D&D 3.5e Transhuman Guide

D&D 3.5e Transhuman Guide

Transhumans.  That science fiction concept where humans use technology to augment their basic abilities into something that remains, at some level, still ‘human’.  Those that use technology to augment their abilities *beyond* human (and are generally considered crazy and unfathomable) are called “Posthumans”.  D&D has several methods to enable both of these concepts.  For the purposes of this guide, I will be talking about the sorts of things that can, via various ‘exploits’ in the system, allow a very powerful group of spellcasters to roll out a series of transhuman benefits to *large amounts* of their population — without requiring the beneficiaries of these benefits to be anything more than — say — a commoner 1 with the nonelite array.

It is improving these people — the backbone of the society — via magical augmentation — that is the purpose of this Guide.

This guide has a few assumptions to note.

1.) It is targeted at human-centric games.  The transhumans in this are indeed humans — the point is to keep the essence of humanity for these people, and just make them *better*.  Other versions would have to be written for other races, but much of this stuff should be viable for similar races, or equivalencies could be found.

2.) The mages have access to incredible resources.  This includes things like a Wish based, Noble Djinn Simulacrum economy (remember, Savage Species added ‘changing the race of a creature’ to the functions of Wish.  Doing so is considered the unsafe to cast, ‘greater’ uses of the spell, but the book also gives specific ways to mitigate that risk and particular uses of this, mostly by pumping Spellcraft extremely high during the casting, which is trivial to do with the correct spells), various ways of getting arbitrary amounts of powerful magic items into the population, at least one Dweomerkeeper with access to completely costless Miracles, ways of generating XP for crafting via traps, planar binding shenanigans, epic level magic, custom spell research, basically unlimited wealth, the sponsorship of a deity in doing these sorts of things, etc. etc.  In essence — money is not an object, and neither are obscure feats for different sorts of grafts (after all, a single crafter can make as many Dedicated Wrights as needed, assuming the DM allows them to work in parallel), nor is manpower or spellcasting ability.  

To reiterate, a DC 40 Spellcraft check can allow (say, a Wizard) to use Wish to have a 100% chance of being successful at giving a creature a new race or template… and it is most definitely possible to increase the odds of succeeding on the check via mixing spells or items, and there are ways to get Wish to not need XP to use.  Unfortunately, as mentioned before this is in the ‘greater effects’ clause, and is thus a dangerous area, so one would need to take in-game steps to minimize this (perhaps multiple lesser wishes, or ensuring the loyalty of the caster, or obtaining the services of a barrister to help in writing the wish, or a large amount of in-game research)

3.) The DM has buy-in to this concept.  This would be using several rules exploits as basis for doing things, and making several house-ruled logical leaps inspired by rules exploits.  This assumes that people are taking a basic (rules based) concept for doing something, and then *improving it* via in-game research.  Or, for example, the deity level (or epic spellcasting level, perhaps using a houserule variant of Epic Magic to remove limitations of existing spells) power engaging in this is using his powers to improve the basic concept as it exists in mortal magic.

4.) All of this can be done with Epic Magic, but since that set of rules is so messed up, none of the actual methods are going to be primarily based on Epic Magic.

5.) This is assumed that, like various transhuman / post-cyberpunk novels, it is a generally Nice Thing to Do — not like Cyberpunk novels or Shadowrun where this sort of thing is Not A Nice Thing to Do.  The society doing this wants to actually improve people’s lives, is generally a good aligned society, so the methods will favor things that don’t require demons or anything like that, with the understanding that the net effect actually does improve people’s lives; this is an optimistic document.

6.) This guide is done with the idea of ‘maximize benefits to someone’s life and versatility, minimize level adjustment incurred, and do not entirely replace the entire body with one that isn’t recognizably them’’

7.) This ignores several other, easier methods of making people transhuman (like Elanification or becoming Necropolitan, both of which presumably make people unable to breed, and not to mention the Necropolitan ritual is inherently evil itself, and Elanification removes memories), or other, more harmful ways of gaining immortality, because those lose an important part of what makes people human.  It even ignores turning people into Werebears, which is totally viable and useful (remember, they’re lawful good!).  The point is a broad based way of improving most all of society without changing who people innately are.

Special thanks to the Immortality Handbook:

http://web.archive.org/web/20100131013259/http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=5996.0

I took several ideas from that!

So let’s take our target Joe Commoner.  This is going to be the minimum, lowest common denominator that we plan on working with.  Let’s make him REALLY sucky, and not that great for helping society or anything like that on a large scale… though he is plausibly the basis of an agrarian society.

Joe Commoner

Type: Humanoid

Human Commoner 1

XP: 0

ECL: 1

CR: 1/2

Feats: Skill Focus: Profession (Farmer), Skill focus: Profession (Herdsman)

Stats: Wis 13, Str 12, Int 11, Con 10, Dex 9, Cha 8

Skills: Farming and Herding and related skills, mostly

Hit points: 2. Weapon proficiency: Sling

This person hasn’t had much training, has had a life of exploitative, backbreaking work, didn’t have good nutrition growing up, has had several injuries throughout his life that were never properly treated, and which healed badly.  He is 34 years old.

First, we need to give him a better body, one that isn’t about to become middle aged and is also without any injuries.  This will take some house-ruling, but the basic method of doing this is the Spell Compendium’s Druid spell Last Breath.  This, if cast on an immediately dead creature (the soul having not yet left the area), creates a completely new, young adult body from the options on the Reincarnate list.  There are plenty of ways (the spell ‘Revenance’ and similar) to give longer than a six second window, if needed.  A higher level, custom researched version of this would, perhaps, replace their body with a never-injured, completely healthy, young adult version of their existing body.  By default though, you have to keep on re-killing and re-doing Last Breath to get the species (and maybe gender?) you want, which is what we want to avoid.  Alternately, Miracle / Wish could likely do the same.  Of course the person needs to be dead for a moment, but a spell or poison that quickly and painlessly kills a willing or nonresisting target shouldn’t be too hard to come up with.  Still, DM interceded researched methods of solving these problems may need to be developed (hence the discussion of spell research).

