Monthly Archives: July 2018

The Awooginator, for Starfinder

An awooginator is an unusual weapon, popular with pacifists, some law-enforcement groups, anarchists, and some tactical combat teams. It does nothing but create a technologically-generated psychic wave that causes all creatures in the area to hear a loud claxonlike noise, which is most often written as “awoooGA” by those who try to express the sound to people who have never been on the wrong end of an awooginator. Because the waves of psychic energy are carried along an electromagnetic field to affect the nervous systems of creatures, things like armor and cover can protect a target from the awooginator’s effects. To be affected, a target must be in the weapon’s blast, and it must successfully hit the target’s EAC.

The psychically-generated sound is spectacularly sudden, loud, and distracting. Targets are thrown off-target for a number of rounds equal to 1/5th the awooginator’s item level (minimum 1 round), and can be deafened by it (even though the sound is psychic, rather than real), as the target is overcome by the sheer neurological memory of the phantom sound. All awooginator models are of light bulk, and have a capacity of 20 and a usage of 4.

Uncategorized

Small Arms

         
Name Level Cost Range Crit Special
Awooginator, bellow 1 400 30 ft. deafen blast
Awooginator, horn 6 5,000 40 ft. deafen blast
Awwoginator, siren 11 22k 50 ft. deafen blast
Awooginator, claxon 16 146k 60 ft. deafen blast

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Awesome 80s: The Kontos (Legendary Bladed Thrown Weapons, for Starfinder)

Some weird, awesome stuff came out in the 1980s, that impacted my geek trajectory significantly. The Awesome 80s line of blog posts is about sharing some of the things I have been inspired to create by movies, shows, games, and literature of that decade. In this case, it’s the Kontos, a legendary line of throwing weapons that remain relevant even with the prevalence of far-future technology.

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The Kontos

The origins of the Kontos can be traced back to a small world of humanlike beings who possessed a feudal society with primarily analog technology. They had some rudimentary control of magic, but primarily used it for healing and magical metallurgy, with anyone attempting more advanced magic (such as shapeshifting) generally being at best half-trained and often seen as lacking the power to do harm. However, several lines of these people had innate psychic powers. Those lines often rose to positions of nobility and royalty. Inbreeding then caused their powers to weaken, requiring them to be channeled through devices such as the original Kontos, a bladed throwing weapon though could be controlled telekinetically by even the most latent of psychics. This weapon evolved from spears and lances and is still called by the same name, despite clearly not being a polearm.

This minor world likely would have gone almost entirely unnoticed if an invading aberration had not landed a teleporting magitech starship on the surface and, treating it as a nigh-impregnable keep, moved to conquer the world. This caused once-opposing factions to join, combining two royal lines in such a way that they could both maximize the effectiveness of the Kontos, and granting them (and their offspring) powerful pyrokinetic powers. This alliance defeated the alien invades, backwards-engineered its teleporting hybrid starship’s magitech, and within a generation became a powerful starfaring power, bringing duplicates and variants of the original Kontos with them to the stars.

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Rapid Returning Fusion

At its base, the Kontos is a typical thrown weapon with a special weapon fusion. This functions as the returning fusion, but the weapon returns immediately after each attack, allowing it to be used to make multiple attacks in the same turn. It also gains the penetrating special weapon quality. However, a character must meet the prerequisites for the Psychic Power feat to gain these additional benefits—for anyone else it functions purely as a returning thrown weapon.

The rapid returning fusion costs 125% of a normal fusion, and all Kontos have it added automatically (it is included in their base price). As a result, all Kontos are magic items.

The blades on a Kontos retract automatically when they approach their thrower, making it safe to catch and throw again quickly. All Kontos have light bulk.

