Monthly Archives: March 2016

Rag Marion Player Race

Rag marions are designed for the “No StringsAnachronistic Adventures campaign setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. If not using Anachronistic Adventures, you can create a similar setting by allowing advanced firearms, humans and rag marions only for players and restricting classes to occult classes from Pathfinder Roelpalying Game Occult Adventures, and those classes with no access to innate spellcasting.

Rag marions are defined by their class levels—they do not possess racial Hit Dice.
Rag marions as constructs with the (marion) subtype.

*All rag marions have the following racial traits. –2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma: Rag marions are (literally) boneless and thus have difficulty lifting and applying leverage, but they are flexible and nimble, and generally have strong personalities. As constructs, rag marions do not have a Constitution score.
*Normal Speed: Rag marions have a base speed of 30 feet.
*Small: Rag marions are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty on combat maneuver checks and to combat maneuver defense, a +2 bonus on Fly checks, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.
*Big Hands, Big Feet: Rag marions are constructed to operate in a human world, and thus are built with limbs that allow them to use Medium weapons in addition to small weapons. Because part of their eldritch self-identity focuses on this, the ability does not function if the marion changes size.
*Shiny Button Eyes: Rag marions have low-light vision, unless their eyes are made of glass, in which case they have 60 ft. darkvision. A DC 10 Craft (rag doll) check and the proper supplies can swap a rag marion’s eyes out, but the marion feels the entire process and must make a DC 20 Will save, or have it’s alignment shift one toward chaotic Evil for 1d4 days. If the roll is a natural 1, this shift lasts until the marion gains a level.
*Spark of Life: Spells that heal living creatures can heal a rag marion, as long as a piece of cloth is added as a power spell component. Whenever this happens, the marion must make a Will save. On a failed save, the marion’s alignment shifts by 1 in a random direction for 1 day per point of healing. If the saving throw is a natural 1, the alignment shift is permanent.
Additionally, despite being constructs, rag marions are subject to magic effects that cause ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, energy drain, and nonlethal damage. they not, however, eat, sleep, or breathe.
*Rags: Craft (rag doll) can be used like the Heal skill for rag marions. If the rag marion has suffered an effect normally only restored by a restoration spell, this can be fixed with a DC 30 skill check, but doing so requires a DC 15 Will save to avoid permanent alignment shift (as noted in Spark of Life).
*Stuffed: A rag marion has DR 10/piercing or slashing, and takes half damage from firearms and effects that allow a Reflex save and don’t deal fire damage. A rag marion takes no damage from a fall. Any time a rag marions fails a saving throw against a fire effect, or takes fire damage in excess of its Strength score from a single attack, it catches on fire.
*Floppy: Rag marions do not take constriction damage, and gain a +4 bonus on Escape Artist checks. They suffer a -4 penalty on bull rush, drag, grapple, overrun, and reposition maneuvers. However, a rag marion can leap onto a creature and be surprisingly difficult to dislodge. This is a standard action that is an opposed Dexterity check. The marion can maintain this grip as a move action with a new opposed check each round. The gripped creature is not considered grappled and can move freely, but the marion goes with them. The marion must use 3 limbs to maintain this grip.
*Musty: Rag marions absorb scents easily into their cloth boddies, and their internal rags are hard to clean. Creatures without scent can track marions as if they had scent, and creatures with scent gain a +5 bonus to scent-based Perception checks against a marion. A DC 20 Craft (rag doll) check that requires cleaning supplies and one hour can remove a rag marion’s stink for 2d4 days, but each combat encounter the rag marion is part of reduces this duration by a day.
*Languages: Rag marions speak the common language of their creators (usually English or German), but also have a knack for languages tied to the eldritch magics that brought them to life. A rag marion with a high Intelligence score can choose from the following: any common language, Abyssal, Aklo, Boggard, Dark Folk, Gnome, Goblin, Infernal, Necril, Terran.

Top Ten Signs You Are Dealing With A Mimic

Sometimes they let little things slip…
10. The treasure chest bit the rogue. And swallowed his arm. Then spit it out, and began making rude (though fairly true) comments about the rogue’s ancestry.

9. When the ranger took favored enemy: aberrations, the GM immediately grabbed Dungeon Denizens Revisited and began muttering about “Otherworldly Resilience.”

8. Your henchmen’s morning report notes that you have two fewer hirelings, and one more wagon, than when you camped the night before.

7. The wardrobe sprouts teeth and tentacles. There is no sign of a faun, or a lion.

6. While most of the props the GM uses to set the bar scene are uncolored plastic, a single beer keg is beautifully painted and has its own custom base.

5. You find an extremely clean and comfortable looking bed. In the middle of a hallway in a blood-soaked dungeon. And it’s got military corners.

4. You handgun periodically yells “Starscream, transform!”

3. Though the castle seemed entirely abandoned, with doors long since broken and windows smashed in, THIS room has a stout and massive ironbound door that seems pristine. And every time the archeologist bard is about to go check it for traps, the GM giggles.

