Monthly Archives: April 2015


“While the camera is rolling, obviously we’re not yet able to begin our interview. Security is, as always at the Hexagon, incredibly tight. The Tyrant is officially a 4th Tier Parahuman, but as a result of his experience, vast resources, and record of escape from both incarceration and any serious sentencing for crimes he fully confesses to having committed, the Hexagon has placed him under 3rd Tier precautions. That means that this interview will take place virtually, with lightbox projectors and low-fidelity analog speakers and microphones transmitting images and sound between ourselves and the Tyrant rather than any direct or even digital connection, the entire proceedings are monitored by off-site personnel including at least one unable to hear us and one unable to see us, and both rooms are rigged with deadman-switch countermeasures ranging from strobe lights and tear gas to explosives and a 100-ton free-standing ceiling that can be dropped to crush either chamber. Further, the interview is on a 30-day delay, and we will have no access to it for review or edit prior to its first broadcast. So it you are seeing this for the first time, so are we.
A 2nd Tier inmate, of course, is never interviewed by the press short of a court order and military operation. And, officially, there is no such thing at a 1st Tier Parahuman.
And we see the Tyrant’s image is being projected onto the viewing wall, so we presume everything is set to begin? And we are being given the signal that is the case.
So, first, let me say welcome to the Tyrant, and express our appreciation for your willingness to speak to us this morning.”

“It is a trifle. Much to my surprise, my appointment schedule is remarkably open.”

“Yes, indeed. You have been held for 103 days now, with no trial date in sight. So, let us begin with this: do you feel you are being treated fairly?”

“I have no complaints. I intend to conquer the world. I do not begrudge the existing governments their temporary victories. I do, in fact, see them as necessary steps in my long-term plans. Each engagement that fails to go my way is an opportunity to learn, to improve. I welcome those.”

“At the same time, isn’t it true you don’t recognize the authority of any government?”

“You mean some drivel like “legitimate authority,” the idea that some group or individual has the privilege of commanding and expecting to receive my obedience without gaining compliance through force or mutual self-interest? Of course I don’t recognize such things. If I told you I was now your king, would you obey me to the detriment of your own condition?”

“Certainly not.”

“And why should you? And if I gather a score or more like-minded individuals, and we all say you must obey, does the fact we outnumber you cause you to suddenly become loyal to us if you are not threatened?”

“A group such as, say, the Teen Tyrants?”

“Not even in the hypothetical would I ask anyone to obey that battery of self-propelled disasters.”

“The Crime Council, then?”

“Unlikely, given how we parted company, but appropriate for this discussion, yes. Imagine I was to work with the Crime Council again, and we took control of this facility. Indeed, suppose we declared we had conquered it, as the ancestors of every modern nation of note once conquered the natives of the lands they now rule. Would you feel some moral obligation to obey our dictates?”

“No, we would not.”

“No! You would not. And if we maintained control of this facility for three generations, feeding those we ruled and keeping them from outside harm, and your children’s grandchildren were suddenly allowed some say in a government we established, for our benefit, and designed to enrich us above others, would that mote of participation somehow obligate your offspring to be willingly obedient?”

“We do not believe it would.”

“Indeed it would not! And yet when I turn in defiance against the United States, who, as a nation, conquered a land not their own, repeatedly made and broke treaties with the indigenous people, brought whole other populations to these shores in chains, and then pats itself on the back for freeing those who were only enslaved by its actions, I am told that I am rejecting “legal” authority. I accept no authority other than that which I grant of my own free will or can be compelled from me through force or negotiation. I accept the state’s power to incarcerate me here, because there is a logic to their actions and they have proven they have the power to enforce their will.”

“And if you manage to escape?”

“Then I shall enforce my will on others. That is the only reality of the world. Politics is just the language of oppressions, used to determine who can enforce their will while doing the least damage. Not because we wish to avoid harming others, but because we plan to rule them, and why damage what you will own?”

“Well, we confess there seems to be no point arguing this issue further. Let’s move on to some interesting positions you touched on during your explanation. You seem to have little regard for the Teen Tyrants.”

“Very little.”

“But they are your apprentices, aren’t they?”

“I wouldn’t say apprentice. I think ‘child soldier’ is the commonly accepted term that comes closest to describing them. But yes, they are my child soldiers.”

“But why spend so much time, and apparently considerable effort, training them and sending them to commit crimes on your behalf if you have no respect for them?”

“Do you respect a box of rats?”

“Ah… no. Not as such.”

“If you wanted to distract someone, do you see how releasing a box of rats in their home might be useful, despite a total lack of regard for the rats. And how training the rats to be more violent and cunning might make your distraction even more effective?”

“So, you see them as nothing more than disposable tools?”

“Perhaps not nothing more than that – I see potential in many of them, much as a blacksmith need not respect an ingot of iron, but can envision hammering it into a sword. But yes, they are primarily a way to keep those masks and agencies that might trouble me too busy to do so as often.”