 

Advanced Melee Weapons, 1-hand
WEAPON LVL Price Damage Crit Special
Kontos, guisarme 1 490 1d4 S Knockdown Thrown (20 ft.)
Kontos, fauchard 4 3,180 2d4 S Knockdown Thrown (30 ft.)
Kontos, volge 8 12,710 4d4 S Staggered Thrown (50 ft.)
Kontos, corseque 10 21,300 3d8 S Staggered Thrown (60 ft.)
Kontos, ranseur 12 49,000 4d8 S Staggered Thrown (70 ft)
Kontos, sovnya 14 95,100 6d8 S Staggered Thrown (80 ft)
Kontos, caber 16 215,000 8d8 S Staggered Thrown (90 ft)
Kontos, glaive 18 445,000 11d8 S Staggered Thrown (100 ft)

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Writing Basics: Final Checks for RPG Manuscripts

This is the third in my series of Writing Basics blog articles, designed for people who want to write game material (especially tabletop RPGs), and are looking to pick up some insights into how to be better at its weird mix of creative writing and technical writing. These are all lessons I didn’t get in any school or class, or at least that I apply in ways no class ever suggested.

In this entry, we’re going to talk about the all the work you should be doing after you are done writing, but before you turn over the manuscript. This stuff can be a drag, especially since the thrill of writing something may be gone once you are done actually writing it, but these last checks are often the difference between a polished manuscript that gets people’s attention, and a barely-useful mess that requires significant work from your developer/editor/producer/publisher to bring up to their standards.

The Cold Read-Through

Done with your writing project? Great!

Now put it down, and leave it alone for at least a few days. A week is better.

Then reread it all from scratch, beginning to end.

Yes, this requires you have some extra time between the completion of your manuscript and the deadline. This is one of the hardest things to actually arrange for in real-world conditions… but it’s also one of the most useful. One of the reasons I often do drafts of ideas here in my blog is that when I get around to wanting to turn them into full products, I’ve been away from them so long I can look at them with almost-fresh eyes.

It’s amazing, at least for me, how often I didn’t quite say what I thought I did. This is the most reliable way for me to find unclear rules, inelegant phrases, and run-on sentences. Besides, you ought to be shooting to be done well before your deadline anyway, just in case you get kidney stones while a hurricane affects your employer so they need to to work weirdly scheduled extra shifts.

It happens.

Common Personal Error Checklist

Do you write affect when you mean effect? Do you often capitalize Class and Race names, when that’s not the style of the game you are writing for? Do you forget to italicize spell names and magic items, when that IS the style of the game you are writing for? Do you write x2 to indicate doubling something, when your publisher uses <<TS>>2?

As you discover things you do on a regular basis that are wrong, make a checklist. When you are convinced your manuscript is done, run through that list of common errors, and check for them. And make it a living document—if you stop writing “could of done better” in place of “could’ve done better,” you can take it off your personal error checklist.

Spellcheck

Hopefully, we’re all running spellcheck as the very last thing before we turn over our manuscripts, right? Okay, good.

But just running the base program isn’t good enough.

Games often have a lot of string-of-letters that aren’t words any program recognizes off-the-shelf.

Deosil. Otyugh. Sith. Bloodrager. Starfinder.

You need to have a strategy for making sure you spelled all those correctly. If you just skip over these words in a spellcheck, “knowing” that the spellchecker doesn’t recognize them, you risk have a manuscript with a Starfidner ritual for Otuyghs to dance desoil around the Blodrager Circle.

There are two good ways I have found to fix this.

If a word is going to be used a lot in your writing, it may be worth entering it in your word processor’s dictionary. That’s generally not difficult, but when you do it make SURE you are entering the correct spelling of the new/imaginary word or name. Otherwise you can turn spellchecker into an error-generating device, and that sucks.

Alternatively, you can actually take the time to check the spelling of every weird word spellcheck flags for you. Is the god named Succoth-benoth, or Seccoth-bunoth, or Succoth Benoth? You can write down the correct spelling, or have it in another tab, and check it carefully each time you run into it.

