha +3
Knowledge (local) 3 +0 Int +3
Knowledge (nobility and royalty) 3 +0 Int +3
Perform (sing) 3 +1 Cha +4
Profession (fashion designer) 4 +0 Wis +4
Search 2 +0 Int +2
Sense Motive 2 +0 Wis +2

Rarity’s class skills are Craft and Profession, plus another twelve skills. In this case, she’s chosen nine of her class skills, with three left unspecified. I’d recommend these be basic functions like Jump, Listen, and Spot.

Unsurprisingly, Rarity makes a poor adventurer by typical d20 standards. As a 1st-level character from a relatively peaceful society, she has – as we’ve seen before – no particular reason to learn any combat abilities. Instead, she’s focused primarily on easily-learned mundane skills that are of practical use in her community. Even her use of magic is all but negligible, being limited to a few innate abilities and a couple of minor spells.

Given that, it’s little wonder that the episodes of MLP:FiM that focus on actual adventuring are so uncommon. The threats that a typical 1st-level D&D party faces would be overwhelming to ponies like Rarity, so what few enemies they face tend to be ones that can be avoided or talked down. Though when exceptions do happen, they tend to be pretty epic.

Pathfinder Rarity

Like the previous article, the statistics presented above are for 3.5 rather than Pathfinder. That’s because using Pathfinder standards pushed Rarity’s overall level of power up by a surprisingly considerable amount. This is understandable; for a low-level non-optimized character, any boost is going to seem like a large one.

To bring Rarity up to spec for Pathfinder, we’ll start by applying the Pathfinder package deal to her character. This gives her a “favored class bonus” that we’ll use for hit points, bringing her total hp at 1st-level up to 7.

It also applies a +2 bonus to her Intelligence, but rather than applying it straight, we’ll recalculate her ability scores using the (more generous) point-buy allocation in the Pathfinder Core Rules, where all ability scores start off at 10, and a “low fantasy” build gives 10 points. Using these guidelines, and the racial bonuses for unicorns, Rarity’s Pathfinder ability scores are as follows:

Ability Scores (10-point buy): Str 11, Dex 12, Con 11, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 14.

That’s a not-inconsiderable amount of inflation to her attribute scores, compared to her 3.5 incarnation, which helps to highlight the degree to which Pathfinder tends to introduce power creep. This changes her derived stats as follows:

  • Hit points: 6 (1st level) +0 (Con mod.) +1 (“favored class” bonus) = 7 hp.
  • Speed: 30 feet.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +0 (base) +0 (Con mod.) = +0.
    • Reflex: +2 (base) +1 (Dex mod.) = +3.
    • Will: +2 (base) +0 (Wis mod.) = +2.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +1 (Dex mod.) = 11.
  • Attacks: unarmed strike +0 (BAB) +0 (Str mod.) = +0 (1d3 nonlethal).

This isn’t the end of the changes we need to make, however.

Rarity is a skill-based character, and Pathfinder’s skill system has some notable differences from the 3.5 version. For one thing, a character is limited to a number of ranks equal to her level, rather than level +3. That means that, if we keep the number of Pathfinder skills Rarity has relatively even with her 3.5 skills, she’s going to have a lot of leftover points.

Most of the skills listed in her 3.5 skill table have a Pathfinder equivalent – only Concentration is eliminated entirely. That leaves her with ten skills, each with only a single rank; since she gets 1 free skill rank from her Intelligence bonus, she’s now spending only 9 CP on skills.

Since she originally spent 30 CP on skills, the other 21 CP will have to be re-spent elsewhere. Given that her overall nature as a skill-focused character hasn’t changed, it’d be awkward to spend these on special powers or combat abilities, since the show makes it very clear that she has none. As such, we’ll spend these remaining Character Points on yet more skill-boosters:

Intuitive Insight (12 CP)

  • Augmented Bonus/may add Charisma bonus to Intelligence-based skills (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/may add Charisma bonus to Wisdom-based skills (6 CP).

Superlative Seamstress (9 CP)

  • Speed enhancement to her racial Skill Focus (Craft (tailor)) ability (6 CP).
  • Skill Emphasis, +2 bonus to Profession (fashion designer) (3 CP).

This is without even getting into the fact that, since very early on, Pathfinder has encouraged characters to take starting traits, two “half-feats” – which I interpret to mean “an additional 6 CP” – taken at character creation to help flesh out a character’s pre-adventuring background. Since traits are still (technically) an optional rule, we’ll spend those on a thematically-appropriate power that has virtually no in-character representation:

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized in skill and ability checks for one-half cost (6 CP).

Altogether, this changes her skill table to look like the following:

Skills Ranks Ability Bonus Class Bonus Misc. Bonus Total
Appraise 1 +1 Int, +2 Cha +3 +7
Bluff 1 +2 Cha +3 +6
Craft (tailor) 1 +1 Int, +2 Cha +3 +3 Skill Focus +10
Diplomacy 1 +2 Cha +3 +6
Knowledge (local) 1 +1 Int, +2 Cha +3 +7
Knowledge (nobility) 1 +1 Int, +2 Cha +3 +7
Perception 1 +0 Wis, +2 Cha +3 +6
Perform (sing) 1 +2 Cha +3 +6
Profession (fashion designer) 1 +0 Wis, +2 Cha +3 +2 Skill Emphasis +8
Sense Motive 1 +0 Wis, +2 Cha +3 +6

Between the additional abilities given above, her heightened ability scores, and Pathfinder’s mandate that all class skills automatically gain a +3 bonus, Rarity’s skills are the most stark showcase for how much strength Pathfinder gives low-level characters. Pathfinder-Rarity is in every way superior to her 3.5 counterpart!

As a note, using the standard metric of twelve class skills plus Craft and Profession, Rarity has four more class skills. I’d recommend Climb, Heal, Intimidate, and Knowledge (geography). These aren’t quite as utilitarian as I’d like, but are the least intrusive with regards to what Rarity’s good at (unlike, say, more athletic- or knowledge-focused skills).

Now that we’ve established what the everyday ponies are like, it’s time to look at the opposite end of the spectrum. Next time, we’ll look at alicorns in general and Princess Celestia in particular!

Race-ing Ponies

May 31, 2014

Continuing with last week’s theme, I’m posting more d20 stats for various aspects of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic using the point-buy rules in Eclipse: the Codex Persona. Whereas before I kept a narrow focus by writing up the mechanics for a single magical relic, this time we’ll examine something far more universal in the show’s presentation: the various pony races.

Earth Ponies (20 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • Attribute Shift, +2 Charisma/-2 Dexterity (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, caster level 1 x spell level 1 x 2,000 gp x .7 personal-only modifier. Corrupted for two-thirds cost/only provides two-thirds usual gp value (4 CP; 3,400 gp).
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Strength (1,400 gp)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Constitution (1,400 gp)
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Workhorse, corrupted for two-thirds cost/subject to dispelling, antimagic, and similar effects (4 CP).
  • Skill Focus (6 CP).
  • Blocked. Earth ponies are not able to take any spellcasting progressions (-3 CP).

Frienship is Magic initially presents earth ponies are the most boring of the three types of ponies. Pegasi get to fly and walk on clouds, unicorns get to use magic, and earth ponies…don’t really get anything.

