Monthly Archives: April 2020

Genetic Sorcery, a Tiered Mutation for GammaFinder and Freedom Finder (Starfinder-compatible)

We’re still doing tiered mutations, designed for both the GammaFinder and a more comic-book themed theoretical “FreedomFinder” setting (which so far only exists as a thought experiment and a single set of soldier options).

So the next dual-purpose power to get the tiered mutation treatment is Genetic Sorcery.

The idea of a genetic or mutant ability to manipulate magic is common in comicbook hero tales, and also often mixed with (and thus defined as different from) magic gained from knowledge of secret words and gestures, gained from being granted power by otherworldly beings, or magic drawn from a magic device. The idea is somewhat less common in science-fantasy, though the witches of the Darkover book may fit the bill, and similar ideas can be found in The Death Gate Cycle, and is fairly common in urban fantasy from the Dresden Files to the Dora Wilk series.

Certainly, the idea of a GammaFinder setting with genetic sorcerers calling on the real energy of magic, as pyrokineticists can call on fire, is in keeping with the stories of post-apocalypse magic and super-science in a broken world gone mad, and it’s easy to conceive of a group of young mutant spellcasters (the Hex-Men?) in FreedomFinder.

sci-fi character in black cloak with light spear standing agains

(art by grandfailure)

Genetic Sorcery
Magic is real, and it is in your DNA. While others access magic through faith, or study, or as part of some lineage, your claim is more random, and primal. You have a mutant power to manipulate magic. The technical term for this is “psytheurgy,” but it is better known as genetic sorcery. Your understanding of magic is instinctual, rather than learned, but still often brings out fear and suspicion in others.
The spells you select with Genetic Sorcery do not need to be from the same spell list–your mutant power can grab different forms of magic nearly at random (and the flexibility is compensated for in the total power your early tiers grant you as opposed, for example, to the psionic mutations). Each time you gain a new Genetic Sorcery tier, you can change any one spell you selected in a previous tier.
Tier 1: You gain spell-like abilities: Select any 2 0-level spells, which you can cast at-will. Additionally, Mysticism becomes a class skill for you. If it is already a class skill, you instead gain a +1 bonus to Mysticism checks.
Tier 2: You gain any 1 additional 0-level spell you can cast at-will, and any 1 1st-level spell you can cast once per day.
Tier 3: You gain an additional 1st-level spell known, though you can still only cast one 1st-level spell per day. You gain any one 2nd-level spell, which you can cast one per day.
Tier 4: You gain a third 1st-level spells known.
Additionally, each time you expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest, you regain one casting of your 1st-level spells from genetic sorcery, not to exceed your maximum.
Tier 5: You gain an additional 2nd-level spell known, though you can still only cast one 1st-level spell per day. You gain any one 3rd-level spell, which you can cast one per day.
Tier 6: You gain a third 2nd-level spells known, and you can now cast your 1st level spells twice per day.
Additionally, each time you expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest, you regain one casting of your 1st-level or 2nd-level spells from genetic sorcery, not to exceed your maximum.
Tier 7: You gain an additional 3rd-level spell known, though you can still only cast one 3rd-level spell per day. You gain any one 4th-level spell, which you can cast one per day.
Tier 8: You gain a third 3rd-level spells known, and you can now cast your 2nd level spells twice per day.
Additionally, each time you expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest, you regain one casting of your 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-level spells from genetic sorcery, not to exceed your maximum.
Tier 9: You gain an additional 4th-level spell known, though you can still only cast one 4th-level spell per day. You gain any one 5th-level spell, which you can cast one per day.
Tier 10: You gain a third 4th-level spells known, and you can now cast your 3rd level spells twice per day.
Additionally, each time you expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest, you regain one casting of your 1st-, 2nd-, 3rd-, or 4th-level spells from genetic sorcery, not to exceed your maximum.

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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.

 

Luck Manipulation, a Tiered Mutation for GammaFinder and Freedom Finder (Starfinder-compatible)

So, tiered mutations designed for the GammaFinder setting continue to be both extremely popular, and fascinating to me from a game-design perspective. I now view each tiered mutation as potentially useful in both a post-apocalypse GammaFinder setting, and in a more comic-book themed theoretical “FreedomFinder” setting, which so far only exists as a thought experiment and a single set of soldier options.

Which means I am currently being inspired to create tiered powers that work for both settings, looking at mutant abilities and tiered mutations as a growing Starfinder-compatible rules subset.

So the next dual-purpose power to get the tiered mutation treatment is Luck Manipulation.

Design Concerns
Super-luck is a classic comic-book power, but has deep roots in science-fiction as well (such as Teela Brown from the Ringworld novels, or Odysseus Gaul in “Oddy and Id”). However from a game-mechanical perspective, keeping super-luck both interesting (so it is not just a set of bonuses and rerolls, which are easy to balance but dull when one considers all the narrative possibilities being luck can bring) and defined (so a GM knows what luck reasonable can and can’t do) is tricky.
That same trickiness can be found in many social skills and situations, such as what a good Diplomacy check can get for a character. As a result my solution for Luck Manipulation is a combination of reliable rerolls and bonuses, some skill-replacement, and effects defined as being as-useful-as typical npcs of various levels of friendliness. While this still puts some decision-making on the GM, it is grounded in the same sorts of decisions GMs already have to make, and tied to specific existing guidelines.

