Quick Epic Fantasy Franchise Title Generator

Need an epic-sounding name for your fantasy novel, adventure, game setting, heavy metal album, or just to mess with people ebcause it sounds like the name of something?

Roll 1d100 for the first word on the first column, then add “of,” then another d100 to determine the second word, from the second column.

No, “Queen of Tempests” may not be the best fantasy title out there… but there are certainly worse, and rolling that up took me all of 30 seconds.

01-02. Blood               Blood

03-05. Chronicles        Crystal

06-07. Conquest          Darkness

08-10. Destiny Death 

11-12. Empire             Demons

13-15. Forest               Destiny

16-17. Game               Dragons

18-20. Heart                Dreams

21-23. Kingdom          Dungeons

24-26. Kings               Fire

27-29. Lands               Graves

30-32. League             Ice

33-34. Legacy             Legends

25-37. Legend             Light

38-40. Lord                 Mercy

41-43. Magic               Night

44-46. Mask                Omens

47-49. Minion             Oracles

50-52. Mission            Paradise

53-55. Path                  Placename*

56-58. Queen              Rings

59-61. Quest               Roses

62-64. Record             Runes

65-67. Reign               Secrets

68-70. Shadow            Shadows

71-72. Song                 Sigils

73-74. Sword              Stone

75-77. Tale                  Storms

78-80. Talisman           Tempests

81-83. Thief                Thorns

84-86. War                  Thrones

87-89. Wheel               Talismans

90-91. Wishstones       Time

92-94. Witch               Truth

96-97. World               Vengeance

98-00. Wraith              Warcraft

*Just pick any fantasy-sounding place here. If you can’t
think of one, spell a prescription drug backward. “War of Lirponisil” is as
good as some real titles get.

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Companion Bond as a Connection for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

So, can we find a way for our PF1-compatible Fantasy Mystic to get an animal companion?

A lot of PF1 classes have a way to gain an animal companion. It absolutely seems on-concept for the mystic (especially some of the weirder options, like genie-touched or monstrous companions), but it is something we can do as a simple and balanced option? Well, let’s look at what other classes in the game have as options that can be replaced with an animal companion.

At 1st level, a druid can take either an animal companion or one of a short list of cleric domains as their nature bond class feature. While that’s not proof that those two options are equivalent, the fact that players still often choose the domain after more than a decade of PF1 game theory and play experience certainly suggests they are close enough in total utility to serve as a starting point.

So, that means to determine if a connection being replaced with an animal companion is reasonable, we need to compare the utility of a typical connection with the utility of a typical druid-allowed domain. Once we do that. we can see if we need to have a mystic give up more than just their connection to get an animal companion, or if we need to give them some benefit beyond a companion in order to balance taking the connection away.

Cleric domains give you a bonus spell you can prepare on top of your normal spell choices for every spell level. Often, domain spells aren’t on the cleric or druid class spell list. That’s not the same as a bonus spell known for each spell level, as a connection normally gives a mystic, but it’s close enough in utility for us to treat them as equivalent. So we can have an animal companion give up its bonus spells known to offset the domain spells.

Each cleric domain has two granted powers, one gained at 1st and one at 6th or 8th. Those granted powers are in the same ballpark as connection powers, so we can say we need to give up two connection powers (out of the seven a connection gives). That means it should be reasonable to have a mystic connection grant 5 connection powers, and a full animal companion.

That is a tad awkward, since we now have to create a set of connection powers that come with an animal companion… butmake them flexible enough they work with any animal companion, and spread out enough you only get 5 of them over 20 levels. Luckily, there are spells not normally available to a mystic that are animal-companion-focused, and animal companion-relared feats, which we can make as options out animal companion mystic can choose from.

So, here is what our Companion Connection looks like. (And now we know what connection the image I used for the original mystic class write-up has taken, which is why she has a hunting dog!)

(Art by Daniel)

Companion

Associated Skills: Healing, Handle Animal.
Spells: None

Animal Companion (1st): You gain an animal companion, as the druid’s nature bond option. Your mystic level acts as your druid level for your companion.

Companion Boost: At 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level, you may select a companion boost. This is either a companion feat, or a companion spell, as defined below.

Companion Feat: Select one of the following feats, for which you meet the prerequisites. You gain that feat as a bonus feat. Alternatively, you can select a feat your animal companion meets the prerequisites for, and grant it to your animal companion as a bonus feat. You may select this connection power more than once. Each time, you must select a different bonus feat.

Andoren Falconry, Animal Soul, Beast Rider, Beast Speaker, Beast Speaker Mastery, Bully Breed, Curious Companion, Devotion Against the Unnatural, Distant Spell Link, Evolved Companion, Extra Item Slot, Forceful Charge, Genie-Touched Companion, Greater Tenacious Hunter, Heft Brute, Huntmaster, Improved Forceful Charge, Improved Share Spells, Improved Spell Sharing, Monstrous Companion, Pack Flanking, Pack Tactics, Share Healing, Skaveling Companion, Spirit’s Gift, Stalker’s Focus, Tenacious Hunter, Totem Beast.

