Monday, December 28, 2015

Ewan's First Christmas (Abridged)

'Twas the week around Christmas, and all through the house
Not a creature was drooling, least not on a blouse;
The bright boy was nestled all snug in his bed;
While visions of stocking-stuff danced in his head;
And Mommy in her earrings,
And I, too, madcap,
Had just settled our buns for a spell to unwrap,
When out from the kitchen arranged on a platter,
We sprang from our seats for good eats—pitter-patter.
When what to my grumbling stomach did sound,
But a miniature laugh from this face jolly round,
With little left of our meals, once juicy and thick,
To the waiting presents we returned right quick.
More rapid our heartbeats with presents became,
And we pointed,
and shouted,
and called them by name:
Now Splasher!
Now Dancer!
Now Lancer!
And Vixen!
On carpet, a Cutie!
On Donnie!
And nice men!
A bit fussy and plump, a right jolly wee elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
He spoke not a word, sitting straight on his tail,
And filled his wee diaper; then let out a wail.
To the top of our knees! To the edge of the wall!
(Now, where to begin!?) Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Highlanders

A pair of iconic movie and TV characters (and cousins from the same clan) from one of my favorite franchises.

CONNOR MACLEOD
(circa Highlander: Endgame, 2002)
Male Human Legendary Strong Hero 2/Fast Hero 2/Tough Hero 2/Dedicated Hero 3/Archaic Weaponsmaster 10; CR 21; LA +2; Medium Humanoid (Immortal) (height 5' 11", weight 175 lb.); Age 484 (apparent 40, due to time spent in the Sanctuary)

Init +2; Senses (core) Listen +10 (see below), Search +2, Spot +9 (see below); Senses (house) Listen/Spot +16 (see below), Search +4
Languages English, French, Gaelic, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Navajo, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

Defense 27, touch 27, flat-footed 25; Defensive Martial Arts, Dodge (+2 Dex, +15 class)
hp 150 (19 HD); Mas 16
Fort +16, Ref +9, Will +10
Action Points 14

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +16/+11/+6 (1d6+3 lethal/nonlethal, 20) or
Melee dragonhead katana +19/+14/+9 (2d6+6 slashing, 18-20) or
Melee by weapon +15/+10/+5
Ranged by weapon +15/+10/+5
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +13; Grp +16
Atk Options Agile Riposte, Combat Expertise, Defensive Guard, Hack, Improved Disarm, Offensive Guard, Parry, Power Attack, Press, Riposte, Severing Strike
Special Qualities immortal talents (32/32 QP; healing - 1, sense - 8, skills - 2, breath - 1, cloak - 1, empower - 5, fade - 5; 9 unspent), immortal traits, legend traits (3)

Abilities Str 14, Dex 15 (14), Con 16 (15), Int 14 (13), Wis 16 (15), Cha 14
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances the Sanctuary, good, Duncan; Rep +6; San 68
Feats Agile Riposte, Alertness, Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Brawl, Combat Expertise, Combat Martial Arts, Combat Reflexes*, Defensive Martial Arts, Dodge, Exotic Melee Weapon Proficiency (katana), Improved Disarm, Iron Will*, Low Profile*, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Power Attack, Secret Identity (from Past), Simple Weapons Proficiency, Weapon Focus (katana), Weapon Focus (greatsword), Windfall
* Bonus feats acquired from the legend template.
Skills (core) Balance +6, Bluff +5 (+2 on feint with katana), Climb +6, Craft (structural) +6, Handle Animal +7, Hide +7, Intimidate +6 (+2 with katana drawn), Investigate +4, Jump +4, Knowledge (art) +5, Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (history) +12 (+2 on katanas), Knowledge (streetwise) +5, Knowledge (tactics) +6, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +5, Listen +10 (+5 to avoid surprise), Move Silently +6, Profession (antiquarian) +7, Profession (blacksmith) +6, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write Gaelic, Read/Write German, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Japanese, Read/Write Mandarin, Read/Write Navajo, Read/Write Portuguese, Read/Write Russian, Read/Write Spanish, Repair +7, Research +6, Ride +7, Sense Motive +10, Speak English, Speak French, Speak Gaelic, Speak German, Speak Italian, Speak Japanese, Speak Mandarin, Speak Navajo, Speak Portuguese, Speak Russian, Speak Spanish, Spot +9 (+5 to avoid surprise), Survival +6, Swim +5, Treat Injury +6, Tumble +4
Skills (house) Athletics +11, Control +7, Craft (structural) +6, Deduce +4, Handle Animal +7, Knowledge (art) +5, Knowledge (current events) +5, Knowledge (history) +12 (+2 on katanas), Knowledge (streetwise) +5, Knowledge (tactics) +6, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +5, Perceive +16 (+5 on Listen/Spot to avoid surprise), Persuade +9 (+2 on Bluff to feint with katana, +2 on Intimidate with katana drawn), Profession (antiquarian) +7, Profession (blacksmith) +6, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write Gaelic, Read/Write German, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Japanese, Read/Write Mandarin, Read/Write Navajo, Read/Write Portuguese, Read/Write Russian, Read/Write Spanish, Repair +7, Research +8, Ride +7, Sneak +11, Speak English, Speak French, Speak Gaelic, Speak German, Speak Italian, Speak Japanese, Speak Mandarin, Speak Navajo, Speak Portuguese, Speak Russian, Speak Spanish, Survival +6, Treat Injury +6, Tumble +4
Talents (Strong Hero) Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Evasion
Talents (Tough Hero) Remain Conscious
Talents (Dedicated Hero) Aware, Skill Emphasis (Knowledge [history])
Talents (Archaic Weaponsmaster) Expert In Your Field, Imbue Weapon +2, Increased Weapon Critical (katana), Quick Weapon Draw (katana), Weapon Specialization (katana), Weapon Stun
Starting Occupation Rural (Handle Animal, Repair as permanent class skills; Brawl)
Possessions (carried weight 11 lb.) mastercraft [+3] dragonhead katana (signature design imposes –1 penalty on attacks in another’s hands; hits as a +2 magic weapon vs. DR; PDC 23; 6 lb.), casual outfit (street clothes; 2 lb.), tan overcoat (3 lb.), various personal items
Wealth Bonus +14

