Author Archives: okcstephens

Themes for GammaFinder, Part 1 (Alphite)

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

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

PA Bike

Alphite (+1 Int)
You were born and raised in Alpha, the domed (and doomed) city that was the last bastion of order, technology, and science in the GammaFinder world–until it was destroyed by the Omega Invasion. But while you home was smashed, the broad education and basic understanding of how science and even quantum manipulation (called “magic” by the uneducated) function is still with you. It’s not that you are necessarily a scientist as a focus. It’s that you were raised to understand the power of intellect in all things, and given a firm set of conceptual tools you can apply to most problems.

Theme Knowledge (1st)
You received the benefit of an actual classic education. It wasn’t as broad and complete as it would have been in the Unburned World–too much was lost during the Chasm of History–but it was more complete and involved than is available anywhere else in the world that remains. That gives you a grasp of the scientific method, the psychic basics, and core problem solving. You reduce the DC of any skill check to recall knowledge by 3, and when you take 10 on a skill check, you gain a +1 bonus. Select Mysticism or Physical Science. The selected skill is a class skill for you, though if it is a class skill from the class you take at 1st level, you instead gain a +1 bonus to checks with your chosen skill.
In addition, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to Intelligence at character creation.

Careful Consideration (6th)
The more time you have to consider how to solve a problem, the better you are at doing so. You gain a +2 bonus to skill checks when you take 20. Additionally, you gain a +2 bonus to your second and subsequent skill checks when trying to understand a Halidom.

PA Hud

Intellectual Dispassion (12th)
Your understanding that everything makes sense if you know enough about it allows you to overcome emotional responses by leaning on your trust of a rational world. When you fail a saving throw against an emotion effect, fear effect, or effect that causes you to be confused, you make expend a Resolve Point as a reaction to immediately reroll the saving throw with a +5 bonus. You take the better of the two save results.

Contemplation (18th)
Sitting back and calmly thinking about your circumstance, your assets, various tactics and methods you can try to overcome your difficulties, and what you know that may assist you in future endeavors calms and centers you, leaving you feeling renewed. Up to twice per day, after you spend at least 10 minutes in deep contemplation (this doesn’t count as resting to regain Stamina Points, and during this time you take a -10 penalty to all Perception checks), you regain 1 Resolve Point.

PA Girl and Dog

A Request
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.

Halidoms: Relics of the Unburned World for GammaFinder (Part 2)

Okay, we’re still discussing Halidoms, for GammaFinder! We introduced the concept in yesterday’s article, and now we start looking at game rules.

PA The Gray

Halidom Game Rules

Halidoms are a form of item that come without instructions. The GM can replace 25% of all treasure given out with Halidoms, though they are most common as Moderate and Major items.

The good news for layers is that if you find a Halidom, getting it to work gets you a scaling item. A halidom upgrades itself as you gain levels (normally once every 5 levels, based on when a version of roughly the same item is available with a higher item level). The base news is, you may blow yourself up trying to figure out how to use it.

Halidom Key Skills

Every Halidom has a key skill that is the primary way it was designed to be interfaced with. In 70% of cases this is Computers, Engineering, Life Science, Mysticism, or Physical Science. In 20% of cases, it’s Culture, Diplomacy, Medicine, or Sleight of Hand. And in 10% of cases, it can be literally any other skill. That said, take it easy on Halidoms with Profession as their key skill–there are a lot of different Profession options, and no group can possibly cover them all. On the other hand, a quantum knife that keys of Profession (cook) is both reasonable and, if we are being honest with ourselves, funny. (I like the idea of “Soup’s On!” as a battle cry…)

A GM may pick the skill to match either the form of function of the Halidom, if desired. For example, a laser pistol that takes the form of a small remote control steering wheel (which is used to guide a targeting dot like a flying remote, with a gear shift to fire the weapon) might have Engineering (for the laser weapon aspect), Physical Science (for the general laws dictating how such a device works ), or Piloting (for the actual interaction with the device’s steering mechanism).

