Author Archives: okcstephens

ShadowFinder’s Lost Golarion: The Chelaxian Commonrule

Yep, it’s another preview of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book! Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

ShadowFinder assumes you are applying it’s Play Mode to one of two worlds — Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, or Lost Golarion. Both are at a similar point technologically, magically, and in planar terms, and both are based on worlds Starfinder players are likely to be familiar with (our own Earth, or Pathfinder’s Golarion). But both also have significant differences, in the case of Lost Golarion, centuries of development during a time when the world has lost access to most of the gods and planes, with only segments of reality apparently sectioned off by some kind of cosmic “Gap” accessible even by things such as wish.

While obviously I can’t go into deep detail on the state of entire worlds, both Rasputin’s Legacy Earth and Lost Golarion are different enough from what people are used to that SOME amount of explanation is in order. Chapter Ten of the ShadowFinder core book is the “ShadowFinder Gazetteer,” talking a bit about the who, what, and where of the worlds you can adventure in.

Here is the draft of the entry on the Commonrule of Cheliax, unedited, still with its formatting tags.

[H2]The Commonrule of Cheliax

Among the most powerful nations on Lost Golarion is the Commonrule of Cheliax. Ruled by the Imperial Bureaucracy, of which the most powerful remains the monarchal Majestrix, the Commonrule is a potent economic, scientific, and diabolic powerhouse that can be considered a Global Superpower, on par with the Gokan Republic, Magaambani, New Taumata, and the Padisha Empire of Kelesh.

The Commonrule includes what were once the nations of Andoran, Cheliax, Fangwood, Hold of Belkzen, Isger, Molthune, Nidal, Nirmathas, Thuvia, and Ustalav, each of which retains some local identity as a Commonrule Province. In theory each province is equal in the eyes of the Commonrule Law, but that complex, devil-generated code somehow places the Province of Cheliax above all other regions. Most other Commonrule Provinces accept this as just the way things are, though the Province of Nirmathas continues to produce numerous home-grown, and often violent, independence movements. The region once known as the Worldwound is also controlled by the Commonrule as the Devil Militarized Zone, where mortals are only allowed on official Chelaxian business.

The Commonrule of Cheliax still officially accepts Asmodeus as its patron deity, and devil-worship and fiendish warlock pacts are common parts of everyday life. The fact Torag is the only actual god that responds to petitioners is simply glossed over, and the availability of devils and even archdevils to address prayers, rituals, and business needs makes it easy to forget no one has heard from Asmodeus himself for centuries.

While the majority of the Commonrule’s population is at least partially human or orcish, devils and devilblooded mortals are more numerous here than anywhere else on Golarion. The Commonrule Law is designed to handle such interactions, and explicitly covers both devilish and mortal duties, privileges, and restrictions. Every member of the Commonrule Council, the highest committee within the Imperial Bureaucracy, has a Devil’s Advocate as an advisor, some of which have advised political and noble families for generations.

The Commonrule government is well aware of the dangers of the Shadowblast, but sees it more as a potential source of power than an existential threat. While the Hellknight Order of the Pyre has increasingly focused on rooting out and eliminating Shadowblast cultists in recent decades, the official stance of the Commonrule is that the Shadowblast is little more than a the pesh-induced ranting of Nidalese Nationalist terrorist cells. The idea that an entire demiplane exists and is beyond the control of either the Chelaxian Commonrule of their devilish allies is considered too likely to disrupt the order of the nation, and is not officially acknowledged. Most action against the Shadowblast is either taken on as the pet project of a mid-level official, or by the ShadowFinder Society. Although the Commonrule downplays the ShadowFinder’s claims that the Shadowblast represents a significant, ill-understood threat, the Society is allowed to operate openly (even if any danger they neutralize is “officially” classified as Nidalese in news reports).

(Of course, not ALL warlocks come from the Commonrule…, as shown in this mage by Jacob Blackmon)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

Things You Need to Know in ShadowFinder

Yep, it’s another preview of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book! Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

Unedited, still with its formatting tags.

