D&D Did You Know’s: Friendly Fire in Third Edition

September 8, 2019

The give-and-take between the granularity of simulationism and the ease of playability is a familiar conundrum to any role-playing game fan. The temptation to have the game rules function at greater levels of precision is quite often directly opposed by the desire for the game to be easy to learn and quick to adjudicate. Every edition of Dungeons & Dragons has handled this balance differently; indeed, it’s not inaccurate to say that how they handle it is the major point of differentiation between each edition.

Third Edition is typically regarded as when the pendulum moved closer to playability, reducing the simulationism accordingly. Issues ranging from checking morale for monsters and NPCs during a fight to fireballs melting gold coins were no longer concerns. But contrary to popular belief, there were a number of simulationist concerns that were still addressed under the Third Edition rules. Case in point are the rules for friendly fire.

Consider the following, which was a standard part of the rules for cover in D&D 3.0 (and so found its way into the 3.0 SRD) as per page 133 of the PHB:

Striking the Cover Instead of a Missed Target: If it ever becomes important to know whether the cover was actually struck by an incoming attack that misses the intended target, the DM should determine if the attack roll would have hit the protected target without the cover. If the attack roll falls within a range low enough to miss the target with cover but high enough to strike the target if there had been no cover, the object used for cover was struck. This can be particularly important to know in cases where a character uses another creature as cover. In such a case, if the cover is struck and the attack roll exceeds the AC of the covering creature, the covering creature takes the damage intended for the target.

If the covering creature has a Dexterity bonus to AC or a dodge bonus, and this bonus keeps the covering creature from being hit, then the original target is hit instead. The covering creature has dodged out of the way and didn’t provide cover after all. A covering creature can choose not to apply his Dexterity bonus to AC and/or his dodge bonus, if his intent is to try to take the damage in order to keep the covered character from being hit.

Interestingly, this rule actually survived into 3.5. However, it was downgraded to being a “variant rule” (and so was never added to the 3.5 SRD) and moved over the DMG (p. 24).

What’s less well-known today is that there was a more general rule for hitting unintended targets as well. Rather than simply being for people between you and your target, this covered missed ranged attacks in general, and required quite a bit more adjudication to resolve, enough so that the text made a warning in that regard. Listed as a variant rule even back in 3.0 (and thus not part of the 3.0 SRD), it was absent entirely from the 3.5 rules. Nevertheless, if you want to find rules for missed ranged attacks potentially hitting someone else under the d20 System game engine, the following comes from pages 65-66 of the 3.0 DMG:

Variant: Firing into a Crowd

Normally, if you fire a ranged weapon at a foe engaged in combat with someone you don’t want to hit, you suffer a -4 attack penalty (see the Player’s Handbook, page 124). Sometimes, however, a player wants to know exactly where an arrow went if she missed her target. For groups that want to simulate reality in a very detailed way, the following guidelines answer that question. Be warned, however, this is an example of how D&D rules, in the interest of simulating reality, can become fairly complex—there’s a lot of work here for very little payoff.

The attacker makes the attack roll normally. If it’s a miss, check to see whether the thrown weapon or projectile at least connects. If the attack roll would have been good enough for a ranged touch attack, then the thrown weapon or projectile has flown true but failed to damage the target. If the roll isn’t good enough for a ranged touch hit, then the thrown weapon or projectile is errant.

Now determine the path of the errant thrown weapon or projectile. For direct fire shots, an errant thrown weapon or projectile is most likely to veer to the right or the left. For indirect fire, a projectile is most likely to go too far or fall short of its target. The range out to which a projectile weapon or a thrown weapon makes a direct fire attack is summarized on Table 3-3, below. If the weapon is fired at a target farther away than the listed distance, then the attack is indirect fire.

TABLE 3-3: DIRECT FIRE RANGE

Weapon Direct Fire Range
Shortbow Up to 60 ft.
Longbow Up to 100 ft.
Short composite bow Up to 80 ft.
Long composite bow Up to 120 ft.
Hand crossbow Up to 120 ft.
Light crossbow Up to 200 ft.
Heavy crossbow Up to 250 ft.
Sling Up to 50 ft.
Any thrown weapon Up to 20 ft.

TABLE 3-4: DIRECT FIRE PATH

1d20 Fire Path
1-8 Left
9-16 Right
17-19 Long
20 Short

TABLE 3-5: DIRECT FIRE DEVIATION

1d20 Deviation
1-12 One-tenth of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)
13-17 One-fifth of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)
18-19 One-third of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)
20 Half of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)

Once the direction and the amount of deviation is determined, trace a path starting at the firer. If characters are in the path, starting with the character nearest the firer, determine if the thrown weapon or projectile has a chance to attack each character. A ranged touch attack roll is made for the thrown weapon or projectile with no modifications for the skill of the firer but using magical adjustments and modifications for cover. If the roll is a hit, then apply the same attack result against the target’s full AC (not as a touch attack). If that’s successful, roll damage. If it’s not, the thrown weapon or projectile stops.

If the touch attack was unsuccessful, the thrown weapon or projectile keeps traveling along its path, with each new target in that path using the same procedure. No modification is made for range, but direct fire thrown weapons or projectiles effectively travel no farther than the distances given above, at which time the thrown weapon or projectile drops to the ground.

TABLE 3-6: INDIRECT FIRE TARGET AREA

1d20 Target Area
1-4 Left
5-8 Right
9-14 Long
15-20 Short

TABLE 3-7: INDIRECT FIRE DEVIATION

1d20 Deviation
1-12 One-tenth of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)
13-17 One-fifth of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)
18-19 One-third of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)
20 Half of the distance between attacker and target (round to nearest square)

Once the direction and the amount of deviation is determined, determine if there is a character in the given square. If so, make an attack roll for the ranged weapon with no modifications from the skill of the firer but using magical adjustments and modifications for cover. If this is successful, roll damage. If it’s not, the projectile goes no farther.

While it’s not hard to see why this particular rule was always an outlier, and was dropped as the game went to 3.5, it’s still interesting to consider how this would change combat. Certainly, wizards and sorcerers would (hopefully!) be a tad more careful about firing their disintegrate spells when they know there’s a chance they could hit their allies! That’s slightly hyperbolic, of course (the table regarding range for direct fire weapons doesn’t have a listing for spells…though it wouldn’t be hard to figure that out), but it underscores how rules like these can make an otherwise-familiar game feel very different.

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Invasion of the Humans

August 18, 2019

I recently had the opportunity to pick up a number of older RPG products for a song. Among them was a copy of Goodman Games’ JG2 Citadel of Fire, a D&D 3.5 update of the original module from Judges Guild. Not so much a direct update as a revision and expansion, the book added quite a bit of new material to the original adventure.

One of the most striking parts of the new material was the appendix regarding the people of the setting. Counting variants and half-breeds, the book introduced no less than sixteen new races! But the kicker was that all of them were some sort of variations on a theme for humans, ranging from different ethnicities to entirely new sub-species.

I found this notable because it occupies a design space that I’ve been very aware of recently, which is that humans – compared to other humanoids such as elves, dwarves, etc. – are underpowered. While the traditional bonus feat and extra skill point at each level are nice, the overall curve is slanted decidedly against them. Moreover, there are no longer any class restrictions or level limits to provide disincentives to playing any of those other races.

This is fairly easy to see within the context of Eclipse: The Codex Persona. Humans are only a 9-point race, which is rather low when compared to their counterparts. Hence why we quite often see revised humans popping up every so often. Given that, it seemed like it might be worthwhile to translate the new races in JG2 into Eclipse terms and see how they compare.

Since the original names are the Product Identity of Judges Guild, I’m going to make some minor alterations to them just to be on the safe side. Note also that I’m also listing their favored classes. That doesn’t really mean much if you’re using Eclipse, which doesn’t have classes, but if you’re using character classes then corrupt the CP cost for each race down to two-thirds of the listed total.

High Avilionan (31 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Attribute Shift/+2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom (6 CP).
  • Attribute Shift/+2 Charisma, -2 Constitution (6 CP).
  • Profession (sailor), Rope Use, Sail, Spellcraft, and Swim are class skills (0 CP).
  • +2 bonus to Rope Use and Spellcraft (4 CP).
  • +4 bonus to Swim (4 CP).
  • Damage reduction 2, specialized for one-half cost/only versus energy attacks, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only versus cold (1 CP).
  • Bonus language: Avilionan (1 CP).
  • Favored Class: Expert (sailor), Bard, or Wizard.

This listing also makes clear that we’re keeping the class skills for each race. That doesn’t incur a CP cost because every character has a dozen or more skills that are “relevant” (as Eclipse terms it) for them anyway. “Sail” isn’t a typical skill, of course, and its functionality can probably be represented by Profession (sailor) just fine, but I’ve left the listing here just in case.

This write-up also gives them cold resistance 2, compared to the original’s cold resistance 1, but I doubt anyone will object to that.

High Avilionan, Aquatic (52 CP/+1 ECL)

  • As per standard high avilionans (31 CP).
  • -2 Constitution (-6 CP).
  • Celerity with one instance of Improved and Additional: 30-foot swim speed (21 CP).
  • Adaptation/underwater (6 CP).

This actually changes the original write-up by a considerable amount. To be closer to the standard listing, dump the Celerity listing and instead add another +6 to the Swim bonus for 6 CP. That will reduce the total cost of the race to 37 CP.

