Category Archives: Adventure Design

Campaign Elements: The Wolf’s Head

Sometimes a campaign really needs a mastermind criminal with a vast organization at his disposal. Preferably someone with extensive resources, but who also prefer to keep a low profile. Such crime bosses may serve as foils, contacts, patrons, nemesis, or just background elements the GM and players can work off of as stories develop.

Of course, it helps if such master criminals and crime groups are cool and enigmatic.

So this is an idea of one option to fill that element. It focuses on the master criminal, the Wolf’s Head, and touches lightly on the organization, the Crime Guild. These descriptions are kept intentionally broad. A GM should be able to easily adapt the Wolf’s Head and Crime Guild to any genre, any game system, and any world or time frame. They can be pastiches for Lex Luthor and LexCrop, Moriarty and his Network, the Godfather and the Five Families, or Jabba the Hutt and his scum and villainy. Alternatively, a GM can use this as a starting point to build a whole new kind of organized crime group.

The Wolf’s Head

The Wolf’s Head is a mastermind villain and organizer of all forms of outlawry. He or she holds the highest position in the Crime Guild, a combination of organized crime cartel and training-ground for talented individuals. Each Wolf’s Head carries the position’s official scepter of office, a long cane with a silver wolf’s head and the words caput gerat lupinum (“may his be a wolf’s head” in Latin) engraved around the base of the head of the cane.

The Wolf’s Head traces its origin back to writ’s of outlawry in early English common law (or any older nation in worlds lacking England). An outlaw was literally being “cast out of the law,” no longer subject to the protections a person received from the law and thus able to be treated as a wolf. The write included the words caput gerat lupinum, and in many cases was considered the most serious possible sentence.

According to Crime Guild history, one of the earliest people declared an outlaw under this system build a vast network of outlaws, and took the first Wolf’s Head title. Over the centuries that organization has come in contact with, and absorbed, the thousands of organized crime groups from every continent, nation, and ethnicity, forming the massive, worldwide Crime Guild. While the goals of the Crime Guild vary somewhat, they tend to remain institutional – focused on earning and protecting money, influence, and power and building a large cadre of loyal agents. Many guilders are important members of other groups, ranging from crime families to law enforcement agencies, but some few work directly for the Crime Guild. These generally answer directly to the Wolf’s Head, and through them the Wolf’s Head is free to pursue any goals he or she desires, as long as the Crime Guild on the whole continues to grow and prosper.

The holder of the Wolf’s Head title changes periodically, and apparently at random to outside observers. Each Wolf’s Head must nominate one Alder of Crime every 3 years (though killed alders need not be replaced). Each Alder is able to secretly vote to “retire” the current Wolf’s Head (though they can change this vote at any time). Such votes are kept with several ArchNumbers (Numbers being living cogitators who keep all the Crime Guild’s records, and ArchNumbers being senior examples). The Wolf’s Head also ranks the alders, from best to worst, and gives that information only to the ArchNumbers (and can change the rankings at any time).

If at any point 2/3 or more of the current Alders have voted to retire the current leader, the Numbers inform the entire Crime Guild. At that point all Alders try to kill the Wolf’s Head. If they succeed within 30 days (also known as the Hunter’s Moon, as the alders hunt the ultimate wolf), then whichever alder still alive that was highest ranked by the previous Wolf’s Head becomes the new Wolf’s Head. If not, the current Wolf’s Head retains the position, and the ArchNumbers ensure every alder that voted to retire him is killed (to cull those who mistakenly thought it was time to change leaders).

This post is Charitably sponsored by The Open Gaming Store! In addition to giving you a choice of free pdfs with every order you make above $20, this is also the store that supports the awesome webmaster of the rules archive at d20pfsrd.com!

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!)

Campaign Ideas Hanging Around

The proposed (and definitely never happening) Analemma Tower would make an awesome set up for any number of campaigns using Anachronistic Adventures or Starfinder. Here are some campaign ideas for a mobile city-sized building hanging down from an asteroid.

All Along the Watchtower: The U.N of 2075 can’t operate out of any one nation or building anymore. Diplomacy, military intervention, and trade all work better from mobile city-towers hanging from asteroids.