[H1]New Things You Need to Know

While ShadowFinder is 100% Starfinder compatible, there are still a few things that are ShadowFinder-specific you need to know when going through this book. The key such things are detailed below.

And, yes, some of these things are straight-up benefits for player characters. It’s okay. The GM has a section on how things from the Shadowblast work, and why your PCs need these benefits.

Boosted Reroll: Some d20 reroll rules in ShadowFinder specify they allow a “booster reroll.” This means that when you reroll the d20 using that rule, if the result on the die is a 1-10, you add 10 to your total result. Thus, if you make an boosted reroll attack roll with a +5 attack bonus, and the d20 shows an 13 on your roll, you total is (13 + 5) 18. But if your d20 shows a 6 on your reroll, you add another +10 bonus, and your total is (6+5+10) 21.

Even on a boosted reroll, a natural 1 on an attack roll is an automatic failure, though if you need to know how much you miss by, you do get to add the additional +10 for rolling under an 11 on the die.

Heroic Defense: Characters in ShadowFinder are imbued by destiny to be major players in the battle against the worst parts of the Shadowblast, and as a result they just get harder to hurt when wearing their typical gear as they gain levels, without the need for heavy or bulky armor. When wearing their typical adventuring gear, every ShadowFinder character (regardless of character class), has a base armor bonus to EAC equal to their character level + the number of armor types (light, heavy, and powered) they are proficient with, and an armor bonus to KAC two higher than that.

Normally if you aren’t ready-for-trouble (sleeping, in a prison uniform, and similar circumstances where you haven’t had a chance to gear up), you don’t get your Heroic Defense. It’s up to the GM whether any given circumstance counts as being geared for trouble, but normally unless the PC willfully removed their gear or had it stripped from them while helpless, they get Heroic Defense.

You can wear armor if you want and can get hold of it—but its armor bonus doesn’t stack with the armor bonus from Heroic Defense.

There are also personal defense items, like protective vests, which can help you survive other-wise lethal weapon attacks and be used with or without other forms of armor. Additionally, you may be able to access armor upgrades as stand-alone “gizmos.” See Chapter XX for more details on this equipment.

Heroic Resolve: ShadowFinders are literally people who can change the force of the Shadowblast by setting their will against it. As a result, all ShadowFinder characters (regardless of class) have access to Heroic Resolve, allowing them to expend Resolve Points to reroll failed attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. You must decide to use Heroic Resolve after you know what your d20 roll is, but before the result of that roll is revealed by the GM.

A reroll with Heroic Resolve is a “boosted reroll,” as defined in this section.

Recuperate: Whenever ShadowFinder mention recuperating, it’s using that as a game term to describe when a character takes a 10-minute rest and expends a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points. This if an ability says “Once you use this ability, you can’t use it again until you next takes a 10-minute rest and expends a Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points.

Saying “recuperate” is just faster, and makes it clear we’re always talking about the same thing. You can recuperate even if you don’t need to recover Stamina Points, but it still costs 1 Resolve Point.

Minimum Damage Dice: Whenever a ShadowFinder character (regardless of class) uses a weapon with which they are proficient, they can choose to roll that weapon’s damage dice, or use the minimum damage dice for their level and that weapon. For example, Seelah uses a longsword, an item-level 1, 1-handed advanced melee weapon that does 1d8 damage. When Seelah is 7th level, she can choose to use the longsword’s d8 damage, or her minimum damage dice in that category of 2d6. She adds her Strength bonus and Weapon Specialization bonus normally in either case.

See Page XX for the full rules on determining your minimum damage dice with a specific weapon.

Wealth Checks: Most things on Earth and Lost Golarion are bought with credit cards, paper money, signature-promised loans. Whenever you want to buy a typical piece of mundane, public-available gear, from an alarm clock to a car, you just need to make a Wealth Check, based on either half your level + one ability score (depending on the tye of work you wish to do), or a Profession skill check.

However, that economy simply does not cover strange gizmos of weird science, magic items of any type, black-market goods, and other things most common citizens don’t need, but adventurers often do. These things are purchased with Coin of the Realm (or “cr.” for short), special metal money minted by various secret societies and that are ultimately backed by a complex web of promises, rules, and reputation.

