Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Mystic)

Since we’ve spent this week introducing the Multiclass ThemeType concepts, providing examples for envoy, mechanic (with drone), mechanic(with exocortex), operative, and technomancer, and name-dropping the Really Wild West, we’re actually pretty close to handling all the core rulebook classes at this point. Since we’ve presented a way to use Multiclass ThemeTypes with spellcasting classes, let’s present the mystic!

Mystic ThemeType

You draw power of a supernatural connection to… something. It may be your faith in a divine force or philosophy is strong enough to grant you power, despite the majority of your training being elsewhere. Or you may have some innate connection, to psychic powers, the fundamental forces of the universe, or an ancient  secret once discovered by an alien race now dead for millions of years. Whatever the source, it channels real power through you.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Mysticism, Sense Motive, or Survival. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Minor Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 2nd Level): Select one 1st level mystic spell. You can cast this spell once per day. Select two 0-level mystic spells. You can cast these spells at will. Your caster level for all mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType is equal to your character level, and you use your key ability score for all calculations that normally draw on the mystic’s key ability score.

Basic Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 4th Level): Select two 1st level mystic spells. You have two 1st-level mystic spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 1st-level mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 1st level spell you gained from minor mysticism. Also select a third 0-level mystic spells. You can cast this spell at will.

Minor Connection (Theme, 6th Level): You gain either the healing touch or mind link mystic class feature. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed You treat your character level as your mystic level for all class features gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Intermediate Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 6th Level): Select one 2nd level mystic spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Advanced Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 9th Level): Select two 2nd level mystic spells. You have two 2nd-level mystic spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 2nd-level mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 2nd level spell you gained from intermediate mystic.

Basic Connection (Theme, 12th Level): You gain the connection mystic class feature, for one connection of your choice, though you only have access to its 1st level connection ability. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. You do not gain the connection skill ability, but do add the 1st level connection spell to the spells you can use your 1st level mystic Mutliclass ThemeType spell slots to cast.

Greater Mysticism (Sp, Archetype, 12th Level): Select one 3rd level mystic spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Greater Connection (Theme, 18th Level): You gain the 3rd level connection power of your connection, and add the 2nd and 3rd level connection spells to the list of spells you can use your mystic Mutliclass ThemeType spell slots to cast.

Full Mysticism (Sp, Archetype 18th): You replace all your mystic spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType with 4 0-level spells known, 4 1st-level spells known, 3 2nd-level spells known, 2 3rd-level spells known, and one 4th-level spell known. You can cast the 0-level spells at will, and have three 1st-level spell slots, two 2nd-level spell slots, two the connection 3rd-level spell slots, and one 4th-level spell slot.

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Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Operative)

Since we’ve spent this week introducing the Multiclass ThemeType concepts, providing examples for envoy, mechanic (with drone), mechanic(with exocortex), and technomancer, and name-dropping the Really Wild West, it seems a good idea to keep that momentum with another class that has abilities that are difficult to scale—the operative!

Operative ThemeType

You have extensive training in the arts of spying, stealth, subterfuge, or a combination of all of those. It’s not your primary area of expertise, but then, isn’t actually being good at something else entirely the best possible way to maintain your cover?

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain either Bluff or Stealth as a class skill. If you have both of these as class skills from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to one of the two skills. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

If you select Bluff, you may use your Bluff skill bonus as your Stealth skill bonus, and are considered trained in Stealth. If you select Stealth, you may use your Stealth skill bonus as your Bluff skill bonus, and are considered trained in Bluff.

Minor Trick Attack (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain the operative’s trick attack ability, subject to all of that class feature’s requirements. Your trick attack does not deal any additional damage, but on a successful skill check it does cause your target to be flat-footed against your attack.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): You gain one operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd level operative exploits. You treat your character level as your operative level for all operative exploits gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Edge (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You gain a +1 insight bonus to all skill checks, and to initiative checks.