realweirdwest-gambler-color-01

(Art by Jacob Blackmon)

Luck Manipulation (Su)
You have inexplicable luck that seems to kick in at just the right moment.
Tier 1: You have 3 luck points per day. Whenever you make an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you may spend 1 luck point to roll an additional d20. You can use this ability after the original roll, but before the outcome is revealed. You choose which of the d20s is used for the attack roll, ability check, or saving throw.
Whenever something is determined entirely at random, you may spend a luck point to have a second result rolled. You may then choose between the two random results.
Spending luck points does not take an action, but you may only spend one per round. You character need not be conscious or able to move to spend luck points, and what is “best” for the character is determined by the desires of you (the player), rather than from the character’s point of view. (For example if your PC is charmed and convinced to attack a friend, you could use luck rerolls to make the character more likely to miss, even thought the character wants to successfully attack).
Tier 2: You can now spend 3 luck points to create a minor fortuitous circumstance. This circumstance is as useful as if there was an appropriate indifferent NPC present. (“They don’t care about your plight, but may give you simple advice or directions. “) Thus you can receive simple advice or directions a typical local person would be able to give you without putting themselves at risk.
While this is a minor effect, it can still give you information and options you cannot gain any other way. For example, if lost in a wilderness and seeking the closest city, a typical, local, indifferent person could point you down the right path as “simple directions.” You could therefore use your minor fortuitous circumstance to come across a scrap of a map showing a path to a city (though no details about the city), or even flip a coin at a crossroad to pick the better of the two paths.
Tier 3: You can now also spend one luck point when an attack roll is made against you. Roll a d20, and choose whether the attacker’s roll uses their d20 roll or yours.
If multiple creatures use a luck point on the same roll, they cancel out, resulting in no additional dice.
Tier 4: You now have 4 luck points per day. You can also now spend a luck point to have a lucky random event, which duplicates the result of any one skill check. You do not need to have the skill, or the normal tools or special conditions for the skill, though all other limitations apply. For example you could push random numbers to access a security code (Computers), mention your mother’s name and have it be the name of your interrogator (Diplomacy), or walk through a room at just the moment no one is looking at you (Stealth).  You resolve this skill check with a special luck check (1d20 + double your tier) with no other bonuses. As a result at this tier, this power normally only accomplishes relatively minor tasks.
Tier 5: You can no create a tier 2 minor fortuitous effect for 2 luck points. If you spend 3 luck points, you can create a moderate fortuitous effect. This circumstance is as useful as if there was a typical friendly local NPC present (“Friendly creatures treat you with kindness and respect. They may give you more-detailed advice or simple aid, but generally won’t go out of their way to be helpful.”)
Tier 6: When you create a tier 4 lucky random event, the luck check is now 1d20 + double your tiers in luck, + your key ability modifier.
Tier 7: You now have 5 luck points per day. Each day, you assign a +1 luck bonus for the day to your EAC, KAC, melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, one save category, or to all ability and skill checks based on one ability score. Alternatively, you can add a +2 luck bonus to all luck checks and rerolls gained from expending luck points. Once you make this decision, it cannot be changed until you regain your daily abilities.
Tier 8: You can now create a tier 2 minor fortuitous effect for 1 luck point, and a tier 5 moderate fortuitous effect for 2 luck points.
You can also now create a major fortuitous effect for 4 luck points. This circumstance is as useful as if there was a typical helpful local NPC present (“Helpful creatures typically give you more lengthy or difficult aid, or offer small services that are readily available to them.)
Tier 9: You can also now spend a luck point to gain a +1 luck bonus for 1 round. You choose to add this to your EAC, KAC, melee attack rolls, ranged attack rolls, one save category, or to all ability and skill checks based on one ability score. Alternatively, you can add a +2 luck bonus to all luck checks and rerolls gained from expending luck points for 1 round.
Tier 10: You now have 6 luck points per day.
You can also now create a tier 5 moderate fortuitous effect for 1 luck point, or tier 8 major fortuitous effect for 3 luck points. When you create a tier 9 luck bonus, it lasts for 1d4+1 rounds.

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Thanks, everyone.

Super-Strength, a Tiered Mutation for GammaFinder and Freedom Finder (Starfinder-compatible)

So, tiered mutations designed for the GammaFinder setting continue to be both extremely popular, and fascinating to me from a game-design perspective. I originally began working on them as a way to have a few powers that were too potent to gain as a single mutant ability, which is why the first one was teleportation. But the more of them I create, the more interesting I find them as a design space.

It’s clear that as their own rules module, mutant abilities and tiered mutations could be used for a lot more than just the GammaFinder setting. For example, combined with a way for one or more character classes to easily access them, they could be used to create a mid-range “FreedomFinder” setting, with militant, armored heroes in paramilitary-style four-color comicbook settings.

You could, in fact, do an all-soldier Freedom Finder campaign, where rather than most equipment, characters focus on various mutations. All you need for that is some mutant abilities to replace gear boosts and combat feats. (And, or course, you could use these mutant soldiers in a GammaFinder campaign as well).

Mutant Soldier Class Features

Female Chain Super color

(Art by Jacob Blackmon)

NEW GEAR BOOST

Mutant Power: You gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your soldier level.

ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: COMBAT MUTATION

Combat Mutation: You gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your soldier level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of combat feat. You make this decisions each time you gain the combat feat class feature.