Ark V: After the Quantum Genegineering Wars, the ground level of the world became uninhabitable. At the small scale, mutant Morlocks and hunter-killer drones are contant random threats. At the large scale, the doomsday weapon biotank Kaiju are drawn to any major stationary power source.
There are still survivors scrabbling to survive in a ruined world, and super-science and relics to be dug out of cities overrun by horrors. but the only way to get to them is to wait for a period of low threat, then jump down from the roaming bastion of science and civilization that is Ark V, our last, best hope for survival.

High Ground: The evil supergenius Tex Tanner could have engaged in countless battles to overthrow nations, establish shadow governments, and defeat heroes like Anthem Lass and the Gargoyle. Instead he created one overwhelming show of his scientific brilliance and endless resources, the mobile space-anchored archaeology known as High Ground. From there he runs TannerCorp, literally above the laws of other nations.
Is he done now that he’s made his point, or is High Ground just step one/ As as an archaeology under his exclusive control, why is he hiring street-level heroes to police his private fiefdom?

The Sword of D.A.M.O.C.L.E.S: Aliens have conquered Earth for Earth’s own good. Mostly humanity is left to its own devices, but certain activities and experiments are forbidden. The Department of Alien-Mandated Oversight, Committee of Law Enforcement Systems are mostly humans, though a few alien races also work within it, and makes sure forbidden actions are not attempted. DAMOCLES operates out of the Sword, a hanging alien watchtower that orbits the Earth in a variable pattern to allow maximum command support of hot spots.

Hanging Around a Lot? Become a Patron!

Hey folks, do you enjoy the content on this blog? It takes time to put together, so if you like it why not encourage me to do more by becoming a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!

Cinematics: Transforming Boss Villains

Boss villains in adventure fiction sometimes have multiple forms in their final fight. Perhaps the apparently frail mastermind of the heroes ills becomes a towering mass of rage and muscle after being stabbed a few times. Maybe the disgusting mass of dead flesh is more cocoon than fat ghoul and attacking it just helps birth the true undead within. Maybe the psycho killer is a werewolf, who is about to become a werewinterwolf. Or maybe the villain just hasn’t let you see his Final Form yet.

The point is, sometimes you want a way for a villain to change their game stats after taking a certain amount of damage, so the fight keeps going but the paradigm changes, giving the PCs a more complex experience.

The simple way to do this is to pick a series of pre-existing creatures and reskin them as the various stages of your main villain. In most cases I recommend keeping them of the same type and subtype, though you can just change all the monsters you select to act as the same type and subtype. There can be exceptions to this for story reasons—perhaps the Fourfold Guardian specifically goes from air to earth to fire to water—but for the most part it makes the most sense if a monstrous humanoid remains a monstrous humanoid, even if you use the stat blocks for a hobgoblin, ape, and winter wolf to represent three evolving forms.

I recommend keeping all the forms picked with the easy-to-challenging CR spread of the PCs, and honestly within 2 CR of one another.

Once you have picked your forms and made any needed adjustments, just have the PCs face them in turn. When one “form” is knocked unconscious, killed, or destroyed, the boss villain moves to a new form. You can have it appear to fall dead and then stand again on its next turn, which is good for villains with just two forms, especially if the first is a typical mortal and the second is undead or outsider. Or you can not tell the PCs they’ve “killed” the first form, and just have the villain assume the second form as a free action at the beginning of its next turn. Or, you can have the villain enter a “transformation sequence” when it is killed, and take a full round action to assume the new form on its next turn, being immune to all effects and attacks until that time since it’s in metamorphosis. Which makes the most sense depends on your monster’s background and reason for being multi-formed.

Once it is in the new form it is no longer affected by any old conditions, effects, or penalties, and the fight continues.

When determining treasure for the encounter, add the treasure values of all the things the PCs killed and use that for your loot pool. When determining the XP reward, add the XP gained from the highest CR form you used, plus 50% of the XP of each form after the highest CR, to get the total XP gained by the encounter. Don’t just add all the XP together like you would if the PCs had to face all these monsters at once, because the monsters can’t team up, all act at the same time, flank, spread out, and so on. Treat the encounter as having a CR equal to a CR closest to this XP total.