Common Avilionan (10 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Rope Use, Profession (sailor), Spellcraft, and Swim are class skills (0 CP).
  • Bonus language: Avilionan (1 CP).
  • Favored Class: Expert (sailor or shipwright), Aristocrat, or Sorcerer.

Notwithstanding the class skills and favored classes, this is essentially your bog-standard human with a bonus language thrown in. If you want this to be more than just a different ethnicity that retains some vague remembrance of their ancestral tongue, consider giving them Adept for the four class skills listed above. That will increase the cost only to 16 CP, still well within +0 ECL territory.

Amazon (34 CP/+1 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • +2 Wisdom, +2 Charisma (24 CP).
  • Handle Animal and Survival are class skills (0 CP).
  • Unarmored (-3 CP).
  • Shield Proficiency (3 CP).
  • Defender/+1 dodge bonus to AC, specialized for one-half cost/only while wearing no armor or light armor (3 CP).
  • Poor Reputation/non-Amazons (-3 CP).
  • Bonus language: Amazon (1 CP).
  • Favored Class: Warrior, Druid, or Psychic Warrior.

The original listing had amazons inability to use armor work a little differently: if they took levels in a class that granted Heavy Armor Proficiency, then they gained only Light Armor Proficiency. Otherwise, they didn’t gain any armor proficiency when taking levels in a class. That’s a bit awkward to model in Eclipse, since the penalty changes depending on what class you take, so we’re simply going with the Unarmored disadvantage to apply it across the board.

That said, the race is really crying out for a third disadvantage to bring them down to +0 ECL territory. Consider adding Hunted (amazons are subject to persecution from a powerful neighboring state), Obligations (to the amazons’ patron deity, without whom they wouldn’t have evolved into their own sub-race), or Vows (regarding conduct toward non-amazons).

Psionic Amazon (46 CP/+1 ECL)

  • As per standard amazons (34 CP).
  • Mindspeech, corrupted for increased effect/extends out to 100 feet, only works with creatures that have a language (6 CP).
  • One level of wilder psionic progression (6 CP).

Technically, the corruption on Mindspeech should only extend its range to 90 feet, but the difference is small enough to overlook.

Altirian (24 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Attribute Shift/+2 Strength, -2 Intelligence (6 CP).
  • Attribute Shift/+2 Constitution, -2 Charisma (6 CP).
  • Track (3 CP).
  • Knowledge (nature), Handle Animal, and Survival are class skills (0 CP).
  • +2 bonus to Survival (2 CP).
  • Timeless Body, specialized for reduced cost/aging penalties are reduced by one age category (1 CP).
  • Favored Class: Barbarian, Druid, or Psion.

Note that the lack of additional skill points for altirians is a deliberate omission. Altirian characters can choose which environment their Track ability applies to at character creation, but most go with wilderness. Note that while their aging penalties are reduced by one category as they grow older (e.g. not taking the middle age penalties until they reach old age), they accrue the bonuses at the normal rate.

Protohuman, Male (116 CP/+3 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Attribute Shift x2, variant/-2 Strength, +1 Constitution, +3 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom (12 CP).
  • Device Use/treated as being a dragon with regards to using magic items (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/low-light vision (6 CP).
  • Accursed, variant/light sensitivity; stunned for 1 round when entering into an area of bright sunlight or a daylight spell, and dazzled until they leave the area (-3 CP).
  • Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft are class skills (0 CP).
  • +4 bonus to Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, Appraise, Spot, and Search (20 CP).
  • Specialist with the Improved and Superior modifiers, with no restriction on magical specialty (24 CP).
  • Immunity/aging (uncommon/minor/minor) (2 CP).
  • Timeless Body (3 CP).
  • Spell Mastery (6 CP).
  • Spell Shorthand, specialized for one-half cost/only as a prerequisite, with the Hieratics modifier, variant/you may make a Spellcraft check (DC 25 + spell level) when you see a spell on your spell list cast within 30 feet of you to automatically be able to write it into your spellbook (6 CP).
  • Immunity/needing a spellbook to prepare spells (very common/severe/trivial), specialized for one-half cost/only for 0-level spells (3 CP).
  • Defender/+1 natural armor (6 CP).
  • Self-Development/+2 to a single ability score for the purposes of raising spell DCs (6 CP).
  • Occult Talent with the Improved modifier, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only gains detect magic, read magic, flare, mage hand, identify, and magic missile (8 CP).
  • Bonus languages: Protohuman and Draconic (2 CP).
  • Favored Class: Wizard or Cleric.

The original write-up called for this race to receive double the usual number of spell slots for a high ability score. Since that was another ability whose usefulness varied wildly (and could be changed thanks to stat-boosting effects), it was replaced with Specialist. Likewise, when using the variant of Hieratics, I’d recommend corrupting the ability for two-thirds cost/must scribe the spell within 1 hour per point of spellcasting ability bonus or lose the opportunity to do so (4 CP).

Protohumans, of course, aren’t really “proto” at all. Rather, they’re a clan obsessed with magic to the point of experimenting on themselves to try and gain the same affinity for magic that dragons have. They call themselves protohumans because they believe that all other branches of humanity are dead ends, a fate they intend to avoid via artificially inducing their own evolutionary growth, making them the beginning of humanity’s glorious destiny to conquer the cosmos. Needless to say, everyone else views them (correctly) as both mad and very dangerous.

Protohuman, Female (211 CP/+6 ECL)

  • As per male protohumans (116 CP).
  • +8 bonus to Intimidate, Listen, Spot, Sense Motive, Disguise, Forgery, Hide, Intimidate, Move Silently, and Sleight of Hand (80 CP).
  • +4 bonus to Spellcraft, specialized for double effect and corrupted for two-thirds cost/only to detect and identify Illusion and Conjuration spells (3 CP).
  • +8 bonus on saves against “illusions, concealment, deception, lies, false identity, and false alignment” (12 CP).
  • Favored Class: Witch or Illusionist.

To be clear, where female protohumans have skill bonuses to the same skills as their male counterparts, the bonuses are intended to stack. Both male and female protohumans reach middle age at 100, old age at 150, venerable age at 200, and have a maximum age of 200 + 2d100 years.

Protohuman, Half- (66 CP/+2 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Device Use/treated as being a dragon with regards to using magic items (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/low-light vision (6 CP).
  • Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcraft as class skills (0 CP).
  • +2 bonus to Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft, Appraise, Spot, and Search (10 CP).
  • Immunity/aging (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Spell Mastery (6 CP).
  • Spell Shorthand, specialized for one-half cost/only as a prerequisite, with the Hieratics modifier, variant/you may make a Spellcraft check (DC 25 + spell level) when you see a spell on your spell list cast within 30 feet of you to automatically be able to write it into your spell book (6 CP).
  • Immunity/needing a spellbook to prepare spells (very common/severe/trivial), specialized for one-half cost/only for 0-level spells (3 CP).
  • Defender/+1 natural armor (6 CP).
  • Self-Development/+2 to a single ability score for the purposes of raising spellcasting DCs (6 CP).
  • Occult Talent, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only gains detect magic, read magic, and identify (4 CP).
  • Favored Class: Bard, Sorcerer, Wizard, or Ranger.

The result of a protohuman coupling with any other breed of human (with one exception, listed below), consider adding the Secret disadvantage to this race, as most half-protohumans don’t want others to know about their lineage. Doing so also gets their ECL down to +1. If they’re found out, then they gain two disadvantages: Outcast (no one wants to associate with a scion of a race of dangerous lunatics) and Hunted (the protohumans will seek to eradicate the “stain” on their racial purity). Half-protohuman live half as long as full-blooded protohumans, reaching venerable age at 100 and having a maximum lifespan of 100 + 1d100 years.

Protohuman, High Avilionan, Half- (85 CP/+2 ECL)

  • As per half-protohumans (66 CP).
  • Attribute Shift, variant/+2 Intelligence, -1 Strength, -1 Constitution (6 CP).
  • Attribute Shift, specialized for one-half cost/+1 Charisma, -1 Wisdom (3 CP).
  • Profession (sailor), Rope Use, Sail, and Swim are class skills (0 CP).
  • +1 bonus to Use Rope (1 CP).
  • +2 bonus to Spellcraft and Swim (4 CP).
  • Damage reduction 2, specialized for one-half cost/only versus energy attacks, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only versus cold (1 CP).
  • Bonus languages: Avilionan and Aquan (2 CP).
  • Buy off corruption for Occult Talent and upgrade to Improved Occult Talent, specialized for one-half cost/only to add create water and ray of frost (2 CP).
  • Favored Class: Sorcerer, Wizard, or Ranger.

The extremely rare crossbreed of protohumans and high avilionans. This is also the case if one of the parents is an aquatic high avilionan; the ability to survive underwater is unfortunately not passed on in the case of such couplings.

Alrian (7 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Sense Motive and Diplomacy are class skills (0 CP).
  • +1 bonus to Spot (1 CP).
  • Poor Reputation/Altirians (-3 CP).
  • Favored Class: Any except Barbarian.

If you don’t have altirians in your campaign – and don’t want to simply switch out which group the Poor Reputation disadvantage applies to – there’s no problem with simply dumping it, as it only raises their racial CP total to 10, just barely better than normal humans. Also, having such a broad choice of favored classes means that they can’t corrupt their total CP cost.

Antilan (13 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Bluff is a class skill (0 CP).
  • Simple Weapon Proficiency/dagger (1 CP).
  • Martial Weapon Proficiency/rapier (3 CP).
  • Favored Class: Rogue.

