Category Archives: Game Design

Technomancers of the Really Wild West 5: Teslics

Not so long ago I noted on Facebook and Twitter that in the Really Wild West, the most common kinds of technomancers are CartogramancersEdisonadesLovelacers, Telethurges, Teslics, and the Prophets of John Moses Browning.

I thought it might be fun to examine those ideas, and we’ve gotten to the Teslics.

(Image by Nejon Photo)


Teslics are technomancers who attempt to reconcile the weirder scientific theories of mechanic Nikolai Tesla with their theosophic technological equivalents. Though Nikolai Tesla is a relative newcomer to the technological world stage, Tesla’s AC system and motors driven by it were adopted by Westinghouse in 1888 (following a war of publicity with Thomas Edison) giving Tesla international attention.

When Tesla claimed to be able to communicate with spirits of the dead in 1889, and that they warned an invasion from another planet was imminent, numerous serious researches and companies wrote him off. When he revealed he was boosting his own intelligence with the applciation of electircal current through an implant, there was serious discussion of having him committed.

When the Martians invaded, and tesla proved able to intercept their communications, predict their movements, and was the first to begin understanding their technology, all that changed. The US War Department has since given him nearly unlimited funds and facilities, and his Grand Street Laboratory in Manhattan has rapidly expanded to cover most of a city block. As a result, Tesla’s creativity has exploded.

Spirit phones. Cosmic auras. Teleforce. Broadcast energy. Death rays. Polyphase converters. Oscillating generators. Radiant energies. Remote controls. Magnifying transmitters. Tesla creates ideas in frenzied dashes of invention, rushing from one concept to another and forgoing sleep in favor of direct electric stimulation of his body. Some ideas he completes, and can be put into near-immediate use. Others are barely described at all, with little more than a single working prototype and a few scrawled calculations and theories. All efforts to bring tesla back to flesh-out his more esoteric concepts fail, and the War Department is so desperate for the inventions he completes–which they believe will be crucial in predicting and possible preventing a second War of the Worlds–they refuse to cut off his support.

After some weeks of having top-secret panels try to make sense of the fragmentary advances in technology Tesla has already abandoned for new ideas, the War Department generally leaks what little is know to private think tanks, and over months they become more widely disseminated. While dedicated mechanics and engineers attempt to recreate the pure-science answer Tesla has clearly discovered, some going to far as to install electric “exocortex” stimulators in their own brains, some technomancers seek to bypass the need for understanding the core principles of these technologies by building theosophic, sympathetic magic answers that can create the same end result without knowing exactly how it is done.

Teslics are often considered to be toying with forces no mortal mind can comprehend, and thought of as likely to become unreliable and possible even dangerous with little or no warning. At the same time, a Teslic’s willingness to risk their mind to unlock some discovery that might help the Earth defend itself from Mars is also seen as crucial on a grand scale, even if most people prefer Teslics do their crucial work far, far away.

Technomancer Alternate Class Feature: Teslic

Theoretical Theosophy: One spell known of each spell-level the technomancer can cast is randomly determined, representing what concepts the technomancer doesn’t quite understand they have managed to temporarily lock into a theosophic frame. However as the stars alignment changes, planets move, weather patterns shift, and the technomancers own understanding of the universe evolves, the tehcnomancer can loose the ability to use an old random spell, and can a new spell in its place.

Normally the randomly-selected spells shift once per month, and each time the technomancer gains a new technomancer level. These spells may be drawn from any spellcasting class (roll 1d10– 1-3 random mystic spell, 4-6 random technomancer spell, 7-9 random witchwarper spell, 10 technomancer may select a spell from any class allowed in the campaign). The random spell is always of the same level as the spell it replaces and one the technoamncer can use (for example, if a personal spell only functions with some class feature he tecnomancer lacks, a different random spell is selected).

Additionally, the technomancer may select one spell known at each spell level that is drawn from the mystic or witchwarper spell list. These may be any spell of the same or lower spell level. The technomancer may never select more than one such off-class spell known at each spell level in this manner (such as if they later swap out spells known upon gaining a level). However, the spell-per-spell-level-known that is selected randomly does not count against this limit.

Teslic Magic Hacks

The following magic hacks are available for selection by Teslics, beginning at 2nd level.

Broadcast Magic: You can attune a number of technological devices equal to your key ability bonus. This takes an hour, and they remain attuned until you attune new items in excess of your maximum. When these items are within short range (25 feet +5 feet/2 levels) and within your line of sight and line of effect, as a move action you can make them the origin point of a spell you cast that has a range greater than personal. You must cast the spell by the end of your next round to do this.

Teleforce: If you cast a damaging spell with a casting time of 1 standard action or less as a full round, you can change the type of damage it deals to be bludgeoning damage, and it becomes a force effect. If you cast the spell using a spell slot one or more levels higher than normal, you can also force the target to make a Reflex save (at the DC for a spell of the level of slot you used) or be pushed back 5 feet for every point by which it fails its save, and knocked prone.