The show eventually gives earth ponies some unique attributes, but does so in a rather hesitant manner. We’re told midway through season two that the tribe of earth ponies are the only ones that practice agriculture, which all ponies rely on since they’re all herbivorous. The problem is that that’s specialized knowledge, rather than a racial ability. It’s only at the end of season four that we’re told that earth ponies have inherently magical strength that allows them to work the land.

…which, when you think about it, is still kind of lame. Especially since there are plenty of earth ponies that we see in the show that don’t display any sort of exceptional strength. That suggests that this strength is notably minor, which is probably best represented by the Workhorse ability in the above build. Purely to make them a more attractive racial choice, I’ve bolstered that power with Innate Enchantments that boost Strength and Constitution as well.

That doesn’t make earth ponies quite as attractive to play as unicorns or pegasi – as those races’ greater CP expenditures demonstrate – but it does help to close the gap.

Some communiques from the show’s staff have suggested that instead of – or possibly in addition to – having greater strength than other ponies, earth ponies have a special connection to the land and its creatures.

If you want to add that ability, change the Innate Enchantment listing for earth ponies to the following:

  • Innate Enchantment, caster level 1 x spell level 1 x 2,000 gp x .7 personal-only modifier. (7 CP; 6,000 gp).
    • +3 competence bonus to Handle Animal (1,400 gp)
    • +3 competence bonus to Knowledge (nature) (1,400 gp)
    • +3 competence bonus to Profession (farmer) (1,400 gp)
    • +3 competence bonus to Survival (1,400 gp)

That increases their racial build to 23 CP – still within the 31 CP cutoff for an ECL +0 race – and makes them a bit more equitable with their fellow equines.

If you want to have the above in addition to the increased Strength and Constitution, simply add those abilities back in and increase the CP value of the Innate Enchantment to 10 (9,000 gp), giving them a total racial cost of 26 CP.

Pegasus Ponies (26 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • Attribute Shift, +2 Charisma/-2 Constitution (6 CP).
  • Celerity with the Additional modifier, all set to flight, corrupted for two-thirds cost/subject to dispelling, antimagic, and similar effects (12 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, caster level 1 x spell level 1 x 2,000 gp x .7 personal-only modifier. Specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only provides one-third usual gp value (2 CP; 1,700 gp).
    • Cloud walk (1,400 gp).
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Skill Focus (6 CP).
  • Blocked. Pegasus ponies are not able to take any spellcasting progressions (-3 CP).

That pegasus ponies’ ability to fly is magical – as stated during the fourth season finale – makes a great deal of sense, since it neatly explains how we constantly see them flying with the adroit maneuverability of hummingbirds. The statistics given above let pegasus ponies fly at a rate of 30 feet with perfect maneuverability.

Their equally unique ability to walk on clouds was slightly more tricky. Ultimately, I decided to modify the water walk spell into a lower-level version specific to clouds. Since that’s much more limited in scope – clouds only, rather than all liquids – and has a much more limited set of useful circumstances (simply getting up to the clouds isn’t going to be possible without being able to fly in the first place), I set the spell level as being 1. The full version of the spell is below:

CLOUD WALK

School transmutation [air]; Level cleric/oracle 1, ranger 1

Components V, S, DF

Range touch

Targets one touched creature/level

Duration 1 hour/level (D)

Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

Subjects of this spell can walk upon clouds as though they were solid ground. This spell only works with regard to clouds, and not other forms of aerial obscurement such as smoke, mist, or fog. The subjects can walk, run, charge, or otherwise move across the surface of the cloud as if it were normal ground.

There is, of course, no particular reason for pegasus ponies to purchase an immunity to stacking limits with regard to their Innate Enchantments, but its worth having if only to allow for individual ponies that manage to increase their innate powers somehow.

Unicorn Ponies (30 CP/+0 ECL race)

  • Attribute Shift, +2 Charisma/-2 Strength (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, caster level x spell level 1 x 2,000 gp (7 CP; 6,000 gp)
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • Greater mage hand (2,000 gp).
    • One additional 0- or 1st-level spell.
  • Immunity/stacking limitations when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial; only covers level 0 or 1 effects) (2 CP).
  • Immunity/the normal XP cost of racial innate enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Immunity/needing to concentrate on spells (common/major/trivial – only for spells of level 0 or 1), specialized for half cost/only applies to innate enchantments (1 CP).
  • Immunity/verbal, somatic, and material components when casting spells (very common/major/minor – only for spells of level 3 or below) (10 CP).
  • Eldritch, a unicorn’s horn glows when using innate enchantments or spellcasting, and a matching glow surrounds the target (0 CP).
  • Skill Focus (6 CP).
  • Accursed. Any damage, or other harmful effect, that befalls a unicorn’s horn (e.g. must target their horn specifically, rather than the unicorn overall) causes all innate enchantments and spells cast to immediately end. No more can be used until the effect is healed (-3 CP).

It’s not wrong to suggest that unicorns are, to put it politely, first among equals. This is primarily due not to any particular power that they have, but rather one limitation that they lack: the inability to become spellcasters. Unicorns alone can use magic actively, rather than relying solely on innate abilities.

Speaking of which, the listing for their Innate Enchantments is not an error; greater mage hand is there twice to show that unicorns are able to manipulate two things at once. Their third Innate Enchantment is specific to each unicorn, reflecting their individual dispositions.

The greater mage hand spell is from the 3.5 Spell Compendium. It functions as per the normal mage hand spell, save for being first level, having a duration of concentration, medium range, and allows for things of up to 40 lbs. to be lifted with an effective Strength of 10, and can be moved up to 20 ft. per round.

A Few Rules of Hoof

There are a few general notes that should be mentioned with regards to the above races.

The major one is that none of these have been specialized or corrupted due to being quadrupeds that lack proper hands. That wasn’t an oversight – ponies aren’t penalized for their lack of opposable thumbs because, as they’re portrayed on the show, they can effectively work around that limitation.

Partially through using their mouths and partially through the cartoon fiat that lets their forelegs function akin to human arms at convenient times, ponies don’t seem to lack any particular ability to manipulate their environment in the same ways a human would. Ergo, they don’t get any price break.

Likewise, each race has Skill Focus, but the particular skill is unspecified. That’s on purpose, as this is the special talent that each pony discovers for themselves as they reach maturity – in other words, their cutie mark. That this shouldn’t technically happen until the pony reaches first level, and is displayed with a unique mark on each flank, is too minor to warrant mechanical extrapolation.

I also elected to keep the ponies Medium-sized, rather than Small. That wasn’t my initial plan – after all, they’re called My Little Ponies – but I made a rough determination (using some extremely pedantic reasoning) that the smallest adult ponies, such as Twilight and her friends, were four feet tall, which is the minimum height for Medium creatures. Add in that several other ponies are taller than this (e.g. Big Mac), and the decision became an easy one.

It’s worth noting that every breed of pony had Charisma as the ability score that received a +2 bonus to reflect how, on the show, ponies of all sorts have a gregarious disposition. Being outgoing, if not always friendly, is second-nature to ponies of all kinds, making Charisma a natural choice for which ability score gets a racial boost.

Finally, none of these ponies has a favored class, using the 3.5 meaning of the term. Just like humans, a pony’s favored class is whichever base class they currently have the most levels in.

Pathfinder Ponies

As the above paragraph makes clear, these races are all built to 3.5 standards. Under the Eclipse rules, this is distinct from Pathfinder only in that each race has a total ability score modifier of +0. This is deliberate, as Eclipse makes Pathfinder modifications separately via a package deal.