And by remarkable coincidence, the cr. cost of magic, gizmos, and so on in ShadowFinder, is exactly equal to the credit cost in a typical Starfinder game. See page xx in Chapter X: Equipment and Wealth, for more information on wealth checks, and Coin of the Realm.

(I can’t WAIT to actually show you the ShadowFinder art by Jacob Blackmon! .. Well, okay, obviously I CAN wait, but I don’t want to.)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowFinder Classes

Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

Since that announcement, a lot of people have asked me what classes will be in ShadowFinder. The short answer is “anything designed for Starfinder.” The long answer is a little more complicated, because the first ShadowFinder book will specifically be designed around eight classes – enigma, envoy, mystic, operative, soldier, sword saint, technician, and warlock.

So, if every class works, why focus on just a subset of them? Well it turns out I wrote a whole sidebar about that! here it is, complete with layout formatting just so people can see what my 3pp manuscripts tend to look like.

[BEGIN SIDEBAR][H2]“Why Can’t I Play A Vanguard In ShadowFinder?”
Good news, you can play a vanguard, if your group wants that!

Oh, still here? Want more of an explanation? Okay, let’s talk.
The ShadowFinder Play Mode is designed to evoke a different set of tropes and sub-genres than standard Starfinder. It’s much more Modern Urban Fantasy than Science-Fantasy, so we expect you’ll mostly adventure on one planet, hunt cryptids, run down cults, and fight things you find in the shadows (see what we did there?), rather than have battles in starships, hop from world to world, explore strange new sections of space, and combat the forces of entire star kingdoms.
So, for that different Play Mode, we focus on the 8 classes that feel most appropriate for the kinds of stories we expect to be part of that – envoy, mystic, operative, soldier, the new enigma and warlock classes, the hybrid mechanic/technomancer technician class, and the sword saint alternate class for the solarian. As a result, those classes are given more support (and in the case of new/hybrid/alternative classes, introduced, blended, and modified) to fit the tone of ShadowFinder.
But that’s the game we envision. If you’re reading this, they’re YOUR ShadowFinders now! Yes, we played with Armor Class rules, damage, equipment… but that can all be applied to any Starfinder class (even other classes on Starfiner Infinite, or things Paizo hasn’t released yet). The whole point of making ShadowFinder be 100% Starfinder compatible is that anything in ShadowFinder can be used in a typical Starfinder game, and anything designed for Starfinder can be used in the ShadowFinder Play Mode.
A single player want to be the only vanguard in the known world and the GM is cool with that idea? Great, no issues here. You want to port in more fantasy-themed classes from Rogue Genius Games’ Starfarer Companion? Be our guest. Don’t like our technician class, and you want to give its class features out to mechanics and technomancers? That’ll work just fine. ShadowFinder is both a toolbox and a goody bag. Use it however you want—be designed it that way.
TL;DR – Anything that works in Starfinder works in Shadowfinder. This is a Play Mode, not a different game or campaign. If you want to have biohackers and vanguards and technomancers finding shadows, go for it!

[END SIDEBAR]

Obviously, I’ll talk more about this both running up to the book’s release on Satrfinder Infinite, and afterward.

(Yep, more Jacob Blackmon ShadowFinder art you don’t get to really see yet!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

Owen Explains It All – Musical Challenges for Starfinder

Before we get to any OGL content, an editorial aside:

First, this blog has spoilers for an animated series, so if you want to avoid those, don’t read this.

Second, you may be wondering why is this tagged as an “Owen Explains It All” post, when that’s very unlike my normal marketing tone? Well, because this links into a show from the BAMF podcast I’m on, titled “Owen Explains It All!“. We do an episode every two weeks, picking new things from the zeitgeek to use as inspiration for game material, specifically the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

We have a logo and everything!

If you haven’t already gone and watched the September 27, 2021 episode, we talk about the Star Wars Visions animated shorts, and how one of them features a band that has to overcome challenge with their music, but NOT in a battle of the bands.