DUNCAN MACLEOD
(circa Highlander: Endgame, 2002)
Male Human Legendary Strong Hero 3/Fast Hero 3/Tough Hero 2/Dedicated Hero 3/Charismatic Hero 1/Archaic Weaponsmaster 7; CR 21; LA +2; Medium Humanoid (Immortal) (height 6', weight 210 lb.); Age 410 (apparent 30)

Init +3; Senses (core) Listen +4, Search +2, Spot +4; Senses (house) Listen/Spot +8, Search +4
Languages English, French, Gaelic, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, Sioux, Spanish

Defense 27, touch 27, flat-footed 27; Defensive Martial Arts, Dodge (+3 Dex, +14 class)
hp 149 (19 HD); Mas 17
Fort +16, Ref +10, Will +10
Action Points 15

Speed 30 ft.
Melee unarmed strike +17/+12/+7 (1d6+5 lethal/nonlethal, 19-20) or
Melee unarmed strike +15/+10/+5 (1d6+5, 19-20) and
Melee unarmed strike +15 (1d6+3, two-weapon) or
Melee dragonhead katana +20/+15/+10 (2d6+8 slashing, 19-20) or
Melee by weapon +16/+11/+6
Ranged by weapon +16/+11/+6
Space 5 ft. by 5 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +13; Grp +19
Atk Options Agile Riposte, Combat Expertise, Defensive Guard, Hack, Improved Disarm, Offensive Guard, Parry, Press, Riposte, Severing Strike, Two-Weapon Fighting
Special Qualities immortal talents (25/34 QP; healing - 3, sense - 4, skills - 10, cloak - 1, empower - 5, presence - 1, seek - 1; 0 unspent), immortal traits, legend traits (2)

