Diesel Pulp: Fordlandia and the Argentinian Reich

Fordlandia and the Argentinian Reich

In my Diesel Pulp setting, Henry Ford is a full-on Nazi. Given his strongly antisemitic views, the damage he did spreading those views, and his company’s willingness to use slave labor in Germany, I don’t feel bad about this at all.

I also have Fordlandia being both hugely successful, and being in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in far-southern Brazil. With so much technological effort being put toward compression gears, Cavorite, and other Martian-inspired technology, synthetic rubber does not develop, and rubber trees remain crucial right through the end of the Global War. With the British controlling most European-owned rubber plantations, and Japan being too far away for its holdings to make a good supplier for Germany, Fordlandia in southern Brazil is a crucial supply for the Nazi.

So, my setting assumed a Nazi-backed military coup takes control of Argentina early in the Global War, likely 1939, and quickly pressures Chile and Paraguay to join the South American “Argentinian Reich.” German-backed forces then strike into Brazil to cut off Rio Grande do Sul, taking both Fordlandia and Porto Alegre (the state’s capital and a major port). I feel a little bad about having these nations become Nazi allies… but given how long Argentina stayed neutral and that I am creating a new government backed by Nazis, I don’t feel too bad. And, any real-world historical group or figure in Argentina at the time that doesn’t deserve to be tarred with the broad brush can be added to the South American Resistance that pops up to oppose the Nazi-supported government.

This results in Brazilian and Mexican forces (with the aid of the US, economically at first with Lend-Lease, and then military assistance after 1941) fighting in South America against Argentinian Reich through the Global War. All other South and Central American Nations support the Allies against the Axis, at the minimum sending aid and in many cases (especially Bolivia, Peru, and Uruguay) troops.

I suspect this means no Brazilian Expeditionary Force, but since those troops are literally defending, and ultimately taking back, their homeland I don’t think that’s selling short Brazil’s contribution to the war. Similarly the Mexican Aztec Eagles and Fuerza Aerea Mexicana operations are going to stay closer to the continent, but remain heroically involved. The Pan-American Highway remains a high priority for the US and the Allies, and also gets pushed much closer to completion, though the route changes to more greatly favor Brazil.

A lot of this is, of course, ridiculous. But I like my Global War having actual fighting on every continent (sorry Australia), and like the idea of turning Fordlandia into a corporate-fascist autocratic city-state, as a place and idea for stories and events. And in a setting that assumes the War of the Worlds inspired walkers to be the main Diesel Age military technology and masked “irregulars” becoming common as military assets, I don’t mind some ridiculous alterations.

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Top Ten RPG Mash-Ups! (2017 edition)

I haven’t done a new Top Ten list for a while, so in-between bouts of cleaning up my modeling mess last night, I wrote:

Top Ten RPG Mash-Ups! (2017 edition)

#10. Dungeons & Danger International, 6th edition
(Still a non-existent classic! Back cover promises “The Ultimate Game of 1970s and ‘80s Action Heroes going into Ancient Tombs, Killing Things, and Taking Their Stuff. Also, terrorists.”)
(And the main villain group is the “Department of Raids, Anarchy, and Generating Ongoing Nightmares”)
(And yes, the equipment lists include Vorpal Uzis, +5 Holy Walther PPKs, and Hip Flasks of Holding.)

#9. Deadlands: Hell on EarthDawn
(The foreword is “Even in an Underground Vault, Things Have Gone To Hell.”)

#8. Legend of the Five Fading Suns
(Honestly you’ll barely notice the difference.)

#7. XCrawl of Cthulhu
(It’s the game of professional cultist-killing reality TV, for ratings and glory, and the constant risk of going insane or accidentally destroying the world. Character Creation is titled “There Won’t Be Season Two!”)

#6. Weird War 40,000
(In the Grim Darkness of the 1940s, there is only War. And Panzers. And jetpacks. And Psychic Russian Half-Chimpanzees.)

#5. 7th SenZar, 2nd Edition
(Tagline: “It’s Still gaming in God Mode. It’s just… look have you READ any classic mythology? Gods have to deal with politics, and romance, and sometimes getting killed. Yeah, we added a story.”)