The next few steps are based on a single useful trick.  The Polymorph Any Object spell, when used twice in a row to turn someone into the *same type of entity*, increases its duration to “Permanent”.  Unfortunately, this can be dispelled or suppressed in an antimagic field; as such, this is one of the places where the DM would need to intercede, and perhaps develop a creature or ability or ritual that is an ‘Instantaneous’ version that upgrades the creature that the following bit about races talks about.  Of course, the Savage Species Wish trick for species changing might work instead.

Next, we need to try to boost him from the non-elite array to the elite array, and improve him to a race that is essentially, ‘like humans, but better’.  There are a few ‘like humans, but better’ races in the various books, but the most promising is perhaps the “Empty Vessel” from Eberron Campaign Setting.  This human-based race is naturally psionic, maintains the basic benefits of being a human — the bonus skills and the feat — and gains some social skills benefits.  In the Eberron Campaign Setting book, they are described as having ‘elf and fiendish blood’ and having a penchant for ‘natural cruelty’, and have some odd flavor regarding being favorable hosts for other, malignant entities.  Thus, a version of this which does not have the fiendish blood or the natural cruelty or the weird soul-hosting-status would be used or need to be researched.  One notable aspect of this race is that, based on the description (pg 291, ECS), they arguably improve characters with the non-elite array to the elite array! Not a bonus or anything, just a flat out ‘you have a better array’!  If this is the case, this would be *ideal*, and is one of the primary reasons this race was chosen.  Unfortunately, this race has a level adjustment of 1, one of two places where we will possibly have to deal with a level adjustment.

Another thing you can do is Polymorph Any Object the human into a Tree, cast Maximised, Empowered Awaken on him, and Polymorph Any Object him back, setting his intelligence at around an average of 28, and +5 to his Charisma, though you might have to Level Drain away the two Hit Dice (possibly, though if Restorations are common, than something more permanent will need to be found? Perhaps via Resurrection? This is mentioned in the ‘Transforming and Rolling Out’ section of the Monstrous Monster Handbook here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?207928-Urpriest-s-Monstrous-Monster-Handbook).  This would require more than a little DM intervention to get to work, (and, notably, would only make sense that he keeps his mind and memories in settings with the existence of a soul as the method of storing identity, but that’s assumed in D&D) as even if you use the dying and resurrection trick to remove the two racial hit dice, you then need some way so that when you next level, you aren’t forced to pick up the racial hit dice.  Thus, I am not including it in the normal calculations.  Of course, you would need a way to mitigate the XP cost as well.

Empty Vessel possibly sets a person with the non-elite array’s base stats to the “Elite Array”

Empty Vessels have maximum hit points at first level, no matter their class

Empty Vessel sets base land speed to 30

Empty Vessel: Naturally Psionic.  1 extra power point per level.

Bonus skills per human

Knowledge: The planes always a class skill

+2 racial to bluff, diplomacy, intimidate

+2 racial to impersonate a human (probably removed due to other factors later…)

bonus feat per human

sets favored class to psion.

+1 Level Adjustment

Default ability scores (for Joe Commoner, but with the Elite Array instead) are str 8, dex 12, con 10, int 13, wis 14, cha 15

There are a few more useful templates we would want to add.  With this bit, we want to do a few useful things:

1.) Give people some useful ability score modifications

2.) Allow people to live and thrive in environments where humans have difficulty

3.) Encourage Good alignments, and outlooks that are beneficial when (later) the person becomes immortal (as in ‘not worried about the turning of the years’, not as in ‘impossible to be killed’)

Dragon Magazine 306 has two very, very useful templates that we want to look at.  This includes the “Spark” (or magic blooded) and the Arctic template.  The Arctic template gives people a bonus to survive in cold temperatures (useful if the person is going to be living in the ocean, per later), and the Magic Blooded template gives the person the ability to innately feel magic, and several spell like abilities — and the flavor text mentions that they see wonder in the world, which is very useful for an immortal.  With these two, they net a +2 constitution and a -2 wisdom.

Arctic Template (Dragon Magazine 306 pg 62)

+2 Con

-2 Cha

+1 saves vs cold

-1 saves vs fire

+2 racial to Survival (from training)

Gains Ray of Frost 1/day

LA+0

Magic Blooded (Spark, Dragon Magazine 306 pg 64)

+2 Charisma

-2 Wisdom

Lose special vision, gain Low Light Vision

+2 Racial on Knowledge Arcana, Spellcraft

Gains Detect Magic, Nystul’s Magical Aura*, Nystul’s Undetectible Aura*, Read Magic 1/day

Favored class changes to Sorcerer

LA+0

Personality starts to tend toward chaotic; sees wonder in the world around them

*Note that, as best as I can figure, these are 3.0 versions of the spells, and both are replaced by the spell ‘Magic Aura’ for 3.5e

The next bit is the Amphibious creature from Stormwrack.  Giving people the ability to breathe water as easily as air, without use of magic — especially if they also have the bonus to withstand cold from the Arctic template, means that people can happily live in situations where they could not otherwise.  Unfortunately, it reduces the dexterity by 2 — but don’t worry, we’ll get it back.