If you have some common misspellings you find, you can search for those errors and replace them (one by one—NEVER replace all, it can seriously dawizard your credibility) before you make the word-by-word check for the correct spellings.

Grammar Checker

Different grammar checker programs have different levels of value, but most can at least be used to help find common writing problems such as passive voice, agreement errors, and sentence fragments. In my experience you can’t trust any grammar checker program, but it’s worth looking at anything it flags and double-checking your own work.

Formatting

Check you Headers to make sure they still make sense with your final manuscript. If your publisher uses specific text style formatting (as Paizo does, for example), make sure you have the right formatting in the right places. If you aren’t sure about some specific formatting, it’s generally good to ask. Your developer/editor/producer/graphic designer/publisher CAN fix your formatting… but that takes time away from them doing more important work to make your manuscript awesome. Also, it generally does not endear you to them.

File Format

Most publishers have a file format they want to work with. Check with them if they don’t mention it. There can be important differences between .doc, docx, .rtf, and a Google doc. Remember that to get more work and be paid a higher rate (or to have people be happy to work for you, if you are self-published but not self-laid-out), you want to make your developer/editor/producer/graphic designer/publisher’s job as easy and pleasant as possible.

Post-Mortem

Once you really and truly are done and you turn your manuscript over, it’s time to think about how you can learn from it. With luck, your developer/editor/producer/graphic designer/publisher will give you direct feedback. But to be honest, time is money in this industry, and they often won’t have time to help you be better. In those cases, I find it useful to see what the final version of the published material looks like, and examine how it is different from what I wrote. This isn’t always about something being “wrong” when you turned it in, but about what changes the people who are paying you and that you want to give you more work thought made your manuscript better.

Review

This is like the cold read-through or post-mortem, but it takes place months or years later. When you look at your past work, and consider what you might do differently now.

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Gate Gun, for Starfinder

A gate gun creates a gate through hyperspace. The first time a gate gun is fired, it creates an “A” gate, which doesn’t do anything on its own. The second time it is fired, it creates a “B” gate. Each gate takes up one 5-foot square. Anything that enters an A gate is immediately teleported to the B gate, while maintain the same orientation and momentum. This includes light, so the gates can be used to establish line of sight and line of effect for Perception checks, spells, ranged attacks, and so on.

An A gate lasts 1 round per level of the gate gun, or until an associated B gate collapses. A B gate lasts 1 round per level of the gate gun. Thus if you have a 5th level gate gun, when you establish an A gate it lasts 5 rounds on its own. If during this time you create a B gate, the A-B gate pair them lasts 5 rounds from that moment. Then both collapse. If you trigger a gate gun when there are no gates associated with it, or when there is a full A-B gate pair, you create an A gate, and any old gates collapse. If you fire a gate gun when it just has an A gate open, you automatically create a B gate paired to it.

A gate gun has a maximum range of 10 feet per level, both for how far away it can create a gate, and how far apart those gates can be. If you attempt to create a gate too far from the gate gun or too far from its paired gate, all gates collapse. If travel between pair gates draws a line through a force effect or at least 1 inch of star metal, the travel fails (though the gates remain active, and they can’t be used to establish line of effect or line of sight).

Gate guns aren’t illegal in most jurisdictions, but carrying one is often seen as evidence you are a thief, spy, or voyeur.

Small Arms          
WEAPON LVL Cost Range Capacity/
Usage
BULK
Gate gun, Brandenburg 4 3,200 40 ft. 80/20 L
Gate gun, Meridian 7 8,500 70 ft. 80/20 L
Gate gun, Ishtar 11 34,000 110 ft. 100/25 L
Gate gun, Buland Darwaza 15 125,000 150 ft. 100/20 L
Gate gun, Triomphe 19 725,000 190 ft. 100/10 L

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Seven Dead Sin Cults

The Avarice cult steals from the sin cultists’ enemies… but also eventually steals from the other sin cultists, and is destroyed by the Wrath cult.

