Category Archives: Anachronistic Adventurers

ShadowFinder Adventure Sketch

The ShadowFinder Core Book won’t include a full-length adventure–there’s neither time nor room to get one crammed into that first book–but it WILL include some GM/Adventure support. There will be a section that talks about how to take typical Starfinder Adventure Paths and “reskin” them for the ShadowFinder Play Mode. And there will be some Adventure Sketches.

These are short outlines of what an adventure might include, with sections outlining “What It Looks Like,” “What’s Actually Going On,” “How Do PCs Get Involved,” “How Does It End,” and “Then What.” They are designed for GMs to use as inspirations and jumping-off points, with just enough details to explain what the adventure is about and how it may go, but without so many it’ll be difficult to mold into an existing campaign’s events. For example, while this adventure sketch mentions “the city,” it doesn’t tell you if it happens in New York City, Tokyo, or Absalom. That’s up to the GM.

I kinda hate to preview an Adventure Sketch–they take a lot of effort to write compared to their size and I see them as being a big part of what makes the ShadowFinder book work, despite their relatively small wordcount–but for exactly the reason I want them in the Core Book, I think they do a great job of showcasing what kinds of stories I think ShadowFinder is going to be great for playing through.

So, I picked one of my favorites — Save the City Beneath — and am showcasing it here.

Save The City Beneath

What It Looks Like: Water is mysteriously disappearing. From the drinking water system, reservoirs, even entire rivers and lakes are showing water levels way, way below what they out to be. The systems are all connected to the city’s drinking system, and if the loss isn’t stopped, the entire city is going to have a water shortage.

What’s Actually Going On: The city sits atop “The City Beneath,” a subterranean mix of old, unmapped sewers, storm drains, bootlegger tunnels, heating shafts, closed-off basements, cisterns, bomb shelters, previous cities, and secret underground complexes, natural caves, mined-out salt mines, where a civilization exists with only sporadic contact with the normal city above them. The City Beneath has actual physical portals to the Shadowblast, but also to demiplanes with less malignant residents and much ancient lore and preserved mystic libraries.

The City Beneath is not an inherently evil place. It’s a city, with good people, bad people, homeless people, gangs, unions, charities, arks, and everything else you’d expect to find in a big city—just all underground. But a powerful and judgmental person or group in the upper class of the “normal” surface city (we’ll call them F.L.O.O.D. – Friends of Law, Order, and Organized Democracy) has decided the City Beneath is an unacceptable danger. This group wants to find the City beneath, scour it of everything of value and power, and destroy it.

So, FLOOD are flooding the lower sections of their own city—uncaring that they are drowning the homeless, flooding out the dispossessed, and terrifying the vulnerable members of the lower class in the process—to follow the water drainage into passageways to the City Beneath.

Of course, in the process they are also waking up and releasing things the City Beneath locked away as too dangerous centuries ago.

How Do PCs Get Involved: If the mystery of a regionwide water shortage centered on a major city isn’t enough to get the PCs poking around, when some monsters start popping up in basements, abandoned bank vaults, old tunnel systems, and trendy secret clubs, the PCs can be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or, someone working for FLOOD might even try to hire the PCs to protect their water-trackers, hoping monster-hunters will blindly accept that the City Beneath must be “dealt with.”

How Does It End: The PCs figure out what FLOOD is up to, and either expose them to the public (which won’t result in anyone important going to jail, but will bring enough pressure for FLOOD to give up… for now), or hunt down and take out the FLOOD manager in charge of the deadly operation. FLOOD won’t be destroyed either way, but will decide such high-profile, headline-grabbing operations are a bad idea.

Then What: Assuming the FLOOD threat to the City Beneath is ended, the PCs now have access to an entire hidden society. In future adventures they can explore, train, use Coin of the Realm to buy magic items, set up bases, make allies, and go adventuring to deal with the City Beneath’s unsavory elements and gangs.