If you want to use these ponies in a Pathfinder game, the aforementioned package deal requires the additional +2 bonus to be mandated by race, rather than freely assigned. As such, here’s the listing for the additional ability score bonus for the various pony tribes:

  • Earth ponies: +2 Wisdom.
  • Pegasus ponies: +2 Dexterity.
  • Unicorn ponies: +2 Intelligence.

Next time, we’ll look at some particular pony personages!

Harmonizing the Elements

May 25, 2014

So about two months ago, I became a brony.

If you’re still reading after the above sentence, let me expound a little bit further. Back at the beginning of April, I was very sick, and had to spend a week in bed. Unable to do much besides rest, I spent most of the time just watching Netflix, and eventually stumbled across My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I’d already heard about the show’s unexpected popularity among adult males, and had even seen the first episode a few years back when a friend’s younger siblings sat me down to watch it (I remember finding it mildly interesting even then). Wanting something light and positive to take my mind off of how miserable I felt, I decided to give the show a chance, and to my surprise I didn’t dislike it. (The fact that I’d just heard that the Ponyfinder Campaign Setting had just come out also helped to pique my interest.)

I eventually ended up watching the first three seasons and the movie, as well as the documentary on bronies. I even went online and hunted down the fourth season episodes after I’d exhausted what Netflix had to offer. While I feel no particular compulsion to attend any of the MLP conventions, buy any of the merchandise, or frequent any of the fansites (though the wikis do help with some information), I do consider myself a fan of the show.

Of course, since I’m posting about this on my Pathfinder/D&D blog, you should be able to see where this is heading.

A Pony of a Different Color

I’ve already written a review of Ponyfinder, which you can find on its storefront via the link above, so I won’t go over it again here, save for saying this: I think it’s a very good product in terms of bringing aspects of MLP:FiM into a Pathfinder world, but not vice versa.

Ponyfinder recognizes that (at least for the d20 System) the rules are the physics of the game world. That means that trying to make a d20 game that recreates the world as seen in Friendship is Magic would require a radical retooling of the rules. Instead, it moves the compromise in the other direction, keeping the rules – and by extension, what they suggest about any world that operates under such rules – and porting in concepts from the show, such as the various pony races. The end result is a game world that has recognizable similarities to Friendship is Magic, but still feels different.

Of course, my favorite d20 supplement – Eclipse: the Codex Persona – is a little more flexible than the standard d20 rules. As such, it’s somewhat easier to come up with Pathfinder-compatible rules for various aspects of Friendship is Magic. Given that, I’ve decided to start off with an item, since new magical gear can be brought into a game far easier than new races or NPCs.

And since it’s really the only significant magical artifact in the entire series, we’ll take a look at the Elements of Harmony.

The Sixth Element

The Elements of Harmony

Obeying the rule that major magical relics must also double as bling.

The six Elements of Harmony – magical gemstones that represent Kindness, Generosity, Laughter, Loyalty, Honesty, and Magic – are a combination of mcguffin and deus ex machina for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, at least for the first few seasons. As with most fiction, the “how” and “why” of the way magic works in FiM is ignored in favor of narrative convenience; as major magical artifacts, the Elements of Harmony do whatever it is the story needs them to do.

Now, that makes for easy (if somewhat lazy) writing, but it doesn’t help much when trying to define something using the objective terms of role-playing game mechanics. As such, we’re going to need to take a closer look at what it is the Elements of Harmony actually do over the course of the show, as well as how they’re used.

The two major times we see the Elements in use are at the beginning of the first and second seasons by Twilight Sparkle and her friends. Respectively, they’re used to change the malevolent Nightmare Moon back into her gentler alter ego of Princess Luna, which strikes me as being an instance of break enchantment (Luna later mentions that this “stripped her of her dark powers”), and to turn the anarchy-loving Discord into stone (a straightforward flesh to stone spell). We also see this latter spell reversed in the third season.

That’s…surprisingly consistent in terms of power. Break enchantment is a fifth-level spell, and flesh to stone/stone to flesh are sixth-level.

There’s one other effect that we know the Elements were used for. We’re told in the pilot episode that Princess Celestia used the Elements to banish Nightmare Moon within the moon (for a thousand years!), and we actually get to see it happen in the fourth season premiere. That’s the equivalent of an imprisonment spell, which is much higher at ninth-level.

This is notable, because we’re told directly that Celestia can’t reach anywhere near that same level of power without the Elements. When Discord is released in the beginning of the second season, Celestia flat-out states that she and Luna can’t defeat him, since they’re no longer connected to the Elements. Since defeating Discord means using flesh to stone on him, the message is clear – without the Elements, Celestia can’t use magic anywhere near as strong as she could with them.

Throw in the fact that we never see Twilight using notably powerful magic on her own, and it suddenly becomes clear exactly what the Elements of Harmony actually do: they allow their bearer(s) to cast spells of a level far higher than they’d normally be able to.

Now that we’ve established that, we can look at some of the other characteristics of the Elements:

The Elements can only be used as a set. This is the major plot point that drives the Equestria Girls movie. With one Element taken to another dimension, the remaining five are stated to be useless.

Celestia Uses the Elements

Early concept art for the second Death Star.

The Elements can only be used by those they bond to. The reason that Celestia and Luna can’t use the Elements to defeat Discord at the beginning of the second season is, as mentioned above, that they’re no longer connected to them. That makes it pretty clear that the Elements bond to specific individual(s), and said individuals are the only ones able to utilize them. Interestingly, this doesn’t need to be spread out on 1:1 basis for the six Elements; we see Celestia and Luna use all six collectively when they originally defeated Discord, and even see Celestia use all six by herself when she defeated Nightmare Moon.

Only virtuous characters can use the Elements: While they act as mcguffins in the show, it’s notable that no villains have any particular desire to possess the Elements of Harmony for themselves. Indeed, Nightmare Moon reaches the Elements long before the Mane Six do in the series premiere, but she never tries to use them, instead electing to destroy them before the heroines can put them to use (though this ultimately fails; see below).

Destroyed Elements can be reconstructed by their wielders: When Nightmare Moon was freed, she wisely destroyed the Elements before they could be used against her again. This didn’t help her in the end however, as Twilight and her friends – who at that point were confirmed to each represent a particular Element – were able to reconstitute them almost immediately.

It’s worth mentioning that the first three points listed above are flagrantly violated in the Equestria Girls movie.

After stealing the Element that corresponds to Magic, Sunset Shimmer flees with it to another dimension, leaving the remaining five behind. She then uses it to assume a powerful (and demonic-looking) new form, hypnotize the entire student body of a local high school, and attack Twilight. How is that possible?

While Sunset hints that it’s due to the Element being in another dimension, this is a weak explanation, largely by virtue of the fact that there’s no way she could possibly have known that (she’s been in another dimension for over two years, while the entire show up to that point – including the rediscovery of the Elements – has all taken place within one year).

Rather ironically, in translating the Elements to d20 terms, we have a much simpler explanation for how someone’s able to use a magic item they shouldn’t be able to – the Use Magic Device skill.

Statistical Harmony

So what does all of that boil down to, in terms of game mechanics? Let’s go over each point and use Eclipse to define what the Elements of Harmony actually do.

