Archive for July, 2014

Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Rogue

July 26, 2014

I mentioned in the previous article that the cleric was something of a hybrid between the archetypes of the fighter and the wizard. That’s true, but the cleric has the status of being one of the three original D&D classes – the same cannot be said for the rogue.

Rogue

“Stabbing a back is philosophically the same as picking a lock.”

While initially appearing in a fanzine shortly after Dungeons and Dragons’ original release in 1974, the rogue – then called the thief – formally debuted in Greyhawk, the first supplement for D&D. It was divisive right from the start, as it’s percentage chances of performing certain actions highlighted the exception-based nature of the rules. After all, if thieves had a class ability to open locks 75% of the time, didn’t that mean that other class must therefore have a worse chance of being able to do so (if they could at all)?

Despite this, the thief became a mainstream part of the game, appearing alongside its predecessor classes from then on. It remained largely unchanged until the advent of Third Edition, which not only changed its name to the rogue (for reasons that continue to escape me) but its role in the game as well. Whereas the thief had been focused on special actions that it could undertake, with combat ability as a secondary concern; the rogue, by contrast, reversed the order in which those roles were valued – it was a skirmisher first, and a talented problem-solver second.

As for the Basic version of the D&D Fifth Edition rogue, let’s take a look at its stats, broken down via Eclipse: the Codex Persona, and see which of its historical presentations it more closely adheres to:

The Basic 5Eclipse Rogue

Available Character Points: 504 CP (level 20 base).

Basic Abilities (167 CP)

  • 20d8 Hit Dice (80 CP).
  • Proficiencies: Light armor (3 CP), simple weapons (3 CP), thieves’ weapons (hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords) (3 CP).
  • BAB: +6 Warcraft, specialized for one-half cost/only applies to weapons that you have proficiency with, corrupted for two-thirds cost/no iterative attacks (12 CP).
  • Saves: +6 to two saving throws (36 CP).
  • Skills: +6 to four skills (24 CP), and +6 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized for one-half cost/require thieves’ tools (6 CP).

The rogue not only starts off with more skills than the other Basic 5E classes, but it has proficiency with thieves’ tools, letting it apply its proficiency bonus to any check that uses those tools. Since thieves’ tools are traditionally used only for disabling devices and opening locks, it makes the most sense to simply buy ranks in those skills normally, and then specialize them as requiring thieves’ tools to use.

In a game that uses the Pathfinder skill system, this would only be applied to Disable Device (as that has Open Lock as part of its functionality), saving the rogue 3 CP.

Class Features (271 CP)

  • Expertise: Four instances of Skill Focus, specialized for double effect/must be applied to a skill you have ranks in and does not provide a higher bonus than your current ranks in that skill (24 CP).
  • Sneak Attack: Augment Attack for 10d6 (when the enemy is flanked, flat-footed, or denied their Dexterity bonus to AC), specialized for one-half cost/only once per round, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only with “finessable” or ranged weapons (10 CP).
  • Thieves Cant: Speak Language 1 rank (1 CP).
  • Cunning Action: Three uses of Reflex Training (dash, disengage, and hide), all corrupted for two-thirds cost/cannot be strung together with other Reflex Training actions (12 CP).
  • Ability Score Improvement: +12 ability score increase (144 CP).
  • Uncanny Dodge: Damage reduction 5, specialized for double effect/only versus physical damage and only for one-half the total damage inflicted, corrupted for increased effect/must be aware of attacker, uses an attack of opportunity (12 CP).
  • Evasion: Improved Fortune (Reflex) (12 CP).
  • Reliable Talent: Luck with +12 Bonuses Uses, specialized for double effect/only for use with skills, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not re-roll or take 20; instead treat a result of 9 or lower as a 10 (16 CP).
  • Blindsense: Occult Sense (detect hidden or invisible creatures), specialized for one-half cost/only within 10 feet of you, corrupted for two-thirds cost/auditory-based (2 CP).
  • Slippery Mind: +6 to third saving throw (18 CP).
  • Elusive: Awareness with the Flankless modifier (12 CP).
  • Stroke of Luck: Luck with +4 Bonuses Uses, specialized for half cost/only for attack rolls and Luck with +4 Bonus Uses, specialized for half cost/only for skill and ability checks. Both corrupted for two-thirds cost/each can only be used once before requiring a one-hour rest (8 CP).