On the other hand, it might interact with Culture (to recognize the Unburned World toy name brand and marketing), Acrobatics (because you have to twist and turn the device to make its various functions work), or Bluff (because it constantly asks if you have parental approval to use it without the safety systems engaged).

A GM can also just roll on the table below to determine a Halidom’s Key Skill.

Roll 1d100 
01-14 Computers
15-28 Engineering
29-42 Life Science
43-56 Mysticism
57-70 Physical Science
71-75 Culture
76-80 Diplomacy
81-85 Medicine
85-90 Sleight of Hand
91 Acrobatics
92 Athletics
93 Bluff
94 Disguise
95 Intimidate
96 Perception
97 Piloting
98 Profession (Pick one at random)
99 Sense Motive
100 Survival

PA Electroflies

Discovery Checks

A Halidom does not come with instructions, and it doesn’t work in a way that is obvious to adventurers of the GammaFinder World. Even if it looks like a gun, acts like a gun, and has a trigger, a Halidom gun may require you to think a mantra in praise to the Saint of Bullets before you pull the trigger, or might have a palmlock that requires you to fake only having 3 fingers, or might only work when held sideways.

And, of course, it might exactly like the serum of healing that requires you to place the gunlike object against your own thigh and pull the trigger.

There were reasons for all these odd things to exist, and they made sense to the society of the Unburned World. But those reasons were based on philosophies and conditions that are in many cases inconceivable to heroes of the world as it exists now, and the factors that caused such unusual designs are long-lost to the Chasm of History.

When a character first encounters a Halidom, they can make skill checks to try to determine its Key Skill. The base DC for any such check is 15 + 1.5x the Halidom’s item level. Any skill that is NOT a Halidom’s key skill has a -5 penalty to all checks regarding the Halidom.

Until a Key Skill is identified, all characters can do it pick a skill, and use it to interact with the Halidom. This can be done once an hour, unless a side effect deactivates the Halidom for a time. You cannot intentionally activate a Halidom until you make enough Identification results to gain that knowledge.

Halidom Interaction Skill Checks
Beat DC by 10. Make a Identification roll.
Beat DC by 5. Identify that if skill being is Key Skill. DC lowered by 1.
Meet DC. Identify if skill being used is Key Skill.
Fail DC by 4 or less. Minor side-effect.
Fail DC by 5 to 9. Minor side-effect. All DCs increase by 1 until Key Skill is identified.
Fail DC by 10 or More: Major side-effect.

PA Robot

Identification Rolls
Roll 1d4. If you get a result you already know, you get the first result of a higher value you haven’t gotten yet.
1. Learn Item Level
2. Learn Item Function (Small Arm, Upgrade, Computer, and so on)
3. Learn Key Skill’s ability score
4. Learn Key Skill. +1 to all future rolls (cumulative with getting this result multiple times)
5. Learn a hapahazard activation. (Can activate Halidom, but suffer a minor effect when doing so unless you succeed at a Fortitude or Reflex save, DC 10 + Halidom’s item level). +1 to all future rolls (cumulative with getting this result multiple times)
6. Halidom mastered, can be used normally.

Minor Side Effects
Roll 1d6.
1. Item changes Key Skill. Any activation is haphazard (as 5, above) until Key Skill is identified.
2. Take damage of a random physical type, 1 point per item level.
3. Take damage of a random energy type, 2 points per item level.
4. Weird discharge. You are sickened for 1 hour per item level.
5. Weird discharge. You are confused for 1 round per 2 item levels.
6. Discharge. You are targeted by the item for its normal function (if it cannot affect targets, nothing happens).

PA Explosion

Major Side Effects
Major side effects function as a wonder grenade, but the area is a radius with a number of feet equal to the Halidom’s item level, rounded down to the nearest 5 feet. If that is less than 5, it only effect’s the triggering character.