For example, Scraggle is an unpleasant fey creature that lives at the edge of town and terrorizes local children. When attacked, Scraggle fights using the stat block of a derro, When killed, Scraggle lies dead until its next round… and then stand again having become Scragifulous as a result of his weird fey magic. Scragifulous uses the stat block for a drow noble, it’s “Intermediate Form.” When THAT form is killed, you describe the screams of rage and constantly growing bulk, and make it clear not new attacks seem to have any effect until the fey’s next turn, when it becomes Scragulon, filled with rage and Strength and now using the stat block of an ogre. The scraggle encounter is 800 XP for the ogre, +400 XP for half the drow noble, +400 XP for the derro, or 1600 XP, or CR 5.

Become a Patron!

Hey folks, do you enjoy the content on this blog? I can only take the time to do longer things like this, because I have patrons supporting me! Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!

Fixing the 15 Minute Adventuring Day

The Issue

For people who haven’t run into the term, the “15 minute adventuring day” is a phenomenon where players in RPGs with strong resource-management element (such as spell casters in Pathfinder and similar games) that reset daily, often use some of their most powerful options, then decide not to go forward with any more encounters until they have regained everything.

How often a group of adventurers gets to rest is hugely variable to play style, and a huge part of the question of balance between casting classes and nowcasting or limited-casting classes.

But… there’s no reason restoration of what are after all MAGIC abilities needs to be tied to sleep., Maybe you get spells back once per week. maybe you recharge your mystic powers only when the right conjunctions occur. Maybe you need to see your holy powers thwart evil before you have the righteousness built up to restore those abilities.

In short we make these things “per day” because that is how games do it, and because it’s easy, not because there is any internal logic to it.

So if it’s an issue… change it.

The Metaphysics

Some players want to have an in-world justification for any rule, especially any rule that restricts their existing power curve and tactics. So, give them one.

Magic does not follow a set schedule. Holy power isn’t tracked on a punch clock. Even your amazing extraordinary powers require the circumstances for them be JUST right, and that doesn’t happen just because the sun went down and came up again.

These things are tied to fate, destiny, and the ebb and flow of eldritch powers that are unseen and barely understood.

You only recover your daily abilities and spells if you have properly slept, as per the normal rules, because you need to be rested and ready when the Right Moment comes. And if you prepare spells, you still need to take an hour to do so once the Cosmic Well of Mystic Might refills.

But instead of happening every day? That happens when Cosmic Conjunctions and the Destiny of Living things has come to a Juncture.

The Rules

Cosmic Conjunctions? Also known as every 3d3 encounters. On average between 3 and 9 major things happen to characters between recharges, and they don’t know exactly when the Big Recharge is coming.

Encounters 2 more more above your APL count as two. Encounters 1 under your APL count as 1/2, and those 2 or more under your APL don’t count at all. The GM determines how many encounters it’ll take in secret once you hit a reset, and tracks how many encounters you have had since then.

Groups with strong ties track this as a group, but the GM may choose to track individuals separately as the GM prefers.

No wizard knows the hour of the Grand Conjunction that refills HER spells. No cleric can say exactly when the will of the gods renews them. It happens when it happens.

Until then, you just need to husband your resources, and no there’s no point in going home and resting up. If you don’t seek your destiny? Then destiny won’t reward you with power.

So you might as well keep seeking well past 15 minutes into your day.

Back My Patreon

Bigger blog entries, and more frequent posts, take more time and effort. To keep this kind of thing up, I need your support! So if you enjoy the content on this blog, become a patron! Help me make more of the things you like!

Or are at least things you are modestly interested in. It doesn’t take much support from you to be a big help to me!

Roller Dungeon

So here is the idea:

Dungeon speed runs as a team sport, on roller skates. “Roller Dungeon Team T-Shirts” optional, but the Absalom Abyssals Woman’s Speed Destruction Team is my favorite.

EVERYONE is on roller skates. Heroes, monsters, gelatinous cubes… everyone.

The Rules

Every PC must have half their levels in barbarian, brawler, cavalier, fighter, investigator, kineticist, monk, ninja, rogue, or slayer.

For these mandatory class levels, you get +4 skill points per level, and the Skating skill. Also, any class that has Ride replaces it with Skating.

Skating works like Ride, but your “mount” is a pair of skates that take your space. Anything you could do on a mount, you can instead do on skates. All skates have a 30 foot move rate and, like a mount, if you control your skates without taking an action, you get a full action.

Skates are never battle-trained mounts, unless you would get a mount as a class feature like cavaliers).

All dungeons should be 2 CR lower than the APL *your spellcaster assistance has been limited after all, and you are making speed runs).