Companion Spells: Select one of the following spells. It is considered to be a spell on your spell list and, if you can cast spells of the listed level, you gain it as a bonus spells known. You may select this connection power more than once. Each time, you must select a different spell.

acid maw (1st), carry companion (2nd), scamper (2nd), phantom hunt (4th), share shape (4th), raise animal companion (5th)

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Oracle Mysteries as Connections for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

There’s a super-easy way to create PF1-ready connections for the Fantasy Mystic, if you don’t want to go to the effort of converting Starfinder connections to PF1 rules–just use oracle mysteries! While there are a number of tiny changes that need to get made, none are difficult or time-consuming. Here are the steps to turn a Mystery into a Connection:

1. Pick two skills to be the associated skills for the connection skill class feature of the mystic. You can pick of two the class skills the mystery grants to oracles, but you don’t have to. Any two appropriate skills is fine.

2. Change at what character level the bonus spells are granted to match the fantasy mystic connection spell progression.

3. Replace references to “oracle” with “mystic,” and switch anything Charisma-based to be Wisdom-based.

4. Write a “revelation” connection power gained at every level the mystic gets connection powers, that allows the mystic to select from the mystery’s revelations. (You can use the version I wrote for the example, below.) Don’t use a mystery’s final revelation for a connection–the mystic already has a 20th level capstone ability (they can pick a normal revelation for their 20th level connection power).

5. Adjust level requirements to select revelations, if any, to be at levels a connection grants powers. (Make sure you don’t let a mystic gain a revelation at an earlier level than an oracle would.)

Here’s a quick example of what a conversion looks like using the Ancestor Mystery. You can apply the same quick conversion to any PF1 oracle mystery.

Ancestor

Associated Skills: Linguistics, any one Knowledge skill.
Spells: Unseen Servant – 3rd, Spiritual Weapon – 5th, Heroism – 7th, Spiritual Ally – 9th, Telekinesis – 11th, Greater Heroism – 13th, Ethereal Jaunt – 14th), Vision – 16th, Astral Projection – 18th.

Revelation: At 1st, 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th, 18th, and 20th level, a mystic with the ancestor connection can choose from any of the following revelations.

Ancestral Weapon (Su): You can summon a simple or martial weapon from your family’s history that is appropriate for your current size. You are considered proficient with this weapon. At 3rd level, the weapon is considered masterwork. At 7th level, 15th level, and 19th level, the weapon gains a cumulative +1 enhancement bonus. At 11th level, the weapon gains the ghost touch weapon property. You can use this ability for a number of minutes per day equal to your oracle level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments. The weapon disappears after 1 round if it leaves your grasp.

Blood of Heroes (Su): As a move action, you can call upon your ancestors to grant you extra bravery in battle. You gain a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls, damage rolls, and Will saves against fear for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom bonus. At 7th level, this bonus increases to +2, and at 14th level this bonus increases to +3. You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day at 5th level, and every five levels thereafter.

Phantom Touch (Su): As a standard action, you can perform a melee touch attack that causes a living creature to become shaken. This ability lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your mystic level (minimum 1 round). You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Sacred Council (Su): As a move action, you can call upon your ancestors to provide council. This advice grants you a +2 bonus on any one d20 roll. This effect lasts for 1 round. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to your Wisdom bonus.

Spirit of the Warrior (Su): You can summon the spirit of a great warrior ancestor and allow it to possess you, becoming a mighty warrior yourself. You gain a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, and a +4 natural armor bonus to AC. Your base attack bonus while possessed equals your mystic level (which may give you additional attacks), and you gain the Improved Critical feat with a weapon of your choice. You can use this ability for 1 round for every 2 mystic levels you possess. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-round increments. You must be at least 14th level to select this revelation.

Spirit Shield (Su): You can call upon the spirits of your ancestors to form a shield around you that blocks incoming attacks and grants you a +4 armor bonus. At 7th level, and every four levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +2. At 13th level, this shield causes arrows, rays, and other ranged attacks requiring an attack roll against you to have a 50% miss chance. You can use this shield for 1 hour per day per mystic level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-hour increments.

Spirit Walk (Su): You can become incorporeal and invisible. While in this form, you can move in any direction and pass through solid objects. You can take no action other than to move while in this form. You remain in this form for a number of rounds equal to your mystic level, but you can end this effect prematurely as a standard action. You can use this ability once per day at 14th level, and twice per day at 18th level. You must be at least 14th level to select this revelation.

Storm of Souls (Su): You can summon the spirits of your ancestors to attack in a ghostly barrage—their fury creates physical wounds on creatures in the area. The storm has a range of 100 feet and is a 20-foot-radius burst. Objects and creatures in the area take 1d8 hit points of damage for every two mystic levels you possess. Undead creatures in the area take 1d8 points of damage for every mystic level you possess. A successful Fortitude save reduces the damage to half. You must be at least 10th level to select this revelation. You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day at 12th level and every four levels thereafter.

Voice of the Grave (Su): You can speak with dead, as per the spell, for a number of rounds per day equal to your mystic level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. At 5th level, and every five levels thereafter, the dead creature you question takes a cumulative –2 penalty on its Will save to resist this effect.

