Further Musing on Celestial Aspirations

February 28, 2015

An interesting point came up lately on the forums for Ponyfinder – the unofficial Pathfinder adaptation of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

I had started a thread questioning a trend that I’d been noticing recently, that being the presumption that if Princess Celestia and Princess Luna were to be translated into d20-based statistics – such as for Pathfinder or D&D 3.5 – then they would be deities. Naturally, I disagreed with this line of thought.

My central point was that any such translation should focus solely on generating mechanics for the powers that we actually witness Princess Celestia using, discarding presumptions regarding what powers we think she might have or ought to have. In that regard, the vast majority of her abilities can be reconstructed fairly easily (albeit using Eclipse: The Codex Persona) without having to go anywhere near divine-level statistics.

The one ability she possesses that isn’t so easily relegated to low-level game statistics is also her central power – the ability to move the sun. However, this problem was one that solved itself; the second season episode “Hearth’s Warming Eve” stated outright that before Celestia and Luna rose to power, the tribe of unicorns collectively accomplished this feat on their own. Since this was apparently something that ordinary unicorns could accomplish, albeit as a group, then it couldn’t have been too difficult to do; certainly not so difficult that only a god could pull it off. Hence, I rated that ability as being similarly low-level.

What that thread brought to my attention, however, was that there was additional information that I wasn’t aware of…

The Journal of the Two Sisters

The Journal of the Two Sisters is the book that Twilight Sparkle finds in the fourth season episode “Castle Mane-ia.” An old diary – apparently (and rather oddly) kept by Celestia and Luna together – we never actually learn anything specific about what’s in it over the course of the episode.

What I didn’t know was that the Journal has also been turned into an actual publication. While it has some entries from the Mane Six during the events of season four, the bulk of it tells the story of how Celestia and Luna overcame various trials when they were young and eventually became the rulers of Equestria. In the course of doing so, it also provides some further revelations about how the sun and the moon were moved before the alicorn sisters took over those jobs.

While I don’t own the book and haven’t read it, a combination of spoiler-filled reviews on its Amazon.com page and its entry on TVTropes describe the bulk of its contents in some detail, including the section that’s relevant to our discussion here. To summarize:

One day, Celestia and Luna awoke to a darkened sky, with no sun and no moon or stars to lighten it. When they went to the unicorn tribe to ask why they had left the sky empty, they learned the grim secret that the unicorns had been keeping: that maintaining the cycle of day and night had cost them their magic.

Raising and lowering the sun and the moon each day was a job that required six unicorns working together. Even with their combined strength, however, the task was an incredibly arduous one, so much so that after a time the strain would become too great and the unicorns would permanently lose their ability to use magic. Once that happened, there was nothing that could be done except to have a new team of unicorns take over, doomed to eventually suffer the same fate.

While the unicorns had long borne this burden for the greater good, their sacrifices had finally caught up to them. All of the unicorns – save only for the wizard Star-Swirl the Bearded, whose unmatched magical powers had never been depleted despite his being a constant participant in the ritual – had lost their magic, leaving none to begin the day.

In desperation, Star-Swirl attempted to raise the sun on his own, hoping that his vast magical power would let him shoulder the burden for the depleted unicorns. For all of his strength, though, Star-Swirl succeeded only in pushing himself beyond his limits, not only causing him to finally lose his magic, but to prematurely age as well.

With no options left, Celestia and Luna tried to raise the sun and the moon by themselves. Miraculously, their nature as alicorns let them succeed where all others had failed – not only were they able to raise the heavens, but they realized that it had always been their destiny to do so, gaining their cutie marks in the process. The infusion of power was so great that they were able to restore magic to all of the unicorns.

It was the beginning of their reign, and the end of the beginning for the land of Equestria.

Given the information relayed in the Journal – to say nothing of the fact that it’s written by Amy Keating Rogers, who is a writer for the show itself – doesn’t that mean that I’d need to reevaluate the idea that raising and lowering the sun and the moon aren’t a big deal insofar as charting Celestia’s power is concerned? Shouldn’t she have a power-up, possibly one of considerable magnitude, in light of this information?

Having thought it over, the answer that I’ve come to is “no.”

 Magical Logic

The major problem with the story described above is that the scenario it presents – that moving the sun and the moon is so difficult for the unicorns that doing it for too long erodes their ability to use magic – fails to pass any kind of logical consideration. To put it another way, the problem that it has Celestia and Luna solve makes no sense, since it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

The reason the six unicorns that move the sun and the moon eventually lose their magic is due to the strain that this places on them. In other words, it’s the magical equivalent of pulling a muscle, over and over, until that muscle is completely shredded. Between that, and that six unicorns can perform a task that none of them can do alone, this makes it clear that the task of moving the sun and the moon is simply a matter of applying enough magical force to get the job done. In light of that, consider the following questions:

  1. Why does the group that moves the sun and the moon only consist of six unicorns? Why not sixteen unicorns? Or sixty? Or six hundred? In other words, why not increase the number of unicorns performing this job at any given time, so that the strain on each individual member is reduced, ideally to the point where they’re not inflicting serious harm on themselves?
  2. Even if you don’t increase the number of unicorns in the group, why have them keep doing it until they’ve sustained permanent injury? They’re said to lose their magic “over time” due to the strain; why don’t they swap in a new group when the old one starts to get tired, before they’ve pushed themselves so hard that they’ll never recover? Surely rest (and whatever the magical version is of physical therapy) would mean that the previous team would eventually be able to step back in at some point, allowing the burden could be perpetually passed around.

These poke some serious holes in the narrative described above, to the point where the entire premise is seriously compromised. It’s hard to believe that for their entire history, the unicorns didn’t consider either of the issues listed above.

(It’s also difficult to presume that the unicorns were able to keep this a secret. Even if we interpret that to mean that it was a secret from the earth ponies and pegasi – and that all unicorns knew about it – that’s still very hard to believe. As a rule, the more people who know a secret, the harder it is to keep; eventually somebody is going to let it slip, whether due to carelessness, ideological reasons (“you can’t suppress the truth!”), or simply being terrible at hiding things.

It’s not like the tribes were ever really all that isolated, either – the unicorns received all of their food from the earth ponies, and unicorn lands would still need to have weather, which is generated by the pegasi. Even if the tribes were insular and suspicious of each other, there was likely a not-inconsiderable amount of contact between them. That’s all the more reason why somepony should have hit upon the two points listed above – that these solutions were never thought of by anypony is inconceivable.)

“Official” vs. “Canon”

The points raised above make for compelling in-narrative reasons for discounting what we’re told in the Journal. But there’s also a meta-contextual reason that needs to be considered. After all, not only is the book written by one of the show’s own writers – albeit one who usually works on comedy and slice-of-life episodes, rather than adventure or world-building episodes – but the book’s own subtitle says that it’s official. Given that, don’t we have to take what it says to be true, regardless of how illogical it seems?

Again, I find the answer here to be “no.” That’s because there’s a difference between something that’s official, and something that’s canon.

The latter term is something of a loaded one, at least where fandom is concerned, as its definition often depends on whom you’re talking to. Insofar as this discussion is concerned, I’m using “canon” to mean “any information which is definitively held to be part of a given body of fiction, such as a narrative or setting.”

The operative part of this definition is the use of the word “definitively.” This means that, in order to be canon, any such information must be sanctioned by the authority that governs that body of fiction. Now, there are often disagreements over just whom that authority actually is  – should it be the original creator (Lauren Faust, in this case), the people working on it currently (e.g. the show’s writers, even if they state something in a tweet or a blog post without any oversight or approval from their company), or the corporate body that owns the intellectual property rights (e.g. Hasbro)? In this case, we’re going to adopt the latter view. At the end of the day, the intellectual property owners have final say over what is and is not part of the series they own.

So how does any of that speak to a difference between something that’s official and something that’s canon? Because, while all canon materials are official, not all official materials are canon. For something to be “official” means that the authority of that material has formally sanctioned its creation, which is not the same thing as acknowledging that it’s part of the wider body of lore.

That may sound like a completely technical distinction – one that’s too miniscule to take seriously – but in fact this principle is widely understood, even if it’s rarely formally recognized. Consider, for example, Darth Vader’s battle against the Energizer Bunny.

This is clearly official; Lucasfilm Ltd. gave permission to the Energizer Holdings company to use their character in this commercial. But not even the most diehard Star Wars fan would argue that what we see in the commercial is canon.

Where Friendship is Magic is concerned, the best example of this sort of thing is found in the comic books. While officially licensed to IDW by Hasbro, the comics contain contradictions that make them non-canon (e.g. the assertion that Twilight’s mother writes the “Daring Do” novels, which flies in the face of what we see in the fourth episode of the fourth season).

Contradiction in Terms

The above issue with the comics also points out the final reason not to consider the Journal to be a canon resource: it has a few points that contradict the source material. Since the source material is the standard by which canonity is held against, this further undermines the Journal as an authoritative source.

Going by what’s on the book’s TVTropes page, the contradictory points are:

  • Luna writes about having “fun” in the Journal, despite saying in the second season episode “Luna Eclipsed” that she wasn’t familiar with the term.
  • The characteristics assigned to Celestia and Luna in the Journal are aspects of the Elements of Harmony. However, these differ from the Elements that we see each sister using during the flashback sequence in the fourth season episode “Princess Twilight Sparkle – Part 2.”

Cantering to a Conclusion

It’s for these reasons – the illogical nature of its premise, the lack of narrative significance in its “official” status, and the contradictory elements that it contains – that I don’t think that The Journal of the Two Sisters is a reliable resource to draw upon when trying to objectively measure Princess Celestia’s powers.

While it may very well be an entertaining book, it serves to highlight one of the principle points of research: that secondary sources, especially when they venture outside of what’s established by primary resources, should be subject to heightened critical scrutiny.

Because as we all know, candy-colored ponies – and their D&D statistics – are very serious business.

Queen of the Ponies

February 22, 2015

Recently, I wrote up AD&D Second Edition stats (using The Primal Order) for Lashtada, a minor goddess from the world of Everglow, the campaign setting for Ponyfinder. In that entry, I mentioned how the tribe that worshipped Lashtada was wiped out as an indirect result of the actions of Queen Iliana, who was fighting to establish an empire.

In an amusing irony, at roughly the same time I was writing Lashtada up, the author of the Ponyfinder Campaign Setting was also drawing up Pathfinder stats for Iliana. While the original post can be found over here, I’m going to go ahead and copy them below (with some minor changes to the formatting) for ease of reference. (Items with an asterisk (*) denote materials from the Ponyfinder Campaign Setting.)