You only get full XP and treasure for a combat or trap encounter if you finish it in 5 rounds or less. For every round more than that, you lose 25% of your XP and treasure. An encounter begins when you become aware of it, so scouting eats into your time. If you complete an encounter in less than 4 rounds, you get a 10% treasure bonus for each round less time you take.

It’s assumed you have an audience, so Performance combat is an option.

Combine with DungeonBall! or X-Crawl as desired.

Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! You could even become a sponsor yourself!

Encounter Environment: The Gravity Chamber

This week I saved all my creative energies for one big post, and TGIF!

(Seriously, I’ve sold pdfs shorter than this… )

The Gravity Chamber

The Gravity Chamber is an encounter environment idea. It’s a room in which gravity swaps one a round, every round, randomly and often with little warning. Down becomes up, and then the next round becomes down again. PCs must deal with being constantly slammed up and down, hopefully while you also add another encounter (like driders with boxes of caltrops and a cyclops alchemist) to keep thigns fresh and terrifying.

The Set Up

Have this be a big room, with a ceiling that’s 20 feet high, plus 10 feet per 5 full levels of the PCs. Also, describe the weird bloodstains, scattered gear, and broken crockery everywhere…

Once the PCs are all inside, something triggers the room. Maybe it’s an ancient eldritch trap that goesn;t go off until everyone is inside. Maybe it’s a malfunctioning antigrav drive with an AI that waits for all passengers to be aboard. Maybe it’s just bad timing. Maybe a super-powerful psychic child is sitting in the middle of the room waiting for her powers to kill her, and she throws a tantrum. Maybe there’s a big shiny button, and the fun starts when someone presses it. Your game, your call. This is just a tool in your toolbox.

Once it’s going, the Big Swap rolls initiative every round. Keep this secret. When it’s number comes up, down and up switch places.

If there’s an off switch, the PCs can try to reach it. If not, the effect likely lasts 10 rounds.

The Difficulty of Reverse Gravity

The difficulty of anything you attempt in the Gravity Chamber is modified by how much warning there is before gravity takes hold, and how suddenly it happens once the switch occurs. Those aren’t things that exist in real-world terms, so there can be as much or as little warning as you, the GM, want.
To keep things interesting, I recommend you make the Difficulty Value 1.5x the Average party Level of your group. When a calculation of a DC calls for a value of X + DV, this should keep things interesting for characters of any level. For example, if a wizard who is part of a 5th level group is flying in the gravity chamber, his Fly check have a DC of 22 (15 + a DV of 7.5, rounded down to 7).

You could of course decide that the gravity chamber is the most dangerous, most sudden, most unpredictable version possible, and make all the DV’s 30. But that’s not going to be much fun for 8th level characters.

If you want to use the gravity chamber more than once, you can actually vary the DV and give the players careful explanations. If they run into a gravity chamber at 5th level with a DV of 7, explain that there is some warning, a sense of tilting or a brief moment of weightlessness, before each gravity switch. If they run into another one at 8th level, rather than a DV of 12 (as the formula would suggest), perhaps it has a DV of only 5. Explain that there is a groan and a series of clicks before the gravity switch, and that gravity fades in and out, quickly but not with no warning. It’s actually easier than the first one they encountered (which also allows you to put a more dangerous complementary encounter in the chamber).

This, of course, sets them up for the extremely violent, no-warning gravity chamber they encounter at 10th level, with a DV of 20. One hopes by then the players have made some preparations for these types of encounters.

The Details

What happens when gravity reverses itself depends on what you were doing at the time.

Standing: If you are standing when gravity reverses itself, you are going to fall. The only question is, can you reduce the damage by “jumping” toward the new ground, flip midair, and land on your feet? That’s a DC 10 + DV check, rather than a flat DC 15. Also, since otherwise people are standing from prone every round, you may wish to give people a choice of reducing the damage by 10 feet 9and falling prone if they take any damage), or landing in a heroic 3-point stance, which means they take full damage but *aren’t* considered prone.

Deadpool would approve.

Flying: Flying characters don’t get a pass just because they aren’t touching the ground. Flying means you are pushing against “down” with some force to counteract gravity. Since you don’t know when gravity will reverse itself, there’s a definite risk that the force used to push against “down” will slam you into the new down when gravity flips. After all if it’s just 40 feet from one side to the other, at 1g it only takes about 1.5 seconds to fall that distance (ignoring things like wind drag), and if you are flying at the midpoint it’s less than 1 second.