  • Mana, using the generic spell levels option (we’ll take the average and say 5 spell levels), corrupted for two thirds-cost/no form of natural magic (4 CP; this presumes that you can add these generic spell levels on top of existing spell slots to reach higher spell levels).
  • Double Enthusiast, specialized for one-half cost/may only be used for new spells (3 CP; since this counts as buying spells for spontaneous casting, this only allows for one spell at a time, changeable every three days).
  • Immunity to minimum caster level and ability score requirements for casting spells (very common/major/epic), specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only for spells cast from the Elements (15 CP).
  • Luck, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only for caster level checks, only when using a spell granted by the Elements (2 CP).
  • Ability Focus, specific to the spells granted by the Elements (3 CP).
  • Returning. So long as they’re bonded to someone, their user(s) can restore the Elements as a full-round action (6 CP).

Given that the Elements are an item that presumably anyone can use, we’ll call them a relic. 33 CP worth of powers is fairly expensive, but the entire thing is specialized and corrupted down to 11 CP, making them a 2 CP relic, due to the following:

  • A character must invest 2 CP of their own to be able to use it. Once this is done, only they can use the Elements unless they die, voluntarily give them away, or another possessor makes a DC 20 Use Magic Device check.
  • A potential user must also have a Charisma modifier equal or higher to the total number of Elements they want to use (e.g. +6 or more to use all of them yourself). Less than this, and someone else must bond with the remaining Elements. If multiple character bond with the Elements, each of them has to pay the full relic cost to do so. (This explains why Twilight and her friends – whom I see as having Charisma scores of 12 or 13 – have to work together to use the Elements, whereas Celestia certainly had a high enough Charisma to use them on her own).
  • All six Elements must be wielded together at the same time to use their powers. If held by multiple bearers, each of them must spend a full-round action empowering the casting character. This limitation can also be overcome with a Use Magic Device check, DC 25.
  • Only good-aligned characters can use the Elements, though this can be bypassed with Use Magic Device as well (DC 30).

This not only models what we see in the show extremely well, but is surprisingly balanced. Roughly once per day, a character – or, more likely at the lower levels, a group of characters – can bust out a single high-level spell of their choice (though once made, that choice can’t be altered for three days) that will, thanks to the +2 DC from Ability Focus and using Luck on a caster level check, almost certainly succeed. It’s the very model of a deus ex machina, without being totally game-breaking.

Now that’s what I call harmony.

The DragonStrike Connection

April 26, 2014

I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been limiting myself too much with regards to this blog. When I started Intelligence Check, I had in mind that it would be dedicated solely to Pathfinder. This was supposed to serve as a tight focus that would serve to keep me on target with regards to what I wrote about. Everything that wasn’t Pathfinder was off the table for this space.

In hindsight, this was an easy promise to make to myself, since back in early 2010 I was still very enthusiastic about Pathfinder, and couldn’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t be so. Alas, such a time eventually came to pass, and that’s a large part of the reason that my posting here has waned over the last several months. (The other reason is that I feel I need to post large, involved articles, which is a habit I have less energy for these days.)

So I’ve decided to relax my own rule regarding posting content. This doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly start talking about anime or video games, though – I’m not completely dismantling this blog’s theme. Instead, I’m going to open it up to more generalized tabletop RPG topics. So if I feel like talking about D&D or BESM or some other game, you can expect to see that here.

Having said that, I’m going to exercise this new-found freedom to post on a particularly niche subject: TSR’s old DragonStrike game.

DRAGONSTRIKE OUT

DragonStrike was, as Wikipedia calls it, an “adventure board game” that was pretty clearly meant to be a gateway to Dungeons & Dragons. It came with large boards that were maps, some pre-made character sheets, dice, a very large number of plastic miniatures, and a 30 minute “hyper reality” video.

The video was the game’s big hook, as it showed a fantasy adventure using a mixture of live-action actors and computer graphics that were fairly cutting-edge for the early 90′s, but now look hysterically bad. Intercut with these were shots of a Dungeon Master (or, as he called himself, the “Dragon Master”) talking with some faceless players, all of them playing the characters we see in the adventure.

The game was fairly low-impact (I suspect that even back in then, few people were very impressed with it), but it did get a bit more support from TSR than a lot of people knew at the time…the people who cared, I mean.

For instance, there were four DragonStrike short novels released, one about each of the adventurers. There were also two DragonStrike Endless Quest novels (which were Choose Your Own Adventure novels, but they couldn’t use that name), and a single-issue comic book adaptation of the video. There was even a two-page expansion for the game in issue #196 of Dragon magazine, consisting of a map and an alternative adventure outline.

Even more arcane was the knowledge that a sequel game, called WildSpace, came very close to being released. WildSpace introduced Spelljammer concepts into DragonStrike, using the same cast of characters and presumably the same game rules. The game was going to have several support products as well; there were some four novels written, and of course another terrible video was produced. There were even rumors they were trying to make that video into a TV series. Man were we lucky that deal fell through.

As it was, all of WildSpace was canceled just before being released, save for a single Endless Quest novel, which somehow made it out the door just in time.

This is all an interesting bit of TSR history, of course, but beyond the Spelljammer connection – which is iffy, since the cosmology is different (having no crystal spheres or spelljamming helms, for instance, and having the Phlogiston be a magical wind that the space-faring ships can sail via) – it has no real connection to the classic D&D multiverse.

Or does it? Would you be surprised to learn that there’s evidence to suggest that the game world in which DragonStrike is set is actually the Forgotten Realms?

The Realms Connection

The first point of evidence here is that the WildSpace Endless Quest novel, cosmological problems aside, is set on the Rock of Bral, which is the default “hub” point for PCs in Spelljammer. While the Spelljammer products never give the Rock a definitive location, the Forgotten Realms product Faiths & Avatars (in the entry for Tyr) places it within the Tears of Selune, the asteroids that follow Toril’s moon around.

Now, there’s a strong argument to be made that this isn’t actually the case, and that that entry is more likely mistakenly identifying a similar asteroid-city, but it’s still noteworthy. It’s also not the primary point of evidence.

More central to our case is a certain D&D trading cards. D&D trading cards were produced in 1991-1993, with a new set coming out each year. Made for AD&D Second Edition, each card featured a character, monster, or item, with a picture on the front and a description on the back. It’s notable that some characters that received stats nowhere else got them here (such as Teldin Moore, the main character of the six-part Spelljammer series of novels).

One of the characters from the 1991 set (card #411) is King Halvor II – a character with the same name as the king in the DragonStrike video. Labeled as being in the Forgotten Realms, the card denotes that he’s a 15th-level warrior (that is, a fighter), is Lawful Good, and is described as follows:

Halvor is king of a large country. He has great plans to control all the lands between the sea to the west and the sea to the east. He believes the gods favor him in this goal.

Now, obviously this 1991 card came out before the 1993 release of DragonStrike, and this might be a coincidence. After all, the two characters are clearly nothing alike. Even the picture that’s used on the card is very different from how the bumbling king in the video looks. But there’s still another card to play…

King Halvor II

The same picture on both cards. Coincidence? Or conspiracy?

That card is from Spellfire. I’ve talked about this game before, but as a quick overview, Spellfire was a CCG based on Dungeons & Dragons. It was TSR’s answer to Magic: the Gathering, but ultimately failed to dethrone it. However, it did produce some interesting materials, not the least of which was card number 64 from the First Edition set…King Halvor II.