The Wrath cult strikes at the sin cultists’ enemies, but eventually gets itself killed.

The Lust cult drives the passions of the other cultists, and is drawn especially to Pride cult.

The Envy cult tries to demoralize the enemies of the cult, but ends up destroying itself by attacking the Lust and Pride cults.

The Pride cult can’t help but talk about how great the cult is, revealing themselves and the Lust cult in time and getting rounded up.

The Gluttony cult is then nearly alone and, having fed on the riches of the other cults, is too out of shape to accomplish anything when it tries to consume more.

And the Sloth cult?

The sloth cult does nothing, surviving the destruction of the other cults, and spreads the rumor it is destroyed. Then, it grudgingly restarts those other cults, so it can avoid having to do anything else to keep its foes from finding it.

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LawStar Justicar (for Starfinder)

We’ve explained ThemeTypes—a kind of character option that uses both your theme and an archetype to make a bigger change to your character that either could by itself—and presented a number of specific ThemeTypes designed to be alternate multiclass rules for adding some envoy, mechanic (drone), mechanic (exocortex), mystic, operative, and technomancer class abilities to a character.

But ThemeTypes can do much more than replace multiclass rules. That can open up whole new realms of character concepts, allowing for roles and ideas that are more than just a background or a subset of any one character class, but don’t rise to the level of needing their own character class. These are things like champions of interstellar police forces, space-faring knights-errant, and entities who have had their whole bodies replaced with transforming cyborg frames. Within each of these concepts, a character could still be an envoy, soldier, mystic, and so on. Indeed, entire campaigns can be built around such role-based ThemeTypes, emulating popular comics and cartoon series that focus on one specific group of starfaring heroes, while still exploring the individuality of each character.

As an example of this kind of sweeping, character-defining ThemeType, we present the LawStar Justicar.

LawStar

The LawStar is an organization that promotes order, justice, and safety throughout the known galaxy. A central LawStar Executive exists that works to build systems and train agents to end war and crime, support peace and prosperity, and oppose evil and suffering in all forms. Seven LawWorlds form the core of this organization, each ruled by a branch of the Executive and operating under the LawStar Code, which promotes fairness, freedom, and equal treatment. It is believed that the LawStar Executives themselves answer to a High Executive, a being of pure beneficent order, which may be an angel, demigod, or ancient alien species that have long since become creatures of pure energy.

Typical LawStar agents and even LawStar fleets and ground forces operate mostly in lawless zones, applying the most widely-recognized, democratically selected laws against slavery, piracy, tyranny, and oppression. Any world can request LawStar enforce such laws on that world with a general referendum of the population, with a 2/3 majority being seen as the will of the people, regardless of the will of the government.

But even beyond the agents, judges, and executives, the most elite members of the LawStars are the Justicars.

The Code of the LawStar
It is the right of all Sapients,
To Live free of slavery, tyranny, torture, or oppression.
To Choose their own life path, to Gather and to Freely Express Themselves,
To be treated with Dignity, Fairness, and Compassion,
And to be able to seek Redress for wrongs against them.
This is the Code of the LawStar.
We Live by the Code, We Die by the Code.

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LawStar Justicars

Those individuals who show an extraordinary aptitude for investigation, law enforcement, compassion, and drive, are sometimes selected to become LawStar Justicars. While such candidates are often taken from the ranks of LawStar agents and officers, it is not unknown for a Justicar position to be offered to a sapient creature with no connection to, or even knowledge of, the LawStars.

Justicars are considered the LawStar elite, but they are also outside of the lawStar’s normal chain of command. Each LawStar Justicar is an authority onto itself, and neither takes orders from, nor has any power to give orders to, any other LawStar. If a LawStar Justicar turns from the Code of the LawStar, it is the duty of any Justicar who learns of this breach to make amends for their kin’s wrongdoing, and to insure that such wrongdoing stops. Of course the fact that the LawStar sigil cannot be made to function for those with evil intent generally makes this easier, but there are cases of LawStars who truly wish to do good to be so damaged or mistaken in their beleifs that they must be stopped by other Justicars.