For inspiration on the City Beneath, look up the real-world locations of the Aldwych tube ghost statipn in London, England; Avinguda de la Llum in Barcelona, Spain; the Burlington Bunker in Corsham, England; the Cincinnati Subway in Ohio; Derinkuyu, Turkey; Dixia Cheng in China; the Estación de Chamberí abandoned subway station in Madrid, Spain; K’n-yan; Metro 417 in Los Angeles, California; Naours, France; New York City’s City Hall station; The Paris Catacombs, France; Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine; Portland Underground, in Portland, Oregon; Three Kings Catacombs in Tizimín, Mexico; and the Seattle Underground, in Seattle, Washington.

(Seriously, I can’t wait to show you all this Jacob Blackmon ShadowFinder art!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

How to Use the ShadowFinder Book

I’ve made a big deal out of the upcoming Starfinder Infinite project called ShadowFinder being a Play Mode for Starfinder, rather than a separate campaign or ruleset. So, if it’s designed to create a different play experience, but is 100% Starfinder compatible, what do I expect people to actually do with this book?

Well, no shock, I write about that a bit in the book itself.

Okay, What Do We DO With This?

ShadowFinder is designed to be use a few different ways, depending on your interests.

First, it’s everything you need to start running adventures in a new Play Mode, with a focus on the aesthetics and tropes of modern urban fantasy, rather that the more scifi-fantasy of Starfinder. We present enough information to get you started, including a quick description of the planar scar known as the Shadowblast, and the two worlds it links – Lost Golarion, and Rasputin’s Legacy Earth. If you are the type of group who just wants some rules and a setting, or maybe also some adventure seeds, and then you craft adventures and storylines yourselves, you can get started right away.

Second, it’s a big set of additional options for any Starfinder game. The new classes, class options, feats, and spells are all designed for use in ShadowFinder, but since the rules are 100% compatible with Starfinder, if you want to add enigmas, warlocks, and even sword saints and technicians to a non-ShadowFinder game, they’ll fit right in. There are some options rules in ShadowFinder that aren’t designed for other uses, such as Heroic Defense, but I’ve carefully kept those separate from other player-facing material. That means if you want to play a ShadowFinder game with Heroic Defense, it applies to any PC (even those uses classes from other sources), and if you want to play a warlock in a game without Heroic Defense, the class remains balanced.

Third, and most excitingly for me, it’s a toolkit of ideas you can take and use to create your own Play Mode, unique campaign, or even related Starfinder Infinite products! This book is very much the product of exactly what I wanted to make, but I see that as a beginning, not an end. Now that these rules and ideas are out in the world, I hope you will take the opportunity to shape, mold, and build off of them to create whole-new things I could never dream of.

(Yep. It’s a Nuar in a Suit)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowFinder Inspirations List

This week seems to be all about previews of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book I announced in my ShadowFinder Is Coming post.

So, what on Earth has gone into my head to lead me to want to write this book? Well… there’s a lot of it.

Appendix A: Inspirations List

This excerpt of Appendix A is not part of the OGL content of this site, and it not covered by any of the licenses this product is published under. It’s a separate, editorial list presented under fair use.

While ShadowFinder is not an effort to duplicate any specific piece of genre fiction, it absolutely does draw inspirations from a wide range of movies, shows, anime, books, and comics. While I simply do not have room (or time) to compile a comprehensive list, I did want to touch on some of the biggest contributors to the zeitgeek I’m trying to tap into. Very few of these represent exactly what I expect a ShadowFinder game session to look like, but most of them have elements that could easily inspire ShadowFinder plots, adventures, and characters.

This is just the film and television parts of the appendix from the book, which also has comics and literature… though wow have I wanted more tv and movies in the past 20 years than read books. 😛

In some cases, I have listed the original source of a franchise, even though something later in the franchise might be the first thing that that inspired me. In other cases, I list some later product, because it stands out in my mind from the rest of its franchise. There’s a reason both Dawn of the Dead movies are listed but not all the related zombie films, and Friday the 13th Part II and Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday are the only two Friday the 13th movies listed.

