Monthly Archives: December 2018

Starfinder Writing Basics: Terms

Quick Starfinder developer note.

In Starfinder? The names of classes, archetypes, bonus types, magic items, class features, hybrid items, technological items, equipment, the word level, and spells ARE NOT CAPITALIZED the way feats, skills, and HP/RP/SP are.

It’s not “The Gramarthurge is an Archetype exclusive to Technomancers that gains Word Abuse at 2nd Level, which boosts the utility of Spell Cache.”

It’s “The gramarthurge is an archetype exclusive to technomancers that gains word abuse at 2nd level, which boosts the utility of spell cache.”

But it’s still “The gramarthurge gains Toughness as a bonus feat, and a +2 insight bonus to Diplomacy when speaking or writing.”

As for why?

Well for every game, that’s a house style call, generally lead up by the editors and publisher, and possibly creative directors and designers.

It’s a process that involves a lot of smart people with a lot of opinions, and I am far from the most important (or most informed) member of that group, but as general guidelines:

If a detect magic spell will cause it to ping, it get italicized. So spells, magic items, hybrid items. This makes it easy for a GM to know what is magic without always looking it up.

If the term has been capitalized in every version of the d20 rules in our ancestry for 19 years (skills, feats), it gets capitalized. The original logic (IIRC) was that if we didn’t capitalize skill and feat names, they would get lost as game terms, and they were each their own highest-level header independent of any other game element. For example, you don’t capitalize class features because they are elements of a larger sub-category, the class. But each feat is all of that feat, and same with skills.

If the abbreviation of a multi-word game term is capitalized so it won’t be lost, and uses the first letters of the game term, the full term is capitalized. So HP leads to both Hit Poitns and Hull Points, but XP does not lead to experience points being capitalized. This isn’t true for all d20 games.

Otherwise normal rules of grammar apply, so elebrian isn’t capitalized for the same reason human isn’t, but Deoxian (as in a resident of the undead world of Deox) would be for the same reason American is.

And you can always check a game’s glossary and/or index, and always ask your editor/developer if they have a style guide.

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Adventure Sketch: Lord of the Rapids (for Pathfinder)

Adventure Sketches are just the most basic set up, plot, twist, and development for as many or as few sessions as a GM wants to turn them into. They’re enough guidance to make plotting out a game easy, but not so much it’s hard to fit into any existing campaign.

Intended for Pathfinder, this adventure sketch can be modified to work with nearly any RPG with lawless lands, frontier zones, and numerous races.

The rapids are the most dangerous part of the great river, but are also on a branch of the river easily bypassed by those wishing to use it for travel. The land around the rapids is rockier and heavily overgrown, bad for farming and hard to travel through. It was considered to be most concerning as a potential place for bandit hideouts, but no such group was ever known to use it. As recently as a generation ago the rapids were considered too far from anything of value for any thinking group to bother with them.

But in recent years, numerous aquatic animals and magical beasts have attacked all up and down the rest of the great river, and most ponds and lakes near it. At first such attacks were only on isolated groups, mostly itinerant traders, and local settlements ignored it. But in recent months the attacks have been bolder. Major trade shipments have been attacked, and a few small thorps have been abandoned, with signs of attacks in the disused buildings.

Major merchant princes in faraway lands wish the disruptions of trade to end, and assume some brigand ranger or  petty druid is finally using the lands of the rapids to set up an outlaw camp. The merchant princes wish to end the problem quickly and cheaply, and thus have placed a bounty on the leader of these presumed “rapids rogues.” The PCs are drawn into this situation, perhaps to pay off a debt, perhaps as guards for a river trader and his shipment, perhaps as a favor for a struggling vendor, or perhaps just for the bounty.

But in truth, it’s a brine dragon (a juvenile brine dragon perhaps, CR 8, and a good capstone fight for 5th or 6th level PCs) and its lizardmen conscripts that have been causing problems. The brine dragon, Breakwave, has also conquered the local nixie clan who once lived in idyllic peace in the rapids and surrounding lands. Breakwave wishes to build an empire, and forces the nixies to use their talents to train and command aquatic threats (giant caimans, anacondas, arapaima, monstrous electric eels, and dire river otters), and uses threats and bribes to turn any other nearby creatures into soldiers.