Amphibious Creature (Stormwrack)

Gain Aquatic Subtype (Can breathe water)

Gain Swim Speed of ? land speed

Gains Amphibious special quality

Dex -2

Gains +8 racial bonus on swim, various swimming abilities

Level Adjustment +0

There is one more template that we should consider looking at, and it gives a +1 level adjustment.  This is are Quasilycanthrope, from  https://web.archive.org/web/20130531114642/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/mb/20040721a.  This will need a tad bit of DM intervention.  What Quasilycanthrope does is encourage people to tend toward the morality of how the lycanthrope animal is perceived.  Thus, Birds of Prey (hawks, eagles, etc), often symbols of national pride, and seen as ‘good’, are ideal.  It requires a bit of work to ‘activate’ the Quasilycanthrope template, gives people some mild disguising abilities associated with the animal, and — most importantly — gives people damage reduction 10/silver.  This alone will dramatically increase survivability of people with only a few hit points.  Due to the fact that we want to enable people to live in wide varieties of locations, choosing a Sea Eagle (Erne, of which the Bald Eagle is an example), would be ideal; this would help people be at home at land, sea, and air.

Quasilycanthrope

(use some noble creature, like some fish-hunting eagle, one found around lakes or the ocean or seafaring type of eagle.)

Gain Shapechanger Subtype

Disguise self with regards to the creature

Make sure to ‘activate’ this when it is given!

Damage Reduction 10/silver

LA+1

Person starts to tend toward ‘Good’

Next on the list are the biological grafts — in other words, those that are not mechanical (Construct) in origin.

For a quick reference, you might want to read the two grafting handbooks:

http://web.archive.org/web/20150924014032/http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=12154.0

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=190350

This guide will make judgements on the utility of several of the grafts mentioned in those handbooks.  The vast majority of the most useful grafts for purposes of transhumans are Silthilar in origin.  The story behind these Silithar (in Lords of Madness) is that they were ancient Sylvan creatures that mastered the art of shaping flesh, and they tend to be *good aligned*, which is different than the origin and creatures behind most grafting techniques.  Whether or not Silithar exist as such in your setting is something to ask your DM — but their techniques are perfect for biological transhumans, whether you are rediscovering old Silithar techniques, or discovering them for your own culture.  The main grafts that work best for this concept include the ones which do not necessarily dramatically change the look of the creature.  These include:

Flexible Spine (+4 racial to initiative, balance, escape artist, tumble)

Extended Legs (Base Land Speed +5 feet)

Healing Blood (Fast Healing 2)

Rudimentary Eyespots (+4 bonus [racial?] to Spot, creature cannot be flanked)

Silithar Bones (+2 Constitution)

Silithar Muscles (+2 Strength)

Silithar Tendons (+2 Dexterity; I told you we would get the dexterity back!)

Unlike other write-ups of grafts, these have no negative penalty for grafting, nor do they have restrictions on how many you can add.  And the only visible improvements are that the legs are longer, and that people have patches of slightly different colored flesh on their hands and the back of the neck.  Fantastic, lots of subtle bonuses, no major drawbacks.

There are three more ‘biological’ grafts that might be considered.  First is an Illithid graft, the ‘antennae’ graft from Fiend Folio.  If, for example, an Artificer can use the Use Magic Device skill to ‘pretend’ to be an Illithid, they can gift people with an entirely new sense.  This one was a hard one to decide to include, but it is one of the core aspects of transhumanism. If people are given an entirely new sense, they can appreciate the world in a new way that those without that sense can’t do.  In this case, it is a 60 foot racial tremorsense.  If a method of doing this which does not require hairs to be implanted on the shoulders and arms, that would be even better.

Next, another Illithid graft from Fiend Folio, is the ‘Climbing Legs’ graft.  This gives people the ability to climb on walls and ceilings, and changes the way the legs look in a more overt manner 

than the Extended legs.  Further, there is nothing that seems to indicate that the two leg grafts can’t be combined.

One final graft from Fiend Folio: A Beholder graft, called “Replacement Eye”.  This is only useful because it can cast telekinesis three times a day, as that is a fantastically useful ability.  Three times a day, caster level 13 Telekinesis is incredibly powerful if leveraged correctly, and can be used militarily to great effect.  Don’t believe me?

A Violent Thrust from a caster at caster level 12 can move 300 pounds of items — but they can only hurl up to 12 items! The to hit is your base attack bonus plus intelligence modifier or charisma modifier. Per Telekenesis, the base damage of the thrown weapons is without a strength modifier. Thus, you should get the most base damage per weight of the weapon. You do not take any penalty from non proficiency or size categories of the weapon, since it isn't actually wielding the weapon in question. Per Savage Species, there are damage modifiers beyond 'colossal', such as colossal+, colossal++ and so on. The best weapon to use would be one that can be 100% made out of Mithral, and be of a simple shape to make, and (ideally), is VERY light for the D6's of damage, made to be thrown, and not count as ammunition (so it is not destroyed when it is used). Alternately, other mithral-like materials that can be used, such as Duskwood (which specifically can be made into weapons that require iron) from the book Magic of Faerun, or the ‘like Mithral but looks different’ of Sentira and Firebrass from Secrets of Sarlona and Secrets of Xen’drik, respectively.

Anyway, look at the Annulat from Planar Handbook. It is basically a throwing chakram, and is 1d6 for the Medium version… which weighs 1/2 lb for an iron one. I think you can see where this is going… A Colossal++ Mithral version would be 8d6 damage for 16 pounds, and a Colossal+++ Mithral version would be 12d6 damage for 32 pounds. The best formula, to stay under 300 pounds of weapons and 12 items or under, is to get 6 colossal+++ and 6 colossal++ annulats. That's 120d6 damage if all of them hit on a single Violent Thrust. These also would qualify as siege weapons, due to their size, and Wind Wall would not stop them.