Super-Strength Tiered Muation

When considering a tiered mutation that works well for both GammaFinder and the still-entirely-theoretical FreedomFinder, super-strength seems an obvious place to start. How strong the strongest heroes are helps set the tone for a superheroic game setting, and how much the strongest mutant can lift or tear apart with their bare hands helps set what the power level of mutations are in a GammaFinder setting.

super muscleman will smash your face in a white background

(Art by DM7)

Super-Strength (Ex)
You are spectacularly strong. Your fast-twitch muscle fiber is impressive, but it is your slow-twitch muscle fiber that exceeds what seems possible.
Tier 1: You add double your super-strength tier to the bulk you can carry without being encumbered, and add your tier as an insight bonus to Strength-based ability checks and skill checks. Your KAC against grapple checks is increased by your super-strength tier (though this bonus is reduced by 1 for each tier of super-strength the grappler has, to a minimum bonus of +0).
Tier 2: You can make super-strength attacks. These are melee attacks as if wielding an uncategorized advanced 2-handed melee weapon you are proficient with (and gain Weapon Specialization with, if you are 3rd level of higher). If a calculation uses item level, your super-strength attacks have an item level equal to your character level. You do not need a hand free to make a super-strength attack (it can be a kick or headbutt), but you must be in a circumstance that would allow you to make an unarmed attack if you had a free hand to do so.
Your super-strength attacks are considered analog, but not archaic. You can do any damage type you can deal with unarmed attacks, and use this damage in place of options that allow you to do unarmed damage, but do not get to add any special abilities that affect the damage of your unarmed attacks. If you normally have the ability to add 1.5x your level to unarmed attacks as a special Weapon Specialization, you instead add 1.5 times your Strength modifier to damage of your super-strength attacks.
Your super-strength attacks do 1d8 damage.
Additionally, you can lift and carry a weight equal to your super-strength tier squared x 1,000 pounds without becoming overburdened. You can voluntarily carry double that while accepting the overburdened condition. Due to limitations in size and leverage you can generally only use this lift/carry ability to manipulate a single object (or tightly bound collection of objects). Picking up a single 100 bulk vehicle is reasonable, picking up 50 2-bulk rifles is not unless they are in a crate or similar stowage.
Tier 3: Your super-strength attacks now do 2d6 damage. You may add one of the following weapon special properties to your super-strength attack: block, breach, deflect, feint, or underwater. Once made, this decision cannot be changed.
Tier 4: Your super-strength attacks now do 3d6 damage. You may add one of the following critical hit effects to your super-strength attack: demoralize, knockdown, push (distance is tier x3 in feet, rounded down to the nearest 5 feet), stifle, or staggered.
Tier 5: Your super-strength attacks now do 5d6 damage. You may add a second weapon special quality to your super-strength attack, which may be from the tier 3 list or the following list: disarm, grapple, penetrating, sunder, or trip. Once made, this decision cannot be changed.
Tier 6: Your super-strength attacks now do 6d6 damage. You may add a second critical hit effect to your super-strength attack, which may be from the tier 4 list or the following list: blind, deafen, stunned, or wound. Once made, this decision cannot be changed.
Tier 7: Your super-strength attacks now do 9d6 damage. You may add a third weapon special quality to your super-strength attack, which may be from the tier 3 or tier 5 lists. Once made, this decision cannot be changed.
Tier 8: Your super-strength attacks now do 11d6 damage. You may add a fourth weapon special quality to your super-strength attack, which may be from the tier 3 or tier 5 lists. Once made, this decision cannot be changed.
Tier 9: Your super-strength attacks now do 15d6 damage. You may add a fifth weapon special quality to your super-strength attack, which may be from the tier 3 or tier 5 lists. Once made, this decision cannot be changed.
Tier 10: Your super-strength attacks now do 20d6 damage. You may add a third critical hit effect to your super-strength attack, which may be from the tier 4 or tier 6 lists. You also select one critical hit effect your super-strength attack has that is triggered when your attack roll is a natural 19 (a “19” shows on the d20). Such as attack does not do double damage, it just applies the critical hit effect if the attack is successful. Once made, these decisions cannot be changed.

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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.

Healing Factor, a Tiered Mutation in GammaFinder (for Starfinder)

GammaFinder (a post-apocalypse campaign setting and ruleset for Starfinder) has tiered mutations which allow a character to gain an ability that grows in complexity and power over the course of their career. We started with mutant teleportation, and then did weather control.

And those seemed popular.

So, without explaining why we are picking these specific tiered mutations to write up first, here’s healing factor. 🙂