“Do the Teen Tyrants *know* that?”

“Of course they do. A reputation for brutal honestly is an amazingly powerful tool, one I have honed over decades. I’m not going to put it at risk by dissembling to the likes of Double-Tap and Slamazon.”

“So, why do they follow you?”

“Why do teens do anything? Some are troubled and have formed foolish emotional attachments to me, so they lie to themselves even when I tell them the truth. Others wish to anger their families, and this this as a means to that ends. And many correctly see this as their best chance to be trained in arts others refuse to teach young Masks. As long as they are obedient, their reasons are their own.”

“You also seem to have left the Crime Council on poor terms?”

“Well, perhaps more accurately on ‘unfriendly’ terms. I was well along in taking control of the Crime Council when the Masked Alliance tracked me down and defeated me in combat in response to unrelated operations of mine. That left me unable to complete my takeover, and exposed my plan and methods to the Council. I suspect Red Jack and Kubla Kong, at the least, won’t easily forgive such machinations. Most of the rest will follow the strong leaders, like sheep.”

“So, are there any colleagues you respect? Or any Parahuman at all, for that matter.”

“Certainly! I am not such a vainglory as to claim I have no peers.”

“So, name a few.”

“As you wish. Kubla Kong certainly has my respect, given that he lacks many of the societal privileges others take for granted and yet remains a force to be reckoned with at least as great as my own. He cannot hide in the world population, or see how others have done what he wishes to do. The ‘Great Ape’ must use his own strength and intellect to forge his own path. I’d be a fool to claim the core members of the Masked Alliance do not include several individuals who are in my league, if not at the same pinnacle as I. The Pulsar Knights serve an invaluable service to our whole region of space, and Gold Pulsar himself has my deepest respect. The Morlock King is without a doubt a peer…”

“We’re sorry – did you say the Morlock King?”

“I did. I respect him perhaps most of all.”

“The… the Morlock King who has been defeated by the Powers Clan something like seven times? Not to mention Angel’s Host, the Quiverfull, Science Team Alpha, and for that matter the Auxiliaries’ Alliance?”

“Indeed, the very same. A tall, thin and pale man with filed teeth and beady eyes, who you all take so lightly. But ask me this, have any of those heroic orders you mention ever managed to keep him locked up?”

Ah… not that we know of.”

“Precisely. To you all, the Morlock King is an under-powered joke to be defeated by B-Teams and teen bands of sidekicks and poseurs. But he is in truth a king, a royal ruler of a vast empire of ghouls and cannibals, who will inevitably conquer the surface world in a few thousand years. He is a time traveler, and a master tactician, and even when you defeat him now it is rarely until after he has managed some minor adjustment to the present that results in his Feasting Empire continuing for centuries longer in his own dread future. The Morlock King has, from his perspective, already won, and his every appearance just drives the moment of his people’s ascendance a few epochs closer to the time the races of the surface world will be cattle, playthings to be hunted, tortured, mated with, and eaten at his leisure. He is the greatest threat your entire species faces, and you don’t even take him seriously.”

“We, ah, we had no idea. When does this horrifically-described future come to pass?”

“As things stand now? Ten-thousand or so years hence.”

“That seems fairly distant.”

“Of course it does, to you. But when he first took power, it was nearly a million years until his kind would rule. In the temporal halls, his domain controls more years than any other empire has ever claimed. And he can relentlessly consider current events with the full benefit of hindsight, and contemplate how to bring about his reign earlier and earlier. I confess, I made a conciliation with him decades ago, to our perception, and have never regretted it.”

“If you are right about this, why haven’t you warned the Powers Clan? Or the Masked Alliance?”

“Who claims I haven’t? But I am renowned for using distractions to pull foes away from areas I wish to operate. No one believes me.”

“And what is going to be the result of that disbelief among the world’s greatest heroes?

“And now, this interview is concluded. Thank you for your time. I trust this moment will, when broadcast, bring about exactly the sequence of events I plan for.”