If you want to make this race more attractive to rogue-types, consider throwing in Finesse/use Dexterity instead of Strength for melee attack rolls (6 CP). Note that you might want to corrupt that to “light and one-handed weapons only” for two-thirds cost, or even “light weapons only” with one or two exceptions (such as the rapier) for one-half cost. If that’s not enough, take Finesse again to add Dexterity instead of Strength to melee damage rolls (6 CP unless you give it a matching limitation); you’ll still be under the +0 ECL limit.

Ghiran (10 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Bonus language: Ghiran (1 CP).

The first of several “races” that are really just different human ethnicities, something supported by how they also know their own local language, much like how languages developed in the real world (rather than the racial languages most d20 games use).

Gimesh (9 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Profession (merchant) and Appraise are class skills (0 CP).
  • Favored Class: Rogue, Fighter, or Cleric.

Another ethnicity, at least this one provides some guidance in the form of automatic class skills and favored classes. As these suggest a certain character progression without trying to force the issue, this is actually a rather good way to indicate a “typical” career path without hamstringing players that want to go in another direction.

Skandi (11 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Swim and Sail are class skills (0 CP).
  • +2 bonus to Swim checks (2 CP).
  • Favored Class: Barbarian, Fighter, Cleric, Bard, or Expert (sailor).

Despite their shared affinity for the water, skandi have no particular connection with avilionans. Rather, both are simply people from seagoing heritages.

Thardrian (9 CP/+0 ECL)

  • Bonus feat (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills (3 CP).
  • Ride and Survival are class skills (0 CP).
  • Favored Class: Any except psionic classes.

As with alrians, this favored class listing is too broad to warrant corrupting the racial CP for two-thirds cost. Not that it really needs it anyway.

The Coin King

July 13, 2019

When he was recruited, Kin Kanemaru was no different than any other orphan taken in by the Kurorenge, the local assassin’s guild. He initially seemed like a poor fit, having only a slight aptitude for magic, and no real skill at social manipulation. But he was able to distinguish himself with his quick reflexes and extraordinarily fine motor control, proving to be skilled at juggling, mundane prestidigitation, and most important of all, thrown weapons.

Placed under the tutelage of several senior assassins who skilled at killing from a distance, Kin was indoctrinated into their ranks. Their profession, he was told, was a noble one, for they purged society of the wicked and corrupt. But after accompanying his mentors on several missions, Kin began to see the truth. While evil men were often their targets, they weren’t the only ones that the Kurorenge killed. Guards who were merely doing their duty in protecting targeted individuals were also ruthlessly dispatched, as were innocent bystanders who had the misfortune to witness an assassination.

Worst of all, however, was that the Kurorenge never targeted anyone without being paid for it. When he found out that not only were corrupt individuals allowed to go free due to nobody paying for their deaths, but that some of the worst actually kept the Kurorenge on retainer to make rivals and troublemakers disappear, Kin at last realized the truth. The Kurorenge themselves were complicit in society’s corruption, being more interested in money than justice.

Offended by the Kurorenge’s hypocrisy, Kin has now broken from the guild. Although he knows that they’ll send his old mentors after him, his commitment to justice is greater than his fear of them. Putting his small skill with magic to use, he plans on using the money that his old masters loved so much as an instrument of righteousness, performed under the guise of his new name: Kin Koukao, the King of Coins!

Kin Kanemaru aka Kin Koukao the Coin King, level 1 coin sniper

Available Character Points: 48 (level 1 base) + 6 (level 1 feat) +6 (“starting traits”) + 6 (human bonus feat) +10 (disadvantages) +1 (restriction) = 77 CP.

Disadvantages are Hunted (the Kurorenge’s assassins), Poor Reputation (politicians, nobles, merchants, and others with ties to the Kurorenge all know that Kin has been marked for death, and will not risk being seen as aiding him) and Recorder (the player running Kin has to make sure to keep a VERY accurate accounting of his coinage). His restriction is against using weapons other than thrown coins.

Ability Scores (20-point buy): Str 10, Dex 16 (+2 racial, +2 enhancement = 20), Con 12, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 12.

As this point-buy allotment makes clear, Kin uses the Pathfinder Package Deal.

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).

Kin’s favored class bonus for 1st level went into buying an extra skill point. As noted above, he elected to put his racial bonus into Dexterity.

Basic Abilities (21 CP)

  • Light armor proficiency and proficiency with all simple weapons (6 CP).
  • 1d10 Hit Dice (6 CP).
  • +1 BAB, specialized for one-half cost/only for ranged attacks (3 CP).
  • Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0 (6 CP).
  • 0 skill points (0 CP).

Kin has slightly overbought on his weapon proficiencies, a legacy of his assassin training emphasizing adaptability in the face of unexpected circumstances. His Hit Dice are commensurate for a dedicated ranged attacker, however, as is his BAB. His saves are based on the Rogue progression, and he’s eschewed directly purchasing skill points in favor of more efficient methods (see below).

Coin Combatant (17 CP)

  • Innate Enchantment (all caster level 1; x2,000 gp unlimited use/use-activated unless otherwise noted) (6 CP).
    • Coin shot (2,000 gp)
    • True strike 3/day (1,200 gp)
    • +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity (x0.7 personal-only; 1,400 gp)
  • Block/missile with the Master and Multiple upgrades, specialized for one-half cost/only with thrown coins (9 CP).
  • Equipage, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only for copper coins (2 CP).

Kin’s ability to use coin shot at will is the core of his character. Thanks to his Equipage ability, he’ll be able to acquire two hundred copper coins per character level per week, enough to ensure that even at 1st level he’ll probably never run out of ammunition. Additionally, he can (potentially) shoot down incoming ranged attacks, and thrice per day can make virtually whatever shot he needs to.

Superior Coin Combatant (17 CP)

  • Skill Focus +1/Martial Arts (zenigata ryu) (2 CP).
  • 1d6 Mana (4 total), Rite of Chi with +4 Bonus Uses, all specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/no natural magic, only to pay for skill stunts (6 CP).
  • Luck with +2 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for skills, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not be used to re-roll a failed check (3 CP).

Kin is able to Take 20 up to three times per day on any skill check, something he makes liberal use of in conjunction with his ability to perform skill stunts with his Zenigata Ryu martial art, since his bonus is high enough to automatically achieve a result of 30. While he can make a skill stunt without using Luck, he typically only does so for lower-level stunts (DCs 10 and 15). Likewise, he can use Luck on skills other than this, and isn’t adverse to doing so if the situation calls for it (e.g. an important Stealth check).

Ranged Combat Expert (8 CP)

  • Far Shot, specialized for one-half cost/only for thrown coins (3 CP).
  • Immunity to penalties for firing into melee (common/minor/minor), specialized for one-half cost/only with thrown coins (2 CP).
  • Evasive/throwing weapons, specialized for one-half cost/only with thrown coins (3 CP).

Kin’s Far Shot means that his coin attacks are treated at touch attacks against enemies up to 40 feet away. Similarly, he has no trouble firing into melee, or even getting into it himself (something he’s not afraid of doing at this level, thanks to his high AC and his ability to make sneak attacks via his martial art skill).

Autodidactic (14 CP)

  • Change human Fast Learner from half-cost to double effect/specialized in skills, corrupted for two-thirds total cost/only for Adept skills (1 CP).
  • Adept/Martial Arts (zenigata ryu), Perception, Sleight of Hand, Stealth (6 CP).
  • Immunity to needing a mentor to learn a martial art skill (uncommon/minor/trivial) (1 CP).
  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws (6 CP).

Despite being self-taught, Kin is able to use his Dexterity bonus to its fullest with his martial art. His use of Luck, here, helps to deal with Fortitude and Will saves that his low bonuses would otherwise leave him dangerously vulnerable to.

Gear

  • Leather armor.
  • Thieves’ tools.
  • 5 pp, 15 gp, 30 sp, and 200 cp.

The above gear has a total value of 110 gp. On average, that’s less than what a fighter or rogue would get, but not so much that it presents any sort of significant difficulties. More importantly, he’s starting out with a rather decent selection of ammunition.

Derived Stats

  • Hit Dice: 10 (1st level) + 1 (Con bonus) = 11 hp.
  • Speed: 30 feet.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fortitude: +0 (base) +1 (Con bonus) = +1.
    • Reflex: +2 (base) +5 (Dex bonus) = +7.
    • Will: +0 (base) +0 (Wis bonus) = +0.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +2 (leather armor) +5 (Dex bonus) +1 (zenigata ryu) = AC 18, touch 11, flat-footed 13.
  • Attacks: +1 (BAB) +5 (Dex Bonus) +1 (zenigata ryu) = +7 thrown coins.
  • Skills: 2 (Fast Learner; applied to four Adept skills) +2 (Int bonus) +1 (“favored class” bonus) = 5 skill points.
Skill Ranks Class Bonus Ability Modifier Miscellaneous Total
Disable Device 1 +3 +5 Dex +9
Knowledge (local) 1 +3 +2 Int +6
Martial Arts (zenigata ryu) 1 +3 +5 Dex +1 Skill Focus +10
Perception 1 +3 +0 Wis +4
Perform (juggling) 1 +3 +1 Cha +5
Sleight of Hand 1 +3 +5 Dex +9
Stealth 1 +3 +5 Dex +9

Kin’s Perform skill allows him to, when in a prosperous city, Take 10 and earn 1d10 silver pieces, supplementing his Equipage’s supply of copper pieces nicely. He also typically uses Sleight of Hand to keep several coins secreted on his person (which are so small that he gains a +4 bonus on his check to do so) instead of in his money-pouch, just as a precaution.