PA Regeneration

Art by Warmtail

Healing Factor (Su)
Tier 1: Once per day, when you take a 10-minute rest and expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points, you can additionally recover Hit Points as though you had taken a full night’s rest. (This replaces the rapid revival mutation).
Tier 2: Whenever you take SP or HP damage from any source, you take 1 point less damage as your healing factor immediately heals some of it. This reduction occurs after any other change to the damage total.
Tier 3: Whenever you take a 10-minute rest and expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points, you can additionally recover Hit Points as though you had taken a full night’s rest. Additionally, each round you have a 25% chance to end any bleed effect on you.
Tier 4: As a standard action you can heal HP damage by taking twice its value in SP damage. (This damage is not reduced by any other healing factor ability). You cannot do more SP damage to yourself that you have SP in this way. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again until after you take a 10-minute rest and expend a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points.
Tier 5: You gain fast healing 1. If you go fully healed and undamaged for 24 hours, you regrow any 1 missing limb or organ that has not been replaced with an augmentation.
Tier 6: Once per day as part of any other swift, move, or full action, or you can expend 2 Resolve Points to heal a number of points of damage equal to your character level. You may assign this healing between your HP and SP as you wish, though neither can exceed your normal maximum. Alternative, you you expend Resolve Points to Stabilize or Stay in the Fight, you may expend 2 more than required and gain this regeneration. When you do this, you can regrow any 1 missing limb or organ that has not been replaced with an augmentation.
Tier 7: Whenever you take SP or HP damage from any source, you now take 2 points less damage as your healing factor immediately heals some of it. This reduction occurs after any other change to the damage total.
Tier 8: You fast healing increases to 2.
Tier 9: You can now expend 2 Resolve Points for your tier 6 regeneration an unlimited number of times per day, as long as you have the required Resolve Points.
Tier 10: Your fast healing increases to 3.

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Thanks, everyone.

 

Weather Control, a Tiered Mutation in GammaFinder (for Starfinder)

GammaFinder (a post-apocalypse campaign setting and ruleset for Starfinder) has tiered mutations which allow a character to gain an ability that grows in complexity and power over the course of their career. We started with mutant teleportation.

And that seemed popular.

So, for no particular reason, here’s mutant weather control. 🙂

PA Storm Control

Art by AnnaPa

Weather Control (Sp, Su)
Tier 1
: You can create a micro-vortex at will. This acts as a psychokinetic hand, except as follows. The force in question is tiny vortexes of air, and does not work in environments that do not have air. The effect lasts 1 round per level after you stop concentration, but you cannot have more than 1 micro-vortex effect from this tiered mutation active at the same time.
You can make a special check (1d20 + character level + weather control tier + key ability score) to endure severe weather and predict weather (as the Survival skill tasks). When you endure severe weather, a successful check grants you bonuses as if you had built a shelter if you you move at full speed, and you can grant the bonus to up to 4 other creatures per tier of weather control you have.
Tier 2: You can use your micro-vortex to bludgeon and batter a target. This acts as unarmed attacks, made at range. These function exactly as your melee unarmed attacks (including benefiting from abilities that affect unarmed attacks, such as Improved Unarmed Attacks), but you can make them anyplace your micro-vortex can reach. These are considered melee attacks for rules interactions.
Tier 3: You can create a storm effect. It acts as fog cloud. You can move the center of this version of storm effect as a standard action using your micro-vortex (allowing you to move it to anyplace within your micro-vortex’s range). Once you create a storm effect, you cannot do so again until you expend Resolve Points to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest.
Tier 4: You can increase or decrease the current wind condition by 1 step as a standard action. This covers an area with a radius up to 5 feet x your weather control tier cubed. Thus at tier 4 you can cover an area 320 feet in radius. This lasts for up to one minute per level.
Tier 5:  Your storm effect can now be a powerful wind blast. This acts as force blast, but is a push of air and does not work in environments that do not have air. Your mirco-vortex range increases to medium (100 feet +10 feet/level).
You can also increase or decrease the perceptional level by 1 step as a standard action, as with wind control in tier 4. You can affect precipitation and wind in the same standard action.
Tier 6: You can unleash a lightning bolt once every 1d4 rounds as a standard action. There must be cloudy or foggy conditions available for you to do this, but the fog cloud from your storm effect counts for this purpose. Your lighting bolt targets a single creature for 1d6 electrical damage per character level you possess. A target may make a Reflex save (DC 10 +1/2 your character level + your key ability modifier) for half damage.
Tier 7: You can now also create a storm effect by expending a Resolve Point to do so. Your wind blast now deals 1d6 damage per 2 character levels you possess.
Tier 8: You can now create the force blast version of your storm effect with a point of origin anywhere within long range 9100 feet. +10 feet/level).
You can also increase or decrease the temperature of a natural, outdoor environment by 20 degrees as a standard action, as with wind control in tier 4. You can affect temperature, precipitation, and wind in the same standard action.
Tier 9: When altering wind severity, precipitation, and temperature, you can now alter one of those variables by 2 steps, rather than by 1. You cannot affect more than one of these variables by multiple steps at the same time, even if you take multiple actions.
Tier 10: You can now unleash the lightning bolt from tier 6 once per round. Additionally, when altering wind severity, precipitation, and temperature, you can now alter each of those variables by 2 steps, rather than by 1.

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Thanks, everyone.

Tiered GammaFinder Mutant Abilities for Starfinder

GammaFinder is a post-apocalypse campaign hack and rules expansion for Starfinder. It has rules for mutation as a character emphasis, and mutant abilities you can gain through a theme, archetype, alternate racial trait, or feat. While mutations taken as a character emphasis scale as you gain levels, most mutatant abilities from other sources don’t.

In most cases, there’s no need for them to. But some classic mutant abilities call for powers that can grow and evolve. These are called tiered mutations. Tiered mutations are complex, powerful mutant abilities that scale through ten tiers of power.

If you select a tiered mutation as your character emphasis, it’s tier is equal to half your character level +1 if you took a single mutation emphasis, and equal to 1/3 your character level (minimum tier 1) if you took two mutation emphasizes.

If you select a tiered mutation as mutant abilities (from the mutie theme or mutamorph archetype, or as an alternate racial trait or the Mutant feat) you increase it’s tier by 1 each time you take it.

