The Traumatic Weapon Property for Starfinder/ShadowFinder

Sometimes, you have to decide if an idea is worth the mental load adding it causes the game to gain.

Stamina Points and Hit Points are wildly unrealistic simulations of how creatures and objects take damage. After all, people who are stabbed once sometimes die, people who are stabbed 30+ times sometimes survive. Similar numbers are true for gunshot wounds, and often the people involved are sufficiently typical there’s no reason to suspect they are secretly 11th level heroes with a vast pool of damage points… or that the people who kill with a single attack are pulling off massively high-level trick attacks.

But SP and HP aren’t efforts to model reality. They are gameist rules designed to make it easy to know if a character is being hurt, near death, or dead. Often the situations they create are pretty clearly at odds with typical reality, even if possibly within the realm of things that have happened a few times in medical history. But the rules do a good job of indicated levels or harm, allowing resource management to help track available healing and rest times, and allowing players a metric by which they can gauge the threat posed by a wide range of threats.

Normally, you look at changing rules to make them easier, faster, more realistic, or more “fun,” (which can, admittedly, encapsulate a lot of potential elements). While it would be pointless to try to make weapon damage more “realistic” in a system using SP/HP, due to the inherent gameist nature of that system, there is, however, another potential reason to have firearms work differently than melee weapons in Starfinder (or a compatible modern version, perhaps ShadowFinder) – genre emulation. While lots of supernatural monster hunters in genre fiction have shotguns and pistols, others with access to such materials restrict themselves to knives, axes, and wooden stakes, and go so far as to claim firearms never help.

And there IS a difference between the way a bullet damages a soft target and the way it damages a hard one. The vast speeds of bullets means they often deform and warp soft tissues in a much larger area than the wound track, whereas a stiletto punching the same size whole in someone lacks that additional damage mechanic.

So, maybe we want bullets (and maybe some other weapons) to work differently than other damage-dealers… sometimes. Kinda.

So, what if we create a new weapon property, called “traumatic”?

Traumatic: A traumatic weapon is one that does a significant amount of soft-tissue and propagating damage, such as a gunshot’s effects through hydrostatic shock. When used to damage a target that has no hardness and no DR, traumatic weapons deal additional damage equal to the listed amount (such as “traumatic +1d6”).

Kinda like Boost and some other traits, traumatic gives you more damage, but only in specific circumstances. I’d have to do a lot of math and comparisons to know exactly how much extra damage traumatic can add at any given level… and I’m not sure it’s worth it

Sometimes you have to craft a rule before you know if you like it. I’m really on the fence with this one. So I can try to adjust it until I like it, ir discard it and start over… or just decide it’s a bad idea.

But even fi I do that, I’m saving it in my archived files. Sometimes a bad idea for one game or function turns out to be just what you need for another project.