When gravity reverses, anyone flying must make a Fly check with a DC of 15 + DV. The exception to this is flight with perfect maneuverability, which only needs to make a DC of 0 + DV. On a failed check you move a number of feet toward the new “down” equal to double the amount you missed the check by. If you move so far you hit the current “down,” you take following damage and are prone.

Climbing: Climbing the walls or trying to use the Climb skill to stick to the floor when it becomes the ceiling is tricky… but not impossible. Usually an “overhand with handholds and footholds only” is DC 30, which is pretty epic. But you could, of course, add actual rungs, loops, gnarly roots, or even netting strung across every surface. To make a Climb effort a viable option you may want to go with a DC of 20+ DV, and be liberal with bonuses for doing things like hammering in pitons or getting clever with an immovable rod.

If a character has a climb speed and can stick to a surface gecko-like, it’s MUCH easier to stay stuck to a surface when gravity reverses itself… but like flight it’s not automatic. DC 5 + DV.
If you fail a check by 1-4, you may choose to be staggered and immobile, but stay in your space (representing a death-grip to stay put), If you fail by 5 or more, or aren’t willing to be staggered, you fall and hit the new floor.

Landing: Things like wind drag, randomly pushing off other objects by accident, and gravity eddies mean you don’t land exactly above or below your starting point. If you succeed at an Acrobatics check as described above, pick a square either directly under you or adjacent to the one directly under you, and you land there. For any other result, roll 1d8 and 1d20. The 1d8 determines your direction of scatter, if any. If it and the d20 result in the same number, you land directly under your starting space. If the d8 result is smaller than the d20 result, you drift 5 feet in the direction indicated by the d8. If the d8 result is bigger than the d20 result, you drift ten feet in the direction indicated by the d8.

If two or more creatures end up in the same space, they all make grapple checks. The creature with the highest result is standing (and may shift one space if necessary). All others are prone. No one is actually grappling, that just represents the mad scrabble to end up on top as they are flung together.

Hazards

Remember I mentioned the driders you could add might have boxes of caltrops? This thing is a giant washing machine, and everything is being banged about. Each round, everyone must make a Reflex save with a DC of 5 + DV. On a success, you dodged all the debris. On a failure, you take damage equal to falling half the distance to the ground, as pebbles, old gear, and even small rodents slam into you.

You can also have small fields of caltrops, alchemists bombs, and angry hornet’s nests bouncing around, with people trying to avoid landing on them. Move these the same way you move creatures, but if they end up sharing a space, the creatures automatically slam into them.

Ouch.

Rewards

If you follow the guidelines given here, the Gravity Chamber is an encounter roughly the same CR as the party’s average level. If you add another encounter to it, boost that encounter’s CR by +2.

Of course being a higher CR encounter means more treasure… but what if everyone gains some special ability as a result to exposure to the strange gravatoinic radiation of the chamber? Perhaps everyone can feather fall once per day as a spell-like ability? And if they encounter a second chamber, maybe double exposure means they can each levitate once per day… and so on…

Or maybe they just get to gather up adamantine caltrops!

Become a Patron!

Hey folks, do you enjoy the content on this blog? I can only take the time to do longer things like this, because I have patrons supporting me! Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!

Worldbuilding Tips: Divine Patrons of Crime

One fun way for a GM to bring a world to life in the minds of players is to introduce one or more really interesting criminal organizations. Whether they are an open

And ultimately if your organization is going to survive in a high fantasy setting, you likely need someone in your corner in the afterlife. A divine patron is a god that supports the criminal empire despite (or because of) its activities.

In many campaigns this is an evil or chaotic god with crime as a secondary concern, but things don’t have to be that simple. At the very least, it may be more fun to have most crime families be faithful to an evil or chaotic god, but allow one or two that instead revere a neutral or even good-aligned god who just happens to have a fringe of lawbreaking followers. In addition to deepening the sense that this is a thriving world (rather than a monolithic setting where all assassins worship the god of assassin, and I suppose all candlestick makers worship the god of wax), this also sets the PCs up to be more willing to work with the non-evil-deity-associated crime syndicate. “Sure, the Silent Sisters are thieves and blackmailers, but at least they follow a god that appreciates the skill of a job well done, and instructs them to keep their word. You can kinda trust them, unlike the Crimson Knives, who are devoted to murder and lies.”