Abilities Str 16 (15), Dex 16 (15), Con 17, Int 14 (12), Wis 15, Cha 16
'(-)' indicate original ability scores.
Allegiances peace, good, law, Connor, the Game, the Watchers; Rep +9; San 70
Feats Agile Riposte*, Archaic Weapons Proficiency, Brawl, Combat Expertise, Combat Martial Arts, Combat Throw, Defensive Martial Arts, Dodge, Exotic Melee Weapon Proficiency (katana), Improved Combat Martial Arts, Improved Disarm, Iron Will*, Mobility, Personal Firearms Proficiency, Simple Weapons Proficiency, Track, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (katana)
* Bonus feats acquired from the legend template.
Skills (core) Balance +5, Bluff +5 (+1 on females, +10 on feint with katana), Climb +9, Concentration +6, Craft (structural) +6, Escape Artist +7, Gather Information +7 (+1 on females), Handle Animal +7, Hide +6, Intimidate +5 (+1 on females, +10 with katana drawn), Investigate +4, Jump +8, Knowledge (arcane lore) +4, Knowledge (art) +5, Knowledge (current events) +4, Knowledge (history) +13 (+10 on katanas), Knowledge (streetwise) +3, Knowledge (tactics) +7, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +5, Listen +4, Move Silently +6, Profession (antiquarian) +7, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write Gaelic, Read/Write German, Read/Write Hindi, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Japanese, Read/Write Mandarin, Read/Write Russian, Read/Write Sioux, Read/Write Spanish, Repair +5, Research +5, Ride +10, Sense Motive +4, Sleight of Hand +5, Speak English, Speak French, Speak Gaelic, Speak German, Speak Hindi, Speak Italian, Speak Japanese, Speak Mandarin, Speak Russian, Speak Sioux, Speak Spanish, Spot +4, Survival +7, Swim +8, Treat Injury +4, Tumble +6
Skills (house) Athletics +14 (+1 on Climb), Control +8, Craft (structural) +6, Deduce +4, Escape Artist +8, Gather Information +7 (+1 on females), Handle Animal +7, Knowledge (arcane lore) +4, Knowledge (art) +5, Knowledge (current events) +4, Knowledge (history) +13 (+10 on katanas), Knowledge (streetwise) +5, Knowledge (tactics) +7, Knowledge (theology and philosophy) +5, Perceive +8, Persuade +7 (+1 on females, +10 on Bluff to feint with katana, +10 on Intimidate with katana drawn), Profession (antiquarian) +7, Read/Write English, Read/Write French, Read/Write Gaelic, Read/Write German, Read/Write Hindi, Read/Write Italian, Read/Write Japanese, Read/Write Mandarin, Read/Write Russian, Read/Write Sioux, Read/Write Spanish, Repair +7, Research +5, Ride +10, Sneak +11, Speak English, Speak French, Speak Gaelic, Speak German, Speak Hindi, Speak Italian, Speak Japanese, Speak Mandarin, Speak Sioux, Speak Spanish, Speak Russian, Survival +7, Treat Injury +4, Tumble +8
Talents (Strong Hero) Improved Melee Smash, Melee Smash
Talents (Fast Hero) Evasion, Uncanny Dodge 1
Talents (Tough Hero) Robust
Talents (Dedicated Hero) Faith, Skill Emphasis (Knowledge [history])
Talents (Charismatic Hero) Charm (females)
Talents (Archaic Weaponsmaster) Expert In Your Field, Imbue Weapon +1, Quick Weapon Draw (katana), Weapon Specialization (katana), Weapon Stun
Starting Occupation Military (Survival as permanent class skill, +1 on Climb; Archaic Weapons Proficiency)
Possessions (carried weight 12 lb.) mastercraft [+3] dragonhead katana (signature design imposes –1 penalty on attacks in another’s hands; hits as a +2 magic weapon vs. DR; PDC 23; 6 lb.), formal outfit (fine street clothes; 3 lb.), dark overcoat (3 lb.), black Ford Thunderbird Convertible, various personal items
Wealth Bonus +17

NEW Vehicle Ford Thunderbird “T-bird” (full-size luxury coupe)

Crew: 1; Pass: 4; Cargo: 350 lb.; Init: –2; Man: –1; Speed: 205 (20); Def: 8; Hard: 5; hp: 36; Size: H; Purchase DC: 29; Res: Lic (+1)

The T-bird, Ford’s leading luxury model in the 60s, comes with a 390-cubic-inch V8 engine with a soft sprung suspension. This T-bird comes in 2-door hardtop or 2-door convertible layouts. The T-bird is 2 squares wide and 4 squares long.

IMMORTAL TEMPLATE

Special Note: A few terms to understand in discussing Immortals.
Champion/One, the: A prophetic Immortal individual, thought to be chosen through a combination of mysterious means and the crucible of the Gathering once every thousand years, and called upon to face the worst incarnations of death as a check against the darkness.
Game, the: The millennia-long forced conflict between Immortals by means of freeform elimination duels, though a number of rules are generally observed. Combat continues, influenced by the Gathering, until the One is realized.
Gathering, the: A subconscious summoning effect that compels Immortals to participate in the Game. It is not known whether the Gathering is a byproduct of the Quickening, the nature of the Immortals, an outside influence controlling the Game, or a combination thereof. The result is the same: Immortals feel an almost irresistible urge to seek out their own kind and issue challenges to determine the One.
Prize, the: That which awaits the one Immortal who accomplishes the daunting task of slaying or surviving all his or her fellow Immortals, thus collecting every Quickening. The exact rewards that come with the Prize vary but are foretold in numerous prophecies, “doomsayings,” and mythological traditions: the ability to dominate and control all of humanity, the ability to know what all mortals are thinking, the combined Quickening energy and experience of all Immortals, and the ability to render oneself mortal, thus becoming able to bear or sire children, etc.