Telekinesis, of course, also has a ton of utilitarian abilities. Further, Beholder eyes don’t look remarkably different from human eyes in the artwork, unlike (for example), the Perception Seed from Magic of Eberron.

So, we get:

-Antennae graft: tremorsense 60’

-Climbing Legs: 15’ climb speed

-Replacement Eye: Telekinesis Ray, CL 13, 50’ range, 3/day

Next are two very important bits — two mechanical grafts, and an item to take up a body slot that functions similarly to a graft.  

-The ‘Heart of Steel’ warforged graft from Faiths of Eberron (this is the only graft that takes up a ‘slot’ and has a penalty, ie, ‘-2 hit points and healing is halved’ that we will be using for this build)

The Heart of Steel graft takes up the ‘Flesh’ graft location that certain sorts of grafts take, and it makes the person immune to disease, paralysis, and poison.  As a penalty, it requires the person to sacrifice 2 hit points, and spells that cure hit point or ability damage have their healing rates halved.  Of course, since Silthilar’s Healing Blood gives the person *non magical* Fast Healing 2, it is not affected by the Heart of Steel clause which changes Magical healing to be less effective!  Also, there is the fact that a society that can do these things would likely pretty much give anyone access to whatever amount of Lesser Restoration spells they could ever want.  The hit points lost hurt a bit, especially if you only have one level, but the Damage Reduction, the fact that they are getting maxxed hit points at level 1, the upcoming bit, and various improvements to constitution should help alleviate that.  This is important because being immune to disease is a large aspect of improving human life, and being immune to poison means that people can partake in culinary experiences that they could not otherwise do.  Do note that this should generally be done after his first level hit dice is maximized from race (via Empty Vessel), and it should be done after Silthilar bones improve his Constitution by two, and it should maybe even be done while he is wearing an item to improve his Constitution, or after he has the Inherent bonuses to Constitution (described later); we don’t want the 2 hit point (or even, gasp, 1 hit point!) commoners dying from this augmentation!

-Heart of Steel. Halves magical healing, -2 hit points, immune to poison, disease, paralysis

Generally, I have shied away from things that take up body slots, like Symbionts, for several reasons: a culture with access to large amounts of magic items can easily find useful things to put in those body slots, and that most of the symbionts mentioned in the books are evil or described as eating your brain or your thoughts or described as disgusting, things which this article wishes to avoid.  However, there are two things that might be worth it to combine, to give something that normally does not take up a body slot, to actually take up a body slot, so it can be combined with something else:

-A Gemstone of Heavy Fortification, from Draconomicon

-The unnamed Jewelry for the Kissed By The Ages spell, from Dragon Magazine 354

-Of course, there are several useful things for the ‘vest’ slot that we could add to this gem, but the most useful bit, the core piece, is the Heavy Fortification and the Kissed by the Ages bit.

-If you have a Gemstone of Heavy Fortification, you are immune to Critical Hits and Sneak Attack (and presumably similar abilities, like Ninja’s Sudden Strike, or the Scout’s Skirmish: ask your GM!).  If you use said gemstone as the focus of the Kissed by the Ages spell, it becomes indestructible while the person is alive, and further, the person gains the Endless quality, making them immortal (in the sense of not being worried about the passing of years).  Since this item is embedded into the person’s body, it is EXTREMELY difficult to lose.

-Of course, since you have to arbitrarily make the gemstone take up the ‘vest’ body slot, it can be enchanted with any vest slot properties that are useful.  Enhancement bonuses to Constitution and Resistance bonuses to Saving Throws are the ‘easy adds’ in the Magic Item Compendium.  Several other magic items are fantastic to be put in this as well; there are things that give continuous freedom of movement, teleportation effects, let people heal, lots of useful things.  Since the person can’t actually trade out magic items for this slot, it would behoove the civilization to come up with the most broadly useful enhancements possible, to help people in as many situations as possible.

-Gemstone of Heavy Fortification: Immune to Sneak Attack, Critical Hits

-Kissed by the Ages: Stops aging before reaching middle aged, immortal

There is one more ‘mechanical’ graft of note: Zelekhut Wings.  Of all of the wing grafts, this is the one with the least drawbacks, especially for a good character with relatively low dex and limited hit points.  This gives the person mechanical, golden feathered wings on his back, which he can use to fly at a speed of 60 feet, with average maneuverability.  After all, our example commoner was going for the full suite.  However, if you look at the actual Zelekhut statblock, they can cause the pair of golden metallic wings to emerge from its back at will, and retract them as a free action.  If this capability can be built into this graft, that makes it MUCH more useful — because it is subtle!

One of the most important aspects of becoming transhuman is access to the Inherent bonuses to ability scores from Wish or Miracle.  Thus, if a Dwoermerkeeper can give everyone he meets these bonuses at essentially no cost, that means that there are ways for anyone to have a +5 inherent bonus to anything.  Other methods, such as a bunch of planar bound Efreeti (Candle of Invocation optional), or a helpful Deity, or Shapechanging (as the spell) into a creature with a Wish as an Ex or Su ability (they exist!) could also get this done.

Miracle/Wish benefits:

+5 Inherent bonus to each ability score

Joe Commoner is looking pretty good so far.  Unfortunately, he still has the ‘Commoner’ class, and still has used skill focus on two likely obsolete skills.  Further, he can’t leverage his dramatically improved ability scores in all of the ‘trained only’ skills.  And he can only use these various abilities maybe once a day.  He needs to be given a supercharge, something that can help him in whatever career he plans to take, or help him adapt as the world around him changes.