Wisdom of the Ancestors (Su): Once per day, you can enter a trance in which you commune with the spirits of your ancestors. This trance lasts for 10 minutes, which must be uninterrupted and during which you can take no other actions. When you come out of this trance, you have gained mystical insight into the future. At 1st level, this insight acts as an augury spell with 80% effectiveness. At 5th level, the insight takes the form of a divination with 90% effectiveness. At 8th level, the knowledge you gain is equivalent to a commune spell. None of these spell effects require material components.

Expanded Post: This is an expanded post. Over on my Patreon, as a thank-you for their support, I went ahead and selected two skills for every official PF1 oracle mystery. My Patrons help me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and joining it is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Akashic Connection for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

Having written a draft of the mystic class redesigned for PF1, it’s time to start adapting and/or creating some mystic connections to go with the class. I’m going to start with the alphabetical first connection in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, though we may hope around a lot as the week goes on, rather than just adapt the official connections in order.

Akashic

You’re linked to the collective knowledge of every sentient species that ever lived that’s held in the Akashic Record, an Astral library of perfect psychic records of every moment in history. You might be an ancient lorekeeper, an inquisitive student of the occult, an intuitive consulting detective, or a secret-hoarding spy.
Associated Skills: Appraise, Knowledge (all, each selected separately), Linguistics, Profession
Spells: You gain the following bonus spells known at the listed mystic class level; 3rd – Identify, 5th – Augury, 7th – Akashic communion, 9th – Divination, 11th – Contact Other Plane, 13th – Legend Lore, 15th – Vision, 17th – Discern Location, 19th – Akashic Form.

Connection Powers

Akashic Knowledge (Su)(1st Level): Each day when you recover your spell slots, you can tap into the Akashic Record, enabling you to choose one Knowledge skill or Profession skill to gain a +2 bonus to all checks with for that day. This acts as the connection skill class feature you gain at 4th level, and when you connection skill bonus increases, your akashic knowledge bonus increases by the same amount.

Access Akashic Record (Su)(3rd Level): You can access the Akashic Record to augment your skills. You can take 1d4 hours to take 20 on a Knowledge Skill or Profession skill, and when you do so you make the check as if you had ranks in that skill equal to your mystic level.

Peer into the Future (Su)(6th Level): Once per day, you can spend 10 minutes in uninterrupted meditation to receive visions of possible futures. At any point over the next 24 hours, you can declare that you are using the benefit of this ability before rolling one initiative check, saving throw, or skill check. You gain a +4 insight bonus to that check. At 11th level, you can use this ability twice per day, though you can’t use it the second time until after you’ve used your first bonus.

Mind Probe (Sp) (10th Level): You can use mind probe as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to your mystic level, lasting for 1 round. A creature that successfully saves against your mind probe is immune to further uses of this ability for 24 hours.

Telepathic Memories (Su) (14th Level): You can share memories at will with allies linked by your telepathic bond class feature. As a full round action, you or a linked ally can send a memory of up to 1 minute to as many others in the bond as they choose. Sending a relevant memory counts as a successful aid another attempt for a skill check, even if you wouldn’t otherwise be able to use aid another (to a limit of one such memory per skill check).

Memory Palace (Su) (18th Level): You assemble an extradimensional library to house mental constructs representing your accumulated knowledge. This memory palace has a single shimmering entrance. You can access your memory palace once per day; when you do, the entrance appears within close range. If any creatures or objects that were not part of the memory palace when it was created remain inside it, the entrance remains where it first appeared. Only those you designate can enter the memory palace, and the entrance closes and becomes invisible behind you when you enter. Anyone inside can open the entrance and exit the memory palace at will. The only way to enter and exit the memory palace is via the entrance; even plane shift and similar magic do not access it.

You can create any floor plan you desire for your memory palace, up to a number of 10-foot cubes equal to your mystic level. Inside, the atmosphere is clean, fresh, and warm; outside conditions don’t affect the memory palace, nor do conditions inside it pass beyond. There is no furniture other than bookcases, computers, and a few desks and sofas. A number of unseen servants (as per the spell of the same name) equal to half your mystic level serve as librarians. The library keeps the same layout each time you access it, though you can alter its appearance each time you gain a level or by spending 15 minutes concentrating—you don’t need to be inside it to alter it.

When you gain this ability, choose one Knowledge or Profession skill. Consulting your memory palace gives anyone who studies within—including you—a +4 enhancement bonus to checks with the selected skill, and creatures inside the memory palace can attempt checks of that type untrained. At 16th level, and at each level thereafter, choose another Knowledge or Profession skill to which your memory palace’s skill bonus applies.

Glean Spell (Su) (20th Level): Once per day, you can meditate for 10 minutes to delve into the Akashic Record to temporarily gain a spell from the cleric, psychic, shaman, or wizard spell list as a bonus spell known. You can cast the spell using your spell slots, though it consumes a spell slot 1 level higher than the actual level of the spell. When you next regain your spells, the spell you gleaned is lost (though you could take 19 minutes to regain is as a bonus spell known for another day).

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I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

First Look at Fantasy Mystic for PF1

So, while it’s easy to say that Starfinder mystics function as clerics for that game, and technomancers serve as wizards, that’s not entirely accurate. While it is true that many of the same design and role concerns went into the mystic and technomancer as the fantasy classes they are commonly associated with, they are far from 1-to-1 conversions of those concepts. As a result, there is often some interest in creating fantasy versions of such classes (and other Starfinder class options, such that I have written fantasy a version of the solarian for PF1, and have a version for PF2 available on Pathfinder Infinite).