Which leads me to Musical Challenges, as OGL content

Musical Challenges

I already created a set of Battle of the Bands rules, designed to resolve a conflict between two or more musical groups, using a modification of the Starfinder chase rules. That’s great, as far as it goes, but what if you want a musical challenge that isn’t a direct competition among multiple groups? For example, what if a band of scifi musicians need to win over a crowd, and become so clearly popular a local gangster decides it’s more profitable to sponsor them than kill one of their members for a pervious misunderstanding?

Luckily, all you need to turn Battle of the Bands into any musical challenge is a way to create a set of statistics for a “Challenge Stat Block,” (CSB) that is decide that a given task requires the PCs to overcome a stat block with a Musical AC and Musical Item level, and an appropriate skill check. Once you do that, you can run each stage of the encounter as a 1-on-1 “battle of the bands” between the PC band and the challenge’s stat block.

Since those values are based on ranks, just decide the CSB has a number of ranks equal to the CR you want that stage of the challenge to be. So for 3rd level heroes, build the CSB off 3 ranks for a typcial challenge, or 5 ranks for a severe encounter. Then write up each stage of the Musical Challenge as a CSB, and run it like an opposing band.

If you need to have the Musical Challenge work with a specific existing NPC, use their CR for ranks if they have an appropriate master skill, or their CR -2 if they don’t. Similarly, for their own skill checks, use the total master skill bonus of an expert array creature of the same CR if they have appropriate master skills, and the god skills bonus of the array otherwise.

Here’s an example.

Our 3rd level scifi band of adventures, Heavy Sabre, is performing at a festival run by the gangster Massio, who plans to kill their drummer when they are done to enforce an old debt. The band needs to win the crowd over (Challenge Step 1), then convince Massio he’ll make more money promoting them than killing them (Challenge Step 2), which happens while his thugs are trying to get them off the stage.

Since Heavy Sabre is 3rd level, the Challenge Step 1 CSB is built using the 3 ranks as the assumed baseline. That gives “Winning Over the Crowd” a Musical Armor Class (MAC) of 13, and a Musical Item Level (MIL) of 13. When the “Winning Over the Crowd” CSB takes an action for relative positioning, it uses the master skill bonus of a 3rd level expert array (+10). Now run a battle of the bands between Heavy Sabre and the CSB, which gets one action a turn.

Once Heavy Sabre wins that, they must win over Massio. Massio is a 5th level gangster, so this will be much tougher. He has a MAC and MIL of 15. However, since he’s not an expert on music and is likely to be swayed by the crowd’s reaction, you can just use his good skill bonus of +11. Also, since there are thugs trying to get the band off the stage, the PCs will have to both fight a Battle of the Bands with this CSB, and fight off 2 thugs during the combat phase.

And that’s it! Any challenge that the GM decides can be overcome by musical expertise — winning over patrons, lulling savage monsters to sleep, putting ghosts of slain battle-drumming to rest–can now be handled by deciding how many steps it takes, and treating each as a Challenge Stat Block.

This is an Expanded Post, with some notes on how to adjust these rules to allow for ANY skill based challenge to be run available to my Patrons, who provide me with the support that makes these posts possible.

ShadowFinder is Coming!

So, first some legal stuff.

Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials.

And I am doing it because with the announcement of Pathfinder Infinite and Starfinder Infinite, I am, in fact, going to be doing ShadowFinders, like I have ben carefully not focusing on for a few years now.

So, what the heck is ShadowFinder? Well I’ll talk about it more once the first ShadowFinder product is up on Starfinder Infinite, but until then, let’s look at part of the introduction from that book.

What is ShadowFinder?

ShadowFinder is a Play Mode for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. What do we mean by “Play Mode?” We mean this is not a new game, or even a new campaign. It’s just a way to play Starfinder and get a different feel, and be focused on different kinds of stories. You don’t need to learn a new system, and while we tweaked a few things to better support the playstyle we expect game groups to use for ShadowFinder, none of that is mandatory.