The PCs must fight their way through the rapids, learn the true nature of the threat, rescue citizens of the abandoned settlements (many of whom have been pressed into service by Breakwave), bypass monstrous and aquatic guards, and finally defeat Breakwave himself.

And then the real adventure begins.

Breakwave has angered numerous other nearby threats–attacking some, extorting others–and his death causes those threats to rush into the lands around the rapids to claim his presumed hoard. Further, without his *undesired) patronage, and with the rapids now seen as a crucial tactical location, the nixies and their care for that section of the great river are doomed–unless they can convince the PCs to protect them (perhaps in return for the nixies’ loyalty).

And the merchant princes suddenly think the PCs may be making too great a profit. And the lizardmen came from a not-too-distant tribe, who expected regular payments in return for the lizardman mercenary service, and will demand recompense for the loss of the income Breakwater provided.

The PCs can flee the situation, or try to use diplomacy to re-establish equilibrium, or claim the area as their own base of operation, of even pick up where Breakwave left off…

If you found this useful or entertaining, and you’d like to support the creation of more such content, check out my Patreon!

This Adventure Sketch exists in direct response to backer suggestions for more Pathfinder content, and more adventure ideas. I can only take the time to write up things like this, thanks to my Patrons support! If you’d like to support this kind of material, and suggest other content I might add more of, why not join my Patreon for as little as $3 a month?

Writing Basics: RPG Pitches (Part One)

One of the things I have given as advice to people who want to break into rpg writing or increase the amount of rpg writing work they receive, is to make pitches to smaller companies. The logic here is that while Paizo and Fantasy Flight and Wizards of the Coast pretty well all know exactly what books they are doing for the next 12-18 months, and likely already have some sense of their schedule over the next 5 years or so, smaller RPG companies are more likely to be flexible and interested in projects freelancers are excited to write. You probably can’t get WotC to publish your idea for an adventure or a book on halfling baking magic, but Rogue Genius Games, Rite Publishing, and other small-to-mid-range companies are more likely to be interested.

If you do it right. And I never really talk about what that looks like. So, here’s a new Writing Basics to cover making rpg-related pitches. A lot of this is going to carry over to other publishing mediums and freelance work… and a lot won’t. As usual this is where I have the most experience, so this is where I am focusing my advice.

Way Before You Pitch

But before you do more than jot down some ideas you want to pitch, you have some pre-work to do. A lot of this is boring, and requires you to put in a lot of effort and thought before you get to any of the fun stuff of making things up for a game. That’s one of the big secrets of freelance work. It’s three jobs—successfully get the assignment, do the assignment, and then get paid for the assignment. The willingness to do this “boring part” is a huge part of how to get good without depending on getting lucky.

So, you want to pitch some companies, So, first, you need to pick some targets. Study your targets. I don’t want to make this sound creepier than it has to, but that really is the best way to say this.

You need to know who to pitch to, and you need to know what to pitch to them. One good way to find companies who are doing current work in the game system you want to write for is to go to DriveThruRPG, search for the game system, and click its home page. On the left is a list of game companies that have had good recent sales on products for that game line. Those are prime targets, because they are making money on that game and are doing do recently.

That’s not the only method of course—see who is active, who freelancers are talking about, who releases lots of products. Ask around.

Once you know who you want to pitch, you want to make it as easy as possible for the people you pitch to say yes, and that requires knowing somethings about them. Check their web sites. Look to see if they have submission guidelines. Look to see if they have a “Contact Us” link somewhere. Look to see if the owners or employees or recurring freelancers have social media you can follow and, if they do, read everything you can.

Take notes.

You can’t be a writer if you aren’t a reader. You want to know as much as you can about every company you are going to send pitches to. If they are looking for something specific, if they work in particular game lines, you want to know. Do they use a lot of authors for each product? What size product do they publish? What kinds of products do they publish? Adventures? Monster books? New rules content? Campaign settings? Entire game expansions? Whole games?

Before you ever approach a game company asking if they want to give you work, you want to have a solid idea what kinds of things they publish. That’s a big part of “making it easy to say yes.” Sure, if you have a brilliant idea that’s radically different from what a company normally does they may opt to take a risk on you… but that’s a bigger ask than suggesting you be the person to fill a slot they are already likely to want somebody to fill.

