Themes for GammaFinder, Part 2 (Brain in a Jar, Murderous Toy)

So we introduced some quick and easy rules for GammaFinder, a post-apocalypse campaign hack for Starfinder, introduced the concept of the Unburned World and its relics (Halidom), and then gave some Halidom game rules.

PA Mist Below

Since these have proven very popular so far, I thought I’d try some more GammaFinder stuff, and see how it goes over. Since my simple rules cover things like mutation, and ancient weird tech and magic is covered by Halidoms, it seemed to me the main thing we still needed were some GammaFinder-specific themes.

So I did the Alphite theme. I really like it. It’s a classic vault dweller/domed citizen/erudite lost-lore kind of theme. It’s important to have some useful, interesting options that are easy to pick and create typical characters. Lots of players want that.

But… it’s not weird. Some of the fun of GammaFinder-style settings is that it lets you play WEIRD characters and they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. If the world has cyberdinosaurs, cryptowizards, and psychic evil plants as part of the standard setting, you can do something a bit weirder than a human alphite and just be part of the quilt of crazy.

So, let’s do some crazy themes.

Brain in a Jar (+1 Wis)
You had one really, really bad day. You suffered a serious injury. Kind of the ultimate injury. You lost your body. Everything but your brain, which is now kept alive by a life support system using tech from the Unburned World, which no one really understands or can replicate. Maybe you remember that really bad day, and are driven to seek revenge on those who did this to you. Maybe your yearning to feel the wind on your face again defines your every choice. Or  maybe you just came to, a brain in a jar, and this seems entirely normal to you.
You are unlikely to appreciate “jarhead” jokes.
In addition, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to Wisdom at character creation.

PA Brain in a Jar

Theme Knowledge (1st)
Although you are a living thing, determining your species is tricky. Because you are just a brain in a jar. Recall knowledge checks to determine anything about your biology other than “you are a brain in a jar” take a -10 penalty.
Note that your jay has mechanical limbs, sensory inputs, mobilizers, speakers, and so on. With the exception of a sense of touch or the ability to determine the ambient temperature, you can do all the things a person with a body can do. Since these systems all interact with your brain and need the basic of biology to keep your brain alive, you are also still subject to things like starvation, suffocation, injected poisons and so on. These systems may extend out from your brain, or even form telescoping armor around you as you move, but when you are stationary or asleep, it all folds back to reveal your brain. In a jar.
Medicine checks made regarding you also take a -10 penalty. However, anything that can normally be done with Medicine can also be done for you using Engineering (at no penalty), and you can benefit from any spell or effect (including healing) that can benefit a construct.

Upgrade (6th, 12th)
Your jar develops an upgrade. You gain one of the following feats as a bonus feat: Accelerated Recovery, Ambush Awareness, Arm Extensions, Blind-Fight, Climbing Master, Diehard, Dire Straights, Disease Rejection, Echolocation Attack, Environmental Adaptation, Fleet, Ground Fighting, Hauler, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Jet dash, Kip Up, Living Ladder, Lunge, Masked Visage, Memory Access, Nanite Integration, Poison Rejection, Positive Conduit, Protective Fur, Solid Stance, Startled Scream, an Swimming Master.
You do not need to meet this feat’s prerequisites. You gain an additional upgrade at 12th level.

PA Brain in a Can

System Check (18th)
You can run an internal diagnostic of your jar, and it’s various functions, to ready yourself for more problems. Up to twice a day you can take one minutes to have anyone (even yourself) make a DC 32 Engineering check to fine-tune your mechanical body extensions. On a successful check, you regain 1 Resolve Point.

Murderous Toy (+1 Dex)
You are a relic of the Unburned World, or at least of a process lost after the Charm of History, You are a heavily modified entity that was turned into a living toy, a literal plaything for the rich and immoral of the world that existed in ancient times. Your species is not changed–if human you are as human as anyone else–but every aspect of your body and appearance was modified, seamlessly, to make you appear to be something fun and innocent. But your mind? Your mind is your own.
You might have been found in your original mint packaging, and only activated once the vault of collectibles you were in was raided. Or you might have had a normal life once, or as normal as life gets in the GammaFinder World, and been transformed by a mad cybersorcerer, DigiDaemons of the Omega Invasion, or a Living Factory-God.

PA Muder Bear

Theme Knowledge (1st)
You are a small, doll-like creature.
You may look like a brand-new Theddi Ruffspin babysit bear (TM), or a worn, barely-together Bharbe Dholl (c), but you are definitely a toy at first glance. Recall knowledge checks to identify anything about you are at a -10 penalty.
The DC of Culture checks regarding toys and toy brands from the Unburnd World are reduced by 5.
You are literally Small. Nothing else about your race changes. If you are a kasatha, you are still a kasatha… but maybe with big bear ears and fuzzy hide and a cute button nose. You also gain the constructed trait, as and android. If you already have it, you instead gain one of the following alternate android traits of your choice you do not already have (without losing a trait): easily augmented, infosphere integration, multilingual, or nanite upgrade.
In addition, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to Dexterity at character creation.

PA Creepy Doll

Accessories (6th, 12th)
You gain additional android traits you do not already have, without losing any you do. You can select from those listed with theme knowledge, or gain  exceptional vision, flat affect, or upgrade slot.

Playtime (18th)
You may not like children… but you get a great deal out of playing with them. Up to twice a day you can take 1 minute to play with (innocently and safely) a child, or 10 minutes to meditate on a time when you did so. This cannot overlap with time spent regaining Stamina Points. You regain 1 Resolve Point.

Want More GammaFinder?!
I now depend on my Patreon for more of my income and support than I ever expected to. If you find any value in my blog posts or videos, I could use help with the Patreon. If you can spare a few bucks a month, it’s a huge help. If not, even just sharing and linking to my blogs, videos, and the Patreon itself is a huge help that just takes a moment of your time.

Thanks, everyone.

About Owen K.C. Stephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is a full-time ttRPG Writer, designer, developer, publisher, and consultant. He's the publisher for Rogue Genius Games, and has served as the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the Editor-in-Chief for Evil Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps. He has a Pateon which supports his online work. You can find it at

Posted on March 30, 2020, in Game Design, Microsetting, Starfinder Development and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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