When looking at domain options for a crime god beyond chaos and evil, trickery is an equally good, and actually has a thievery subdomain. The arson subdomain is perfect for groups that use fire to eliminate enemies… or turn a profit with insurance. The subdomain of espionage would also cover blackmailers and extorters.

It’s not difficult to go even further by one step. A god of with the industry subdomain might support hard-working criminals because they put in long hours and master their trade. A god with the traps subdomain might support them as people who revere and learn about traps, even if it is to bypass them. While a god of community might seem to be antithetical to a criminal organization, a true crime family might qualify as a community of its own, or a god with the cooperation subdomain might support the organized part of organized crime. Even a god of law might be the patron of a criminal empire, if the god is focused on the subdomain of tyranny, and the criminals ruthless in enforcement of their own code.

Nor does the god have to be primarily a god of crime. Imagine a neutral deity with community, trade, competition, language, and imagination. The god might be primarily a god of those who combine business, words, and creative solutions, such as actors, bards, crafting guilds, and teachers. But the same god might accept that if you think far enough outside the box, you end up outside the law as well. Crime exists no for crime’s sake, but to be a backdoor for trade where legitimate business fails, and an arena where fast-talk and quick thinking are put to the limit. Actors and other performers were often considered the same kind of lower class as thieves and frauds, so giving them all a common god helps establish a classic trope.

Not everyone in the organization may worship their divine patron, but most of the major local leaders do, and the rest know what priests they can and can’t go to for support, or at least sanctuary. And, of course, if the god has anything to do with luck, it’s likely worthwhile to make a gift to the church before a job. Sure, that’s divine extortion… but that’s the racket.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!)

Diesel Pulp Australian Units

20170208_103755

Working on more minis for my Diesel Pulp setting. These are three “Kelly Heavies,” from Australia’s legendary Armored Rangers. While medium and heavy infantry doctrine varies from country to country, and many ended up simply slapping what heavy infantry they could scrounge into heavy weapon platoons, only Australia built custom-purpose advanced scouting units that combined light, medium, and heavy infantry (generally known as bushrangers, Kellies, and Kelly Heavies, respectively).
The idea behind armor scout units was to operate far from the front lines, make detailed reports about conditions, and engage in targeted strikes where a small force could potentially make a large difference. Bridges, passes, pillboxes, observation posts, field airports, and headquarters were favorite targets. Bushrangers would move as far ahead as possible, with a Kelly each in support if they ran into a small enemy unit (generally infantry or cavalry). Only if a viable target was found would Kelly heavies be employed, each directed to an advantageous firing position by a bushranger, where the Kelly Heavy could employ their Australian-built Owen Gun Shields, with their machine carbine and integral HEAT launchers.

Armored Scouts were consistently the most effective units including heavy infantry throughout the Global War, their tactics honed in part due to Australia’s much longer history with armored infantry, dating back to the 1890s Bush Battles against the Martian tripods in and around Victoria. Kelly Heavies, in particular, were designed with much heavier armor in front, especially eh head and chest, and lighter armor over the rest of the infantry fighter. Because they generally engaged in battle supported by more mobile units, Kelly Heavies could reliably face the source of the heaviest enemy fire and depend on support to alert them from threats outside their narrow field of vision. While no heavy infantry could survive direct hits from anti-materiel weapons, Kelly Heavies could take glancing blows off their heavies armor, and hold up to direct hits from most anti-personnel weapons. As a result, “damaged” Kelly heavies were much more common than other heavy infantry units, that generally didn’t survive being hit by anything heavy enough to do significant damage.

I’m making an effort to make these miniatures more dinged-up than I normally try for, but they are otherwise fairly stock.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!)

Flunkies

In many ways, this is the companion piece to Mythic Boss Monsters.

Two of the problems with trying to run big encounters in Pathfinder are that the game often gets bogged down of the GM has to keep track of what four or more different creatures can do, and it’s tough to find low-CR creatures that remain effective in groups of 4 or 8, since that requires them to face PCs 4 or 6 levels higher than their CRs.

Yet, many storylines call for battles with 4, 8, or even more antagonists, and boss monsters often need henchmonsters to compete with player character’s action economies, and to prevent a single lucky roll from ending an encounter to soon (and unsatisfyingly). What some encounters need, are flunkies.