Aall this content is only possible because of my wonderful Patrons! The support of my Patreon is crucial for my continued game writing and creative career. Please consider joining, even for just a few dollars a month!

Technomancers of the Really Wild West 4: Telethurges

Not so long ago I noted on Facebook and Twitter that in the Really Wild West, the most common kinds of technomancers are CartogramancersEdisonades, Lovelacers, Telethurges, Teslics, and the Prophets of John Moses Browning.

I thought it might be fun to examine those ideas, and we’ve gotten to the Telethurges.

(Image by Phil)


While telethurges are very strongly associated with telegraph wires in the 1891 of the Really Wild West, their discipline is significantly older than that. The idea of ranged data transmission goes back almost as fat as the discovery of fire, and numerous ancient cultures used signal fires, smoke signals, and even lighthouses to send coded messages. The first “modern” telemancer, however, was British polymancer Robert Hooke, who combined a series of optical telegraph stations with specific theosophic principles on how to boost and encypher transmissions using that system.

However, the first widespread, successful use of optical telegraphs enhanced by theosophic principles was built by French engineer Charles Chappe during the French Revolution, and as a result numerous telethurge schools still teach in French. This was also adopted by naval “weather witches” who developed flag signals and eventually the large-flag system of wigwag, which proved its use during the American Civil War.

The development of the electric telegraph, followed quickly by Samuel Morse’s code for using it in 1838, turned telethurges to find theosophic ways to transmit and receive electric telegraph signals without the wires normally required. This allows access to such wonders as the Babbage-Bell Grid (a global cogitating and data storage system normally accessed through teletype machines in cities and major educational centers), global communication, and in recent years even telephone communication.

Telethurges are often see as “common folk” spellcasters, on par with linemen, polemen, and telegraph operators. In smaller towns, especially in the years just after the War of the Worlds, the local telethurge may be the most reliable method for getting news, sending important letters, and calling for help.

Technomancer Alternate Class Feature: Telethurge

Graphapathy (Su): A telethurge can access information from a telegraph, telephone, or other telecommunication wire without the normal equipment needed to do so. The wire or device must be within 400 feet +40 feet/level, and within line of sight and line of effect. The telethurge can use the communication system as if she was sitting at an appropriate device wired into it. The telethurge can even take a message from one wire or device, and move it to another (such as taking audio from a telephone line and transmitting it directly to a wax-cylinder recorder or Edisonade’s playback device).

A telethurge can extend the range of this ability by expending a spell slot. This allows the ability to function if there is a telecom wire or station within a range of 50 miles, +50 miles per level of the spell slot. Anything that would block a detect magic spell from detecting a source of magic at the same location as the telecom wire or station blocks the telethurge from being able to reach it. When messages are send or received in this way, they have a maximum of 10 words per caster level for each spell slot expended.

Additionally, when using telecom devices to send coded messages or trying to decipher coded messages, rather than Bluff or Sense Motive, the telethurge can use Mysticsm, and gains an insight bonus to their checks equal to 1/3 their class level.

A telethurge gains the following spells known as bonuses when they gain spells of the appropriate level — telepathic message (0-level), akkashic download (1st level), status (2nd-level), tongues (3rd-level), telepathic bond (4th-level), telepathy (5th level), telepathic jaunt (6th-level).

A telethurge has one fewer spells known at each spell level.

Aall this content is only possible because of my wonderful Patrons! The support of my Patreon is crucial for my continued game writing and creative career. Please consider joining, even for just a few dollars a month!

Technomancers of the Really Wild West 3: Lovelacers

Not so long ago I noted on Facebook and Twitter that in the Really Wild West, the most common kinds of technomancers are Cartogramancers, Edisonades, Lovelacers, Telethurges, Teslics, and the Prophets of John Moses Browning.

I thought it might be fun to examine those ideas, and we’ve gotten to the Lovelacers.

(Art by Andrey Kiselev)


Lovelacers are students of the principles of Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, and her the Mathimatikí Poíisi, the mathematical poetry that allows Analytical Engines and Cogitators to do more than solve equations. Ada Lovelace was the only child of famed poet Lord Byron and mathematician Lady Byron, and she recognized the potential of Charles Babbage’s mechanical calculating machines, beginning with his first Difference Engine, and combining their capacities with the clockwork minds of automatons, making the standardized construction of Androids possible. (Countess Lovelace also formed the Sapience Sequence, a series of questions and tests that can differentiate between a difference engine pretending to be sapient, and a true android that is the vessel for a soul.)

It’s also worth noting that Countess Lovelace was not, herself, a technomancer. Though she created numerous Mathimatikí Poíisi formula for use by technomancers, she herself was not a spellcaster but a pure theoretician and thinker. She had a sapient drone built using her designs and created numerous theosophical principles that have since become tehcnomancer spells, all without any spellcasting ability herself.