2. A sofa is following you.

1. There’s a crude painted sign on the outhouse that reads “Do not suzpekt that I iz a mimic.”

One Ship, Two Ship…

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians for many centuries. To ensure it was well-maintained, they replaced the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places. And so they did replace the oars, and the rope, and the sails, as needed.
In time, every part of the ship had been replaced. This brought about a great philosophic debate, as one side held that as it had always been the Ship of Theseus, and as changing one plank did not make it less so, it remained the Ship of Theseus now even though a single plank has been replaced so often that none were original. Whereas the other side held that since no part of the ship was original, and indeed all the replaced parts could have been gathered and used to build a second, older ship, that clearly what was left was no longer the ship of Theseus.
Then Poseidon Released the Kraken, and killed them all.

Turning Up the Heat

If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will of course frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of tepid water and turn the heat on low, it will float there quite placidly. As the water gradually heats up, the frog will sink into a tranquil stupor, exactly like one of us in a hot bath, and before long, with a contented smile, it will shoot you in the face with a fireball.
Because frogs are all evokers, and they just need a few rounds to get their defensive spells up before they start some shit with a motherfucker trying to boil them.
(With apologies to Daniel Quinn.)

Doyle and Houdini

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a huge supporter of Psychical Research and Spiritualism. He was convinced that in the future, everyone would accept mediums and psychic as part of the world.
He was knighted for his action in the Boer War.
Prior to WWI, Doyle foresaw war and studied German military tactics. When war broke out he tried to enlist, and when refused (he *was* 55) he began organizing civilian brigades.
Harry Houdini had faked being a Medium early in his career. When WWI broke out he tried to enlist and when refused (he *was* 43 years old), he instead entertained troops. Rumors persist he had briefly been a spy. Later in life, he spent time debunking psychics and mediums.
Doyle and Houdini were friends.
So WHY hasn’t anyone written a story or created a game setting about the Ghost Brigade, the Great War Psychic Corps of Britain and England run jointly by the Father of Detectives and the Master Escapist?!

Top Ten Signs Your Narrative RPG GM is Used to Pathfinder*

*Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

10. When you describe your character as a hunter, the GM tells you this game doesn’t have hybrid classes. When you explain you just mean the character is a trapper, he asks where you got a conversion for that archetype. You discover you also can’t call yourself an archer, battle scout, beastmaster, bounty hunter, crossbowman, falconer, skirmisher, or sniper without the GM mistaking it for a game term.

9. When you try to invoke your aspect “Only Cries in the Rain,” the GM tells you an adjacent foe gets an attack of opportunity because you were dramatic while within its threatened area.

8. If you mention your character having strong loyalty, the GM tells you that gives you access to the Pride drawback, UCam, page 65, before realizing this game doesn’t use UCam.

7. When the group decides to buy pizza, the GM insists on using downtime rules, and won’t talk about the cost until you reach the Income Phase.

6. The GM warns you that if your combination of playing a character that is both “dedicated to his religion” AND “easily seduced by pleasures of the flesh” turns out to be overpowered, you’ll have to retrain one of them.

5. When you sketch a picture of your character the GM says you can’t look like that, because it’s not on the list of Approved Additional Resources for Pathfinder Society.

4. When your character wants to gasp out his secret love of his lifelong childhood friend with his last, bloody breath, the GM tells you that’s impossible because after that attack you’re already dead.

3. The GM ends the entire campaign, because there are only 12 monsters in the rulebook, and without another 5 hardback books worth of foes he’s run out of things for you all to kill.

2. Most game sessions are spent with the GM trying to sidestep roleplaying and character interaction to get to the “good stuff” of combat, which is covered by just two pages of rules and generally handled by a single die roll.

1. The GM seems uncomfortable with your character being “an older duelist who yearns for a simpler time when she still had hope and faith in her fellow citizens and could enjoy art in poetry, but now fears her only purpose in life is to kill which makes all beauty painful to her,” but is fine if you say you are a “half-elf monk with tiefling racial traits who took one level of sorcerer because it lets you use a wand of mage armor without a skill check.”


(After all, fair is fair on making jokes about play styles.)

Little known fact*

Gelatinous Cubes came into being when a 1-inch cube of Lime Jello fell on a dungeon map* during an early Gary Gygax rpg session. It totally enveloped the miniature for the mage Bigby. Rather than clear it up, Gygax told Bigby’s player he had been enveloped by a monster, and was dissolving.
This is why the Wizard Spell Compendium books mentioned the spell Bigby’s Transform Gelatinous Cube to Edible Gelatin***
*totally not a fact
**If it has been a wilderness map, Gelatinous Cubes would be 30-feet square. This is true, even though the actual story isn’t.
***Go ahead, go check for that. I the forward, they didn’t actually include the spell.