The idea for flunkies owe a great debt to the mooks of Feng Shui and minions of 4e D&D. This idea is far from original, this is just a specific implementation.

A single creature becomes four flunkies. Each flunky has its own set of actions each round, takes damage and suffers conditions separately, and they can be as far apart and independent as they want, but for purposes of determining CR treat all four flunkies as a single monster of their type.
*Each of the flunkies has 1/5 the hit points of the base creature
*If flunkies have abilities with limited uses per day, all the flunkies must share that limit. For example if you make a cyclops into a set of four cyclops flunkies, only one of them can use flash of insight each day.
*A Flunky does not target the same creature another flunky has already damaged this round, unless it has no other target.
*If multiple flunkies are caught in the same damaging area, they divide the damage taken by the number of flunkies in the area. For example, if you catch three flunkies in a fireball, each flunky takes 1/3 the damage it normally would. to avoid dealing with this math, most GMs try to spread out flunkies.

Flunkies are limited in numerous additional ways.
*Flunkies cannot score critical hits.
*All flunkies deal ½ damage. Any effect, condition, or spell a flunky imposes on a PC has a maximum duration of 4 rounds. Even a flunky medusa only has the power to petrify a target for 4 rounds, max. Damage, unconsciousness, and death work normally.
*Critical threats against flunkies always confirm. If the critical threat is with an attack with an x3 or greater crit multiplier, the critical hit instantly kills the flunky.
*Flunkies take a -5 penalty to AC.
*Flunky treasure is often added to their boss’s treasure. It’s all trickle down, man.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!)

Additional Snow Rules

While snow is covered in Chapter Thirteen: Environment of the pathfinder Roleplaying game Core Rulebook, there are some additional rules I’d personally use if snow is a major element for a specific adventure, but not a common part of a campaign overall.

Adaptation: Creatures with both the cold subtype and native to a cold environment, and those with the cold subtype and a natural climb speed, ignore all rules to perception, getting lost, and movement from snow.

Light snowfall: Very light snowfall produces less than an inch of snow per day. It does not impact visibility or flames. It actually gives a +4 bonus to Survival checks to track anyone who has passed by since the snowfall stopped, since their prints are outlined.

Snowfall: Normal snowfall reduced visibility enough that a character may get lost in the wilds when it is snowing this hard. See Getting Lost, in the Wilderness section of Chapter Thirteen: Environment. If there is an additional effect in addition to the snow that might cause characters to get lost, any Survival check to avoid getting lost takes a -4 penalty.

Heavy Snowfall: When it is snowing this hard, a character can get lost outside even within an urban environment, but may make a Knowledge (local) check rather than a Survival check to avoid this. Also, a character in a wilds environment takes a -4 penalty to a Survival check to avoid getting lost. If there is an additional effect in addition to the snow that might cause characters to get lost, any Survival check to avoid getting lost takes a -4 penalty. See Getting Lost, in the Wilderness section of Chapter Thirteen: Environment.

Heavy snowstorms and blizzards also reduce the effectiveness of fire attacks. Creatures vulnerable to fire do not take additional fire damage if they are in a heavy snowstorm or blizzard.

Whiteout: The most powerful of blizzards cause whiteout conditions. This grants everything more than 5 feet away total concealment (even from sound-based blindsight and blindsense), and anything close standard concealment. Check to avoid getting lost take a -20 penalty, and must be made every 10 minutes. Whiteout conditions last from a few minutes to a few hours, and can drop 1d4 feet of snow per hour.

If a character is in snow deeper than they are tall, this is similar to being stuck in an avalanche. Buried characters take 1d6 points of nonlethal cold damage per hour, in addition to any cold hazard. If a buried character falls unconscious, he must make a DC 15 Constitution check or take 1d6 points of lethal damage every ten minutes thereafter until freed or dead. See Cave-Ins and Collapses for rules on digging out buried creatures.

Snow Creatures

You can turn any creature into a snow creature by giving it the cold subtype, moving it to a cold terrain, and giving it a climb speed equal to 1/2 its movement rate. While the CR of a cold creature it not increased in general, an encounter with one or more cold creatures in a snowstorm or blizzard has an ad hoc +1 CR adjustment.

For example, the Blue Orrocs of the northern Basalt Mountains are famed for their dark blue-to-purple coloration and their raids made into the lowlands during blizzards and winter storms.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!)