Some things can be done, perhaps let him spend his skill points more intelligently, or get useful feats.  Maybe a psionic feat to leverage his power points.  This is the psionic power Psychic Reformation.  An entity using this as a Psi Like Ability of Psychic Reformation can do quite a bit in ‘future proofing’ such a person.  He could, for example, give the commoner feats like “Jack of All Trades” or “Able Learner”, which could dramatically improve the range of things he could do with his high ability scores.  Unfortunately, he’s still a commoner right now.  What to do?

The answer comes in two places.  Monster Manual II and Players Handbook II.  Monster Manual II has Elemental Weirds, incredibly powerful entities that help people with their deific divination abilities.  There is even a Water Weird, tied to a Magic pool of water.  For reference, information on Weirds is found in Frostburn and Dragon Magazine #347, as well as Monster Manual II.  A player and a DM doing anything with Elemental Weirds are encouraged to read the relevant parts of all three sources!

Which brings us to Players Handbook II, the Rebuild Quest chapter.  In the ‘Other Rebuild Quest Objectives’, there is the Seldarine Pool.  This is a Magic pool of water.

See where this is going?  A Water Weird, with water imported from the Seldarine Pool and the Elemental Plane of Water, could be one of the stewards of whatever facility this government sets up to convert its population into transhumans.  An epic quest would have to be taken to understand the magic of this pool, and replicate it — or bring it to the society, or bring the society to it, as the case may be.  Regardless, this focus on water magic represents a path through which people’s choices in class can be changed, beyond simple schools and other educational facilities.

If all of these are done at once, or strategically, or in the correct order — the racial changing, the inherent bonuses, the psychic reformation, the water class rebuilding things — it’s possible that the person could have the inherent intelligence bonuses work retroactively — that is, give them bonus languages, and extra skill points for their first class level.

So, what class would be useful for the most people?

Well, let’s look at what classes are better than other classes at using skills, which have defined the capabilities of this character before this process!

The Expert is Better than the Commoner at doing skills.  The Savant is better than the Expert at doing Skills.  The Factotum is better than the Savant at doing skills.  For the most utilitarian skill users in a society, we want to encourage as many people to be Factotums as possible.  Further, Taking the feat “Able Learner” with a single level in Factotum means that that person keeps all skills as class skills for any new class they might have.  This, combined with — say — Jack of All Trades (which lets you use any skill untrained) means that the once commoner has new skills and new insights into the world, and how he can interact with it, he can keep those and focus on them for any later hit dice and/or classes he gets!  At a later time, he can come back, and change his class, once he decides what it is he truly wants to do for the next few years… for now, he is newly capable, even if not at a true level of mastery, in a huge variety of things.  This gives him an amount of what could be described as ‘omnicompetence’.

But wait, there is yet more we can do!  There is maybe one more feat that would be significantly helpful.  That is the Magic In the Blood feat from Player’s Guide to Faerun.  This lets all of those racial magical abilities that are 1/day be used 3/day, instead.  But how to get it? We don’t want to arbitrarily give people ‘Flaws’, those anti-feats that allow for someone to get an extra feat; the point here is to not be flawed, as much as possible!  What feat can we trade out?  Looking at Factotum, they get a few feats.  Simple Weapon Proficiency. Martial Weapon Proficiency. Shield Proficiency.  Hmmm. In a world where exotic materials and enchantments and wondrous items which cast spells are common, you don’t actually need Shield Proficiency to competently wield a shield.  Is there a way to trade that out for Magic in the Blood, as part of this ritual?  If you don’t believe these are actual bonus feats, look at the Shield Proficiency Feat.  Here’s a link to it on the SRD:

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/feats.htm#shieldProficiency

Especially look under “Special”…

It turns out there is a way to trade feats from classes out.  The book “Fiendish Codex 1” has two spells — Embrace the Dark Chaos and Shun the Dark Chaos, that let you trade out feats for feats that you are *now* capable of choosing.  If the character’s blood changes can give them “Magic in the Blood” by default (say as their Human feat) and their level 1 choice gets them Able Learner… then this could trade out Shield Proficiency for — say — Jack of All Trades.  Bam.  Three feats.  Of course, one of these spells is [Chaotic], and the other one is not [Lawful], so it is adding a net amount of Chaos to the world; alternative methods would need to be developed specifically to help people retrain themselves, without making the world and existence more chaotic.

What more can be done? Magic items, of course.  The Vest slot is already ‘taken up’, so it probably behooves us to make this integrated-into-the-chest magic item do everything a person could possibly want active on their person all the time with a typical vest-slot magic item.  Thus, several more abilities could be added to the embedded gem.  Of course, Permanencied spells would be highly useful, though the best ones tend to be self-only.  That said, there are workarounds, like items of spell storing (especially rings, or for super-cheap, ammunition!), or the psionic power in Magic of Incarnum, ‘Soul Crystal’.  Still, there are good ones which aren’t self only, including:

Greater Blindsight (60’ Blindsight)

Scent (gains the Scent ability)

Superior Resistance (+6 resistance bonus to saves)

Wings of the Sea (+30 swim speed)

Cloud Wings ( +30 fly speed)

There are a few problems with these: they can be permanently dispelled, though that isn’t likely too big a problem for most folk.  Another problem is the illustration for Cloud Wings, and thus presumably, Wings of the Sea.  A version of those spells would have to be found that isn’t visibly obvious, and doesn’t make the area around each person windy and moist, or followed by huge giant mist or cloud wings all the time, as is shown in the illustration.  Perhaps only when they are flying or swimming through an open medium?