Queen Iliana
Pony sorcerer 20
NG Medium fey (ponykind)
Init +1 (Dex); Senses blindsense 60 ft., darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision; Perception +5
AC 16, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +1 Dex)
hp 206 (20d6+124)
Fort +16, Ref +11, Will +21; +2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities
DR 10/cold iron; SR 18
Speed 40 ft.
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +33)
Sorcerer Spell-Like Abilities (CL 20th; concentration +33)
2/day—unseen servant
14/day – force ray
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 20th; concentration +33)
9th (7/day)—mass hold monster (DC 40), overwhelming presence, teleportation circle, time stop, wish
8th (7/day)—binding (DC 34), irresistible dance (DC 34), maze, mind blank, sunburst (DC 29)
7th (8/day)—banishment (DC 28), lesser create demiplane, ethereal jaunt, plane shift (DC 28)
6th (8/day)—cloak of dreams (DC 32), contingency, greater dispel magic, geas/quest, mass suggestion (DC 32)
5th (8/day)—baleful polymorph (DC 26), break enchantment, mind fog (DC 31), symbol of sleep (DC 31), teleport
4th (8/day)—detect scrying, dimension door, enchantment foil, scrying (DC 25), symbol of laughter (DC 30)
3rd (9/day)—dispel magic, haste, magic circle against evil, nondetection, pegasus blessing*, tongues
2nd (9/day)—alter self, arcane lock, disguise other, glitterdust (DC 23), hideous laughter (DC 28), invisibility
1st (9/day)—alter winds (DC 22), beguiling gift (DC 27), charm person (DC 27), feather fall, identify, silent image (DC 22)
0 (at will)—arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, detect poison, mage hand, mending, message, prestidigitation, read magic
Bloodline Unification*
Str 8, Dex 12, Con 22, Int 16, Wis 21, Cha 32
Base Atk +10; CMB +9; CMD 20 (24 vs. trip)
Feats Advanced Horn Magic*, Combat Casting, Endurance, Eschew Materials, Focused Horn Magic (enchantment)*, Greater Spell Focus (enchantment), Greater Spell Penetration, Leadership, Master Horn Magic*, Practiced Horn Magic*, Quicken Spell, Silent Spell, Spell Focus (enchantment), Spell Penetration, Spell Perfection (overwhelming presence), Still Horn Magic*
Traits classically schooled, day greeter*
Skills Acrobatics +1 (+5 to jump), Bluff +24 (+26 with all Fey creatures), Diplomacy +40 (+42 with all Fey creatures), Fly +7, Intimidate +16 (+18 with all Fey creatures), Knowledge (arcana) +16, Knowledge (geography) +9, Knowledge (local) +9, Knowledge (nature) +9, Knowledge (nobility) +9, Sense Motive +10 (+12 with all Fey creatures), Spellcraft +27, Use Magic Device +34
Languages Common, Sylvan
SQ ancestry (horn), ancestry (wings), earth-bound, fey monarch, fingerless, magic focus (enchantment), new arcana, unique destiny
Combat Gear robe of the archmagi (white); Other Gear +1 silken ceremonial armor, belt of mighty constitution +6, cloak of the diplomat, eyes of the dragon, handy haversack, headband of mental prowess +6 (Wis, Cha), page of spell knowledge (wish), queen’s slippers*, ring of freedom of movement, ring of inner fortitude (greater), tunic of careful casting, 174,290 gp.
Special Abilities
Ancestry (Horn) (Sp) You grow a unicorn horn from your head, allowing you to use unseen servant as a spell-like ability 2/day.
Ancestry (Wings) (Su) You gain feathered wings that, when activated, grant a base flight speed of 30 ft. (clumsy). At sorcerer level 20, the flight ability becomes permanent and activated at will.
Earth-Bound Gain a +2 racial bonus to saves vs Poison, Spells and Spell-Like effects, Endurance as a bonus feat.
Fey Monarch (Su) At 20th level, you become a mortal ruler of fey creatures. You gain DR 10/Cold Iron and a +2 bonus to Diplomacy, Sense Motive, Intimidate, and Bluff checks with fey creatures. Any aging penalties you had are removed and you cease to accrue new ones.
Fingerless Ponies and many other races of Everglow can manipulate any one-handed item with their mouths, despite their lack of fingers. Hand and ring slot items automatically adjust to fit, becoming anklets that otherwise function normally.
Force Ray (Sp) Ranged touch attack for 1d4+10 damage, 14/day.
Magic Focus (Ex) At 15th level, you gain +2 to the save DCs of the magic school of your choice. This stacks with Spell Focus, Greater Spell Focus, and Focused Horn Magic.
New Arcana (Ex) Add a spell to your spells known at 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.
Unique Destiny Gain a bonus feat at 1st level.

Purely for the fun of doing so, I’m going to take the above stats and recreate them using the d20 point-buy rules from Eclipse: The Codex Persona. There’s no real need to do so, since Eclipse is completely compatible with Pathfinder (and virtually all other d20-based games), but doing so helps to break down how optimized her character is.

Since this is a conversion of a Pathfinder sorcerer, we’ll go ahead and take our cues from Thoth’s article on that topic, making modifications as necessary.

Everglow Earth Pony (32 CP/+1 ECL race)

  • Privilege/treated as fey versus type-based effects (3 CP).
  • Attribute Shift/-2 Dex, +2 Wis (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/low-light vision (6 CP).
  • +2 to saves vs. poison (3 CP).
  • +2 to saves vs. spells and spell-like abilities (3 CP).
  • Endurance: Immunity/environmental hazards (common/minor/minor) (4 CP).
  • Bonus feat (6 CP). Classically Schooled Trait: Skill Focus +1/Spellcraft. Day Greeter Trait: Skill Focus +1/Diplomacy and Skill Focus +1/Intimidate.
  • Speak Language/Sylvan (1 CP).
  • Being a quadruped grants +10 movement speed, +50% carrying capacity, and +4 on checks to avoid being tripped. This is balanced against minor penalties (much smaller than normal for quadrupedal creatures): their ring and hand magic item slots are combined (as anklets), and they are only considered to have a single hand for wielding/holding things – that being their mouth; this does not prevent comprehensible speech or interfere with verbal spell components (no cost).

Several notes need to be made here. The first is that Pathfinder characters that are members of this race (such as Iliana) gain an additional +2 to Constitution when using the Pathfinder Package Deal.

The second is that Iliana’s bonus feat has been spent on three 2 CP abilities: a +1 Skill Focus on three different skills. These are technically starting traits, but insofar as a point-buy system is concerned, there’s no real difference.

What’s more notable is that these traits normally also make these skills into class skills (though technically Day Greeter only makes one of them a class skill). Since Eclipse characters simply pick the skills that are most associated with their character concept to be class skills (within reasonable limits), there’s no cost for this. Spending 6 CP on skill points in a given skill makes it into a class skill anyway, so there’s no real harm there.

Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base) + 60 (levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19 feats) + 6 (starting traits) = 570 CP.

Basic Abilities (153 CP)

  • Proficient with all simple weapons (3 CP).
  • 20d4 Hit Dice (0 CP).
  • Self-Development/Constitution, only for hit points (x2) (12 CP).
  • +10 BAB (60 CP).
  • Fort +6, Ref +6, Will +12 (72 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for double effect/only for skills (6 CP).

Since Pathfinder sorcerers received a not-inconsiderable upgrade from their 3.5 counterparts (in the form of their bloodline abilities), we need to make up for those points elsewhere, hence the use of Self-Development and Fast Learner here.

Spellcasting (328 CP)

  • 20 caster levels, specialized in sorcerer progression for one-half cost (60 CP).
  • 20 levels sorcerer magic progression (260 CP).
  • Shaping, specialized for increased effect/only works for her limited list of level 0 sorcerer spells, corrupted for two-thirds cost/must be free to gesture and speak (4 CP).
  • Eschew Materials: Easy metamagic theorem with Streamline, both specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only for eliminating the need for material components costing 1 gp or less, only for sorcerer spells (4 CP).

Unification Bloodline (71 CP, specialized for one-half cost; 35 CP total)

  • Path/Unification spells (6 CP).
  • Combat Casting: Skill Emphasis (x2)/+4 Concentration (6 CP).
  • Leadership (6 CP).
  • Buy off the specialization for the Easy metamagic theorem (2 CP).
  • Immunity to the distinction between creature types (uncommon/minor/legendary), specialized for one-half cost/only for the fey type, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only with regards to spells and spell-like abilities (4 CP).
  • Upgrade the Shaping ability’s corruption, making it have triple effect to allow the additional use of a single, slightly more powerful, effect – in this case a force bolt (1d6 + ½-level damage, 30 ft. ranged touch attack, 3 + Cha Mod uses per day) (2 CP).
  • Celerity with the Additional modifier/30 ft. flight, corrupted for two-thirds cost/”clumsy” maneuverability (12 CP).
  • Occult Talent, specialized for increased effect/only gains a single 1st-level and 0-level spell slot; may use the 1st-level slot 2/day, and the 0-level slot 3/day (6 CP).
  • 3 additional sorcerer spells known (6 CP).
  • Ability Focus +2/enchantment (6 CP).
  • Damage reduction 5, specialized for double effect/only for physical damage, corrupted for two-thirds cost/bypassed by cold iron weapons (8 CP).
  • Skill Emphasis (x4)/Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive, all specialized for one-half cost/only versus fey creatures (6 CP).
  • Immunity to aging (uncommon/minor/trivial)/you do not take penalties for aging (1 CP).

Since they’re being taken as a thematic package of abilities, the entire bloodline can be specialized for one-half cost, as mentioned in the header for these powers. In this case, the specialization is that they unambiguously mark her as having unnatural powers, give her notable physical mutations, and clearly denote her destiny to others.

Special Abilities (50 CP)

  • Practiced Horn Magic and Advanced Horn Magic: Extra Limbs/arms, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/psychic construct, serves only to wield weapons or shields (2 CP).
  • Spell Focus, Greater Spell Focus, and Focused Horn Magic: Ability Focus/enchantment school, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only for +3 bonus (8 CP). Persistent metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost/only for enchantment spells (3 CP) with the Glory modifier, specialized for one-half cost/only once per day, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only for personal-range spells (2 CP).
  • Master Horn Magic: Inherent Spell with one Advanced upgrade, both specialized for one-half cost/only as prerequisites (6 CP); another use of Advanced (telekinesis) with +1 Bonus Uses (8 CP).
  • Still Horn Magic: Change specialization on Streamline from one-half cost to double effect/only for eliminating the need for material components costing 1 gp or less and eliminating somatic components (2 CP).
  • Spell Perfection: Improved Glory, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only when using a particular spell (4 CP). Augmented Magic +3, specialized for increased effect, may be applied to any numerical aspect of a spell/only applies when increasing an existing bonus gained from another ability (9 CP).
  • Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration: Immunity to spell resistance (common/major/minor) – grants a +4 bonus to overcome SR (6 CP).

Altogether, this costs 566 CP out of Iliana’s 570 CP allotment. That’s shocking for how on-target it is; her build is using virtually all of the points that are granted to it.

Given that, it wouldn’t seem like there’s much that we can do to tighten her stat block up under the point-buy rules we’re using. Perhaps surprisingly though, there are. Primarily by way of earning extra character points via introducing various drawbacks into her character – or, more correctly, quantifying the drawbacks that are already part of her character.

Iliana Unleashed

The first thing we’ll do is add a Restriction to her character build/may not wear armor, for an extra 20 CP. This forces her to give up her +1 silken ceremonial armor, but that’s no great loss; it only granted her a +2 armor bonus, which was completely overwritten by the +5 armor bonus from her white robe of the archmagi anyway (and it frees up 1,180 gp as a nice little bonus).

Having also had to administrate a movement, that grew into an army, that eventually became a great empire, we’ll also say that she has Duties to fulfill, and so has earned an additional 2 CP per level, for an extra 40 CP now.

Duties are typically thought of as being a burden that’s only for PCs, rather than NPCs. In fact, duties can restrict an NPC also. Having this means that Iliana often won’t be available when PCs want to meet with her, and so they’ll have to deal with somepony else. It also limits her ability to act – in many cases, she won’t be able to simply show up and “fix it” when things go bad. To put it another way, having duties means that her “screen time” is far more limited than it would otherwise be.

Finally, we’ll give her some Disadvantages, specifically History (she’s waged several wars to unify her empire, including one of near-genocide against the Tribe of Bones) and Hunted (survivors of vanquished tribes, political dissidents, and scheming nobles all want her gone). Together, these are worth 6 CP.

We’re also going to corrupt her BAB for two-thirds cost/does not grant iterative attacks. Given that full-progression spellcasters virtually never take a full attack action – using their BAB only for when they cast touch or ranged touch spells – there’s no reason not to do this, particularly when it grants her an extra 20 CP.

Along with her unspent 4 CP from her original build, these collectively grant her an additional 90 Character Points. Quite a lot! So what can we spend these on? I’d personally buy the following abilities, which I’ve also grouped into thematic packages:

Corona of Life (40 CP)

  • Costly with the Improved modifier, specialized for increased effect/only affects necromantic spells and effects; functions against all types of magic (24 CP).
  • Grant of Aid with the Mighty and double Regenerative modifiers (15 CP).
  • Upgrade her Immunity to aging from trivial to minor (1 CP).

After her early battles against the Tribe of Bones’ necromancers came very close to slaying her, Iliana worked with clerics of the Sun Queen to ward herself against negative energy. This not only made it difficult for necromancy to affect her, but allowed her to heal herself should she be injured, and even extended her lifespan.

Enchantress Nonpareil (14 CP)

  • Mastery/may take 10 even when threatened on caster level checks to beat spell resistance, concentration checks, Bluff, Diplomacy, Fly, Intimidate, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, and Use Magic Device (6 CP).
  • Occult Ritual (6 CP).
  • Buy one additional sorcerer spell known (wish) (2 CP).