A Request
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.

Halidoms: Relics of the Unburned World for GammaFinder (Part 1)

I introduced GammaFinder, a post-apocalypse campaign hack for Starfinder, yesterday. The response was… positive. 🙂

So, now I am exploring what kinds of rules we can add to that simple framework to help bring the PA flavor to a GammaFinder campaign. We begin with halidoms… which are going to need to be split into two articles. Here’s Part One.

PA Vault

The Unburned World

No one is sure what happened to create the GammaFinder World. Some say it was a war, fought with quantum reassignment projectors, x-ray-pumped lasers, and boson bombs. Others think there was a Great Disalignment, when magic flooded into the world, dragons awoke, demons rose, and common citizens turned into trolls, orcs, kasatha, and wizards. Other theories include a genetic virus, the Gray Death, luddite cults, social anarchy, and even a rogue comet. The records of the time of the Burning are muddled, contradictory, and confused, as if a half-dozen worlds got shoved together into a single shared disaster.

The Chasm of History

History, in short, has a Chasm. On this side, the GammaFinder World.  Before it, the Unburned World. And in the middle… anarchy, pain, horror, and disagreement. What is certain is that before the rise and fall of the great cities of Alpha and Beta, there was a very different place, able to do things no one can conceive of now.

Halidoms

There are… things… left over from the Unburned World. Or at least, from the time of the Chasm, if not the world before. Objects. Strange devices that use super-science, eldritch powers, or some combination of the two to create effects no one in the GammaFinder World can duplicate. They are often the thing that allows a town to survive in a harsh terrain, grant a petty warlord his power of metal men, or make cursed places seen as vaults of wonder and horror.

These are sometimes called relics, fragments, antiquaries, or crytobjects. But for whatever reason, the most common term for these Unburned Icons is “halidoms.”

Appearance

PA Toy

A halidom can look like… anything. Some are straightforward–a sword hilt which can project a sunblade. A vial of liquid you drink. A talking teddy bear which informs you of the ill intent of nearby creatures. Others are obtuse. A cube made of 27 smaller cubes which slide and shift into different configurations. A gnarled knot of roots and vines that are never observed to move, but constantly seem to be in different shapes. A tiny metal sphere with incorporeal lights orbiting it.

The problem is, form does not seem to follow function. A sword hilt may project a sunblade… or it maybe designed to be shoved into a rock that forms a mouth that gives medical advice. A vial of glowing liquid may be meant to be drunk, or it may hold the soul of a cryptowizard that casts one random technomancer spell a day. A spoon may full a bowl with soup, or it may project a sunblade.

A GM wanting a jumping-off point for the appearance of a halidom can roll 1d10 and consult the table below. It’s important to note that players don’t get to know what you rolled–if a haildom looks like a gun, that could be because its a kind of gun and you rolled a 1, or it could be a computer, and you rolled a 5.

  1. Typical appearance for its function (a gun looks like a gun)
  2. Representational appearance for its function (a gun looks like stone with a gun-shaped rune on it)
  3. Appears to be a puzzle with no link to its function
  4. Appears to be a toy
  5. Appears to be a typical appearance for an unrelated function (a gun that looks like a vial of serum)
  6. Appears to be a shifting mass of some specific material (a gun that looks like a ball of wires with tiny lights traveling along them)
  7. Representational appearance unrelated to its function (a gun that looks like a holy symbol)
  8. Appearance of a household object unrelated to its appearance (a gun that looks like spoon).
  9. Appearance of an item of apparel with some hint of its function (a gun that looks like a glove with a barrel on the wrist)
  10. Appearance of an item of apparel with no hint of its function (a gun that looks like a belt)

PA Engine

Most denizens of the GammaFinder World don’t risk trying to determine the function of a halidom once they realize what it is. But PCs are made of sterner (or dumber) stuff. So they tend to… experiment.