Lovelacers are respected as adepts at mathematics, poetry, and machine intelligence. Even before the social upheaval of the War of the Worlds broke numerous gender-based biases against women as technomancers, Lovelacers of any gender where considered respectable and competent, due in no small part to their ties back to Countess Lovelace herself, who was seen as a nearly divine intellect and the inheritor of significant social cachet as a result of her parentage.

Lovelacers are generally expected by the public to be “genteel” technomancers, the sorts of people who spend time in intellectual salons and academic settings, rather than on the frontier or in grimy workshops. However, they are also perceived to be serious thinkers, and when they do feel moved to put themselves in rougher ettings, people take their reasoning seriously.

Technomancer Alternate Class Feature: Lovelacer

Data Cache (Ex): A Lovelacer has a series of cogitator gears and difference engine formula that allow her to quickly and easily store data, run sums, and operate certain kinds of gizmos. Rather than a spell cache, this serves as a data cache. The Lovelacer’s data cache does not function as normal for a technomancer. Instead, it acts as a computer, with a tier equal to half the Lovelacer’s tier. At 2nd level, and each even technomancer level thereafter, the Lovelacer can add one module, countermeasure, or upgrade to the computer at no additional cost. Additionally, as long as you have your data cache, you are considered to have access to an InfoSphere. Your data cache can be repaired or replaced in the same way as a spell cache. Your data cache counts as a spell cache for prerequisites and interactions with other class features.

This replaces spell cache and cache capacitor.

All this content is only possible because of my wonderful Patrons! The support of my Patreon is crucial for my continued game writing and creative career. Please consider joining, even for just a few dollars a month!

Technomancers of the Really Wild West 2: Edisonades

Not so long ago I noted on Facebook and Twitter that in the Really Wild West, the most common kinds of technomancers are Cartogramancers, Edisonades, Lovelacers, Telethurges, Teslics, and the Prophets of John Moses Browning.

I thought it might be fun to examine those ideas. I started with the one I’ve used the most, cartogramancer. Now its time to look at the Edisonade.

(Art by LaCozza)


Edisonades are inspired by one of the most famous living technomancers, Thomas Edison. Many can trace their training back to Edison himself–usually not from instruction directly from the Wizard of Menlo Park, but having learned from those who worked at Menlo or Edisons current facility (as of 1891) in Fort Meyers, Florida.

Edisonades are often seen as the “best” technomancers by the general public, due in large part to their continuation of Edison’s work in the theosophic value of sound, electricity, and data recording. They are also often seen as arrogant and too business-oriented to be trusted by common folk. While neither of these generalizations are actually rooted in the techniques of the Edisonades, they are widespread enough impact how most people react to these technomancers.

Many Edisonades try to also try to be inventors, seeing that as part of the Edison tradition, but their success rate is no greater than any population of educated, scientifically savvy people.

Technomancer Alternate Class Feature: Edisonade

An Edisonade can convert any damaging spell they cast to do electricity or sonic damage. If casting a cantrip that does electricity or sonic damage (including those that normally do some other damage type which they convert with this class feature), the Edisonade adds their class level +1d6 per 3 class levels to the damage done for spells with a single target, and add half their level +1d4 per 3 class levels for spells with an area or multiple targets.

This focus on energy types and manipulating them comes at a cost in other technomancy expertise. An Edisonade has one fewer spells known at every spell level.

Edisonade Magic Hack

A character with the Edisonade alternate class feature can select the following magic hack in place of a standard magic hack.

Playback (Su): An Edisonade with this magic hack can record and playback video and audio using their spell cache. The playback can be seen and heard by anyone able to see and hear the Edisonade. They can record up to 1 hour/level of audio and visual and play it back if they choose to do so in advance, though if they exceed a total of 1 hour/level of recorded material, some older recording must be erased. For any specific detail to be revealed in their playback, the first time they attempt the playback they must make an Engineering check with a DC equal to the Perception check DC to notice the detail when it first happened. The total recording time that can be stored can be divided into multiple recordings, but each recording uses at least 5 minutes of capacity.

An Edisonade can attempt to playback up to 1 minute of audio-visual they experienced but did not think to record at the time. This is always fuzzier, less perfect recordings, and the Engineering check DC to reveal any detail is equal to 10 + the DC of the Perception check to notice that detail when it first happened. this check can only be attempted once for any given moment. If the Edisonade wishes to keep this playback beyond a single viewing, it counts against their total stored recording time.

Aall this content is only possible because of my wonderful Patrons! The support of my Patreon is crucial for my continued game writing and creative career. Please consider joining, even for just a few dollars a month!

Removing action penalties for gear swaps in tabletop Roleplaying Games

An essay on a specific element or ttRPG game design.

When I first got into playing RPGs, a round of combat was generally viewed as being a minute. As a result, no one worried about how long it took to draw a sword, reload a gyrojet pistol, or get a potion out of your pack.

I’m not saying none of the games had different action economies. Just that no one I played with ever worried about those things. You could do one thing a round, maybe two, and it was assumed in-play that you could get the gear you needed for that.

