Monthly Archives: March 2017

Campaign Ideas Hanging Around

The proposed (and definitely never happening) Analemma Tower would make an awesome set up for any number of campaigns using Anachronistic Adventures or Starfinder. Here are some campaign ideas for a mobile city-sized building hanging down from an asteroid.

All Along the Watchtower: The U.N of 2075 can’t operate out of any one nation or building anymore. Diplomacy, military intervention, and trade all work better from mobile city-towers hanging from asteroids.

Ark V: After the Quantum Genegineering Wars, the ground level of the world became uninhabitable. At the small scale, mutant Morlocks and hunter-killer drones are contant random threats. At the large scale, the doomsday weapon biotank Kaiju are drawn to any major stationary power source.
There are still survivors scrabbling to survive in a ruined world, and super-science and relics to be dug out of cities overrun by horrors. but the only way to get to them is to wait for a period of low threat, then jump down from the roaming bastion of science and civilization that is Ark V, our last, best hope for survival.

High Ground: The evil supergenius Tex Tanner could have engaged in countless battles to overthrow nations, establish shadow governments, and defeat heroes like Anthem Lass and the Gargoyle. Instead he created one overwhelming show of his scientific brilliance and endless resources, the mobile space-anchored archaeology known as High Ground. From there he runs TannerCorp, literally above the laws of other nations.
Is he done now that he’s made his point, or is High Ground just step one/ As as an archaeology under his exclusive control, why is he hiring street-level heroes to police his private fiefdom?

The Sword of D.A.M.O.C.L.E.S: Aliens have conquered Earth for Earth’s own good. Mostly humanity is left to its own devices, but certain activities and experiments are forbidden. The Department of Alien-Mandated Oversight, Committee of Law Enforcement Systems are mostly humans, though a few alien races also work within it, and makes sure forbidden actions are not attempted. DAMOCLES operates out of the Sword, a hanging alien watchtower that orbits the Earth in a variable pattern to allow maximum command support of hot spots.

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Microfeat: Big Attitude

Big Attitude

You may be small, but people shouldn’t underestimate you.

Prerequisite: Size small.

Benefits: You can use high-energy actions coupled with strong presence to overcome the drawbacks of your slight size. For a number of rounds per day equal to your HD + your Charisma bonus, you negate penalties you take as a result of being Small. This means you do not take penalties to using Medium weapons, do not take the normal size penalties to CMB and CMD, and so on. Additionally if you normally have a 20 foot base move it increases to a 30 foot base move while using this feat. Activating this feat is a free action you can do once per round, and you can end it as a free action at the beginning of any turn.

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Spelltweet: Small Adjustment

Small Adjustment (bard 1, bloodrager 1, cleric 1, inquisitor 1, magus 1, occultist 1, paladin 1, psychic 1, ranger 1, shaman 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1)
As masterwork transformation, except there is no material component and you convert a Medium item into a Small version that is otherwise identical.

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Microfeat: Needle to Death

Needle to Death

You can make the most of your weapon;s smaller size, finding chinks in your foe’s armor and slipping it nimbly into weak spots.

Prerequisites: Size Small.

Benefits: While Small, and using a light weapon, one-handed weapons, or ranged weapon, and the weapon is sized appropriately for you, you roll damage dice for that weapon as if it was Medium. You can only use this ability with attacks that apply your Dexterity modifier to your attack bonus (normally all ranged attacks, though it also applies to any melee attacks you use your Dexterity modifier for, most often as a result of having Weapon Finesse).

#Microfeats are quick sketches of rules I am considering for possible use in a 3pp Pathfinder-compatible product, which may be altered, adjusted, or never make it into a final product.

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Gotta Catch this *One*

Lj and I ran errands today, and ended with lunch at Godfather’s Pizza in Federal Way. They are apparently a major Weekend Birthday Party stop, and it was fun to see so many very different families having fun together.

About halfway through our meal a new family came in with birthday decorations including a very large Pikachu balloon. Just as they came in, the string on that one balloon broke, and it escaped upwards to an elevated corner of the ceiling.