Iliana’s Occult Ritual ability is how she can perform powers above and beyond typical spellcasting, such as causing the very earth to bury the home of the defeated Tribe of Bones. Likewise, buying her an additional spell known removes the need for her page of spell knowledge, and frees up 81,000 gp.

Veteran Campaigner (9 CP)

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws (6 CP).
  • Defender/dodge bonus, specialized for one-half cost/does not apply when wearing armor or using a shield (3 CP).

Five times per day, Iliana can choose to forgo making a saving throw to treat it as though she’d rolled a 20, or may re-roll a failed save. She also gains a +4 dodge bonus to AC so long as she doesn’t wear armor or carry a shield (which she never does anyway), helping to bump up her otherwise-abysmal Armor Class.

Founder of the Empire (27 CP)

  • Major Privilege/Queen of the Pony Empire (6 CP).
  • Superior Improved Reputation/Iliana gains a +13 bonus on social skill checks towards those who look favorably on the Empire; however, this becomes a -13 penalty on social skill checks towards those who do not (12 CP).
  • Sanctum with Occult Wards (9 CP).

The first two bullet points largely pay for the social advantages she’d be expected to have as queen of a vast empire. The last bullet point requires some further detail, given below.

Iliana’s Sanctum

After a failed rebellion forced her from Viljatown, her capital city, Iliana has kept her distance from the populace. She resides in a small estate to the north, allowing only her most loyal servants and retainers to attend to her. This estate has numerous wards (treat as non-lethal magical traps of CR 10 and lower) to keep unwanted visitors away.

Unwilling to make the same mistake a second time, Iliana has enchanted her estate heavily. It now acts as a nexus of arcane might for her and her followers. While within it, she gains the following benefits:

A note should be made regarding Iliana’s gear. As a major NPC, Iliana should be treated as having PC-level wealth. That gives her a grand total of 880,000 gp to work with. Her original write-up gave her 568,180 gp in magic items, along with 174,290 gp on hand (on hoof?), for a total of 742,470 gp.

That’s 137,530 gp unaccounted for, or a little over one-eighth of her total gear value. Further, as previously mentioned, we freed up 82,180 by removing her +1 silken ceremonial armor and her page of spell knowledge. Finally, let’s go ahead and liquidate 150,000 gp from the aforementioned 174,290 that she has, since there’s no real reason to keep that much money around.

Altogether, that gives us an additional 369,710 gp to work with in outfitting her. Not coincidentally, the benefits of Siddhisyoga that she gains in her sanctum cost exactly 369,000 gp (remember that Siddhisyoga with the Efficient modifier means that the total value of each magic item costs 1.5x its market price). So she can keep the 710 gp left over, giving her “only” 25,000 gp to carry around.

Looking at these various changes and alterations, we can get a better sense of Iliana’s character. We’ve quantified the various drawbacks that she has to deal with, and in turn spent the points from them on various abilities that serve to highlight her history, personality, and current situation. This all serves to underscore the position that she’s in as she tries to maintain the empire that she fought so hard to build.

Of course, as the Ponyfinder Campaign Setting describes, even a queen can only do so much for so long…

The Other Gandalf

February 8, 2015

According to what I’ve read, the etymology for Tolkien’s famous wizard is that it comes from Old Norse. Specifically, it’s a compound of gandr, which means “wand” or “magic,” and alfr, meaning “elf.” So in other words, the name means “wand(-bearing) elf,” or more likely “magic(al) elf.” Pointy ears notwithstanding, that summarizes the character pretty well.

Of course, within the context of the anime The Familiar of Zero (“Zero no Tsukaima”), the near-identical term “gandalfr” means something quite different. Though shown to be written in runes, the name is translated as “left hand of God,” which is considerably more badass.

gandalfr runes

In fact, “badass” is the literal translation.

(In the licensed English translation, this is written as “gundolf,” most likely to avoid the attention of the litigious Tolkien estate; we’re going to quietly ignore that variant spelling here.)

While Tolkien’s Gandalf has had many, many articles written about how he’d look with RPG stats, it’s the other one – the “gandalfr” of The Familiar of Zero – that we’re going to look at here. More specifically, we’re going to determine what stats for the gandalfr would look like using the Eclipse d20 point-buy rules.

The Gandalfr Template (64 CP/+2 ECL)

The Familiar of Zero is set in an alternate world that closely resembles Renaissance-era Europe, save that magic and supernatural creatures are real. The line between the nobility and the commoners is that the former can use magic, whereas the latter cannot (though some magic-users have lost their noble status for various reasons).

One of the basic accomplishments for any student of magic is summoning and binding a familiar, which – as it is in D&D – is typically some sort of animal or semi-intelligent creature. But when Louise Valliere, known among her friends as “Zero” for her utter lack of magical talent, accidentally summons a boy named Saito Hiraga from contemporary Japan to be her familiar, she doesn’t realize that doing so has given him the status of gandalfr.

Since Saito is an ordinary boy that has the gandalfr powers bestowed upon him, rather than being something he learns on his own, we’re going to configure this as a template. The abilities he gains are as follows:

Proficiency with all weapons: The main ability of a gandalfr is instinctively knowing how to use any kind of weapon. Literally, any kind of weapon, from a sword to an anti-aircraft gun; simply touching it confers total knowledge of how to wield it and what it’s condition is.

In fact, this power has an extension that’s showcased – but never directly referenced – in the series: if the weapon is integrated into a larger system or mechanism, a gandalfr can use the rest of it as well. That’s how Saito can instinctively know how to pilot a fighter jet, since it has guns and missiles on board, even though a literal interpretation of his power wouldn’t tell him how to use things like the thrust or the ejector seat.

It’s because of that this power transcends having purchased, in Eclipse terms, some sort of universal proficiency. Rather, it’s an immunity.

  • Immunity to non-proficiency penalties for weapons and vehicles with mounted weapons (very common/minor/major) (12 CP).

That works just fine for weapons, but it’s slightly awkward where vehicles are concerned. That’s because using complicated vehicles tends to be a skill check, and an immunity to non-proficiency penalties doesn’t help if you’re facing a skill that can’t be used untrained. Since we need this template to confer ability with regards to any vehicle with built-in weaponry, we’ll go for something a little more universal.

  • Double Enthusiast, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only for vehicular skills (2 CP).

This grants the wielder of the template 2 ranks in any skill if it’s a class skill for them, or a single rank if it’s a cross-class skill (under the Pathfinder skill system, it grants 2 ranks, and they gain a further +3 bonus if it’s a class skill), ensuring that they’ll have at least some modest ability to use the vehicle in question. Of course, they won’t be able to change the skill this is assigned to for three days, but given that this was shown as being used in a fantasy world where such things were fantastically rare to begin with, that’s not really a major concern.

Skill at Arms: While the anime typically folds this into Saito’s ability to adroitly wield any weapon he holds, the d20 Sytem draws a line between proficiency with a weapon and actual skill at using it. Since Saito is a teenager – and likely right at the cusp of becoming 1st level – he almost certainly doesn’t have any Base Attack Bonus yet. However, we see him deftly defeating various trained soldiers with little problem. Ergo, we’ll add some here.

  • +5 BAB (30 CP).

Damage Dealing: Another aspect of Saito’s power as a gandalfr that’s usually demonstrated but not directly spoken about is that he’s able to deal punishing damage to powerful foes. More specifically, he’s able to harm tough enemies that would normally shrug off a sword strike. While some of this may be due to his wielding the magic sword derfflinger, we’ll go ahead and add a special ability here. Having the ability to land blows doesn’t mean much if the damage doesn’t get through, after all.

  • Augment Attack, +2d6 damage, specialized for increased effect/only to overcome damage reduction (6 CP).

The use of the term “increased effect” rather than “double effect” is to indicate that we’re not using specializing to increase the number of dice. Rather, this is to overcome the normal limits on when Augment Attack would apply (e.g. the enemy must be flanked or denied their Dex bonus; and that this damage wouldn’t apply against foes that are immune to “precision damage”).

That’s rather cheesy, to the point where I’d be very suspicious of this being used in-game. I’d likely only allow it if this ability were disallowed from buying up its damage dice…at least at low levels.

Hard to Hit: It’s remarked several times throughout the series that when Saito is fighting, he moves fast enough to make it difficult to target him. This isn’t shown to be anything like “super-speed,” so it makes more sense that it presents a hightened ability to dodge incoming blows.

That’s somewhat awkward in the d20 System, since dodging blows tends to be represented by a static Armor Class value. Moreover, for a number of effects this instead falls under the aegis of the Reflex save. As such, we’ll need to buy up both. Finally, we’ll give Saito the equivalent of the Mobility feat here, just to make it easier for a gandalfr to move around the battlefield, where they’re most useful.

  • Improved Defender +5 (dodge bonus) (30 CP).
  • +5 Reflex saves (15 CP).
  • Immunity to attacks of opportunity from movement (common/minor/major) (6 CP).

To reiterate, the last bullet point grants a +4 AC bonus against attacks of opportunity caused by moving through an opponent’s space.

Altogether, these abilities cost 101 CP, which puts this a few points into +3 ECL territory. However, we can reduced the cost based on the gandalfr’s major limitation, which comes up several times throughout the anime: that these powers only apply when wielding a weapon. More specifically, it has to be an item designed for combat, rather than being something ornamental or a normal item that’s being used in a fight (and, presumably, doesn’t apply to unarmed combat either, since Saito always needs some sort of weapon to be at his best throughout the series).

Hence, the entire package is corrupted for two-thirds cost/does not apply when only fighting with ornamental weapons, improvised weapons, natural weapons, or unarmed strikes.

That may not sound like a big deal to a d20 character, since many of them are played as essentially never taking off the gear they acquire. However, there are plenty of social situations where insisting on carrying a weapon is highly inappropriate – one does not typically meet with the king while armed, for instance. And if nothing else, it makes sunder and disarm maneuvers much greater threats in combat.

That brings the cost down to 67 CP. We’ll further lower it by -3 via adding the Accursed disadvantage: this template is removed when the wielder dies.

By itself, that may seem slightly ridiculous. After all, you’ve kind of lost everything if you’re dead. The caveat here, however, is that resurrection (or any other sort of life-restoring effect) does not return this template. If you’re brought back, you’ll need to find a separate way to become a gandalfr again.

That’s not necessarily a major obstacle – in the anime, all it took was Louise summoning and contracting Saito a second time, for example – but then, this is only a minor drawback anyway.

This brings the total cost down to 64 CP, which is a +2 ECL increase exactly.

Note that there’s no cost reduction for this template only being applied to a familiar. That’s because the effects of being a familiar (or at least a gandalfr) in The Familiar of Zero have none of the hallmarks that d20 familiars have. Indeed, most of the other familiars seen in the show don’t seem to have any notable abilities as part of their status, meaning that the characters are just taking the Companion ability with no further development (or alternately, they’re simply too low-level to have any of those effects kick in yet).

Saito, by contrast, doesn’t even seem to have that much of a connection to Louise, mystically speaking. This template notwithstanding, the only effects of his status as a familiar are purely political, and even those tend to fade away as people begin thinking of him as an adventurer and a hero.

Remembering Monty Oum

February 4, 2015

(I usually never talk about current events on this blog. I find such topics to be flash-in-the-pan, having a very short shelf-life where interest is concerned.

In this case, however, I’m compelled to break my own rule. The passing of someone for whom I had so much respect and admiration has filled me with such a sense of loss that I can’t keep it to myself; I have to let it out, and this is the best place I can think of to do so.

What follows is an expansion of a piece that I posted on some message boards earlier today. It’s my remembrance of an incredible man, taken before his time.)

By now, everyone has heard of the passing of Monty Oum.

Long-time readers of this blog will doubtlessly know who Monty was, if for no other reason that I’ve referenced his works here twice before. Looking back at these entries now, I worry that they sound too perfunctory, too matter-of-fact when discussing the incredible things that he created. Please know that that was never my intention; I simply felt that Monty’s work was of such incomparable quality – all the moreso for how much of it he did on his own – that any praise I could have offered would have been mere platitudes in comparison.

But the purpose of this post isn’t to talk about how great Monty’s work was. Rather, it’s to talk about what he meant to me personally.

I almost didn’t write this, because talking about how I felt about Monty seemed self-aggrandizing, almost narcissistic, to the point of being disrespectful. After all, this is a time to think about him, not me in relation to him.

