Category Archives: Game Design

Monday Bad Idea: Gelatinous Ghoul

Monday Bad Idea

Monday Bad Ideas are periodic, and not fully fleshed out. because, you know, they’re bad ideas.

A gelatinous ghoul is a rare from of ooze undead that generally occurs when some object an undead is connected to and which allows it to reform after destruction (sometimes the phylactery of a weak rich, or an object tied to a ghost’s reason for existence) is consumed by a gelatinous cube, but not destroyed, When the undead’s essence reforms around the object, the necromantic energies infuse the square ooze, creating a hybrid mix of gel and corpse.

Gelatinous ghouls generally look like a skull or severed head floating in a cube of transparent snot, though sometimes only a single hand or a glowing green tibia is sign of the deathly influence. Gelatinous ghouls have all the powers and immunities of both the ooze and the undead, and any ability that affects only one or the other has only a 50% chance of affecting it.

On the other hand they lack appendages, and are generally pretty ticked off (though a few ex-lich gelatinous ghouls are telekinetic, and describe the new state as “surprisingly comfy”).

If I Haven’t Scared You Off Yet:

Why not back my Patreon?

Spring Elves

Spring Elves

Spring elves are between 25 and 110 years old—physically adult, but still in what staid and traditional elven society considers their “Spring Years,” too emotional and impulsive to be allowed to leave the safety and education of the home. They are essentially eternal teenagers, sure of their own intellect and ability, but largely incapable of considering the long-term consequences of their actions—a particularly troubling trait for the long-lived race. Spring elves are always, always supervised and watched over by older, most experienced elves, and kept from adventure, and as much as possible kept from any decision-making. While spring elves are physically and mentally capable of the same kind of training and education as young humans, these decades are a time when they are so wild, so free of consideration, that over the course of eight decades they only manage as much preparation for life as a typical human manages by age 16.

However, in rare circumstances, a spring elf lacks any of the careful parenting and sheltering from life the races has learned from long experience is necessary to prevent the just-post-adolescent elves from setting the world on fire. For example, the Elves of Solstice are an entire race rules by spring elves, given power and authority with no sense of responsibility. And the gods help everyone else.

Spring Elf

Standard Racial Traits

Ability Score Racial Traits: Spring elves are nimble and amazingly likable, and still have their youthful resilience, which is the only reason they aren’t all killed for weeklong benders and experimental magic, but they lack the intellectual focus of properly raised, adult elves. They gain +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, and –2 Wisdom.

Size: Most spring elves are Medium creatures and thus have a 30 foot base speed and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size. Some are still size small, and have all the normal bonuses and penalties for that size and a base move of 20 feet.

Type: Elves are Humanoids with the elf subtype.

Languages: Spring elves begin play speaking Common and Elven. Those with high Intelligence scores are drawn to “fun” languages and can choose from the following: Abyssal, Aklo, Cyclops, Dark Folk, Draconic, Gnome, Necril, Protean, and Sylvan. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.

Keen Senses: Spring elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.

Impulsive: Spring elves gain a +2 bonus to Initiative checks, but they cannot delay an action (though they can ready), and take twice as long to take 20 on skill checks (as they are constantly distracted).

Elven Proclivities: Spring elves are immune to magic sleep effects, but take a -2 saving throw penalty against enchantment spells and effects. They gain a +2 bonus to charisma checks, and to the save DCs of their own enchantment spells and effects.

Low-Light Vision: Spring elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.

Reckless Abandon: A spring elf can reroll a single attack roll, ability check, skill check, or caster level check (but not concentration check) per encounter, immediately after determining the result of a failed roll. However, if the spring elf does this, the GM earns an impulsive token. The GM can later spend a token to force the spring elf to move to anyplace within the spring elf’s base move that is not obviously hazardous, as the spring elf is overcome by an impulse. This can begin a fight, set off a hidden trap and so on, though the spring elf gains +4 to AC and a +4 to saves against the initial effect of anything set off by this impulsive move.