Also, BUY some of the company’s products. Yes, this means spending money before you make money. But not every game company has a style guide, and even the ones who do don’t include all the things they do out of institutional momentum. How a company arranges headers, whether it uses first-person, second-person, or third-person language, how it handles pronouns, how much art it uses, how many maps it presents, how serious or jokey their products are—those things can vary wildly (and can vary by line, or even by product). Knowing at least some of how a company actually presents game material is a huge help both when deciding what to pitch them, and in producing a manuscript they like enough to want to work with you again.

If you can, categorize the types of products produced by numerous game companies and their various lines. This can be helpful when you are first pitching, but it can also be helpful later on. For example, if you know what companies product short monster books for pathfinder tied to a single theme, then if you pitch a book like that to one of them and get turned down, you can quickly decide who to pitch it to next.

Finally, if you have any contacts within the industry, you may want to ask about their experiences working for each of the companies you have picked. Knowing if they are friendly, timely, how they pay (profit-share? Per word? Upon completion or upon publication?), what rights they take (work for hire or share of rights?) can help you know what to expect. You can always try to negotiate these things if they don’t match your needs (and should walk away from an offer rather than take one not worth your time or that takes advantage of you), but that’s another issue that may make it harder for a company to say yes to you.

We’ll continue this advice with Part Two: What to Pitch and When to Pitch It.

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Microsetting: Midlands

The Plains are the safest. Not safe, mind you, but not as bad as when you move too far in any other direction.

They can’t cross running water, so the Mississippi is the barrier from the East. I’ve heard the Panama Canal is as safe as you can go South, but I don’t know anyone who has gone any further than Laredo. Something about the air. Baja California is supposedly still okay, but god help them for being so far West.

There’s no set barrier between the Plains and the West Coast. The Rockies do most of the work of keeping us safe, but stay clear of the passes. Everyone knows what happened at Logan Pass, and I saw how bad things get close to Marias Pass myself. I-15 is like a line of death, and they move north-south along it much, much too easily. I-90 isn’t as bad, but it’s not good either. I don’t go farther North than Nebraska, anymore. I’m told U.S. 20 is worse, but I never saw anything on it.

I wish I could say they only come out at night, but that’s not true. They see better at night than we do, or at least most of ’em do, so night’s more dangerous. But they can move and hunt in the day, too. The leaner pickings get, the more they hunt in the light. But that doesn’t mean you should feel safe if there are people around. Some groups just haven’t been hit yet. Others make… arrangements. Arrangements that don’t go well for strangers to their area.

Shooting them in the head is great, but not strictly necessary and requires you to be sure what part is the head. If you have the ammo, center-mass is still the safest bet, but it takes a lot of lead. Clubs seems useless, and machetes are too likely to chip and bend. Spears are okay, but you need some kind of cross-brace, or they just pull themselves down it until they get to you.

Axes are good. Shovels work in a pinch, if sharpened.

Don’t listen to anything broadcast. Don’t eat anything you can’t identify, even if it comes from a can. Don’t try to read anything in a language you don’t recognize. If you think you can hear the stars, get inside. If someone near you says they can hear the stars?

Axes are good.

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Short Fiction: Epoch

My father never liked her. Grantha says it’s because she didn’t visit often when father was young. The wars kept her away. They were worse, where she was. And everyone agrees she is why it didn’t get so bad here. But she wasn’t around when Grampa died, and father never forgave her. “What is the point,” he’s said “of an eternal ally if they are eternally not here?”

It’s not a fair thing to say… but father isn’t the first to say it. The Grans and gran-Grans all love her, but I’ve seen the records. She’s saved us many times, or at least helps us save ourselves, but she’s also missed some terrible times. She helped the ‘steaders settle the vale when we first came here. No one is sure why. All the records say if we ask her, just just looks sad and says she owes us. A debt that will take a hundred generations to be repaid.

It’s only been 12.

The ‘steaders never bothered to write why she brought them here, or if they did we lost that book. I suspect we’d have lost most of our books from then, if she hadn’t brought copies of some every century or so. The Hearthstead Laws, most often. Especially when the Honey-Nots took over when she was gone so long most of us didn’t believe in her, or at least thought she was dead, and the Hunnots burned all the old Laws. My family were Avowers back then. We never stopped believing.

But she didn’t save us from the Honey-Nots. We had to do that ourselves. And she showed up just after the Battle of the Motte, within hours of it, with everything we needed to restore the way things were. Like she had been waiting. Like she could have helped, if she’d wanted to. But when people asked why she’d stayed away, why she didn’t help us against the Hunnots, the records claim she just said “They were Valefolk, too.”