Basic Trick Attack (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): Your trick attack now deals 1d8 additional damage for every three full character levels you have.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): You gain one additional operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd level operative exploits.

Improved Edge (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): Your insight bonus to all skill checks and initiative checks increases to +2.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): You gain one additional operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd level or 6th level operative exploits.

Greater Edge (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): Your insight bonus to all skill checks and initiative checks increases to +3.

Exploit (Ex, Archetype, 18th Level): You gain one additional operative exploit, selected from the list of 2nd, 6th, or 10th-level operative exploits.

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Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Technomancer)

So we’ve presented the Multiclass ThemeType (which uses your theme and an archetype to present an alternate method of multiclassing), and provided examples for the envoy, drone-using mechanic, and exocortex-using mechanic. We’ve even name-dropped the Really Wild West setting hack, for people who are most excited about weird west options.

So, let’s talk multiclass spellcasting.

The Starfinder Roleplaying Game has a number of ways to get just a little magic power, including your race, theme, and archetype, and even combines your caster level among all your spellcasting classes is you happen to multiclass into more than one spellcasting class. But it’s still difficult to have spellcasting be a secondary, but major and ongoing, part of your overall character build. A character that adds just a few levels of solider gets abilities that retain their usefulness throughout a campaign. A character that takes a few levels of technomancer quickly find those options fall way the curve. At the same time, you obviously can’t have a few class levels give you access to the highest-level spells in the game, or the power boost involved is more than a few levels should grant.

The technomancer Multiclass ThemeType tries to get just the right balance, making sure your sacrifices of core class abilities from your archetype’s alternate class features reward you enough to be worthwhile, without making you overpowered.

Technomancer ThemeType

While you haven’t had the opportunity to master the ways theosophy and technology can be blended, you haven dabbled in the area. You understand the basics of how hybrid items function, and how to cast some small number of technomagical spells.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Computers, Engineering or Mysticism. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Minor Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 2nd Level): Select one 1st level technomancer spell. You can cast this spell once per day. Select two 0-level technomancer spells. You can cast these spells at will. Your caster level for all technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType is equal to your character level, and you use your key ability score for all calculations that normally draw on the technomancer’s key ability score.

Basic Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 4th Level): Select two 1st level technomancer spells. You have two 1st-level technomancer spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 1st-level technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 1st level spell you gained from minor technomagic. Also select a third 0-level technomancer spells. You can cast this spell at will.

Magic Hack (Theme, 6th Level): You gain one magic hack, selected from the list of 2nd level technomancer magic hacks. You treat your character level as your technomancer level for all magic hacks gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Intermediate Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 6th Level): Select one 2nd level technomancer spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Advanced Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 9th Level): Select two 2nd level technomancer spells. You have two 2nd-level technomancer spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 2nd-level technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 2nd level spell you gained from intermediate technomagic.

Improved Magic Hack (Theme, 12th Level): You gain one magic hack, selected from the list of 2nd level or 5th level technomancer magic hacks.

Greater Technomagic (Sp, Archetype, 12th Level): Select one 3rd level technomancer spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Greater Magic Hack (Theme, 18th Level): You gain one magic hack, selected from the list of 2nd, 5th, or 8th-level technomancer magic hacks.

Full Technomancy (Sp, Archetype 18th): You replace all your technomancer spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType with 4 0-level spells known, 4 1st-level spells known, 3 2nd-level spells known, 2 3rd-level spells known, and one 4th-level spell known. You can cast the 0-level spells at will, and have three 1st-level spell slots, two 2nd-level spell slots, two 3rd-level spell slots, and one 4th-level spell slot.

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Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (exocortex Mechanic)

We covered the basic idea behind Multiclass ThemeTypes in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, talked about why they are especially good for Really Wild West campaigns, and presented two example of how it works—the Envoy and the drone Mechanic. That, of course, immediately suggests there should be an exocortex mechanic Multiclass ThemeType.