Inclusion here is absolutely not a claim of quality entertainment, in value, theme, presentation, or diversity. A lot of these are bad, and the very fact they are bad sometimes is what caused them to spark ideas in my head. In particular, many of these things now make me cringe when I read or watch them, as they have tropes, attempts at jokes, and stereotypes that should never have been acceptable. Please, check reviews and content warnings before trusting them to be entertaining. There are some great ideas in these, but too often they are mixed with bigotry and bias. I know we can all do a better job when importing the cool parts into our own stories.

Also, a lot of them are horror-themed, despite the fact I don’t consider ShadowFinders to be designed as a horror genre. But modern supernatural stories often are horror, and part of the point is that slasher and monster-in-the-sewer films go differently when PCs get involved.

[H2]Film and Television

Alias. Created by J.J. Abrams.

Alligator. Directed by Lewis Teague.

Angel. Starring David Boreanaz.

Angel Heart. Directed by Alan Parker.

Assault on Precinct 13. Directed by John Carpenter.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. Directed by John DeBello.

Attack the Block. Directed by Joe Cornish.

Battle Royale. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

Belphegor, or the Phantom of the Louvre. Directed by Claude Barma.

Big Trouble in Little China. Directed by John Carpenter.

Black Dynamite. Directed by Scott Sanders.

The Blair Witch Project. Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez.

The Blob. Directed by Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.

The Blues Brothers. Directed by John Landis.

The Boondock Saints. Directed by Troy Duffy.

Brimstone. Created by Ethan Reiff, Cyrus Voris.

Bubba Ho-Tep. Directed by Don Coscarelli.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.

The Cabin in the Woods. Directed by Drew Goddard.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Directed Ken Hughes.

C.H.U.D. Directed by Douglas Cheek.

Cool World. Directed by Ralph Bakshi.

The Craft. Directed by Andrew Fleming.

Creature from the Black Lagoon. Directed by Jack Arnold.

The Crow. Directed by Alex Proyas.

Dark Angel. Created by James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee.

Dark City. Directed by Alex Proyas.

Darkman. Directed by Sam Raimi.

Dawn of the Dead. Directed by George A. Romero.

Dawn of the Dead. Directed by Zack Snyder

Death Valley. Developed by Eric Weinberg, Curtis Gwinn, and Spider One.

Deep Rising. Directed by Stephen Sommers.

Demon Knight. Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson.

The Descent. Directed by Neil Marshall.

Escape from New York. Directed by John Carpenter.

Equinox. Directed by Robert Day.

Evil Dead II. Directed by Sam Raimi.

Five Deadly Venoms. Directed by Chang Cheh.

The Fog. Directed by John Carpenter.

Friday the 13th, the Series. Created by Frank Mancuso Jr. and Larry B. Williams.

Friday the 13th, Part II. Directed by Steve Miner.

Fright Night. Directed by Tom Holland.

Fringe. Created by J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci.

From Dusk till Dawn. Directed by Robert Rodriguez.

Game of Death. Directed by Bruce Lee.

Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. Directed by Jim Jarmusch.

Ghostbusters. Directed by Ivan Reitman.

The Golden Child. Directed by Michael Ritchie.

Halloween. Directed by John Carpenter.

Happy! Created by Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson.

Hellraiser. Directed by Clive Barker.

Highlander. Directed by Russell Mulcahy.

Highway to Hell. Directed by Ate de Jong.

The Host (Gwoemul). Directed by Bong Joon-ho.

House II: The Second Story. Directed by Ethan Wiley.

House on Haunted Hill. Directed by William Malone.

Howard the Duck. Directed by Willard Huyck.

Hudson Hawk. Directed by Michael Lehmann.

In the Mouth of Madness. Directed by John Carpenter.

Infinity Train. Created by Owen Dennis.

John Dies at the End. Directed by Don Coscarelli.

John Wick. Directed by Chad Stahelski and David Leitch.

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Directed by Adam Marcus.