Converting a class over is a big project, and generally takes more than one writing draft and multiple development passes, so this is just a first look at how I’d take the mysterious-supernatural-powered mystic from its SF setting and move it to PF1. Today we just look at the core framework, with connections coming later in the week.

The Mystic (PF1)

Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d8.
Starting Wealth: 3d6 x 10 gp (average 105 gp).

Class Skills

The mystic’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (any 6, selected individually)(Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Survival (Wis).

Skill Points at each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

(Art by Daniel)

Class Features Spells Per Day

LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th
1st+0+0+0+2Connection, connection power, healing touch3
2nd+1+0+0+3Mindlink4
3rd+2+1+1+3Connection power, connection spell5
4th+3+1+1+4Connection skill63
5th+3+1+1+4Connection spell64
6th+4+2+2+5Connection power653
7th+5+2+2+5Connection spell664
8th+6/+1+2+2+6Connection skill6653
9th+6/+1+3+3+6Connection spell6664
10th+7/+2+3+3+7Connection power66653
11th+8/+3+3+3+7Connection spell, telepathic bond66664
12th+9/+4+4+4+8Connection skill666653
13th+9/+4+4+4+8Connection spell666664
14th+10/+5+4+4+9Connection power6666653
15th+11/+6/+1+5+5+9Connection spell6666664
16th+12/+7/+2+5+5+10Connection skill66666653
17th+12/+7/+2+5+5+10Connection spell66666664
18th+13/+8/+3+6+6+11Connection power, transcendence666666653
19th+14/+9/+4+6+6+11Connection spell666666664
20th+15/+10/+5+6+6+12Connection power, enlightenment666666666

Spells Known

Level01st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th
1st42
2nd52
3rd53
4th631
5th642
6th7421
7th7532
8th85321
9th85432
10th954321
11th955432
12th9554321
13th9554432
14th95544321
15th95544432
16th955444321
17th955444332
18th9554443321
19th9554443332
20th9554443333

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Mystics are proficient with all simple weapons, and light armor.

Spells: A mystic casts divine spells drawn from the psychic and shaman spell lists. She can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a mystic must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a mystic’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the mystic’s Wisdom modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a mystic can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on her class feature table000. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Wisdom score (see Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells).

A mystic’s selection of spells is extremely limited. A mystic begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of her choice. At each new mystic level, she gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Mystic Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a sorcerer knows is not affected by her Wisdom score; the numbers on Table: Mystic Spells Known are fixed.)

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered mystic level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), a mystic can choose to learn a new spell in place of one she already knows. In effect, the mystic loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. A mystic may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that she gains new spells known for the level.

A mystic need not prepare her spells in advance. She can cast any spell she knows at any time, assuming she has not yet used up her spells per day for that spell level.

Connection: At 1st level the mystic has a mysterious connection with some force that grants her magical powers. The exact nature of the connection can vary widely, and even mystics who share the same connection may interpret it differently. The mystic picks one connection upon taking her first level of mystic—once made, this choice can’t be changed. (Connections you can choose from, or how to adapt other class abilities into connections, are presented in this blog throughout this week).

Many mystics serve as priests of various gods, and while you can theoretically choose any type of connection with any entity or concept, deities rarely grant connections that don’t fit within their ethos.

Connection Power: At 1st, 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th, 18th, and 20th level, the mystic gains a connection power unique to her connection. If a connection power allows a saving throw to resist its effects, the DC is equal to 10 + half the mystic’s class level + her Wisdom modifier. Connection powers are listed with each connection.

Connection Spell: Each connection grants additional spells known, starting at 3rd level and then another every other level thereafter. These spells are in addition to the spells known listed on Table: Mystic Spells Known. The spell level of each spell is listed in each connection’s entry.

Healing Touch (Su): At 1st level, the mystic can heal with a touch. Once per day, as a standard action you can heal a creature touched of 1d6 damage per mystic level. this healing touch does not harm undead or other creatures damaged by positive energy, instead healing them.

Mindlink (Sp): At 2nd level, the mystic can form a mental link with creatures she touch, communicating information rapidly through it. She can use mindlink at will as a spell-like ability, though only once per day on any given individual.

Connection Skill (Su): As the mystic grows in power, her link to her connection grants her supernatural benefits to related skills. At 4th level, the mystic selects two skills associated with her connection (See Connections), and receive a +2 bonus to all checks with that skill. At 8th level, and every 4 levels thereafter, that bonus increases by 2. This bonus does not stack with bonuses to skills from abilities with favored in their title (such as favored enemy and favored terrain), or abilities that function as favored abilities.

Telepathic Bond (Sp): At 11th level, as a standard action, the mystic can form a telepathic link with up to six other willing creatures, allowing her to communicate telepathically at great distances. This functions as telepathic bond, except the duration is permanent. She can have only one telepathic bond active in this way at any given time; creating a new telepathic bond immediately ends the previous one.