And there is! 😊

Mechanic (exocortex) ThemeType

You have an extremely advanced combat brain implant. It may not be the absolute best hardware in existence, but it’s much better than anything you can buy off-the-shelf.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Computers, Engineering or Physical Science. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Basic Combat Training (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain proficiency in either longarms, or heavy armor. If you select proficiency in longarms, this counts as a proficiency granted by your class for purpose of weapon specialization class feature.

If you already have proficiency with both longarms and heavy armor, you instead gain Weapon Focus with longarms as a bonus feat.

Thing (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –1, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +1.

Thing (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You gain the repair drone mechanic trick, treating your mechanic level as your character level -1

Basic Combat Training (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): You gain the combat tracking ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature, but you treat your base attack bonus from this class as being 1 higher (to a maximum of 1 less than your class level), rather than treating it as your class level.

If your base attack bonus from this class is so high that this gives you no benefit, instead when using combat training you add half your Intelligence bonus (minimum +1) to damage done with weapon.

Wireless Hack (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): You gain the wireless hack ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature, though your range is only 10 feet.

Exocortex Trick (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): You gain one mechanic trick, selected from the mechanic tricks of 8th level or less that grant an ability to your exocortex (such as neural shunt or overclocking).

Exocortex Mod (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): Your exocortex allows you to apply any one of the following drone mods to yourself as if you were a drone with that mod installed: armor slot, cargo rack, climbing claws, enhanced senses, hydrojets, jump jets, resistance, smuggler’s compartment, speed, or weapon proficiency (gaining proficiency in advanced melee or heavy weapons).

Twin Tracking (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): You gain the twin tracking ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature.

Intermediate Combat Training (Ex, Archetype, 18th Level): When using the combat tracking ability of the exocortex version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature, you treat your base attack bonus from this class as being 2 higher (to a maximum of 2 less than your class level).

If your base attack bonus from this class is so high that this gives you no benefit, instead when using combat training you add your Intelligence bonus (minimum +2) to damage done with weapon.

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I have a Patreon, which supports this blog. My patrons are how I can take time to make posts like these. They also sometimes get preview material not yet available anywhere else. Today, for example, they get access to a third mechanic Multiclass ThemeType—the technician—which allows a character to access some of the abilities mechanics get besides drones and exocortexes, but doesn’t have any version of the artificial intelligence class feature.

If you join at any level, you can check it out here!

Coping With Coping Mechanisms

This isn’t a fun post. This is a mental health post, for me, and I don’t blame anyone for skipping it. The neat game rules and industry observations are still all available, this just isn’t one of those. And it’s going to meander.

Sometimes, my desire to write and publish posts for therapeutic reasons is put at odds with my internal censorship rules.

Some of those rules are based on ethical concerns–when I know and am bothered by something I’m not in an ethical position to reveal, whether than be the result of an NDA, or something I learned in confidence, or that I have reason to believe revealing would result in the harm of someone who doesn’t have harm coming to them over it.

Others are the chain of mental iron forged by my introversion, or family ties, or appropriateness, or common decency.

Sometimes I am just too mentally and physical exhausted to face the inevitable backlash of revealing my raw feelings on some contentious topic.

Sometimes I am ashamed. Those hurt the most, I think.

Sometimes I don’ feel like my opinion is on a firm enough footing of being well-informed and rational a topic. this is especially true when it touches on an area where I have significant advantages over other people who might be impacted by either the issue, or my thoughts on it.

Sometimes I don’t want to worry people, because it sounds worse than it is.

Of course it is the perversity of life that these topics, ones I don’t think I should share due to good and reasoned personal guidelines, are the ones which are most likely to infest my mind. Venomous thoughts I am ill-equipped to tackle on my own, and that seem similar to things I have defused with the coping mechanism of writing about them.