Here’s an example of a tiered mutation, psychoportation.

PA Teleport

Art by Andrey Burmakin

Psychoportation (Sp)
Tier 1: You can teleport as a full action once per day, with a maximum range of 30 feet. You can bring along one creature you are touching that is willing or helpless and is your size or smaller. This otherwise functions as dimension door.
Tier 2: You regain the ability to use this power after you expend Resolve Points to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest.
Tier 3: Your psychoportation range increases to 60 feet, and you can now bring along up to two creatures you are touching that are willing or helpless and are your size or smaller. You can replace two creatures your size with one creature a size larger.
Tier 4: Using this ability is now a standard action.
Tier 5: This ability is now treated as a supernatural ability (as a result, using it no longer provokes attacks of opportunity).
Tier 6: The range of this ability is now Medium (100 feet +10 feet per character level).
Tier 7: You can now also use this ability by expending a Resolve Point to do so.
Tier 8: You can now bring up to four willing or helpless creatures with you, and they may each be up to one size larger than you. You can replace two creatures a size larger than you with one two sizes larger.
Tier 9: You can now bring a creature with you that is unwilling, as long as you can touch it. It receives a Will saving throw (DC 10 +1/2 your character level + your key ability score modifier) to not be teleported.
Tier 10: You can now have this ability function as the teleportation spell, if you wish to.

You can find links to all the existing tiered mutations in the GammaFinder Index Page, or click on them below.
Danger Sense. It’s tingling!
Elasticity. Yep, it’s stretching powers.
Entangle. Slow them down, wrap them up.
ESP. Telepathy and psychic projection.
Genetic Sorcery. The power to summon magic is in your blood.
Healing Factor.
Incorporeality.
Invisibility.
Luck Manipulation.
Ranged Attack. For attacking things. At range.
Summoning.
Super-Strength. (Scroll down a bit for the mutation)
Weather Control.

Plus
Gaining Mutant Abilities. All the options for PCs to gain mutant abilities and tiered mutations, all in one post!

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Thanks, everyone.

 

GammaFinder Mutations for Starting Characters

We have GammaFinder rules for mutations as a character emphasis, and for growing mutations as your gain levels, but nothing that just lets you be a typical mutant as a 1st-level character (though standard GammaFinder characters don’t start at 1st level anyway). That seems like a gap.

So, let’s fix it!

Alternate Racial Feature: Mutant

PA Winged Woman
Art by Bert Folsom

You are a mutated version of your base species. You gain one Mutant Ability for which you meet the prerequisites. Your mutation replaces the following racial feature, based on your species, as noted below:
Core SpeciesAndroid (upgrade slot), Human (bonus feat), Kasatha (natural grace), Lashunta (lashunta magic), Shirren (communalism), Vesk (armor savant), Ysoki (moxie)
Legacy SpeciesDwarf (traditional enemy), Elf (elven magic), Gnome (gnome magic), Half-Elf (adaptability), Half-Orc (orc ferocity), Halfling (sure-footed)
Other Species– Astrazoan (rapid revival), Bantrid (balanced), Borai (resist energy drain), Ghoran (past-life knowledge), Haan (slow fall), Hobgoblin (battle hardened), Kalo (cold resistance), Maraquoi (blindsense), Nuar (maze mind), Orc (fierce survivalist), Pahtra (wary), Skittermander (grappler), Strix (nightborn), Uplfted Bear (limited telepathy).

New Feat

MUTANT
You do not fall within the most common genetic baseline for your species.
Benefit: Select one Mutant Ability for which you meet the prerequisites. You gain this mutant ability.

PA Alien Women

art by warpaintcobra

Filing Off the Serial Numbers
One of the advantages of using the Starfinder rules for GammaFinder is that the game comes with dozens of alien races ready to use. A GM should generally allow a player to select one of these species to represent a mutant (and if the race is humanoid, change their subtype if appropriate). for example, a kalo could be used for a mutant human who is adapted to the cold and water, losing the kalo subtype and gaining the human subtype to represent their heritage.
Similarly once a character has a mutation, GMs are encouraged to allow players to describe the character physical appearance as anything they wish within reason, even if it falls well outside the normal parameters for that species’ vital statistics. If a player wants a nuar to look like a boarfolk, with bright green hair and six tusks, that’s not really any weirder than an albino bullfolk.

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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.

GammaFinder Mutations (for Starfinder)

So there are quick and easy rules for mutations in the GammaFinder base rules (a campaign hack for Starfinder), but a weird post-apocalyptic game just isn’t the same if you can’t be even more mutated than that.

So, here are some more ways to gain even more mutations, and lots of mutations you can get.

PA Mutie

MUTIE THEME (+1 to any)
Yup, you’re a mutie.

Theme Knowledge (1st)
Your brain focuses on something a little differently than other people. Select one skill to gain as a class skill or (if you already have it as a class skill at 1st level) gain a +1 racial bonus to.
In addition, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to one ability score of your choice at character creation.

Mutation (6th, 12th)
Your mutant abilities grow and evolve. Select a mutation from the Mutant Abilities list, below.

Mutant Heartiness (18th)
Your mutant physiology allows you to recover more easily than those with standard genomes. Twice per day you can recover Stamina Points after a 10-minute rest without expending a Resolve Point to do so. This does reset any abilities that normally reset after you expend a Resolve Point to recover Stamina Points after a rest.