Specifically, ShadowFinder is a game about being on a world with a technology level very like the Earth currently has, and yet a world with a great deal of magic as well. In fact, one of the two places we assume you’ll play ShadowFinder is Earth… but an Earth that has been very different since heroes from Golarion arrived during WWI to kill Rasputin. The other world is Golarion, but not only is it much further along in its technological development, it’s been cut off from all the rest of the universe by some sort of cosmic Gap, and Torag is the only god that directly talks to people anymore.

In both these worlds there is what is known on the surface… and then greater threats that lurk in the Shadows. Specifically, there is the Shadowblast  (“Shadобласть,” in the first Soviet notes to talk about it), a hazy and semi-substantial place that seems to be a overlapping blend of the Shadow Plane, First World, and some infernal planes. Journying from Golarion to Earth apparently left a scar in the Astral plane, and the Shadowblast is a demiplane that has formed within that scar.

On Earth, the Shadowblast has been the source of magicand magic creatures to seep into the world, bringing back energies and secrets kept locked away since the Old Egyptian Gods left the world. On Golarion, the Shadowblast is a way for the planar flotsam and jetsam to wash ashore in this Gap-severed pocket of the Material Plane, causing things from Earth to arrive… but also horrors and travelers from other realms who are pretty annoyed that, once on Golarion, they seem stuck here forever.

And in both worlds, the Shadowblast is clearly a thing being explored by alien empire far from known space, as shirren, ysoki, vesk, and other species find themselves dumped out of the planar darkness, generally suffering great confusion and memory loss. And, it seems, less savory things from the Void have been visiting, and perhaps even leaving, with grays and reptoids the least horrific of these threats.

Whether playing in a relatively normal-looking Deep Shadows game on Earth, where the general public is still in the dark about the growing eldritch threats, or a Shadows Everywhere game on either world, where magic and mythic species are well-known, but the true danger from the Shadowblast remains a problem only a small fraction of people are willing to do anything about, the PCs take on the role of ShadowFinders, trying to mitigate the damage from things leaking out of (and sometimes plotting from within) the Shadowblast, while seeking answers to the true nature of the incursions that are growing in frequency and intensity.

Welcome to ShadowFinder.

(I literally cannot show you this amazing ShadowFinder image by Jacob Blackmon yet. But, soon!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!

The Icosantheon. No 20 — Aor

The Icosantheon is a host of twenty deities bound not by a common origin, but by a united conservatorship of the immaterium that forms the sides and edges of the material plane.

(Art by grandfailure)

Aor is among the most unusual of deities in the Icosantheon, as it is not perceived as self-aware. Rather Aor is the Beacon Tower, the very first structure created by mortals to serve as a warning to others. It is believed to be the first structure made by any civilization to be so tall it’s top could not be reached by one standing on the shoulders of another, the first made of stone, the first to have artifice and magic both involved in its creation, and the first built by more people than the land around it could support, requiring the coordination of multiple communities over months or years.

Thus Aor became a thing early civilizations would swear by, and call upon when attempting to rally people. Aor represents the act of creation and cooperation not to destroy, or even to defend, but to warn. A nonviolent transmission of data that required people struggling and sacrificing in order to pass a benefit on to later generations. While there is significant disagreement about when, where, and by who the true Aor was built, that made no difference to it’s growth as a symbol. And much as the sun, or the ocean, or the wind could act as a divine force with no anthropomorphization, so, too, could the Beacon Tower.

The first worshippers of Aor were essentially philosophers and planners who discovered that parables about the effort needed to build Aor, and the benefits that were reaped not by those who did so but those who came after, granted them more than just wisdom. Stories spread, and were compiled, talking about the need to maintain Aor so it would not fall into disrepair, to man it so the beacon could be lit as needed, to set aside some effort of a community to keep the advantages Aor had granted them. Aor became a symbol of a thing mortals did without the gods, and in doing so took the palce of gods in the minds of many.

Aor has no tenets, being an inanimate object, but its worshippers actively promote the ideas that must have held sway when it was constructed. They see themselves as beacons of their own, looking for dangers to entire societies and teaching the needed behaviors that will prepare populations to be ready for such threats.