#4. Mutants & MasterMage: The Awakening
(The first supplement is “Magic and Superpowers and Complications, Oh My!”)

#3. TrekWarFinder
(The word “Star” does not appear in this sci-fi RPG. Not even once. Except just now, but that’s it.)

#2. Eclipse Phaser
(With Chapter Six being “Yes, you can play a hologram. Or a half-Vulcan. Or just about anything, really. But you have to be part of Star Fleet: Firewall Division.”)

#1. Shadow of the Toon Lord
(And its launch adventure, “Who Summoned Roger Rabid?”)

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Worldbuilding Week: Merothian Cultural Touchstones

We’re continuing Worldbuilding week with a look at little cultural notes or “touchstones” that GMs and players alike can use to build on Merothian themes. We already did a brief history of Merothia here, and discussed Merothian traits characters could take here. While the history was pure prose (with no rules to speak of, and the traits were solidly in the realm of rules (though with flavor text, of course), these cultural touchstones include elements of both.

Merothian Cultural Touchstones

There are some common elements of Merothains society that cross the boundary of a single village or group. Some are tied to specific rules elements, but others are just ideas a GM can hang a story or encounter on, of a player can use to craft a particularly “Merothian” background.

Arming Sword

The legendary Free Knights of Merothia carried a distinctive blade known as an “arming sword.” Similar to a longsword, an arming sword has a shorter handle with a cruciform hilt and a large lozenge-shaped pommel. Classically, Merothian knights carried an arming sword for use with shields, and had a greatsword for use in situations where heavier blows were required. This set them apart from most other sword-using elite warriors of the era, who carried bastard swords and adjusted their grip as needed.

Arming swords act like longswords with the following exceptions:
*A Medium arming sword deals 2d4 damage (and arming swords were not normally crafted in any other size)

*Because it is designed to work best with one hand, attacks using two hands with an arming sword suffer a -1 penalty to confirm critical threats.
*Because it is so well balanced and offers a firm grip with one-handed attacks, critical hits with an arming sword deal 2 additional point of damage (after all other calculations).

Community Granna and Granther

Generally every Merothian community has an elder woman and elder man respectfully known as “Granna” and “Ganther” respectively. These are often, but not always a married couple, and some communities have more than one of each (generally resulting in using the gran honorific as a title, such as “Granna Maeth” and “Granna Hilde”). They often act as receptacles of oral lore, teachers and babysitters of the very young, and impartial, unofficial arbitrators of minor community arguments. Though not officially in positions of rulership, these are seen as town elders, and are generally included in any community planning meeting to their opinion is heard (though traditionally they don’t then weigh in on the right course of action, just give historical context and opinions based on their own experiences).

For Merothians being a Granna or a Granther is not explicitly about age, which is why they don’t automatically accord the same title to any centuries-old dwarf or elf they encounter. Instead, Granna and Granther are revered because they continue to survive despite having love the vitality of their prime, and must know act with the knowledge they are closer to death and less able to save themselves. This distinction is well understood by most dwarves, but is often lost on elves of Te Astra and Te Essar.

Donnersop

Whenever anyone hunts, farms, butchers, kills, weaves, tans, or otherwise crafts or gathers materials, scraps are given to Granna and Granther. If the scraps are edible, they are generally turned into a soup by one of the these two elders. If they are a fabric or covering, they are sewn or weaved into a quilt or shawl. If they are wood, they carved into something useful, or if metal adapted to a new purpose with a stick and rawhide.

Granna and Granther uses these items for their own upkeep, but also give them out as needed to families having trouble, or call for an even where a segment of the community comes and enjoys these patched- and stewed- together offerings.

Both the tradition of given scraps, and the materials made from them, are known as donnersop, a uniquely Merothain word. When offered up to a segment of the community for communal enjoyment, this also becomes a time when tales are told, history recited, old songs sung, and initial long-term plans discussed.

While character’s can’t normally “buy” donnersop, they can receive goods worth 1-5 gp or less as donnersop if they seem sufficiently destitute, and worth aiding. Meanwhile a character who donates as little as 1 sp a week of material to a communities donnersop stores gains a +2 circumstance bonus to Diplomacy checks to gather information in that Merothian community.

