Archive for February, 2013


February 24, 2013

Several months ago, I wrote about how I had wanted to use Eclipse: The Codex Persona to make a character in my current Pathfinder group, but was shot down by the other players. While I wasn’t ready to give up on that particular goal, I recognized that it was going to have to be put on the back-burner for a while.

Well, two weeks ago my group surprised me – they were withdrawing their objections to my using Eclipse! Needless to say, I was delightfully surprised, but also slightly confused; what had made them change their mind? As it turned out, it had been me, but not because of anything I’d done deliberately. Rather, it had been a result of my enthusiastically role-playing a dramatically weak character that I’d rolled up after my original push to use Eclipse had been vetoed.

Yeah, it was kind of like that.

This was my reaction. It was also how I was dressed at the time.

After my group had initially decided that they didn’t want me to use Eclipse, I decided to go in the opposite direction, in terms of character creation. Eclipse, being a point-buy character builder, requires that you have an existing back-story that you want to model your character around; that is, you use the flexibility of a point-buy system to flesh out an idea that you already have (as opposed to building the character organically, which is certainly doable but is much more likely to result in a character that is, conceptually, all over the place).

Opposed to this is the idea of developing a character’s mechanics first, and then creating the narrative identity around that, followed by fleshing them out through play. In other words, let the dice and the course of events determine just who the character is. This is the style of play which – as others have claimed – is how D&D was originally built around. It was also the style that I decided to play towards.

I wasn’t going to do it half-assed, either. I didn’t have any fall-back ideas for what sort of character I wanted, so I felt that using a point-buy system purely to generate ability scores (my group’s preferred method of ability score generation) was fairly meaningless here. Moreover, being one of the guys in the group with the longest history with the game, I had previously (and jokingly) mocked the use of point-buying ability scores as “not how we did it back in the old-school.” Given that, I felt fatalistic enough to let the dice choose my character for me…and I was going to let them be harsh about it, too.

I was going to roll my stats randomly, using the 3d6-in-order method of generation. No roll-4d6-and-drop-the-lowest, no re-allocating the results around to different ability scores. Just roll them randomly for each stat, and play what I got.

Needless to say, the results were exactly what you’d expect: Str 5, Dex 9, Con 6, Int 11, Wis 15, Cha 11.

Given that, as part of my “doing it old school” attitude towards this character I’d written off using any supplements or expansions beyond the Core Rulebook, it seemed that being a cleric was my only real option.

Needless to say, this was uncharted territory for me. I’d never played a divine spellcaster before; the issues with having a connection to an established religion were a burden (e.g. knowing how the religion worked, having ties to its terrestrial hierarchy and structure – especially since we were playing in the GM’s home-brew world) that I hadn’t wanted. But I was resolute, and since the GM was willing to give me some leeway in playing up my character’s religion, I went forward with the idea. As such, my cleric – Varek Tam – joined the group.

In the course of our initial adventure, Varek was (alongside another cleric in the party) our group’s healer and buffer, working to make sure that the rest of the characters (particularly the headstrong barbarian, who went below 0 hit points five times in the course of our first adventure) were able to stay up and combat-ready. This was, to me, the perfect example of having game-play and random ability scores define your character: I saw Varek as someone who was weak individually, and because of that knew the value of strength through community. His clerical domains were, not surprisingly, Community and Protection.

Things went fairly smoothly from there on out. I put all of Varek’s ability score bonuses, both racial and from hitting every four levels, into Wisdom – that seemed obvious, since it would pump up the one thing he did well, casting spells – instead of trying to ameliorate his otherwise-anemic ability scores. While I initially tried to put him right in the thick of things alongside the other characters, adopting a “come what may” attitude, it wasn’t long before I found myself keeping him away from danger so that he could continue enhancing and healing the other party members.

Unfortunately, Varek’s Hit Dice rolls each level were, on average, poor. Taking the Toughness feat, and sinking all of his favored class bonuses into additional hit points effectively cancelled out his low Constitution, but nothing could cancel out poor rolls for more hit points.

It was here that the group in general, and the GM in particular, were concerned. While I had known that they were impressed that I was going forward with such a sub-standard character, I hadn’t realized quite the degree of props they had given me. This was doubly true for the fact that I was role-playing the character’s personality to the hilt as someone who was concerned with the spirit of community and togetherness, focusing on the good of the group without being taken in by draconian measures of “individuals must suffer for everyone’s benefit” that can come with focusing too much on the collective.