Transcendence (Sp): By 18th level the mystic is close to becoming one with her connection. She can cast each of her connection spells once per day without consuming a spell slot. In addition, she learns how to temporarily transcend her physical form. Once per day, she can project her consciousness outside of her physical body in the form of an intangible psychic image of herself. This counts as a 6th-level illusion effect and lasts for a number of rounds equal to her mystic level. While her consciousness is projected, her physical body is considered blind, deaf, and helpless, but she can return to her body as a swift action. She controls her psychic image as though it was her own body, and her senses perceive only what the image can see and hear. She moves with a fly speed of 60 feet and perfect maneuverability. She can pass through solid objects as though she was incorporeal, but she can’t go farther into a solid object than her space (5 feet for a Medium creature). She can’t directly affect physical objects. Her projected consciousness is immune to most attacks or effects, whether or not they affect incorporeal creatures, but mind-affecting effects have their full effect on her, as does any ability that can negate or dispel magic.

The mystic can cast any mystic spell or spell-like ability with a range of touch or greater from her projected consciousness. The spells affect other targets normally. She can’t cast any spells on her projected consciousness except for illusion spells. She need not maintain line of effect to her projected consciousness, but if she crosses into another plane, even momentarily (including via teleportation), her mind immediately returns to her physical body.

Enlightenment (Su): At 2th level the mystic achieves enlightenment, becoming a living incarnation of her connection. She no longer ages, nor does she die of old age. Once per day as a move action, the mystic can enter a state of total communion with her connection that lasts for 1 minute. During this time, she gains a +4 insight bonus to attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Owen Explains It All — Predictive Math for Starfinder

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

First, this blog has spoilers for Foundation — the book series and miniseries. 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!

If you haven’t already gone and watched the November 8th, 2021 episode, we talk about various versions of Issac Asimov’s Foundation. Specifically, how it is build on psycho-history, a fictional “soft science” that allows perfect mathematical predictions of the far future using predictive models of trillions of humans (and doesn’t work for smaller numbers of people, much as you can accurately model the spreading of a gas cloud, but cannot predict where a specific molecule of that cloud will go).

And all of that leads me to M-PSI, as OGL content

Mathematical Predictive Statistic Indices

Also known as M-PSI, Mathematical Predictive Statistic Indices is the science of using vast quantities of data about past events to predict the outcome of future events. M-PSI is not perfect—it models probabilities, not absolutely, and it requires trillions of points of reference in past similar events before it can make useful predictions about future outcomes. Thus it is a science that can only be developed by Elder Societies, those cultures that have actively existed and keep records for millions of years, allowing them to build up indices of enough situations to have comparable examples for nearly any occurrence.

While most ancient cultures that developed M-PSI collapsed millions of years ago, some left the indic3s themselves, allowing specialists in certain kinds of mathematics to use them in a predictive manner. Learning M-PSI is extremely difficult, and is modeled by requiring characters to take feats to have a useful grasp of the techniques.

M-PSI 101
You can use pure the math of Mathematical Predictive Statistic Indices to determine how to interact with and define the real world.
Prerequisite: 1 rank Profession (Mathmetician)
Benefit: Select two of the following skills; Computers, Engineering, Life Science, Physical Science. You can make a Profession (Mathematician) check in place of any check for the selected skills.
Special: You can select this feat more than once. Each time, you must choose 2 different skills from the list.

P-PSI 201
You can use pure the math of Mathematical Predictive Statistic Indices to predict the future.
Prerequisite: M-PSI 101, 4 ranks Profession (mathmatician)
Benefit: As long as you have access to a tier 0 or higher computer (such as a datapad), you can use M-PSI to actually predict future events. Doing so takes 1 minute, requires the expenditure of 1 Resolve Point, and is an extraordinary ability. The stress of M-PSI on any sapient brain is considerable, limiting how often the technique can be used. Once you complete use this feat, you cannot do so again until after you next recuperate*.

If you have 4 or more ranks of Profession (mathematician) your M-PSI formula can duplicate the effects of a 1st-level Akashic tutor spell.

If you have 7 or more ranks of Profession (mathematician) your M-PSI formula can duplicate the effects of a predict foe spell, except once you take a minute to perform the M-PSI formula, the benefit lasts until expended or you again use this feat for a M-PSI ability.

If you have 10 or more ranks of Profession (mathematician) ) your M-PSI formula can duplicate the effects of a probability prediction spell, except once you take a minute to perform the M-PSI formula, the benefit lasts until expended or you again use this feat for a M-PSI ability.

If you have 13 or more ranks of Profession (mathematician) your M-PSI formula can duplicate the effects of a divination spell. This takes 1 hour, and can only be done 1ce per day.

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Name Brands for Starfinder Campaigns

Sometimes a GM just wants a few names to drop into a campaign to help give a sense of a lived-in universe. Here are 5 name brands for use in your Starfinder campaigns, focusing on being interesting and memorable, rather than worrying much about game rules. Though if a GM wants to add the kinds of manufacturer rules presented in Starfinder Armory, these are great brands to that kind of additional work.

Each brand is presented in the following format.

Name: The brand’s common, public-facing name.