Weapon Inscriptions

Merothians often inscribe letters onto their weapons, a practive that dates back to the Free Knights of Old Merothia. These are usually letters in Celestial, though older traditions use letters in Fey, that list just the first letter of several words that are a phrase or motto important to the weapon user. Many famously use CMAS which refers to the ancient knight’s cry corie meroth aeter sang, Celestial for “The Heart of Merothia Bleeds Eternally,” a promise that the Free Knights would suffer any hardship to fight for freedom and justice. Current Merothains often don’t speak either Celestial or Fey, and may ask am Abthanian priest or a druid to translate a phrase meaningful to the individual into letters.

Those familiar that own an heirloom arming sword with such an inscruiption consider it an object that must be maintained, and given to a family member who has proven the willingness and ability to use it. Since Merothians communities often can’t afford to make new swords, the inscription tradition has been extended to the more common axes, spears, bows, and knives poorer Merothians depend on to protect themselves.

While most inscriptions are not magical, for 15% above the normal cost of a scroll, a magical inscription that functions precisely like a scroll can be etched onto a weapon as an inscription. This is normally only done by Merothian spellcasters with strong ties to Old Merothia, most often druids, Abthanian priests, and witches.

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Worldbuilding Week: Merothian Traits

We’re continuing Worldbuilding week (which started here) with a look at traits available to Merothian characters.

Merothian Ethnic Traits

These are all traits available to characters that are Merothian, and who were raised in Merothia or a neighboring region where it was known they were Merothian. These serve both as specific tweaks to character abilities that help players with Merothain PCs feel like their backgrounds matter, their very existance also help reinforce a culture and tone for Merothia in general.

Blessed are the Humble (Faith trait). Even the gods seem to know that Merothians have gotten a raw deal. If a divine spellcaster casts a spell with harmless in the saving throw or SR entry, treat that spellcaster’s level as being one higher when determining the spell’s effects 9including amount healed, duration, and so on).

Born to Serve (Race trait). Since the fall of the High barons, numerous groups (most often spellcasters from Te Essar) have made adjustments to Merothian bloodlines to make them better servants, often in an effort to prove Merothains are an inferior race of humanoids. Your family comes from such an altered bloodline. When you aid another in combat or with skills, your aid another bonus is +3 rather than +2. When you make an aid another check to help a creature with a humanoid subtype (other than human) you have never aided before, roll 1d20. If the result is a 20, this trait actually increases your aid another bonus to +4 for creatures of that subtype.

Distant Kin (Family trait). You have an extensive family of Merothian commoners. When in a settlement that has a population of at least 500 Merothians, in Merothia or a neighboring region, if you make a successful Diplomacy check to gather information you can find a distant cousin who may help you. Calculate how many followers you would have if you had the Leadership feat. This is the maximum number of cousins you can find over your career (though as your leadership score goes up, so do the potential number of cousins you are put in contact with). These cousins are randomly assigned npc class levels by the GM based on what follower slots you have remaining, are within one step of your alignment, and begin with an attitude of friendly.

Hard to Kill (Combat). Most Merothian families have more than one ancestor who survived outrageous wounds and odds to live long enough to have children. The trait for survival is often passed on. Add your character level to the negative number of hit points you must reach before dying.

Old Magic (Magic). There aren’t many Merothian spellcaster left, but tales of the Witch-Knights, Green Mages, and Holy Kirks make it clear there were once many eldritch traditions in Merothia. Some of that old lore has been passed down to you, allowing you to occasionally surprise a foe with a different way of doing things. Once per day when you cast a spell that is not the highest-level spell you can cast, and the foe succeeds at a saving throw, you can force the foe to reroll the saving throw. If the foe fails this second save the spell takes effect, though if the spell is not instantaneous its maximum duration is 1 round per 5 caster levels (minimum 1 round).

Used to It (Social trait). Things often suck for Merothians, and to survive they have had to simply learn to manage under harsh conditions. When you have a penalty of -2 or more that applies to d20 checks (such as attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws, and so on), as a move action you can improve that penalty by one for 1 round.