The more it’s something I have good reason not to talk about, the more it can be a relief to talk about it.

Of course therapy can help with that. And sometimes therapy can bring me to a new place where I can talk about an issue, either because I am better informed or because it has less ability to hurt me and others. This is what lead to my being able to discuss the fact I was sexually abused by someone I thought was my friend as a child.

Or to discuss the memory of kids in the Boy Scouts digging a pit as Scout-A-Rama, and having a young woman lure me out to it, and as a group encircling me and shoving me over and over until I fell into it. How they jumped on my back, and held me in place, and began to shovel dirt down around me. How, during this time, several of them laughed that I was stupid enough to think anyone would actually want to spend time with me.

I have nightmares about that still, sometimes. It feels like the worst bullying I ever received. It’s given me trust issues my whole life. I was almost never bullied in school, as a result of some unusual circumstances, but scouts was different. My troop was never involved—I think the troop fathers were too good at monitoring the group as a whole, and being strong role models. But when we gathered with other troops, and I was separated from the people I knew, it was different. It’s the main reason I gave up on scouts.

But sometimes it’s not something I can’t share because it hurts too much. It just wouldn’t be fair or appropriate to talk about it, and I want the relief I get from using writing as a coping mechanism.

So sometimes, I write about something else. And that can help, too.

The Shape of Gelatinous Evolution

Idea: Gelatinous Oozes change shape from cubes as they age, and gain special powers, based on their shape.

Gelatinous Torus: Gets increased speed and Spring Attack
Gelatinous Pyramid: Gets Spell Resistance equal to 15 + CR
Gelatinous Reuleaux Triangle: Gains the power of two other oozes, selected as random.
Gelatinous Apollonian Gasket: Can cast enlarge and reduce person, even on oozes, at will
Gelatinous Hyperboloid: Can cast haste and slow at will, and time stop once per day
Gelatinous Lemniscate: Gains the ghost’s rejuvenation ability.

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Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (drone Mechanic)

We covered the basic idea behind Multiclass ThemeTypes in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, talked about why they are especially good for Really Wild West campaigns, and presented one example for the Envoy. That, of course, leaves six more classes to cover just to expand the concept to the classes in the core rulebook. Alphabetically, after envoy, that would bring us to the mechanic.

And we immediately run into a problem.

One of the core things someone wishing just a little of the utility of the mechanic might want is a drone. It IS possible to build a ThemeType that gives you access to a drone… but unless that drone very quickly becomes useless, it can’t do much of anything else. So if we build a mechanic ThemeType that handles drones well, it’s not likely to handle exocortexes or generic mechanic hacks well. It could be done by having every choice at every level being one of three options, but then either what you do at 1st level locks you in to just one of those choices at every level, or you’d have the choice of only occasionally selecting a drone upgrade, which very quickly makes the drone too weak to be of any use for the character.

Ultimately, it seems best to just accept that if you want a drone, that’s pretty much all you are getting from that ThemeType, and break the mechanic into multiple ThemeTypes. This also promotes more spotlight protection for a core mechanic. If a group has a mechanic with an exocortex, a player taking the Mechanic (drone) ThemeType doesn’t overlap at all with the true mechanic. Similarly, if a full mechanic does take a drone, it’ll be obvious among all the players that selecting this ThemeType may step on the mechanic’s toes, hopefully leading to an adult and rational conversation where GM and other players all work out how to proceed to everyone has fun.

A group COULD decide everyone is going to have a drone, for example, and make that a unifying theme of their adventuring party. As long as the mechanic player liked that idea, and everyone else was fine with the fact that the mechanic’s drone is always going to be noteworthily better than theirs.

And now, without further ado, we present the Mechanic (drone) ThemeType.