Even though she stayed for almost a decade that time, she wasn’t very popular with that generation. At least, not overall. The Maoilriains have always been loyal, of course, Every generation of them, since the first. And Maehr Maoilriain left with her after her long stay, and came back much later as a real rune-whisperer. I met Maehr once, on his 200th birthday, just before he died. His eyes were still bright. But then, the Maoilriains have always lived longer than the rest of us.

An eternal ally. The Ageless, some records call her. Silverlocke, in others. The Harrower, but only in the oldest songs, and Leithe Leithaene in the oldest reference I can find, but never after that.

Grantha calls her Constance, which I think is funny. So does Grantha. And, according to Grantha, so does Constance.

When any valefolk reach their 15th year, we line up and wait to see if she comes, to ask for our part of the bargain. One years service from any she asks on that day, and a lifetime of service of all she asks once in ten generations. She’s only asked for that year three times, and the last time was Maehr. Of course, he was gone for decades.

People forget about the lifetime of service, asked of all those who stand the line for one in every ten generations. She’d only invoked it once, and it was a long time ago.

Ten generations ago.

I know. I checked the records.

So, tomorrow, I and six others stand the line. Cuthair is convinced she’ll come, but he’s another crazy Maoilriain. No one takes him seriously, because he looks about 11. But 15 scars run his left hand, like all of us. Suski thinks she’s dead. Suski likes thinking about death. And I swear, vultures and jackals like Suski. I guess I’d like Suski too, if I needed death to eat.

Father swears if she does show up, he’s going to break the accord. He could, any alder could on line-day, but none ever have. I can’t imagine father will either.

I only met Constance once, when I was very small. She rested her right thumb on my head, and smiled. It’s my earliest memory. That smile visits me in my dreams.

And lately, it’s been visiting a lot more often.

If you found this useful or entertaining, and you’d like to support the creation of more such content, check out my Patreon!

Writing Basics: What IS the Barrier to Entry?

When people ask how to break into, or expand their visibility within, the RPG industry I often mention working for small pdf publishers as an option, or becoming one to self-publish your work. But, how realistic is that latter choice?

I have been deeply involved in small, mostly pdf, mostly third-party RPG game publishing for a decade. Despite looking a lot like the same kind of work as mid-sized companies (to be be fare, many of the same skills and challenged DO apply), being a basically one-man RPG shop is possible, and the barrier to entry can be quite low.

But… how low? How much should you spend on your first RPG release? How little CAN you spend?

Well, let’s look at some actual numbers.

Let’s say I want to release a 10-page RPG supplement for a licensed game, but that some OGL game or something with a separate license. How cheap can I make that?

Well, at a guess, that’ll be 7,500 words of writing. Let’s assume I do all the writing myself.

Then I want it to be edited. I can, possibly, get a friend or family member to edit it for free, but let’s assume I don’t do that. You can find editors for 1 cent/word. That’s my first real expense, and it’s $75.

Then I need a cover, and some interior illustrations. And they have to be things I have the rights to. Stock art is clearly the way to go with this, if we are trying to keep things cheap. I want one big piece for the cover, and five 1/4-page or character illos pieces to have one every 2 pages for the interior. That’s six total pieces of art. There’s a wide, wide range of stock art available, including a lot from Rogue Genius Games. I’ll likely spend more on the cover art than the interiors (although you could also go the brilliant route Raging Swam Press did, and create a style that uses no art on its covers. That’s a savings now AND in the future.) Let’s say you average $5 per illo for stock art, so that’s $30.

You need someone to do graphic design, and layout.  Ideally you’d pay a graphic designer to design the look for your line and create templates, which your layout artist would then use to put all your text and illustrations in place to make a final book. But you’re trying to go cheap. So you find someone to do a basic graphic design and layout in one go, and pay $2/page. That’s another $20.

It’s smart to get a lawyer to go over licenses with you, get yourself an LLC and a company bank account, and lots of other steps… but you don’t HAVE to.

It’s also smart to pay people what they are worth, and you often get what you pay for. I’m not claiming the prices I list here are standard, or reasonable. I’m just saying you can find professional people to do the listed work for the listed price.