Some people might realize that things like silvered claws / silvered weapon / magic fang can be permanencied, and this would improve people’s combat lethality… the thing is, unless someone is in the military or is the police forces, there isn’t really that much need to give those to every common man.  If the quasilycanthropes don’t have natural attacks — just normal fists / unarmed strike — it’s possible that they can’t pierce DR/Silver, until they get an actual natural attack like bite or claw.  However, this is up to DM interpretation.  The whole point of giving everyone DR/Silver is to help people to not die easily; enchanting fists and such to make them more lethal makes that goal much more difficult.  Of course, everyone can contribute to a powerful militia anyway, since they all have telekinesis, and can thus launch incredibly lethal very large siege projectiles quite easily.  Especially, Siege-Engine sized Mithral Annulats (basically several foot in diameter metal throwing chakram, from Planar Handbook) deal massive amounts of damage, when thrown via telekinesis, enough to overcome the DR trivially.

However, this brings us to the options of Self-only powers and spells to use with Permanency or the Psionic power Incarnate (which is Psionic Permanency).  It is possible to get Self-Only/Personal powers and spells to not be Personal range, with things like Reach Spell and Ocular Spell.   However, generally only Artificers can use their feats on things like Schema or Wands, in order to add metamagic feats that they have or are using from Rods, like Reach Spell or Ocular Spell, or their Psionic equivalents.  Getting large amounts of psionic powers, like Danger Sense, Aura Sight, Detect Teleportation, Elfsight, Psionic Tongues, or magical spells, like Arcane Sight, Comprehend Languages, Darkvision, Detect Magic, Read Magic, See Invisibility, or Tongues, to work in a way other than ‘Personal’, would be quite difficult.  As far as I know, there is no psionic equivalent for Metamagic Rods, and while spells can be learned as powers, I do not know if these powers can be learned as spells…  Mostly, this will have to be an area of spell research, to research non-Personal versions of the above powers and spells.  Still, if it is done, they can be put into auto reset repeating traps like everything else.  Remember, the cost of experience points goes into a trap like any other sort of cost!

Of course, the GM might rule that a magic trap of, say, Permanency, might be able to be made with a reserve of experience points to use as Permanency’d items… a reserve which can be depleted.  This would mean that there are people whose jobs it is to refill the xp reserve of such traps, and it also means that a particular Epic item becomes relevant to this game.  I know I said ‘no Epic stuff!’, but this item is a bit different; it’s the Rod of Excellent Magic, and it provides a renewable 2000 xp/day supply for the casting of spells.

Mostly, the Permanency thing means that creative uses of the previous methods (put a jar of Ambrosia in the trap and keep it topped off, and make it so the trap uses xp from the Ambrosia? Maybe that will work?  Maybe using two Thought Bottles to restore experience to mitigate the damage? Just use Pathfinder rules?) need to be researched!

Another thing which can be added is something to leverage that 1 power point that everyone has, without needing a psionic class or feat.  Rules which cover Advanced Psionic Tattoos from a Mind’s Eye article let people make circuits of tattoos which go off in particular situations and which can be recharged automatically over time with their own power points once expended, rather than the tattoos disappearing.  Of course, people can only have a limited number of Psionic Tattoos, so a circuit that does the most important thing we can think of would be ideal.

The idea for this was taking from this link: http://web.archive.org/web/20160912225908/http://www.minmaxboards.com/index.php?topic=2814

This most important thing would, in general, be saving someone’s life if they die.  This can be done with this basic psionic tattoo set, with a circuit that includes a recharging combo:

Psionic Revivify Tattoo + Capacitor + Relay + Dimension Slide OR Ectoplasmic Cocoon + Body Adjustment (augmented with at least 2 power points to 3rd level) + Inducer + Transducer

This:

1) Activates Dimension Slide or Ectoplasmic Coccoon (on yourself) immediately upon your death, either getting you out of a lethal situation by moving you or making you much less likely to take more damage

2) The next round, you will be brought back to life with no XP loss, but at -1 hit points and stable.

3) The round after that, you'll be healed for 2d12 hit points (this is halved for these characters, due to being magical healing)

4) Will Recharge itself with your own power points, draining you of 1 power point per day until it is recharged (this takes 19 days)

5.) Doesn’t take up actual body slots, only psychic tattoo slots, of which it takes up 9/20

But let’s take stock at how Joe Commoner is doing right now.  He’s ECL 3 (level 1+2 level adjustment; reducible with LA buyoff in an immortal’s lifetime without too much trouble!)  He also changed his name…

Joe Awesome

Amphibious, Arctic, Magic Blooded (Spark), Quasilycanthrope (Sea Eagle), Empty Vessel Factotum 1

Type: Humanoid (Shapechanger, Aquatic, Psionic, Endless)

XP: 3000

ECL: 3

CR: 3

Feats: Able Learner, Jack of All Trades, Magic in the Blood

Simple Weapon Proficiency, Martial Weapon Proficiency

Stats: Wis 18, Str 21, Int 18, Con 21, Dex 15, Cha 13

Hit Points: 11

Speed: 35’ land, 15’ climb, 15’ swim (+30’ for 45’ from permanencied spell), 60’ (+30’ for 90’ from permanencied spell) fly (average)

Damage Reduction 10/Silver

Low Light Vision, Tremorsense 60’

Scent (from permanencied spell), 60’ Blindsight (from permanencied spell)

Immune to Poison, Disease, Paralysis

Amphibious

Halved Magical Healing

(Ex) Fast Healing 2

3/Day SLA’s: 50’ Telekinesis Ray (CL 13), Ray of Frost, Detect Magic, Magic Aura, Read Magic