Want More?

I have a Patreon. It’s how I justify taking the time to write a lot of this material on my blog. I’d love your support.

Freakishly Long Monkey Arms

Since someone asked:

Freakishly Long Monkey Arms

You have freakishly long monkey arms.
Benefit: though it does not increase your reach for purposes of making attacks, when otherwise trying to determine what you can carry (though not wield) or reach (for noncombat actions), treat your natural reach as being 5 feet longer.

Relic Masters: Magic for the Spell-Less (Pt. 2)

Okay, we now have a relic master archetype that every spell-less class can access, which boosts the options available to characters with Item Mastery Feats, and allows a character to focus on them. So, how we we expand the Item Mastery rules to expand the kinds of characters you can make with them?

More Feats!

Channel Spell (Combat, Item Mastery)

You can invoke a scroll or wand you possess through a different magic item.

Prerequisites: 1 or more Item Mastery feats, UMD 3 ranks, relic master level 3.

Benefit: When you have a wand or scroll on your person (somewhere you could retrieve it as no more than a move action), you can cast spells from it through any other magic item you are holding or wearing that has a spell from the same school as a prerequisite. Additionally if you have to make a Use Magic Device check to use the wand, you may take 10 on the UMD skill check when using this feat.

For example, if you have a wand of magic missile in your backpack, you could cast magic missiles from the wand (expending charges normally) — without getting the wand out — while you are holding a +1 flaming longsword (since the flaming ability has evocation spells as part of its prerequisites), and when doing so could take 10 on a UMD check to activate the wand.

Item Mastery Focus

You have learned additional ways to manipulate the magic of items.

Prerequisites: 2 or more Item Mastery feats, UMD 5 ranks, relic master level 5.

Prerequisites: For each item mastery feat you know that allows you to cast a spell a number of times per day from a magic item that has a spell from a specific school as a prerequisite, select an additional spell. This additional spell must be of the same school as the spell granted by the appropriate Item Mastery feat, must be of that spell’s spell level or less, and must be from the same class spell list. A number of times per day equal to your base Fortitude saving throw bonus, when you use an Item Mastery feat to cast a spell, you may instead cast one of these alternative spells. This counts as a daily use of the appropriate Item mastery feat.

Want More?

I have a Patreon. It’s how I justify taking the time to write a lot of this material on my blog. I’d love your support.

Relic Masters: Magic for the Spell-less

Though it is far from universal, there are several common styles of Pathfinder RPG play that cause groups to decide classes that lack any spellcasting ability are at a disadvantage, and that the disadvantage grows as other classes gain increasingly powerful spells. This is especially frustrating for players who have a character concept for someone who shouldn’t have spells (spellcasting would invalidate the character concept), but seem to then be penalized with fewer options in many encounters due to their lack of access to magic.

Item Mastery Feats are a great way to add magic abilities to characters that don’t gain spells or spell-like options from their class features. In a nutshell, they allow characters to force magic items to do things the item isn’t normally able to do. Since the Use Magic Device skill proves that spells are necessary to use magic items, and numerous classes can pick up just a little spellcasting without being a spellcasting class (such as minor magic from rogues), the idea that there is a technique to manipulate magic in new ways to do new things without being a spellcaster is in keeping with the suggested metaphyscis of the Pathfinder rules.

Item Mastery Feats can patch one or two holes in a character’s options easily, but using them to alter how nonspell classes play in general requires some new options. Some of those should be limited to characters who really focus on these feats, which is nromally rep[resented with the relic master archetype. However, that archetype can only be taken by fighters, and there are a lot of classes that don’t gain spells.

So, step one is to give rules for the relic master archetype to be usable by every class with no automatic access to spells, extracts, or similar broad-utility magic options. That means we need replacement options for the relic master’s powers at the appropriate levels for the barbarian, brawler, cavalier, gunslinger, kineticist, monk, rogue, slayer, swashbuckler, and vigilante.