Okay, so you are now out $125. You don’t want to pay for print runs or advertising, so you put up a pdf on DriveThruRPG, and the Open Gaming Store, and maybe Paizo, and maybe Warehouse23. What makes sense depends on the product. Those all have different terms, but let’s assume you’re going to get 65% of cover price, on average.

How many copies will you sell? Who knows. Let’s assume you’ll do 50 copies in the first 90 days. So you need to make $125 over 50 copies, or $2.50 per sale to break even. Since you only get 65% of each sale (the rest going to your online distributor), you set the sale price at $3.95 for the pdf.

If you sell your 50 copies, you’ll bring in $128.37… a $3.37 profit!

Of course, taxes will take some of that.

And if you had paid even 3 cents/word for the writing, you’d have another $225 in costs, which would require you to sell nearly another 100 copies to break even.

And if that writing is going to earn as much as $15/hour at 3 cents/word, the 7,500 words need to take no more than 15 hours–a writing rate (including outlines, formatting, brainstorming, approvals, revisions, and so forth) of at least 500 words an hour.

But if you at LEAST break even, you can learn and improve, and make more sales (and produce the material faster) on your NEXT pdf…

If you found this useful or entertaining, and you’d like to support the creation of more such content, check out my Patreon!

Horrifically Overpowered Star-Feats

Very soon, RGG will be releasing Starfarer’s Codex: Horrifically Overpowered Feats.

And it’s my fault.

This is, obviously, a new entry in the Horrifically Overpowered line of game supplements, bringing the world of OP to Starfinder-compatible games. And while it WILL update many of the old Pf-edition OP feats, that’s not all the book has.

Oh heavens no.

It is SO much worse than that.

“How bad could it be?” you ask. Pretty bad. game-breakingly bad. You should never allow ANY of these into your campaign.

Seriously, let me show you.

Here’s just a few examples of Horrifically Overpowered Star Feats.

Ain’t Got Time To Bleed (Horrifically Overpowered)
You can rest when you’re dead.
Benefit: As a full action, you can use any option available to you that normally takes 10 minutes. You are subject to all the other restrictions of the action (it’s fast not free, get real).

Ancestral Plasma Canon
You have an item your family has carried into star battle with star demons for star centuries.
Benefit: Select one category of item that is not consumed when it is used, such as a small arm, heavy weapon, light armor, an armor upgrade, or a technological, hybrid, or magic item. Each time you gain a new character level, this item is upgraded to any item of the same category you wish with an item level no greater than your character level +2. If the item is lost or destroyed, it or a replacement returns to you no later than the next time you gain a character level.

Resolved (Horrifically Overpowered)
No one is more resolved than you are.
Benefit: The Resolve Point cost of any ability or option that requires Resolve Points is one lower than normal for you. If that makes the Resolve Point cost 0 or less (yeah, or less—if you are allowing THIS option, who KNOWS what you’ve allowed into your campaign?!) you can still only use the ability if you have at least 1 Resolve Point remaining in your Resolve Pool.

If you want to make me stop writing such ridiculous pandering products which appeal only to power gamers and bring shame on my reputation as a professional, feel free to join my Patreon, in the hopes the money will distract me and put an end to this terrible idea.
Or… I mean back me and tell me to write more. As long as you give me money, I don;t care what you ask me to do.

Hill Person — Cinematically Inspired Class for Pathfinder

Hill Person

The hill people are as much a culture as an occupation. They have traditions and customs different from civilization, but those off-the-norm backgrounds come with powers that are just as different from the standards of society. Hill people often suffer from significant wonderlust, and it is not unusual for them to spend many years adventuring. However, they dislike committing violence, and generally look for places they can safely travel, or companions they can safely travel with. However on the rare occasion they are pushed to defend those they love, their powers to do so are significant.

Despite not fitting any of the classic roles of heroes, most groups who have a hill person as an ally are delighted to have their knowledge, good cheer, and not a small bit of luck along even in the darkest of times. And hill people are rugged and sturdy enough (though they mostly don’t look it) to survive even the most dangerous of adventures without being a significant drain on their allies.

Hill people are, obviously, inspired by one of my favorite fantasy movies. (And they aren’t the first thing the movie inspired.)

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d12

Starting Wealth: 2d6 × 10 gp (average 70 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less, and one pie.