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Yep, It’s a Statement

Today, veteran creator and one-time WotC co-worker Keith Strohm said to me “Many industry pros and fans look to you because of who you are and how you communicate.”
Really?
Okay.
Then, I have something I have to say. Something difficult, and complex, and likely unsatisfying.
I believe Paizo Inc. as a company, has been a force for good in the game industry and in the world. This is why I have noted again and again they have my support.
Does this mean they are perfect?
No. It does not.
There are problems, both internally and with interactions outside.
Further, I accept that there are people I know, trust, and am impressed by who disagree with me about Paizo, as a company.
I understand where they are coming from.
I just think it can be improved, and does more good than harm. In my opinion, much more.
I try to take in the perspective of those who do not have my power and privileges. I acknowledge I need to listen more than I talk. I WANT people who think Paizo needs to be taken to task to make the effort to do so.
There absolutely are people who got a raw deal from Paizo.
I know people who left Paizo. I know people who still work there. I know managers, and creators, and people in other departments.
There are people in pain, right now, about how Paizo does some things. And, when/if those people give me permission to tell their stories, I will.
(CW: suicidal issues)
But I also know that if it were not for ttRPGs, I would have killed myself as a teen. And, I have had fans of work I helped with, that Paizo published, tell me that without Golarion and Path/Starfinder, they would have done the same.
At the same time, injustice happens, and those who are wronged have every right to be angry, and to lash out in their anger. I won’t tell people they only get to fight against wrongs done them if they are cool and calm. That’s automatically taking the side of the status quo.
So, yes, I support Jessica Price, even if I believe she characterizes things in ways I would not and assigns motives I doubt were present.
And I support Erik Mona, who does a job I would NOT want, and does it better than I could.
I consider both these people my friends.
I support holding Paizo accountable for any wrong it has committed.
I support working with Paizo to keep putting out products that give new creators voices, and allow many of the best, kindest, most genius writers I know weave a world of wonder.
I cannot tell anyone else how to feel.
I don’t consider the recent issues to be clear-cut, on any side. Jessica has done things I consider wrong and harmful. Erik has done things I consider wrong and harmful. I believe they are both trying to make the world better.
I suspect they would both roll their eyes at me, and let me know that, once again, I have been taken in by the other side.
Maybe they are right. Lords knows I am not perfect. I’m not even willing to say I’m particularly good.
I’m trying. I think they are too.
I haven’t mentioned anyone else in this thread, because if I do, people will try to parse what I REALLY mean from a sentence here, or a word there. I’m not getting into that space.
I don’t know everything that happened. Some I know, but took differently. Some I just missed.
If you feel hurt or betrayed, you have the right to that feeling.
If you want to stop supporting Paizo, you have the right to do that.
If you want to keep supporting them, you have the right to do that.
There are things I saw when I worked at Paizo I thought were problems. I told them so. Some got better. Some didn’t. Many, many issues didn’t impact me, and I cannot be the judge of how they went or are going.
And, in the end, I left.
What I feel sure of, is that Paizo has many of the best, most creative, most empathetic, most hard-working, world-changing writers, developers, and editors in the world.
And those people have my unwavering support.
And so, for now, Paizo does too.
And some people who left Paizo did so under much worse circumstances than I did. And I think many of them are trying to shine a light on the darkest places, and even if the light has a filter, I think that’s a thing that needs to be done.
So, we get back to my original position from a couple of days ago.
“It’s complicated.”
But the people who have the least power and reach here are most likely the most innocent. Editors and developers and writers who have to be on Gen Con panels, while they wonder if they’ll have a job tomorrow.
Or wonder if they’ll get death threats because they refuse to denounce their employers.
Or if they’ll get the internal cold shoulder if they fail to declare support.
To be a Paizo employee right now comes with a huge stress load.
If I can ask one thing, it’s that you keep these people in your mind, and ask yourself, “Does what I am about to do help them more than it hurts them?”
And, if you can, reach out and offer your support.
For my part, I will continue to support Paizo, Pathfinder, and Starfinder.
I plan, currently, to be part of the Infinities programs.
I plan to do freelance work, and point to the awesome products Paizo makes.
And, I’ll amplify those voices I think are important Especially ones with a different perspective and life experience than my own.
Some voices will praise Paizo. Others will damn it, or specific acts and people within in.
I especially want to be an advocate for, and aid to, people within the company with the least power. If any of them want something said and aren’t in a position to do so, with their permission I’ll say it.
Work needs to be done, but I believe it’s possible.
Maybe I am wrong. Maybe I am naive. Maybe I am being played the fool. It would not be the first time.
Don’t shut out other voices just because you heard mine.
But do consider a conversation over a shouting match.
I know I should have done more earlier, when I had more influence. And to everyone who had to suffer under conditions I both accepted and was quiet about, I’m sorry.
I’ve tried to educate about what the ttRPG industry is like, and it’s often brutal.
And I don’t have all the answers. I may not have any of them.
All I can do is try to listen, express my thoughts when appropriate, and try to help in any way I can.
I know that’s less satisfying that decrying anyone the villain.
It’s all I have right now.
To those who have been my friends and supporters, my sincere gratitude.
To the people I didn’t help when i could have, I am truly sorry.
This is where we are now.
Let’s work to make this place better.
Love you all.

Slenderman, for ShadowFinder (Starfinder-Compatible)

So, if I DO a ShadowFinder rpg, or campaign book, or Starfinder hack, or whatever, obviously it’s going to involve adventures that include fighting things (because if it didn’t, I’d pick a different game system). While part of the point of doing something compatible with an existing game system is to make all the existing options available for use as a GM pleases, we’d obviously need some other, new things.

So, what will PCs oppose in a ShadowFinder campaign?

Creepy things. Like a SlenderMan.

(Slenderman art (c) Jacob Blackmon, and used with permission. Check out his Patreon here!)