Below are the rules for a “More Universal” Relic Master, that also tweaks the archetype itself to fix weaknesses that have been found in play since the archetype was published.

“More Universal” Relic Master

Skills

The relic master receives Knowledge (arcana) and Use Magic Device as class skills, but doesn’t receive two class skills of the base class, as noted below: as class skills.

Barbarian: Handle Animal and Ride

Brawler: Handle Animal and Ride

Cavalier: Bluff and Swim

Fighter: Handle Animal and Ride

Gunslinger: Handle Animal and Ride

Kineticist: Intimidate (already receives Use Magic Device)

Monk: Intimidate and Knowledge (history)

Rogue: Intimidate (already receives Use Magic Device)

Slayer: Intimidate and Knowledge (geography)

Swashbuckler: Intimidate and Ride

Vigilante: Knowledge (engineering) (already receives Use Magic Device)

Improved Item Mastery (Su)

At 3rd level, once per day, a relic master can use an item mastery feat she knows with a magic item that doesn’t have an appropriate spell in its construction requirements. The magic item must meet all other requirements of the item mastery feat. Alternatively, if she is using a magic item with an appropriate spell in its construction requirements, she can use an item mastery feat without it counting against the feat’s total uses per day. She can use this ability one additional time per day at 7th, 11th, and 15th levels.

This ability replaces or modifies a class feature gained at or before 3rd level depending on the relic master’s base class, as detailed below:

Barbarian: Trap sense

Brawler: Maneuver training

Cavalier: Cavalier’s charge. (The cavalier still receives mighty charge and supreme charge at their normal levels)

Fighter: Armor training

Gunslinger: Any 2 of the following 3 deeds: gunslinging initiative, pistol-whip, utility shot. Anytime the gunslinger gains new deeds from any source in the future, she may choose to forgo the new deed in favor of gaining one of these deeds.

Kineticist: Infusion gained at 3rd level

Monk: Still mind

Rogue: Trap sense

Slayer: The slayer does not gain the slayer talent normally gained at 2nd level.

Swashbuckler: Any 2 of the following 3 deeds: kip-up, menacing swordplay, precise strike. Anytime the swashbuckler gains new deeds from any source in the future, she may choose to forgo the new deed in favor of gaining one of these deeds.

Vigilante: Unshakeable

Relic Channeler (Su)

At 5th level, a relic master can increase the potency of a magic item she wields by investing it with a bit of her vitality as a swift action. If the item is armor, a shield, or a weapon, its enhancement bonus increases by 1 to a maximum of +5. If the magic item creates a spell or has a save DC, its effective caster level increases by 1. The bonus gained increases by +1 at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter, to a maximum of +4.

A relic master can use this ability for a number of minutes per day equal to 1 + her Constitution modifier (minimum 1 minute). This duration doesn’t need to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments.

This ability replaces or modifies a class feature gained at or before 5th level depending on the relic master’s base class, as detailed below:

Barbarian: Rage powers gained at 4th and 12th level.

Brawler: Brawler’s strike or close weapon mastery (once this decision is made, it cannot be changed)

Cavalier: Banner

Fighter: Weapon training

Gunslinger: Gun training

Kineticist: Metakinesis.

Monk: Purity of body

Rogue: Sneak attack is 1d6 lower than normal for a rogue of the same level.

Slayer: Has 1 fewer studied targets than normal for a slayer of the same level

Swashbuckler: Swashbuckler weapon training

Vigilante: Startling appearance

Improvised Item Mastery (Su)

At 19th level as a full-round action, the relic master can select one item mastery feat whose prerequisites she meets but that she doesn’t already have. She gains access to this feat, though she can’t use it as a prerequisite for other feats or options. If she selects a different item mastery feat, she loses access to her previous use of improvised item mastery and any magic effect created with it ends immediately. Any daily uses of a selected improvised item mastery feat count against all improvised mastery feats selected in the same day.