The sign, and power source, of the Justicars are their LawStar Sigils, powerful hybrid items that defy all efforts to determine their origin, function, or power source. Each Justicar is offered a sigil when offered the role of starfarer agents of justice, and once accepted it becomes part of their spiritual essence. It appears as a ring, broach, piercing, or similar item appropriate for the Justicar’s species, but is in fact inherent to each Justicar—it cannot be removed, damaged, or destroyed, it fades when a Justicar dies, and it returns if they are raised from the dead.

Justicars often work with similarly gifted individuals who are outside the LawStar organization to seek out injustice and tyranny and oppose it, though small bands of Justicars also sometimes form to tackle more significant issues.

LawStar Justicar ThemeType

LawStar Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain Culture as a class skills. If you already have Culture as a class skill, you instead gain a +1 bonus to all Culture checks. Additionally, you gain limited telepathy. If you already have (or later gain) limited telepathy, you instead gain a number of bonus languages equal to your character level, which only count as languages for purposes of determining what creatures you can use your limited telepathy with.

LawStar Sigil (Su, Archetype, 2nd Level): You can absorb nonliving equipment into your LawStar Sigil. This takes ten minutes per item, and requires the equipment be unattended. If the equipment has proficiency requirements, passwords, activation phrases, security measures, or prerequisites for use, you must have full access to all of the item’s abilities before it can be absorbed. You can absorb items with an item level no greater than your character level +2, and can have a maximum number of items absorbed equal to your maximum number of Resolve Points. While absorbed in your ring the equipment is nonfunctional and safe form outside influences, though time passes for it normally. Items in your LawStar Sigil do not count towards your maximum bulk. You can have no more bulk worth of items absorbed into your LawStar Sigil that your two highest ability scores.

Your LawStar Sigil gives you the benefit of any one suit of armor (and its upgrades, as well as its drawbacks such as slower speed or Max Dex Bonus to AC) absorbed into it at a time, and you can swap what suit of armor that is as swift or move action. If you have a suit of powered armor in your LawStar Sigil, you can manifest it using the rules below separately from gaining the benefits of a suit of absorbed light armor. You can change what upgrades are in what absorbed armors during a ten-minute rest without a check of any kind, though upgrades must be placed in armors able to accommodate them.

You can manifest any other items absorbed into your LawStar Sigil as hardlight constructs from your sigil, and use them normally. If you use a consumable item, it is no longer absorbed into your LawStar Sigil, and equipment needs batteries, ammunition, fuel, and similar charges normally, and can be reloaded normally. Any item destroyed or disarmed or stolen from you is removed from the items absorbed in your LawStar Sigil.

You can’t use the appendage your LawStar Sigil is on for any other function while you have equipment manifested. However, your LawStar Sigil can support two hands/limbs worth of items without using any other hands from you. If you need to use more equipment than that, you can handle your manifested equipment normally. You cannot manifest more items than you can wield at once.

You can drop a manifested item, causing it to fully form (no longer as a hardlight construct) an no longer count towards items absorbed in your LawStar Sigil.

LawStar Sigil Flight (Su, Archetype, 4th Level): Your LawStar Sigil grants you 30 feet of flight when in a vacuum or zero-G environment.

Improved LawStar Sigil Absorption (Theme, 6th Level): Your LawStar Sigil causes all absorbed items to count as having an item level at least equal to your character level for purposes of determining hardness, Hit Points, and save DCs. This is true even while such items are manifested, but not if they are dropped. Additionally, all damaged equipment absorbed in your LawStar Sigil regains a number of Hit Points equal to your character level whenever you take an 8-hour rest and regain your daily abilities.

Greater LawStar Sigil Flight (Su, Archetype, 4th Level): Your LawStar Sigil grants you 30 feet of flight.