The card uses the same artwork as the 1991 trading card, listing King Halvor II as being a level 5 hero card, with the Forgotten Realms logo, but no other special powers or abilities. By itself that tells us nothing new, but for the Spellfire Reference Guide Vol. 1. This guidebook for the first several sets of cards reviews each of them in terms of how best to use them, or not use them, in the game. But for some cards, it also has a few sentences discussing the subject of the card in further detail. King Halvor II is one of the cards that receives this treatment, saying the following:

This king is best known as the bumbling ruler in the DRAGON STRIKE videotape adventure. What is not so well known is that the bumbler is actually an imposter. The real king Halvor II, shown here, was a noble and good king of fiery temper. He carried a magical sword of unknown powers. His current whereabouts are unknown.

That seems to settle it, as that description explicitly connects the character on the card with the one in the video, which along with this card’s world logo (and that of the character with the same picture on the earlier trading card) clearly denote his origin as being in the Realms.

(As a note, the bit about the magical sword is slightly odd. The trading card says that it’s a longsword +4 defender, and in the Fourth Edition of Spellfire, the card is revised to have a +5 flaming sword which can’t be removed from him. Maybe people simply didn’t know what the original sword did? After all, the defender power isn’t flashy like a flaming sword would be.)

Now, it’s likely that this entry (written in 1995) was written to patch up the discrepancy, but I think that’s a great way of reconciling these sorts of errors; turning what’s otherwise a puzzling contradiction into an opportunity for intrigue in your game. What happened to the real king? Who is that imposter really? Who else is in on the plot? An enterprising GM could have a lot of fun with these questions.

These sorts of connections – small cross-references that are easy to miss, but fascinating when noticed – are part of what I’ve always loved about the wider setting of D&D, and why I was sad to see it go away come Third Edition. Still, what’s already out there can’t be taken away, and I plan on writing about more of these in the future. Stay tuned for more D&D – and Pathfinder! – goodness.

Dead Fantasizing

November 17, 2013

Ordinarily, the characters that I convert to Eclipse stats on this blog have no commonalities between them; that is, they’re not from the same series. That’s because I want to showcase a high amount of versatility in what’s here. The stark differences between the characters contrasts, in a way that I find very pleasing, with giving them all statistics under the same game rules. It’s the same principle that goes into crossovers – these characters shouldn’t be able to interact with each other, and yet now have the means to do so.

For this post, however, I’m bending my own rule.

The reason for that is because I’ve noticed that virtually all of the characters that I’ve posted here have had levels in the single digits. There have been one or two exceptions, to be sure, but for the most part they’ve all been low-level characters. The reason for this is because while many of the featured characters have come from series that are grandiose in scope, the amount of power they wield – when held up to the objective metric of the d20 System – simply doesn’t require that many levels to adequately portray.

Given that, this post is dedicated to showing off a character that is notably powerful, and as such requires levels well into the double digits to adequately portray. As I focused on the works of Monty Oum in my previous post, I was already thinking about his epic Dead Fantasy series – my favorite of his works, and one which I linked to in the aforementioned post – and realized that it was the perfect source for picking a character of exceptionally high level!

The Ultra-Violent Femmes

Of course, this wasn’t as easy as simply choosing a character at random and translating what they do in the series into game stats. All of the characters in Dead Fantasy are from established video game franchises; primarily Dead or Alive and Final Fantasy (hence the name). As such, a stat block for any of the characters in the series would need to also speak to their source material, ideally referencing any particular powers, abilities, or other noteworthy aspects from those games that weren’t otherwise shown (as of yet) in Dead Fantasy – particularly since Monty indicated that he felt that his series was, chronologically speaking, taking place after the source materials that he drew from.

This meant that, because I hadn’t played quite a few of the games that the cast was drawn from, I wouldn’t be able to make stats for them. I haven’t played the rebooted Ninja Gaiden games, for example (save for the one on the Nintendo DS), and that eliminated almost all of the Dead or Alive cast (since there’s a lot of additional game-play, and special powers, for Kasumi and Ayane in those, along with being the only places that Rachel and Momiji appear). Ditto that for the Kingdom Hearts series and Final Fantasy X and X-2.

Rinoa's signature move

Well, she doesn’t seem that frightening…

I had played Dead or Alive: Dimensions, which was basically an aggregate of the first four games in the series, so Hitomi was a possibility…but as the one character lacking any magic at all, she seemed like a poor choice. Since I didn’t want to use any of the male characters, as they don’t really fight in their brief appearances, that left only two choices: Tifa or Rinoa.

I had played both Final Fantasy VII and VIII (and seen the original and extended versions of Advent Children), so both were viable choices. Ultimately, I decided that Tifa’s character had slightly too much baggage, as statting her up would have required also creating stats for all of the materia she uses, which was a bit further afield than I wanted to go. Since I also wanted to stat up the most powerful character in the series, that made the final choice an easy one: Rinoa.

Mechanisms and Magic

The mythology of Final Fantasy VIII describes the origins of magic in that world in a few tales. While possessing contradictory elements (much like real-world mythologies), the story they tell can basically be summarized as thus:

When the world was very young, the god known as the Great Hyne fought many monsters in order to create a place for himself. Eventually establishing his own domain, he set about arranging it to his liking. However, tired from so many battles, he decided to create a servitor race, which would later come to be known as humans. Instructing them on what he wanted done, the Great Hyne entered a long sleep.

The humans, quickly completing their original instructions, were left idle and uncertain when their god did not then wake to guide them further. Eventually, they began to make more changes to the land at their own whims, creating societies of their own and multiplying. When the Great Hyne eventually awoke, he was outraged that his creations had themselves become creators, daring to infringe upon what he felt was his exclusive right to decide how things should be.

The Great Hyne set about punishing his wayward minions, starting by destroying the smaller replicas of themselves that they had created. The humans, horrified that their awakened god had started slaughtering their children, took up arms against him. While lacking the Great Hyne’s power, they had their own means of fighting, creating tools and continuing to reproduce at a rapid rate.

Eventually, realizing that he was losing the war against the humans, the Great Hyne agreed to cease hostilities and leave the humans in peace. Moreover, he gave them half of his body in recompense. However, when the humans went to claim their prize, they found that the half of the Great Hyne’s body they’d been given – and the power it contained – could not be controlled. Instead, it vanished into the bodies of certain women, who could then use mystic abilities due to that power now residing within them.

And the Great Hyne vanished, never to be seen again.

Ostensibly, the women who have this power – called Sorceresses (or Witches) in the game, but which I’ll refer to as Hyne Witches here to avoid confusion with the character classes, or other themes, of the same name – are the only ones in that world who can use magic. The actuality of it is something else again.

For one thing, monsters are still around, and many if not most of them have magical powers. There are also powerful creatures, officially classified as “energy beings” (which sounds like another name for spirits) called Guardian Forces, that can use powerful mystical abilities. Even humans can use magic when performing a “limit break” (which is maddeningly undefined within the context of the setting, like many dissociated mechanics found within the game).

Far more notable is the “para-magic” that people have invented prior to the start of the game. This system is said to be mechanical – though how it works, what it runs on, and how people can access it seemingly without any sort of interface beyond a thought – and allows people to utilize magic in a manner akin to a Hyne Witch. It does this via the “draw” and “junction” systems.