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Worldbuilding Week: Merothia

So, this week I am planning on putting up a set of four linked posts that are an example of how I like to combine game rules, broad mythology, and a selection of small details to build an element for an RPG campaign setting.

This week I’ll be going over Merothia, a region appropriate for PC origins and adventuring in a fairly typical fantasy-style Pathfinder RPG game. I’ll also be mentioning a lot of things that tie into Merothia but don’t get full write-ups just yet, which is also often how I expand a world — toss out details to players, and see which ones they find interesting enough to justify my spending more time on them.

Merothia

Once, Merothia was a series of 27 semi-independent baronies rules by he High Barons, who had significant autonomy in all local matters (and could even wage war on one another to a limited extent), but who all swore to obey a single Baron King in all dealings with foreigners. Merothians were fiercely independent and had strong dedication ot building a world that was “fair,” and it was often said “Twelve Merothians will starve rather than divide unevenly sliced bread.”

In the Age of Quests, this fierce independence generated numerous heroes and small bands that kept Merothia safe. During the Age of Tyrants, it lead to most of Merothia being conquered by the elven nation of Te Essar. Since the end of the Age of Tyrants, Te Essar’s near collapse and the rise of Te Astra and the Golemarium have left Merothia largely ununified.

Most regions of Merothia are now officially protectorates of some foreign power, but generally only those in the far west that answer to the Raudak and those in the south-east that are oppressed by Te Astra actually see any benefit for the taxes they periodically send to their distant foreign rulers. The notable exceptions to this are villages in north-central Merothia that have managed to become official Craft Homes to the dwarven Clan League, which enjoy significant advantages for their formal membership (though it is much more common for a Merothian town to have strong alliances with the league rather than be able to claim Craft Home status).

Merothian settlements that aren’t formal protectorates fall into a few broad categories. Some towns have powerful enough local rulers (usually a retired crusader, Njor raider, mid-level Tarsian merchant-prince, minor aething half-blood Te Astra or even Te Essar noble with casual support from their homelands, or someone who also happens to run a nearby Abthanian church or monastery) to maintain independence, though generally under restrictive rule that favors a small non-Merothian upper classes. Other towns and villages have agreements with varying levels of officialness with bandit bands, raiders, or monster packs.

Notable and well-known exceptions to this trend are the Free Harbor of Auvant, which uses the combination of its access to natural harbors and river routes and distance from any similar ports or major political entities to make enough money to buy mercenaries that keep its ruling council at least nominally in charge, and Whurrak, the mountain holdfast that carefully enforces equality for itself and the Merothian towns and villages that support it economically.

True Merothians rulership in the style of old may only still exist in far-off Presthor, if the storied last Merothian Free Barony (supposedly locked in an endless crusade that keeps its knights and nobles from returning to Merothia proper) even exists.

Merothians

Ethnically, Merothians are humans descended from the High Barons of Merothia, before that suzerain’s fall. They are generally typical in human appearance, with a trend toward light tan skin tones, darker hair and eye color, and thick shoulders, hips, wrists, and ankles. Those with more Njor blood tend to be taller, those closer to Te Astra and Te Essar tend to be thinner and paler (though not as fair as aething half-bloods), and those close to a port or harbor are often darker skinned, and may even be mistaken for Tarsians or Akkesh.

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Quick Spoiler-Free Geek Movie Reviews

My thoughts on movies have I seen recently:
John Wick, Chapter Two: It’s a Vampire Game, but with Assassins instead of Vampires.
Lego Batman: Not as good as the last Lego movie, but a lot better than the last Batman movie. Surprisingly deep in its geekery.
Godzilla Final Wars: Spectacularly weaponized cheese. Awesome to mine for ideas… as long as those don’t need to be ideas on how to make a good movie.
Death Race 2050: I think is is a ‘Sploitationsploitation movie. It’s a movie that exploits exploitation movies. For the curious, I do not consider this a good thing, but (no pun intended) it’s a lot like watching a car wreck.
The Wave (Norwegian: Bølgen): A Norwegian disaster flick with the heart of a horror movie. I loved it a lot, but I don’t think I ever want to see it again.
The Rezort: This is very clearly World War Z combined with Jurassic Park, but without the budget of either. It is also not the worst zombie movie I have ever seen.