That changed, over time. Some of that change grew from better-written rules in more games to handle the action economy for such issues. Some from games moving to shorter durations for player turns (though I don’t remember ever having to declare I was drawing a pistol in Car Wars games, where a phase was 1/10th of a second).

Now most popular RPG rulesets have explicit rules for determining how long it takes to draw a weapon, change a battery, sheath a wand, dig a potion out of your bag, and so on. It makes sense. It helps with verisimilitude.

I’m not convinced it adds much fun.

I’m leaning toward trying some games where it is just assumed you can have any one set of held equipment at the beginning of your turn. Things you have to strap into or carefully adjust still take time, but if you want to be using a greatsword one round, twin nickel-plated Colt .45s the next, and a zippo lighter and healing potion the third, fine.

Changing gear in the middle or a round still takes time. Otherwise we hand-wave it, and focus on the interesting things characters are doing with their equipment, rather than making them waste a turn getting what they need to have fun ready.

This could be adapted to nearly any game system, though games with Quick Draw options, or limited charges as a power balancing factor, or characters who focus on equipmentless options in order to have reduced effect for increased readiness might nee tweaking.

I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

PF1 Barbarian/Rogue Hybrid Class: The Wolfshead

Last week I was looking through some old files on my computer, and found a list of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st-edition hybrid classes I had thought at one time I might write up as products for Rogue Genius Games. Some where mostly written up, but not completed, while others where little more than a concept.

The most interesting of these that was also pretty far along in the design process was the wolfshead, a barbarian/rogue hybrid class. I mentioned the discover and some notes about the class on social media… and a number of people said they’d happily pay money to get their hands on a finished version of the class.

Always looking for ways to make being an RPG designer/developer/professional profitable, I decided to see if I could find a way to let people pay me to release THIS class, as a draft, on my blog. So, after some research into online-tip-jar options, as an experiment, I ran a Facebook business fundraiser. (The business category was crucial, because this isn;t like raising money for medical bills or some horrifical emergency, and I wanted to be clear about that. Plus, it means Facebook will know to report it as income I’ll pay txes on, which is as it should be.)

If the fundraiser made $300 by Dec 31st, I said, I’d post a playable first-draft version of the class at least 1,000 word on my blog for all to enjoy. I thought 50 days would be enough time to see if there was sufficient interest.

It took 4.

Obviously I will be extremely interested in seeing if this is a new mechanism for me, as a ttRPG content creator, to raise funds to make game material. But for now, let’s post the class and fulfill my first “FaceFunder” campaign.

(Art by Konstantin Gerasimov)


Wolfsheads are masters of the stealth and cunning common among natural predators, from big cats to sharks and, of course, wolves. A wolfshead can be equally at home in the savage wilderness and the densest urban settlement, comfortable using her instincts and ease in dangerous situations to make her way through nearly any situation.

Role: The wolfshead is an excellent scout, ranged combatant, and hit-and-run skirmisher. Wolfsheads are best when able to cull outlier foes from a primary group, or move quickly in and among a group to strike at vulnerable target. While often lightly armored, a wolfshead can depend on her bedlam to increase her AC when in the thick of fighting, or to overcome the armor check penalties of thicker medium armor to gain better protection.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d10.

Parent Classes: Barbarian and rogue.

Starting Wealth: 5d6 × 10 gp (average 175 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills
The wolfshead’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

LevelBase Attack
1+1+0+2+0Bedlam, fast movement, finesse fighting
2+2+0+3+0Evasions, sneak attack +1d6
3+3+1+3+1Stalk, trap sense +1
4+4+1+4+1Wolfshead talent
5+5+1+4+1Sneak attack +2d6, uncanny dodge
6+6/+1+2+5+2Armored speed, trap sense +2
7+7/+2+2+5+2Sneak attack +3d6
8+8/+3+2+6+2Wolfshead talent
9+9/+4+3+6+3Swift bedlam, trap sense +3
10+10/+5+3+7+3Sneak attack +4d6
11+11/+6/+1+3+7+3Advanced wolfshead talent, greater bedlam
12+12/+7/+2+4+8+4Sneak attack +5d6, trap sense +4
13+13/+8/+3+4+8+4Wolfshead talent
14+14/+9/+4+4+9+4Hide in plain sight
15+15/+10/+5+5+9+5Sneak attack +6d6, trap sense +5
16+16/+11/+6/+1+5+10+5Wolfshead talent
17+17/+12/+7/+2+5+10+5Sneak attack +7d6
18+18/+13/+8/+3+6+11+6Trap sense + 6, wolfshead talent
20+20/+15/+10/+5+6+12+6Sneak attack +8d6

Class Features

The following are class features of the rogue.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Wolfheads are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light armor, and shields (except tower shields).

Bedlam (Ex)

A wolfshead can call upon inner reserves of passion and ferocity, granting her additional combat prowess. Starting at 1st level, a wolfshead can bedlam for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + her Charisma modifier. At each level after 1st, she can bedlam for 2 additional rounds. Temporary increases to Charisma, such as those gained from spells like eagle’s splendor, do not increase the total number of rounds that a wolfshead can bedlam per day. A wolfshead can enter bedlam as part of any standard, move, full or swift action or reaction. The total number of rounds of bedlam per day is renewed after resting for 8 hours, although these hours do not need to be consecutive.