This ability replaces or modifies a class feature gained at or before 19th level depending on the relic master’s base class, as detailed below:

Barbarian: Damage reduction does not increase to 5/–

Brawler: AC bonus does not increase to +4 at 18th level

Cavalier: Challenges does not increase to 7/day

Fighter: Armor mastery

Gunslinger: Any one deed gained at this level is not gained. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed.

Kineticist: Metakinetic master

Monk: Empty body

Rogue: Rogue talented not gained at 8th level

Slayer: Improved quarry

Swashbuckler: Any one deed gained at this level is not gained. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed.

Vigilante: Social talent

My Patreon

Hey folks, do you enjoy the content on this blog? I can only take the time to do bigger 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!

 

House Rules; Initiative By Spelllessness

Initiative By Spelllessness

“Exactly!  It’s real and I can touch it.”
Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China:

A simple house rule designed to alter the inherent power level of various classes and sets up a cosmology where knowing magic always and automatically means you aren’t as alert to the events of the entirely material world around you. Also, this is nothing more than a minor tweak on the same basic idea from yesterday, but with a different variable as the lynchpin.

Each combat round is broken into 10 phases, though in most combats you can skip many of them. Within each phase, all characters acting in that phase act in order of their initiative modifier (calculated normally).

In phase one, only characters and monsters with no spellcasting or spell-like abilities, and those with only o-level spells or spell-like abilities act.

In phase two, all characters and monsters with spellcasting limited to 1st and lower level spells and 1st or lower level spell-like abilities act.

In phase three, those with up to 3rd level spells and 3rd level spell-like abilities, in phase 4 up to 4th level, and so on.

No other rules need change, and all three phases are still part of a single round. You can hold or ready an action to go in later phases, just as you could hold or ready and act at a lower initiative.

As compared to yesterday, which focused on your level of dedication to combat ability as the thing that lets you go first, in this system the more magic you know the later you go. This means you no longer have rogues going after fighters, or clerics going before wizards. It also mans the bigger an eldritch badass you are, the more you pay for it by other people going before you in the potential games of rocket-tag.

Being a wizard just got tougher.

Like House Rules?

Check out my Houserule Handbook and Houserule Footnote PDFs!

Enjoy This Article?

I could really use your support on my Patreon! Thousands of words of free gaming content and game industry articles, with support levels as low as $3/month.

House Rules: Initiative by BAB

Initiative By Base Attack Bonus

A simple house rule designed to alter the inherent power level of various classes.

Each combat round is broken into three phases.

In phase one, all characters and monsters with a bab equal to their HD go, in initiative order.

In phase two, all characters and monsters with a bab equal to more than half their HD (but less that their full HD) go, in initiative order.

In phase three, all characters and monsters with a bab equal to or less than half their HD go, in initiative order.

No other rules need change, and all three phases are still part of a single round. You can hold or ready an action to go in later phases, just as you could hold or ready and act at a lower initiative. As long as you aren’t using any 3pp rules that use initiative values to determine anything other than the order characters go in a round, you can just treat this as everyone going on phase one having a +100 bonus to their Initiative check, and every going on phase two having a +50 bonus.

Being a wizard just got tougher.

Like House Rules?

Check out my Houserule Handbook and Houserule Footnote PDFs!

Enjoy This Article?

I could really use your support on my Patreon! Thousands of words of free gaming content and game industry articles, with support levels as low as $3/month.

Thematic Cheese Feat: High Priest

Sometimes what the GM and players both want is not some carefully balanced, playtested, and theorycrafted expansion of the rules usable by a broad range of characters.

Sometimes you just want some cheese of the right flavor.

High Priest

Regardless of your level or base of operations, you are an acknowledged leader within your religion, able to command vast resources and use pure presence to bring others to your cause.