PA Shive

MUTAMORPH (Archetype)
Your body, exposed tot the strange energies of the GammaFinder World, has morphed.

Mutation (2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12)
At these levels you may choose a mutant ability (see below) as an archetype ability, or take your class’s normal class feature instead. Each time you take a mutant ability, you may also replace one mutant ability gained at an earlier level from the archetype or the mutie theme with a new mutation (losing the old mutant ability).

Mutant Abilities
The following mutant abilities can be gained from mutie theme or mutamorph archetype.
Additional Arms
Blindsense
Change Form
Climber
Compression
Creaturelike
Digger
Exceptional Vision
Expanded Lung Capacity
Fortified
Frenzy
Limited Telepathy
Mutable
Natural Weapons
Psionic, minor
Psionic, moderate
Psionic, major
Rapid Revival
Steady Stride
Swimmer
Telekinetic Flight
Toughened
Venomous
Wings

Additional Arms
You grow two additional arms (or a long prehensile tail, or other manipulative limb), which allows you to wield and hold up to two more hands’ worth of weapons and equipment. While your multiple arms increase the number of items you can have at the ready, it doesn’t increase the number of attacks you can make during combat.

PA Add Arms

Blindsense
You grow sensitive antennae that grants your blindsense (vibration)—the ability to sense vibrations in the air—out to 30 feet. You ignore the Stealth bonuses from any form of visual camouflage, invisibility, and the like when attempting a Perception check opposed by a creature’s Stealth check. Even on a successful Perception check, any foe that can’t be seen still has total concealment (50% miss chance) against you, and you still have the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. You are still flatfooted against attacks from creatures you can’t see.

Change Form
As a standard action, you can physically alter your form to look like any Medium creature, as long as you have seen a similar creature before. You can attempt to either mimic a specific creature or look like a general creature of the chosen type. You gain a +10 bonus to Disguise checks to appear as a creature of the type and subtype of the new form. The DC of your Disguise check is not modified as a result of altering major features. You can remain in an alternate form indefinitely.
If you take this mutation a second time, you do not take a penalty to Disguise when you mimic a creature of a different species or type.

Climber
You gain a climb speed of 40 feet.

Creaturelike
You have mutated to be very similar to another creature. You might look like an anthropomorphic animal, have the strange anatomy of an aberration, seem to be a plant, or have some other strange mix of features. Your features are a blend between your true type and substype, and another type (and possibly subtype).
You gain the creaturelike trait. Select one type and, if desired, an appropriate subtype. You gain these in addition to your normal type and potential subtype. You gain no special abilities of the type or subtype except as noted here. When you are targeted by an effect, if it effects just one of your types or subtypes, it affects you. If it affects your types or subtypes differently, you take the effect that is worse for you.
Skill checks to identify your type or subtype take a -5 penalty.
You gain a +2 racial bonus to one saving throw category of your choice, or +1 racial bonus to two saving throw categories.
You gain one of the following senses or movement types of your choice: blindsense (scent) 30 feet, climb 20 feet, darkvision 60 feet, fly 20 feet (poor)(ex), low-light vision, swim 20 feet.
You can change your unarmed attacks to do piercing or slashing damage, if you wish, or gain do +1 damage with unarmed attacks.

PA Hippolike

Compression
You can move through an area as small as one-quarter your space without squeezing or one-eighth their space when squeezing.

Digger
You gain a burrow speed of 30 feet.

Exceptional Vision
You gain low-light vision and darkvision. As a result, you can see in dim light as if it were normal light, and you can see with no light source at all to a range of 60 feet in black and white only. If you already had low-light, your darkvision now grants you color vision with no light. If you already had darkvision, its range increases by 60 feet.

Expanded Lung Capacity
You have extraordinary lung capacity. You can hold your breath for 10 times the normal duration, and you can begin to hold their breath as a purely defensive reaction whenever you are submerged underwater, enter a vacuum, enter a gas or smoke field, or would otherwise begin suffocating or inhaling a substance you suspect to be harmful.

Fortified
You gain a +2 racial bonus to Fortitude saves against environmental hazards and radiation effects. In addition, you reduce the duration of the sickened and nauseated conditions by 1 round.

Frenzy
When badly enough damaged, you enter a fighting frenzy. When you are at 0 Stamina Points, you gain a +1 bonus to melee attacks and AC.

Limited Telepathy
You can communicate telepathically with any creatures within 30 feet with whom you share a language. Conversing telepathically with multiple creatures simultaneously is just as difficult as listening to multiple people speak.

PA Telepathy

Mutable
Your body is mutable and can adapt to many different situations. Once every 1d4 rounds as part of any other action, you can reshape your body and adjust your chemistry to gain one of the following qualities. The adaptation lasts until you dismiss it, use this ability again, fail a saving throw, or are dazed, confused, staggered, stunned, or unconscious.
*Upper limb refinements enable you to add an additional amount of damage to melee attacks equal to half your Strength modifier.
*A toughened dermal layer grants you a +1 racial bonus to KAC.
*Developed lower limbs grant you a +10 bonus to one speed you already possess.
*Molecular-level modifications grant you resistance 2 against a single energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic).
*Elongated limbs extend your to 10 feet.