Tagline: The marketing phrase most associated with the brand. Much to advertising companies’ frustration, this may or may not be from any of the last few marketing campaigns. For example, Skitter-Minder’s “Need a hand? Have six!” targline is literally more than a century old, and despite there being 11 different ad campaigns since it was last used, it’s still the phrase everyone thinks of

Business ventures: Name brands are generally associated with one or more business ventures, be that stores, goods for sale, or services. A brief description of each brand’s most common ventures is listed here, though sometimes a brand will try to branch out in weird ways, like Rezort beast jerky, or Uberdar-clowns for children’s parties.

EATABLES

“It’s digestible.”

The EATABLES brand makes cheap, shelf-stable, bland food that can be safely consumed by 417 known sapient species, are legal in all known settlements and worlds, and are acceptable foodstuffs under 2,639 sets of religious rules. The two most common product lines are EATABLE Paste (a nutrient goo that comes in squeeze tubes), and EATABLE Wafers (flat disks that dissolve in the mouth, and if mixed with water can be turned into EATABLE Paste).

On the one hand, no one is happy to end up with just EATABLES as rations. on the other hand, everyone prefers it to starving, and they are dense, last centuries without spoilage, and are gentle on the stomach.

Gathicca

“Always formal. Always comfortable. Always durable. Always… Gathicca.”

Gathicca is a fashion clothing brand that originally focused on the kalo fashionista market, but has since spread to dozens of other cultures. Because intermixing societies from scores of worlds can make it difficult to determine what is “formalwear,” Gathicca has had surprising success by simply claiming anything made by Gathicca is always considered formal. While there’s no real basis for such a claim, it makes diplomatic dinners between different species so much easier, it’s just generally been accepted without challenge.

Rezort Ammo

“Fight down to your last Resort!”

Rezort brand ammo is literally resizing ammunition. It costs the same as heavy rounds, but can be loaded into weapons that accept small arms rounds, longarm rounds, scattergun shells, darts, flechettes, and heavy weapon rounds. Sadly it can’t act as petrol or batteries, but hey.

Many emergency kits include 20 Rezort rounds.

Skitter-Minders

“Need a hand? Have six!”

Skitter-Minder is a trademark associated with two linked but different business ventures. The first, and most popular, is the Skitte-Minder line of virtual personality digital assistants. Available both as independent datapad-like devices and programs you can upload to any tier 1 or higher computer, the Skitter-Minders are famously helpful and deferential-that latter a fact some actual skittermanders object to as perpetuating a stereotype. The Skitter-Minder’s main claim to fame is that each pda displays no more than six areas of concern on its front screen-one for each digital hand. While you can open more screens to see additional areas of concern, the Skitter-Minder philosophy is that really, if you need help with more than six ongoing concerns at once, you need something more than a pda. The most popular model of Skitter-Minder is a plush, furry, 6-armed datapad that doubles as a pilow.

Skitter-Minder’s second business is Critter-Manders, small stores often located in open-air shopping complexes and starports, where a living person (the “Critter”) can be hired on an hourly basis for assistance with nearly anything. The critters aren;t experts in everything, but famously are great at using InfoSpheres to find people who ARE experts in nearly any topic. Critters happily assist with everything from minor repairs to wording poetry and love-letters. They may not be the best at what they do, but if you think you need help, they can probably find it.

Ironically, there are almost no skittermanders involved in the Skitter-Minder companies.

Uberdar

“Divine Prices. Secular Requirements.”

Essentially, Uberdar makes slightly cheaper versions of everything AbadarCorp makes, at roughly the same level of quality. While many people suggest that spoofing a god’s name is a bad idea for a corporation, priests of Abadar note that as long as Uberdar doesn’t also duplicate their trade dress, the practice is fair and approved by the god of commerce.

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Quick Tips: GMing with Taste, Touch, and Smell

One of the most challenging jobs of a GM is to serve as the describer of everything the PCs experience in the fictional game world. This is especially true when the GM wants to convey information through those descriptions–it’s one thing to say a tavern smells stale, and another to say the stale mix of herbal sachets on the walls and sawdust and straw scattered across the floor can’t quite cover the lingering coppery scent of spilled blood, watered-down mead, and urine that permeates the main room.

Lots of advances in gaming have been made with visuals and soundboards. Between being able to do internet searches for interesting visuals and great sound-effect programs designed specifically for ttRPGs (such as Syrinscape, who I love but have no association with), it’s pretty easy for a GM to be able to skip needing to describe sights and sounds. But what about taste, touch, and smell? Just a single extra description for each major element of an encounter can go a long way to both adding immersion, and conveying clues the PCs have a chance to pick up on. If you link any unusual sensation to a specific element within your game, players will often pick up on it and use it as another clue to use to experience and understand your world.

Taste: The most obvious time to describe taste is when PCs eat or drink something, and many ttRPGs have more than enough potions, oils, and magic cupcakes to make this a useful sense to think about in advance. A GM can make the identification of some potent potables easy by deciding healing potions all smell like honeysuckle and mint, or that ungol dust has a distinctive acidic bite in the back of the throat. If the GM doesn’t want to be that easy and consistent, it can still be fun to add taste elements to specific kinds of potion — perhaps potions made by clerics tend to have a strong medicine taste, those made by druids are usually overwhelmingly herb-flavored, and those made by alchemists tend to have a powerful saccharine-sweetness to them. That doesn’t tell PCs exactly what a potion does, but it does become an interesting piece of information that can help the game world feel more well-rounded.