We’ll get into the rules for interacting with a halidom tomorrow.

A Request

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 — Simple PA rules for Starfinder

I am a huge fan of Post-Apocalypse games. That may be why I wrote for Sword and Sorcery’s Gamma World line, and d20 Apocalypse.

PA Fallen Tower

Setting

The world ended. A few times. But for living memory, there were two Great Cities — Alpha, a land of ancient technology and highly-educated people living in a gentle, safe, totalitarian Bubble; and Beta — A huge, sprawling rough-and-tumble metroplex of rivers and bridges and canyons where mutants and rogues lived and traded and taught and sometime killed each other, but were free of most outside influences. Both had occasional visitors from a Third Great City — Gamma — but no one knew where ti was or what it was really like.

The Omega Invasion was unlike anything that had been seen in centuries. New horrors, new machines, new creatures, wiped out Alpha and Beta. The OI seemed poised to wipe out all life… until the Gamma Strike, which wrecked their bases and leaders, and left them in a scattered wreck of damaged robots and crazed ex-soldiers and experiments.

But there are Omega Invasion forces left, and they are trying to rebuild their armies. So heroes must seek out Gamma, and see if it can be convinced to once again save the world of the GammaFinders.

PA swirl cowgirl

Level

Characters start at 4th level. The GammaFinder World is a harsh place, so we start with more competent characters. And that means you are just one level of a nice ability score bump!

Starships

Not happening, don’t worry about them.

PA Wizard

Emphasis

Every character gets an emphasis. There are three available at the moment.

Mutations: Select one item of your character level -1, or two of your level -3. You gain the abilities of those items as mutations. If they use batteries or ammo, you can use the ability as often each day as one full load of ammo or batteries. As you gain levels, you can change these items. When you gain levels you can improve your mutations to higher-levels of the same thing, or switch to entirely different items your mutations emulate, to represent ongoing mutation.

Relic: Select one item of your character level +1 or less. You have an ancient piece of tech that does what that item does, though you can change its appearance. If it has batteries or ammo, you refill them each time you spend Resolve to regain SP following a 10-minute rest. If your relic is lost or destroyed, you get a replacement when you gain your next level. You can change your relic at each character level, to represent the shifting effects of this ancient technology.

Talent: You get one bonus feat at every odd level. You must meet the prerequisites. Alternatively, at each off level you can gain one additional spell slot of the highest-level spell you can cast at that level. If you select this latter choice, you are likely described as a “psionic” or “witch.”

PA raiders

Items

You get one item of your level (Major Item), one of your level-1 (Moderate Item), one of your level -2 (Minor Item), and one of your level -3 (Incidental Item). If it’s a consumable item, you can replace it when used at the beginning of each day (you may be able to make a new one, or find a new one, or have something that produces refills for it once per day).

These items don’t go up in level automatically, and if lost are not replaced.

PA truck

Level Advancement and Treasure

You gain a level every 12 encounters. Over 6 encounters, you expect (on average) to get one Major, one Moderate, one Minor, and three Incidental items. If you have the ranks in a skill needed to make an item, you can convert an items of the same type into a different item, once. Every time after that you convert and item, it loses one item level.

That’s it! It’s otherwise just Starfinder as a quick-and-easy PA setting!

A Request

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.

Social Distance Thoughts. GM-less 5e Gaming: Part One – Skills

Pandemic changes things. For everyone’s sake, we need to adapt. For our own sakes, we need to stay sane.

At least for the next few weeks, a lot of us aren’t going out and doing the things we normally do. That leaves us with only online options to interact with friends.

RPGs are a great way to spend time with friends. And if you are willing to go theater-of-the-mind, it works great just via chat or video conference.

But, no one may be in the mood to act as GM.