We’re making a few compromises here in favor of fewer abilities granting absolutes. For example, Uncanny Dodge as written removed half of the damage you took, regardless of how much that was. It was essentially removing one-half of infinite damage. Since Eclipse (by design) has very few unlimited abilities, we’re instead granting that as a limited form of damage reduction, which does make more sense overall. After all, it’s one thing to halve the damage from the swipe of a claw or an axe – it’s another thing to suggest that a power can halve the damage of anything, up to and including a planet being dropped on you, because you’re that good at dodging.

We’re also reinterpreting instances that would “grant advantage” in combat where things like Sneak Attack and Elusive are concerned. Since these are clearly meant to be referring the circumstances from Third Edition such as being flanked or flat-footed, we’ll simply tie them back to those circumstances directly.

Thief Archetype (39 CP)

  • Fast Hands: Three uses of Reflex Training (Sleight of Hand, disarm a trap or open a lock, or use an object), all corrupted for two-thirds cost/cannot be strung together with other Reflex Training actions (12 CP).
  • Second-Story Work: Immunity to speed penalties when climbing (uncommon/minor/minor) (2 CP). Skill Focus (Jump), specialized for double effect/only applies to a running long-jump (6 CP).
  • Supreme Sneak: Luck with +8 Bonus Uses, specialized in Hide and Move Silently checks for one-half cost, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only when moving at one-half speed or less (6 CP).
  • Use Magic Device: Immunity to class, race, and level requirements to activate magic items (common/major/major) (9 CP).
  • Thief’s Reflexes: Reflex Training (the first round of combat), specialized for increased effect/take an additional round’s worth of actions, second turn goes at initiative -10; corrupted for two-thirds cost/only works when not surprised (4 CP).

The rogue’s abilities come to a grand total of 477 CP out of 504. That’s just over a level below their total allotment, and slightly lower than the Basic 5E cleric and fighter, which also spent less than their total CPs, but not by quite so much. Interestingly, while this is a few feats’ worth below the Pathfinder rogue, it’s almost exactly as much as the 3.5 rogue spends.

The level-by-level breakdown for the Basic 5E rogue is as follows:

Every Level: d8 Hit Die = 4 CP.

Level Cost Purchases
1st 53 Proficiency with light armor (3 CP), simple weapons (3 CP), rogue weapons (hand crossbows, longswords, rapiers, shortswords) (3 CP). +2 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (4 CP). +2 to two saves (12 CP). +2 to four skills (8 CP). +2 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (2 CP). Two instances of Skill Focus (12 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Speak Language (thieves’ cant) (1 CP).
2nd 16 Three instances of Reflex Training (dash, disengage, and hide), corrupted (12 CP).
3rd 25 Three instances of Reflex Training (Sleight of Hand, disarm a trap or open a lock, or use an object), corrupted (12 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Immunity to speed penalties when climbing (2 CP). Skill Focus (Jump) (6 CP).
4th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
5th 30 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Damage reduction 5 (12 CP).
6th 16 Two instances of Skill Focus (12 CP).
7th 17 Improved Fortune (Reflex) (12 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
8th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
9th 24 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Luck with +8 Bonus Uses (Hide and Move Silently), specialized and corrupted (6 CP).
10th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
11th 21 Luck with +12 Bonus Uses (skills), specialized and corrupted (16 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
12th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
13th 27 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Immunity to class, race, and level requirements to activate magic items (9 CP).
14th 6 Occult Sense (detect hidden or invisible creatures), specialized and corrupted (2 CP).
15th 20 +5 to third saving throw (15 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
16th 28 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
17th 25 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to three saves (9 CP). +1 to four skills (4 CP). +1 to Disable Device and Open Lock, specialized (1 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP). Reflex Training (the first round of combat), specialized and corrupted (4 CP).
18th 16 Awareness with the Flankless modifier (12 CP).
19th 29 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP). Augment Attack, specialized and corrupted (1 CP).
20th 12 Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (attack rolls), specialized and corrupted (4 CP). Luck with +4 Bonus Uses (skill and ability checks), specialized and corrupted (4 CP).

Looking over the above table, we can see that the rogue is, perhaps surprisingly, focused more on being a skill-monkey than on being a combatant. Their repeated use of Reflex Training for their skills allow for the rogue to make skill checks – which will almost certainly be successful thanks to so many uses of Luck – even in the midst of other activities. Their only major offensive ability is their signature sneak attack; virtually all of their other combat powers are defensive in nature.

Of course, the Basic 5E rogue can only afford to dip so heavily into skill-boosting abilities and still afford to have combat enhancements because of how much it, as a 5E class, skimps on BAB, saves, and skill points compared to its 3.5 and Pathfinder counterparts. Compared to its fellows, however, this new rogue might actually manage to strike a balance between combat and skills. Though it would be better served to spend the missing levels’ worth of CPs to help it do so.