Natural Weapons
You are always considered armed. They can deal 1d3 lethal damage with unarmed strikes and the attack doesn’t count as archaic. You choose if the attack does bludgening, piercing, or slashing damage when it is gained, and what kind of attack it is (bite, claws, tail slap, and so on). You gain a unique weapon specialization with your natural weapons at 3rd level, allowing you to add 1–1/2 × your character level to your damage rolls for your natural weapons (instead of just adding your character level, as usual).

Psionic, minor
You gain the following spell-like abilities: At will: (select any two of the following) daze, detect magic, fatigue, ghost sound, psychokinetic hand, telepathic projectile, telepathic message, token spell; 1/day (select one): akashic download, battlemind link (lesser), confusion (lesser), detect thoughts, mind link, share language, share memory.

Psionic, moderate
Select two more at-will spells and one more 1/day spell from the minor psionic list. You must already have two of the at-will spells and one of the 1/day spells as spell-like abilities to select moderate psionic.

PA Psionic Cyborg

Psionic, major
Select two more at-will spells and one more 1/day spell from the minor psionic list. Additiinally, select one of the following spells as a 1/day spell-like ability: augury, perfect recall, predict foe, status. You must already have four of the at-will spells and two of the 1/day spells as spell-like abilities to select moderate psionic.

Rapid Revival
Once per day, when you take a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points, you can additionally recover Hit Points as though you had taken a full night’s rest.

Steady Stride
You can move through nonmagical difficult terrain at your normal speed.

Swimmer
You gain a swim speed of 40 feet.

Telekinetic Flight
You gaining a supernatural fly speed of 10 with perfect maneuverability and the ability to hover without taking an action.

Toughened
Your sturdy physiology backs up armor’s defensive properties particularly well. When wearing armor, you gain a +1 racial bonus to AC. If you already have a +1 racial bonus to AC, you instead gain a +1 racial bonus to Fortitude and Reflex saves.

PA Turtle

Venomous
You can deal piercing or bludgeoning damage with your unarmed strikes. When you make a successful unarmed strike (or innate melee attack, such as might be gained from another mutation) that deals piercing damage, and the target takes damage from the attack, as a reaction you can expose the target to venom. Once you have used your venom, you can do so again only after taking a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points. You are immune to the effects of your own venom.
Mutant Venom
Type poison (injury); Save Fortitude (DC = 10 + half your level + your key ability modifier)
Track Dexterity (special); Onset 1 round; Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds
Effect Progression track is Healthy—Sluggish—Stiffened—Staggered; staggered is the end state.
Cure 1 save. All effects end 1 hour after cure.

Wings
You grow wings, gaining an extraordinary fly speed of 30 with average maneuverability.

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.

 

In Time of Pandemic, 1

Plague Doctor

Let me clearly open with this:

I am not in danger. I am not a threat to myself or others. I have a strong support network, which includes a lot of really good shoulders to cry on, ears to listen to me, and kind voices to give aid when asked.

I often write about the things I am going through in a way other professionals mostly don’t. Sometimes, the fact I do so worries friend and colleagues alike. That’s never my aim, and I sincerely apologize to anyone I have made uncomfortable. Online explanations of my mental state are part of my therapy process. Writing things gives me power over them, and helps me organize and contextualize my feelings.

And, I want other folks who are struggling to know they are not alone.

I also want now, in the front, to note I have a Patreon. If you find this writing useful, or just want to toss me some support, it’s a great way to help out.

So,

I am an aging, obese, depressive, introverted, socially-awkward independent creative with impostor syndrome, civilian PTSD, and a genuine fear of deadlines, disappointing people, and criticism.

If you are thinking to yourself “Wow, given all that it sounds like the ONE job you should avoid is freelance game writer,” you have a point.

In times of pandemic, you reassess your life choices.

But I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now, and as much as I want to shrug and give up sometimes, it really is a defining part of my own self-image. Intellectually, I am well aware I have achieved success many people consider noteworthy. I am also aware that as a hetero cis white male I have had a lot of unearned advantages along the way.

I recently wrote online “One of the major advantages to doing business over social media is that I can literally be sobbing as I type smiley faces and multiple cheerful exclamation points.”

And I meant that it is, at face value, a useful advantage. I mean, when I was the manager of a parking garage in the 1990s, if I was sobbing not only could I not just go on with my day without people constantly asking me if I was okay, it would be considered unprofessional. It would interfere with my job function, the perception of me, and my own serenity. But when dealing with things in an entirely text-based format, as long as I am together enough to make the post look professional and upbeat, it is treated as professional and upbeat.

But of course, I only know that because sometimes I DO write marketing text and otherwise interact with fans and freelancers online while crying. Normally it’s a pretty rare thing, only happening when something is timing-critical. Like if there’s a one-day sale of a big product, or if a Kickstarter is ending. In those cases, even if I am depressed, or bereaved, it needs to get done right NOW, tears be damned.

The current situation, of course, is anything but normal.

Right now I am crying more than usual. I am also more often slumping into a mind-numb torpor where nothing gets done, more often ranting and yelling at the corner of the room, self-medicating a LOT more often, and walking away from everything in total disgust more often.

In times of pandemic, there are more tears.

That’s not to suggest I have it especially hard right now, compared to other people. While money is tightening, I am not totally unable to earn funds like some folks. My job hasn’t depended on my going anywhere but my home office since last July, and even before that it was work a company could (and in the case of my last full-time employer has) have people do from home. Even within my industry, the fact I have focused on digital products for my own projects is proving to insulate me slightly from the resounding crash of the physical product supply chain.