So, a group of 2-4 friends sure CAN run through a pre-generated adventure without a GM, or a map. Just treat it as a board game, deal with one encounter at a time, roll targets of attacks randomly, and don’t get too hung up on things like tactics or worrying about player knowledge. One Facilitator reads each encounter as you run into it (and maybe that role rotates), and players agree to deal with things cooperatively.

You can even use these ideas to run yourself through adventures on your own, a kind of Gaming Solitaire.

But… it might be nice to have some guidelines for things like skill checks interacting with encounters, when you don’t have a GM to make rulings. So:

GM-less 5e Skill Rules

This is just the beginning of a potential ruleset for playing through a published 5e module with friends, likely online and without a virtual tabletop, and without a GM. This is a first set of thoughts—the beginning of this idea, rather than the end.

Group Skill Decisions

When you want to try something the text doesn’t give you guidance on, the group needs to decide on a DC for the effort. The player proposing the action suggests an ability and related skill, and describes how the action would work. The group then sees if they can agree that the thing being proposed would be Very Easy to accomplish, Easy, Medium, Hard, Very Hard, or Nearly Impossible. The default DC of anything the group can’t decide on is 20 (Hard).

3d illustration of low poly mystical dungeon with a gate in the rock. Game locations with poisons. Above the stone gates is a dragon sculpture with glowing green eyes. Stylized art with bokeh effect.

Ability Checks Table: Typical Difficulty Classes

Task Difficulty   (DC)

Very Easy (5)

Easy (10)

Medium (15)

Hard (20)

Very Hard (25)

Nearly Impossible (30)

Each ability score lists the skills associated with it, along with typical results for success and failure of skill checks that aren’t specifically outlines in the adventure. Have fun with these checks. Describe the attempts, discuss how the story plays out. It’s a different kind of roleplaying, but no less fun or effective for being more cooperative.

For example, the adventure says there is a locked door. Kyla suggests her barbarian should be able to shoulder the door open with a Strength (Athletics) check. The group agrees that’s possible, but given it’s a sturdy, well-maintained door, it’ll be Hard. Kyla attempts a DC 20 Strength (Athletics) check. If she succeeded, she could bypass the obstacle (forcing the door open). As it happens she fails. The typical failure for Strength Athletics) is to take Damage equal to DC -20 -2d6. That’s a base of 10 (DC 20 -10) hp of damage. Kyla rolls 2d6, and gets a 7, which she also subtracts. She ends up taking 3 (10 -7) points of damage, and the door is not open.

Strength

(Athletics) – Success: Overcome one obstacle. Cause one monster to be unable to act for 1d4 rounds. Failure: Take damage equal to task DC -10 -2d6 (minimum 0).

Dexterity

(Acrobatics) – Success: Overcome one obstacle. Cause one monster to be unable to affect you for 1d3 rounds. Failure: Take damage equal to task DC -10 -3d6 (minimum 0).

(Sleight of Hand) – Success: Take one item of fist-size or less from the encounter. Cause one monster to be unable to use an item for 1 round. Failure: Disadvantage on defensive rolls for 1 round.

(Stealth) – Success: Escape an encounter. Examine an encounter without triggering it. Failure: Trigger an encounter, lose turn failing to escape the encounter.

Constitution

Endure a hazard or circumstance for 1d4 rounds without taking additional damage or penalties.

Intelligence

(Arcana) – Learn the details of one magic creature, effect, trap, curse, or similar item. Failure: False information causes you to be at disadvantage for your next check against the magic examined.

(History) – Learn the details of one ruin or established settlement, or item pertaining to it. Failure: False information causes you to be at disadvantage for your next check against the place or related item examined.

(Investigation) – Learn the details of one location you can examine unhindered. Failure: False information causes you to be at disadvantage for your next check against the location or a related item examined.

(Nature) – Learn the details of one natural creature, effect, hazard, location, terrain, or similar item. Failure: False information causes you to be at disadvantage for your next check against the natural creature or phenomenon examined.