Jurassic Park. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Directed by Stephen Chiodo.

The Kingdom (Original title: Riget). Created by Lars von Trier.

Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Directed by Gordon Hessler.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Creator Jeff Rice.

Kung Fu Hustle. Directed by Stephen Chow.

L.A. Story. Directed by Mick Jackson.

Labyrinth. Directed by Jim Henson.

The Lair Of The White Worm. Directed by Ken Russell.

Lake Placid. Directed by Steve Miner.

The Last Dragon. Directed by Michael Schultz.

The Lost Boys. Directed by Joel Schumacher.

The Lost Room. Created by Christopher Leone and Laura Harkcom.

El Mariachi. Directed by Robert Rodriguez.

Midnight, Texas. Developed by Monica Owusu-Breen.

MirrorMask. Directed by Dave McKean.

Monster Squad. Directed by Fred Dekker.

Mortal Kombat. Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson.

National Treasure. Directed by Jon Turteltaub.

Near Dark. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Neverwhere. Created by Neil Gaiman and Lenny Henry.

Nightbreed. Directed by Clive Barker.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Directed by Chuck Russell.

Night of the Lepus. Directed by William F. Claxton.

The Passage. Created by Liz Heldens.

Pi. Directed by Darren Aronofsky.

The Prophecy. Directed by Gregory Widen.

Predator. Directed by John McTiernan.

Prince of Darkness. Directed by John Carpenter.

Pumpkinhead. Directed by Stan Winston.

Puppet Master. Directed by David Schmoeller.

Quatermass and the Pit. Directed by Roy Ward Baker.

The Quiet Earth. Directed by Geoff Murphy.

Raiders of the Lost Ark. Directed by Steven Spielberg.

Rawhead Rex. Directed by George Pavlou.

Re-Animator. Directed by Stuart Gordon.

REC. Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza.

Repo Man. Directed by Alex Cox.

The Return of the Living Dead. Directed by Dan O’Bannon.

Salem’s Lot. Directed by Tobe Hooper.

Sleepy Hollow. Created by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Phillip Iscove, and Len Wiseman.

Special Unit 2. Created by Evan Katz.

The Strain. Created by Guillermo del Toro, and Chuck Hogan.

Stranger Things. Created by the Duffer Brothers.

Streets of Fire. Directed by Walter Hill.

The Stuff. Directed by Larry Cohen.

Supernatural. Creator Eric Kripke.

The Swarm. Directed by Irwin Allen.

Them! Directed by Gordon Douglas.

They Live. Directed by John Carpenter.

The Thing. Directed by John Carpenter.

Thirteen Ghosts. Directed by Steve Beck.

Trancers. Directed by Charles Band.

Tremors. Directed by Ron Underwood.

Vampire Hunter D. Directed by Toyoo Ashida.

Vampires. Directed by John Carpenter.

Warlock. Directed by Steve Miner.

The Warriors. Directed by Walter Hill.

The X-Files. Creator Chris Carter.

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowWalkers

Continuing a theme, here’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.

ShadowWalkers: Not everything can move back-and-forth between the Material plane and the Shadowblast. No magic, technology, power, or effect can allow travel between the two for anything but random and sporadic inanimate objects, and the rare breed of creature who are ShadowWalkers.

All PCs are assumed to be ShadowWalkers, whether they know it or not. Any NPC or monstrous threat the GM wishes to be a ShadowWalker is one. Being a ShadowWalker doesn’t let you move to or from the Shadowblast with your own power. It just means you can use the spells, devices, and gates that would normally allow planar travel can take you both ways, if you happen to have access to it.

No one knows what percentage of creatures are ShadowWalkers. It could be 1-in-10, 1-in-1,000, or even 1-in-1,000,000. That’s for each GM to decide, and for ShadowFinders without their games to find out over time. It could even be that ShadowWalkers native to the Material plane are rare, and those native to the Shadowblast are common… or vice versa.