While in belam, a wolfshead gains a +2 morale bonus to her Strength and Dexterity skill and ability checks, a +2 morale bonus to AC and on Will saves. In addition, she gains a number of temporary hit points equal to double her wolfshead level, though she can only gain these once per ten minutes. While in bedlam, a wolfshead cannot use spells or spell-like abilities, or take 10 or take 20 on skill or ability checks (even if she has an ability that would normally allow her to do so).

Additionally, while in bedlam a wolfshead can apply some sneak attack dice to damage dealt to targets, even if those targets are not flanked or denied their Dexterity. The maximum number of sneak attack dice the wolfshead can apply is equal to 1 + 1/3 her wolfshead class level.

A wolfhead can end her bedlam as a free action and is unfocused, still unable to take 10 or take 20, for a number of rounds equal to double the number of rounds spent in the bedlam. A wolfshead cannot enter a new bedlam while unfocused. If a wolfshead falls unconscious or is dazed or stunned, her bedlam immediately ends. A wolfshead with access to rage from another source cannot be in bedlam and rage at the same time, and cannot enter bedlam if prevented from entering rage, or enter rage when prevents from entering bedlam.

Fast Movement (Ex)

A wolfhead’s land speed is faster than the norm for her race by +10 feet. This benefit applies only when she is wearing no armor, light armor, or medium armor, and not carrying a heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying the wolfshead’s speed because of any load carried or armor worn. This bonus stacks with any other bonuses to the wolfshead’s land speed.

Finesse Fighting (Ex)

At 1st level, a wolfshead selects one melee or ranged weapon with which she is proficient. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. She can add her Dexterity modifier to the attack and damage rolls for that weapon, in place of any other ability score that would normally be added. If it is a ranged weapon attack (other than alchemical weapons), she can add her Dexterity modifier to damage even if using a weapon that does not normally allow Strength to be added. If any effect would prevent the wolfshead from adding the normal ability modifier to the damage roll, she does not add her Dexterity modifier.

A multiclass wolfshead using this ability gets her full base attack bonus from woflshead for these attacks, but only half the base attack bonus gained from other classes unless those classes also have abilities that would allow her to add her Dexterity to attack and damage rolls (as the unchained rogue or swashbuckler might).

The wolfshead gain an additional weapon choice at 4th level, and every 4 levels thereafter.

Stalk (Ex)

Beginning at 3rd level, as a full action a wolfshead can move up to double her movement (using any movement type she has access to) while making Stealth checks, even if she lacks any cover or concealment. She does not take the -5 penalty to her Stealth check for moving more than half her speed. Any creature that has already spotted the wolfshead gains a +10 bonus to Perception checks to notice her while she stalks, but this bonus ends of the wolfshead gains cover or concealment at any point in her movement.

Trap Sense (Ex)

At 3rd level, a wolfshead gains an intuitive sense that alerts her to danger from traps, giving her a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to AC against attacks made by traps. These bonuses rise to +2 when the wolfshead reaches 6th level, to +3 when she reaches 9th level, to +4 when she reaches 12th level, to +5 at 15th, and to +6 at 18th level. Trap sense bonuses gained from multiple classes stack.

Wolfshead Talents

As a wolfshead gains experience, she learns a number of talents that expand her options and showcase her expertise. Starting at 4th level, a wolfshead gains one wolfshead talent. She gains an additional talent at 8th, 11th, 13th, 16th, and 18th level. A wolfshead cannot select an individual talent more than once unless it specifically states otherwise. Wolfshead sneak attack talents are marked with an asterisk, and only one of these talents can be applied to an individual attack and the decision must be made before the attack roll is made.

Bewildering Injury (Ex)*: The first time each round the wolfshead deals sneak attack damage to a foe while in bedlam, she can also bewilder the foe for 1 round. The target takes a –2 penalty to AC and an additional –2 penalty to AC against all attacks made by the wolfshead. At 10th level and 16th level, the penalty to AC against attacks made by the wolfshead increases by –2 (to a total maximum of –8). Any form of healing applied to the target removes this penalty.

Disorienting Injury (Ex)*: The first time each round the wolfshead deals sneak attack damage to a foe while in bedlam, she can also disorient the foe for 1 round. The target takes a –2 penalty on attack rolls. In addition, the target takes an additional –2 penalty on all attack rolls it makes against the rogue. At 10th level and 16th level, the penalty on attack rolls made against the rogue increases by –2 (to a total maximum of –8).Any form of healing applied to the target removes this penalty.

Hampering Injury (Ex)*: The first time each round the wolfshead deals sneak attack damage to a foe while in bedlam, she can also disorient the foe for 1 round. All of the target’s speeds are reduced by half (to a minimum of 5 feet). In addition, the target cannot take a 5-foot step. Any form of healing applied to the target removes this penalty.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): As the rogue class feature. A wolfshead must be 8th level to select this talent.