*Aor is Neutral, and accepts worships of all non-chaotic alignments. The essential quality to worship Aor is to accept that there are benefits of forethought, and working together, and maintaining that which has been wrought. Such beleifs can be applied to good and evil, to strict laws or general trends, but do not mesh well with those who hold individual freedom of choice above joint, organized action.
*Aor’s color is gray — the gray of rock, stone, and dust gathering in ancient corners. Often Aor is represented by a single vertical gray stripe, which may be placed in the center or to the left of any other pattern or image.
*Aor’s favorite weapons are hammers, which were used to help craft and place it.
*Aor’s favored animal is the ganet. There are debates about why. Ganets are seabirds, suggesting the Beacon Tower might have been the first ligthhouse. Ganets are also famously fearless and easy ot kill, perhaps suggesting they need Aor more than other animals.
*Its servitors are non-chaotic outsiders linked to architecture and crafting, regardless of their other affiliations.
*Its holy symbol is a tower with a light or bolt at the top, spiraling outward from it.
*Its areas of concern are architecture, cooperation, communication, diligence, forethought, navigation, teaching, and warning.
*Its domains are Artifice (industry, toil), Community(cooperation, education), Rune (wards), Sun (light), Travel (trade), and Water (oceans).

Worshipers of Aor are often gifted with divine foresight, and an inherent understanding of construction. They may give up any skill known to gain Knowledge (Engineering) and have one bonus rank in that skill per level (still limited to max ranks equal to their level). Additionally, any worshiper of Aor that receives a domain, hex, or mystery can sacrifice a domain power, hex or, revelation to gain a power from the divination wizard school, or any of its subschools, that could be gained at the same or lower level.

Patreon

If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, or are just looking for a way to support my work, please consider supporting my Patreon to cover the cost of my doing it. You can join for the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

The Icosantheon. No 5 — Eirsival

The Icosantheon is a host of twenty deities bound not by a common origin, but by a united conservatorship of the immaterium that forms the sides and edges of the material plane.

(Art by grandfailure)

5. Eirsival

Eirsival is known as the Knight of the Final Thunder and the Coming Storm. She is the last of the Storm Mothers, agents of the primal divinities from before the fall of the Cthonic Gods. The Storm Mothers oversaw the destiny of those who would die defending others. In a twist of what could be considered irony, they were unable to foresee their own destiny, dying to defend the birth of mortals during the Gogolmachy when gods and elder beings first came into direct conflict and destroyed so much of reality, including entire alternate histories and places where technology was far more advanced than the current world.

Along with the other Storm Mothers and the First Heroes they had guided, Eirsival stood to hold the Final Line against aberrant horrors that sought to unmake the rules of the material plane. Had they failed, there would be no natural order to things, just a whirling tumult where the will and power of an entity were the only limits of what it could force others, and matter itself, to become. Though the Final Line did not break, when the maelstrom fell back, only Eirsival and Ixalicor, the progenitor of all unicorns, remained. Ixalicor swore to serve as Eirsival’s mount for all time, and Eirsival swore that those who defended the innocent, weak, and abused should never have to do so alone.

And in that moment, she went from the last of a line of angelic servants to being a deity.

Eirsival neither requires nor even requests worship, as she wishes to support all righteous defenders, whether they pay her obeisance or not. However, that very fact draws some to venerate her and wish to spread her name, and as long as they do so in the name of protecting a better world and respect the lives in the current world, she does not refuse them. Her temples are few, but tend toward massive fortifications that can take in and defend vast populations when needed. Slightly more common are stables and cavalry forts with a small shrine to her, as the friendship between her and Ixalicor has carried down to many forms of equine.

Eirsival believes that rules and order are a necessary part of protecting the rights and dignity of all things, but she also accepts that rules and order can be used for darker purposes. Thus while she has a natural distrust of anarchy and randomness, she does not inherently oppose it until it begins to impinge on her quest to protect all. Eirsival is a close ally with Karrackar, and where she and the Shade Dragon disagree on some finer details of how to best proceed, their mutual respect is so great they simply defer to one another within their specific areas of concern. Eirsival actively dislikes Garuuhl, and considers him excellent proof that if the ends is sued to justify the means, evil will eventually result. She largely ignores other members of the Icosantheon, and other gods in general, unless their interests and goals somehow overlap or oppose her own.