(Religion) – Learn the details of one religion or a related creature, effect, trap, curse, or similar item. This specifically includes angels, demons, devils, and undead. Failure: False information causes you to be at disadvantage for your next check against the religious subject examined.

Wisdom

(Animal Handling) – Success: Overcome one animal-based encounter that has not yet become a combat without it becoming one. Cause one animal to be unable to affect you for 1d3 rounds. Instruct a friendly animal to take a specific action. Failure: Bad interaction causes you to be at disadvantage with your next check with the relevant animal.

(Insight) – Success: Learn the true intentions of one intelligence creature. If the creature intends to attack you, you may take an action to begin the combat before the creature does. Failure: Bad conclusion causes you to be at disadvantage with your next check with the relevant creature.

(Medicine) – Success: Learn the nature of one disease or poison. Stabilize a dying creature. Prevent a disease, bleed, or poison from affecting its victim for 1 round. Failure: target takes 1 hp.

(Perception) – Success: Learn all elements of an encounter. Failure: No penalty.

(Survival) – Success: Live off the land without using up supplies for 1 day. Avoid one natural hazard. Locate a natural encounter and observe it without setting it off. Failure: One random party member takes 1 hp.

Charisma

(Deception) – Success: Overcome one non-combat encounter with intelligent creatures. Gain advantage on your next check with one creature in a combat encounter. Failure: You are at disadvantage on your next check with the creature you attempted to deceive.

(Intimidation) – Success: Overcome one non-combat encounter with intelligent creatures. Gain advantage on your next check with one creature in a combat encounter. Failure: Creature attacks you.

(Performance) – Success: Gain advantage for the next check a party member makes in a non-combat encounter with intelligent creatures. Failure: Suffer disadvantage for the next check a party member makes in a non-combat encounter with intelligent creatures.

(Persuasion) – Success: Overcome one non-combat encounter with nonhostile intelligent creatures. Failure: No penalty.

A Request

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.

Dark Solarian Revelations, 1

Yesterday we introduced the concept of Dark Solarians. Oft called lunarians, these offshoots focus on the power of gravitation without light, epitomized by the concept of Dark Matter.

The response was positive.

So, here are a few revelations to make them even more different from their more balanced brethren.

Lunarian Revelations

Dark Solarian 2

2nd Level

Dark Path (Su)

You can create a path of dark matter which bends and twists as you command, sending you sensory data and allowing your small arms attacks to travel from you to a target not in your line of sight. You can add the guided weapon special property to small arms attacks you make, and as a standard action you can make a Perception check from any point within 60 feet to which you can trace a path (even if it is not a straight line of effect).

Gravitational Weapon (Su)

You can add the gravitation weapon special property to your lunar weapon, treating your class level as its item level. It allows you to move a target 5 feet, +5 feet for every 5 levels of solarian. If you are fully attuned, the save DC increase by +2, and you can move the target 5 more feet.

If you are 5th level or higher you can also add this special property to a small arm you are using, though the save DC is 2 lower and you move the target 5 fewer feet when used in this way.

PATREON
Enjoy this Starfinder content? Want to see more? Want to see something else? You can back my Patreon to encourage me to do more of the kind of work you want to see, and you can subscribe to the 52-in-52 program to get entire game supplements, one a week for every week of 20020, that are done in four versions for four game systems, including Starfinder!

Dark Solarians: The Lunarians

Solarians are empowered by a balance of gravity and photons, dark and light. But there are other traditions that eschew this balance. That seek to focus on the dark mass of the universe, and the power of lightless bodies and black holes.

Among these are the lunarians, those who believe the power of moons to block light, as represented by eclipse and penumbra, is a greater force than the few sparkling nuclear torches in the universe, and that to seek balance between the vast, untapped dark matter and the scant mass of stars is foolishness.

Lunarians’ powers are focused less on pure damage, and more on binding and slowing their foes, and augmenting common weapons with their gravitational powers.