Rage Power: The wolfshead gains a rage power, using her wolfshead level as her barbarian level for all rage-power-related purposes. She must meet the power’s prerequisites. Rather than working during rage, these abilities work while the wolfshead is in bedlam. Rage powers calculations based on a barbarian’s Constitution score are instead based on the wolfshead’s Charisma score. A wolfshead can take the rage power option more than once, but cannot select the same rage power more than once unless the power specifically allows it.

Animal Fury, Auspicious Mark (UC), Autumn Rage (UW), Battle Roar (ACG), Bestial Climber (UC), Bestial leaper (UC), Bestial Swimmer (UC), Bleeding Blow (UC), Boasting Taunt (APG), Brawler (UC), Brawer, Greater (UC), Clear Mind, Crippling Blow (UC), Deadly Accuracy (UC), Disruptive (APG), Elemental Rage (APG), Elemental Rage, Lesser (APG), Energy Resistance (APG), Energy Resistance, Greater (APG), Ghost Rager (APG), Good For What Ails You (APG), Ground Breaker (APG), Guarded Life (APG), Guarded Life, Greater (APG), Guarded Stance, Hurling Charge (APG), Internal Fortitude, Intimidating Glare, Knockback, Linnorm Death Curse, Cairn (ACG), Linnorm Death Curse, Crag (ACG), Linnorm Death Curse, Fjord (ACG), Linnorm Death Curse, Ice (ACG), Linnorm Death Curse, Taiga (ACG), Linnorm Death Curse, Tam (ACG), Linnorm Death Curse, Tor (ACG), Liquid Courage (APG), Lizard Stride (UW), Low-Light Vision, Night Vision, No Escape, Powerful Blow, Primal Scent (UC), Quick Reflexes, Raging Climber, Raging Flier (APG), Raging leaper, Raging Swimmer, Reckless Abandon (APG), Reflexive Dodge (UC), Regenerative Vigor (UC), Renewed Life (UC), Renewed Vigor, Renewed Vitality, Roaring Drunk (APG), Rolling Dodge, Scent, Sharpened Accuracy (APG), Smasher (APG), Spell Sunder (APG), Spring Rage (US), Sprint (UC), Staggering Drunk (APG), Strength Surge, Summer Rage (UW), Sunder Enchantment (UC), Superstition, Surprise Accuracy, Swift foot, Terrifying Howl, Unexpected Strike, Winter Rage (UW), Witch Hunter (APG)

Rogue Talent: The wolfshead gains a rogue talent, using her wolfshead level as her rogue level for all talent-related purposes. She must meet the power’s prerequisites. Rogue talents that add effects to a rogue’s sneak attack apply to the wolfshead’s sneak attacks, and count as wolfshead sneak attck talents. The wolfshead can select from the rogue talents listed below. A wolfshead can take the rogue talent option more than once, but cannot select the same rogue talent more than once unless the talent specifically allows it.

Assault Leader (APG), Befuddling Strike (APG), Bleeding Attack, Camouflage (APG), Canny Observer (APG), Careful Stab (AG), Charmer (APG), Combat Trick, Deft Palm (UC), Distracting Attack (APG), Expert Leaper (APG), Fast Fingers (APG), Fast Getaway (APG), Fast Picks (APG), Fast Stealth (APG), Finesse Rogue, Follow Along (UI), Follow Clues (APG), Guileful Polyglot (APG), Hard to Fool (APG), Honeyed Words (APG), Iron Guts (UC), Ledge Walker, Ninja Trick (UC), Offensive Defense (APG), Peerless Maneuver (APG), Positioning Attack (APG), Quick Disable, Quick Disguise (APG), Quick Trapsmith (APG), Rogue Crawl, Rope Master (UC), Shades of Gray (UI), Slow Reaction, Snap Shot (APG), Sniper’s Eye (APG), Stand Up, Strong Impression (APG), Strong Stroke (UC), Terrain Mastery (UC), Trap Spotter, Underhanded (UC) , Wall Scramble (UC), Weapon Training.

Trapfinding (Ex): As the rogue class feature.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

Starting at 5th level, a wolfshead can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She cannot be caught flat-footed, nor does she lose her Dex bonus to AC if the attacker is invisible. She still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A wolfshead with this ability can still lose her Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against her.

If a wolfshead already has uncanny dodge from a different class, she automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead.

Armored Speed (Ex)

At 6th level, a wolfshead takes no armor check penalty from light armor or shields (expect tower shields). Additionally, if wearing medium armor with which she is proficient, the wolfshead does not reduce her speed as a result of the armor’s speed penalty.

Swift Bedlam (Ex)

At 8th level, a wolfshead can choose to enter bedlam as part of rolling for initiative. If the wolfshead chooses to do this, she may add the bedlam’s morale bonus to Dexterity ability checks and skills to her initiative check.