*Eirsival is Lawful Good, and accepts worships of all good alignments, and those who are Lawful Neutral. She supports all efforts to protect and aid others, and acknowledges that there are often many ways to do so, but does not tolerate evil in any form, or anarchy for the sake of anarchy.
*Eirsival’s colors are sky blue, silver, and pearly white, often in wind and cloud motifs. However, her colors are for times when color is appropriate, her worshippers feel no pressure to embrace those colors unless they both desire to and are safely can.
*Her favorite weapons are any form of lance or spear, most often one sheathed in lightning.
*Her favored animal is the horse and all horselike creatures, especially pegasi, unicorns, and hippogriffs.
*Her servitors are winged unicorns the color of thunder and lightning, tengu spearmasters who are wandering teachers, and smiths, especially lance-smiths.
*Her holy symbol is a single bolt of lignting, surrounded by darkness.
*Her areas of concern are destiny, dignity, heroes, honor, loss, resolution, and solitude.
*Her domains are Air (cloud, lightning, wind), Glory (chivalry, heroism, and honor), Good (friendship), Law (loyalty), Protection (defense, fortification, and solitude), and Weather (storms).

Any worshipper of Eirsival who is of good alignment and has the animal companion class feature can take the Unicorn Companion feat, even if they do not otherwise meet its prerequisites. Additionally, her worshipers can gain the feat and the animal companion feature needed to use it by giving up specifi class features based on their class: cleric (one domain), inquisitor (domain and stern gaze), oracle (revelations from 1st, 7th, and 15th level), shaman (spirit animal), warpriest (both blessings).

Patreon

If you got any use out of this article, or have enjoyed any of my content, or are just looking for a way to support my work, please consider supporting my Patreon to cover the cost of my doing it. You can join for the cost of a cup of coffee a month.

Guarded Trick Exploit for Starfinder

Okay, today it’s just an idea I have been mulling for a while.

Operative Exploits

2nd Level

You must be at least 2nd level to choose these exploits.

Guarded Trick (Ex): When you make a trick attack, in place of any other movement you could normally take, you may take a guarded step.

PATREON
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Making Combat Interesting: The Really Wild West Clockwork Platform Fight

I recently ran a fight in my Really Wild West campaign, using Starfinder rules, that took place atop a series of spinning, moving, shifting gears. Overall, it was big hit.

(Plus a hodge-podge of objective markers, miniatures, models, and standees)
(and one 3D printed mechanical dog, used to represent the old west mechanic’s steampunk canine drone)

Now, this was made much easier by the fact that one friend of mine made these big green gridded disks from flower/cake foam (to use as hills and such), and other got this spinning, sliding lazy susan tabletop. So all I had to do was tell folks the disks were big bronze gears, spin and turn them (they both rotated on their own axis, and spun around each other at different speeds), and players could rotate the whole map if they needed to see what was on the far side of the gear-pile.

I warned people that the mechanism was so complex as to be essentially unpredictable, so while I tried to follow some basic rules on how things spun and moved, if I messed up players knew that randomness was intended. While the gears were officially in constant movement I just relocated them at the end of each round, so players always had a chance to react to one position before they formed a new one (and, after all, realistically the characters are in “constant motion” as well).

On top of the big moving gear platforms, there were two sets of “control cogs,” parts of a Babbage system that controlled the movement of the gears (orange markers), and the actions of the constructs defending them (green markers). The mechanic in the group managed to get access to those things, though it wasn’t easily, and one-by-one shut down the constructs while their allies used mobility (including good Acrobatics or Athletics checks and actual mobility to avoid attacks from spinning gears as the dodged about), flight, and climbing to move around.

So, this encounter had fairly normal combatants, but a lot of other things going on as well. In fact I kept the combatants pretty straightforward (well… one had a steam-pressure triphammer than could boost for multiple rounds to gain more and more bonus dice to its next attack) just so I wasn’t throwing too much at the players.