Prerequisites: Cha 13, member of a church.

Benefit: You gain the benefits of the Leadership feat, except your followers and cohort don’t arrive (and aren’t replaced) automatically, Instead, when you drop a foe to 0 or fewer hit points, if you have a cohort or follower slot open that foe could fill (it is the appropriate level or level-equivalent) you can force the foe to make a Will save (DC 10 +1/2 your level + your Wisdom or Charisma modifier — whichever is higher). If it fails the save, rather that die or fall unconscious, it’s alignment changes to match your deity’s and it becomes a loyal cohort or follower (depending on what slot it took). The foe gains a +4 bonus to this saving throw for each of the things that is true; the foe is a priest or divine agent of another deity or philosophy; the foe has an alignment subtype that does not mach the alignment of your deity; the foe is already a follower or cohort.

Additionally, when in a settlement with a church to your deity, you can command any service that does not have a significant cost to your church. This normally includes feeding and housing a modest number of people and having local priests cast any spell with no costly material components or inherent risks. However, any service with a cost as high as a single gold piece costs the full amount, and you can never use this ability to turn a profit.

Additionally, you can cast atonement, as the spell, once per character level as a spell-like ability.

Become a Patron!

Hey folks, do you enjoy the content on this blog? I can only take the time to do niche 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!

Thematic Cheese Feats: Elven Curvedance

Okay, let’s get back to some game ideas!

Sometimes what the GM and players both want is not some carefully balanced, playtested, and theorycrafted expansion of the rules usable by a broad range of characters.

Sometimes you just want some cheese of the right flavor.

Elven Curvedance

You know the ancient, and nearly-lost, art of the wardance of the elven curveblade, which strongly encourages (though it does not require) mobility in combat.

Prerequisites: Str 13, Dex 13, proficiency with the elven curveblade.

Benefit: You can use your Dexterity modifier in place of your Strength modifier when making attack rolls with the elven curveblade, as if you had the Weapon Finesse feat for just that weapon. When you choose to do this, and you make only a single melee attack on your turn, you may also use your Dexterity modifier in place of your Strength modifier when calculating your damage bonus with the elven curveblade (including adding 1.5x your strength modifier when using the weapon two-handed).

If you have an option that you can normally add to a melee attack only when making a standard action or attack action for a single attack, you made add that to melee attacks with your elven curveblade anytime you only make a single melee attack on your turn. for example, if you have Vital Strike, you could use it with your elven curveblade on a charge (a single attack), even though Vital Strike does not normally allow that.

Special: This feat counts as Weapon Finesse for any feat or ability that has Weapon Finesse as a prerequisite or modifies how Weapon Finesse works, but you can only use such feats and abilities with an elven curveblade unless you actually have the weapons Finesse feat.

Become a Patron!

Hey folks, do you enjoy the content on this blog? I can only take the time to do niche 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!

#Microfeat: Power Cast

Why are weapon users the only ones who can boost power at the cost of precision? Of course, with spells things are a little different…

Power Cast

You can make exceptionally deadly spell attacks by sacrificing accuracy and penetrating capacity for raw power.

Prerequisites: Ability score that determines your bonus spells 13, caster level 1st.

Benefit: When you cast a spell that requires an attack roll or allows a saving throw for half or to negate, you can choose to take a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and a –1 penalty to all concentration checks, caster level checks to penetrate SR, and saving throw DCs for effects you create this round to gain a +1 bonus on the spell’s effective caster level for everything except caster level checks to penetrate SR and concentration checks.

When your caster level reaches 4th, and every 4 levels thereafter, the penalty increases by –2 for attack rolls and –1 for checks and save DCs, and the bonus to caster level increases by +1.

You must choose to use this feat before casting any spell, and its penalties last until your next turn.

Become a Patron!

Hey folks, do you enjoy the content on this blog? I can only take the time to do niche 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!