Encounter Environment: The Gravity Chamber

This week I saved all my creative energies for one big post, and TGIF!

(Seriously, I’ve sold pdfs shorter than this… )

The Gravity Chamber

The Gravity Chamber is an encounter environment idea. It’s a room in which gravity swaps one a round, every round, randomly and often with little warning. Down becomes up, and then the next round becomes down again. PCs must deal with being constantly slammed up and down, hopefully while you also add another encounter (like driders with boxes of caltrops and a cyclops alchemist) to keep thigns fresh and terrifying.

The Set Up

Have this be a big room, with a ceiling that’s 20 feet high, plus 10 feet per 5 full levels of the PCs. Also, describe the weird bloodstains, scattered gear, and broken crockery everywhere…

Once the PCs are all inside, something triggers the room. Maybe it’s an ancient eldritch trap that goesn;t go off until everyone is inside. Maybe it’s a malfunctioning antigrav drive with an AI that waits for all passengers to be aboard. Maybe it’s just bad timing. Maybe a super-powerful psychic child is sitting in the middle of the room waiting for her powers to kill her, and she throws a tantrum. Maybe there’s a big shiny button, and the fun starts when someone presses it. Your game, your call. This is just a tool in your toolbox.

Once it’s going, the Big Swap rolls initiative every round. Keep this secret. When it’s number comes up, down and up switch places.

If there’s an off switch, the PCs can try to reach it. If not, the effect likely lasts 10 rounds.

The Difficulty of Reverse Gravity

The difficulty of anything you attempt in the Gravity Chamber is modified by how much warning there is before gravity takes hold, and how suddenly it happens once the switch occurs. Those aren’t things that exist in real-world terms, so there can be as much or as little warning as you, the GM, want.
To keep things interesting, I recommend you make the Difficulty Value 1.5x the Average party Level of your group. When a calculation of a DC calls for a value of X + DV, this should keep things interesting for characters of any level. For example, if a wizard who is part of a 5th level group is flying in the gravity chamber, his Fly check have a DC of 22 (15 + a DV of 7.5, rounded down to 7).

You could of course decide that the gravity chamber is the most dangerous, most sudden, most unpredictable version possible, and make all the DV’s 30. But that’s not going to be much fun for 8th level characters.

If you want to use the gravity chamber more than once, you can actually vary the DV and give the players careful explanations. If they run into a gravity chamber at 5th level with a DV of 7, explain that there is some warning, a sense of tilting or a brief moment of weightlessness, before each gravity switch. If they run into another one at 8th level, rather than a DV of 12 (as the formula would suggest), perhaps it has a DV of only 5. Explain that there is a groan and a series of clicks before the gravity switch, and that gravity fades in and out, quickly but not with no warning. It’s actually easier than the first one they encountered (which also allows you to put a more dangerous complementary encounter in the chamber).

This, of course, sets them up for the extremely violent, no-warning gravity chamber they encounter at 10th level, with a DV of 20. One hopes by then the players have made some preparations for these types of encounters.

The Details

What happens when gravity reverses itself depends on what you were doing at the time.

Standing: If you are standing when gravity reverses itself, you are going to fall. The only question is, can you reduce the damage by “jumping” toward the new ground, flip midair, and land on your feet? That’s a DC 10 + DV check, rather than a flat DC 15. Also, since otherwise people are standing from prone every round, you may wish to give people a choice of reducing the damage by 10 feet 9and falling prone if they take any damage), or landing in a heroic 3-point stance, which means they take full damage but *aren’t* considered prone.

Deadpool would approve.

Flying: Flying characters don’t get a pass just because they aren’t touching the ground. Flying means you are pushing against “down” with some force to counteract gravity. Since you don’t know when gravity will reverse itself, there’s a definite risk that the force used to push against “down” will slam you into the new down when gravity flips. After all if it’s just 40 feet from one side to the other, at 1g it only takes about 1.5 seconds to fall that distance (ignoring things like wind drag), and if you are flying at the midpoint it’s less than 1 second.