Additionally, if the wolfshead has a rogue talent that can be used once per day (taken as a wolfshead talent), while in bedlam she can use the power by expending 5 rounds of bedlam without it counting against her total uses per day.

Advanced Wolfshead Talents

Beginning at 11th level, when a wolfshead gains a wolfshead talent, she may instead choose one of the following advanced wolfshead talents.

Advanced Rogue Talents: The wolfshead can select one of the advanced rogue talents listed below, using all the same rules as the rogue talent option for wolfshead talents.

Another Day (APG), Confounding Blades* (UC), Crippling Strike*, Deadly Sneak* (APG), Defensive Roll, Fast Tumble (APG), Feat, Frugal Trapsmith (APG), Hard Minded (UC), Hidden Mind (UI), Improved Evasion, Master of Diguise (APG), Master Tricks (UC), Opportunist, Redirect Attack (APG), Skill Mastery, Slippery Mind, Stalker Talent (UI), Stealthy Sniper (APG), Weapon Snatcher (UC).

Animal Focus (Su): Each time the wolfshead enters bedlam, she may also select an animal focus, from the hunter class feature. While in bedlam, the wolfshead gains the benefit of that animal focus, using half her wolfshead level as her hunter level.

Rage Powers: The following rage powers are added to the list that may be selected with the rage power wolfshead talent.

Eater of Magic (UC), Element Rage, Greater (APG), Energy Absorption (APG), Energy Eruption (APG), Fearless Rage, Flesh Wound (APG), Lethal Accuracy (UC), Mighty Swing, Raging Whirlwind (UW), Spellbreaker (APG)

Greater Bedlam (Ex)

At 11th level when the wolfshead enters bedlam the morale bonus to her Will saves, AC, and Strength and Dexterity ability and skill checks increases to +3.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su)

At 14th level, a wolfshead can use the Stealth skill even while being observed.

Avoidance (Ex)

At 19th level the wolfshead is able to duck or roll from nearly any source of damage, reducing all hit point damage taken from any source by 5 points. The wolfshead cannot use avoidance any time she loses her Dexterity bonus to AC.

Dire (Ex)

At 20th level, the wolfshead is a dire threat, able to perform at a level well above typical mortals. At the beginning of each round the wolfshead can select one of the following benefits, which lasts until the beginning of the wolfshead’s next round.

*All of the wolfshead’s critical threats automatically confirm.
*Whenever the wolfshead makes a Dexterity- or Charisma-based ability check or skill check, she rolls 2d20 and takes the best result.
*None of the wolfshead’s movement provokes attacks of opportunity.
*None of the wolfshead’s ranged attack provoke attack of opportunity.

New Feat

Extra Wolfshead Talent
You have unlocked a new wolfshead ability.
Prerequisite: Wolfshead talent class feature.
Benefit: You gain one additional wolfshead talent. You must meet all of the prerequisites for this talent.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times.

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Reconsidering the Fighter for PF1

For years I’ve thought about altering the 1st edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game fighter class so it has some kind of extraordinary ability that would augment it the way rangers and paladins have spells and supernatural powers. Something to represent that moment when the heroic warrior pits their will, skill, and determination into overdrive and overcomes obstacles that stymie lesser mortals. Not something too boost

But… that’d be a lot of work.

But… every project starts somewhere.

So, here is a really rough First Draft for Martial Techniques, a new alternate class feature for fighters. This is absolutely not how I would present these in a final format, but it’s something I would playtest to see how well the rough version works, to give me guidance on where to take it in development. These are very much not supposed to boost a fighter’s attack rolls, AC, damage, or threat range, but instead give fighters options when dealing with challenges the class isn’t otherwise well-suited to deal with.

(Art by PatSM)

Martial Techniques

You gain martial techniques in place of bravery (or in place of anything that replaced bravery if you took an archetype that removes bravery). You can use it once per day at 2nd level, and one additional time per day at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter.

You can use only a single martial technique each round. You use a technique as part of a standard, move, full, or swift action, or a reaction. Martial techniques are extraordinary abilities and, much as the flight of a dragon or the existence of elemental entities, often seem magical without counting as spell-like or supernatural.

There are six martial techniques. You can select from the full list each time you use a martial technique.

Breakdown: You may add your base attack bonus to a single Strength ability check.
Heroic Threat: Select one foe that can see and hear you. That foe takes a -4 penalty to all attack rolls the the DCs of its spells and abilities until it has come within 30 feet of you to make an attack against you or force you to make a saving throw. This effect ends if you move away from the foe, are dazed or stunned, take cover or gain concealment, or the foe takes a standard action to regain their composure.
Overcome: A single attack ignores DR, and affects incorporeal and swarm creatures at full effectiveness even if it normally wouldn’t. If you use this a second time on the same target, it applies to all your attacks until the end of the encounter.
Reputation: Your reputation proceeds you. You may add your base attack bonus to a single Diplomacy, Intimidate, or Sense Motive check.
Shake It Off: You ignore one condition for one round. If the condition is one you could have negated with a saving throw, you also gain a bonus save (at the same DC) to end it.
Vault: An amount of movement up to half your normal move rate can be taken in any direction that does not require teleportation, including flight, underwater, or through difficult terrain. This does not give you additional movement, just frees the movement you take through your normal actions from most restrictions. At the end of your turn if you are not at a location that can support you, you suffer the normal consequences for being there (such as falling, or needing to make a Swim check to not sink).