“Drawing” magic allows the user to take magic (which, in a very Vancian manner, treats each individual “unit” of magic as a single casting of a specific spell) from monsters, though most monsters only have a few spells, and only in limited quantities. Interestingly, magic can also be drawn from specific areas of the world. (Bizarrely, magic can also be “crafted” by refining castings of spells from material items; another part of the game that’s given no real context about what’s happening from the characters’ point of view.)

By contrast, “junctioning” allows characters to take a specific spell (in all quantities currently held) and fuse them with the user. This allows the user to be empowered by them without needing to cast them – indeed, casting them lessens the amount that you have junctioned to you, weakening the overall benefit. Multiple spells can be junctioned simultaneously this way, each to a different part of the body (or rather, each to a different statistic, something The Spoony One talks more about).

Moreover, the Guardian Force creatures could also be junctioned with, albeit only one at a time, lending their immense power to a person (and even allowing them to be summoned to fight for you), though this caused gradual long-term memory loss, as they occupied the area of the brain responsible for that function.

While lacking in contextualization in several regards, para-magic is nevertheless fairly easy to model in Eclipse.

Because the system uses, as mentioned above, the Vancian idea that each unit of magic is a single casting of a single spell, we can thus model it with a traditional spellcasting progression. Since the spell list is notably small, having only fifty spells in total, but the spells in question do have considerable power, we’ll use the cheapest full progression list: clerical, without the package deal (technically, the wilder progression is cheaper, but is too limited in the number of powers gained).

Further, we’ll change around the limitations used for this particular progression. Since the spells on this list do almost nothing besides dealing damage, avoiding damage, and recovering from damage, this progression has the Restrained limitation. Likewise, because the spells need to be individually located and learned, they have the Studies limitation. Also, since this does not come from a higher power, this is treated as arcane, rather than divine, spellcasting.

Finally, the entire progression is specialized for one-half cost: spells can only be restored by finding a monster, or location, with the spell in question, and drawing it out of them as a standard action (no AoO) – each such drawing granting one casting of the spell in question.

Junctioning magic is more complicated. Presumably it would be used by having other abilities be specialized for one-half cost: they only function so long as at least one instance of a specific spell is still prepared. That doesn’t take into account the idea that multiple instances of a spell affect the overall power of the junction, but it comes close.

The Guardian Forces are specific creatures, individually designed. However, all have Blessing with the ability to bestow a particular summon monster spell, specific to them, using the channeling variant outlined in The Practical Enchanter. This ability would also be corrupted: causes gradual loss of long-term memories.

All of this functions largely as background material, since by the time she appears in Dead Fantasy, Rinoa has moved beyond many of the above limitations on magic. This is good, since the mechanical apparatus that allows for the function of para-magic likely doesn’t reach to the Dead or Alive/Ninja Gaiden series’ Earth, which is where Dead Fantasy seems to take place. (This also explains why Rinoa is not using any of the Guardian Forces – without the ability to junction them there, they simply can’t be utilized.)

Rinoa's threat

…huh, that is a bit more intimidating…

One thing that must be addressed, however, is that Rinoa is a Hyne Witch, having some of the Great Hyne’s power within her as a result of the events of Final Fantasy VIII. As with para-magic, the nature of exactly what powers a Hyne Witch has are irritatingly undefined; the status serves largely as a mcguffin throughout the game, besides granting the ability to use magic without mechanical assistance. One thing that is known is that that power will eventually physically (and, it’s implied, mentally) warp a Hyne Witch over time, unless she finds a knight who dedicates himself to her…somehow, this arrests any damaging mutations.

What’s more concrete is how the power is passed on – a Hyne Witch that is killed, or brought very close to death, will instantly and involuntarily transfer her power to the nearest “eligible” woman (what constitutes eligibility is, as you likely guessed, never elucidated). In addition to being passed on like the Quickening from Highlander, this power can also be consolidated. The last boss of Final Fantasy VIII, Ultimecia, is from the far future, where it is implied that she has absorbed all of the power that the Great Hyne gave humanity.

Given all of that, and that Rinoa doesn’t seem to use very much of this power when she receives it, we can presume that the following template is reasonably accurate:

Hyne Witch Template (32 CP/+1 ECL)

  • Improved Self-Development/+2 to one mental ability score (one-half cost due to use in a template; 12 CP).
  • +2 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/only for a specified progression, which then cannot be changed (6 CP).
  • 4d4 generic spell levels, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no form of natural magic (8 CP).
  • Any two metamagic theorems (12 CP).
  • Streamline (6 CP).
  • 4 CP for new spells.

The entire template is corrupted for two-thirds cost/the Hyne Witch suffers Wisdom loss over time, as well as physical mutation, unless she can find a Knight who dedicates himself to her. All instances of this template are lost if the Hyne Witch is brought to 0 hit points or below, passing to the nearest woman with certain unknown qualities (e.g. at the GM’s discretion).

Of course, this template can be stacked onto itself multiple times, which explains how some Hyne Witches can become beings of legendary power. As a rough guess, Ultimecia likely had ten instances of this template (which explains how she can be a force strong enough to conquer the world, and even threaten the entire universe, while still being weak enough to be defeated by a party of six characters whose levels were in the early teens – too much magical power, and not enough hit points, AC, et al).

Rinoa has taken this template twice; having received this power once from Edea, and a second time from Adel. Her spellcasting ability score is Charisma, and her metamagic theorems gained from this are Amplify, Area, Easy, and Extension.

With that laid out, let’s take a look at the stat block for Rinoa herself, as she appears in Dead Fantasy.

Rinoa Heartilly, 15th-level Sorceress Hyne Witch (ECL 17)

Available Character Points: 384 (level 15 base) + 48 (levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 feats) + 10 (disadvantages) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 6 (“starting traits”) = 454 CP.

Rinoa’s disadvantages are History (Her relationship with the Forest Owls freedom fighters/terrorist group), Hunted (by Ultimecia’s forces for her power as a Hyne Witch), and Valuable (as the daughter of a high-ranking military general, as well as due to her nature as a Hyne Witch).

All of these disadvantages were bought off (at a cost of 0 CP each) as part of the “epic quest” that was Final Fantasy VIII.

Ability Scores (25-point buy): Str 18, Dex 22, Con 20, Int 20, Wis 20, Cha 26.

 

Strength

Dexterity

Constitution

Intelligence

Wisdom

Charisma

Base scores (25 point-buy)

12

14

14

13

14

14

Racial bonus

+2

Level bonus

+2

+1

Template bonus

+4

Enhancement bonus

+6

+6

+6

+6

+6

+6

Total

18 (+4)

22 (+6)

20 (+5)

20 (+5)

20 (+5)

26 (+8)

Human Traits

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized in skills (3 CP).
  • Humans get to pick which attribute enjoys the Pathfinder Package Deal bonus – buying off a Corruption worth (4 CP).

As always, this last bullet point is in reference to the Pathfinder Package Deal.

Basic Abilities (145 CP)

  • Proficient with light, medium, and heavy armor (15 CP) with the Fast (6 CP) modifier. Proficient with all simple weapons (3 CP) and the “Rinoa’s weapon’s” set (gunblade and blaster edge) (3 CP).
  • 1d20 Hit Die at 1st level (16 CP) and 14d4 Hit Dice thereafter (0 CP).
  • +11 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only for attack rolls made with spells and her gunblade and blaster edge (33 CP).
  • Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +5 (69 CP).
  • 0 skill points (0 CP).