Apóleipa, Innocence-Eater (Slenderman) (Combatant)
CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Medium fey (Extraplanar)
Init +6; Senses blindsight (emotion) 30 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14
Defense HP 98
EAC 19; KAC 20
Defensive Abilities Only the Fearless (DR/Resist all energy 10 vs attacks from frightened foes), Tilted Away
Fort +6; Ref +8; Will +10;
Offense
Speed 40 ft.
Melee touch +13 (2d4+7 B), critical: staggered 1d4 rounds, 15-foot reach
Ranged warped world +15 (2d4+7 A)
Statistics
STR +4; DEX +2; CON +0; INT +2; WIS +1; CHA +5
Skills Bluff +19, Culture +14, Diplomacy +19, Intimidate +19, Sense Motive +19, Stealth +19
Languages alltongue
Other Abilities alltongue, feats (Improved Demoralize), isolation (DC 19), warped world
Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or infestation (3–6)
Special Abilities
Alltongue (Su): The Slenderman can speak and understand all spoken or signed languages, and is always able to be heard, even in areas of deafening sound and by creatures without a sense of hearing.
Isolation (Su): The Slenderman is a creature of isolation, and this extends to efforts to communicate with people far away by magical or technological means, or even just shouting. Anytime a creature within 300 feet of the Slenderman attempts to send or receive communication with anyone or anything not in their line-of-sight, they must succeed at a DC 19 Will save. On a failed save their radio turns to static, magic spell returns just whispered howls of pain, or their scream seems to die as soon as it leaves their throat. Once a creature fails this save, the condition prevents any communication beyond line-of-sight until it gets more than 300 feet from the Slenderman.
Any effort to record or preserve any image or sound of the Slenderman also requires a successful DC 19 Will save, with failure resulting in just a vague blur or feint whisper, or a picture of what appears to be a tall, thin, but mortal man in a suit, with a blurred face.
Only the Fearless (Su): Those who know fear find themselves nearly unable to damage the Slenderman. When a creature is suffering a fear effect (including the Slenderman’s own Intimidate check with Improved Demoralize), the Slenderman reduces damage from any attack they make by 10 points, regardless of damage type.
Tilted Away (Su): The space the Slenderman is in seems to ripple and roll away to make it difficult to make ranged attacks against it. Any ranged attack made against the Slenderman at a range greater than 2 feet grants the Slenderman concealment.
Warped World (Su): The Slenderman can reach out a long, crooked finger and cause someone to have a sense the world is spinning and twisting, wrenching their organs and insides as if they were being wrung out like a rag. This is a ranged acid attack against EAC, has a range increment of 50 feet, and has Knockdown as a critical hit effect.

Apóleipa are a form of fey native to the Plane of Shadow that represent the unformed fears of spaient creatures. As cultures form specific fears or hatreds, various apóleipa form to both try to stoke these negative feelings of natives to the mortal world, and to feed on them. Among the most recent form of apóleipa are innocence-eaters, also known as Slendermen, who feed of a sense of loss of innocence and self-loathing at having done horrid things. They operate mostly in places already suffering from great tragedy or resentment, often on the fringes of society, and seek to convince the most vulnerable members of these places to take actions that will deepen the fear and despair of the population.

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Archetypical Theme for Starfinder

So far this week, we’ve looked at using archetypes to access theme abilities and playing living fabric as player characters, both for Starfinder.

No shock, we’re sticking with that game system today, as we offer a way to access archetype abilities using a theme. For the reasons why you might want to “cross the memes” this way, check out the justification in Monday’s “InterThemed” article. I’ll also add that this can be a way to pick up some of two archetypes in one class, which otherwise can extremely difficult, despite how obviously things like a vaster priest or cyberborn law officer could easily exist within the game setting. While a theme can’t hand out a LOT of archetype abilities (and remain balanced, and not allow a theme to be better at being the archetype than the actual archetype), it can give enough to make a difference, and possibly act as a more customized variant of the “themeless” theme.

(Art by getmilitary photos)

Archetypical Theme

You have a connection to one archetype so strong it defines you as much as your class or background, and you gain a few of its key features without giving up any class abilities of your own.

Archetypical Knowledge: You gain a class skill of your choice when you create an archetypical character. Also, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to any ability score you choose. Based on the archetype you wish to access, you may want to pick a related skill and/or ability score to benefit from this ability.

Archetypical Dedication: At 6th level, you select one archetype that you have not taken and which you meet all the prerequisites for, that has an archetype ability at 2nd, 4th, or 6th level. You gain it’s lowest-level ability you do not already have that is granted by the archetype by 6th level or earlier. Once you have selected an archetype with this theme, you cannot change it, and you cannot use the normal rules to take that archetype’s abilities in place of class abilities.