Having given it some thought, however, I’ve come to realize that I was mistaken. When remembering someone we’ve lost, the nature of that remembrance tends to be personal, often intensely so. While we tend to lionize people for their accomplishments and their generosity, that’s not what makes us grieve when they’re no longer with us. It’s the personal connection, the sense of how we – who are still here, left behind – now keenly feel their absence.

Loss, by its very nature, is personal.

Truthfully, I’m still surprised that I feel a sense of loss, perhaps even grief, to learn of Monty’s passing. I honestly didn’t expect that I would. After all, he and I never met in person. He never knew my real name, and I doubt he would have remembered my online handle. And yet…knowing that he’s gone hurts.

While it’s one thing to intellectually realize that you can be moved by the loss of someone you never met in person, it’s another thing to actually feel it.

Earlier today, I followed a link that someone posted to a story about tributes that were being made to Monty. I got as far as this picture before I had to close the door to my office, no longer able to keep my composure, something that only grew more pronounced when I read his quote at the end of the article.

I wish that I had some better way of honoring Monty. I wish that I could draw a picture in tribute to the man. But I can’t – I have no artistic talent, in terms of art, animation, or music, whatsoever. All I have is some modest skill at writing, and that doesn’t seem like enough.

It’s funny now, in a morbid way; last Sunday night, before I heard about Monty’s passing, I had tentatively decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time – now, knowing that he’s gone, and his family’s statement that the best way to remember him is to do something creative, that decision seems much more poignant, and important. It’s very little, but I feel like I owe him that much.

My saying that I owe him is not a turn of phrase. While I know that he made his work for everyone to enjoy, as well as for the sheer joy of creating it, it still spoke to me personally. It spoke to me because just knowing that someone was out there, making stuff that I enjoyed so much and asking for nothing in return, brought light into my life. That has value that cannot be measured – all the more so for the fact that I first discovered his works during a time when I was very depressed and struggling with anxiety about my future.

I can’t repay that debt, but I want to try.

I once corresponded with Monty. It wasn’t very much – a single email response to my having emailed him back in July, 2008, along with a donation as a belated birthday gift (I also donated to him the following year, though we didn’t converse then).

I had been posting on his DeviantArt page for some time at that point, in a series of fan-articles that critiqued and analyzed his Dead Fantasy series that I called “Dead Fantasizing.” I was also pushing for a change to one of his not-officially-announced plans for a future episode of the series. (All of these posts can still be found as comments on his page, though it’d require going back through years of posts by everyone.)

Monty had recently posted this image on his DA page (it’s since been removed, as he had some trouble with DA several years ago – the link is to where I’ve since reposted it). To make a long story short – the picture very clearly implied that Kairi’s episode would have her face Sonia, whom was clearly meant to be the character in the background-left (Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox was just about to come out when he made that picture).

I had seen enough of the game to urge Monty to dump Sonia as a character, and instead go with Momiji (from Ninja Gaiden DS – she’d later appear in other games as well).

The point is, I was very pleasantly surprised when Monty emailed me back. He was very kind and casual, explaining that not only did he read the articles I’d been writing, but also took the time to explain some of the technical critiques I’d made of the series. He also expressed agreement with the idea that Sonia wasn’t a good character, and that Momiji was a better fit. While it’s likely that he would have made the change on his own, I sometimes like to think that I was his inspiration for why he has Momiji fighting in the unfinished Dead Fantasy VI episode that he unveiled a few years back.

I re-read that email last night…and it really rings true just what an incredible guy Monty was. He was eager to reassure me that he did enjoy feedback, even if he didn’t always respond, that he appreciated critical analysis and didn’t mind explaining his decisions, and even just shooting ideas back and forth with someone who enjoyed his work.

He took the time to write to me, just one fan out of so many, and that meant something to me. It still means something to me.

To me, Monty Oum was a star, letting his light shine for anyone and everyone who cared to look at it. And like a star, that light – that inspiration that his creativity and generosity encouraged in myself and so many others – continues to travel forward even after the star itself has gone out.

Goodbye Monty, and thank you for all that you gave.

Hearts and Hooves

January 31, 2015

I’ve been feeling somewhat nostalgic lately…

Like many tabletop gamers, my introduction to RPGs came from Dungeons & Dragons. More specifically, I came to the game with Basic D&D, using the black “board game” starter set, before transitioning to the Rules Cyclopedia.

From there, I eventually made the jump to AD&D 2nd Edition, and in many ways I never really moved on from there. I say that fondly, as I consider 2E to have been the game’s high point when it comes to setting development. Never before nor since has D&D made so many worlds, or developed them so richly (the closest we’ve seen since then is Eberron in Third Edition).

Of course, Second Edition’s mechanics were far less cohesive than those of the subsequent Third Edition. Still, even that was inspirational in a way; less structure meant more freedom in what was presented, and there were some truly inspirational – and bizarre – things to be found across the spectrum of 2E products.

Unfortunately, none of those things included statistics for deities, something which always bothered me. I’ve always looked askance on the idea that statistics for gods are somehow inherently “unbalanced” in D&D, mostly because nobody can seem to come to a consensus what “balance” means anyway (let alone find a way to measure it). Likewise, cries of “but that promotes munchkin-levels of optimization!” are also poor excuses to me – the min-maxers are going to do what they do, regardless of what they have to draw upon.

It also seemed particularly unfair, given that every other edition of D&D has stats for gods. After all, Basic has its Immortals, First Edition and Third Edition have their respective Deities and Demigods books (which are basically divine monster supplements), and even Fourth Edition had stat blocks for gods in various supplements and adventures. Only in Second Edition were we told “gods are beyond stats. Sorry.”

The irony was that, it would be well into the life of Third Edition before I found out that a third-party company named Wizards of the Coast put out a sourcebook designed specifically to address this very deficiency: The Primal Order.

Presenting a universal set of rules with appendices covering their specific implementation in well over a dozen different RPGs – something they called the “capstone system” – The Primal Order remains one of the best (if not the very best) book about how to make gods a natural, tightly-integrated part of your campaign. The insights it presents, and the rules that back them up, are required reading for any GM that wants to make their deities be active, dynamic facets of the game world.

Once I found out about this book, I had to acquire it. Having picked up a used copy of the first printing (the book has since become available for download and print-on-demand, but that’s only for the second printing, which excised the D&D materials) early last year – as well as all three supplements – I’m able to create stats for gods using the AD&D Second Edition rules at last. They may not be “official,” but for me they’re close enough.

As such, since I’ve recently given myself permission to post non-Pathfinder-related RPG materials here, I’ve decided that this post will have AD&D 2E stats for a Primal Order-style deity.

Riding in On a Pink Horse

…which brings us to the ponies (apparently I can’t seem to stop referencing this topic).

Though I haven’t mentioned it since I first started making pony-related posts, there’s a(n unofficial) pony sourcebook for Pathfinder called Ponyfinder, released by Silver Games. Even considering my burnout on Pathfinder supplements, I’m quite fond of Ponyfinder, since I find it fascinating how it takes a more grownup view of what ponies would be like if they were from a world with Pathfinder-based monsters and magic.

Moreover, Silver Games hasn’t sat idle since releasing the campaign setting. Several mini-releases have followed, the latest one being Forgotten Gods of Everglow, detailing two “new” deities for the game world.

As such, this struck me as the perfect opportunity to back-convert one of the deities here and give them AD&D 2E/TPO statistics. As such, allow me to present my own version of:

Lashtada, Goddess of Love

On the young world of Everglow, a particular tribe of ponies were the primary worshippers of Lashtada, the goddess of romantic love. While her status as the patron deity of a particular society guaranteed her a stable body of followers, her lack of cross-cultural recognition ultimately proved to be her undoing.

When Queen Iliana formed her great Empire, it was built on several wars that served to unify – or conquer, depending on whom you asked – the diverse pony tribes. Turning her attention to the minor tribe of Lashtada-worshippers, Iliana offered them a place among the ponies of the Empire. Uncomfortable with how she had used strong-arming rather than kind feelings to bring the ponies together, the tribe rebuffed her offer, though they feared the worst in doing so.

Their fears came true, but not in the way that they expected. Tired of war, the Queen surprised many by respecting the tribe’s wishes, leaving them to their own devices without any imperial oversight…or protection.

Iliana’s wars had not only reshaped the structure of pony society on Everglow, but had the secondary effect of taming the wilds, pushing back the primitive humanoids that had theretofore roamed freely. Forced to look elsewhere for prey, gnoll raiders thus caught the Lashtadans completely unaware, wiping out their society virtually overnight.

With her primary worshippers eradicated, Lashtada’s religion quickly faded away completely, and today the Goddess of Love is all but forgotten, with the dark goddess Kara incorporating love into her portfolio of seduction and manipulation. However, things may be about to change…

Lashtada, demigod C20/B10; AC 6 (-4 Dex); MV 9; hp 78; THAC0 8; #AT 1; Dmg 1d2 (hoof); SA primal powers; SD primal powers, immortality; MR 30%; SZ S (3’ tall); ML 14; AL N.

Detect Noise 65%; Hide in Shadows 45%; Move Silently 35%; Read Languages 40%.

Saving Throws: PPD 1; RSW 4; PP 3; BW 6; S 5.

Attributes: S 15; D 19; C 17; I 15; W 20; Ch 18.

Cleric Spells:

7th (x2): restoration, succor.

6th (x5): command monster (PO:SM), find the path, forbiddance, heal, heroes’ feast.

5th (x7): atonement, blessed abundance (ToM), cure critical wounds, consequence (ToM), magic font, quest, true seeing.

4th (x10): cloak of bravery, cure serious wounds, detect lie, free action, imbue with spell ability (x2), neutralize poison, reflecting pool, spell immunity, unfailing endurance (PO:SM).

3rd (x11): create food and water, cure blindness or deafness, cure disease, dispel magic, emotion control (ToM) (x2), glyph of warding (x2), prayer, remove curse, repair injury (PO:SM).

2nd (x11): aid, barkskin, charm person or mammal, detect charm (x2), enthrall (x2), mystic transfer (ToM) (x2), restore strength (PO:SM), withdraw.

1st (x12): bless (x2), blessed watchfulness (PO:SM), cure light wounds, dispel fatigue (PO:SM) (x2), orison (PO:SM), purify food and drink, sacred guardian (ToM) (x2), sanctuary (x2).

Bard Spells:

4th (x1): emotion.

3rd (x2): slow, spirit armor (ToM).

2nd (x3): bind, ESP, Tasha’s uncontrollable hideous laughter.

1st (x3): friends, hypnotism, sleep.

Lashtada’s Primal Base

Source Amount Notes
Miniplanes 200 Lashtada’s current residence
Rank 300 Demigoddess
Spheres -170 Love sphere, cause/dispel love and matchmaking powers
Evolution 2,500 Five hundred years of life
Servitors -250 Has created five servitors
Minions -10 Has created one minion
Total 2,570 Points of Primal Base

Lashtada’s Primal Flux

Source Amount Notes
Base 257 10% of 2,570 primal base
Worshippers 70 These are dead worshippers in her divine realm
Miniplanes 200 Lashtada’s current residence
Consecrated Ground 2 The “Dungeon of Love”
Servitors -25 Primally supporting five servitors
Minions -10 Primally supporting one minion
Priests -1 Primally supporting one level 1 priest
Total 493 Points of Primal Flux

While the previous exposition makes it clear that the above stats use The Primal Order, it’s worth putting that into a practical context.

Specifically, Lashtada is made under the normal rules for AD&D 2E characters (save that I changed what thief skills were available to her as a bard; things like “climb walls” don’t make much sense for a pony), and then has the TPO rules overlain on her stat block. As such, the materials for what powers and limitations Second Edition gods typically have (as laid out in Legends & Lore) don’t apply here. Since Lashtada is using the TPO rules for gods, we’re not applying any other rules.

(Also, for her spells, note that some have parenthetical notations for where they’re printed. ToM denotes the Tome of Magic, while PO:SM is Player’s Option: Spells & Magic).

As it is, the specific implementations of the TPO rules on Lashtada’s stat block are comparatively few. Mainly, they’ve improved her ability scores and her saving throws, as well as given her magic resistance.