Creating An Immortal
“Immortal” is an acquired template found only in humans (referred to hereafter as the base creature or Immortal), provided the human was proto-Immortal beforehand and died a violent death (see below). All the Immortal’s statistics and special abilities remain the same except as noted here.
          Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature +2.
          Size and Type: The base creature’s type (humanoid) remains unchanged, but the base creature gains the Immortal subtype (see below). Size is unchanged.

          Immortal Subtype: Immortals are a mysterious subset of humankind that tend to be neutral and dwell exclusively on the prime material plane. Only “proto-Immortals” may become immortal, and this rare quality (about 1 in 70,000 persons) can be found anywhere in the world. Proto-Immortals are exclusively foundlings, with no known historical record contradicting this, whose familial bonds are purely sociopolitical. (Watcher scholars contend that Immortals are birthed by the Source, the origin of their longevity and power, but there is no firm evidence to support this.) Their origins, histories, and purpose on earth are the stuff of great debate.
          Traits: The base creature possesses the following traits.
          -Age Freeze (Ex): The Immortal’s age freezes at the time of his or her “first death.” An Immortal’s first death is a violent or physically traumatic and unnatural death that triggers the base creature’s immortality, including many of the traits listed below. A proto-Immortal’s first death excludes dying from all natural causes, including disease or old age, etc. The Immortal physically appears to remain at this age; thus, any damage, markings, or scars to the body before the first death will remain.
          The Immortal can never die of old age. No known process can age an Immortal after its first death. Some of the oldest Immortals that have ever lived are thought to have been thousands of years old, though their apparent age would appear to be as they were at the time of their first death. Age penalties and bonuses do not accrue as normal. Of course, an Immortal who dies his or her first death after accumulating any physical aging penalties or bonuses will retain them, though he or she will not receive any further age-based adjustments afterwards. It should be noted that the only way an Immortal will permanently die is by decapitation, as explained below.
          -Healing (Ex): The Immortal will regenerate a number of hit points (up to his or her current maximum), equal to at least 2 per minute, regardless of the type of injuries the Immortal has sustained. An Immortal begins healing only after the condition that damaged him or her has ended. So long as the Immortal is given an appropriate time to heal from any injuries, there will be no scarring; the only exception to this is if the Immortal receives a near fatal (i.e. as determined by the GM) wound to the neck, in which case the wound will heal but leave a scar.
          Additionally, should the Immortal ever have another extremity severed from the body—a hand, arm, or leg—the part will not regrow unless it is recovered. The severed part must be affixed to the stump for a number of days equal to the amount of damage dealt to the part at the time it was severed—after which, no trace of the part having been severed will remain. The time required to heal severed parts may only be hours, instead of days, if the part is small, such as a finger or an ear.
          An Immortal’s incredible capacity to heal will also affect any type of ability score loss by recovering at an increased rate. The Immortal recovers 1 point of a damaged or drained ability score after 1 hour for the first eight hours, representing his or her body’s quick response to sudden trauma. After that, the Immortal heals 2 points per additional day. Thus, an Immortal heals 8 total points of ability score loss (divided evenly across multiple scores, healing the greatest damage first) after one day, 2 more points (10 total) after two days, and 2 more (12 total) after the third day, etc.
          Immortals who “die” of massive damage (by failing the Fortitude save, or by suffering damage that places them 5+ points below their negative hit point limit) are subject to a healing freeze due to the sudden or intense trauma that the Immortal’s body has sustained. This healing freeze prevents all healing from happening, but generally lasts no more than 2d10 minus the Immortal’s Con modifier in minutes (minimum 0 minutes, i.e. no healing freeze occurs). In cases of extreme mutilation or near entire bodily destruction, the healing freeze would be calculated in hours not minutes.
          -Infertile: Immortals and proto-Immortals alike carry no seed nor egg for the purposes of reproduction. The Immortal can never bear or sire children, though this generally does not eliminate their desire to have progeny through adoption, etc., nor do Immortals typically perform lackluster in romantic situations.
          -Resilient (Ex): The Immortal must still defend against diseases, poisons, and spells as normal. Fortunately, the Immortal can never permanently die because of illness, poison, loss of ability scores by other means, death effects, massive damage, or the dying condition. In most cases, once the harmful condition has been removed, escaped, depleted, etc., the Immortal will start healing at his or her preset advanced rate. In this way, it is possible to incapacitate an Immortal indefinitely by restricting them to a room where a harmful condition is persistent, or by leaving a weapon lodged inside them after committing a coup de grace. Any malady or infirmity that a proto-Immortal is suffering from before his or her first death will be nullified when he or she becomes immortal.