In addition to what’s listed above, Kin should have another half-dozen or so class skills. He also knows two additional languages besides Common thanks to his Intelligence.

Zenigata Ryu (Dex)

This esoteric martial art focuses on throwing coins with deadly precision. Patterned off of various “gun fu” styles of fighting, its practitioners tend to be self-taught more often than not. The result is that this school has been independently developed numerous times over the ages, typically with minor variations each time.

  • Requires: ability to use coin shot or similar power.
  • Basic Techniques: Attack 3, Defenses 2, Strike, Synergy (Sleight of Hand).
  • Advanced/Master Techniques: Blinding Strike, Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack 2.
  • Occult Techniques: Focused Blow, Inner Strength, Overburden, Touch Strike.
  • Known: Attack 1, Defenses 1, Strike, Combat Reflexes, Sneak Attack 1.

Thanks to his ranks in Zenigata Ryu, Kin’s coin attacks may deal lethal or nonlethal damage at will, can be used to make a grand total of up to six attacks of opportunity a round (even if only two of them can be used to block ranged attacks), and adds +1d6 damage as appropriate for sneak attacks.

Further Development

Currently, Kin is a fairly good ranged attacker, particularly at short ranges where he can hit for touch attacks and bring his sneak attack damage to bear. Between his Armor Class, ability to potentially block up to two ranged attacks against him each round, and Luck on his saving throws, Kin has fairly potent defenses as well. Even his hit points are decent for this level.

As he gains more experience, Kin will need to expand on what his coin attacks can bring to bear. Taking Empowerment, specialized in his Innate Enchantments, will be vital so that the coin shot spell will keep its damage output up. Likewise, he’ll want to take Imbuement so that his coin attacks can overcome damage reduction as per magic weapons, and add some magic properties to them. He should probably find a way to bump up his hit points, AC, and Fort and Will save values too, just to be safe.

Beyond that, some additional magic would be useful, probably along the lines of something relatively cheap that offers decent versatility. Witchcraft or Mystic Artist (for his Perform skill) would be good avenues to explore. At some point he’ll definitely want to bump up equipage so that he can start receiving more valuable coins as well.

Of course, he’ll still want to keep some copper coins around, placing them over his dead enemies’ eyes so that they can pay for their journey to the underworld.

D&D Did You Know’s: Curses and Ravenloft’s Dark Lords

June 15, 2019

Ravenloft has always been my favorite of the official settings for D&D. Nor am I alone in this particular regard, since Ravenloft’s popularity is self-evident from a look at its product history. After the original module (and its sequel) made a landmark impact on AD&D First Edition, Second Edition saw Ravenloft receive an unprecedented three campaign setting books.

First among these was the original Realm of Terror boxed set, though it needed the Forbidden Lore expansion set to really reach its full potential. Later, they’d be effectively combined as the Ravenloft Campaign Setting boxed set (aka the red boxed set), before finally having the Domains of Dread hardback published. And of course, Ravenloft made a very fast return as a licensed setting during the days of Third Edition, first with a hardback Ravenloft Campaign Setting book for 3.0, and then the Ravenloft Player’s Handbook and Ravenloft Dungeon Master’s Guide for 3.5. Clearly, demand for Ravenloft was considerable!

But among all those campaign settings, there seems to have been a curious little rule that was only found in one of them. Specifically, a rule that it was impossible for anyone to lay curses on the domain lords of Ravenloft. But (unless I missed something) you wouldn’t find this rule if you looked in the Realm of Terror boxed set or the Domains of Dread book, or any of the Third Edition books.

Rather, it seems to be exclusive to the red Ravenloft Campaign Setting boxed set. Specifically, from page 65 of the set’s “Realm of Terror” book, which says:

Exclusivity of Curses

As a general rule, any individual–player character or nonplayer character–can suffer the effects of only one curse at a time. Otherwise, a truly evil brute–the type of person who makes for an excellent antagonist in any adventure–could quickly become so burdened with curses that he or she would be crippled. What a waste of a perfectly good villain that would be! Therefore, no curse can affect a character if he or she already suffers from one.

An important note to make at this point concerns domain lords. By definition, all of them are laboring under the most horrible curse of all: that of ruling a domain in Ravenloft. Thus, any curse that the players might wish to lay upon them is doomed to fail.

And there you have it. Trying to lay a curse on a domain lord, whether via a spell or as your PC’s last act of retribution when slain by them, is an act that simply can’t work. It’s a small, but possibly not-insignificant, advantage that domain lords have, and yet seems to have been overlooked everywhere outside of the red boxed set.

Now if only there were a way to lift the curse that seems to be keeping Ravenloft from being revived as its own campaign setting once again…

Official New Monsters for the Tails of Equestria RPG

June 1, 2019

I’ve spoken before about the Tails of Equestria role-playing game, which at the time of this writing has just over a dozen products released for it, along with some helpful downloads. But recently, the company making the game, River Horse, has been releasing several new monsters for it as well. But these are only available via the company’s social media presence, specifically their Twitter, Instagram, and mailing list.

Given that those won’t reach some people, and because social media of all stripes has always struck me as being impermanent by nature (more so than a blog, at lease), I’m going to repost those monsters here. Or at least, the ones that don’t already appear in a book, since the ones that do don’t need additional archiving. So without further ado, let’s see what new monsters there are in Equestria!

The kindling is an original monster, rather than being from the show itself (but don’t ask me if they’ve ever appeared in the comics or any of the other secondary media). Technically, they appear in the adventure “A Dragon’s Bounty” in the Tails of Equestria Starter Set. However, the stat block shown above doesn’t actually appear in the book, though the kindlings play a part in the adventure.

Do the bite-acuda! These little guys come straight from the show, being introduced in Non-Compete Clause, the ninth episode of the eighth season. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve ever seen them in Tails of Equestria format. Hopefully we’ll get more show conversions in the future; I’d love to see what a bufogren or an ophiotaur’s stats are like!

There were also stats posted for another creature (an original one, not from the show): the lava bug. However, that appears in Filly Sized Follies, the most recent Tails of Equestria book to date. Hopefully River Horse won’t keep recycling monster entries going forward!

But I suspect we’ll find out soon enough. So far, these creature entries have been released on a weekly schedule. With any luck, they’ll keep putting them out for a while to come.

EDIT (06/11): And the bufogren, from The End in Friend (season eight, episode seventeen) has been released!

EDIT (07/12): Another creature from the show, heretofore unseen in a Tails of Equestria product, has been released! And this time it’s a double-feature, being stats for the winterchilla and its alternate form, the winterzilla, from the Best Gift Ever special episode that aired between seasons eight and nine! (Notice that the winterzilla’s stats need some slight errata: it should have a Stamina score of 24 rather than 20, since Stamina is your total die values for your Body and Mind traits.)

Winterchilla

Winterzilla

EDIT (07/19): And now we have the ophiotaurus, the Greek-inspired creature from Frenemies (season nine, episode eight)!

EDIT (09/02): I’ve been slightly remiss in updating this post to account for new creatures coming out. Here then are all of the new Tails of Equestria monsters that have come out in the last few weeks:

The octoselene is a reader-submitted creature, not appearing in the show, the RPG, or any other pony-related media that I’m aware of.

Magic books are from the “Judge Not By the Cover” adventure, where they play a central role in the plot. However, much like the kindlings (q.v.), they aren’t actually given stats in the book. As such, we have them here for the first time. The original posting even noted that it was possible for them to be used as PCs!

The kirin, and their fiery nirik forms, are from Sounds of Silence (season eight, episode twenty-three). Given that the introduction of an entirely new and eminently-playable race, it’s not surprising that they received official game stats! Moreover, they were also given a special “how to play” section as well! It largely repeats what’s in the official descriptions; note, however, that it says that kirin PCs (must?) take an additional quirk besides their nirik form.

The most recent release (as of this update) is for none other than Daybreaker herself! While Daybreaker is never shown to be a “real” character, only appearing in Starlight Glimmer’s nightmare in A Royal Problem (season seven, episode ten) and Twilight Sparkle’s worst fear in The Beginning of the End – Part 1 (season nine, episode one), she remains a fan-favorite for what could happen if Princess Celestia ever goes bad the way her sister did. While her stat block contains a few typos, this is still a great addition to any (high-level) Tails of Equestria game!

EDIT (09/08): Normally I don’t bother reprinting monsters that have already been featured in a Tails of Equestria product. But I’m bending that rule here. While the giant spiders are found in “The Festival of Lights” adventure (p. 31), this re-release also includes rules for playing one as a PC. An unusual choice, perhaps, but not that much more so than playing something like a changeling!

With that said, be aware that the actual explanations for the spider climb, web sling, and tremor sense talents are found in “The Festival of Lights,” so if you don’t have that book you might have to make some quick decisions about what those can do. Notice also that the stats for a giant spider here are slightly different than those in the book. Not only are the quirks different, but in the book giant spiders have the spider climb talent at a D8 rather than D6.

EDIT (09/13): This time around we have something a little different. Thrilly Filly is one of the original characters created for the Tails of Equestria RPG, serving as one of the three iconic ponies on the cover of the main rulebook! While we’ve received stats for her before (such as in the Starter Set, for one), I don’t recall seeing this particular version of her stat block before. Notice that, according to her Trait dice sizes, she’s 4th level here.

In Sickness and In Health

February 3, 2019

Diseases are one of the things that tend to be ignored in fantasy world-building.