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Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words (Update!)

It’s been more than 18 months since I updated the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words (which can be found here)!

So if you want to have a vavasor gallivant across his demesne, or have the sigil in a grimoire be the campaign’s telos, these are the words for you!

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Power Fantasy for the first edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Sometimes, you just want to pretend you are a hero of vast and spectacular power. And if you are a fan of PF1, there are lots of ways to build a campaign that does that.

All of these are ideas designed to make characters that totally break the expected power curve of characters of a given level. For each idea you implement, you can treat characters as 2 levels higher when determining APL for encounters. However, for the epic power level feel, it’s best to double the creatures in an encounter, rather than use higher-CR foes. Yes, four 1st level characters using three PFOs (Power Fantasy Options) can usually* take a single CR 7 foe. But it’ll feel more epic if you put them up against sixteen CR 1 foes as a challenging encounter.

(*Characters using multiple PFOs should have the bonuses and numbers needed to take on more powerful single foes, but may not have access to higher-level options to overcome some specific powers. Check if creatures have incorporeality, drains, flight, planar movement, or things linked explicitly to HD, and if those powers are beyond the reach of the abilities and spells available to the PC’s actual level, rather than their power level.)

Here are some PFOs.

(Art by Grandfailure)

Amalgam Characters
Amalgam characters pick two classes, and blend them. They get the best of the two classes’ skill points, hit dice, base attack bonuses, and base saving throws, and all the proficiencies, spellcasting, and class features of both classes.
All of the abilities of both classes are considered to be native to the amalgam class. This can be important for rule interactions. For example, an amalgam magus/wizard treats all their wizard spells as being magus spells when determining if they can cast spells without suffering from arcane spell failure.
Some amalgam class combinations are much more powerful than others. A ranger/paladin has lots of options, but doesn’t benefit from blending abilities nearly as much as a magus/warpriest. A cleric/shaman or druid/monk can be horrifying. This PFO also makes significantly more powerful characters if you use the power fantasy ability score buy.
It’s a good idea to outlaw any character that ends up with multiple animal companions and/or familiars, just because they end up with a lot of time spent dealing with those and their extra actions on their turn.

Bonus Esoteric Feats
Pathfinder has… a lot of feats. So many feats it can be tough for characters to delve into many of the more esoteric ones from beyond the core rulebook. So, this PFO gives characters 3 bonus feats, plus one bonus feat per character level above third… but the bonus feats must be taken from sources other than the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

Custom Gear and Bonus Progressions
Rather than random starting money and only random treasure, characters all begin with 2,500 gp of equipment at 1st level as their “core gear”. At each character level, they may reselect their core gear up to a total value equal to half the average wealth per level for that character level. Also, beginning at third level, character gain automatic bonus progression.
This is on top of whatever random treasure they receive. This option also allows GMs to not have the buying and selling of magic items in the campaign, since characters have plenty of ways to get the bonuses and options they need through this PFO.

Horrifically Overpowered Feats
They exist. Don’t take this option. Don’t use these feats. Don’t even buy the pdfs.

Yeah, the mythic rules are a very different system. But it would be remiss of me not to mention it, as it’s a well-established, expansive system designed to power up characters. That said, you should use the mythic rules regarding CR adjustments for PCs and foes if you add mythic rules, rather than my simpler PFO options. That said, you could treat one mythic tier as a single PFO.

Power Fantasy Ability Score Buy
Using the ability score point costs, rather than using the value for high fantasy (20) or epic fantasy (25), you use the value for power fantasy–50 points to buy ability scores. Characters still cannot begin with a score above 18 (before adjustments for species). It’s also totally reasonable not to allow characters to sell ability scores down below 10 with this option… though really at this point it won’t make a huge difference unless someone is building multiclass amalgam characters.

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Diligence and Patience

For PF1. And Starfinder. Any any other game system you like them for.

You can go slowly and carefully, when the situation calls for it.
Benefit: When you Take 10 or Take 20 on a check, you can choose to take twice as much time as normal, and gain an additional +2 bonus to your check total.

You know some things require time and effort to accomplish.
Benefit: When you attempt an ability check, skill check, or attack roll (without taking 10 or taking 20) and fail, if you next action is to attempt the same check (with the same tools or weapon, against the same challenge or target), you gain a +1 bonus to the result. If this fails and your next action is again to attempt the same check as before, your bonus increases to +2. If this fails you can try third and subsequent times consecutively with a +3 bonus. If you take any other action, your bonuses end until you fail again.

I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!