Class Skills

The hill person’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all, each skill taken individually) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: Hill Person

Level     BaB                       Fort        Ref         Will        Special

1st          +0                          +2           +2           +2           Hill shape, knack, lack the power to do harm, organize notes

2nd        +1                          +3           +3           +3           Luck of the hill folks 1/day

3rd         +2                          +3           +3           +3           Knack

4th         +3                          +4           +4           +4           Luck of the hill folks 2/day

5th         +3                          +4           +4           +4           Knack

6th         +4                          +5           +5           +5           +1 hill shape luck of the hill folks, 3/day

7th         +5                          +5           +5           +5           Knack

8th         +6/+1                   +6           +6           +6           Luck of the hill folks 4/day

9th         +6/+1                   +6           +6           +6           Knack

10th       +7/+2                   +7           +7           +7           Luck of the hill folks 5/day

11th       +8/+3                   +7           +7           +7           Knack

12th       +9/+4                   +8           +8           +8           +1 hill shape, luck of the hill folks 6/day

13th       +9/+4                   +8           +8           +8           Knack

14th       +10/+5                 +9           +9           +9           Luck of the hill folks 7/day

15th       +11/+6/+1           +9           +9           +9           Knack

16th       +12/+7/+2           +10        +10        +10        Luck of the hill folks 8/day

17th       +12/+7/+2           +10        +10        +10        Knack

18th       +13/+8/+3           +11        +11        +11        +1 hill shape, luck of the hill folks 9/day

19th       +14/+9/+4           +11        +11        +11        Knack

20th       +15/+10/+5         +12        +12        +12        Hill lord, luck of the hill folks 10/day

Class Features

The following are class features of the hill person.


Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Hill people are proficient with all simple weapons and light armor, but not with shields.

Hill Shape (Su): At 1st level, a hill person gains the ability to turn himself into any Tiny or Small animal of no more than 1 HD (and back again) three times per day. This ability functions like the beast shape III spell, except as noted here. The effect lasts for 1 hour per hill person level, or until he changes back. Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action and doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. The form chosen must be that of an animal the hill person is familiar with. The hill person retains the ability to speak in this form, though he can also make sounds appropriate to the form, and speak to creatures of the same general grouping (canine, feline, avian, etc.) as determined by the GM as though using speak with animals.

You can also attempt to use this power on another target, in which case it functions as baleful polymorph. However, you must roll a natural 20 on a d20 for this to work. Otherwise you transform yourself into the desired creature, as if you had used the reflexive form knack. (Though you can use luck of the hill folk to try this roll multiple times).

A hill person can use this ability an additional time per day at 6th level and every six levels thereafter, for a total of six times at 18th level.

As a hill person gains in levels, this ability allows him to take on the form of larger and smaller animals and elementals as an extreme measure. Each form expends one daily usage of this ability, regardless of the form taken. Any time the hill person uses this ability to become anything except a Tiny or Small animal of 1 HD or less, it counts as making an attack for purpose of his Lack the Ability to Do Harm class feature.

At 6th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Medium or Large animal or a Small elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape functions as elemental body I.

At 8th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Huge or Diminutive animal, or a Medium elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape now functions as elemental body II.

At 10th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Large elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape now functions as elemental body III. At 12th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Huge elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape now functions as elemental body IV.

Lack the Power to Do Harm (Su): The hill people dislike violence, and are blessed by powerful good fortune when they avoid it while maintaining strong hill people traditions. A hill person gains a luck bonus to AC and saving throws equal to his Charisma bonus. However, if the hill person makes an attack (as defined by the invisibility spell), they lose this power for 24 hours. Additionally, if a hill person multiclasses to the point they don’t have more “hill person” levels than all other combined class levels, they also lose access to this power.

Organize Notes (Ex): All hill people have a pile of notes, generally in the form of a loose shuffle of papers and mementos, but they can take nearly any easily-recognizable form, which contain their thoughts on mystic incantations, cooking, and anything else they find important.

These are never organized.

Each day you try to organize your notes. You can only do this once per day, and only after getting 8 hours of rest. This takes one hour, and resets your daily class abilities. Also, if you have not attempted to organize your notes for more than 24 hours, you lose access to one randomly determined hill person knack, plus one additional knack for every additional 12 hours. These return once you properly attempt to organize your notes.

Hill Person Knacks: You gain one hill person knack at 1st level, and an additional knack at 2nd level and every level thereafter. You cannot take a knack more than once unless it says otherwise.