Archetypical Mastery: At 12th level, you gain the lowest-level ability of the archetype you selected at 6th level you do not already have, that is granted by the archetype by 12th level or earlier.

Archetypical Resolve: At 18th level, twice per day you can rest and focus yourself for 10 minutes to regain 1 Resolve Point.

Patreon

If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, or are just looking for a way to support my work, please consider supporting my Patreon to cover the cost of my doing it. You can join for the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

Owen Explains It All – Textile Characters for Starfinder

Before we get to any OGL content, an editorial aside:

First, this blog has spoilers for an animated series, so if you want to avoid those, don’t read this.

Second, you may be wondering why is this tagged as an “Owen Explains It All” post, when that’s very unlike my normal marketing tone? Well, because this links into a show from the BAMF podcast I’m on, titled “Owen Explains It All!“. We do an episode every two weeks, picking new things from the zeitgeek to use as inspiration for game material, specifically the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

We have a logo and everything!

(I guess I need to build that chair, now…)

If you haven’t already gone and watched the September, 2021 episode, we talk about the fifth episode of Marvel’s What If… series, titled “What If… Zombies?” Obviously there are spoilers for that episode both in the OEIA episode, and this tie-in blog, so go no further if you want to avoid those.

I mean, obviously, while it’s pretty clear from the title that this is the Marvel Zombies inspired episode of What If…, I’m going to be talking about some things that aren’t necessarily clear just because there are zombies involved. So, if you want to avoid spoilers for this (or, weirdly, the Disney Alladin movies), I’ve given you fair warning.

Ready?

So in the episode, we see Doctor Strange’s Cloak of Levitation act entirely of its own accord. It does this in the Strange movie, of course, but here the doctor is no longer around to even subconsciously direct it, and the cloak makes tactical decisions, puts itself at risk, and makes a friend. In other words, the cloak acts not like an object, or a power, but as a character. And I was immediately reminded of Carpet, in the Disney Alladin movies, which similarly shows bravery, or fear, or whimsey, and is clearly more a person than a thing.

And, I realized, that would NOT be hard to make an option in a ttRPG.

Now with that explanation out of the way, let’s get to the OGL game content!

Playable Textile Characters

Okay so, look. This is for people who have decided sentient magic items that happen to look like capes or carpets or sashes or whatever are no sillier than, and need not be restricted any more than, robots with healing circuits, floating brains with atrophied limbs, or 6-armed overhelpful furballs. Either you like the idea, or you don’t. I’m here to provide rules for people who do, not try to convince people who don’t to change their minds. 🙂

Weft

The weft are living, self-aware fabric magic items, and no one is sure where they came from. Are the living cloaks and rugs an offshoot of cloakers? Are cloakers some kind of morlock offshoot of the weft? Are fabric magic items simply more prone to gaining self-awareness than other forms of eldritch items? Is there some artifact loom, somewhere in the galaxy, cranking out cloth-people?

Like androids, weft are constructs that have sufficient complexity to attract a soul. Also like androids, when a weft is old enough, it simply chooses to let its soul move on, it’s body briefly being an inert length of cloth that changes color in a process known as “dyeing,” before a new soul moves in, and a new weft person arises in the same body. No weft remembers its creation, and it is unclear if this is because all original weft dyed long ago, of because even a “newborn” weft doesn’t become self-aware until removed from its place of origin.

While the majority of weft appear to be carpets or cloaks and capes, some instead take the appearance of coats, sashes, shawls, curtains, and other fabric objects.

(Art by vivali)

Ability Modifiers +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Wis
Hit Points 2

Size and Type
Weft are Small, Medium, or Large constructs with the magical subtype, though unlike other constructs, they have Constitution scores. This decision is made at character creation and can’t be changed.

Blindsense
Weft’s sensitive fibers grant them blindsense (vibration)—the ability to sense vibrations in the air—with a range of 30 feet.

Living Threads
In addition to being constructs and thus able to benefit from spells like make whole, weft count as living creatures for the purposes of magic healing effects that work on living creatures, though the number of Hit Points restored in such cases is halved. A character must use the Engineering skill (or a fabric creation/repair Profession skill) to perform the tasks of the Medicine skill on weft. Weft also heal naturally over time as living creatures do, and can benefit from magic or technology that can bring constructs back from the dead, as well as effects that normally can’t (such as raise dead).