Mechanic (drone) ThemeType

You may not be the universal miracle-worker or mechanics that some people manage, but you have built a unique drone AI ally that is way beyond what can be bought off the rack. It’s maybe never going to be quite as good as a full mechanic’s drone, but it’s better than what any other non-mechanic can manage.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain two of the following skills of your choice as class skills: Computers, Engineering or Physical Science. For each selected skill, if you have the skill as a class skill from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Basic Drone (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain the drone version of the mechanic’s artificial intelligence class feature. Your effective mechanic level is equal to your class level –1, to a maximum mechanic level of 3rd. You do not gain any other mechanic class features, but your drone does gain drone special abilities, feat, and drone mods appropriate for your effective mechanic level.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –1, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +1.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You gain the repair drone mechanic trick, treating your mechanic level as your character level -1

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): Though now calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +2.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +4.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +3.

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +3.

Drone Trick (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): You gain one mechanic trick, selected from the mechanic tricks of 8th level or less that grant an ability to your drone (such as drone meld or overclocking).

Drone Improvement (Ex, Archetype 18th): Though still calculated as your character level –2, your maximum effective mechanic level for your drone increases by +2.

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Alternate Multiclass Rules for Starfinder (Envoy)

Character concepts don’t always fit neatly into just one character class. Sometimes you want to play a diplomat who is also trained as a spy, or a brilliant engineer who has studied just enough magic to consider it one more tool in her toolbox, or a soldier with psychic powers. Starfinder offers three broad tools for adjusting a character to fit such concepts—themes (to represent background training), archetypes (to represent a different path than a typical member of a class), and multiclassing (to represent training in more than one role). Generally exactly the right balance of those options can make nearly any character concept work.

But it can take a lot of effort.

Maybe, if they were all blended into one definitive all-encompassing option, a broad range of new character concepts could be made easier and faster to write up. A way to indicate that a character has been working to add a second career to their primary training for most of their life, and plans to continue to blend the things represented by multiclassing, theme, and archetype. Something that takes some of the advantages of multiclassing, and places them in the slots of additional abilities normally granted by themes and archetypes. In short, a Multiclass ThemeType.

MultiClass ThemeTypes

A Multiclass ThemeType gives you some abilities of a second character class, but counts as both your theme (preventing you from gaining any other theme, and requiring you to select the ThemeType at 1st level) and as an archetype for the first class you take levels in (requiring you to give up some abilities of your primary class, as normal for an archetype).

Multiclass ThemeType abilities marked with (Theme) occur when you reach the listed character level, regardless of what classes you have taken levels in. Those marked (Archetype) are gained only when you reach the listed level in the first character class you take levels in. However, it is also recommended that characters with a Multiclass ThemeType not be allowed to also use normal multiclassing rules (in which case the character’s character level and class level will always match).

A character cannot take class levels in the class that matches their Multiclass ThemeType.

While ThemeTypes can be used in any Starfinder campaign, they are particularly appropriate for the mash-up world of the Really Wild West setting hack.

As an example, here is the Envoy ThemeType, which allows any character to gain some of the abilities and roles of an envoy.

Envoy ThemeType

You have carefully mastered some aspects of leadership, negotiation, tactics, and making friends and influencing people. While you are generally measured against your abilities from your primary character class, you are seen as a leader within the ranks of those with your other skill sets.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain either Bluff or Diplomacy as a class skill. If you have both of these as class skills from other sources at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to one of the two skills. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

If you select Bluff, you may use your Bluff skill bonus as your Diplomacy skill bonus, and are considered trained in Diplomacy. If you select Diplomacy, you may use your Diplomacy skill bonus as your Bluff skill bonus, and are considered trained in Bluff.

Expertise (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain the envoy’s expertise ability for one of the following skills of your choice: Bluff, Computers, Culture, Diplomacy, Disguise, Engineering, Intimidate, Medicine, or Sense Motive. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. Your expertise die is a d4, rather than a d6.

If you have an insight bonus of +4 or better to all applicable skills, you may choose to instead treat your expertise die as a +1 circumstance bonus.