That’s not really all that surprising, of course. Most aspects of fantasy tend to focus on the role of sapient beings – be they deities, dragons, or even human(oid)s – because that speaks most closely to potential players. People, be they players or GMs, want to think about the impact that their character(s) will have on the game world, and so new worlds are built around what big men have done, rather than focusing on environmental determinism (of which the impact of diseases on the trajectory of societies is an aspect).

Even when raised, this is typically hand-waved away under the idea that the presence of magic (which most fantasy worlds tend to have) would make diseases a non-issue. Why would villages succumb to a plague when clerics can just prepare remove disease and have that be that? On its face, that does seem to be a good explanation. But in fact, it depends on the game rules in question (for example, the Pathfinder version of the remove disease spell linked previously is notably less effective than the 3.5 version of the spell). Even then, things aren’t nearly as cut-and-dried as they might otherwise be.

For those who have it, page 20 of Pathfinder #8 – Seven Days to the Grave has an interesting sidebar that touches on this for D&D 3.5. Titled “Where Are All the Healers?” it breaks down what the game rules say about city demographics and what they say about resources that can be brought to bear during an epidemic. The end result is that, in the event of a large-scale outbreak, magical healing resources will be too few to effectively combat a widespread disease. (Note that you won’t find this sidebar in the Curse of the Crimson Throne reprint of this particular Adventure Path.)

In the case of diseases, their large-scale impact on history is attributable to different peoples having evolved different degrees of resistance/immunity to particular illnesses. While things like the consequences of the Black Death are easy to take note of, other aspects of diseases on the course of history are subtler. Specifically, they played a major role in large-scale migrations, either abetting them or inhibiting them depending on the varying levels of immunity possessed by native peoples and immigrants. Just look at what happened when Europeans traveled to the Americas for a large-scale example of this. Less notable, but no less important, are instances where immigrating people were depleted or wiped out by diseases that native populations had already grown accustomed to.

So what would all of this look like if we tried to hard-code it into an RPG, such as the d20 System?

Unfortunately, that’s not very easy to do. The game rules treat characters’ ability to resist diseases as a function of a single statistic: their Fortitude save. This number is universal, not taking into account issues of an individual’s genetic ancestry giving them high resistance to some diseases and severe vulnerability to others. Rather than trying to modify the system to represent a more nuanced approach to this, we’ll simplify what we’re trying to portray.

Disease Vulnerabilities by Race

The following table (with most of its racial disease vulnerabilities randomly determined) represents a cross-indexing of the seven standard races with the eleven diseases presented in the Core Rules. Where a given intersection has “–” listed, the standard rules are used should a character of that race encounter that particular disease. In this way, the standard listings for each disease presume that someone fighting it off has an evolved resistance to it via their genetic ancestry.

In this case, the idea of “human diversity and adaptability” is played up; humans enjoy no particular vulnerabilities to any disease, having encountered all of them numerous times over in their spread across the game world. Other races, however, aren’t quite so fortunate. Each of the remaining races has some illnesses to which they’re not very resistant, due to their people only encountering them in relatively recent times. This means that those diseases are more virulent for them, and so pose a greater threat.

Disease Humans Elves Half-elves Dwarves Halflings Gnomes Half-orcs
Blinding Sickness A B
Bubonic Plague B C
Cackle Fever B A
Demon Fever A, C
Devil Chills A, B, C B A
Filth Fever B, C C
Leprosy A A, C
Mindfire B B, C
Red Ache C B B
Shakes B, C C
Slimy Doom A, C A C

Key: A = Increase DC by +4; B = Increase damage by +1 per die (e.g. filth fever now deals 1d3+1 Dex damage and 1d3+1 Con damage); C = Increase necessary number of saves to cure by +1.

The above table works not only as a simplified way of adding a new wrinkle to the presence of diseases in your game, but also contains intriguing suggestions as to what the above connotes about various races in the game world. Notice how half-elves seem to have acquired many of their human half’s resistance to diseases that are otherwise devastating to elves? By that logic, do half-orcs having so many disease vulnerabilities mean that orcs have even worse diseases ravaging them (and that’s why they’ve been pushed back in the face of human and demi-human expansion)? And why do gnomes and halflings have similar levels of vulnerability to certain diseases and not others?

Try making your own such table, and see if a focus on diseases spurs a healthy new interest in designing your campaign world!

Return of the Dragon King

November 30, 2018

Back in the days of AD&D 2nd Edition, the Dark Sun campaign setting was the campaign world that epitomized what we’d now think of as “epic-level gaming.”

Of course, if you knew where to look, you’d find plenty of epic-level material elsewhere. The Player’s Option books had rules for True Dweomers and characters of up to 30th level, after all. Not to mention how the Forgotten Realms had plenty of level 20+ wizards running around, Greyhawk had evil demigods that needed to be fought (Iuz being the most famous, but there were also such notables as Vecna or Kyuss), and if you were playing in Mystara then you might be on the road to becoming a god yourself!

Even so, Dark Sun was perhaps the only campaign that really made its epic-level characters into a fundamental part of the setting, rather than an adjunct. The Sorcerer-Kings set the tone for the game world, serving as background elements and aspects of the setting’s meta-plot. Being able to grow powerful enough to defeat them was the ultimate lure for characters that adventured in Athas, even if very few ever actually succeeded.

For those that wanted to become one, however, a different path was open.

When you don’t need no “Council of Wyrms” to rule.

The Dragon Kings book detailed the mechanics behind the process of fusing arcane magic and psionic powers to become an immortal dragon, as the Sorcerer-Kings were in the process of doing. While stat blocks for the Sorcerer-Kings themselves were printed elsewhere (such as in Beyond the Prism Pentad), this was the book that let you be like them. (Though it still flat-out denied you the ability to grant spells to templars of your own the way they could.)

Spread across ten levels, from 21st to 30th, the power of a dragon was difficult to attain, requiring numerous preparations and special circumstances. Ironically, these were so esoteric that they didn’t translate well into fiction written for the game world; in every single novel that dealt with the Sorcerer-Kings in any great detail, the discussion as to how they were progressing through their transformations disagreed with what was written in Dragon Kings. Fortunately, the powers that they gained as a result were more notable, and were far easier to put “on screen,” as it were. Having awesome natural defenses and potent physical, magical, and psionic powers tended to be the part that grabbed most readers’ and gamers’ attention anyway.

Unfortunately, Athasian dragons didn’t translate well into D&D Third Edition. Not only had the Dark Sun world been shelved (getting only a few brief articles Dragon magazine and one adventure in Dungeon), but the rules for becoming a dragon were unbalanced under the d20 System, even by the rather poor standards of epic-level games. Despite that, while an official version of an Athasian dragon progression would never be seen again (notwithstanding as an epic destiny in the D&D 4th Edition version of Dark Sun), numerous fan-sites would write up their own versions, typically as an epic-level prestige class.

In that vein, today’s post is my take on how such a write-up would look using Eclipse: The Codex Persona.

The Eldritch Dragon (10-level progression)

Available Character Points: 240 (10 character levels) +20 (restrictions) = 260 CPs.

There is, strictly speaking, no need for this “prestige class” to be taken at epic levels. As written, it could be taken virtually anytime, even starting at 1st-level! That said, most characters will want to progress in both a magic progression and a psionic progression – at the very least – before delving too deeply into what’s here.

An eldritch dragon has a restriction against wearing armor of any sort (which their metamorphosed bodies can’t really wear anyway). Their second restriction is actually a variant rule: they take a cumulative -1 penalty per level to saves against pain-based spells and effects (including spells with the [pain] descriptor in Pathfinder), to a maximum of -10. This approximates how the continuing metamorphosis is described as increasingly painful, without the rather unwieldy “animalistic period” described in Dragon Kings, which presented the transforming dragon as being in too much pain to think straight, even as further progression required them to build ziggurats and make bargains with elemental powers.

Defiling Magic

If you want to make a character that practices defiling magic – the practice of draining the local plant life to death to power your spellcasting – in Eclipse, my recommendation is as follows: defiling magic is taken as a variation of the Restrained limitation on a magic progression (Eclipse, p. 11). Rather than restricting what sort of spells you can learn, it restricts your ability to gather the necessary energy to cast your spells.

  • In lush, natural surroundings (such as jungles, prairies, forests, etc.) you have to spend a swift action in order to gather enough power to cast a spell. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Gathered power lasts for 1 round before dissipating.
  • In areas of restrained plant life (such as in urban areas, caverns, areas of water where the seafloor is less than 200 meters deep, etc.), you have to spend a move action (which provokes an attack of opportunity) gathering power before you can cast a spell. Gathered power lasts for 1 round before dissipating.
  • In areas of severely restrained plant life (such as deserts, arctic tundras, places of extreme devastation, etc.) you must spend a full-round action gathering enough energy to cast a spell, which provokes an attack of opportunity. Gathered power lasts for 1 round before dissipating.
  • In areas of no plant life whatsoever (such as the areas of water where the seafloor is more than 200 meters deep, outer space, the Elemental Planes, etc.) you cannot cast spells at all, unless you have an alternate power source, such as Body Fuel or Mana.

Defiling magic scars the soil where it’s used, to a radius of 10 feet per spell level (5 feet for 0-level spells), requiring generations before it can be restored to the point where it can support vegetation again (if it ever can). Naturally, those who use defiling magic find that it makes druids, fey, sapient plant creatures, and numerous other entities automatically hostile toward the them (outside of special circumstances, at the GM’s discretion).