What is known is that the cleverest, most dangerous creatures of the Shadowblast generally aren’t ShadowWalkers, much to their annoyance. They are trapped in the Shadowblast, unable to move to any other plane of existence. Many such creatures were once freer entities, sailing Astral winds at a whim, and will do nearly anything to regain that freedom. Since the Shadowblast appears to be anchored by the Earth of Rasputin’s Legacy on one end, and Lost Golarion on the other, the little gods trapped in the Shadowblast often feel destroying one world, or both, is their best bet for escaping their gloomy prison. To do that, they craft complex plans that often involve sending ShadowWalker minions from the Shadowblast to one or the other world, perhaps to set up cults to perform rituals to find yet more ShadowWalkers among the denizens of the Material plane, to turn those into more minions, to start more cults…

(ShadowWalkers… Come out and play-aaaaay.)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowFinder: Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, The United States

Continuing a theme, here’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 Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, an incursion into WWI Russian by heroes from Golarion has caused both a leak of magic back into the world, and the formation of the planar scar known as the Shadowblast.

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 United States of America, unedited, still with its formatting tags.

[H2]The United States of America

The U.S. is one of the worst-off major nations in the battle against the Shadowblast, and the reasons are varied and, in many cases, self-inflicted. The fact that early research into the Shadowblast was largely undertaken by the Soviet Union (and treated as a state secret), kept the U.S. in the dark through the 1930s. But encounters soldiers and observers had during WWII made it impossible for the U.S.A. to miss that there was a real, growing, supernatural threat.

Well, it made it impossible for everyone to ignore it. It turns out, willful ignorance and politics can often go hand-in-hand.

At first, the threat of the Shadowblast was simply considered too minor to be a priority in the rush to rebuild post-war Europe, establish political dominion over the Western Hemisphere, and flex the U.S.’s newfound worldwide clout. After all, the Soviets explored the Shadowblast first because those threats were local to them. Why should a country protected by two oceans worth of moat worry about local things happening in Europe and Asia?

In the next decades the problems caused by the Shadowblast spread into the U.S., though always quietly, in shadows and small towns, untracked wilderness, abandoned buildings, backwoods and dark alleys. However, political and religious pressures began to hold back any serious preparation by U.S. groups. The whispers of such threats were called communist plots, un-Christian efforts to promote magic, and drug-induced counter-culture hallucinations. Not only did federal and state forces refuse to take such threats seriously, they actively suppressed knowledge of them, ruined the reputations of those who tried to raise the alarm, and set up counterintelligence campaigns to ensure any rumors of supernatural events were seen as junk journalism.

This left U.S. institutions vulnerable to infiltration by more organized Shadowblast factions. Some factions even managed to place moles and even high-level administrators within federal and state law enforcement and bureaucracies. In the 1970s and 1980s, Shadowblast activity within North America skyrocketed, and the very systems designed to find and neutralize threats against the country and its citizens were more often used to cover-up the growing incursions.

Even so, the number of unsolved missing persons, eyewitness accounts, and unexplained phenomenon were so extensive that private groups and individuals stepped up to fill in the gap left by a lack of any official program. Many of these groups suffered terrible losses, and things they learned in dealing with the Shadowblast were often lost without being passed on to other groups. The system was haphazard at best, but it slowly expanded into a decentralized network of vigilante groups, community patrols, and secret societies, sometimes augmented by meddling kids on bicycles or teenage bands traveling by van.

As a kind of counterculture, the fight against the Shadowblast integrated at the edges of other fringe communities. People who were already mistreated by the government, or suspicious of indoctrination by orthodoxy, were more likely to both encounter these threats and decide if something was to be done, they had to do it. The chances of a hero rising to oppose the Shadowblast being from LGBTQ groups, carnies, oppressed minorities, punk, grunge, or metal music, disillusioned veterans, and fans of various forms of speculative fiction was simply much higher than from more mainstream groups. In many cases, they had little choice – if these communities did not protect themselves, no one else would.