When gravity reverses, anyone flying must make a Fly check with a DC of 15 + DV. The exception to this is flight with perfect maneuverability, which only needs to make a DC of 0 + DV. On a failed check you move a number of feet toward the new “down” equal to double the amount you missed the check by. If you move so far you hit the current “down,” you take following damage and are prone.

Climbing: Climbing the walls or trying to use the Climb skill to stick to the floor when it becomes the ceiling is tricky… but not impossible. Usually an “overhand with handholds and footholds only” is DC 30, which is pretty epic. But you could, of course, add actual rungs, loops, gnarly roots, or even netting strung across every surface. To make a Climb effort a viable option you may want to go with a DC of 20+ DV, and be liberal with bonuses for doing things like hammering in pitons or getting clever with an immovable rod.

If a character has a climb speed and can stick to a surface gecko-like, it’s MUCH easier to stay stuck to a surface when gravity reverses itself… but like flight it’s not automatic. DC 5 + DV.
If you fail a check by 1-4, you may choose to be staggered and immobile, but stay in your space (representing a death-grip to stay put), If you fail by 5 or more, or aren’t willing to be staggered, you fall and hit the new floor.

Landing: Things like wind drag, randomly pushing off other objects by accident, and gravity eddies mean you don’t land exactly above or below your starting point. If you succeed at an Acrobatics check as described above, pick a square either directly under you or adjacent to the one directly under you, and you land there. For any other result, roll 1d8 and 1d20. The 1d8 determines your direction of scatter, if any. If it and the d20 result in the same number, you land directly under your starting space. If the d8 result is smaller than the d20 result, you drift 5 feet in the direction indicated by the d8. If the d8 result is bigger than the d20 result, you drift ten feet in the direction indicated by the d8.

If two or more creatures end up in the same space, they all make grapple checks. The creature with the highest result is standing (and may shift one space if necessary). All others are prone. No one is actually grappling, that just represents the mad scrabble to end up on top as they are flung together.

Hazards

Remember I mentioned the driders you could add might have boxes of caltrops? This thing is a giant washing machine, and everything is being banged about. Each round, everyone must make a Reflex save with a DC of 5 + DV. On a success, you dodged all the debris. On a failure, you take damage equal to falling half the distance to the ground, as pebbles, old gear, and even small rodents slam into you.

You can also have small fields of caltrops, alchemists bombs, and angry hornet’s nests bouncing around, with people trying to avoid landing on them. Move these the same way you move creatures, but if they end up sharing a space, the creatures automatically slam into them.

Ouch.

Rewards

If you follow the guidelines given here, the Gravity Chamber is an encounter roughly the same CR as the party’s average level. If you add another encounter to it, boost that encounter’s CR by +2.

Of course being a higher CR encounter means more treasure… but what if everyone gains some special ability as a result to exposure to the strange gravatoinic radiation of the chamber? Perhaps everyone can feather fall once per day as a spell-like ability? And if they encounter a second chamber, maybe double exposure means they can each levitate once per day… and so on…

Or maybe they just get to gather up adamantine caltrops!

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Tanks Without Aggro

Many computer games have an “aggro mechanic,” which determines who NPCs are going to attack. This makes it easy to design “tank” classes, who have the tactical role of encouraging people to attack them( and surviving that attack) simply by giving them a power that causes the NPC to do that.

In tabletop there are mixed feelings on aggro mechanics. I’ve done some myself, but they were in the context of WarQuest World, a microsetting designed to use a tabletop game to simulate the genre of real-world people stuck playing in a fantasy world that modeled the rules of an MMO.

Some people love tabletop aggro rules, because they feel fighters and related classes need *some* way to encourage foes to attack them. This helps fighters do one of the things they do well (soak up a lot of damage) even when facing foes they have trouble damaging.0

But within a typical Pathfinder campaign, the rules shouldn’t be as heavy-handed as WarQuest World’s are. Otherwise they feel too bolted-on, and too much like the rule exists to be a rule, rather than existing to be an option that makes sense within the context of the game’s reality. So, here are two ideas IF you want to make tanking a broader option, but don’t want a formal aggro mechanic. I present them as feats, but they could just as well be class features for archetypes, magic abilities placed in weapons, and so on.