The problem was that the GM had plans for all of our characters, in terms of the campaign’s storyline. The plans for my character, however, were rapidly being put in jeopardy due to the widening gap in effectiveness that was becoming more and more apparent with each level we gained. Having a few less hit points at 2nd level was one thing. Having less than half the hit points of most of the group at 6th level was something else again. The rest of the group was concerned too, since it was taking two dedicated clerics to keep everybody going (our total group size is seven PCs).

That was where Eclipse was brought back into the conversation (though again, I didn’t know that quite yet). The group’s main worry was (as I understood it) that I’d use the system to min-max the crap out of an Eclipse character and…well…eclipse the rest of the party. My willingness to play a weak character, and focus on his role-playing potential rather than his mechanics, had apparently driven home the point that I wasn’t going to do that. It’d also allow me the flexibility to fix Varek’s horrifically low hit points. The verdict was settled: I’d be given a chance to use Eclipse.

Of course, I wouldn’t just be allowed to re-spec my character. Up until this point, I had shied away from my character’s back-story – I had fleshed out who he was now, but not how he’d gotten that way. The GM decided to use this weakness as a strength, and said that my character was recovering memories that he hadn’t even realized he’d lost…and that these were the in-game use of Eclipse statistics. Given that, the GM’s plan was that each day, for a number of rounds equal to his character level, I could “swap out” using Varek’s normal Pathfinder statistics for Eclipse statistics (something the group referred to humorously as “memory mode”). The GM likewise said that, since this would be a limited ability, I shouldn’t feel bad about tricking out what Varek could do. The one caveat was that the character be re-designed around the same thematic elements as he had had so far; that is, no turning him into a martial heavy-hitter, etc.

Needless to say, I was elated! I decided to take the GM’s words to heart, and set about making an Eclipse version of Varek (who was, and still is, 6th level). Since the GM had given me permission to take the gloves off, I decided that all of Varek’s abilities were specialized (for one-half cost), due to only being able to use Eclipse for a few rounds per day. This essentially doubled how many character points I could spend on Varek, and it was easy to make an exceptionally-powerful incarnation of him.

Said incarnation lasted for one week.

The GM had changed his mind on the matter of swapping-out Pathfinder stats for Eclipse stats; while it would make Varek incredibly powerful for a few rounds, he was still a weakling the rest of the time, and far too easy to kill when he’d run out of time in “memory mode.” As such, the GM changed his original ruling, and now I was going to be allowed to use the Eclipse stats to run Varek full-time. This, of course, meant I couldn’t specialize everything across-the-board, but it meant that I could design the character with a more long-term progression in mind.

Of course, the irony was that I was told to re-spec the character to Eclipse while still playing closely towards how his Pathfinder stats were constructed. Ironically, this meant that the end result of redoing the character’s stats was, if I interpreted the GM literally, virtually indistinguishable from how Varek looked under the Pathfinder rules. After all, you can easily re-create the Pathfinder cleric in Eclipse, to the point where it’s effectively identical.

Naturally, I didn’t hew quite that closely. After all, it was far more important to address Varek’s low hit points, and related deficiencies (e.g. his low saves, etc.), resulting in some things being traded away to find ways to bump those up. The end result is below.

Available Character Points: 168 (level 6 base) + 18 (levels 1, 3, and 5 feats) + 6 (human bonus feat) + 10 (disadvantages; history, inept (Dex), stigmata) = 202 CP.

Varek receives feats at each odd-numbered level, a la the Pathfinder progression. His disadvantages play into the themes of the characters and the campaign: his ineptness builds on his physical weakness, his history is part of the campaign’s storyline with a lost age of disaster slowly returning, and his stigmata is that he had an old wound caused by negative energy over his heart – energy-aligned metals are part of the GM’s campaign world, and this plays into Varek’s ties with positive energy.

Ability Scores: Str 5, Dex 9, Con 6, Int 11, Wis 18, Cha 11. Includes Improved Self-Development (for Wisdom) and racial bonus (for Wisdom).

Human Traits

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

As always, this last bullet point is based off of the Pathfinder Package Deal that all Pathfinder-style characters get with Eclipse.

Basic Purchases (99 CP)

  • 6d8 Hit Dice (25 hit points) (24 CP)
  • Light and Medium Armor Proficiency (9 CP)
  • Shield Proficiency (3 CP)
  • All Simple Weapons Proficiency (3 CP)
  • +3 BAB (18 CP, corrupted for two-thirds cost/does not count for iterative attacks – 12 CP)
  • +5 Fort, +2 Ref, +5 Will (36 CP)
  • 12 skill points (12 CP)

Varek’s base attack bonus was reduced to help save on Character Points. Since his low Strength means that he’ll almost never enter combat, I reduced it to one-half his Hit Dice, rather than three-fourths. Likewise, it was corrupted to remove iterative attacks, since those are of no use to him.