This situation has evolved over the decades, but remains the norm in the current era. Specific parts of the United States can have different governmental reactions to Shadowblast threats. Alaska in general has a history and culture similar to Canada when regarding the Shadowblast, and there are areas along the southern border that are much closer to the situation in Mexico than the rest of the U.S. (especially further from major population centers). But, in general, even now governmental research of and resistance to Shadowblast incursions is generally haphazard, ad-hoc, and isolated. While the FBI has Taskforce X, the National Parks Service has the Cryptology Division, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s “Directive 8” oversees the surprisingly well-informed K’n Yan Intelligence Section, for the most part officials aware of and working against the Shadowblast have to do so with little support from their organizations. Indeed, sometimes such efforts are actively hindered by officials that believe such efforts are a waste of time… or who are secretly on the Shadowblast’s side.

That level of hindrance is also why the ShadowFinder Society has no official presence in the U.S.A, forcing its members to work more clandestinely. They often organize regionally under the auspices of some smaller, local group, and use the term Torchbearer to refer to those who fight against the encroaching shadows. There is an unofficial “Torchbearer’s Circuit” of truck stops, diners, bus stations, taxi companies, union laborers, coal miners, loggers, local churches, firefighters, and environmental activists who are aware of the Shadowblast and, at least to some extent, the ShadowFinder Society itself.

But in the end, in the U.S., those who wish to oppose things that go bump in the night are likely to be on their own much of the time.

(Jacob Blackmon‘s aesthetic is perfect for ShadowFinder!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

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!

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!)

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Slenderman, for ShadowFinder (Starfinder-Compatible)

So, if I DO a ShadowFinder rpg, or campaign book, or Starfinder hack, or whatever, obviously it’s going to involve adventures that include fighting things (because if it didn’t, I’d pick a different game system). While part of the point of doing something compatible with an existing game system is to make all the existing options available for use as a GM pleases, we’d obviously need some other, new things.

So, what will PCs oppose in a ShadowFinder campaign?

Creepy things. Like a SlenderMan.

(Slenderman art (c) Jacob Blackmon, and used with permission. Check out his Patreon here!)

Apóleipa, Innocence-Eater (Slenderman) (Combatant)
CR 7
XP 3,200
CE Medium fey (Extraplanar)
Init +6; Senses blindsight (emotion) 30 ft., low-light vision; Perception +14
Defense HP 98
EAC 19; KAC 20
Defensive Abilities Only the Fearless (DR/Resist all energy 10 vs attacks from frightened foes), Tilted Away
Fort +6; Ref +8; Will +10;
Offense
Speed 40 ft.
Melee touch +13 (2d4+7 B), critical: staggered 1d4 rounds, 15-foot reach
Ranged warped world +15 (2d4+7 A)
Statistics
STR +4; DEX +2; CON +0; INT +2; WIS +1; CHA +5
Skills Bluff +19, Culture +14, Diplomacy +19, Intimidate +19, Sense Motive +19, Stealth +19
Languages alltongue
Other Abilities alltongue, feats (Improved Demoralize), isolation (DC 19), warped world
Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or infestation (3–6)
Special Abilities
Alltongue (Su): The Slenderman can speak and understand all spoken or signed languages, and is always able to be heard, even in areas of deafening sound and by creatures without a sense of hearing.
Isolation (Su): The Slenderman is a creature of isolation, and this extends to efforts to communicate with people far away by magical or technological means, or even just shouting. Anytime a creature within 300 feet of the Slenderman attempts to send or receive communication with anyone or anything not in their line-of-sight, they must succeed at a DC 19 Will save. On a failed save their radio turns to static, magic spell returns just whispered howls of pain, or their scream seems to die as soon as it leaves their throat. Once a creature fails this save, the condition prevents any communication beyond line-of-sight until it gets more than 300 feet from the Slenderman.
Any effort to record or preserve any image or sound of the Slenderman also requires a successful DC 19 Will save, with failure resulting in just a vague blur or feint whisper, or a picture of what appears to be a tall, thin, but mortal man in a suit, with a blurred face.
Only the Fearless (Su): Those who know fear find themselves nearly unable to damage the Slenderman. When a creature is suffering a fear effect (including the Slenderman’s own Intimidate check with Improved Demoralize), the Slenderman reduces damage from any attack they make by 10 points, regardless of damage type.
Tilted Away (Su): The space the Slenderman is in seems to ripple and roll away to make it difficult to make ranged attacks against it. Any ranged attack made against the Slenderman at a range greater than 2 feet grants the Slenderman concealment.
Warped World (Su): The Slenderman can reach out a long, crooked finger and cause someone to have a sense the world is spinning and twisting, wrenching their organs and insides as if they were being wrung out like a rag. This is a ranged acid attack against EAC, has a range increment of 50 feet, and has Knockdown as a critical hit effect.