There are people under stay-at-home orders right now who, as a result of various factors often entirely beyond their control, have no home to stay at. I am in no way suffering more than average.

I’m not going it alone, either, thank goodness. I have an amazing support network. My wife of nearly 30 years is a constant source of comfort and aid. I have great friends, many of whom are going the extra mile to interact with me in video chats, discord forums, IMs, and so on. I have people paying me for my work, both in individual and direct ways and through companies and big projects, who are being understanding and patient with me, but also not letting me totally off the hook that I fall so far behind I can never catch up (thank god). I can get advice, or perspective, or sympathy in pretty much endless and instant supply. (Thank god.)

But I also acknowledge there are stresses in my life. I and my wife both fall into high-risk categories for the current pandemic. We’ve been self-isolating, and going out to places that are now closed (and spending money we currently don’t have) were among my best stress-relievers. And while I am not a fan of huge crowds anyway, I did love sitting with a small circle of close friends, and self-isolation for a month or so now has that off the table. I have some medical issues that cause severe fatigue, and it’s hard to differentiate those from depression or being overwhelmed by constant bad news and worry for friends and family.

Nearly every creative I have discussed it with agrees that it is HARD to get anything done right now. The fact that getting things done, and fast, is of even more importance as companies must pivot to deal with the new makes the failure to produce emotionally more challenging, but it doesn’t make it easier. And I completely support shutting down game stores and prioritizing crucial shipments from big vendors, but those things also put my entire industry at real, long-term, catastrophic risk.

In times of pandemic, my chosen career is not essential.

So yes, I am worried, and weary, and worn. And ultimately I am safe, and privileged, and supported. And I really wrote all of this both to assure those who worry about me that I am no closer to any tipping point or brink than normal; and to let other people who feel like they aren’t coping well know they are not alone.

None of us know what the next few weeks, months, and even years will look like. That lack of certainty, and the need to change how we do everything–from ordering groceries to teaching children to talking with friends to playing and creating games–is exhausting. Every day is both the first day of school, and a stroll by the edge of a very sparse minefield. Stress is a constant companion, and uncertainty is a mist that conceals every road.

I am sure I’ll get through this. I’m sure we’ll collectively get through this. Maybe not unscathed or unchanged, but still whole at the far side.

And maybe, if we work at it, we can improve society with the things we learned in a time of pandemic.

Survival in GammaFinder

One of the core concepts of any post-apocalypse RPG is survival. This is definitely true in GammaFinder, as the world is full of poison earth, acid rain, toxic water, deadly environmental effects, baked earth, rusted, twisted metal… it’s harsh. Just traveling beyond a settlement, even if nothing rises to the level of an encounter, is dangerous.

And, as it happens, Starfinder has a Survival skill.

But making Survival rolls daily, and making people think about where their character sleep, find water, hunt, how they avoid heatstroke, dodge poison ivy, and so on gets boring.

So GammaFinder has a Weekly Survival Check.

PA dead carscape

Weekly Survival Check

Each group makes a Survival check each week. The DC is equal to 15 + 1.5 x the average CR of hazards and monsters in the area, +1 per person in the group. (When in double, if there is a titan nearby, the GM can assume the average CR is within the Titans range. Otherwise if the area is not known to be particularly hazardous, assume an average CR of 2. Yes, 2. GammaFinder World is rough).

If multiple people make Survival checks, the highest check result is treated as the primary result, and each character in the group after the first who succeeds adds one to that highest result. The following additional factors modify the roll, as can previous rolls (see results, below).

PA Wasteland

Weekly Survival Check Modifiers
Group begins week out of food and water: -5
Group has no wilderness gear: -2
Group has at least 1 piece of survival gear for each member: bonus equal to the highest item level of such gear every character has. (For example, if 4 people have a piece of 5th level survival gear, but one person only has a 1st-level piece of gear, the bonus is +1. If six people all have a piece of 3rd level gear, the bonus is +3).

Results
You not only need to know if the group succeeded or failed, but by how much.

PA japan Fire

Success by 5 or More: Things went very well! You slept in protected spots, avoided unpleasant allergens and minor hazards, and found plentiful and quality food and water. You do not use up any of your carried food or water resources, and everyone in your group gains a +2 bonus to the next week’s Weekly Survival Check.

Success by 4 or less: You use up resources (such as food and water) normally, but manage to avoid being run down by the constant dangers of the GammaFinder World.

Fail by 5 or less: You didn’t manage ideal conditions, but it’s livable. You might be  sleeping in a cold, cramped space under a large rock, eating grubs, drinking water that’s slimy but not poisonous, or just dealing with gnat bites, rough terrain, sunburn, weariness, and so on.
Everyone in the party takes a -1 penalty to skill checks, including next week’s survival, until you succeed at a weekly survival check or you get a good night’s sleep and food in a settlement. This is cumulative if you fail by this amount in consecutive weeks.

Fail by 6- or more: Why did you ever leave your hovel?

Everyone in the party takes a -2 penalty to skill checks, including next week’s survival, until you succeed at a weekly survival check or you get a good night’s sleep and food in a settlement. This is cumulative if you fail by this amount in consecutive weeks.

Everyone temporarily has their maximum Stamina Points reduced by 1 per character level. This lasts until the group succeeds at a Weekly Survival Check by 5 or more, or get 2 good night’s sleep and food at a settlement.

PA dead trees

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.