Unchained Economy

I’ve been thinking about my idea to run a game with several Pathfinder Unchained rules, including Automatic Bonus Progressions at character level +2, and thus having no assumed Wealth by Level.
The trick with that is, I still want potions, wands, and scrolls, so there has to be SOME money. But I want an economy where even at high level, hundreds of gold is exciting.
Here’s my twin baselines: a masterwork falchion is 375 gp, a masterwork composite mighty +4 longbow is 800 gp, and masterwork full plate is 1,350. I’d like for those to be the sorts of things that are exciting as treasure up to even 8th level. So if I figure those three items average out to 850 (842.6 repeating, rounded up), and getting something worth 1/4 your wealth by level is “exiting,” that means I want 8th level wealth by level to be around 3,400 gp.
That’s pretty close to WLB for a 3rd level character, so I can use a general guideline of level – 5 for the WLB chart, which works for characters of 9th level and up. That just leaves me needing to figure WLB for 1st-7th level characters.
The highest average starting wealth for any character is 175 gp, so I can start there. That means I want to go from 175 gp to 3,000 gp over 7 levels.
If I increase the wealth by 150% at each level (rounding), the breakdown looks like this:
1st: 175 gp
2nd: 262 gp
3rd: 393 gp
4th: 590 gp
5th: 886 gp
6th: 1329 gp
7th: 1993 gp
8th: 2990 gp
That’s not a bad approximation, and I can round it to near comfortable numbers like this:
1st: 175 gp
2nd: 275 gp
3rd: 400 gp
4th: 600 gp
5th: 900 gp
6th: 1350 gp
7th: 2000 gp
8th: 3000 gp
With that as a starting point, I can figure out how much I want to charge for potions, scrolls, and other one-shot magic items so my economy isn’t broken.
Of course that also means that some other things characters might have, like wands of healing and non-bonus miscellaneous items and mithral and adamantine, becomes rarer. So I need to either reprice them (which I am disinclined to do – I like mithral shirts being kingly gifts), or compensate the players with more scaling benefits… maybe a free set of multiclassing feats for a very, very minor kind of gestalt game…

Sorting through Links of Pathfinder Unchained

I know not everyone has Pathfinder Unchained yet (and since it’s 100% optional rules, not everyone will get it anyway), but I have been thinking about how I’d like to use if it next time I start a new campaign. Note that I’d happily play in someone else’s game using different (or no) alternate rules, this is just my first thoughts on the new systems. So, in order:

*Unchained Barbarian: Optional. I don’t have an issue with the Core Bar, but if someone prefers UnBar I’d be okay with that.

*Unchained Monk: Mandatory. At least for the a little bit, I’d like to see how this plays in comparison. Since it’d be mandatory, I’d revise Core Monk archetypes and options a player liked to work as UnMonk options.

*Unchained Rogue: Mandatory, with exactly the same notes as UnMonk.

*Unchained Summoner: Mandatory, with exactly the same notes as UnMonk.

*Fractional Bonuses. Nope, for reasons that’ll be clear a little later.

*Staggered Advancement: Nope – addresses something I haven’t had an issue with, and increases bookkeeping.

*Background Skills: In. I generally run a style of game where people enjoy background skills as it is, and this helps those characters not be penalized.

*Consolidated Skills: Nope. I don’t want to have to remember which crucial skill does what – I’ve pretty well memorized the existing system.

*Grouped Skills” Nope. I see the appeal, but I like the existing skill point system.

*Alternate Crafting and Profession: I’m on the fence. It’s a whole new system, but it does look better. I might see what the player’s think.

*Skill Unlocks: Restricted to UnRogues, who can also take the Signature Skill feat whenever they gain a feat at the same level they are taking a UnRogue level.

*Variant Multiclassing: Used in place of regular multiclassing, and in place or Prestige Classes, and maybe expanded in ways I think I’ll be turning into an RGG product.

*Gameplay: Mostly because I understand am and comfortable with the existing systems, none of these are in use except :

*Stamina and Combat Tricks: This system is in place, but is largely restricted to fighters. Specifically, each time a character gains a feat for which they could have selected a fighter-only feat, they also get to select one combat feat (not necessarily the feat they just took) to use the stamina and combat trick rules. For fighters, this is all their feats but (for example) a warpriest can only apply these rules to one combat feat at 3rd level (when they gain their first bonus feat that allows them to treat their warpriest levels as fighter levels) and again every 3 levels thereafter. This keeps the system fighter-centric, while giving limited access to classes that are supposed to have access to fighter feats.

*Magic: Most of the things in this chapter are not in use. The main exception is Automatic Bonus Progressions, which are calculated at character level +2. Magic items are so rare that there is no expectation that a character will ever find one. There is no assumed wealth by level. Magic Item Creation feats exist, but creating magic items costs 100% of their value and weapons and armor uses the costs from the Automatic Bonus system. Magic item shops do not exist beyond those dealing in 1-shot items and occasionally wands. What few rare magic items exist are likely to be scaling items (using both the system in this book and from Relics of the Godlings and its sequel from Rogue Genius), which can’t be intentionally crafted. I *might* also adopt Dynamic Magic Item Creation. I also might use spell points, from RGG’s Houserule Handbooks: Spellpoints Compilation.

*Monsters: I may use it, I may not. Not only does that not impact the player’s choices, I don’t promise to tell them if I do. 

Doctor Jefferies Lab is Open!

We’re opening a new section of the website, Doctor Jeffries Lab! As with most Rogue Genius’s Labs everything the good doctor has in here is a little… experimental. But in the long run we plan for this to be a repository of free ideas we’re playing around with.