Basic Improvisation (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): You gain one envoy improvisation, selected from the list of 1st level envoy improvisations. You treat your character level as your envoy level for all envoy improvisations gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Expanded Expertise (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You select a second skill from the list of skills in the expertise ThemeType feature to which you apply your expertise die.

Intermediate Improvisation (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): You gain one additional envoy improvisation selected from the list of 1st-level envoy improvisations.

Expertise Talent (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): You gain one expertise talent, selected from the list of envoy expertise talents.

Improved Improvisation (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): You gain one envoy improvisation, selected from the list of 1st level or 4th level envoy improvisations.

Greater Expertise (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): Your expertise die increases to 1d4+1.

Greater Improvisation (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): You gain one envoy improvisation, selected from the list of 1st level, 4th level, or 6th level envoy improvisations.

Full Expertise (Ex, Archetype 18th): Your expertise die increases to 1d6+1. You select a third skill from the list of skills in the expertise ThemeType feature to which you apply your expertise die.

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Microsetting: The City of Hoard

Microsetting: The City of Hoard

I’ve been on a bit of a Starfinder RPG and general essay kick recently, but I’m still a big fan of fantasy RPG settings in general, and Pathfinder in general. So as a palate cleanser, here is a microsetting, the City of Hoard!

The City of Hoard

It’s not formally called “Hoard” of course. It’s listed as Draconis Rekai Achael in the old Imperial Charter of Settlements, Drakkenhelt in the dwarven tunnel-maps, and Aerivermaeli in the elven Songs of Places. Among the academic writings and speech of most dragons and draconic-oriented scholars, it’s Brarguren’s Canton, an acknowledgement that the mighty Brargured has carved out land acknowledged by other nations as hers, and hers alone. But even those learned individuals generally call it “Brarguren’s Hoard” in casual conversation, and from that long title most common folk have taken to just calling the city “Hoard.”

Brarguren was an active dragon in her youth, traveling extensively as soon as she ceased to be a wyrmling, claiming temporary territories, exploring lands with no sapient creature settling them. There are numerous credible accounts of her worldwide, suggesting she did not limit herself to any one continent or trade route. Many of those tales speak of her establishing herself on the edges of major civilizations, speaking to their scholars and acting as patron for their great artists. Though she spent no more than a few decades in any one place in her first few centuries of life, she was intellectually active and curious during these visits, each year doing as much research and learning as any member of the shorter-lived races could manage, and thus compiling numerous lifetimes of knowledge in just a few hundred years.

She gained cunning and power in equal measure. Early descriptions of her make it clear her coloration was “bright” and “metallic,” but never matched her to a single hue. She can breath fire, but has also proven to have draconic and magic talents that allow her to breath acid, and ice, and even frozen acid. She can access the power of sorcerers, druids, and even witches, leading some to suggest she has studied as a shaman. She is also a mistress of illusion, or transmutation (or both), and certainly her appearance in the past few centuries has shifted and changes enough to suggest she is keeping her true nature secret, though she always has the same piercing, nearly glowing, amber eyes.

No one is sure when she became fascinated by architecture, urban planning, and landscaping. Perhaps it was when she carried out a vendetta against the Order of the Broken Claw as a young adult, joining and leading armies to sack the order’s cities on both sides of an ocean. Perhaps her visits to the continents of the Ivory Empire, Jade Kingdoms, or the lands of the Spice Road as an adult and mature adult piqued her interest in how different cultures build and grow settlements. Certainly her Guild of Masons was established at that time, and she forged alliances with dwarves and elves both to aid and learn from their greatest artificers, fort-builders, and urban engineers and planners.

What is known for certain is that as an old dragon, more than 4 centuries ago, Brarguren stopped her regular travels and claimed her Canton, a rich land with access to ocean, trade, field, and ore. The land surely would have been claimed by some nation before her, located between small kingdoms and in a route between major empires as it was, if not for the gorynych that laired there, and the twisted mutant cult that worshiped it. Brarguren was not the first dragon to seek to destroy the wicked creature known as “The Three Sinners,” but she was the first to succeed in destroying the gorynych and scattering the cult.