The other fun use for taste is for things that impact the PCs to impact their sense of taste without being directly connected to eating or drinking. Maybe a mummy’s curse makes you constantly get a taste of dust in your mouth, or getting a serum of invulnerability injected into your system causes you to feel like you are licking oiled steel. Powerful smells can be tasted as well, so the rotting meat scent of the zombie bloom may also cause those near it to taste raw mushroom flavors in the air, or the choking smokebomb actually tastes like black pepper.

Touch: PCs don’t often rub their bare skin against adventure site walls and monster hides, so things like smooth, rough, sharp, fluffy, and sticky may not come into play often. But touch can also express things like temperature, and feedback from hitting things with weapons. One of the most successful descriptions of a foe I ever gave noted that while the creature seemed to be a hunched humanoid under a ragged veil and cloak, when a PC hit it with their sword, it felt like chopping into green woo. There was give as the blade chopped into the creature’s flesh, but it was far tougher than any human or even monstrous skin, muscles,and tendons.

Similarly, if touching a glowing sword makes a chill run down a character’s spine, or grabbing a Xorarcan plasma-lance makes any other humanoid’s fingertips tingle, that can be great descriptive information. If a character makes a saving throw against a gaze attack that makes their eyes itch, the player has reason to suspect a failed save results in blindness. If even approaching the stone archway covered in glowing runs makes it seem like the ground it tilting away from you, it suggests the gate may be tied to movement of some kind.

Smell: In many ways smell is just taste at a greater range, so all the taste notes apply here as well. But smell is also one of the most powerful senses for evoking primal fears–we evolved to know that the smell or rot is bad, the smell of blood is dangerous, and the smell of smoke calls for caution. Smell can be used to give clues to some kinds of deception–the high ghoul illusionist can make herself look like a human, but needs to use heavy perfume to cover the scent of the grave; the stench coming from the locally feared Troglodyte Clans Cave is bad, but not THAT bad; the bandits in the tavern smell like chili peppers, ebcause they infuse their boots with pepper oil so guard dogs can’t follow their scent.

Smells can also be fun because they can carry varying distances depending on local conditions, and what they promise is not always what they deliver. If the scent of fresh-backed pastries wafts tantalizingly through the woods, are the PCs about to stumble on a halfling village, or a giant baker that literally grinds human bones to make his bread? Is the smell of honey just a pleasant spring scent, a warning sign of giant paper wasps moving into the dense wilderness, or the smell of an undead mellified man about to round the corner and attack?

Conclusion: You don’t have to go crazy with secondary senses, but adding the description of a single noteworthy taste, touch, or smell in each major encounter can help round out the sense of what your game world is like.

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Quick Tips: Designing Adventures Backwards

If there’s one thing I think is most likely to trip up new GMs when they design their own adventures, it’s that they tend to design them front-to-back. That is, most GMs (and adventure writers) I see who begin creating adventures from scratch for the first time want to write the first encounter first, the second encounter second, and so on.

Now, that makes a lot of sense on the surface. That’s the order gamers encounter other people’s adventures in, so it’s a familiar pacing. Also, it means that if you plan to have 4 game sessions worth of adventure, you only have to do the first 4 encounters of work before you can run the first session. No need to design more than you need for the next game night, right?

Well…

Look, that works great for a lot of GMs, and if it works for you, more power to you. There are absolutely advantages to that system, and lots of ways to make it work to your advantage. But for many GMs, it means they introduce a problem and the mystery and the clues… before they know what the mystery is, or what the clues are supposed to be pointing to. That often works fine when you first introduce elements — everyone has seen the stories where the map has a big blank spot, or the detective finds mud they are sure is important, or the prophecy only makes sense after it’s fulfilled. So if you tell the ranger that yes, the site of the bandit attack has lots of wolf and goblin footprints, but on top of all of those are sharped bits of wood, as though from a whittled stick, which was done 2-3 hours after the bandit attack, players will file that away as an important clue for later.

Which is great–if you ether have a rough idea what you are doing (so you can make up clues that’ll fit in) or are good at bringing things together in the last few chapters even if you had no idea what you are doing when you leave a clue. But if you’re GREAT at coming with evocative and intriguing set dressing, but terrible at connecting them together after-the-fact, the end game of your adventures may be much more stressful and dissatisfying than you’d like.

For such GMs, writing your adventure backwards can make things much easier.

For example, let’s say you decide the end villain of your adventure is an evil ranger, who riles up local wilderness threats, directs them at farms and villages, and then charges those settlements money to “solve” the problems he’s creating. You give him a couple of personality quirks — he’s arrogant, handsome, and can whittle small wooden symbols that anger specific kinds of wildlife. You want a fight with him to end your advneture.

You want some investigation in town to happen just before that fight. So you create an event rh PCs could investigate once they are suspicious enough. You decide the ranger runs a protection racket, but a newcomer bard was becoming suspicious. So the ranger poisoned a local goblin tribe with herbs that make them battle-mad. Then he faked a note from the goblins to the bard making it seems the goblins wanted to tell the bard something important. When the bard went to where the note indicated, the herb-maddened goblins killed the bard. The ranger came by after the battle, whittling more of his magic traps, and stole the bard’s gear.