Apóleipa are a form of fey native to the Plane of Shadow that represent the unformed fears of spaient creatures. As cultures form specific fears or hatreds, various apóleipa form to both try to stoke these negative feelings of natives to the mortal world, and to feed on them. Among the most recent form of apóleipa are innocence-eaters, also known as Slendermen, who feed of a sense of loss of innocence and self-loathing at having done horrid things. They operate mostly in places already suffering from great tragedy or resentment, often on the fringes of society, and seek to convince the most vulnerable members of these places to take actions that will deepen the fear and despair of the population.

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DungeonFinder/ShadowFinder Soldier Fighting Style

So, yesterday I pitched on way to handle weapons in DungeonFinder or ShadowFinder, both concepts for 100% Starfinder-compatible campaign settings (one classic fantasy, the other modern urban fantasy). I mentioned that while equipment was a big part of what would be needed to make such settings work, there would also have to be some work done on classes. Some classes would need to be tossed out and replaced. But others, like operative and soldier, just need new genre-appropriate choices.

So, what might those look like? Let’s look at the soldier.

Obviously the soldier class is going to stand in for the fighter, and likely a lot of fighter-adjacent base and hybrid classes. Now, some of that work can be done with archetypes and existing material (the assassin and battle leader archetypes work for any class and are pretty good as-is, and would take at most just a little tweaking, while the wrathful warrior fighting style does a pretty good job of turning a soldier into a rage-themed berserker). But there are some classic fantasy/modern combat tropes that no existing Starfinder material does a good job of covering. for example, the very first fighter archetype in PF1 is the archer, and nothing in Starfinder really fills that conceptual space.

So, we’d almost certainly want an archer fighting style. (As an aside – we might ALSO want an archer archetype, so other classes can do some archery-stuff, in which case we’d certainly want the two to be compatible. We might even want to have them draw from the same pool of abilities. But those are concerns we can tackle later — a proof-of-concept effort shouldn’t try to tackle every possible nuance. We can adjust the idea as needed when we’re further along – none of the work we do here is wasted, even if we move around who gets it and how.)

(As a second aside – we’d ALSO need to do something about how bows work, too, but given we tackled the core idea of fantasy weapons in Starfinder yesterday, for now I feel comfortable saying “I could manage that.”)

So, what would an archer fighting style look like?

(Art by grandfalure)

Archer

You are a master of early ranged weapons and, despite this fighting style’s name, are expert with bows, crossbows, and slings. Whenever this fighting style says “bows,” the rules apply to any analog ranged weapon that is not thrown.

Hawkeye (Ex): At 1st level, Perception becomes a class skill for you. If it is already a class skill, you instead gain a +1 bonus to Perception checks. Additionally, you increase the range increment of bows by 10 feet of any You add an additional 10 feet to such range increments at 5th level, and every 4 levels thereafter.

Trick Shot (Ex): At 5th level, select one of the following combat maneuvers: dirty trick, disarm, sunder, trip. You can perform this maneuver at range using a bow. You can pick a second combat maneuver from the list to perform with such weapons at 11th level, and a third at 17th level.

Safe Shot (Ex): At 9th level, when making attacks with a bow, you do not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Sharpshooter (Ex): At 13th level, when making attacks with a bow, you add half your Dexterity bonus to the damage done.