Beyond that, the main implementation of The Primal Order is found in calculating her primal base and primal flux, which grant her an extraordinary amount of power, at least compared to mortals (compared to other gods, she’s very much a bit player). Unfortunately, it would take far and away too much space to reprint what can be done with primal energy, so I’ll briefly go over the major aspects below:

Primal blast: Spending 1 point of primal flux allows Lashtada to throw a primal blast, which always hits, allows no saving throw, and overcomes all defenses (except a primal shield, see below), inflicting 10 points of damage. This can be increased by another 10 points of damage for every additional point of primal flux spent, with no upper limit (save for her total primal flux available).

Primal shield: Lashtada can raise a primal shield by spending 1 or more points of primal flux. Each point allows the shield to stop 10 points of damage, or five spell levels (for non-damaging spells) – this is an ablative effect, so if a 1-point shield stops 10 spell levels, it then collapses unless given further primal flux. A primal shield also stops all forms of passive information-gathering spells (e.g. true seeing) without compromising the shield’s integrity.

Spells: Lashtada can cast any spell by silent act of will by spending a number of points of primal flux equal to the spell’s level. This is separate from her personal spellcasting ability (e.g. the spells listed in her stat block) and allows her to use any spell on any spell list, though she must know what the spell is first. Spells cast in this manner always hit, do not allow saving throws, and overcome all non-primal defenses.

Primal Lacing: When casting spells normally (e.g. from her spells listed in her stat block), Lashtada can “lace” a spell with a single point of primal flux. Doing so causes the spell to affect its target(s) without any to-hit roll or saving throw, and overcome all non-primal defenses.

Immortality: Lashtada cannot be slain so long as any of her primal base remains intact. Removing her primal base requires attacking her with primal abilities, or otherwise undermining her divinity (e.g. causing her to lose her demigod status).

Cause/Dispel Love: Lashtada can create or destroy romantic love between two individuals, though doing so requires her to spend 40 primal flux. These feelings are not artificial, as the love between the targeted individuals grows (or decays) naturally over time.

Matchmaking: By spending 30 primal flux, Lashtada can instantly determine whom the perfect romantic partner for a particular individual would be.

Song of the Sirens

December 28, 2014

Recently, Netflix uploaded Rainbow Rocks, the second movie for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Needless to say, I not only watched it immediately, but once again can’t help but blog about it in conjunction with my habit of translating characters from various media into d20 stats using the excellent point-buy character-builder that is Eclipse: The Codex Persona.

A direct sequel to Equestria Girls, Rainbow Rocks has several things going for it that make it a better movie than its predecessor. One of these is that it highlights the now-repentant villain from the first film, Sunset Shimmer, as she tries to atone for her previous actions. Her personal quest for redemption is a central aspect to the movie, and it’s stronger for it (particularly since this has only lightly been touched upon for previous redeemed villains, such as Luna and Discord).

Another notable strong point for the movie is the music. While they’re not all winners (“Tricks Up My Sleeve” and “Awesome as I Wanna Be” are sub-par, to my mind) the vast majority of the movie’s songs are not just catchy, but quite masterful in their presentation. This is especially true for the songs sung by the Dazzlings (the band formed by the villains), which were appropriately captivating.

The Sirens - Adagio, Sonata, and Aria

Clearly they’re monsters that have to be stopped.

It’s these villains that form the remaining strong point in Rainbow Rocks. While the trio of sirens – Adagio Dazzle, Sonata Dusk, and Aria Blaze – have a far simpler plan than Sunset Shimmer did (wanting only to be adored by the masses, rather than desiring domination and conquest), they’re by far more charismatic characters, at least in terms of being bad guys.

A large part of this is due to their singing, which as I noted above, is wonderful to listen to (I’m honestly starting to think that Kazumi Evans, the voice of Adagio – as well as the singing voice of Rarity and Luna – is simply incapable of singing anything less than heavenly). However, they also have a degree of aplomb that Sunset never did. Notwithstanding their sisterly sniping at each other, the sirens never lose their poise, keeping the heroines on the defensive throughout the entire film (at least before the climactic battle at the end).

It’s on that note (pun intended) that we’ll present stats for the leader of the sirens:

Adagio Dazzle, level 5 equestrian siren

Banished to Earth millenia ago by the unicorn wizard Star-Swirl the Bearded, Adagio – along with the other sirens – loathes her life here. Unable to draw much power from the negative emotions of non-magical beings, and therefore incapable of manipulating people on a grand scale, Adagio is tormented by her inability to attain the adulation to which she feels entitled.

It’s thus with dark glee that she notices that magic from her native Equestria is being used at a local high school. Now that a source of magic is finally within reach, Adagio will stop at nothing to restore the sirens’ full powers, and make everyone on Earth adore them!

While the stats below are for Adagio, Sonata and Aria are virtually identical to her. The only differences are likely to be their ability scores (except for Charisma) – Sonata has definitely made Intelligence her dump stat! – and their skill ranks (except for Perform (sing)).

Available Character Points: 144 (level 5 base) + 10 (disadvantages) + 12 (levels 1 and 3 feats) + 6 (human bonus feat) = 172 CP.

Adagio’s disadvantages are Accursed (Mystic Artist abilities that require skill level 15 or above – as well as the Conditioning modifier – cannot be used, unless they have used Rite of Chi with a group of people that have magical powers within the last 24 hours; see below), Showman (Adagio often sings exactly what she and the other sirens are doing with their songs), and Unarmored (wearing armor imposes arcane spell failure chances on their use of mystic artist each round).

Ability Scores (25-point buy):

Ability Scores Initial Scores (Point Cost) Level Bonuses Total
Strength 10 (2) 10 (+0)
Dexterity 11 (3) 11 (+0)
Constitution 10 (2) 10 (+0)
Intelligence 13 (5) 13 (+1)
Wisdom 13 (5) 13 (+1)
Charisma 15 (8) +1 (4th level) 16 (+3)

As the above point-buy total makes clear, Adagio is being built as a 3.5 character, rather than using the Pathfinder rules.

Human Traits (9 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Fast Learner, specialized in skills (3 CP).
  • Bonus feat (6 CP).

Originally, the sirens had bodies that were like that of hippocampi. However, as with all Equestrian natives that come to Earth (save, apparently, for dragons, which become dogs), their bodies were changed to that of humans. As such, they have the physical characteristics of humans.

Of course, having been on Earth for several thousand years, it’s likely that the sirens are, in fact, the original sirens from Greek mythology! They’re likely also the basis for several others mythological creatures as well.

Basic Abilities (87 CP)

  • Simple weapons proficiency (3 CP).
  • 5d8 Hit Dice (20 CP).
  • +2 BAB (12 CP).
  • Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +4 (27 CP).
  • 25 skill points (25 CP).

The vast majority of their basic abilities are purchased under the assumption that they must have developed some minor skills over the last few millenia, rather than anything we see them do in the course of the film.

Elder Evil (6 CP)

  • Immunity to aging (uncommon/minor/great) (6 CP).

Like many of Equestria’s power-players, the ravages of time simply cannot touch the sirens.

Unparalleled Performance (23 CP)

  • Perform (sing) 8 ranks (8 CP), with Skill Emphasis (3 CP), and Skill Focus with double Mastery (12 CP), all specialized for double-effect/may only be used with Mystic Artist, and corrupted for increased effect/may not be used without enchanted gemstone.

The 8 ranks in Perform (sing) taken here are separate from the 25 skill points that Adagio purchased as part of her basic abilities.

When the sirens are defeated in the final battle, their mystical gemstones shatter. This not only prevents them from using their song-based powers, but leaves them completely tone-deaf. Between that, and that they apparently never tried to use their singing to gain fame via mundane means, we can confidently say that their ranks in Perform were artificially inflated via the corruption and specialization given above.

Enchanting Intonations (42 CP)

  • Mystic Artist (Perform (sing)) (6 CP).
    • Basic Ability modifiers: Amplification (x9) (54 CP), Echoes (6 CP), Enduring (x10) (12 CP), Projection (6 CP), Rapid (6 CP), Whispers (6 CP).
    • The Path of Whispers modifiers: Subliminal (6 CP), Conditioning (6 CP).
    • Art of the Occult modifiers: The Hidden Way (6 CP).
    • All of these powers are specialized/uses of Mystic Artist must be recharged via Rite of Chi, and corrupted/may not be used without enchanted gemstone, for one-third cost (except Mystic Artist itself, which is for triple effect).

As listed in her skills table below, Adagio has a +48 bonus in the type of Perform skill that’s the focus of her Mystic Artist ability. As such, she has thirteen basic Mystic Artist abilities, in addition to the modifiers purchased above: (inspiration abilities:) emotion, (manipulation abilities:) fascinate, hold audience, suggestion, emotional auras, freedom, mass suggestion, alter attitudes, puppet master, (synergy abilities:) block, group focus, amplify, harmonize, rule the horde.

Tripling the effect of the basic Mystic Artist ability means that it can be used three times as often, which for Adagio is 3 rounds per level per day, or 15 rounds per day in other words. However, rounds that are used are not automatically restored each day, but must instead be regained via Rite of Chi, below.

Spiteful Convalescence (10 CP)

  • Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may only be used when in the presence of a group of people who are angry or upset, specialized for one-half cost/results are minimized results unless the crowd has magical powers (4 CP).
  • Reflex Training/may use Rite of Chi whenever in proximity to an angry group of people (6 CP).

While Rite of Chi normally recovers mana, spell levels, or psionic strength points, it’s not too much of a stretch to use it to restore rounds of Mystic Artist. In this case, we’ll say that a typical use recovers 2d4 rounds’ worth of Mystic Artist. Of course, in conjunction with the specialization of the above ability, this will only ever return 2 rounds’ worth each time it’s used, unless the crowd it’s used on has magical abilities. Together with their Accursed disadvantage, these are the main reasons why the sirens are unable to wield their full power on magic-poor Earth.

Pinnacle of Power (4 CP)

  • Inherent Spell (6 CP, specialized for one-half cost/only as a prerequisite) with the Advanced modifier (6 CP, specialized for one-half cost/may only be used during an instance of Mystic Artist). Both corrupted/may not be used without enchanted gemstone.
  • Eldritch/when using Rite of Chi with creatures that have magical powers, Adagio may manifest small, cosmetic changes to her personal appearance (e.g. pony ears, hair-tail, glowing red eyes, etc.) (0 CP).

The inherent spell used above is summon construct V (The Practical Enchanter, p. 85), using the “pre-specified construct” option to make it effectively a 4th-level spell. In this case, the construct uses the following options from Menu A: fly (x3), knockdown (variant that affects stored spells only), semisentient, and spell storing I (x2). The spells stored are five instances of lesser shout – a 2nd-level variant of the basic shout spell that cannot deafen or shatter objects, and deals 3d6 sonic damage to creatures with a save for half damage.

These are the copies of the sirens’ original bodies that they manifested during the final battle.

The Sirens’ Gemstones

The core weakness of the sirens is their reliance on their gemstones, without which they not only cannot absorb negativity and turn it into magical power, but can’t even sing.

Shattered at the end of the film, the sirens are said to be reduced to “ordinary teenage girls” without their gemstones (albeit ones who will likely live forever). However, that discounts the possibility that they could ever find a way to make new ones.

In game terms, the sirens’ gemstones have no powers unto themselves, serving only as a focus for their powers via corrupting a large number of their abilities. Creating new gemstones requires either Create Artifact or Create Item (wondrous items).