And to mark her success, she claimed the piles and piles of treasure the Three Sinners and its minions had collected…. And built a city.

People claim that early on no one lived in Hoard, but of course that’s not true. Expending money as a waterfall expends water, Brarguren hired hundreds of planners and thousands of workers. Even before Hoard had a finished building, it has inhabitants. Nor where buildings the first permanent structures to be raised. Brarguren had roads laid, and aqueducts, canals, wells, and cisterns built, long before any buildings. She gave broad guidance to her lord architects, and insisted their plans be revised many times, but did little of the direct planning herself. The first city was to be designed to house 10,000 citizens in wealth and comfort, and to have a network of towns to support it, but she also demanded plans be in place for it to grow. Even the names of its major sections, “First Ward, Second Century Ward, Third Century Ward,” showed what her plans were for its expansion.

Now, Hoard is 310 years old, a city of nearly 50,000, and one of the most powerful and wealthy trade cities in the world. Though Brarguren is the unquestioned owner and ruler of the city and the surrounding valley, including it’s roads, dozens of supporting towns and farms, minor auxiliary ports and shipyards in nearby islands, she rarely takes a direct hand in ruling or protecting it. The Canton Guard serve as both city guard in Hoard, and ranging military force throughout Brarguren’s lands, and the Dragonfire Wardens act as scouts, investigators, and game wardens further from the city. Both answer directly and separately to Brarguren, though their Lord Commanders (Guard Commander Alvric Krakarral—a human investigator—for the Guard, and Warden Commander Jealis Irontusk—a half-orc hunter—for the Wardens) are cagey about how how those reports are delivered. But 72 years ago when Brarguren devoured the then-Guard Commander Thurgen Thurgenis, the dragon made it clear she would react if her forces failed to report as she expected them to. Her lack of direct action since is taken as proof the Lord Commanders are doing as they are supposed to.

However, neither of those forces run the city (or any of the townships),and lack the power to makes laws or edicts. Laws are made only by Brarguren herself, and she hasn’t changed the short list of basic rules (outlawing slavery, insisting on equal basic rights for all sapient creatures, establishing the civil and paramilitary organizations in her lands) in almost a century. Edicts come from the Council of Stakeholders—made up of guild leaders, religious heads, neighborhood alders from Hoard and town magistrates from supporting settlements, representatives of the Guard and Wardens, hereditary members from important families, one judge from each court circuit, and ministers of various Hoard city offices—and are signed by the Marshal of the Exchequer (or become law without the Marshal’s signature if 2/3 of the Council of Stakeholders agree to do so after 90 days… which almost never happens).

The Marshal of the Exchequer acts as the chief executive of Hoard, oversees legal cases against any member of the Council of Stakeholders or judge within Hoard, and is in charge of the budget of the entire region. Since taxes are surprisingly low in Hoard, and city services are quite high, there’s a persistent rumor that the Marshal of the Exchequer pays for things directly out of some vast supply of wealth Brarguren has accumulated. While every Marshal of the Exchequer has always denied this is the case, and the city has had budget troubles many times over its three centuries of existence, the rumor remains common.

As for where such a vast pile of treasure might be kept… no one knows for certain. Brarguren dives into and flies out of the ocean harbor on most of the rare occasions she makes an appearance in the city itself, but no one has ever found any sign of an aquatic lair. The city center includes a massive, round, fortified building known as The Vault when used as a landmark, but it has no known entrance and its purpose is secret. The mountains that border the valley Hoard sits at one end of have numerous caves, but none have ever shown size of draconic habitation. Everyone agrees Brarguren must have at least one secret lair, but no one can agree on where it is, what it’s like, or how much treasure is piled up in it.