This is a variant on the original rules about defiling in order to make the mechanics match the original idea more closely. Defiling magic was always presented as “the easy path to power” in comparison to preserving magic, which was taking enough life energy from the surrounding vegetation that you did no permanent damage to it. In this case, that’s presented as being the CPs that the user saves by having an additional limitation on their magic progression.

If you want to play a character that utilizes preserving magic instead, take this variation of the Restrained limitation, but corrupted for two-thirds benefit (that is, they only receive two-thirds of the CPs they’d otherwise save from applying it to their magic progression; you can’t usually corrupt a limitation this way, but this is an exception). Such characters are still required to spend extra actions to cast spells as outlined above, but do not kill the soil around them and do not automatically earn the hatred of numerous ecologically-minded people and creatures.

Draconic Form (90 CP)

  • 10d4 Hit Dice (0 CP).
  • Int. bonus x 10 skill points (0 CP).
  • +0 Fort, +7 Ref, +5 Will (36 CP).
  • Three levels of Growth, specialized and corrupted for reduced cost/treated as a dragon for all effects related to type (e.g. Favored Foe, arrows of slaying, etc.), worn magic items do not function unless upgraded to “slotless” items (i.e. pay double their market cost if they aren’t slotless already) or are built into the body (e.g. Innate Enchantment, Siddhisyoga, etc.) (48 CP).
  • Extra Limb/tail, specialized for one-half cost/cannot function as prehensile limb (3 CP).
  • Extra Limb/jaws, specialized for one-half cost/does not gain extra limb; only functions as a prerequisite to use a bite attack (3 CP).

A few things here deserve explanation. While the Hit Dice and skill points are part-and-parcel of gaining 10 levels, the save bonuses are here to represent that gaining ten levels should modify your saving throws appropriately. While that should, at epic levels, result in each of your saves going up by +5, the modified totals there represent the adjustments by your size: you’ll gain a +6 to your Fortitude save just from your modified Constitution score, and so there’s no need to purchase anything there. Likewise, Reflex is overbought to compensate for your Dexterity adjustment.

The full list of the changes made on account of your size (presuming that you start off as being Medium) are as follows: Strength +24, Dex -8 (treat as Dex -4 for modifying AC, initiative, Reflex saves, and ranged attack rolls), Con +12, -4 to attacks/AC, 20-foot space, 20-foot reach, -12 to Hide/Stealth, +9 natural armor bonus, and base 60-foot speed.

While it’s not portrayed as such in the source material, requiring a dragon character to upgrade body slot-based magic items in order to utilize them is thematically consistent. The character has so much raw power flowing through them now that they have no “slots” open on them anymore for typical magic items to interface with. It also helps explain why we don’t really see the Sorcerer-Kings as being draped with magic items the way most d20 characters are.

Engine of Destruction (56 CP)

  • Celerity with the Additional modifier and five instances of Improved, corrupted for increased effect/flight is based on being able to bring wings to bear, 120-foot fly speed (perfect) (33 CP).
  • Martial Arts for 2d10 damage, specialized for one-half cost/cannot utilized manufactured weapons (10 CP).
  • Persistent metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost and corrupted for increased effect/only to use the Sacrifice option on a single 9th-level spell slot, requires waiting 1d4 rounds between uses. May use 6th-level spell sand blast, which causes 1d10 points of damage per caster level (25d10 maximum), Reflex save for half (DC 10 + ½ Hit Dice + Con modifier), despite it being of instantaneous duration (3 CP).
  • +5 BAB, specialized for one-half cost/only for use with natural weapons, touch attacks, or ranged touch attacks, corrupted for two-thirds cost/does not contribute to iterative attacks (10 CP).

Note that their natural attacks causing 2d10 points of damage goes for their bite, tail, and two claw attacks. Moreover, this is before their size modifier is taken into account. While it’s not exactly clear how to bump up 2d10 damage dice even further, I’d recommend adding another d10 per size category, for a total of 5d10! This should help drive home just how dangerous a foe eldritch dragons are, even before they start utilizing their magical or psionic abilities!

The use of the Persistent metamagic theorem gives us the eldritch dragon’s signature breath weapon: a cone of super-heated sand. The cone is 70 feet long, and the damage is considered to be half fire damage, half slashing damage (representing abrasion). The slashing portion is subject to damage reduction, but is treated as a magic weapon (an epic weapon at caster level 21+).

Living Fortification (48 CP)

  • Augmented Bonus with the Improved and Advanced modifiers/add Strength modifier to Armor Class as natural armor (18 CP).
  • Defender/dodge bonus, specialized for double effect/may not be used while wearing armor (6 CP).
  • Damage Reduction 5, specialized for double effect/only applies against physical damage, corrupted for increased effect/does not apply against magic weapons (12 CP).
  • Improved Spell Resistance (12 CP).

In the Dragon Kings book, a 30th-level dragon has an AC of -10, whereas they start out with (in their natural state) the same AC of 10 as everyone else. That’s an improvement of +20 over ten levels. While their +9 natural armor from being Gargantuan size helps, it’s offset by taking a -4 size penalty to AC. Hence the use of Augmented Bonus and Defender here (the latter set to being a dodge bonus to help bolster their terrible touch AC). Similarly, DR 15/magic seems to be a fairly decent equivalent for “requires +2 or better weapons to hit.” Improved Spell Resistance isn’t quite as good as 80% magic resistance, but the two mechanics are dissimilar enough that it’s an acceptable translation on its own.

Magical Juggernaut (54 CP)

  • +10 caster levels, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only for one arcane spellcasting class and one psionic class (40 CP).
  • Mighty Invocation, specialized for double effect and corrupted for two-thirds cost/can only be utilized with specially-prepared foci of ten obsidian orbs, causes 10d6 damage to all living creatures within 100 feet of you (Fort save for half, DC 20 + spellcasting modifier) (8 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/add Strength score to one mental ability score for determining bonus spells/psionic power points (6 CP).

The additional caster levels, and the use of Augmented Bonus, cover a lot of the magical and psionic strength that a fully-transformed dragon has. In Dragon Kings, a dragon gains one psionic science and one psionic devotion, along with the standard PSP gain, per level. They also gain additional spell slots for each spell level they can cast (and four 10th level spell slots by 30th level). In this case, we’re utilizing the increased caster levels in conjunction with their Augmented Bonus to approximate that, since together those increase their bonus spells per level through the roof; it’s taken as a given that the same mental ability score, typically Intelligence, will be the one that affects spellcasting and psionics both. (Though this brings up the question of whether or not it’s possible to gain bonus spells for a 10th level spell slot, like the one gained by Mighty Invocation. If the GM says that they don’t, then the dragon character will need to look into purchasing it a second time, or taking an Immunity, etc. if they want to be able to cast four 10th-level spells per day.)

The more controversial aspect of what’s here, however, is likely to be the damage inflicted by casting those 10th-level slots. At first that’s likely going to look like an advantage, rather than a limitation. The salient point to remember is that it affects ALL living creatures other than the caster, without exception. So your party members, their familiars and animal companions, non-hostile NPCs, summoned creatures, etc. are all going to take the damage every time you cast a high-level spell, unless they get far away from you. (For those of them that want to try and mitigate this, treat the damage as being caused by negative energy.)

Beneficial Side Effects (12 CP)

  • Immunity/aging (common/minor/major) (6 CP).
  • Immunity/having to speak a language to be able to communicate with it (common/minor/major), specialized for one-half cost/does not allow for reading and writing; only speech (3 CP).
  • Imbuement, specialized for one-half cost/only to allow natural weapons to overcome magic-based damage reduction (3 CP).

While their agelessness was a salient feature of dragon characters, their ability to speak any language was an oft-overlooked benefit. Likewise, while it wasn’t expressly spelled out, the AD&D 2nd Edition game rules implied that a dragon could hit creatures that needed magical weapons to damage, at least to a certain degree. Hence, they have Imbuement here.

From Dragon to Dragon-King

As originally written, PC dragons could gain the power of the Sorcerer-Kings in every way except for granting spells to templars that worshiped them. Hence, that particular ability has not been written into the above progression. If you want to create a character with that ability, try the following:

  • Dominion with the Scale ability, specialized for one-half cost/only as prerequisites (6 CP).
  • Sphere of Influence, specialized and corrupted for triple effect/you do not sense events related to your portfolio, you do not pay a reduced cost for using magic related to your portfolio, your ability to grant spells does not increase when you’re on a plane that’s otherwise appropriate for doing so, and you cannot elect to merge with your sphere of influence (6 CP).

This grants you the ability to grant divine spells of up to 9th level, along with up to three domains (traditionally, these will include domains that match the non-neutral portions of your alignment), to those who worship you. Since this costs only 12 CP to achieve, you could conceivably take this as a package deal if you want to say that it was gained due to some circumstance that you weren’t aware of at the time (as it was for the original Sorcerer-Kings). Most characters will want to quickly scrounge up another 6 CP so that they can use Dominion and Scale once they decide to begin formally establishing a seat of power for their burgeoning clergy.

Conclusion

The eldritch dragon progression recreates the Athasian dragon almost perfectly. While a few figures are slightly off from the original, the sum total is so close that it’s functionally the same. The one thing it doesn’t have is the major requirements to progress through each successive level, but that’s probably for the best.

If you do want to make gaining each level of eldritch dragon into a quest in its own right, consider requiring that the dragon character take Occult Ritual (Eclipse, p. 96), and having each level require that a successful ritual be cast. Alternatively, you can say that becoming an eldritch dragon is a form of mythic progression (the ten levels make it perfect for that), requiring various epic deeds to advance. Either way will make the character be a source of adventures unto themselves.