Silent, Sign, and Limited Telepathy
Weft do not speak, but can hear normally and communicate through signed versions of the languages they know. Also, they can communicate telepathically with any creatures within 30 feet with whom they share a language. Conversing telepathically with multiple creatures simultaneously is just as difficult as listening to multiple people speak.

Drape
A weft can share the space of an ally without penalty to either the weft or ally. A weft can also drape itself on a creature willing to let it do so. At the beginning of its turn, the weft must decide if it is riding (in which case it can take no movement that turn, and only moves when the creature it is draped on does), or carrying (in which case it can carry the creature as it moves, but that creature cannot take any other movement until the beginning of the next turn). An ally can decide to stop allowing a weft to drape at any time as part of any action, but if the character was carried by the weft, it still can’t move on its own until after the weft’s next turn begins.

Additionally, whether is it draping or not, as a full-round action a weft can lay and move in such a way as appear to be a typical cape, or carpet (or whatever one mundane cloth object it matches the appearance of, as selected at character creation) to gains a +20 bonus to Disguise checks to appear to be that thing.

Woven
Weft are immune to bleed, disease, death effects, poison, nonlethal damage, and sleep effects unless those effects specify they affect constructs. Weft can be affected by effects or spells that normally target only humanoids, but receive a +4 racial bonus to saving throws against such effects. Weft can drink (absorbing liquids into their fabric), though they don’t need to, and they must rest by entering an passive torpor that is similar to sleep for 8 hours every day. Weft do not breathe or suffer the normal environmental effects of being in a vacuum.

Wrap Up

So, have different ideas for a weft character? Got other magic items you think could be turned into playable species? Interested in having me Explain It All for some other media-inspired content? Leave a comment and let me know!

(This is an Extended Post, with additional material discussing weft as drones for mechanics and technomancers, exclusively on my Patreon for my supporting Patrons.)

InterThemed Archetype for Starfinder

One of the customization options available to a Starfinder character is a theme. This can range from being an ace pilot to an athlete, cultist, icon, priest, street rat, and more. While theme benefits are generally modest, and are only granted four times over the course of a character’s career, they can be an important part of what defines a character’s background, goals, and methodology. Even when most other large-scale choices between two characters are the same, themes can help set them apart. There is a big difference between a human soldier priest, and a human soldier bounty hunter.

Sometimes, even though you you have a theme that’s perfect for your character, it turns out there are some abilities from other themes that are also great matches for your character. There’s no way in the core Starfinder rules to pick up abilities from multiple themes. That’s a weird limitation, actually, given that there’s nothing to stop a character from taking multiple character classes, and in some cases it’s easy to take two or even three different archetypes.

But, at the same time, you’d never want to have someone dipping a tow in a second theme to be better at it, at any level, than a character who selects it as a primary theme. Luckily, with the archetype rules available as a way to add new abilities to a character (at the cost of giving up some normal class features, to keep things balanced), and the highly-regimented nature of themes, it’s easy enough to create a balanced option for characters who really want to access some of the things locked behind a second, or perhaps even a third, theme. Unlike ThemeTypes, a set of options I created that combine theme and archetype into a single additional powerful concept you can add to a character, the InterThemed archetype is a way to use the archetype rules to access parts of multiple themes.

(This of course leads to the question: “Could you use themes to access some archetype abilities?” Come back Wednesday to see the answer!)

InterThemed Archetype

The narrative of your life is too complex (or, some might claim, muddled)

Dual Theme: At 2nd level, you select a theme other than your own. You gain the benefits granted by that theme at 1st level, except you do not gain any ability score increase, and if the theme grants you an untyped bonus to a skill you have already received an untyped bonus to, you do not gain the additional bonus from the selected theme. You are considered to have the selected theme for purposes of prerequisites.

Complex Theme: At 4th level, you may select an additional theme and receive benefits from it’s 1st level, as with the dual theme archetype ability. This is an optional ability, and you can choose to receive the normal class feature your class gains at this level, rather than take this archetype benefit.

Deep Theme: At 9th level, you gain the benefit granted at 6th level by the theme you selected with this archetype at 2nd level.

Emergent Theme: At 12th level, if you selected a second theme at 4th level, you can receive the ability granted at 6th level by that theme. If you did not select a second theme at 4th level, you may do so now, as outlined in the complex theme ability. This is an optional ability, and you can choose to receive the normal class feature your class gains at this level, rather than take this archetype benefit.