But it is known what treasure has gone into it, at least on some occasions. Brarguren does not directly defend Hoard or its lands, unless a threat arises so great only an old dragon could oppose it (such as the arrival of the Archtitan Oceator, more than two centuries ago), or when the Guard and Wardens have already suffered major losses and are clearly being overwhelmed (such as during the Wightblade Plague nearly a century ago). When she does become directly involved, however, she takes everything of value possessed by any foe she defeats—from Oceator’s Trident of the Wave-Gods to the ghost swords left over from the Plague. Hoard is safe from nearly any direct threat, but does not receive the spoils of war from foes it’s draconic owner finishes.

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Really Wild West Supernatural Wilderness Feats (for Starfinder)

While we already added some mundane wilderness feats to our Really Wild West setting, a big part of RWW is that magic (primarily in the form of theosophy) is real, and supernatural powers exist. So in addition to feats for those who are simply skilled at wilderness training, we need some feats that represent a not-so-mundane connection to the wilderness. The core of these feats is the Wildling feat, with the other feats building off of that.

Animal Soul
Your close bond with the animal world allows you to ignore harmful magic that cannot affect your wild side.
Prerequisite: Wildling, Survival 1 rank.
Benefit: You can choose not to allow spells and effects to affect you if they would not be capable of affecting both your original creature type and the animal creature type.

Aspect of the Beast
You have a strong supernatural connection to the animal world.
Prerequisite: Wildling, Survival 1 rank.
Benefit: Your bestial nature manifests itself in one of the following ways. You choose the manifestation when you choose the feat, and then you cannot change it.
Night Senses (Ex): If your base race has normal vision, you gain low-light vision. If your base race has low-light vision, you gain darkvision out to a range of 30 feet. If your base race has darkvision, the range of your darkvision increases by 30 feet.
Claws of the Beast (Ex): You grow a pair of claws. Your unarmed attacks are not considered archaic and can deal piercing or slashing damage, and gain the bleed critical hit effect. The bleed is 1d4, and increases to 1d6 at character level 4, to 1d8 at character level 9, and to 2d6 at character level 14.
Predator’s Leap (Ex): You gain a +5 bonus to Acrobatics checks made to leap or fall.
Wild Instinct (Ex): You gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks and a +2 bonus on Survival skill checks.

Greater Wildling
Your natural empathy stretches across the world of nature.
Prerequisite: Wildling, Survival 3 ranks.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus on wild empathy checks, and you may use wild empathy to duplicate an Intimidate check rather than a Diplomacy check. In addition, choose one of the following kinds of creatures: elementals, fey, lycanthropes, plants, or vermin. You may influence creatures of that type with wild empathy, if their Intelligence score is –4 or –5, or they do not possess an Intelligence score. Once you choose the type of creature, it cannot be changed.

Wildling
You were touched by nature at an early age and share a kinship with wild creatures. Your body might bear animalistic features, such as bestial ears or a tail, or your presence may be subtly unlike that of others.
Prerequisite: Survival 1 rank.
Benefit: You can improve the attitude of an animal with wild empathy. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person. You rolls 1d20 and adds your character level and Charisma modifier to determine the wild empathy check result. The typical domestic animal has a starting attitude of indifferent, while wild animals are usually unfriendly.
To use wild empathy, you and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that you must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time. You can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence modifier of –4 or –5, but you take a –4 penalty on the check. If you have the wild empathy class feature, you gain a +3 bonus to your wild empathy checks.

Patreon

I have a Patreon, which supports my writing material like this. When writing this article I found myself going two different directions. Once route lead to the feats presented here, which focus primarily on the Wildling feat as the base. The other was built off a Fylgja feat, which drew inspiration from the nodric concept of an animal spirit that is linked to you in some way, and may even be part of your own soul. While that line didn’t pan out as well in general I still like the core Fylgja feat, which I posted as a Patreon-exclusive for my backers.