Volley (Ex): At 17th level, as a full-round action, you can make a single bow attack at your highest base attack bonus against each creature in a 15-foot- radius burst, making separate attack and damage rolls for each creature. You use ammunition for each creature attacked.

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Designing Weapons for DungeonFinder, a theoretical all-fantasy Starfinder Hack

Starfinder is not just “Pathfinder in space,” it’s its own ttRPG with specific changes (designed to be improvements and/or simplifications of PF1 rules, or to cover issues common in science-fantasy but not traditional fantasy settings). Some people genuinely prefer its core game system to that of PF1, PF2, or 5e, totally aside from the genre and setting (I’m not claiming that’s a MAJORITY of people mind you, or even a big minority, just that such a group exists.)

One of the things that means is, it would be possible to design a pure-fantasy version of Starfinder, specifically for doing the kind of dragon-slaying and dungeon-delving of a typical d20 fantasy RPG. For the moment, let’s call that theoretical game, DungeonFinder.

Ideally, DungeonFinder would be 100% compatible with Starfinder, so if you *wanted* to have androids and lasers show up in DungeonFinder (like they do in official PF1 material and in some fantasy ttRPGs right back to the beginning), you can just grab the appropriate Starfinder material and use it, no changes needed.

To make a pure-fantasy with the normal swords-and-feudal-themes of a typcial fantasy ttRPG work in a 100% Starfinder-compatible setting, you need some way to make tiered fantasy weapons work, using the same higher-level-gear-does-more-damage framework as Starfinder’s SF weaponry.

That’s perfectly possible — higher-level melee weapons simply become masterwork or magic weapons, and deal more damage. Of course everyone will expect to have +1 longswords and so on, just because that’s the terminology the fantasy predecessors to Starfinder have, which isn’t how Starfinder normally works… but as long as we restrict the bonus to damage (rather than attack rolls), we can make it work.

Here’s a sketch of what a set of tiered Longswords might look like, from 1st to about 17th item level.

(Art by serikbaib)

Advanced Melee Weapons, One-Handed (Longsword)

NameLevelPriceDamageCriticalBulkSpecial
 Longsword13751d8 S1analog
Longsword, masterwork53,2001d10 S1d6 Bleed1analog
Longsword, +178,7502d6+1 S1d6 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +1 flaming912,7502d10+1 F & S1d8 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +2912,7502d10+2 S1d8 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +1 holy1127,0004d8+12d6 Bleed1analog, magic, holy fusion
Longsword, +2 flaming1127,0004d8+2 F & S2d6 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +31127,0004d8+3 S2d6 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +2 holy1480,0007d8+2 S2d8 Bleed1analog, magic, holy fusion
Longsword, +3 flaming1480,0007d8+3 F & S2d8 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +41480,0007d8+32d8 Bleed1analog, magic
Longsword, +3 holy17250,00010d8 +3 S3d6 Bleed1analog, magic, holy fusion
Longsword, +4 flaming17250,00010d8+4 F & S3d6 Burn1analog, magic
Longsword, +517250,00010d8+5 S3d6 Bleed1analog, magic

I could carry this concept on through 20th level equipment, but since this is just a thought experiment, there’s no real need to do so.

Of course it would be nice if we could avoid having to do a table for every weapon we put in the game. But it might well be possible to break weapons down into a few categories, and have some standard rules (like “masterwork weapons are item level 5, cost 3,000 gp more, do one die step more damage, and gain a minor critical hit effect”), once we have a few exemplar weapons to work from.

This is very much early days yet, but equipment is absolutely the #1 thing that needs to be worked out to make DungeonFinder work. Some Starfinder classes could be ported over with little more than some new class features)soldiers are fine, just create new gear boosts and fighting styles, similarly envoys, mystics, and operatives envoys take little work), while other classes should be more extensively rewritten, or replaced entirely.

I could also carry this same concept into a theoretical ShadowFinder game…

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