Developed Theme: At 18th level, you gain the benefit granted at 12th level by the theme you selected with this archetype at 2nd level.

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Writing things like this is work, and it takes time from my other paying projects. If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, please consider supporting my Patreon to cover the cost of my doing it. You can join for the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

DungeonFinder/ShadowFinder Soldier Fighting Style

So, yesterday I pitched on way to handle weapons in DungeonFinder or ShadowFinder, both concepts for 100% Starfinder-compatible campaign settings (one classic fantasy, the other modern urban fantasy). I mentioned that while equipment was a big part of what would be needed to make such settings work, there would also have to be some work done on classes. Some classes would need to be tossed out and replaced. But others, like operative and soldier, just need new genre-appropriate choices.

So, what might those look like? Let’s look at the soldier.

Obviously the soldier class is going to stand in for the fighter, and likely a lot of fighter-adjacent base and hybrid classes. Now, some of that work can be done with archetypes and existing material (the assassin and battle leader archetypes work for any class and are pretty good as-is, and would take at most just a little tweaking, while the wrathful warrior fighting style does a pretty good job of turning a soldier into a rage-themed berserker). But there are some classic fantasy/modern combat tropes that no existing Starfinder material does a good job of covering. for example, the very first fighter archetype in PF1 is the archer, and nothing in Starfinder really fills that conceptual space.

So, we’d almost certainly want an archer fighting style. (As an aside – we might ALSO want an archer archetype, so other classes can do some archery-stuff, in which case we’d certainly want the two to be compatible. We might even want to have them draw from the same pool of abilities. But those are concerns we can tackle later — a proof-of-concept effort shouldn’t try to tackle every possible nuance. We can adjust the idea as needed when we’re further along – none of the work we do here is wasted, even if we move around who gets it and how.)

(As a second aside – we’d ALSO need to do something about how bows work, too, but given we tackled the core idea of fantasy weapons in Starfinder yesterday, for now I feel comfortable saying “I could manage that.”)

So, what would an archer fighting style look like?

(Art by grandfalure)

Archer

You are a master of early ranged weapons and, despite this fighting style’s name, are expert with bows, crossbows, and slings. Whenever this fighting style says “bows,” the rules apply to any analog ranged weapon that is not thrown.

Hawkeye (Ex): At 1st level, Perception becomes a class skill for you. If it is already a class skill, you instead gain a +1 bonus to Perception checks. Additionally, you increase the range increment of bows by 10 feet of any You add an additional 10 feet to such range increments at 5th level, and every 4 levels thereafter.

Trick Shot (Ex): At 5th level, select one of the following combat maneuvers: dirty trick, disarm, sunder, trip. You can perform this maneuver at range using a bow. You can pick a second combat maneuver from the list to perform with such weapons at 11th level, and a third at 17th level.

Safe Shot (Ex): At 9th level, when making attacks with a bow, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Sharpshooter (Ex): At 13th level, when making attacks with a bow, you add half your Dexterity bonus to the damage done.

Volley (Ex): At 17th level, as a full-round action, you can make a single bow attack at your highest base attack bonus against each creature in a 15-foot- radius burst, making separate attack and damage rolls for each creature. You use ammunition for each creature attacked.

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This is an Expanded Post, with more exclusive content (looking at different abilities that might be part of an archer archetype, or abilities a soldier archer could choose from) available exclusively to my Patrons!

Designing Weapons for DungeonFinder, a theoretical all-fantasy Starfinder Hack

Starfinder is not just “Pathfinder in space,” it’s its own ttRPG with specific changes (designed to be improvements and/or simplifications of PF1 rules, or to cover issues common in science-fantasy but not traditional fantasy settings). Some people genuinely prefer its core game system to that of PF1, PF2, or 5e, totally aside from the genre and setting (I’m not claiming that’s a MAJORITY of people mind you, or even a big minority, just that such a group exists.)

One of the things that means is, it would be possible to design a pure-fantasy version of Starfinder, specifically for doing the kind of dragon-slaying and dungeon-delving of a typical d20 fantasy RPG. For the moment, let’s call that theoretical game, DungeonFinder.

Ideally, DungeonFinder would be 100% compatible with Starfinder, so if you *wanted* to have androids and lasers show up in DungeonFinder (like they do in official PF1 material and in some fantasy ttRPGs right back to the beginning), you can just grab the appropriate Starfinder material and use it, no changes needed.