Improved LawStar Sigil Absorption (Su, Archetype, 9th Level): Your LawStar Sigil can now manifest (a LawStar Sigil nd allow you to wield) two additional arms worth of hardlight equipment.

Improved LawStar Sigil Environmental Protection (Su, Theme, 12th Level): Your LawStar Sigil can now grant you environmental protection for a number of weeks equal to your character level. You must forgo any environmental protection from your LawStar Sigil (including from any armor absorbed into it) for 24 hours to recharge this ability.

LawStar Sigil Space Travel (Su, Archetype, 12th Level): Your LawStar Sigil flight speed increases to 60 feet. Additionally, you can fly through space to travel from point-to-point on a planet, go into orbit or land, reach satellite, or travel in-system using the starship Standard Navigation and Astrogation rules. You cannot enter hyperspace using your LawStar Sigil, nor leave hyperspace if already there, though you can fly around within hyperspace normally.

LawStar Telekinesis (Sp, Theme, 18th Level): You can use the sustained force function of the telekinesis spell at will, and use the combat maneuver function 5 times per day. Additionally, you can carry willing, unconscious, or helpless creatures weighing no more than 2,000 lbs and extend your LawStar Sigil’s environmental protections to them, though each creature you carry reduces the number of limbs worth of equipment you can manifest as hardlight by one.

LawStar Starship Construct (Su, Archetype 18th): Your LawStar Sigil can now absorb one starship, with the same restrictions on access and passwords as absorbing equipment. You can access this starship as a hardlight construct, as long as you are in the same system, or gain its abilities when engaging in starship combat. The LawStar Sigil will fill any role you do not, and has a flat bonus equal to your character level for any checks in makes.

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Writing Basics: Introductions for RPGs

This is only the second article I’ve done on “game writing basics” (the first being on Headers for RPGs), and like the first one this is designed to cover a topic that I never got a lot of training on in school. In this case, that topic is “Introduction,” by which I specifically mean the text at the beginning of a product, book, chapter, or section (likely with its own header—these things are often interconnected), that explains what’s actually in that section of text. Ideally, it’s interesting to read, gives the reader some idea of what information is coming and why, and gives some context how that material connects to other books/products/chapters/ or sections of text.

That paragraph right above this one? That’s in introduction.

Like headers, I am moved to write about introductions because there are something I see so many new writers not have any idea how to handle. All to often if I contract someone to write a 5,000 word pdf manuscript that covers a topic, the text I receive leaps right into the details of that topic with no warm-up prose. For example, I have gotten bestiaries that open with the name of the first monster, class write-ups that open with a description of the role of that class, and articles on GM advice that leap into what you should and shouldn’t do at a game without ever mentioning they’re supposed to be collections of GM advice.

An introduction doesn’t have to be very long, but it’s both an important way to set expectations of the reader, and a great way to include some information that applies to a whole section but may not make sense anywhere else. For example, if I had begun this blog post with just “Introductions are the text at the beginning of a new section of writing, and are important for explaining what is coming and why it matters,” anyone reading this article would rightfully wonder both why they care, and why I thought the topic was worth writing about. When used to introduce a new section within a larger text, an intro also lets the reader know the old topic has ended, and that they are moving on to something else. If you have a chapter on weapons, and it begins with melee weapons, a simple 1-2 sentence introducing the section on ranged weapons helps the reader know they have finished the melee section, and are moving on to different kinds of weapons. It delineates the beginning.

That said, while introductions are read at the beginning of a section of text, it’s often useful to write them last. In part, this is because an introduction serves to let the reader know what topics and ideas are going to be covered, and until you’re done writing a thing there’s always a chance that its focus and exact contents are going to shift. At the very least, it’s a good idea to re-read your introduction after you’re done with everything else, to make such it still matches in tone and details.