Top Ten Signs Your Pathfinder RPG GM is Used to a More Rules Light, Narrative Form of RPG*

Top Ten Signs Your Pathfinder RPG GM is Used to a More Rules Light, Narrative Form of RPG*
*Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That

10. When you ask the GM what feat you should take, the reply is “Just write down a really evocative word or phrase that describes your character. Anytime you make a check appropriate to that description, I’ll give you a +2 feat bonus.”

9. The GM’s roommate has a PC with character class “bear.” The character appears to be a bear. Not a magic bear, or an animal companion, or a fey creature sent to help you. Just a typical bear. This pleases both the roommate and the GM.

8. After seven game sessions without a specific number of experience points gained when you ask the GM if you’ve gained a level, the GM says “Do you FEEL like your character’s story means he’s gained a level?”

7. Monster descriptions are colorful, though not always helpful. You know you faced a creature of “jubilant size, gusting fulsome vapor of vast import from its tawdry nostrils.” … but you aren’t sure if you should have added your favored enemy bonus against dragons, or not.

6. The social interacting with NPCs is awesome. Though you aren’t sure how you ended up married while courting a rich widower with five adopted orphans and trying to run a struggling gem-polishing business while carrying out a blood-oath against the Queen of Graves. Whoever the hell that is.

5. Each time you take damage, the GM wants you to explain if the wound was light, or serious, or what, based on a story from your character’s childhood you are to make up on the spot. You do, fearing you need to know which spell can heal you.

4. The GM sometimes calls for a “combat check,” and seems startled to realize that’s more than one die roll.

3. One of the other players has the feat “Mighty Hero,” which as far as you can tell gives him a +2 bonus on everything.

2. When you pick up a new exotic weapon from the GM’s campaign world, the Dakken Mor, it sounds cool. But when you ask what kind of damage it does, the answer is “dramatic!”

1. What do YOU think should be the Number One Sign? How does it work into your backstory?


The GM’s Day Story

I tell this story, as best I can remember it, nearly every GM’s Day.
I met Gary Gygax once, at a Gen Con in the late 1990s. He was running a D&D game in-or-near the TSR Castle. (For those who don’t know, TSR was a company that used to own D&D, and they used to have a big prop castle they set up as their booth at Gen Con. It was impressive as heck.)
I don’t know what edition the game was. It didn’t matter.
A crowd of us were watching a small group get to play with a titan of rpgs. Mr.Gygax was mesmerizing. I’m sure some part of that was me being googly-eyed over actually seeing one of the icons of my favorite hobby, in person. I twas like going to a concert, but the music was tales of vague shapes in the darkness and surprisingly tactile descriptions of damp soil and thing wisps of fog. He was evocative and earnest in a way that made this casual pastime seem extremely important. I don’t remember what anyone else playing looked like, but I remember that the imaginary setting Mr.Gygax  described was night, at a camp in a clearing, with only one fire to provide light.
The details about the reality of that moment are vague, but I remember the fictional setting clearly. If his skills as a GM could have been packaged in every Red Box, video games never would have caught on.
Someone died (killed mysteriously in the darkness, having walked away from the campfire without a light). That player had to get up, and Mr.Gygax pointed at me and boomed “You want to play!?”
Of course I did.
A character sheet was slapped in front of me. My turn came soon enough. THINGS were circling our camp. And I felt possessive of it. It was OUR camp… even though I didn’t even know the names of any other player or their character. This place was ours, and we had to defend it. Fictional jingoism, I suppose.
I was a warrior of some type – I think a ranger, but I didn’t last long enough to get acquainted with my character. As my one action, I grabbed a burning log from our campfire and hurled it out at the multiple sets of red eyes stalking us. “Good!” Mr.Gygax shouted approvingly, and had me roll a d20. I have no idea what I rolled. Mr.Gygax had approved of my action. At that moment, my life was complete.
It wasn’t good enough to hit any of the red-eyed threats, but it was enough to illuminate them. Massive black wolves, snarling and, we realized talking.
“Kill that one!” Mr. Gygax had the biggest wolf growled to the pack.
And they did.
I lasted exactly one round.
Mr. Gygax smiled, told me I was dead, and I should let someone else play,
I got up, smiled back, and said “Thank you.”
I know my favorite hobby was built by many more people over many more moments that just Mr.Gygax or just that day. But he was a big part of it, too. I like to believe he understood I didn’t just mean  “Thank you for this one game, this one time.”
I meant “Thank you for ALL the games, forever.”

Spellbane Armor

Aura faint abjuration; CL 3rd; Weight —; Price +18,000 gp
A suit of armor or a shield with this special ability protects against any magaic hp damage. The armor absorbs the first 5 points of magic hp damage per round (not per attack, as with energy resistance) that the wearer would normally take (similar to the resist energy spell).
Craft Magic Arms and Armor, dispel magic; Cost +9,000 gp

The improved spellbane (for 10 points of magic damage/round) costs 42,000 gp and the greater version (for 15 points of magic damage/round) costs 66,000 gp.