Solarian Alternate Class: Lunarian

At 1st level a solarian character can choose to instead be a lunarian. Solarians that do this do not gain any photon powers or revelations, and do not suffer any penalty for having unbalanced revelations. Lunarians make choose Charisma or Dexterity as their key ability score. A lunarian does not gain a solar manifestation, instead developing a lunar weapon.

Lunarian

Lunar Weapon

At 1st level, you gain a physical manifestation of your gravitational power. The base form of your lunar weapon, when not actively in use, is a mote of lightless dark matter slightly smaller than your fist that hovers near your head. Beyond the dark mote, your manifestation can take one additional form: a lunar weapon. Only you can interact with your lunar weapon, whether in mote or weapon form. No other creature or effect can affect your lunar weapon in any way, including disarming or sundering it.

Your lunar weapon functions as an advanced melee weapon with reach. It does only 1 point of bludgeoning damage, though this is increased by weapon specialization normally, and it can benefit from solarian weapon crystals as a solar weapon does.

A lunar weapon targets EAC, and has the knockdown critical hit effect. When you strike a foe with a lunar weapon it binds them with gravitational waves, causing them to be entangled for 1 round. If you exceed their EAC by 5 or more, they are entangled for 2 rounds. At 5th level, your lunar weapon gains the block weapon special property.  At 10th level, targets struck must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 +1/2 class level +key ability modifier) or be staggered for 1 round. At 15th level, they must make the save or be staggered for 1d4+1 rounds. At 20th level, your lunar weapon scores a critical hit on a 19-20, if the attack roll hits the target’s EAC.

You can also use your lunar weapon to increase the damage of small arm and operative weapon attacks you make that target KAC. You add your solarian level to such attacks. This is in addition to normal damage benefits from Weapon Specialization, once you gain it. You can wield a small arm or operative melee weapon in the same hand as your lunar weapon. The attack does not gain any other advantages of your lunar weapon.

PATREON
Enjoy this Starfinder content? Want to see more? Want to see something else? You can back my Patreon to encourage me to do more of the kind of work you want to see, and you can subscribe to the 52-in-52 program to get entire game supplements, one a week for every week of 20020, that are done in four versions for four game systems, including Starfinder!

 

More 5e Familiars

I was having a conversation with Jacob Blackmon (by social-distancing-approved web interface), and he mentioned an idea of playing with how familiars and concentration spells in 5e interact. I found it interesting, and that developed into these Upgraded Familiars.

You gain an Upgraded Familiar with the find familiar spell, but must add additional material components as listed for each upgraded familiar below. Each uses the base stats of the listed normal familiar, but also has one of more special abilities.

Chameleon
Material: 50 gp worth of opal
Base stats: lizard
Special: A chameleon gives you access to the alter self spell, which you can cast using appropriate spell slots as if it was a spell you knew. The chameleon can take its action each turn to concentrate on an alter self spell you cast, which frees you from its limitations of a concentration spell.

Firefly, Giant
Material: 50 gp worth of amber
Base stats: owl
Special: A giant firefly can make as much light as a candle at will. It also gives you access to the dancing lights cantrip, which you can cast as if it was a cantrip you knew. The firefly can take its action each turn to concentrate on a dancing lights cantrip you cast, which frees you from its limitations of a concentration spell.

Mongoose
Material: 50 gp worth of pearl
Base stats: weasel
Special: A mongoose gives you access to the blur spell, which you can cast using appropriate spell slots as if it was a spell you knew. The mongoose can take its action each turn to concentrate on a blur spell you cast, which frees you from its limitations of a concentration spell.

Nightingale
Material: 50 gp worth of onyx
Base stats: bat
Special: A nightingale gives you access to the darkness spell, which you can cast using appropriate spell slots as if it was a spell you knew. The nightingale can take its action each turn to concentrate on a darkness spell you cast, which frees you from its limitations of a concentration spell.