One great way to get a feel for introductions is to pick up books you don’t remember having introductions, and then finding and reading them. Often you don’t remember an introduction not because it’s missing or bad, but because you only needed it when you first picked up a book, and haven’t looked at it since. This is especially true for books that you frequently reference, but rarely read cover-to-cover, which is true of most readers of most RPGs. Much like a good editor, a good introduction is often at its best when it goes nearly unnoticed.

There are also things an introduction isn’t. It’s not the table of contents, index, apologia, masthead, dedication, short fiction lead-in, or credits page. If it’s appropriate you may cover some of the same territory as an apologia or dedication, but only when those serve as the kind of context a writer really needs to appreciate the words that follow. It also serves a slightly different function than a foreword, and a book can have both a foreword or an introduction, or just one, or have a single piece of text serve as both (and possibly not be labeled as either).

Ideally, an introduction feels short compared to the section of text it introduces. For most game books, one or two pages is normally plenty for your introduction, though if you are introducing a 4-500-page book, even three or four pages is a perfectly reasonable introduction. For shorter things, such as a single article, chapter, or lengthy blog post, a paragraph is likely to be enough (though if you combine this with art and/or an art element this may still take up a full page or even two—for the most part, that’s a publisher/graphic designer decision, but it’s a good idea to study the introductions of your publisher’s products to get some idea of how much text they need). For a short blog post of something that’s just a new header in a larger section, a single sentence is often enough introduction.

In many ways, the simplest way to decide what goes into your introduction is to ask yourself what someone who was asked to read the following text might ask about it, and try to answer those in broad terms. For example, if you asked someone to read a new RPG, they’d be likely to ask what it’s about, and why you think they would benefit from reading it—that information makes for a great RPG intro, as long as you keep it appropriate short. For things that introduce sections within a larger work, the intro just has to cover questions that would be asked by someone who already knew what book they were reading.

For example if you have a book about new equipment in a game, its introduction can assume people know what game it is for. Then if there’s a chapter on armor, that introduction only needs to discuss things specific to armor, since the reader already knows they are reading an equipment book. If there’s then a section on light armor within the chapter on armor in general, a short intro (maybe as little as a sentence) tells the reader that instead of information on all armor, you are now talking about just one subset of that topic.

While writing introductions can be awkward the first few times you do it, with practice it becomes second nature. In addition to helping your writing seem smooth by preparing the reader with a guide and context for each thing they write, it can also help you as a writing by giving you a tool to help define what you are trying to create, which may focus your thoughts during the writing process, as you subconsciously begin constructing an introduction in your head. It can also help you think about how to draw a section of writing to a smooth and satisfying close, so no one ends up feeling left hanging when they come to the end.

But that’s a topic for another day. 😀

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BEHOLD THE MIGHTY CAPIEKIE!

So, we took a capiekie to the 4th of July gathering we went to.

That’s a cake, stuffed with a pie, stuffed with cookies.

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It seems complicated, but making one isn’t that difficult.

The first step is always to pick complementary flavors. In this case, it’s a rum-glazed yellow cake, stuffed with a cherry pie, that is itself stuffed with chocolate cookies. Cream pies don’t work well for this. Sometimes, to see if it’s a good three-way match, I ask myself if there’s one flavor of ice cream or sauce that would go with all three dessert elements.

So, construction is in steps.

First, bake your cookies. It’s okay if they are only lightly done. Then bake the pie crust by itself, without filling, in a pie pan. Then make the cake batter, and pour about 1/3 of it into a springform pan. Then lift the crust out of its pie pan, and settle it into the batter. Then a layer of pie filling goes into the pie crust, then a layer of the cookies (just one layer—you can set the rest aside for a second capiekie if you want), then the rest of the pie filling. Then the top crust of the pie (just set it on, no need to crimp it or anything), and then the rest of the cake batter, which should cover the pie crust.

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Then, cook as directed for a square cake, though realistically you’ll need to check doneness with a toothpick at the edge (since the center is gooey pie when the cake is solid).