(A quick aside — these first two feats assume the officially-revised Antagonize feat, found here)

Improved Antagonize (Combat)

You are skill at raising your foe’s ire.
Prerequisites: Antagonize.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate checks required to employ the Antagonize feat, and may make such checks as move actions. You can use either skill to produce either effect, and can target a creature with each once per day. You can use these on creatures that do not the understand you. If you have wild empathy, you can use them on animals, magical beasts and vermin with an Intelligence of 3 or lower.

Greater Antagonize (Combat)

No one is better than you at royally pissing someone off.
Prerequisites: Antagonize, Improved Antagonize.
Benefit: Your bonus to Diplomacy and Intimidate checks required to employ the Antagonize feat increases to +4, and you may make such checks in place of an attack when you take the full attack action. When you successfully damage a foe you have used Antagonize against in the past 24 hours, you reset how soon you can next use this feat on them as if you had not used it in the past 24 hours.

(This next ability works off the same principle as a witch’s cackle — it’s not that there’s any artificial forcing of foes attacking you, it’s just that you get so annoying GMs think it’s smart to attack you).

Champion’s Benediction (Combat)

When you focus your will against a foe, things go badly for them.
Prerequisites: No access to casting spells or spell-like abilities from class features.
Benefit: As a swift action, select one foe that has a spell or effect or condition with a duration measured in rounds that was placed upon it by an ally. The next round does not count against that effect’s duration, causing it to last one more round than normal.

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Worldbuilding Tips: Divine Patrons of Crime

One fun way for a GM to bring a world to life in the minds of players is to introduce one or more really interesting criminal organizations. Whether they are an open

And ultimately if your organization is going to survive in a high fantasy setting, you likely need someone in your corner in the afterlife. A divine patron is a god that supports the criminal empire despite (or because of) its activities.

In many campaigns this is an evil or chaotic god with crime as a secondary concern, but things don’t have to be that simple. At the very least, it may be more fun to have most crime families be faithful to an evil or chaotic god, but allow one or two that instead revere a neutral or even good-aligned god who just happens to have a fringe of lawbreaking followers. In addition to deepening the sense that this is a thriving world (rather than a monolithic setting where all assassins worship the god of assassin, and I suppose all candlestick makers worship the god of wax), this also sets the PCs up to be more willing to work with the non-evil-deity-associated crime syndicate. “Sure, the Silent Sisters are thieves and blackmailers, but at least they follow a god that appreciates the skill of a job well done, and instructs them to keep their word. You can kinda trust them, unlike the Crimson Knives, who are devoted to murder and lies.”

When looking at domain options for a crime god beyond chaos and evil, trickery is an equally good, and actually has a thievery subdomain. The arson subdomain is perfect for groups that use fire to eliminate enemies… or turn a profit with insurance. The subdomain of espionage would also cover blackmailers and extorters.

It’s not difficult to go even further by one step. A god of with the industry subdomain might support hard-working criminals because they put in long hours and master their trade. A god with the traps subdomain might support them as people who revere and learn about traps, even if it is to bypass them. While a god of community might seem to be antithetical to a criminal organization, a true crime family might qualify as a community of its own, or a god with the cooperation subdomain might support the organized part of organized crime. Even a god of law might be the patron of a criminal empire, if the god is focused on the subdomain of tyranny, and the criminals ruthless in enforcement of their own code.

Nor does the god have to be primarily a god of crime. Imagine a neutral deity with community, trade, competition, language, and imagination. The god might be primarily a god of those who combine business, words, and creative solutions, such as actors, bards, crafting guilds, and teachers. But the same god might accept that if you think far enough outside the box, you end up outside the law as well. Crime exists no for crime’s sake, but to be a backdoor for trade where legitimate business fails, and an arena where fast-talk and quick thinking are put to the limit. Actors and other performers were often considered the same kind of lower class as thieves and frauds, so giving them all a common god helps establish a classic trope.