A few minutes later, the mom borrowed a broom and was trying to bat the balloon down to get it within reach. After she had tried for a bit, i could see she simply lacked the height and arm length to pull it off.

I went over and asked if she would like help from someone taller. I have been told I can be imposing, so I stayed out of her personal space and kept my arms to my sides as I asked. She enthusiastically agreed she’d love help, and passed me the broom.

I almost got the balloon twice, but couldn’t quite keep the balance long enough. I asked the very helpful Godfathers employee who was assisting if they happened to have a *second* broom. Lj asked if I planed to use them like forceps, and I confirmed that was the case. We got a second broom, I managed to use the two as enormous tongs, and recovered the balloon into the mother’s hands. She thanked us profusely.

This is a VERY different kind of work that I have been doing lately, and it felt really good to help out with a random child’s birthday decorations.

Also, I caught a pikachu.

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Make Iceball Interesting

Rules and supplements that present alternate spells for GMs and players normally don’t take any space for iceball, the cold-damage dealing version of fireball. That’s because it’s extremely obvious, and doesn’t really add much to a game. For a variant spell to be worth any space, you need to change how it works more than just swapping out the damage type.

But it IS often useful to be able to alter existing spells when trying to build thematic characters. Having iceblade instead of flameblade makes for a great iconic spell for a Druid of Winter. Giving a Siege Sorcerer forcebolt makes for great cinematics when he uses it against the city gate.

So for GMs looking to have quick and easy rules to alter every acid, cold, electricity, fire, force, and sonic spell out there, here is a simple system for making iceball interesting.

Swap dice down by one die size. So the d6s of fireball become d4s, and so on. For the most part, it is assumed the iconic damage types of classic spells are most common because they are most efficient, so people pick fireball over acidball because it does more damage. But you then also add a new effect based on the damage type you switch the spell to deal.

Acid: On failed saves damaged targets get fumes in their eyes and suffer painful corrosion, taking a penalty to all Perception checks, concentration checks, and ranged attack rolls equal to the spell’s level for 1 round.

Cold: On failed saves damaged targets have their movement rates halved for a number of rounds equal to the spell’s level.

Electricity: On failed saves damaged targets jerk and move unevenly, taking a penalty to all Acrobatics, Climb, and Swim checks and melee attack rolls equal to the spell’s level for 1 round.

Fire: On failed saves damaged targets catches on fire and burns for hp equal to the spell’s level each round until extinguished.

Force: On failed saves damaged targets are impacted by a bull rush combat maneuver with a CMB equal to quadruple the spell’s level.

Sonic: On failed saves damaged targets are deafened for a number of rounds equal to the spell’s level.

Of course you can also use this for metamagic feats, magic item special powers, new domains, bloodlines, mysteries and so on, wild magic zones, and so on. Perhaps the Arena of Flames is altered to ALL spells become fire spells, orroc rage-shamans mostly use scream-magic and deal sonic damage, or the cloak of the winter queen makes three spells of the wearer’s choice per day cold spells.

You can apply these effects to things other than spells, of course. Maybe the fire drake is exactly the CR you need, but the encounter takes place in the Storm Tombs? Just swap fire breath for electricity breath and apply the effects above. In such cases, instead of basing effects on spell level, base it on half the level or CR of the source.

Have fun with it. 🙂

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Cinematics: Transforming Boss Villains

Boss villains in adventure fiction sometimes have multiple forms in their final fight. Perhaps the apparently frail mastermind of the heroes ills becomes a towering mass of rage and muscle after being stabbed a few times. Maybe the disgusting mass of dead flesh is more cocoon than fat ghoul and attacking it just helps birth the true undead within. Maybe the psycho killer is a werewolf, who is about to become a werewinterwolf. Or maybe the villain just hasn’t let you see his Final Form yet.

The point is, sometimes you want a way for a villain to change their game stats after taking a certain amount of damage, so the fight keeps going but the paradigm changes, giving the PCs a more complex experience.