That would explain why the Mane Six feel so confident that the sirens’ power is beyond repair. After all, in a world as magic-poor as Earth, where could they possibly find someone that can create magic items? Of course, as the Mane Six themselves demonstrate, sometimes magic can be found where it’s least expected…

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 8 (d8 1st level) + 18 (4d8) = 26 hp.
  • Speed: 30 ft.
  • Init: +0 (Dex bonus) – 3 (showman disadvantage) = -3 Initiative.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +1 (base) + 0 (Con bonus) = +1.
    • Ref: +4 (base) + 0 (Dex bonus) = +4.
    • Will: +4 (base) + 1 (Wis bonus) = +5.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) + 0 (Dex bonus) = 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10.
  • Attacks: +2 (BAB) +0 (Str bonus) = +2 unarmed strike (1d3 nonlethal).
  • Skills: 25 skill points (25 ) + 8 for Perform (8 CP) + 8 (Int bonus) + 8 (human bonus) = 49 skill points.
Skills Ranks Ability Modifier Misc. Modifier Total
Bluff 3 +3 Cha +6
Concentration 3 +0 Con +3
Diplomacy 1 (2 points spent) +3 Cha +4
Gather Information 2 +3 Cha +5
Intimidate 3 +3 Cha +6
Knowledge (arcana) 1 +1 Int +2
Knowledge (geography) 1 (2 points spent) +1 Int +2
Knowledge (history) 1 (2 points spent) +1 Int +2
Knowledge (local) 1 +1 Int +2
Knowledge (the planes) 1 (2 points spent) +1 Int +2
Listen 3 +1 Wis +4
Perform (sing) 24 (8 points) +3 Cha +21 (Skill Emphasis and Skill Focus) +48
Sense Motive 1 (2 points spent) +1 Wis +2
Speak Language 2
Spellcraft 3 +1 Int +4
Spot 3 +1 Wis +4
Survival 2 (4 points spent) +1 Wis +3
Swim 3 +0 Str +3

For the sake of simplicity, we’re giving Adagio twelve class skills – Bluff, Concentration, Gather Information, Intimidate, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (local), Listen, Perform, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Spot, and Swim – as well as Craft and Profession, though she hasn’t taken any ranks in the latter two.

In terms of Adagio’s languages spoken, the only language she uses throughout the movie is English. If we presume that she’s been on Earth for several thousand years, however, then it’s likely that she knows at least a few others. Given her Intelligence bonus and her ranks in Speak Language, she should know three languages plus English. Since, as mentioned above, she’s likely the source of the mythological sirens, I’d recommend Greek, Italian, and Latin.

Overall, Adagio – like the other sirens – makes for a very poor combatant. In this regard, she’s very similar to the Elite Beat Agents, save that she uses her musical powers to exploit others, rather than coming to their aid.

Having no martial skills worth noting, her power is entirely focused on manipulating those around her. If things were to come to blows, she would likely use the power of her voice to either beguile her attackers, or charm bystanders to do her fighting for her.

Like many villains, Adagio has achieved a great deal of power by taking multiple shortcuts (via her many specializations, corruptions, and her accursed disadvantage), something which ultimately comes back to haunt her more than once. Now, with her power broken, it’s unlikely that she and the other sirens have learned anything, instead trying to figure out how she and her companions can come back for an encore attempt at captivating the world’s attention.

My Little Candy-Colored Pony

November 28, 2014

A few months ago, I wrote a series of posts using the rules for Eclipse: The Codex Persona to flesh out characters, races, and items from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. One of them was for my original pony character, Lex Legis.

More recently, a poster over on the Paizo forums by the name of VrisKCa started offering to draw anyone’s character, free of charge. Given that paid-for commissions to draw someone’s PC are a thriving cottage industry, I was quick to leap at the generous offer, submitting Lex as my character of choice.

Much to my delight, VrisKCa picked my character as one of the first to draw out of the initial batch of submissions. Thanks to her talented work, I can now present Lex Legis, in living color:

Lex Legis - sketch by VrisKCaThis picture actually shows Lex several months after the events described in his original entry. The major difference is that he’s grafted the Horn of King Sombra onto himself, after his original horn was torn off in a grueling fight.

Doing so restored Lex’s ability to use magic (something unicorns can’t do without their horn), and awoke even greater powers in the Horn itself, allowing Lex to win the battle and save not just himself but several other ponies as well. But binding a relic that uses dark magic onto himself is not without consequences…

Penning the Umbra Witch

November 3, 2014

She could make watching paint dry seem suggestive.

I’ve spoken before about how, while I’m not the hard-core gamer I used to be, I still find the time to get some gaming in every so often. The last two weeks have been such instances, having purchased Bayonetta 2 for the Wii U. Never having played the first game, this was quite a good deal for me, as a port of the original was bundled in with the sequel.

Needless to say, I’ve been having quite a bit of fun with the game. Its combat system is shockingly deep, the storyline is the sort of insane action you’d expect from a game directed by Hideki Kamiya (of Devil May Cry fame), and the titular heroine is enjoyably easy on the eyes. Having beaten the first game, I enjoyed it so much that I even went and watched the Bayonetta anime movie (which, somewhat disappointingly, was just an adaptation of the game’s storyline).

Of course, every time I watched Bayonetta strut around on the screen, I had the same thought that any gamer geek would have: “what would she look like…if she had stats in a tabletop RPG?” Naturally, I couldn’t rest until I found the answer to this question, hence this blog post.

Below are Bayonetta’s stats for the Pathfinder RPG, using the class-less point-buy rules for character creation found in Eclipse: The Codex Persona. This represents Bayonetta at the end of the first game, before the sequel takes place. (As a warning, there are some spoilers for the events of the first game.)

Bayonetta, 16th-level Umbra Witch

Available Character Points: 408 (level 16 base) + 10 (disadvantages) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 6 (“starting traits”) + 48 (levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, and 15 feats) = 478 CP.

Bayonetta’s disadvantages are History (her birth triggering a war between the Umbra Witches and their counterparts, the Lumen Sages), Hunted (angels continually hunt Bayonetta), and Valuable (her status as the Left Eye of World).

Ability Scores (25-point buy):

Ability Scores Initial Scores (point cost) Racial bonus Level Bonuses Enchantments Total
Strength 14 (5) +2 enhancement, +1 inherent 17 (+3)
Dexterity 15 (7) +1 (8th) +2 enhancement 18 (+4)
Constitution 12 (2) +2 enhancement 14 (+2)
Intelligence 10 (0) +2 +2 enhancement 14 (+2)
Wisdom 11 (1) +1 (4th) +2 enhancement, +1 inherent 15 (+2)
Charisma 16 (10) +2 (12th and 16th) +2 enhancement 20 (+5)

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).

Given the circumstances of Bayonetta’s birth, I was going to initially tweak her racial traits. However, there simply wasn’t enough information about what it meant for her to be the Left Eye of the World (besides being a mcguffin for awakening the game’s final boss) to justify doing so.

Basic Abilities (171 CP)

  • Proficiency with all simple, martial, and exotic weapons (15 CP).
  • 1d20 Hit Die at 1st level, 15d4 Hit Dice thereafter (16 CP).
  • +16 BAB (96 CP normally; reduced via Fast Learner to 64 CP).
  • Fort +10, Ref +10, Will +5 (75 CP)
  • 1 skill point (1 CP).

Bayonetta’s basic abilities are a major hint towards how her character was constructed: namely that, despite how she’s referred to as a witch, she simply doesn’t live up to the Pathfinder (or D&D) use of that term. More specifically, she’s not a spellcaster – rather, she’s a fighter with a large number of magical powers that she uses to enhance and round out her combat abilities.

Killer Queen of Combat (76 CP)

  • Double Jump: Reflex Training/when making an Acrobatics check to jump, may make a second jump at any point during the first (6 CP).
  • 16 levels of wilder progression (converted to spell levels)/corrupted for two-thirds cost, no powers gained/specialized for one-half cost, does not replenish naturally (16 CP).
  • Rite of Chi with +16 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/replenishes a number of spell levels equal to her Charisma bonus for every two consecutive attacks successfully made, or for every two consecutive attacks from enemies that fail to hit (15 CP).
  • Fast Learner/specialized for double effect, only to pay for BAB costs (6 CP).
  • Fortune/evasion and impervious (12 CP).
  • Defender (dodge bonus)/specialized for double effect, does not apply if armor is worn (6 CP).
  • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses/specialized for one-half cost, only for attack rolls (9 CP).
  • Luck with +8 Bonus Uses/specialized for one-half cost, only for saving throws (9 CP).
  • Augment Attack/+1 bonus to unarmed strikes (3 CP).

Bayonetta’s wilder progression grants her 123 spell levels. Her method of regaining her magic comes from either dodging her opponent’s blows or landing her own on them. As such, it’s usually easier to roll all of the dice for how much her Rite of Chi can restore in a day using this method (a massive 34d6 spell levels; averaging 119) and parse them out as per her specialization, above.

Harsh Mistress (42 CP)

  • Torture Attacks: Augment Attack +10d6/specialized for double effect, must spend 1 spell level for each die of damage inflicted (may choose to spend less than the full amount) (30 CP).
  • Taunt: Reflex Training (one additional attack after a successful Bluff to feint in combat) (6 CP).
  • Umbran Climax: Trick (when performing a successful coup de grace, the opponent’s body is dragged down to Hell) (6 CP).

I’ve slightly repurposed Bayonetta’s taunt here, since the Augment Attack used for her torture attacks functions as per the sneak attack rules – namely, that the opponent needs to be flanked or to be denied their Dexterity bonus for it to work.

Insofar as the nature of her torture attacks and umbran climax goes, these mechanics might seem insufficient, since these moves, respectively, temporarily create material devices out of nothing, and summon gigantic demons from Hell to finish off an enemy.

What’s more important, however, is to look at the effects of these abilities. One is simply an attack that deals more damage than normal. The other is a finishing move used on opponents that have already been defeated. In that sense, the mechanics of what these abilities do is surprisingly easy to replicate.

Wicked Weave (27 CP)

  • Improved Bonus Attack (may make an additional attack when making a melee full attack action against a single target)/specialized for one-half cost, must pay 2 spell levels to use (6 CP).
  • Enhanced Strike (Hammer)/corrupted for increased effect, must pay 2 spell levels each time used; used in conjunction with Improved Bonus Attack (6 CP).
  • Opportunist, may make a trip attempt when landing an Improved Bonus Attack (6 CP).
  • Opportunist, may make a knockback attempt when landing an Improved Bonus Attack (6 CP).
  • Evasive (trip) and Evasive (knockback), both specialized for one-half cost/only in conjunction with Opportunist (3 CP).

Wicked Weave is where, at the end of an offensive combination, Bayonetta opens a quick portal to Hell and a massive fist, or foot, comes through to strike an enemy. When using this, Bayonetta can use one form of Opportunist with that last blow, but not both. A Wicked Fist usually knocks an opponent back (a “knockback” attack is like a bull rush, but you do not move with the opponent), while a Wicked Kick usually knocks them prone.

The Enhanced Strike (Hammer) ability is used to represent the increased damage from a Wicked Weave strike. Normally, this can be used once per minute without a spell level cost, and is a full attack action by itself – here, we’re saying that it costs 2 spell levels regardless of how often it’s used, in exchange for being able to use it in conjunction with other attacks in a full attack action. That’s a fairly cheap price to pay for such a large benefit; only the fact that it’s specific method of use (via Improved Bonus Attack) still keeps it limited to once per round makes these even slightly acceptable, if still overpowered.

Witch Time (18 CP)

  • Channeling (3 + Cha bonus times per day), specialized for double effect/only as a prerequisite for Conversion; may be used as an immediate action/corrupted for two-thirds cost, may only be used when an enemy’s attack roll is a natural 1, or misses by 20 or more (or when Bayonetta rolls a natural 20 on a saving throw, or exceeds the save DC by 20 or more) (6 CP).
  • Conversion/level 6 spell (witch time – a L6 version of grand haste that lasts only for 1 round, affects only the caster, and requires the aid of an extraplanar patron). (12 CP).

The grand haste spell can be found in The Practical Enchanter; it essentially functions as per the 3.0 haste spell.

Witch Time is one of a few abilities that are technically unlimited-use in the context of the game, but which have a limit placed on them here.

Beautiful Mind, Incredible Body (45 CP)

  • Advanced Augmented Bonus, add Charisma bonus to skill points per level (18 CP).
  • Advanced Augmented Bonus, add Charisma bonus to hit points per level (18 CP).
  • Upgrade human Fast Learner to specialized in skills/2 skill points per level (3 CP).
  • Adept/Bluff, Martial Arts (witch-fu), Perception, and Perform (dance) (6 CP).

What Bayonetta lacks in formal training, she makes up for in sheer force of presence!

Such a Talented Girl (16 CP)

  • Occult Sense, can see Purgatory and the mortal world from either realm/corrupted for two-thirds cost, the other realm’s inhabitants look blurry and transparent, gaining partial concealment (4 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (purgatory shift L3; allows Bayonetta and up to one other willing individual to move between Purgatory and the mortal realm)/specialized for increased effect, costs 6 spell levels to use; may be used multiple times per day, so long as the spell level cost is paid (6 CP).
  • Advanced Inherent Spell (resilient sphere)/specialized for increased effect, costs 8 spell levels to use; may be used multiple times per day, so long as the spell level cost is paid (6 CP).