In this case we went with a rum glaze, but you could frost it. Just… only frost the top. A capiekie’s sides don’t have a lot of structural support.

Then cool in the fridge overnight, and remove from springform pan after a good 12 hours of cooling.

Make sure you are taking this thing to a party. It’s not a leave-it-on-the-house-to-snack-on kind of dessert.

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Awesome Starfinder Teamwork Rules

Teamwork is a common element of adventure fiction, but it can be difficult for a game to grant bonuses to characters that are better at working together than their players are at making support-based tactical decisions. Previous d20 games have attempted to overcome this difficulty with Teamwork Feats but (with the exception of a few specific implementations as class features), those feats require everyone who is to benefit from them all take the feat, making them so uncommon and reviled I didn’t even want to mention them in this article’s title.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

These proposed Starfinder Roleplaying Game Teamwork Feats assume only one character is going to take them, and that the character then coordinated tactics in advance with a set of team members. The team members can change as the party’s needs evolve, and in this way a character can become an expert tactician and coordinator, even if the character’s player isn’t particularly good at game tactics.

Team Members: Team members benefit from all your teamwork feats. You designate your team members among the people you can take to and discuss tactics with, in a process that takes 10 minutes. You can have a maximum number of team members equal to your maximum Resolve Points, or your Charisma modifier, whichever is higher. You increase this maximum by 1 for each envoy improvisation class feature you have. If you have telepathy or limited telepathy, you may have 1 additional team member. If you have the mindlink class feature, all creatures in a mindlink with you automatically count as team members.

Each time you get 8 hours of sleep, or take a 10-minute rest and spend Resolve to regain hit points, you can change your team members. If a team member is unable to communicate with your for 24 hours, they stop being a team member.

Starfinder Teamwork Feats

Back-to-Back (Teamwork)
Benefit: Whenever two or more members of the team are adjacent to each other, foes gain no benefit from flanking them.

Bolster (Teamwork)
Benefit: Whenever a team member restores Stamina Points or Hit Points to another team member, the number of points restored is increased by half your character level (minimum +1).

Bounding Overwatch (Teamwork)
Benefit: Team members gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Perception checks, and to AC against attacks of opportunity, when within 15 feet of another team member.

Close Support (Teamwork)
Benefit: A team member can exclude any one other team member from any area attack or instantaneous area effect.

Coordinated Fire (Teamwork)
Benefit: Team members gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls made for cover fire or harrying fire, and the benefit of such actions increases by 1 with regard to other team members.

Duck and Cover (Teamwork)
Benefit: When a team member makes a Reflex save while within 15 feet of another team member, he gains a +2 bonus to his Reflex save. If an initiating team member makes a Reflex save and an adjacent team member fails a save against the same effect, the initiating team member may choose to fail their saving throw as a reaction, and cause the adjacent team member to succeed at their own save.

Elite Ship Crew (Teamwork)
Benefit: When a member of a team makes a skill check or attack roll in a starship combat role, they may use the total bonus -2 of any other team member’s attack roll or skill check rather than their own bonus. No team member may grant their bonus (-2) to more than one other team member each round.

Got Your Back (Teamwork)
Benefit: An initiating team member can take a standard action to grant an adjacent  team member the ability to take 10 on a skill or ability check, even when circumstances would normally prevent it, until the beginning of the initiating team member’s next turn.

Load Out (Teamwork)
Benefit: A team member can carry any one other team member of the same size or less, with just a 5 foot reduction to the carrying team member’s speed, regardless of bulk. This takes 1 hand.

Set up (Teamwork)
Benefit: As a move action, an initiating team member can give other team members a +2 circumstance bonus to combat maneuver attack rolls against a target adjacent to the initiating team member until the beginning of the initiating team member’s next turn. Alternatively, as a standard action, the initiating team member can grant a +4 circumstance bonus.

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