Special Abilities (103 CP)

  • 6 levels clerical spellcasting (no package) plus caster level (48 CP)
  • Spell Conversion (healing spells) (6 CP)
  • Shaping, specialized/increased effect (only works for prepared set of 0-level cleric spells), corrupted/two-thirds cost (must use verbal and somatic components) (4 CP)
  • Finesse with the Advanced modifier; apply Wisdom bonus to hit points instead of Constitution bonus (12 CP)
  • Channeling 3 times per day (6 CP) plus 4 bonus uses (6 CP)
    • Conversion, a set of four level three effects (9 CP), corrupted for two-thirds cost/only actually provides two effects (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus, add Wisdom modifier to channeling intensity and magnitude (6 CP).
  • Innate Enchantment, all abilities constant (e.g. unlimited use), personal only (x0.7 gp cost). Spell level 1 x caster level 1 x 2,000 gp. 5,600 gp value (7 CP).
    • Immortal Vigor (2d6 bonus Hit Dice, plus Wis bonus (+8) – retroactive to first level, and so are maximized (e.g. 20 extra hit points), 1,400 gp)
    • Warding Rune (1 + caster level/3 (max. +4) resistance bonus on saves, 1,400 gp)
    • Force Armor I (+4 armor (force), 1,400 gp)
    • Force Shield I (+4 shield (force), 1,400 gp)
  • Immunity, Stacking limits when combining innate enchantment effects with external effects (Common, Minor, Trivial – only covers L1 effects, 2 CP).

The biggest changes in Varek’s stats here are his removing the “clerical package” option when buying his magic levels. While he did buy spell conversion so that he can spontaneously cast healing spells, the rest of the clerical domains were of little use for what they offered. This helped pay for Advanced Finesse, which lets him use his Wisdom to receive bonus hit points (this is explained as his having more positive energy in his body than normal biological processes could normally sustain – he’s simply “more alive” than his biology would normally support, something sustained by his faith).

Similarly, the innate enchantments help to round out the rest of his basic stats, providing bonuses to his hit points, his Armor Class, and his saving throws. Since he wears +1 hide armor (green dragonhide) and carries a heavy steel shield, the immunity to stacking limits for his innate enchantments is also a small-but-necessary purchase. He can also channel more often than he could before, and with greater efficacy thanks to Augmented Bonus (though I’m only mostly sure, rather than totally sure, that it doesn’t need to be Improved to apply his Wisdom modifier to both his turning intensity and magnitude).

Overall, these change Varek’s stats quite a bit.

Table: Hit Points



6d8 Hit Dice

25 hit points

2d6 Immortal Vigor Hit Dice

12 hit points (1st level – maximized)

Wisdom bonus (+4)

32 hit points (includes Immortal Vigor HD)


69 hit points

Table: Saving Throws





Base values

+5 base

+2 base

+5 base

Ability modifiers

-2 Constitution

-1 Dexterity

+4 Will

Warding Rune

+3 Warding Rune

+3 Warding Rune

+3 Warding Rune





Table: Skills



Ability Mod.





+0 Cha





+4 Wis



Knowledge (religion)


+0 Int





+4 Wis


Sense Motive


+4 Wis





+0 Int



The issue of what skills constitute “class skills” for Eclipse characters, which are class-less, hasn’t come up yet. I suspect, however, that the GM will limit me to the list of class skills for the standard Pathfinder cleric. The above skills that are receiving the “+3 class skill bonus” are reflective of that.

Table: Armor Class







+1 green dragonhide hide armor


Heavy steel shield


Force Shield (stacks)


Force Armor (stacks)


Total 24

Having said all of that, I’m still trying to figure out a longer-term plan for Varek, in terms of buying further abilities for him. He wasn’t originally meant to be an Eclipse character, and while I do have some themes in mind for him (the good of the group – healing, buffing, and maybe some defending), I’m unsure of how to properly reflect these with further powers.

Presumably he’ll want to take an immunity to having his innate enchantments dispelled or negated, and he’ll probably expand on them with some low-level boosters (e.g. some +2 stat bonuses), but I’m wondering if I should eschew his clerical spellcasting (and maybe take Superstition to reflect that he’s not devoted to a particular higher power) in favor of expanding his channeling powers.

I’d appreciate any ideas for where to take the character from here, but however he develops, it’s going to be a lot of fun using Eclipse to take him there!