+1 saves vs cold

-1 saves vs fire

+6 Resistance bonus to saves (from permanencied spell)

Cannot be flanked

Racial Skill Bonuses: +8 Swim, +2 Survival, +2 Bluff, +2 Diplomacy, +2 Intimidate, +2 Knowledge Arcana, +2 Spellcraft, +4 spot, +4 Balance, +4 Escape Artist, +4 Tumble, +8 Climb, +2 Disguise to appear like a normal Human (hah…)

+4 Racial bonus to Initiative

Skills: Whatever is useful and he wants to do, though UMD and UPD would likely be relevant in this society, as would autohypnosis, and things to help with cunning knowledge, like the knowledge skills and artistic craft skills

Embedded Gemstone of Heavy Fortification: Immune to Sneak Attack, Critical Hits (Cannot benefit from Vest slot magic items)

Automatically activated and automatically recharging Dimension Slide, Revivify, Body Adjustment psionic tattoos

Naturally Psionic: 1 Power Point per Class Level

Disguise Self (Sea Eagle features)

2 Inspiration Points, Inspiration, Cunning Insight, Cunning Knowledge, Trapfinding

Of course, this statblock is even more obscene if the Maximised, Empowered Awaken trick works to set intelligence into the 20’s, before Inherent augmentations from Wishes.

Now, the question is: how does society change when the basic, lowest commoner denominator of society has a large amount in common with someone with that stat block?

To add: Ideas for items for gem / vest item (Heartstone from Hag, for Etherealness, with UMD to go back and forth, perhaps?), at will Dimension Leap (Or Dimension Hop?), At will skill enhancing spells (Heroism, Divine Insight, Wieldskill, etc.), Resistance bonus to saves vest item (in case the permanency goes down), other vest items

Reference: options from Permanency link:

http://web.archive.org/web/20080416113118/http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-332210

–How about races other than Empty Vessel?

There are several other races which maintain LA+0 or LA+1, and have a Power Point due to their race.  This Power Point is important because it fuels the Psionic Tattoos, which can greatly help a person stay alive in the event of a violent confrontation.  Here are some possible races:

Dromite, XPH (+1 LA)

Half Giant, XPH (+1 LA)

Maenad, XPH

Xeph, XPH

Kalashtar, Races of Eberron

Blue, XPH (+1 LA, considered overpriced)

Synad, CPsi

Athasian Dwarf, LA+1 version, Dragon magazine 319 (rather than the version in Dark Sun 3)

Athasian Elf, LA+1 version, Dragon magazine 319 (rather than the version in Dark Sun 3)

Athasian Half-Elf, LA+1 version, Dragon magazine 319 (rather than the version in Dark Sun 3)

Athasian Halfling, LA+1 version, Dragon magazine 319 (rather than the version in Dark Sun 3)

Athasian Human, LA+1 version, Dragon magazine 319 (rather than the version in PHB)

Athasian Maenad, LA+1, Dragon magazine 319 (rather than the version in XPH)

Elan is taken out because Elanification apparently removes all the memories of a person, and it is implied that Elans are sterile, whereas Synads are not implied to be sterile.  Unfortunately, none of these are implied to automatically have anything other than the basic array; unlike the Empty Vessel, there is no text automatically saying that their array tends to be higher… and none of them say that the first hit dice is maximized, unless they are already a Heroic person, in which case they have higher stats anyway…

Still, with GM help, it might be possible to make a variation of this type of Empty Vessel, at +1 LA for each of the main racial types in most D&D settings.

Some of the main racial types one might want to make such a race for include (based on the number of subraces, as there are numerous subraces of this base racial archetype in the meta-D&D setting):

-Dwarf (base off of the stonefire dwarf, or the xph version of duergar, maybe?, or perhaps update alethian dwarf to 3.5e? Those are the three main psionic dwarves… remove the attack and defense modes, give them some racial power points [the whole point of this exercise])

-Elf

-Gnome

-Goblin/Hobgoblin (there are already Blues, so that is useful place to start)

-Orc

-Halfling (Ideally based off of Strongheart Halfling, for versatility’s sake and the bonus feat)

-Kobold

The first place you want to start with your social engineering and bio-engineering of species is, like all good Wizards, Goblinoids.  Both Blues and Hobgoblins are considered overpriced at LA+1, and there're some useful goblinoid types and traits that can be found based off of Vril, Blue, Sunscorched Hobgoblin, the various Goblins, especially the Bhuka etc.  But that said, Goblinoids are the go-to race when a Wizard wants to add extra features to a species.  There’s no reason to use the existing modifications as a basis, when the rituals of ‘making your own custom type of goblins or hobgoblins’ are well-studied.  That said, the base races do offer a good starting point for what tweaks are viable. Since the idea with this race is to appeal to hobgoblins AND goblins, of all sorts, the whole goblinoid violence/power/dominance dynamic that goblinoids have thing will need to be nipped in the bud, AND the culture is going to need to instill something, likely religion, something, into their cultural gestalt to get the goblin and hobgoblin tendencies towards evil under control.  According to various sorts of flavor text around the edition, it is Blue dragons that mate with goblinoids (usually Hobgoblins).  However, the existence of Desert Goblins and desert-dwelling Bhuka, and the existence of either half-dragon or draconic Hobgoblins being a thing, and an actual ritual which makes Hobgoblins take on draconic aspects, means that the species is well poised to be associated with any desert-dwelling dragon — of which the Brass dragon is the only good-aligned breed.  It is even mentioned that there are lots of clerics in their settlements when Vril (a goblin subspecies) escape from Drow, so it should be the case that Goblins and Hobgoblins take easily to religion, but Brass dragons would give them an independent streak.  Still, most of the goblin pantheon is quite evil, with the only good-aligned deity being Kikanuti, a patron of a sort of desert goblins. Again, this points to this race having a religious, desert theme.