Spider, Orb Weaver
Material: 50 gp worth of jade
Base stats: spider
Special: An orb weaver gives you access to the web spell, which you can cast using appropriate spell slots as if it was a spell you knew. The orb weaver can take its action each turn to concentrate on a web spell you cast, which frees you from its limitations of a concentration spell.

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Dash Cantrip, in Four Game Systems

Cantrips are interesting, in all 4 of the d20 game systems I work in regularly (PF1, PF2, StF, and 5e). You get unlimited uses of them, so they need to be useful enough to be worth tracking (even at mid- to high-levels), but can’t be so good that casting them endlessly can ruin a game.

And almost none of them impact movement.

Which lead me to wonder, CAN I design a cantrip that impacts movement? Something to give you a little edge when what you need to do is reposition yourself and just a double move (or dash, or triple move, or whatever the game’s equivalent is) won’t do.

Can I do in in four game systems?

Behold, the dash cantrip.

Pathfinder, 1e

Dash
School transmutation; Level Bard 0, Cleric 0, Druid 0, Inquisitor 0, Magus 0, Mesmerist 0, Psychic 0, Shaman 0, Witch 0, Sorcerer/Wizard 0]
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Target you
Duration 1 round

Your movement rate increases by an enhancement bonus equal to your current movement rate, +20 feet.

Pathfinder, 2e

Dash [Cantrip 1]
Traditions Arcane, Divine, Primal
Cast [three actions] Verbal
Duration until the start of your next turn

You move a distance equal to triple your speed +30 feet.

Starfinder

Dash  [Mystic 0, Witchwarper 0]
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Duration 1 round

You gain a +10 foot increase to your land speed until the beginning of your next turn. As part of casting this spell, you can move up to your land speed.

5e

Dash
Transmutation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V
Duration: 1 round

You can move a number of feet this round equal to double your move, +20 feet.

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Gamifying Friday the 13th in 4 Game Systems

It’s Friday the 13th, a day long associated with misfortune and evil spirits… and urban legends.

So, what would such a day look like in an RPG? Let’s examine 4 different ideas, in 4 different game systems–Pathfinder 1st and 2nd edition, Starfinder, and 5e.

PF1

Blood Night

On blood night, the moon takes on a dull reddish hue that lasts through the night. Blood night is always in autumn, but exactly what night it occurs is based on a complex set of rules only heirophants really seem to understand. What is known is that when a blood night occurs on the night of a full moon, the bad luck is far worse.

From sundown to sunup, any attack that normally only threatens a critical hit on a natural 20, or 19-20, instead threatens one on an 18-20. Additionally, attack rolls made to confirm critical hits gain a +8 circumstance bonus

PF2

Minotaur’s Moon

When the ancient Cyclops Calendar begins the month of Maze on the week of a new moon, that is the day of the Minotaur’s Moon, when the Bull Man works to kill the small and weak. Goblins, in particular, greatly fear this.

On the Minotaur’s Moon, everyone has Doomed 2.

Starfinder

Which Weird

The kasatha and shobad calendars do not normally line up, being from different worlds with different year durations. But both have a “wyrd” day that is observed in grim reserve, and every few years those days happen to overlap by a period of 11 to 17.5 hours.

During that “which weird,” all Reflex saving throws take a -4 penalty.

5e

Lichgate

When the Imperial Calendar gets a full day off from the Seasonal Calendar, a day must be added to adjust the beginning of Spring. This day is seen as a gate through which evil dead spirits can speak into the world to so discord for one say, and weaken the resolve of heroes, and is known as Lichgate.

On Lichgate, when making a Wisdom saving throw, you roll twice and use the lower result as if you had disadvantage. However, if your unused result is enough to resist the effect, you only suffer the consequences of the failed saving throw for 1 round. After that you shake off the evil spirits that weakened you, and are no longer effected. But if both die rolls are failures, the effect’s duration upon you is doubled.

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