With that in place, it’s easy to see how the Ps get involved. Locals think the attacks are getting worse, and that the ranger isn’t enough to deal with them anymore. They hire PCs to help, but the PCs keep finding evidence of an unseen figure behind the attacks. You can have them fight some maddened animals the ranger sends after them hoping the PCs will be killed, have them ask folks what might have riled the animals, get told the new bard asked similar questions before being killed by goblins, seek ut the bard’s hidden notes because the bard was already onto the ranger, get pointed at the ranger, want to find the bard’s loot so they search the ranger’s hut and find it, then confront the ranger. Easy.

It may not solve all adventure problems, but often working backwards from the end is the easy way to decide what clues and story beats the PCs will find as they move forward through the adventure.

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Tabletop Gaming Space

People talk about game rules and social contracts and spotlight time and a dozen other interaction-facing things much, much more often than they talk about having an actual space to play tabletop game.

So, as I sit here in a 20×21 dedicated gaming room, with two 5-foot-long, 2.5-foot wide tables in the middle, several office chairs, a slew of stacking padded church chairs, ceiling fans, led lights bright enough to power solar calculators (which mattered when we designed the room 24 years ago), it’s own refrigerator, a computer hooked to a sound system, and bookcases on every wall, I wanted to talk a little about what I find useful in a physical gaming space.

This isn’t a must-have list or some professionally surveyed best answer. It’s just what I have found over my 40 years of playing tabletop games, as game to me today in no particular order, and generally using my current main gaming space–a dedicated gaming room in the house I’m living in–as a point of comparison.

Comfortable Seating

This may seem obvious, but it’s still worth thinking about. Especially if you have people with disabilities, what may work for you for 4-6 hours or more of sitting might be torture for other members of your group. Also, think about sturdiness. Not just for regular use (our gaming chairs see many more hours per week of sitting than the dining room chairs of my childhood home ever did), but for the people you want to have over. I’m a heavy guy — more than 450 lbs. on average — and I’ve lost track of the number of times I have been invited by people to hang out at their place where all they have are thin folding wood frame or aluminum tubing chairs. Those do not safely hold me. Consider who you want to make accommodations for, and give people an opportunity to tell you if they need something nonstandard.

Accessibility

Our game room is 3 steps down from the rest of the house. We have railings, and happily pass things up and down for folks having issues with the balance or steadiness, but I still wish our space wasn’t sunken in that much.

We’re pretty central to our town, which is a plus, but not particularly close to public transit. Some people walk here for gaming. Some carpool. But an easier way for people to arrive would be a help.

We have the game table in the middle of a big room with two ways in and out, so mostly people can walk around without bumping into people. But when we cram 9 people in for the big Tuesday Night game, it’s cramped. We can’t even get everyone at the table if the whole crew shows up.

Tablespace

How much tablespace you need depends a lot on the needs of the game you play. If you are wanting to have Starfinder games where sniper rifle ranges are relevant, you may need a ton of space for miniatures and terrain. If you’re playing Dread, everyone needs to be able to reach the tumbling tower, and it (probably) ought to be on stable level surface.

We have a table-topper that puts a 2 ft. x 3 ft. space up about 4 inches off the center of the table and can slide and spin. that’s great for letting people pull the map closer to them and turn it to see what is going on behind a shack or hill, but also means we can’t really have many drinks on the main table, and laptops often have to be closed as the table topper is spun. We also have TV trays, which people can use as additional space for books, dice, water bottles, and so on.

Climate

Our space is large enough that even with 9 people rammed in, the AC and ceiling fans and tower fan can keep us pretty cool, even in summer. But it takes 4 AC ducts, 2 returns, two ceiling fans, and 1 tower fan to do it. If a space is likely to get too cold, it can be worthwhile to have blankets and fingerless gloves as options. If it’s going to get too hot, plenty of water, and be understanding if folks decide they are just unwilling to get too hot while trying to have fun.

Atmosphere

Once of the nice things about a dedicated game space is that it serves as the geeky visual center of the house as well. There are miniatures and maps and game books on shelves, light sabers and swords and starships hanging on the walls, a fleet of sailing ships on top of one bookcase, plastic towers, mountains, and a 3-foot wire-frame oil derrick on other furniture. The walls have framed posters of comic books, movies, and game magazine covers. Overall, it helps put people in the mood to play games.

You often can’t go this far–kitchen tables and living room coffee tables are much more common as play spaces, and those often need to serve aesthetic desires beyond “look geeky.” On the other hand, some people go much further, with faux-stone walls, stuffed dragon heads, and wallscapes of fantasy forests with distant castles.

Whatever your options, think about little things that can help put people in the right frame of mind for the game you want to run. Even just having a GM Screen for a specific adventure or game system, or a single small prop tied to a game’s theme (like a model of the PC’s starship, or miniatures of the allied royal court, or a picture of the fungal ghouls destroying civilization) can help make a game space feel tied to specific campaigns, even if those props have to be put away between games.

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