I’ve done similar things with moving elements before–fighting on rafts in rivers choked with floating logs, conflicts on trains both mobile and stationary, running battled through tunnels with teleportation gates, stampedes as hazards with big rocks to hide behind and every other space counting as an attack of opportunity as you try to avoid being trampled–but I think this is the most complex and multi-moving-part encounter I’ve done. And my players are all veterans of gaming and general and, at 9th level, this campaign and these characters in particular.

And it’s fairly easy to spice things up with doing so far as to have two Jedi battle it out on rocks bobbing along streams of lava with guard skiffs flying by. A battle behind a waterfall makes everything wet, and drowns out all noise. Defending a wall gives all the PCs cover–or all the PC’s foes cover, depending on which side of the wall they are on. A cliffside fight is all about climbing up, down, and sideways rather than running N, S, E, and W. Fights on frozen ponds, or in hurricanes, or in grass fields that stand 12 feet tall — not only do these things give the players a new experience, it can make various class and ability options they take worthwhile. Who wants to move freely through natural terrain if there isn’t the occasional thorny bramble covering 13 of the map, with grig archers shooting out of it?

You don’t need to shake things up in every battle, but just a few props now and then, or a different kind of terrain or local hazard, can help a specific encounter be memorable.

PATREON
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The Traumatic Weapon Property for Starfinder/ShadowFinder

Sometimes, you have to decide if an idea is worth the mental load adding it causes the game to gain.

Stamina Points and Hit Points are wildly unrealistic simulations of how creatures and objects take damage. After all, people who are stabbed once sometimes die, people who are stabbed 30+ times sometimes survive. Similar numbers are true for gunshot wounds, and often the people involved are sufficiently typical there’s no reason to suspect they are secretly 11th level heroes with a vast pool of damage points… or that the people who kill with a single attack are pulling off massively high-level trick attacks.

But SP and HP aren’t efforts to model reality. They are gameist rules designed to make it easy to know if a character is being hurt, near death, or dead. Often the situations they create are pretty clearly at odds with typical reality, even if possibly within the realm of things that have happened a few times in medical history. But the rules do a good job of indicated levels or harm, allowing resource management to help track available healing and rest times, and allowing players a metric by which they can gauge the threat posed by a wide range of threats.

Normally, you look at changing rules to make them easier, faster, more realistic, or more “fun,” (which can, admittedly, encapsulate a lot of potential elements). While it would be pointless to try to make weapon damage more “realistic” in a system using SP/HP, due to the inherent gameist nature of that system, there is, however, another potential reason to have firearms work differently than melee weapons in Starfinder (or a compatible modern version, perhaps ShadowFinder) – genre emulation. While lots of supernatural monster hunters in genre fiction have shotguns and pistols, others with access to such materials restrict themselves to knives, axes, and wooden stakes, and go so far as to claim firearms never help.

And there IS a difference between the way a bullet damages a soft target and the way it damages a hard one. The vast speeds of bullets means they often deform and warp soft tissues in a much larger area than the wound track, whereas a stiletto punching the same size whole in someone lacks that additional damage mechanic.

So, maybe we want bullets (and maybe some other weapons) to work differently than other damage-dealers… sometimes. Kinda.

So, what if we create a new weapon property, called “traumatic”?

Traumatic: A traumatic weapon is one that does a significant amount of soft-tissue and propagating damage, such as a gunshot’s effects through hydrostatic shock. When used to damage a target that has no hardness and no DR, traumatic weapons deal additional damage equal to the listed amount (such as “traumatic +1d6”).

Kinda like Boost and some other traits, traumatic gives you more damage, but only in specific circumstances. I’d have to do a lot of math and comparisons to know exactly how much extra damage traumatic can add at any given level… and I’m not sure it’s worth it

Sometimes you have to craft a rule before you know if you like it. I’m really on the fence with this one. So I can try to adjust it until I like it, ir discard it and start over… or just decide it’s a bad idea.

But even fi I do that, I’m saving it in my archived files. Sometimes a bad idea for one game or function turns out to be just what you need for another project.

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