Rinoa’s “set” of weapons uses the same tautological reasoning laid down in the previous article: they’re a set because she uses them, and she uses them because they’re a set.

Beyond Para-Magic Lies True Sorcery (118 CP)

  • Fast Learner, specialized for double effect/only for purchasing levels of cleric magic progression (6 CP).
  • 17 levels of cleric (no package deal) progression (55 CP; bought at 85 CP with a 30 CP reduction from Fast Learner, above).
  • 13 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/cleric progression only (39 CP).
  • Spell Flow (6 CP).
  • Spell Pool (6 CP).
  • Fast metamagic modifier (6 CP).

As the title for this suite of abilities suggests, Rinoa has (likely by virtue of being a Hyne Witch) abandoned the use of para-magic in favor of utilizing real magic. In practical terms, this means that she has bought off the specialization for her levels of cleric progression (eliminating the need to “draw” to replenish her magic), and is using the Studies limitation to function as a spontaneous spellcaster, rather than a preparatory one. Further, she is using Spell Flow and Spell Pool to enhance her flexibility with regards to what spells she knows and can cast.

Burden of the Sorceress Power (30 CP)

  • Celerity (6 CP) with an additional movement mode (flight) (12 CP) and an additional 30 ft. of movement (9 CP).
  • Shapeshift with the Variants option, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only to be able to make her wings appear and disappear at will (3 CP).

Since Rinoa has a knight – Squall – her mutation due to being a Hyne Witch has been arrested. As such, what changes she has undergone are largely under her control, much to her benefit, as it has granted her flight.

Wishing Star (55 CP).

  • Rapid Strike with the Improved and Superior modifiers, specialized for one-half cost/must spend an action point to use (18 CP).
  • Two Bonus Attacks/gunblade, specialized for one-half cost/may only be used with Rapid Strike (6 CP).
  • Reflex Training/may take a move action during a use of Rapid Strike (6 CP).
  • Split Movement/attacking, specialized for one-half cost/may only be used with Rapid Strike (3 CP).
  • Augment Attack/+3d6+1 damage, only with Rapid Strike (10 CP).
  • Enhanced Strike/Whirlwind, specialized for increased effect/may only be used with Rapid Strike, may be used for iterative attacks (6 CP).
  • Evasive/when moving through threatened areas, specialized for one-half cost/only when using Rapid Strike (6 CP).

Fans of Final Fantasy VIII will recognize this as Rinoa’s strongest limit break, and also as the move she uses inside the tornado near the end of the second episode of Dead Fantasy to decimate her opponents. This set of abilities basically allows her to take eight attacks at once – +20/+18/+16/+14/+12/+10/+8/+6 – as a full round action, during which time she can use up to a full move in increments between each attack, provokes no attacks of opportunity for moving through threatened areas, may strike each opponent in range with each attack roll, and deals an additional +3d6+1 damage on each successful hit.

This is fairly over-powered, and is only kept under control by costing an action point each time it’s used (hence why limit breaks aren’t used every single round). Further, the specialization on Enhanced Strike is ridiculously strong, to the point where I’d recommend that it not be allowed in most games.

Rinoa has apparently stopped relying on using her dog, Angelo, as a weapon in her limit breaks, having adapted Wishing Star to being one she can use herself and retrained the others away. This is just as well, as those attacks seemed quite burdensome on poor Angelo.

Cinematic Soldier (69 CP)

  • Immunity to penalties from armor (very common/minor/major) (12 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws (6 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for attack rolls (6 CP).
  • Action Hero/stunts with the 2-points-per-round modifier (12 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus with the Advanced and Improved modifiers/add Charisma bonus to hit points (18 CP).
  • Damage Reduction 5/universal (12 CP).
  • Increase racial Fast Learner from one-half cost to double effect (3 CP).

These are the various background abilities that don’t really have a corresponding analogue in the series. That makes them no less important; for example, the use of damage reduction is quite clearly in play, as the girls take an obscene amount of damage while continuing to fight – that a lot of that damage isn’t getting through makes the most sense.

Trained by Squall (15 CP)

  • Augment Attack/+1 to hit with gunblade (3 CP).
  • Block/melee (6 CP).
  • Block/ranged (6 CP).

Given that Rinoa never used a gunblade before her appearance in Dead Fantasy, it makes sense that her boyfriend had been teaching her how to fight with one.

Child of a Magical World (18 CP)

  • Siddhisyoga with the Efficient and Fey modifiers (18 CP).
    • Belt of physical perfection +6 (108,000 GP)
    • Headband of mental superiority +6 (108,000 GP)
    • Cloak of resistance +5 (18,750 GP)
    • Ring of protection +2 (6,000 GP)
    • Shield effect (3,000 GP)
    • +2 competence bonus to all skills (2,100 GP)
    • Immortal vigor (2,100 GP)

The bonuses gained via Siddhisyoga come from her 410,000 GP wealth-per-level, which is why the totals are noted parenthetically; more on this below. This also requires a sacrifice of 14,288 XP (rounded up), which is virtually nothing compared to the cost of gaining a level at the higher levels on the medium XP track.

Integrated Fighting Styles (4 CP)

  • Bonus Attack, corrupted for two-thirds cost/cannot use a shield when doing so (4 CP).

This is fairly straightforward, being the equivalent of Two-Weapon Fighting; with this, Rinoa can make off-hand attacks with her blaster edge when attacking with her gunblade.

Equipment

  • “Vanishing Star,” a +5 keen gunblade (73,100 GP).
  • “Silenced Tear,” a +5 blaster edge (50,800 GP).
  • +5 glamored full plate (37,650 GP).

The last bullet point requires some explanation. The fact that she’s wearing armor is a contrivance, but that it’s glamored explains why the characters in Final Fantasy VIII can change their armor without it changing their appearance. As Rinoa has taken an immunity to the penalties for wearing armor, this doesn’t inconvenience her in the slightest.

With regards to her weapons, use the following stats.

Gunblade; one-handed exotic weapon; 800 GP; damage (S) 1d6; damage (M) 1d8; critical 19-20/x3; weight 6 lbs.; type slashing.

This is the basic, and earliest, form of gunblade – later innovations would grant it the ability to actually fire projectiles. As it stands, the gun part of this gunblade creates an explosion that strengthens a particular swing, accounting for the higher critical damage than a normal sword.

Blaster edge; ranged exotic weapon; 500 GP; damage (S) 1d6; damage (M) 1d8; critical x2; range 30 ft.; weight 4 lbs.; type slashing; special returning.

The blaster edge is essentially a mechanism that launches a chakram. Since it’s not thrown, it doesn’t get Strength bonuses to damage, but can be launched out to ten full range increments rather than five. Further, it’s built in such a way as to automatically return to the launcher at the end of the wielder’s turn.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 20 (1st level) + 12 (immortal vigor; 1st level) + 35 (14d4) + 85 (Con bonus) + 136 (Cha bonus) = 288.
  • Speed: 30 feet; fly 60 feet (perfect).
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +9 (base) +5 (Con) +5 (resistance) = +19.
    • Ref: +9 (base) +6 (Dex) +5 (resistance) = +20.
    • Will: +5 (base) +5 (Wis) +5 (resistance) = +15.
  • Attacks:
    • Vanishing Star: +11 (BAB) +4 (Str) +1 (augment attack) +5 (weapon enhancement) +3 (martial arts) = +24/+19/+14 (1d12+9/17-20/x3).
    • Silenced Tear: +11 (BAB) +6 (Dex) +5 (weapon enhancement) = +22 (1d8+5).
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +14 (armor) +6 (Dex) +4 (shield) +2 (deflection) = 36 (martial arts are not included here).
  • Skill Points: 0 (purchased) + 30 (human bonus) + 75 (Int bonus) + 15 (“favored class” bonus) = 120.