To make a pure-fantasy with the normal swords-and-feudal-themes of a typcial fantasy ttRPG work in a 100% Starfinder-compatible setting, you need some way to make tiered fantasy weapons work, using the same higher-level-gear-does-more-damage framework as Starfinder’s SF weaponry.

That’s perfectly possible — higher-level melee weapons simply become masterwork or magic weapons, and deal more damage. Of course everyone will expect to have +1 longswords and so on, just because that’s the terminology the fantasy predecessors to Starfinder have, which isn’t how Starfinder normally works… but as long as we restrict the bonus to damage (rather than attack rolls), we can make it work.

Here’s a sketch of what a set of tiered Longswords might look like, from 1st to about 17th item level.

(Art by serikbaib)

Advanced Melee Weapons, One-Handed (Longsword)

NameLevelPriceDamageCriticalBulkSpecial
 Longsword13751d8 S1analog
Longsword, masterwork53,2001d10 S1d6 Bleed1analog
Longsword, +178,7502d6+1 S1d6 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +1 flaming912,7502d10+1 F & S1d8 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +2912,7502d10+2 S1d8 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +1 holy1127,0004d8+12d6 Bleed1analog, magic, holy fusion
Longsword, +2 flaming1127,0004d8+2 F & S2d6 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +31127,0004d8+3 S2d6 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +2 holy1480,0007d8+2 S2d8 Bleed1analog, magic, holy fusion
Longsword, +3 flaming1480,0007d8+3 F & S2d8 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +41480,0007d8+32d8 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +3 holy17250,00010d8 +3 S3d6 Bleed1analog, magic, holy fusion
Longsword, +4 flaming17250,00010d8+4 F & S3d6 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +517250,00010d8+5 S3d6 Bleed1analog, magic

I could carry this concept on through 20th level equipment, but since this is just a thought experiment, there’s no real need to do so.

Of course it would be nice if we could avoid having to do a table for every weapon we put in the game. But it might well be possible to break weapons down into a few categories, and have some standard rules (like “masterwork weapons are item level 5, cost 3,000 gp more, do one die step more damage, and gain a minor critical hit effect”), once we have a few exemplar weapons to work from.

This is very much early days yet, but equipment is absolutely the #1 thing that needs to be worked out to make DungeonFinder work. Some Starfinder classes could be ported over with little more than some new class features)soldiers are fine, just create new gear boosts and fighting styles, similarly envoys, mystics, and operatives envoys take little work), while other classes should be more extensively rewritten, or replaced entirely.

I could also carry this same concept into a theoretical ShadowFinder game…

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Psionic ThemeType for Starfinder

I originally created the ThemeType rules as an alternate form of multiclassing, allowing a character to trade in their theme and swap out abilities using the archetype rules to gain some abilities from a second character class without interrupting their normal character class progression. However, you can also use ThemeTypes to represent a major additional source of power or training that doesn’t qualify to be its own class, but it more than a mere archetype.

For example, here is the psionic ThemeType, to allow a character of any class to gain significant mental powers.

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).

Psionic ThemeType

You have significant, and growing, mental powers. These might be an expansion of natural mental abilities, the result of some x-factor within your DNA (or equivalent core make-up), the result of mystic or super-science augmentation, or a side effect of being exposed to strange energies even you do not understand. Your psionic powers begin as little more than hunches and slightly improved ability to interact with others, and turns into the power to direct blasts of pure psionic power and move objects with your mind.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you select two of the following skills of your choice: Bluff, Diplomacy, Mysticism, or Sense Motive. For each selected skill, if it is not already a class skill, it becomes a class skill. It you do have the skill as a class skill from other source, you instead gain a +1 bonus to that skill. Once these choices are made, they cannot be changed.

Telepathy (Su, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain limited telepathy with a range of 30 feet. If you already have limited telepathy, its range increases to 120 feet, and whenever you encounter a creature that has a language but does not have a common language with you, you may make a Will save as a reaction (DC 15 + 1.5x creature’s level or CR), and on a successful save for 24 hours you may communicate with the creature with telepathy as if you had a common language. You may only make one such save for a specific creature each 24 hours.