Just remember that sleeping on a big pile of treasure is optional.

Eclipsing Illusionists

November 21, 2018

It’s rather difficult to be an illusionist under the d20 System.

While there are any number of specific ways in which that difficulty manifests, it really comes down to an issue of “idea versus implementation.” The nature of illusions is that they blur the line between what’s real and what’s not, but the rigid mechanics of the d20 System’s game engine eschew such uncertainty, and in doing so neuter the potency of illusions in the game. Every other problem stems from that.

After all, if an illusionist waves his hands and chants a series of arcane syllables, after which a chimera appears an roars at the party, well, you better hope that everyone fails their Spellcraft checks and thinks that you cast a summon monster spell. Otherwise, one player will make his check and yell, “don’t worry guys! It’s just a persistent image spell! Ignore it!” At which point the game grinds to a halt as everyone wonders if they still have to make a Will save against the illusion and if so whether or not that warning grants them a +4 bonus.

Generally speaking, the problem points with being an illusionist are as follows:

  • Spellcraft checks to identify an illusion spell as it’s being cast.
  • Detect magic and similar effects (such as arcane sight) to identify a magical aura as being of the illusion school.
  • True seeing functions as the ultimate in anti-illusion magic.
  • The aforementioned bit about “If any viewer successfully disbelieves an illusion and communicates this fact to others, each such viewer gains a saving throw with a +4 bonus.”

In order to make illusions more viable, we’ll use Eclipse: The Codex Persona to build a small package deal that handles each of those issues.

The Fantast Package Deal

A fabulist extraordinaire, the fantast knows that any illusion is someone else’s reality. With an infinite number of multiverses each containing numerous planes of infinite proportions, literally everything exists somewhere. Ergo, any illusion, no matter how outlandish, is representative of something somewhere. Unlike with shadow magic, which uses umbral quasi-matter to lend substance to illusions, a fantast allows themselves to be subconsciously inspired by the possibilities of Creation, lending their illusions a verisimilitude beyond what other spellcasters can create.

  • Deceptive Casting: Opportunist/when someone attempts to identify a spell (or power, spell-like ability, etc.) you’re using with Spellcraft, you may make a Bluff check. Corrupted for increased effect/this check may (only) be used to attempt to disguise what spell you’re using, succeeding if your Bluff check exceeds their Spellcraft result (but if their check wouldn’t be high enough to succeed at identifying your spell normally, they don’t identify your false casting either). If you succeed, the spell appears to be a different spell that you know, of your choosing. Specialized for one-half cost/if the components of the spell you’re casting do not match those of the spell you’re trying to disguise it as – including the specifics of any material or focus components – your opponent receives a +4 bonus to overcome your Bluff check (3 CP).
  • Shadows of the Akashic Library: Eldritch (0 CP).
  • Fantastically Realistic: Subtle modifier for Eldritch, specialized and corrupted for reduced cost/only for Illusion spells (2 CP).
  • More Than Meets the Eye: Immunity to divinations (common/minor/great), specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only versus true seeing, allows for an opposed caster level check to be made for the spell to function normally against yourself and effects you create (4 CP).
  • Suspension of Disbelief: Ability Focus +4/Illusion spells and effects, specialized for one-half cost/only applies against saves that would gain a +4 bonus due to being informed that the effect is an illusion (6 CP).
  • Gullible: Incompetent/-5 penalty to Sense Motive checks (-3 CP).

While their ability to disguise what spell they’re casting is a result of personal ability (and can make counterspelling notably difficult), the rest of what a fantast can do is due to their enhanced – if usually subconscious – openness to the possibilities of existence. While subtle in the extreme, it allows them to intuitively “feel” their way around shaping illusions that not only seem so believable (even when their subject is wildly fantastic) that simply being told that they’re an illusion isn’t nearly as convincing as it would be otherwise. Similarly, the sheer pinnacle of plausibility that they achieve is so great that even divinatory effects have a hard time picking up on the falseness of a fantast’s illusions. Ironically, their belief in manifest possibility means that they have a hard time detecting when other people are being less than truthful.

Hopefully, the fantast package deal will make your illusionists a little more fantastic.

D&D Did You Know’s: Third Edition Conversion Exploit

October 7, 2018

Across the spectrum of Dungeons & Dragons, over the course of many iterations and editions, there have only ever been three official conversion books.

To be sure, there have been numerous guidelines, spotlights, and overviews whenever a new version of the game nears release. From magazines to messageboards, the issue of changing things between versions of the game (and other games) is a perennially popular topic. But in terms of actual, official stand-alone products that walk you through the process of changing things from one version of the game to another, I’m only aware of three.

The most recent of these is the 5E conversion guide. It’s something that only really barely qualifies, as it’s a four-page PDF (and, insofar as I know, never had a print version) that deals more in guidelines than in hard-and-fast rules about how to convert your D&D game over to Fifth Edition. Prior to that, there was the v.3.5 Accessory Update Booklet, which did have a print run but was more concerned with – as the name says – updating specific 3.0 products to 3.5 rather than a more general guide to converting characters, items, and other game abilities.

That leaves the D&D Third Edition Conversion Manual as the sole remaining book that could be called an honest-to-goodness conversion guide. I still have my print copy, and looking back now it’s interesting at how it attempted to convert pre-Third Edition characters to what was, at that time, the latest version of the game.

Far more fun, however, is that this allows for an interesting – albeit minor – “exploit” for converted characters.

Exceptionally Unusual Strength

Normally, the highest Strength score you can start with for a Third Edition (3.0) character is 20. That is, start with an 18 (whether by an exceptionally good roll or by splurging on your point-buy), and then play a race with a +2 Strength bonus. Notably, this would mean that you won’t be playing as a human, since in Third Edition they have no racial modifiers. So presuming the DM isn’t letting you play a monstrous race out of the Monster Manual (which, in 3.0, didn’t list things like level adjustments or ability score modifiers), this pretty well limits you to being a half-orc if you stuck with the Core Rules. Otherwise, the highest Strength you could hope to start off with was an 18.

Unless you were bringing over a character from AD&D 1st or 2nd Edition.

Maybe.

You see, older versions of the game had what was called “exceptional Strength,” where – if you were a fighter or fighter subclass (in AD&D 1st Edition), or were a member of the Warrior group (in AD&D 2nd Edition) – and had an 18 Strength, you could roll a d% to further measure just how strong your character was. Someone who rolled a measly 01% would have a +1 to hit and +3 damage, for instance, whereas someone who rolled a 100% would have +3 to hit and +6 to damage!

Of course, there were numerous obstacles to getting an exceptional Strength score. In addition to being restricted to the most overtly-martial classes, you were also limited by race (and, in AD&D 1E, sex). Halfling fighters in AD&D 2nd Edition, for example, weren’t allowed to roll for exceptional Strength at all. With the way the racial guidelines in the Core Rule broke down, if you wanted to get the best Strength possible, you had to play a human (male) fighter of some sort.

So what does all of that have to do with exploiting the Conversion Manual for D&D Third Edition?

The answer is found in the Manual’s guideline for converting abilities scores (pg. 3-4):

Exceptional Score New Strength Score
18/01-18/50 19
18/51-18/75 20
18/76-18/90 21
18/91-18/99 22
18/00 23
19-20 24
21-22 25
22-23 26
24-25 27

Now, leaving aside that a Strength of 22 in the older editions could apparently be a Strength of 25 or 26 in the new one, notice what the exceptional Strength values convert over to. A character with any exceptional Strength at all is going to convert over to a Strength of at least 19. If you had that coveted 18/00 Strength before, you now had a Strength of 23!

Now, that won’t really matter much if you’re converting over a higher-level character, since Third Edition assumes inflated ability scores far more than previous versions of the game ever did. But at 1st level it’s a notable score indeed. A +6 to hit and damage right off the bat is a powerful advantage when you’re trying to survive those early adventures.

Of course, insofar as exploits go, this one is rather hard to take advantage of. Utilizing it essentially requires you to follow the AD&D 1st or 2nd Edition guidelines for generating a character and then converting them over via what’s in this book. So even if you follow the various race and class restrictions for being able to get an exceptional Strength score, you’ll still have to actually roll the score you’re hoping for, as those editions weren’t exactly enamored of point-buy generation for ability scores. But it’s still technically possible, and hey, all the books are official.

So, the next time you’re sitting down for a Third Edition game and want to play a fighter, try making an older-edition character and then converting them to 3E rather than generating them under the Third Edition rules directly.

You just might end up with something exceptional.

A Streetcar Named Sophia

April 2, 2018

One of the defining aspects of older console games was just how difficult they were. While not all of the old games were frustratingly hard to beat, many of them were. Quite a few people I know never beat games like Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Battletoads. Certainly, I never did. But there’s another game that I’d rank up as being one of the most impossible to beat: Blaster Master.

Just the story of a boy and his frog.

Combining “Metroidvania”-style platforming with top-down shooter/exploration gameplay, what made Blaster Master so freakishly difficult wasn’t its enemies, bosses, or the doubling-back required to beat the game. Rather, it was that the game had no save features or password system, requiring you to beat the game – playing it through from start to finish – in a single sitting. For an exploratory game, that made figuring out where you needed to go a very time-consuming task, particularly if you died and ran out of continues without having hand-drawn a map or memorized your progress.