          Hit Dice: As the base creature.
          Defense: As the base creature.
          Attack/Full Attack: As the base creature.
          Damage: As the base creature.
          Special Attacks: An Immortal retains all his or her special attacks and gains those listed below.
          -Dueling Maneuvers (Ex): With enough Quickening Pool (QP) allocated to the Empower talent (see below), you gain access to the following attacks. Only single combat (i.e. one-on-one, a true duel) permits you the required concentration and quickening energy needed to use these attacks (often signified by sparks of energy that fly from your empowered blades when dueling); naturally, if you should face two or more opponents in combat during the same round, all these attacks become temporarily unavailable. Only one dueling maneuver may be used on your turn each round, except the parry maneuver which is always used as a reaction on the opponent’s turn (i.e. you can always use parry and any one other available maneuver during any given round). Each attack lists a minimum QP needed to make the attack available for use in single combat:
          Clash - The clash and cut of your blade cowers even the most steadfast opponent. As a standard action or as part of a full-round (attack) action, your successful attack forces your opponent to accept fighting defensively penalties and take half damage, or to take maximum damage (no dice rolls required). Unlike as normal, your opponent receives no defense bonus for fighting defensively, and the attack penalties (–4) last until the end of your opponent’s next turn. This maneuver requires 7+ QP.
          Defensive Guard - Your defensive guard shields you from worse harm. As a swift action, you reduce damage equal to your Dex or Con modifier (whichever is higher) each time you take damage from your opponent during the same duel. This maneuver requires 4+ QP.
          Hack - Your vicious, angled attacks overwhelm even the stiffest defense. As a full-round action, all attacks during your turn are against your opponent’s touch defense and gain a +1 bonus to the threat range for the weapon used, but any attacks that hit deal only half damage. This maneuver requires 5+ QP.
          Offensive Guard - Your aggressive guard damages your opponent. As a swift action, you inflict damage equal to your Str or Con modifier (whichever is higher) to your opponent each time you take damage during the same duel. This maneuver requires 4+ QP.
          Parry - You cause a hit to miss. As a reaction during any round in which a dueling opponent’s attack would hit you, you may sacrifice a forthcoming attack roll on your next turn (and/or take a –5 on the attack roll if you have no iterative attacks) to use your attack roll to deflect your opponent’s attack, forcing it to miss if successful. Use your full normal attack bonus for the given attack on each parry attempt, and the DC for your parry attack is set by your opponent’s attack total. If your base attack is at least +6/+1, you may parry more attacks. Thus, if you have four attacks (BAB +16/+11/+6/+1 or better) you can parry four times (sacrificing your three iterative attacks and taking the –5 penalty on your highest base attack during your turn that round). You can always choose which attacks you would like to use to parry with, if any. This maneuver may not be used if you are flat-footed. This maneuver requires 2+ QP.
          Press - Your forceful attack presses your opponent back. As a standard action, your successful attack forces your opponent to retreat (directly away from you) 5 feet, and 5 feet again for every 5 points by which your attack roll exceeds your opponent’s Defense. This movement provokes no attacks of opportunity, and you also move the same distance with your opponent, thus remaining adjacent. None of this added movement counts against either duelists’ movement in the current or forthcoming round. If unable to move back (due to a wall, railing, or similar obstruction), your opponent falls prone. Of course, if no ground exists where your press would indicate, your opponent is granted a Reflex save (DC 10 + one-half your press attack roll) or falls and takes the requisite falling damage. This maneuver requires 5+ QP.
          Riposte - You take advantage after a miss. If your opponent misses you during a duel, you may add a bonus equal to 1/2 your opponent’s miss margin (rounded down, minimum +0) on your next attack roll against that opponent during the same duel. If an opponent misses you more than once during a round, you may use the highest miss margin to calculate your bonus on the ensuing riposte. This maneuver may not be used with a miss caused by the parry maneuver, nor if you are flat-footed. This maneuver requires 3+ QP.
          Thrust - With a cunning thrust, you limit your opponent’s mobility and attacks. As a standard action or as part of a full-round (attack) action, your successful attack forces your opponent to use a move action (though no actual movement is spent) and take half damage, or to take maximum damage (no dice rolls required). The forced move action counts against your opponent’s actions later this round or during the next round, if he or she won initiative. This maneuver requires 7+ QP.
          -Severing Strike (Ex): You have learned how to most effectively sever a target’s head in bladed combat. Any “natural 20” critical hit that you score using your bonded weapon, that also surpasses the target’s massive damage, results in the target’s instant decapitation, regardless of current hit points; albeit, creatures without a discernible head are unaffected by this effect.