The cosmology of Bayonetta has only four planes of existence: the mortal world, Hell, Heaven, and Purgatory – the latter of which stands in the middle of the other three. Purgatory functions much like the Ethereal Plane, save for the fact that material objects in the mortal world can be equally affected in either realm, though beings with souls are invisible. Force effects function on both planes simultaneously. Oddly, ghost touch weapons used in the mortal world can affect beings in Purgatory, though the reverse doesn’t seem to be true.

Myriad Secrets of the Lesser Darkness (57 CP)

  • Innate Enchantment (24 CP – 23,000 GP; spell level 0 (1/2) or 1 x caster level 1 x 2,000 gp x 0.7 personal-only modifier (where appropriate))
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Str (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)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Wis (1,400 gp)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Cha (1,400 gp)
    • Wardrobe change (L0, alter the wearer’s clothing at will) (1,000 gp)
    • Void sheath (L0, hide weapons in a personal dimensional pocket) (700 gp)
    • Jump (1,400 gp)
    • Personal haste (2,000 gp)
    • Endure elements (1,400 gp)
    • Shield (2,000 gp)
    • Immortal vigor (1,400 gp)
    • Powerlift (L1, user is considered two size categories larger for calculating carrying capacity only) (1,400 gp)
    • The feather touch (L1, reduces the weight and mass of objects that the user touches, effectively multiplying his carrying capacity by five. However, since the effect persists for a few moments after the user releases an object it does not increase the amount of damage the user can inflict with weapons or by throwing things; it simply makes it more dramatic) (1,400 gp)
    • Ignore leverage (L1, allows the user to ignore minor mechanical principles, allowing him or her to lift unbalanced objects without toppling over or breaking them, as well as to catch people who are falling without injuring them and similar stunts) (1,400 gp)
  • Immunity to encumbrance restrictions (uncommon/minor/major) (6 CP).
  • Immunity to aging (uncommon/minor/major) (6 CP). Umbra Witches can expect to live for well over a millenium.
  • Immunity to stacking limits when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (common/minor/trivial); covers effects of up to level 1 (2 CP).
  • Immunity to dispelling and antimagic (common/major/legendary)/specialized for one half cost, only for innate enchantments (18 CP).
  • Immunity to the normal XP cost of Innate Enchantments (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).

Obviously, taking this many Innate Enchantments, and Immunities, is seriously pushing the bounds of what would fly in most games. On the other hand, this is a game where you end up punching God in the face by the end of it, so it’s not totally inappropriate.

The spells powerlift, the feather touch, and ignore leverage are taken from The Strongman template. Bayonetta’s immunity to encumbrance restrictions allows her to be treated as three size categories larger for the purposes of lifting and carrying; this stacks with powerlift allowing her to be treated as two size categories larger for the same effect. Being a medium creature, this would treat her as one size category larger than the standard d20 System goes; however, we can easily extend the pattern for how much this would increase her carrying capacity by – that being a x32 multipler. This, in turn, stacks with the x5 multiplier from the feather touch, granting her an astonishing x160 multiplier!

The end result of this is that, with a Strength of 17, Bayonetta can carry just over twenty tons of weight! Given that we see her tossing around tanker trucks and huge sections of buildings over the course of the game, this seems about right.

Secrets of the Deeper Darkness (18 CP)

  • Siddhisyoga with the Efficient modifier (12 CP; 251,655 gp value)
    • Full plate +5 (39,975 gp)
    • Witchwalk (9,555 gp)
    • Ring of protection +5 (75,000 gp)
    • Amulet of natural armor +5 (75,000 gp)
    • Cloak of resistance +5 (37,500 gp)
    • Bottle of air (10,875)
    • Ring of sustenance (3,750 gp)
  • Immunity to being unable to use weapons with the martial arts skill (very common/minor/major)/specialized for one-half cost, only with weapons of infernal origin (6 CP).

The witchwalk “magic item” generated here functions as so: an unlimited-use use-activated reverse gravity spell, this essentially allows the user to reorient which way is “down” once per round as an immediate action. The cost is spell level (7) x caster level (13) x 2,000 gp x 0.7 (personal-only modifier) = 127,400 gp. However, witchwalking can only be done under the light of the full moon. Since this only happens for three consecutive days a month, only at night, when outside, with a clear view of the sky, that’s such a huge restriction that it calls for a 0.05 cost multiplier, reducing it to a mere 6,370 gp. The total above reflects the 1.5 cost multiplier for taking it with Efficient Siddhisyoga.

As a 16th-level character, Bayonetta has PC-level gear worth 315,000 gp. Most of that has been spent on the above abilities. She’s also spent a total of 55,000 gp on a manual of gainful exercise +1 and a tome of clear thought +1, granting her a +1 inherent bonus to her Strength and Intelligence scores. That leaves her with just under 10,000 gp for miscellaneous expenses.

Underworld Connections (8 CP)

  • Major Privilege (wealthy)/specialized for double effect, only for magic weapons (6 CP).
  • Contacts/Rodin the demon-smith and Enzo the information-broker (2 CP).

Bayonetta’s major privilege explains how Rodin is willing to make her so many powerful, expensive weapons without charging for them. Taking him as a contact, by contrast, represents that she can purchase other materials from him for the normal fee.

Give Mummy Some Sugar (6 CP)

  • Create Artifact/specialized and corrupted for triple effect, may only be used to create single-use, use-activated items (e.g. potions) of up to 9th level (6 CP).

This is how, in the game, Bayonetta can concoct her own minor magic items, albeit usually in the form of lollipops. She knows a number of specific recipes, which she presumably gained from Rodin (as he sells the same materials) for unspecified “favors.” Of course, finding materials such as unicorn horns or mandragora roots with which to make these magical candies is something else again.

Do It Like Animals (12 CP)

  • Shapeshift with +4 Bonus Uses (12 CP).

This allows for nine uses per day. Typically, Bayonetta will turn into a cheetah or a large raven.

A Girl’s Gotta Have a Few Secrets (6 CP)

  • Action Hero/Stunts (6 CP).

This is a catch-all for any other special power Bayonetta may need to suddenly use. While Bayonetta has certainly used quite a few action points, she undoubtedly has many more left in reserve. I’d recommend somewhere around two dozen remaining (at her current level, her maximum action point pool is forty-two).

Catch a Glimpse (0 CP)

  • Eldritch/Bayonetta’s hair is both for her clothing, and as a conduit for her magic. When using her Wicked Weave ability, her clothing becomes skimpy and revealing; when using an Umbran Climax, she’s left completely naked. These effects happen regardless of her wardrobe change Innate Enchantment (0 CP).

Of course, this ability had to be here.

Deals with the Devil (-24 CP)

  • Pacts/Exclusion (-6 CP).
  • Pacts/Guardianship (-6 CP).
  • Pact/Souls (-6 CP).
  • Pact/Spirit (-6 CP).

Pacts are usually used to pay for Witchcraft abilities; this is a variant where they’re instead used to grant an additional 6 CP each. As noted in the game, all Umbra Witches go to Hell when they die; the price for their infernal powers (the Spirit Pact). Similarly, Bayonetta makes numerous references to her demonic “partners” wanting to devour angels; hence the Souls Pact. The Exclusion Pact is easily justified, as Bayonetta never tries to use powers or materials from any other source than Hell. Likewise, the Guardianship Pact is in reference to the Left Eye of the World – herself. As such, it’s fairly easily fulfilled.

Combat Gear

Bayonetta has the following magic weapons crafted for her by Rodin the demon-smith:

  • Scarborough Fair: a set of 4 +2 ghost touch impact Mac Ingram M10 (.45 machine pistols) of greater endless ammunition (as per endless ammunition, but works on firearms).
  • Onyx Roses: a set of 4 +3 ghost touch outsider (good) bane Beretta M3P (12-gauge shotguns) of greater endless ammunition.
  • Shuraba: a +1 keen ghost touch soul-drinking katana (soul-drinking functions as per vorpal, but only works on living creatures, regardless of whether they have a head or not).
  • Kulshedra: +5 deadly ghost touch whip.
  • Durga: 2 +3 flaming shocking ghost touch tekko-kagi of impact.

If using the Modern d20 rules for how guns work, Bayonetta should be considered to have all of the requisite feats to use her guns’ alternate firing methods (e.g. burst fire, double-tap, etc.), as she’s taken proficiency with all simple, martial, and exotic weapons.

Bayonetta is able to load and fire a pair of guns – either Scarborough Fair or Onyx Roses – on her feet, and can fire them as easily as guns held in her hands. As she doesn’t have Two-Weapon Fighting, these are simply instances of her using these as part of her standard attacks, since she can mix and match what weapons she uses during a full attack action.

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 20 (1d20, 1st level) + 12 (2d6 immortal vigor, 1st level) + 37 (15d4) + 36 (Con. bonus) + 90 (Cha. bonus) = 195 hp.
  • Speed: 30 ft. (normal) + 30 ft. (personal haste) = 60 ft.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +10 (base) + 2 (Con. bonus) + 5 (cloak of resistance) = +17.
    • Reflex: +10 (base) + 4 (Dex. bonus) + 5 (cloak of resistance) = +19.
    • Will: +5 (base) + 2 (Wis. bonus) + 5 (cloak of resistance) = +12.
  • AC: 10 (base) + 14 (+5 full plate) + 4 (shield) + 4 (Dex bonus) + 6 (Defender; dodge bonus) + 5 (amulet of natural armor) + 5 (deflection; ring of protection) + 1 (martial arts) = 49, touch 26, flat-footed 39.
  • Attacks: +16 (BAB) + 3 or 4 (Str. or Dex. bonus) +1 (martial art) + 1 (unarmed strike only) + X (weapon enhancement bonus).
    • Unarmed Strike: +21/+21/+16/+11/+6 (1d4+5)
    • Scarborough Fair: +23/+23/+18/+13/+8 (2d10+2)
    • Onyx Roses: +24/+24/+19/+14/+9 (2d10+3)
    • Onyx Roses (vs good outsiders): +26/+26/+21/+16/+11 (2d10+5 plus 2d6)
    • Shuraba: +21/+21/+16/+11/+6 (1d12+4/15-20)
    • Kulshedra: +25/+25/+20/+15/+10 (1d6+8)
    • Durga: +23/+23/+18/+13/+8 (1d8+6 plus 1d6 fire plus 1d6 electricity)
  • Skills: 32 (human bonus; Fast Learner) + 32 (Int. bonus) + 80 (Cha. bonus) + 1 (1 CP) = 145 skill points.
Skills Ranks Ability Bonus Class Bonus Misc. Bonus Total
Acrobatics 16 +4 Dex +3 +10 jump +23 (+33 to jump)
Bluff 16 (8 skill points) +5 Cha +3 +24
Climb 6 +3 Str +9
Diplomacy 6 +5 Cha +11
Escape Artist 5 +4 Dex +9
Fly 5 +4 Dex +9
Intimidate 6 +5 Cha +3 +14
Knowledge (arcana) 6 +2 Int +3 +11
Knowledge (geography) 6 +2 Int +3 +11
Knowledge (history) 6 +2 Int +3 +11
Knowledge (local) 6 +2 Int +3 +11
Knowledge (planes) 6 +2 Int +3 +11
Knowledge (religion) 6 +2 Int +3 +11
Martial Arts (witch-fu) 16 (8 skill points) +4 Dex +3 +23
Linguistics 4 +2 +6
Perception 16 (8 skill points) +2 Wis +3 +21
Perform (dance) 16 (8 skill points) +5 Cha +3 +2 synergy +26
Sense Motive 6 +2 Wis +8
Spellcraft 6 +2 Int +8
Stealth 6 +4 Dex +10
Survival 5 +2 Wis +7
Swim 6 +3 Str +9

Bayonetta’s class skills are the twelve class skills on the above chart that have the +3 class bonus, as well as Craft and Profession (which she’s taken no ranks in).

Bayonetta is able to speak seven languages, having one for free, two for her Intelligence bonus, and four from her ranks in Linguistics. These are English and Japanese (an in-joke referring to the game’s two language settings), Spanish and Italian (as Bayonetta comes from the European city of Vigrid in the late 15th century; the city’s actual location is never specified, but given its coastal nature and Mediterranean-inspired style, both of these languages seemed appropriate for what language she likely grew up speaking – particularly since multilingualism isn’t particularly uncommon in Europe), and Abyssal, Celestial, and Infernal (these cover the bases for her being able to converse with angels and demons, who are quite clearly speaking their own language, so easily).