Still, the game drew me back in for countless hours, and not just because I only had a few NES games at the time. The game’s two modes of play game it an added level of enjoyment, and finding the correct area for the first time brought a real sense of accomplishment. Not to mention the opening theme was notably haunting.

Although the game’s story was notably different in the original Japanese release, the American version was simple and to the (ridiculous) point. The protagonist’s frog escapes from its cage and hops into the backyard, where it hits a rather inconveniently-placed radioactive container, mutates, and falls into a hole in the earth. The hero falls down as well, hitting his head, and when he comes to (mercifully without injury) there’s no sign of his now-gigantic frog…but there is a conveniently-unattended tank, complete with a battle-suit inside. Donning it, our hero goes out to rescue his frog from the mutant-filled subterranean landscape (which doesn’t look very subterranean at all, but nevermind that).

It was the 8-bit 80’s; “story” wasn’t really a thing in video games back then.

All these features, and yet no cup holder.

Still, the tank he finds is rather cool. Named “Sophia the 3rd,” it’s got quite a few bells and whistles, though its more advanced features have to be unlocked as you play through the game. Even so, it’s a rather nifty little vehicle, able to jump, swim, drive up walls, and even fly for short periods of time. Given that the top-down areas of the game were typically shorter than the platforming required to reach them, you normally spent most of the game rolling around in Sophia.

Given that you spend most of the game driving the tank, I couldn’t help but get it in my head to write up stats for Sophia the 3rd with Eclipse: The Codex Persona. This way, you can have a sweet ride the next time your character decides to rescue a mutated frog.

Sophia the 3rd, Multi-Terrain Tank

To begin with, we’ll select a brown bear as our base creature. Since it has a CR of 4, that means that it has a base Character Point cost of 64 [the rational being that it’s 32 CP x (CR -2)], specialized for one-half cost/may not use natural melee attacks or senses (i.e. low-light vision or scent), does not have reach, loses all feats except Run. So the base cost is 32 CP, with additional costs as per below.

The above is written under the presumption that a character will want to take Sophia the 3rd as a Companion (Eclipse, p. 27). This is cribbed from Thoth’s article on the subject, and indeed we’re going to be lifting most of what’s there and modifying it as needed here.

Durable Chassis (34 CP)

  • Extreme Horsepower: +8 Strength, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/increases one size category, gaining all of the negative effects (e.g. increased penalty to attacks, AC, size-dependent skills, etc.), but the only positive effect is an increased encumbrance modifier (16 CP).
  • No AI: Int 0 (0 CP).
  • Siliconstruct: Con 0 (0 CP).
  • Reinforced Frame: Advanced Finesse/base additional hit points on Str, not Con (12 CP).
  • Armored Coating: Damage Reduction 3/- (6 CP).

The Extreme Horsepower listing allows some wiggle room for the GM, because the wording deliberately makes it ambiguous whether or not the Sophia the 3rd is actually Huge-size, or is simply reaping the negative effects as if it were. This is because the actual vehicle is quite clearly Large-size, and capable of holding only a single Medium-size creature. On the other hand, in an actual game you might want a vehicle that can carry the whole party, and a Huge-size vehicle can carry up to four Medium-size creatures.

Sweet Ride (24 CP)

  • Life Support: Presence (x5), all specialized/cannot be upgraded, the “vehicle” requires a pilot to move or use its “natural” attacks; it can neither move nor attack on its own. Moreover, it must be repaired, not healed (15 CP).
    • Presence/enclosed crew area: those aboard are protected by the equivalent of a tower shield (a minor variant on the shield spell) against attacks from the outside, although they are not considered to be “holding the shield.”
    • Presence/stable platform: those aboard suffer no penalties for “being mounted.”
    • Presence/safety holds: those aboard have places to hold on, and may more around under normal conditions without risk.
    • Presence/basic comforts: those aboard are shielded from most weather, and can expect to remain reasonably comfortable.
    • Presence/draught of air: those aboard can continue to breathe normally as long as Sophia the 3rd is in an appropriate environment and conditions outside are not too hostile (this will work as long as the outside pressure remains more or less reasonable; if it’s no longer reasonable, than the environment is now “too hostile.” This will work underwater thanks to Adaptation, see below).
  • Onboard Medibay: Healing Touch with +2 Bonus Uses, specialized for increased effect/may only be used on occupant(s), each use restores up to (Hit Dice x Strength modifier: 72) hit points (9 CP).

To be absolutely clear, the “enclosed crew area” Presence means that characters riding inside Sophia the 3rd do not have line of effect to creatures or objects outside of it, and vice versa.

Tricked Out (36 CP)

  • Enhanced Systems: Innate Enchantment (minimum caster level as appropriate; personal-only where appropriate; 14,600 gp value): Specialized for one-half cost/needs a pilot to operate its systems (8 CP).
    • Structural Augmentation: immortal vigor I (+12 + double Str. mod hp; 1,400 gp).
    • Antigravity Pulse: jump (1,400 gp).
    • Gripping Treads: spider climb (personal-only; 8,400 gp).
    • Overdrive: personal haste (2,000 gp).
    • Smart-Locking Doors: hold portal (personal-only; 1,400 gp).
  • Hydraulic Depressurization: Adaptation/aquatic climates (6 CP).
  • Weapon Systems: Shaping, Pulse of the Dragon, and Heart of the Dragon, specialized and corrupted for triple effect/only to use diamond spray, lightning bolt, magic missile, and searing light at will (18 CP).
  • Fully Mechanical: Immunity to dispelling and antimagic (common/minor/minor) (4 CP).

Given that Sophia the 3rd will be an NPC companion, there’s no need to purchase Immunity to the XP cost for having Innate Enchantments. Note also that the Immunity to dispelling and antimagic also protects its Path of the Dragon abilities. The Path of the Dragon abilities are all treated as being caster level 6, and diamond spray and lightning bolt have a save DC of 14 (10 + spell level + Wisdom modifier). Technically, the base creature’s Wisdom is 1 point too low to allow for 3rd-level spells, but since these are specialized and corrupted for triple effect, this is allowable.

Propulsion Boosters (34 CP)

  • Inertial Dampeners: Immunity to the limitations on Jump (very common/minor/trivial). This allows Sophia the 3rd to ignore the running requirement for jumps, may double its result for long jumps and quadruple its result for high jumps (4 CP).
  • Rocket Thrusters: Celerity with an Additional movement mode/flying, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/may only be used for a number of rounds equal to its Hit Dice, requires refueling after each use (6 CP).
  • Nautical Engine: Celerity (x2) with Additional movement mode/swimming (24 CP).

With regard to the fuel needed for the rocket thrusters, my off-hand recommendation is that 1 round’s worth be created via a DC 20 Craft (alchemy) check, taking 1 hour and costing 100 gp. This is fairly easily made even at lower levels. Even if stocked up on, this keeps flight at the tactical, rather than overland, level. (Of course, this is a departure from the game, where fuel is dropped randomly by defeated enemies, but there’s little that can be done there.)

Adding all this up, we have a 32 CP base creature with 128 CP worth of augmentation. That means that if you’re buying Sophia the 3rd as a Companion, you’ll need to purchase two levels of Template at 6 CP each, for a total cost of 18 CP. Not a bad price to travel around in such style!

Derived Stats

  • Hit points: 27 (base creature) + 12 (immortal vigor) + 96 (Strength bonus) = 135 hp.
  • Carrying Capacity: 6,384 lbs. (light), 12,792 lbs. (medium), 19,200 lbs. (heavy).
  • Speed: 70 ft., fly 60 ft. (perfect), swim 60 ft., climb 40 ft.
  • Saving Throws:
    • Fort: +5 (base) +0 (Con) = +5.
    • Ref: +5 (base) +1 (Dex) = +6.
    • Will: +2 (base) +1 (Wis) = +3.
  • Armor Class: 10 (base) +1 (Dex) -2 (size) +5 (natural armor) = 14, touch 8, flat-footed 13.
  • Damage Reduction: 3/–.
  • Resistances: 3 vs. all energy types.
  • Ranged Attacks: +4 (BAB) +1 (Dex) -2 (size) = +3 ranged.
  • Feats: Run.
  • Skills:
    • Climb: 0 (base ranks) +12 (Str) +8 (climb speed bonus) = +20.
    • Fly: 0 (base ranks) +1 (Dex) +8 (fly speed bonus) +8 (perfect maneuverability) -4 (Huge size penalty) = +13 (Pathfinder only).
    • Jump: 0 (base ranks) +12 (Str) +16 (speed bonus) +10 (jump spell) = +38.
    • Swim: 0 (base ranks) +12 (Str) +8 (swim speed bonus) = +20.

Further Development

As a vehicle, Sophia the 3rd isn’t much in the way of an siege machine. Its attacks are comparatively weak, even if they have some nice variety to them and can be used indefinitely. Likewise, its armor is abysmal; its durability comes from its DR and comparatively high hit points, but even those won’t protect it against higher-level threats. Rather, Sophia’s usefulness comes in terms of its ability to take its owner almost anywhere, and to provide a relatively safe environment while doing so. The fact that it can heal a notable amount of damage, and retreat from a bad situation at impressive speeds, certainly helps.

Going forward, buying off several of the corruptions and specializations (particularly with regard to Life Support and the Rocket Thrusters) will be a priority. Some further defenses would be helpful, but buying up the attacks is likely to yield diminishing returns very quickly (though an Overrun or Trample attack to just plow through mobs of low-level foes might be useful). Sensors and communications systems might help to make the tank feel more like an all-purpose mobile base.

Of course, having a pet frog is entirely optional.