Hence this homebrew race:

Sunhide Hobgoblin

Heroic: Sets a person with the nonelite array’s base stats to the Elite Array

Medium Humanoid (Goblinoid, Dragonblood, Psionic)

+2 Con, +2 Wis

Racial Skill bonus: +2 gather information, +2 balance, +2 jump

Base land speed is 30 feet

Low-Light Vision

Heat Endurance: +2 racial bonus on Fortitude saves made to resist the effects of hot weather and nonlethal damage from heat or dehydration

Sure Feet: Treat shallow sand as normal terrain and deep sand as shallow sand

Naturally Psionic: 1 extra power point per level

+1 Level Adjustment

Automatic Languages: Common, Goblin

Favored Class: Ardent or Mystic, determined at character creation

Possible stats for an LA+0 psionic dwarf, based off of alethian/duergar/stonefire, and the Gold dwarves, which are more charismatic [and thus sociable, because if we are redoing dwarves and making a utopia, why not go all out?]:

Stonefire (Aleithian) Dwarf

+2 con, -2 dex

Darkvision out to 60 feet

Medium Humanoid (Dwarf, Psionic)

Stonecunning: This ability grants a dwarf a +2 racial bonus on Search checks to notice unusual stonework or crystalwork, such as sliding walls, stonework traps, new construction (even when built to match the old), unsafe stone surfaces, shaky stone ceilings, and the like. Something that isn't stone but that is disguised as stone also counts as unusual stonework. An aleithian dwarf who merely comes within 10 feet of unusual stonework can make a Search check as though actively searching and can use the Search skill to find stonework traps as a rogue can. An aleithian dwarf can also intuit depth, sensing his approximate depth underground as naturally as a human can sense which way is up.

+2 racial bonus on Fortitude saving throws against poison.

+2 racial bonus on Appraise or Craft skills related to crystal, metal, or stone.

Naturally Psionic: Stonefire Dwarves gain 2 bonus power points at 1st level. This benefit does not grant them the ability to manifest powers unless they gain that ability through another source, such as levels in a psionic class.

Automatic Languages: Common, Dwarven

Bonus Languages: Undercommon, Draconic, Terran.

Favored Class: Psion or Psychic Warrior; determined at character creation.

A homebrew LA+1 psionic race, based off of Strongheart Halfling and Empty Vessel

Psionic Halfling

Heroic: Sets a person with the nonelite array’s base stats to the Elite Array

Small Humanoid (Halfling, Psionic)

+2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, –2 Strength.

base land speed is 20 feet.

Gain one extra feat at 1st level, because they have a strong drive to compete and many opportunities to practice their skills.

+2 racial bonus on Climb, Jump, Bluff, Listen and Move Silently checks.

+2 racial bonus to Disguise, but only for to be a normal Strongheart Halfling

+2 morale bonus on saving throws against fear

+1 racial bonus on attack rolls with thrown weapons and slings

Naturally Psionic: 1 extra power point per level

Always has Psicraft as a Class Skill

+1 Level Adjustment

Favored Class: Psychic Rogue or Lurk

A psychic Elf based off of (Grey Elf or Sun Elf or Fire Elf for +2 int) and Illaeli Elf (The psionic one, that only seems to switch the favored class, however), maybe? With a bit of Arctic Elf (For -2 str rather than -2con) or Aquatic Elf (for superior low light vision)? Maybe statlines inspired by Lesser Celadrin?  If one were to combine features of various elves, +2 int,-2 str, superior low-light vision, favored class psion, perhaps. Still, by adding an LA, one could maybe add ‘naturally psionic’ and other methods.  Stats would be something like:

Psionic Elf

Heroic: Sets a person with the nonelite array’s base stats to the Elite Array

Medium Humanoid (Elf, Psionic)

+2 Intelligence, +2 wisdom, -2 Strength

+2 racial bonus to spot, tumble, swim

Base land speed is 40 feet

Superior Low-Light Vision (4x as far as a human)

Hold Breath (6x constitution)

Uses the better of Dex or Str for Swimming

Weapon Proficiency: automatically proficient with the handbow, longbow, composite longbow, aquatic longbow, shortbow, composite shortbow

Naturally Psionic: 1 extra power point per level

+1 Level Adjustment

Favored Class Wizard or Psion chosen at character creation

Lifespan: young adult/teenager at 40. Middle Age at 100. Old at 150. Venerable at 200. Theoretical maximum 400.

A psychic Orc based off of Water Orc, maybe?

A psychic Kobold based off of the various versions of Kobold (Desert, Jungle, Earth, etc.):

-4 str, +2 dex

Heroic: Sets a person with the nonelite array’s base stats to the Elite Array

Small Humanoid (Reptilian, Dragonblood, Psionic)

Slight Build

No Light Sensitivity

+2 Racial Bonus to Craft (Trapmaking), Handle Animal, Climb, and Search

+1 Natural Armor Bonus

Kobold Natural Weapons

60’ Darkvision, Low-Light Vision

Altitude Adaptation

Uses the better of Str or Dex for Climbing

Always treat Use Magic Device and Use Psionic Device as class skills

Naturally Psionic: 1 extra power point per level

+1 Level Adjustment

Favored Class: Wilder or Sorcerer, chosen at character creation.

Maybe combine Pterran with Raptoran for innate flight or something?? Feathered psionic dinosaur people?

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