Ranks

Ability   Bonus

Class   Bonus

Competence   Bonus

Misc.

Total

Acrobatics

5

+6 Dex

+3

+2

+16

Bluff

5

+8 Cha

+2

+15

Diplomacy

10

+8 Cha

+3

+2

+23

Fly

10

+6 Dex

+3

+2

+8   maneuverability

+29

Handle Animal

10

+8 Cha

+3

+2

+23

Heal

5

+5 Wis

+2

+12

Knowledge (arcana)*

15

+5 Int

+2

+22

Knowledge (geography)

10

+5 Int

+3

+2

+20

Knowledge (history)

10

+5 Int

+3

+2

+20

Knowledge (local)

10

+5 Int

+3

+2

+20

Martial Arts (explosive   sword)

15

+4 Str

+3

+2

+24

Perception

10

+5 Wis

+3

+2

+20

Perform (dance)

5

+8 Cha

+3

+2

+18

Perform (sing)

5

+8 Cha

+3

+2

+18

Sense Motive

5

+5 Wis

+3

+2

+15

Spellcraft*

15

+5 Int

+2

+22

Swim

5

+4 Str

+2

+11

Use Magic Device*

15

+8 Cha

+2

+25

Rinoa’s class skills are the twelve in the above table that have a +3 class bonus, along with Craft and Profession (in which she hasn’t taken any ranks). The three skills marked with an asterisk are gained for free, as part of her headband of mental superiority +6.

Explosive Sword (Str)

Explosive sword is an esoteric martial art centered around the early forms of gunblades. An aggressive style, it emphasizes heavy strikes for large amounts of damage, bolstering the weapon’s use of its gun components to add greater power to its blows. While it has defensive teachings, these are secondary to its offensive focus.

  • Requires: Weapon Focus (gunblade) or equivalent point-buy.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 4, Defense 2, Power 2, Synergy (+2 to confirm critical hits).
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Blinding Strike, Combat Reflexes, Mighty Blow, Knockback (as Improved Bull Rush, but you do not move with your opponent).
  • Occult Techniques: Focused Blow, Inner Strength, Touch Strike, Vanishing.
  • Known: Attack 3, Defense 2, Power 2, Synergy (+2 to confirm critical hits), Combat Reflexes, Knockback, Inner Strength, Vanishing.

Critical Analysis

Rinoa has the least screen time of the ten female fighters in Dead Fantasy. Even with that, however, she’s still the strongest character shown to date. Given that the fighters are all roughly equal in terms of skill – and, in game terms, all being the same level, which in this case would be 15th, the same as Rinoa – it’s worth examining why that is.

Part of the equation is simply situational. When Rinoa entered the fray, her side had the other outnumbered five to four. That gave her some breathing room in terms of being able to cast spells. Of course, part of it is also that she’s side-stepping the issue of having equal levels with everyone else by having two levels’ worth of templates.

Rinoa's lunar cry

…okay, now I’m scared.

The major reason, however, is that Rinoa is the only full-progression spellcaster in the series. While characters like Tifa have a lot of magic that they can use, only Rinoa has taken enough spellcasting levels to be able to pour on high-level spell after high-level spell. That let her control the battlefield and throw devastating effects one after another at the opposition, completely overwhelming them (which makes it odd that she’d end the fight by splitting everyone off into one-on-one pairs, as that negated the fact that her side was currently winning the fight).

There’s a fourth reason, however, and it’s worth examining in more detail: Rinoa simply got to take advantage of the entirety of her gear value, as per her use of Siddhisyoga.

None of the characters in Dead Fantasy use very much gear. What equipment they do use is likely to be notably magical, but a single weapon or two can’t account for the entirety of a 15th-level character’s gear value. So then what becomes of the rest of the equipment that they should have?

The answer to this depends on where they’re from. For the Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts girls – who are from highly magical realms – they can probably sink a lot of their remaining wealth into personal enchantments via Siddhisyoga, as Rinoa has done. The Dead or Alive/Ninja Gaiden girls, on the other hand, are from Earth.

Now, while their Earth is still one that allows for some degree of mystical abilities (even Hitomi, who is ostensibly an ordinary human, is performing superhuman feats of strength in the series), it’s clearly not in the same class as those fantastic realms. Hence, there’s almost certainly a limit on how much can be spent on Siddhisyoga and Innate Enchantment – if not an outright prohibition.

That means that the Dead or Alive/Ninja Gaiden girls are working with something of a handicap. They’re clearly trying to work around this – and their stats would certainly reflect that – but it is there. In fact, you can see it in the series itself; every time the playing field is level, the DoA/NG girls are the ones losing the fight.

At the very beginning of the first episode, for instance, Kasumi and Ayane quickly overcome Yuna when she’s alone; a better usage of gear value isn’t enough to overcome the difference in the economy of actions. But once Rikku arrives, she and Yuna overcome their enemies – Kasumi and Ayane are getting thrashed right before Hitomi arrives.

Her arrival unbalances the odds, and eventually (it takes longer since outnumbering your enemies three-to-two only offers a 50% advantage, rather than the 100% advantage of two-to-one) the DoA girls are triumphant…until Tifa arrives. Now that the odds are balanced again, things swing back in the FF girls’ favor – they begin to soundly wallop their enemies. The DoA girls try to take them out with one large attack, but all that does is change the battlefield.

This alone doesn’t succeed in upsetting things. Once again, the team with more magic is able to punish the team that doesn’t, and the DoA girls are losing until Rachel joins them. At that point (and with Tifa hurting and out of magic), the FF girls begin losing again…until Rinoa and Kairi join them. Now with the advantage of numbers and greater magic, it’s less a battle than an inevitability, at least until Rinoa – for whatever reason – breaks them up into one-on-one pairs.

The third episode proves the rule by reversing the trend of who has more magic. Tifa controls her fight until Hitomi, in a desperate bid for victory, manages to disarm Tifa of her materia and take it for herself. Now that she’s the one with the magic, she turns the tables on Tifa, winning the fight. The fifth episode is simply bringing the curtain down on a foregone conclusion, although Tifa does struggle mightily to try and change it (to no avail).

The fourth episode once again showcases that having more magic matters less than having more numbers. Hideously outnumbered by the Kasumi Alpha clones, Yuna summons five Aeons to her side. Even with Kasumi turning her attention to the horde of clones (as she’s long since come to hate them), it’s of little use, as they overwhelm her Aeons and would have done the same to Yuna, had Cloud not intervened just before Kasumi teleported herself and the clones away (so that she could kill them without any distractions).

The sixth episode, by contrast, puts the issue of magic tipping an otherwise-even fight front and center. Faced with the mystical abilities that Namine brings to bear, Momiji is battling uphill the entire fight, and would have lost had Ryu not intervened at the end.

Overall, Rinoa’s overwhelming power is due to a number of factors that, taken together, make her first among equals in the cast of Dead Fantasy. Hopefully, more episodes will be released soon so that we can see if that continues to hold true throughout this incredible saga.


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