          Mentor training is required before you can use this attack. The amount of time needed to train under a mentor for the purposes of severing strike may vary, as you must succeed at a DC 18 Wisdom check made at the end of each month of training to learn all the nuances of how the strike is executed. This training may only begin after you have completed “weapon bonding” (see below).
          Special Qualities: An Immortal retains all the base creature’s special qualities and gains those listed below.
          -Quickening Pool (Su): Each Immortal possesses a reservoir of raw energy, neither wholly arcane nor divine in nature, which is derived from the Source, called the Quickening. The Quickening is the reason for an Immortal’s power, most evident during spectacular events that occur when an Immortal loses its head near another Immortal, thus transferring the dead Immortal’s power and life-essence into the still living Immortal. Without the Quickening, Immortals would not exist. Immortals can tap into their reservoir of internal energy, or Quickening Pool (QP), to do amazing things that most other mortals are incapable of. For instance, an Immortal’s longevity and ability to heal rapidly are powers granted by the Quickening.
          Immortals begin play with a Quickening Pool of 1, but may never have more QP than twice their Constitution or Charisma score (whichever is higher). As Immortals gain more energy added to their QP, they may allot the points to specific powers (Healing, Sense, Skills, or Special Talents), or leave them unspent. The single point granted to Immortals at the time of their first death is automatically allocated to Healing, which can never have a score less than 1. Allocating QP to other powers requires time and concentration. Each day the base creature spends in isolation (e.g. training, praying, meditating, brooding, etc.), it may allocate (or reallocate from power to unspent, or power to power) a number of QP equal to one-quarter its HD (round down, minimum 1 per day).
          Each time the base creature gains a level, points equal to half the Immortal’s QP (including all allocated and unspent points) are returned to the unspent pool, then half the unspent QP is exhausted from the Immortal’s body and returns to the Source until regained again through later Quickenings.
          The powers listed below are available to Immortals by allocating points to each from their QP. Each power describes the amount of QP needed to unlock deeper and more powerful abilities governed by them. All powers are supernatural in nature unless otherwise indicated.
          Healing: (Also, see above.) By allocating up to 3 points from your QP, you double the rate of healing provided by this trait (from 2 hp/min. to 4 hp/min.); 5 points here doubles the rate again (from 4 hp/min. to 8 hp/min.); 7 points locks this ability in at its most potent, elevating healing to 1 hp/round.
          Sense, or the “Buzz”: You can sense another Immortal at a radius of 40 feet (centered on you), or a distance in feet equal to ten times your unspent QP, whichever is greater. You also sense the presence of “holy ground” (see below) nearby, if any. Thus, if you had an unspent Quickening Pool of 9, you would be able to sense another Immortal or holy ground within a 90-foot radius.
          The sensation of detecting another Immortal can be felt both physically and mentally. An immediate feeling, something like a buzz, is felt in the mind—a kind of low chorus of droning sounds that occurs when another Immortal enters your sense range. A quickened heart rate and periodic blood rushes accompany this initial sensation, persisting until the intruding Immortal leaves the sense range, or until the sensation becomes so faintly regular that you can ignore it.
          When two or more Immortals are together in the same vicinity (within each other’s sense range), and a third Immortal is nearby, the former Immortals will sense the latter intruding Immortal using the greater of the former two Immortals’ Sense ranges. For example, if you had a 70-foot Sense range while standing next to another Immortal who had a 40-foot sense range, you would both detect any other Immortal who is within 70 feet of you.
          The Buzz will not let you pinpoint another Immortal in a crowd, only warn you that another is nearby. Once you enter the Sense range of another of your kind, neither of you can be surprised by the other, although, either of you can still be caught flat-footed. Of course, the bodies of dead Immortals whose Quickening has left their bodies can no longer be sensed.
          Newborn Immortals (with 0 QP allocated to this trait) effectively have no Sense range of their own, but become dazed (i.e. lose all actions for 1 round, but retain any Defense) from the feeling once they have entered the Sense range of a “seasoned” Immortal. This moment of disorientation will happen every time you come within range of another Immortal until you have spent at least 1 point on this power.
          Allocating 1 point on Sense negates the dazed effect and sets the ability to its default as above. Allocating 2 points on Sense allows you to determine the exact number of Immortals within range after 1 round of concentration; 4 points allows you to get exact numbers as a swift action, plus grants you the ability to sense proto-Immortals (though they remain oblivious); 8 points grants you the previous, plus allows you to instantly know when another Immortal has died, regardless of distance, provided you have had physical contact with the deceased Immortal before in the past.