Actions Give You Weight (Su): Hill people often place themselves at risk to aid others. As a standard action you can give an ally within 30 feet the benefits of your Lack the Power to Do Harm class feature until the beginning of your next turn. If the ally makes an attack (as defined by the invisibility spell) during this time, they lose this benefit and cannot regain it for 24 hours.

General Knack: You gain one general feat (a feat that is not also any other kind of feat) for which you meet the prerequisites, as a bonus feat. You may take this knack more than once. Each time, you must select a different general feat.

Great Chooser of Roads (Ex): You and your allies increase your overland travel speed by 10%, and do not have it reduced for terrain.

Minstrel (Ex): You have learned some of the storytelling and singing art of the hill people. You know spells and have spells per day as a bard of 1/3 your class level. Your caster level is equal to your class level. You must be at least 3rd level to select this knack.

Narrow of Purpose (Ex): Hill people are capable to being very focused, directing all their attention to a single goal. You gain Skill Focus as a bonus feat. Each day when you try to organize your notes, you may select what skill this bonus feat applies to. This must be a skill you have ranks in.

Pack Mule (Ex): Hill people can be surprisingly hearty when carrying large piles of gear. Your carrying capacity is tripled.

Reflexive Form (Su): If the result of an attack is a critical hit, or causes you to be unconscious or dead, as an immediate action you can expend one daily use of your hill shape ability to turn yourself into a tiny 1 HD animal. This causes the attack to miss entirely, but you are stuck in that shape for 1d4 rounds.

Rushed Flight (Su): Once per day you can expend one daily use of your hill shape ability to turn into a fireball that flies through the air at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour. You can do nothing but fly during this time, and if you touch down, hit an object, or are stopped or slowed down at any point the effect ends. Navigation in this form is difficult, and requires a Survival check with a DC equal to 10 +1 per 100 miles travelled.

Short in Stature (Ex): You are particularly slight of build, even for one of the hill people. While your weapon and equipment use, space, reach, and movement are determined by your true size category, for all other purposes you calculate your modifiers as if you were one size smaller.

Sweet tooth (Ex): Many hill people are strongly drawn to sweets, from gooseberry pies to nut bars. However, they do not carry such things themselves, and do not wish to pay for them. You are one such hill person. If you acquire a dessert through a skill check (Bluff, Diplomacy, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth are most common), once during the next 24 hours you can use that skill check result in place of any failed skill check for a skill you have at least as many ranks in. If you acquire a new dessert with a new skill check before you use the old one, you can keep the new check in reserve if it is better, but you may only have one in reserve at a time. Once you use this ability to replace a skill check, you can’t use it again until you organize your notes.

Wide of Vision (Ex): Hill people are often very alert to their surroundings. You gain a bonus to Perception checks equal to half your class level (minimum +3). Additionally, if you succeed at a Perception check to act on a surprise round, you may choose to limit yourself to a move action while warning your allies within 60 feet of the danger you spotted, allowing them to also act on the surprise round.

Wishful Banter (Ex): Hill people are excellent at cheering people up and imagining better circumstances. Over the course of one minute, you can daydream about better circumstances for yourself, and a number of willing allies equal to your Charisma bonus (who must be willing to discuss things they would prefer with you). You and those allies each gain a +1 morale bonus to one d20 check made in the next 24 hours. The decision to use this bonus must be made prior to the check. The bonus increases to +2 at 5th level, and by an additional +1 for every 5 levels thereafter.

Luck of the Hill Folk (Su): Things just tend to go well for hill people, and their allies, and tend to go badly for those who wish them harm. Beginning at 2nd level, once per day as a swift or immediate action after a d20 roll of a creature within 60 feet has been determined to be a success or failure, you may immediately force the die to be rerolled. The new roll is used to determine if the original roll was successful or note. This second roll gains a bonus or penalty (your choice), equal to 1, +a value equal to 1/5 your level.

You gain an additional use of this ability at 4th level, and every 2 levels thereafter.

Hill Lord (Su): At 20th level if the hill person would lose the lack the power to do harm class feature due to making an attack or taking a hill form that isn’t a 1 HD or less animal, he can decide not to lose the benefits of the ability by expending a daily use of luck of the hill folk. This leaves the hill person clear to attack and take any desired form for 1 minute.

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