The simple way to do this is to pick a series of pre-existing creatures and reskin them as the various stages of your main villain. In most cases I recommend keeping them of the same type and subtype, though you can just change all the monsters you select to act as the same type and subtype. There can be exceptions to this for story reasons—perhaps the Fourfold Guardian specifically goes from air to earth to fire to water—but for the most part it makes the most sense if a monstrous humanoid remains a monstrous humanoid, even if you use the stat blocks for a hobgoblin, ape, and winter wolf to represent three evolving forms.

I recommend keeping all the forms picked with the easy-to-challenging CR spread of the PCs, and honestly within 2 CR of one another.

Once you have picked your forms and made any needed adjustments, just have the PCs face them in turn. When one “form” is knocked unconscious, killed, or destroyed, the boss villain moves to a new form. You can have it appear to fall dead and then stand again on its next turn, which is good for villains with just two forms, especially if the first is a typical mortal and the second is undead or outsider. Or you can not tell the PCs they’ve “killed” the first form, and just have the villain assume the second form as a free action at the beginning of its next turn. Or, you can have the villain enter a “transformation sequence” when it is killed, and take a full round action to assume the new form on its next turn, being immune to all effects and attacks until that time since it’s in metamorphosis. Which makes the most sense depends on your monster’s background and reason for being multi-formed.

Once it is in the new form it is no longer affected by any old conditions, effects, or penalties, and the fight continues.

When determining treasure for the encounter, add the treasure values of all the things the PCs killed and use that for your loot pool. When determining the XP reward, add the XP gained from the highest CR form you used, plus 50% of the XP of each form after the highest CR, to get the total XP gained by the encounter. Don’t just add all the XP together like you would if the PCs had to face all these monsters at once, because the monsters can’t team up, all act at the same time, flank, spread out, and so on. Treat the encounter as having a CR equal to a CR closest to this XP total.

For example, Scraggle is an unpleasant fey creature that lives at the edge of town and terrorizes local children. When attacked, Scraggle fights using the stat block of a derro, When killed, Scraggle lies dead until its next round… and then stand again having become Scragifulous as a result of his weird fey magic. Scragifulous uses the stat block for a drow noble, it’s “Intermediate Form.” When THAT form is killed, you describe the screams of rage and constantly growing bulk, and make it clear not new attacks seem to have any effect until the fey’s next turn, when it becomes Scragulon, filled with rage and Strength and now using the stat block of an ogre. The scraggle encounter is 800 XP for the ogre, +400 XP for half the drow noble, +400 XP for the derro, or 1600 XP, or CR 5.

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Stupid but Useful: Really Limited Wish

It almost writes itself

Really Limited Wish
School universal; Level sorcerer/wizard 5
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (diamond worth 100 gp)
Range see text
Target, Effect, Area see text
Duration see text
Saving Throw none, see text; Spell Resistance yes

A really limited wish lets you create nearly any type of really limited effect. For example, a really limited wish can do any of the following things.

Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 4th level or lower, provided the spell does not belong to one of your opposition schools.
Duplicate any non-sorcerer/wizard spell of 3rd level or lower, provided the spell does not belong to one of your opposition schools.
Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 3rd level or lower, even if it belongs to one of your opposition schools.
Duplicate any non-sorcerer/wizard spell of 2nd level or lower, even if it belongs to one of your opposition schools.
Undo the harmful effects of many spells, such as bestow curse.
Produce any other effect whose power level is in line with the above effects, such as a single creature gaining a +10 on its next attack roll or taking a -5 penalty on its next saving throw.
A duplicated spell allows saving throws and spell resistance as normal, but the save DC is for a 5th-level spell. When a really limited wish spell duplicates a spell with a material component that costs more than 50 gp, you must provide that component (in addition to the 100 gp diamond component for this spell).

And while we’re at it, might as well finish the regression

Pseduo-Wish
School universal; Level sorcerer/wizard 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (diamond worth 10 gp)
Range see text
Target, Effect, Area see text
Duration see text
Saving Throw none, see text; Spell Resistance yes

A pseudo-wish lets you create nearly any type of really limited effect. For example, a pseudo-wish can do any of the following things.

Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 2nd level or lower, provided the spell does not belong to one of your opposition schools.
Duplicate any non-sorcerer/wizard spell of 1st level or lower, provided the spell does not belong to one of your opposition schools.
Duplicate any sorcerer/wizard spell of 1st level or lower, even if it belongs to one of your opposition schools.
Duplicate any 0-level non-sorcerer/wizard, even if it belongs to one of your opposition schools.
Produce any other effect whose power level is in line with the above effects, such as a single creature gaining a +5 on its next attack roll or taking a -3 penalty on its next saving throw.
A duplicated spell allows saving throws and spell resistance as normal, but the save DC is for a 3rd-level spell. When a pseudo-wish spell duplicates a spell with a material component that costs more than 5 gp, you must provide that component (in addition to the 10 gp diamond component for this spell).

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Genre: DieselDada

I’ve never been particularly happy with the term “DieselPunk,” because it often seems to be missing any “punk.” You perfectly well CAN add the punk philosophy to a superscience 1920s-1950s setting, but most people who make a run at it don’t seem to. Mostly, they are just doing flavors of pulp.

Now, I like pulp. A lot. I have mostly squared that circle by calling my own setting Diesel Pulp, which I feel helps convey more of what I am going for. But I have always wondered what a real effort to inject punk into a diesel-driven superscience setting would look like. And, personally, I think it would be more interesting to look to the movements of the era, and inject a big dose of Dada into a diesel-drvien superscience setting.

DiselDada

Imagine a world where calculating machines, broadcast power, personal flight, giant robots, teleportation, selective breeding, talking animals, and all sorts of other marvels and terrors of science and knowledge exist… because of a war. where the world has all the tools to build paradise, but they were just used to slaughter millions as retaliation for a single assassination. Where some individuals have spent years as super-powered solo operatives, given permission to do anything for victory, and are no being told to take 9-to-5 jobs to make toasters.
In response to that insane circumstance, many of them rebel not just against the establishment, but against the very ideas of logic, money, society as a whole, and even rationality. Some wish to help in their own way, others use their vast sea of options to create nonsense acts even if that hurts others.
That diesel-driven super-science post-war setting of individuals rejecting modern society’s ideals and rules because following them lead to the Great War, which they see as the Great Horror, is DieselDada.

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Cinematics: Iron Dragon Archetype

Iron Dragon

Inspired by nothing in particular, here is the Iron Dragon, an archetype for the brawler.

Bend Like A Reed in the Wind (Ex): At 1st level, gain the monk’s AC bonus, as a monk with a class level equal to your brawler level.
This replaces proficiency with light armor and shields and the brawler’s AC bonus.

Iron Dragon Heart (Su): You gain a ki pool with 1 ki. By spending 1 point from his ki pool,  you can increase your speed by 20 feet for 1 round, or give yourself a +4 dodge bonus to AC for 1 round.

Each of these powers is activated as a swift action.

The ki pool is replenished each morning after 8 hours of rest or meditation; these hours do not need to be consecutive.

This replaces martial flexibility.

Iron Dragon Fist (Ex): At 2nd level, and every 3 levels thereafter, you gain a bonus feat. You must meet its prerequisites, and must select a ki feat or a style feat. Alternatively, you may select a feat which can be used a limited number of times per day and can be used more often by monks, such as Elemental Fist, Perfect Strike, Punishing Kick, or Stunning Fist, or a feat with such a feat as a prerequisite. If selecting a feat that can be used more often by a monk, you can ignore any BAB or level prerequisites.

This replaces brawlers bonus combat feats.

Iron Dragon Sense (SU): At 3rd level you gain brawler maneuver training, but it applies only to your CMD, not your CMB.

This modifies brawler maneuver training.

Iron Dragon Soul (Su): at 4th level your ki pool from iron dragon heart becomes a full ki pool, as the monk class feature, of a monk with a level equal to your brawler level.

This replaces knockout.

At 5th and higher level, you may select a ki power as a monk with the qinggong monk archetype of a level equal to your brawler level. Each power replaces a bonus feat, awesome blow, close weapon mastery, or improved awesome blow. You also gain one such power at 6th, 10th, 12th, and 20th level (because you already gave up martial flexibility).

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