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Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Cleric

July 19, 2014

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

Cleric

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

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

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

The Basic 5Eclipse Cleric

Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base).

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

Basic Abilities (155 CP)

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

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

Clerical Spellcasting (126 CP)

  • 20 clerical levels magic progression, no package (Wisdom-based; spontaneous casting; divine magic; studies and restrained limitations), corrupted for two-thirds cost/reduce the spells per day at each level by two-thirds (round up), specialized for increased effect/may rearrange spells known each day, cannot use any metamagic theorems (60 CP).
  • 20 caster levels, specialized for one-half cost/only for the cleric progression (60 CP).
  • Occult Ritual, specialized for increased effect/does not require a skill check; may only be used with certain prepared spells to mimic their effects (6 CP).

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

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

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

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

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

One minor additional note is that since this uses the studies limitation (being a spontaneous spellcaster), we’re adding that in place of the conduct limitation that most divine spellcasters would have. This is in deference to the fact that Basic 5E – at least in its alpha release – has no gods listed for clerics to serve. Between this and the lack of a duties restriction, the Basic 5E cleric functions less as an evangelical priest than as an ecumenical mystic on behalf of unspecified (or perhaps highly personal) spiritual forces.

Class Features (152 CP)

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

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

Divine Domain: Life (62 CP)

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

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

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

All of these features together bring us to a grand total of 495 CP, which is within a single level of the 504 CP allotment for the class. Once again, the Basic 5E classes are quite balanced overall.

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

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

Level Cost Purchases
1st 69 Proficiency with light and medium armor (9 CP), shields (3 CP), and all simple weapons (3 CP). +2 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (4 CP). +2 to two saves (12 CP). +2 to two skills (4 CP). Domain (life) (6 CP). Heavy armor proficiency (6 CP). Ability Focus/healing (variant) (6 CP). Occult Ritual, specialized (6 CP).
2nd 38 Turn Undead. [3 + (3 x Charisma bonus)] uses per day, specialized for one-half cost/may not use more than one attempts before needing a one-hour rest (10 CP). Base intensity as character level +4 (6 CP). Conversion (mass cure moderate wounds) (12 CP).
3rd 10
4th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
5th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
6th 16 Specialization on number of uses per day for Turn Undead increased to two attempts before needing a one-hour rest (0 CP). Grant of Aid with the Mighty modifier, specialized for double effect/only for hit points, corrupted for two-thirds cost/only used when casting a healing spell on others, restoring no more than (2 + spell level) hit points each time (6 CP).
7th 10
8th 46 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP). +2d8 damage, triple cost – always with your deity’s favored weapon, specialized for one-half cost/only once per round (12 CP).
9th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
10th 19 Inherent Spell (miracle) with two uses of Advanced, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only as prerequisites (6 CP). One further use of Advanced, corrupted for increased effect/may not be used again for 7 days after successful use, specialized for one-half cost/requires a successful d% roll equal to or less than your level (3 CP).
11th 10
12th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
13th 20 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP).
14th 10
15th 10
16th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
17th 34 +1 Warcraft, specialized and corrupted (2 CP). +1 to two saves (6 CP). +1 to two skills (2 CP). Amplify metamagic theorem, specialized for one-half cost/only grants the Maximize effect, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may only be used on healing spells (2 CP). Streamline, specialized for double effect/may only be applied to Amplify, corrupted for increased effect/only applies to maximizing spells (6 CP). Fast modifier (6 CP).
18th 14 Specialization on number of uses per day for Turn Undead bought up to corruption/three attempts before needing a one-hour rest (4 CP).
19th 34 +2 ability score improvement (24 CP).
20th 13 Buy off specialization on final Advanced modifier for Inherent Spell (3 CP).

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

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

Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – Races

July 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humans (24 CP/+0 ECL)

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

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

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

Variant Humans (24 CP/+0 ECL)

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

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

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

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

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

Adroit Humans (20 CP/+0 ECL race)

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

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

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

Eclipse and D&D Fifth Edition – The Fighter

July 4, 2014

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

Well, sort of.

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

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

The Classic Fighter

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

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

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

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

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

Eclipsing Fifth Edition

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

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

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

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

The Basic 5Eclipse Fighter

Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base).

Basic Abilities (207 CP)

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

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

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

Class Features (240+ CP)

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

Martial Archetype (Champion) (39+ CP).

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

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

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

Every Level: d10 Hit Die = 6 CP.

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

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

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

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

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

The Fifth Edition package deal provides for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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