          Skills: This ability provides one of two options, but not both at the same time. Switching between options works the same as reallocating QP for the given number of points. [Option 1]: For every point you spend, you are considered trained in any one skill of your choice (as the Jack of All Trades feat, see Urban Arcana, p.15). [Option 2]: For every 2 points you spend (up to a maximum of 8 points), you may add half that number as a quickening bonus on all skills that you are trained in (i.e. skills you have ranks in). For either option, at 10 points, once per day you may select one skill to receive a special +10 bonus on the next check.
          -Immortal Talents: Each of these abilities must be taken separately by allocating at least 1 QP to them; see the entries for further details. (The abilities function as indicated, though no levels in a spellcasting or psionic class are needed, and no components are required.)
          Boon: You are able to draw upon the power of the Quickening to imitate certain traits of animals nearby. Any time a conscious animal is within 60 feet, you may gain a +4 circumstance bonus on a single ability score, granted that the animal has a score of 15+ in at least one ability (Str, Dex, Con, etc.). You must always be aware of the animal you are imitating, and you may only imitate wild species, as domesticated animals lack the raw connection to all life and the Quickening. The ability in question is generally the highest possessed by the particular animal. For example, a typical ape has Str 21 and Dex 15, so an Immortal using this power within 30 feet of a wild ape would receive +4 on Str only. The Immortal must spend a move action to begin imitating a nearby animal; switching to imitate a different animal in range requires a full-round action. At 3 QP, the power extends its range out to 120 feet. At 5 QP, the Immortal may also imitate one non-attack based extraordinary trait, if any, possessed by the same animal, as given here: blindsight, darkvision, ferocity, keen scent, low-light vision, scent, tremorsense, or woodland stride. (The GM may add or remove extraordinary traits to or from this list as befits the campaign.) Any imitated ability scores or traits last for as long as you remain within range of the animal in question, and for 1 round per 2 character levels afterward (minimum 1 round).
          Breath: This talent functions as the spell water breathing, except the range is “Personal,” the target is “You,” and the duration is “1 minute/character level.” At 3 QP, the duration increases to 10 minutes/level, then 1 hour/level at 5 QP.
          Cloak: You are able to carry your bonded weapon as you would a shadow hidden on your person, so long as your bonded weapon is concealed from direct light. While so concealed, your weapon has no shape nor weight, and can be carried without fear of encumbrance or normal means of detection. All checks made to conceal the weapon from casual inspection automatically succeed. Electronic means of detection (e.g. metal detectors and x-ray machines) may still discover a weapon concealed by this power. Once any light is cast on the weapon, it will appear as normal, thus if the concealing garments are carefully inspected or destroyed, the weapon may easily be discovered as if it were concealed by mundane means. The duration of this effect is 10 minutes/character level; at 2 QP, 1 hour/level; and at 4 QP, 8 hours/level, plus the weapon gains DR 10/– while so concealed.
          Empathy: This talent functions as the psionic power lesser mindlink, except the target must be an animal with an Intelligence 2+. The animal receives a Will save, DC 10 plus one-half your character level plus your Charisma modifier. On a failed save, you can communicate with the animal as though you shared a common language, allowing you to use Diplomacy checks (or granting a +10 competence bonus on Handle Animal checks) toward the animal to improve its attitude for the duration, possibly granting you aid or some service from the animal. At 3 QP, this talent bestows +5 on Diplomacy checks, or +15 on Handle Animal; at 5 QP, this talent functions as the psionic power suggestion, targeting only animals as above, with a +2 bonus added to the save DC.
          Empower: By imbuing your bonded weapon with Quickening energy, you enable greater levels of dueling efficiency and make it harder for your opponent to disarm you or sunder your weapon. For each point spent, you receive a +1 competence bonus on opposed checks to defend against disarm and sunder attempts (up to +4). In addition, all dueling maneuvers (see above) require certain QP levels allocated to this talent.
          Fade: You are able to reduce your presence in the environment through the Quickening, effectively limiting the Sense range by which you sense others and by which they sense you to line of effect (barriers between you and other Immortals may be of any material but must be at least 1 inch thick). For example, if another Immortal passes within range to sense you with this talent active, but a 1-inch wooden barrier grants you full cover, the passing Immortal will instead sense nothing. At 3 QP, you further limit the Sense range to 5 feet (adjacent targets only). At 5 QP, you impose all the previous limitations on other Immortals sensing you, but retain your own normal Sense range; (in cases where two or more Immortals are using the talent at this level to avoid each other, the GM should secretly make opposed character level checks—imposing penalties equal to the characters‘ positive Charisma modifiers, if any—to determine who is aware of whom for the rest of the encounter). Drawing your bonded weapon or using another special talent immediately ends any of these effects until the end of the encounter.