Psionic Bolt (Sp, Archetype, 4th Level): You can cast mind thrust at will. This functions as the 1st level version of the spell, but deals only 1d10 damage on a failed save. Your caster level is equal to your character level, and the spell’s save DC is equal to 11 + your key ability modifier. This increases to 2d10 and a save DC of 12 + your key ability modifier at level 7, 3d10 and a save DC of 13 + your key ability modifier at level 10, 5d10 and a save DC of 14 + your key ability modifier at level 13, and 7d10 and a save DC of 15 + your key ability modifier at level 16.

Minor Telekinesis (Theme, 6th Level): You can cast psychokinetic hand and telekinetic projectile at will. If you can already cast psychokinetic hand at will from another source, instead the range of the spell increases to 60 feet, the max weight increases to 20 lbs or 2 bulk, and the speed you can move an object increases to 30 feet per round. If you can already cast telekinetic projectile at will from another source, instead you add x1.5 your character level to damage done with the spell.

Detect Thoughts (Sp, Archetype, 6th Level): You can cast detect thoughts. Once you have used this ability, you cannot use it again until after you recuperate*.

Calm Mind (Sp, Archetype, 9th Level): You can cast lesser remove condition, but only to remove the shaken condition. Once you have used this ability, you cannot use it again until after you recuperate*. At 12th level, you can instead use this ability to cast remove condition, but only to remove the frightened condition. At 15th level, you can instead use this ability to cast greater remove condition, but only to remove the cowering or dazed condition.

Precognition (Sp, Theme, 12th Level): As a move action, you can cast augury. Once you have used this ability, you cannot use it again until after you recuperate*.

Mental Defense (Su, Archetype, 12th Level): If you succeed at a Will save against an effect that normally has a partial effect on a successful save, you instead take no effect. If you take damage from something that allows a Will save, you reduce the damage you take by 20.

Psionic Power (Theme, 18th Level): If you normally could not use an ability gained from this ThemeType until after you next recuperate*, you can instead expend a Resolve Point to use it immediately..

Greater Psionics (Sp, Archetype 18th): Once per day, you can cast telekinesis, telepathy, or teleportation.

(Art by White Raven)

*Recuperate is my proposed term for when a character takes a 10-minute rest and expends a Resolve point to regain Stamina points.

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Top Ten Things Wizards Watch on Crystal Balls When They Think No One is Looking

Top Ten Things Wizards Watch on Crystal Balls When They Think No One is Looking

We know what videos people watch in the modern world. But what visions are popular in a crystal-ball enable fantasy reality? You can use this for background info in a typical fantasy game, or along with my list of Top Ten Modern Crystal Balls, or just giggle and never think about it again.

10. Cat Visions
Most of the ethereal plane is just filled with visions of cute cats. Often paranormal cats. Winged kittens playing with floating baby flumphs and chimera cubs chasing their own dragon-heads are particularly popular.
9. Critical Hit Visions
It’s often entertaining to watch heroic people to amazing things, and cheer their spectacular successes!
8. Critical Fumble Visions
But it is MUCH more entertaining to watch people accidentally hit themselves in the head with the sharpened bottom end of a gnomish hook hammer, or wrap a spiked chain around their own legs.
7. Waterfalls and Thunderstorms
A lot of mages tune in to tranquil sounds to sleep. … Others know air and water elementals want them dead, and keep a constant, paranoid watch out on any scene that might hide a rogue wave or ill wind plotting their death.
6. How-Do Ritual Demonstrations
Once you have a crystal ball, it’s a good idea to expand your repertoire of rituals… especially privacy rituals that keep other people from watching visions of your critical fumbles.
5. Reaction Visions
If you know where to watch, you can see the looks on adventurer’s faces when they discover the “white dragon” they were hunting with flaming weapons is a “wight dragon,” an undead fire dragon immune to both flame and ice.
4. Make-Up Tips
Face it, people just take mages with on-point eyebrows more seriously, and there’s a fine line between the perfect “necromancer eye” look, and people thinking you have smudged soot on your face.
3. Tick Tock
No one is sure why, but the Paraelemental Plane of Clockwork has a lot of dancing on it…
2. Previews
Okay, okay, technically this is “prognostication,” but seeing snippets of the future is just a form of previews, right?
1. Porn
Look, we all knew this was going to be #1. And if we hadn’t lumped all porn sub-genres into one category? Then the whole list would have been porn. Some extraplanar entities make a living with acts of lovemaking mortals can barely comprehend, which can only be viewed by mages who pay to know the password to scry past the “wall of pay” warding.

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