Not everyone in the organization may worship their divine patron, but most of the major local leaders do, and the rest know what priests they can and can’t go to for support, or at least sanctuary. And, of course, if the god has anything to do with luck, it’s likely worthwhile to make a gift to the church before a job. Sure, that’s divine extortion… but that’s the racket.

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Flumph Noir

Aberrant Report

It was a humid night, as Mhuoomphies forced air out his cloaca to hover pensively by the office window. It was the kind of night where a tentacle might be slick with something other than condensation.

His office was cluttered with images, each a fuzzy impression of a scene, projected from crystals floating apparently at random about the room. He reached out with a 7-tentacle, the scarred one, and spun one of the crystals. The out-fo-focus image spun with it, the psychic impression of a witness, able to be seen from any angle.

The witnesses all thought they knew what they had seen, but both the out-of-focus perfect psionic impressions and long experience told Mhuoomphies otherwise. Creatures thought their memories were perfect images, ingrained forever like stone carvings. But the mind of a sentient didn’t work that way. Emotions, distractions, preconceived notions, and bigotry flavored every thing every thinking creature remembered. In the flumph’s experience, many evils could be traced to different memories of the same events.

But there were hints of the truth in the memory-crystal’s images as well. Certainly SOMETHING had happened. The image of the adolescent iron-eater, rolled on her back, antennae straight in fear and shock, were similar in most of the images. Some showed her as larger or more aggressive, but metal-users usually despised and misunderstood iron-eaters. And even those who remembered the even as the adolescent’s fault remembered the position of her body, on it’s back, wing-tail raised in defense. They might think they remembered her being the attacker, but they were fooling themselves.

The true attacker was shown in fewer memories, and the image was much more indistinct. A red cloak was featured in more than half, but Mhuoomphies was suspicious of that. There had been a great deal of blood. Sentients often added red to a scene where blood has splashed like cheap ale.

The creature had been tall… maybe. Hunched… maybe. Neither detail was shown in monroe than a quarter of the memory images. And one, just one, showed an arm made of a swarm of roaches jutting out from a crimson robe, rather than a cloak.

That memory was alone in that detail, but it was otherwise so crisp. And it made Mhouoomphies port outages nozzle whistle a low, sad sound. He has never hoped so strongly for a witness to be unreliable.

Because the young iron-eater had been killed, and he hoped it was a simple hate crime, or a political gambit to convince the iron-eaters to continue to mine for a smaller share of the ferrous metals they unearthed. Those were terrible reasons to kill, but there weren’t any good reasons. The young iron-eater was dead, and the clumpy couldn’t change that. If the reason for her death was simple, he could gain justice quickly. He would have no living help.

When an aberrant race died, none of the breathing Lamplighters took it seriously. Aboleth crime lords and cloaked gangs had eroded any goodwill bipedal vertebrates felt for all his kind. And even those who wanted to care had too many other crimes on their plate. Only Mhuoomphies had the time, and only he was trusted by anyone in the Aberrant communities.

And with iron-eaters on strike, and the dark naga pressing for full voting rights, this needed to get handled fast. Even the Metalhearts might decide…

The flumph’s office door burst opened, the brief scream of its metal lock bending and shattering the only warning before it gave way. A lurking metallic humanoid stood in the doorway, a bullseye lantern in its chest leaking light through the cracks, despite being shuttered.

“You are the Aberrant Lamplighter, Muffles?”

Two of the flumph’s starboard vents honked quietly in annoyance. He pursed his feedhole, and forced air through it to emulate the annoying, imperfect language of the bipeds. He also pooled caustics into his adamantine-tipped primespike, in case the creature was hostile, rather than just dangerously bumbling.

“Mhuoomphies. ArchLantern, Mhuoomphies.”

The metallic creature nodded once.

“I am Malakrut. I am a fresh forged Spark. The LawKeepers have assigned me to assist and monitor your efforts to enforce the laws of DarkStar Station, in the matter of a slain iron-eater in the abnormals district.”

Mhuoomphies felt himself relax, and sucked his caustics back into their reservoir. Of course he would be saddled with a rookie to report his every misstep.

It was Inevitable.

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