Witch-fu (Str)

The actual name of this martial art is Moonlight Weave, but with the destruction of its primary practitioners, the Umbra Witches, its proper name has been lost; those few who know of this fighting style simply refer to it as “witch-fu.” This well-rounded martial art focuses on lithe, sensuous movements that allow the user to slide around incoming attacks and strike from unexpected angles for precise, powerful blows.

  • Requires: Weapon Focus (unarmed strike) or equivalent point-buy.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 3, Defenses 3, Power 2, Strike, Synergy (Perform (dance))
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, Quick Draw, Whirlwind Attack
  • Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Light Foot, Resist Pain, Vanishing
  • Known: Attack 1, Defenses 1, Power 2, Strike, Synergy (Perform (dance)), Combat Reflexes, Mind Like Moon, Whirlwind Attack, Inner Strength, Light Foot, Vanishing

As mentioned previously, Bayonetta is essentially a fighter with a large bag of tricks at her disposal. While her attack bonus isn’t quite as high as you’d expect for a dedicated fighter of her level, she is still capable of delivering a rapid series of punishing hits (all the moreso with her wicked weaves, torture attacks, and judicious use of witch time). Likewise, her high speed and use of her animal forms give her a high degree of mobility, and she’ll certainly have some magic lollipops (and an action point or two) tucked away for when things become difficult.

Of course, thanks to the relentless hordes of angels after her,  Bayonetta rarely lacks for an opportunity to put her skills to good use against opponents both mundane and celestial. But as mentioned, this is Bayonetta at the end of the first game; as she’s about to find out, it isn’t just the celestial powers that have a bone to pick with her…

Crossing Between the Shores

October 20, 2014

I’ve spoken before about my love for anime. Likewise, I’ve also mentioned that I got a Netflix account a while back. Thus, it was surprising for me when I realized recently that I’d watched very little anime on said account – just one, to be specific.

Of course, watching that series (which was Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) sort of soured me on the idea of turning to Netflix for anime. This wasn’t because it was a bad show – quite the contrary, I enjoyed it a lot – but because it only had fifty-two of the show’s sixty-five episodes, leaving me hanging just as the plot was moving towards the climax.

I apparently wrote off Netflix’s anime selection after that, since it never occurred to me to look for any other series on there. That changed a few months ago, when I was looking for a new series to watch and stumbled onto Kill La Kill. On a lark, I decided to give it a whirl, and from there the floodgates were open. I’ve since watched a half-dozen anime, and have several more queued up.

Even better, watching so many new series has been very inspirational insofar as coming up with new ideas for what to blog about!


Hiyori Iki

She later became the poster child for “just say no to catnip.”

Noragami (“Stray God”) is a manga that was adapted into a very short anime (a dozen episodes, with two additional episodes that haven’t had a domestic release yet). An urban fantasy, it deals with a schoolgirl named Hiyori who awakens to the fact that kami (gods) are real after she accidentally falls in with a perpetually down-on-his-luck god named Yato, getting swept up in his adventures.

More specifically, this happens when Hiyori – who in d20 terms is an ordinary 1st-level human (though the series hints that there’s something special about her, since she can initially see Yato…something a normal human shouldn’t be able to do) – gets into an accident, weakening her soul’s connection to her body, and allowing her unfettered spirit to join Yato on his adventures.

It’s this particular condition – which the show refers to as being “half-phantom” (though I’m choosing to use the native term “ayakashi”) – that we’re going to examine within the context of Eclipse: The Codex Persona.

Half-Ayakashi Template (22 CP/+0 ECL)

Between the Near and Far Shores (21 CP)

  • Immunity to detection (very common/major/great), specialized for one-half cost/only applies to humanoids, giants, and monstrous humanoids, user may still draw attention to themselves via direct interaction with someone (15 CP).
  • Cloaking (6 CP). A half-ayakashi’s physical body will detect as normal to divinations that determine the presence/state of a soul.

In the world of Noragami, the living world is called the Near Shore, whereas the afterlife is called the Far Shore. As a living human whose soul regularly leaves her body, Hiyori is said to be caught between the two.

That denizens of the Far Shore cannot be detected by those of the Near Shore is a fairly major element in the series. This is not due to them being incorporeal, however; rather, it’s described as being akin to how you simply don’t notice people passing you on the street, but to a much stronger degree. In the case of this template’s Immunity, the level of “direct interaction” required is rather high, usually to the point of overt physical contact – Hiyori once stood at the front of her class, yelling her head off while outside of her body, and no one noticed her.

The issue with her having Cloaking regarding the state of her physical body is my own interpretation of how blithely Hiyori leaves it behind. While Japan may be one of the safest countries in the world where mundane threats are concerned, it’s notable that none of the supernatural evils in the show ever go after her vulnerable, comatose body when she’s vacated it.

Astral Existence (12 CP)

  • Returning (6 CP). A half-ayakashi will not die so long as their lifeline remains intact.
  • Innate Enchantment/spell level 1 x caster level 1 x 2,000 gp x 0.7 personal-only modifier (5,000 gp; 6 CP).
    • Hammer (1,400 gp).
    • Jump (1,400 gp).
    • +10 enhancement bonus to Balance (1,400 gp).
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity (1,400 gp).

When their soul is out of their body, a half-ayakashi will have a cord about five feet-long or so projecting from their back, after which it fades away (in Hiyori’s case, it’s connected to her butt, giving her a cat-tail). This is their lifeline, and much like the astral projection spell, if it’s ever cut, then they lose their link to their body, perishing. Of course, what Noragami never mentions is the idea that so long as this cord survives, a half-ayakashi will not die, regardless of what happens to their spirit-body. Given that that’s the trade-off for having such a major weak-point, I’ve elected to add that benefit back in here.

Slightly more odd is that Hiyori’s physical abilities are enhanced when she’s in her spirit-form, to the point where she can leap between buildings and fight like a mixed-martial arts champion. Perhaps it’s due to not having to lug a fleshy body around?

See the Gods Among Us (12 CP)

  • Occult Sense/may see and converse with “spirits” – usually elementals, fey, outsiders, and incorporeal undead – regardless of any supernatural disguises or glamours that they possess. (6 CP).
  • Improved Occult Sense/may detect creatures by smell up to several hundred feet away, specialized for one-half cost/only works with regard to spirit creatures (6 CP).

In the anime, Hiyori only seems to be able to detect the scent of gods themselves; however, there’s no reason not to make the ability slightly more expansive here, since that provides for greater overall use.

All of these abilities add up to 45 CP. However, the template is specialized for one-half cost/all of the above powers are only active when the character leaves their body, which happens involuntarily at random times (often due to surprise or stress), leaving their body comatose and defenseless (though they can return to their body, regardless of distance, as a standard action), and while outside of their body the character immediately dies if their lifeline is severed. This lowers the cost to 22 CP.

Not coincidentally, applying this template to a human (using the 3.5 rules, rather than Pathfinder) brings them exactly to 31 CP, the limit for a +0 ECL race.

Theurgy of the Eternal Darkness

October 19, 2014

The 2002 GameCube game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is one of those games that is unequivocally art. Its story is an epic tale of Lovecraftian horror, its “insanity effects” are an innovation that remains unparalleled to this day, and its magic system is remarkable to the degree to which it’s defined within the context of the narrative.

It’s this last point that we’re going to look at more deeply here, using the rules from Eclipse: The Codex Persona.

Magic of the Ancients

In Eternal Darkness, all magic derives from the power of the Ancients, three primordial beings that were long ago banished from the universe. Each of these three godlike aliens has mastery over a different aspect of reality – Chattur’gha havng dominion over physical matter, Xel’lotath representing the twisting of the mind, and Ulyaoth commanding the magic of the planes. Notwithstanding power drawn from another Ancient, there are no other forms of magic to be found within the universe of Eternal Darkness.

The magic of each Ancient can be called upon to affect things within their area of control. In doing so, one invokes their name, identifies what it wants to be done, and the thing it’s to be done to; in other words, the spellcaster uses a name-verb-noun combination. So casting a spell to protect yourself from physical damage would be “Chattur’gha Bankorok (“protect”) Santak (“self”).”

In essence, this is a customized variant of the theurgy magic found in Eclipse.

Given that this magic is often used throughout the game to oppose them, one has to wonder why the Ancients let their power be used so freely. Perhaps they’re unable to regulate its use, their power “bleeding” out of them due to wounds suffered when they were banished – indeed, this power might be metaphysical “bloodstains” that were left behind when they were cast out.

Alternatively, the Ancients might allow the use of their power because each casting brings them a little closer to returning to the corporeal universe. In that case, even those who use their magic for just ends bring Creation a little closer to the Eternal Darkness.

The list of names (or rather, “essences,” since they describe the aspect of the noun that’s being targeted), verbs, and nouns available in the universe of Eternal Darkness are as follows:


Chattur’gha (physical)

Xel’lotath (mental)

Ulyaoth (magical)


Bankorok (protect)

Tier (summon)

Narokath (absorb)

Nethlek (dispel)

Antorbok (project)


Magormor (item)

Redgormor (area)

Aretak (creature)

Santak (self)

In game terms, the use of an essence aspect to the usual noun-verb nature of theurgy means that you need to take skill ranks in each essence that you want to be able to use, as well as the theurgical nouns and verbs. Likewise, when making a skill check to use this type of theurgy, you add in your skill ranks in the essence used to those of the worst verb skill involved and worst noun skill involved.

Note that while you can still mix multiple nouns and verbs – going beyond the relatively simple level of theurgy found in the game – you can only ever use one essence skill at a time when casting a spell. The opposed nature of the Ancients means that you can never mix their powers.

Moreover, the nature of the Ancients is inimical to not only mortal life, but the entire structure of the cosmos. As a consequence of this, using their power is more difficult than that of the benign spellcasting in other universes – the DC for successfully casting a spell using this form of theurgy is 7 x (spell level +1).

The magic of the Ancients is unsubtle in its application. While it requires no verbal, somatic, or material components, a successful casting causes a glowing glyph of each word to appear in a circle around the caster’s feet (the color of each rune depending on the name used in the casting – red for Chattur’gha, green for Xel’lotath, and blue for Ulyaoth), and a voice speaks aloud each glyph as it appears.

When casting spells of 4th level or above, an instance of Pargon (see below) will appear and be spoken for each spell level above 3rd.

These visual and audial effects manifest only when the spell is cast, whether successfully or not, and vanish once the caster’s turn has ended. They can never be suppressed – doing so causes the spell to automatically fail.


The above rules apply to spells of 3rd level or below cast using this form of Theurgy. Beyond that level, the universe actively resists allowing more of the Ancients’ power to enter. Doing so requires having the strength to force more power through.

In game terms, any theurgic spell that would be 4th level or higher requires having ranks in the Pargon (“power”) theurgic skill. Pargon is not an essence, verb, or noun – rather, it simply denotes the level of intensity that one can bring to bear when utilizing the power of the Ancients; spells above 3rd level require having ranks in Pargon equal to (spell level +1) x 2. No additional check is required, and ranks in Pargon are not added to the theurgy skill check made when casting a spell.

Even with ranks in Pargon, however, this form of theurgy cannot cast spells above 7th level. Spells of that much power require special measures in order to bring forth the requisite energy – typically this involves great monuments being constructed, extremely rare planetary conjunctions, and/or large-scale human sacrifices. (Of course, the caster must still have the requisite ranks in Pargon for such a high-level spell as well.)


The fourth great Ancient, Mantorok is the one that banished the other three beyond the bounds of the universe. Dominant over all, it has since been trapped between dimensions, its flesh impaled by massive spikes enchanted with its own magic. Slowly dying – or perhaps already dead, but still active – Mantorok’s power nevertheless remains considerably greater than that of the other Ancients, for Mantorok represents all aspects of existence, rather than merely a part of it.

Casting a spell using Mantorok’s essence (which results in purple glyphs) skill allows for effects that are physical, mental, or magical in nature, as the caster chooses. However, each such spell requires double the number of spell levels that would normally be used; Mantorok’s overwhelming hunger requires a great deal of energy to fuel.


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