          Presence: This talent functions as the psionic power combat focus. At 2 QP, the insight bonus increases to +6, and +8 at 4 QP.
          Seek: By focusing your intent on the latent energies around you and/or tapping into the memories of those Immortals locked away within the Quickening that resides in you, you are able to pinpoint and identify a known Immortal within your Sense range. This requires a standard action, and you must have made physical contact with the Immortal in question or with some personal item significant to that Immortal at some time in the past. At 3 QP, you may also use this talent to locate a specific place or object kept or used by Immortals (i.e. steeped in the power of the Quickening). In this way, you may substitute a knowledge skill (e.g. arcane lore, art, earth and life sciences, history, physical sciences, popular culture, or streetwise) in place of a Search or Spot check, like an internal compass of the mind, to uncover nearby hidden caches of historical items, an Immortal redoubt, or a weird place of power, for example. At 5 QP, this talent also functions as the psionic power object reading, granting the same levels of detail as listed in the power’s description, but only for items that have some connection to Immortals or the Quickening (decided by the GM). Special Note: If this talent is used against an Immortal using the Fade talent, it automatically fails unless your QP level in this talent is greater than that of the other Immortal’s QP level in Fade. If both QP levels are the same, the GM should roll a level check—imposing any negative Wisdom modifiers as a penalty on the seeking Immortal and any positive Charisma modifiers as a penalty on the faded Immortal—to determine which character’s talent takes precedent during the current encounter.
          -Weapon Bond (Ex): The base creature becomes attuned to the use of a single weapon of his or her choice (usually some sort of bladed weapon necessary to take heads, but always a weapon the Immortal has taken with Weapon Focus). The weapon is considered sturdier than others of its type, receiving a special quickening bonus of +2 to its hardness, and twice the regular number of hit points for its type.
          Mentor training is required before the Immortal can use his or her bonded weapon to execute dueling maneuvers. The standard amount of time needed to train under a mentor for the purposes of weapon bonding varies, generally requiring three successful DC 12 Wisdom checks (without taking 10), one made each at the end of a month of training, indicating marked increases in the protégé's learning.
          Only one weapon may be bonded at a time. If a second weapon is bonded to the Immortal, the first weapon loses the ability to channel the Immortal’s Quickening. Subsequent bonding to weapons after the first does not require mentoring, though a new period of individual training is necessary.
          Abilities: As the base creature.
          Skills: As the base creature, plus Immortals may add additional languages (both Read/Write and Speak) equal to their Intelligence modifier for every century (100 years) of their life.
          Feats: As the base creature.
          Reputation: As the base creature.
          Action Points: As the base creature.
          Organization: Usually solitary. Immortals seeking to parlay, avoid confrontation, or find a peaceful place to rest, meditate, or train often congregate on “holy ground.” Holy ground is any location, interior or exterior, that has been consecrated for worship or as a place of sacred (or, in rare cases, profane) practices. Traditionally, Immortals are prohibited from combating each other on holy ground; the earliest instance of consequences stemming from this is recorded: immediately before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., resulting in the absolute destruction of neighboring Pompeii, Italy. Theories persist that a quickening that occurs on holy ground is always due to cause sudden and devastating consequences (e.g. natural disaster, plague, global catastrophe, etc.). For more, see the section on “Quickenings”.
          Allegiances: All Immortals, with very few exceptions, must include the Game as one of their allegiances, though outside of this, they may have any allegiances they desire.
          Advancement: By character class.
          Level Adjustment: Same as the base creature +2.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Master of the Funny Face, At Two Months

"Bleeeeh!"
"I'm incorrigible!"
Can't decide whether he wants to talk on his invisible dial phone or his invisible spy watch.…
Practicing his "force choke."
Us and the folks out to celebrate Mama's 30th at Oakland's Lake Chalet.
Daddy and Ewan enjoying the day out for a lakeside dock brunch…
…Daddy and Ewan in a contest to see who can stay up late the longest!
Ewan and Mama chillaxin' at the hacienda.
Ewan a la blanket.
"Bleeh! I'm a monster!"
"Bleeeh! #3" OR "Super Cute Dude"
"Dis am me harpy face! ME HARPY!"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ewan

A week later and I'm still in quiet awe about the miracle of birth.

A few first glimpses at our boy, Ewan.

Fresh out of the oven.
In repose.
My two babes.
First meal.
The delivery team: some amazing women (Laura, left, who played catch, and Helen, right, who coached the late innings).
At home, at last.

Batman or Dr. Evil?
Or a guitar god?
"Ah, fogettabout it, Daddy!"
Yummy thumb.
"You're still here?"
"Always, my son."