Category Archives: Pathfinder 2nd Ed

Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 2 (Part 2)

Part two of my Game Session 2 notes for my Gatekeeper’s campaign for PF2 (part one here). The articles at the Gatekeeper Index can remind you of all the characters, backstory, rules changes, and setup, if you want a refresher.

Morgan quickly climbs up to the top of Pottage’s Tottage, and sees a Large spider with a face he realizes matches the one he saw looking over the edge. It has struggling people-sized silk bundles webbed to its hind legs, a bright red sigil on its back, and seems to naturally have just 7 legs (4 on the left, 3 on the right). The spider sees him, covers itself in a fog cloud that moves with it, and jumps away to another roof. Morgan follows town protocol by raising an alarm (screaming “MONSTER! GIANT SPIDER!”), and goes after it. (Chase Rules)

Averill tries to follow from the ground and raise the alarm.

Meanwhile, the PCs at the Smoke Pine Taven are passing out food bundles. The system is simple, a line forms by the counter. Everyone throws down a couple of copper and gets a bundle. But Jaedyn sees a figure she does not know, who is wearing a cloak, completely covering their hands with its edge and totally covering their head with its hood. While it’s not unusual for shy strangers to come in off a ship, one being that covered is odd and with the recent weirdness makes Jaedyn suspicious. She opts to hand it a food bundle in a way that causes it to fall at the last second, hoping to get the creature to look up to grab it. (Thievery check) This succeeds, and she sees it has a desiccated face, a lock built into its forehead (like the front of a padlock), and it’s eyes are hollow black pits, with tiny bright red motes of light far, far back within the eye sockets.

It hisses at her, and runs to exist the Smoke Pine.

Jaedyn throws a knife in an effort to pin its hood to a wall so it is jerked back and its face is revealed. She succeeds, and the whole cloak comes off. The desiccated creature flees out into the street. Holly grabs its food and runs after it. Nambra takes this opportunity to conceal herself from anyone in the Smoke Pine, especially the cats. Jaedyn grabs the dropped cloak, the runs after Holly.

Holly wants to get ahead of the fleeing figure (Chase Rules), and eventually does so. She offers it the food pack, saying it’s done nothing wrong. It crouches and replies “Give me your BLOOD!” Taken aback, Holly refuses, and the creature turns into smoke and flies away faster than be followed.

It begins to rain.

Morgan is chasing the jumping cloud of fog that has a giant spider in it, while Aervill tries to rally people in the streets below. Eventually Morgan catches up to it and, since the fog is made of water vapor, tries to access his water powers (sending a hero point) to dispel it. that succeeds, and the spider creature seems surprised. Getting a better look at it, Morgan sees it has a black collar around its neck, with inward-bent hooks that dig at the spider’s flesh and cause trails of smoke to trail upward from the contact. Morgan tries to access his water powers again, succeeds, and uses them to form curved blades of ice that cut the collar free of the spider creature.

The spider gasps, drops the two figures strapped to its legs, looks at Morgan and chokes out “You’re in DANGER!” Then, it flees.

Morgan cuts the two figures loose, discovering they are Pottage and Mac. He and Averill get back together, and Pottage comes to enough to say he’d like his return to be kept secret for now. Morgan and Averill agree, and happen to mention the new woman working at the Tottage, Chandra Chase, didn’t know he was back yet. Pottage is concern because he hasn’t hired anyone new, and doesn’t know a Chandra. Pottage promises to meet them in a bit at the Tottage, but asks if and can they get Mac to Hexer Helaina, since he’s not recovering as fast. They agree, and while Morgan takes Mac to Hellaina, he sends Averill to go get Jaedyn, Holly, and Nambra and bring them to the Tottage as well.

Nambra, as it happens, noticed the two coins the desiccated figure used to buy food looked different from any others she’s seen, and exchanges them for two coins of her own. Holly and Jaedyn come back in, noting the figure disappeared. Nana Cutthroat comes up to them and hears the description, and says it sounds like a wight. She is asked if wights are common in Tidegate, and affirms they are not. There was one wight captain who couldn’t set foot off his ship that used to come to port now and then, and they allowed it, but it turned out he had a plot to have his ship carried by millions of tiny crabs, and then a holy knight from the Continental Empire showed up and destroyed him.

But, Nana Cutthroat notes, this cloak seems older than that. She gives it a deep sniff, then suddenly says she must talk to the council, and rushed off into the rain, with the cloak.

And just then, Averill shows up, and explains why they should go to the Tottage.

End Part 2.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 2 (Part 1)

As long as there is interest, I’ll keep posting Game Session notes for my Gatekeepers game for PF2. Due to work, illness, holidays, and one players dedication to seeing a single specific college football game every year (Bedlam), it’s been a long time since session 1.

The articles at the Gatekeeper Index can remind you of all the characters, backstory, rules changes, and setup, if you want a refresher.

The day after taking Hexer Hellaina to the ruined tower outside of town, the PCs want to go talk to Pottage, since he seemed to know what was going on. But, they discover, while they were out all day with Hellaina, the Town Council sent Pottage to Seagrace, to bring the Duchess of tides a report on the recent events around Tidegate. It’s expected to be a week or so round trip. Pottage is often sent on such trips, as he has people he trusts to run his store without him (Pottage’s Tottage), has no other official duties in town, lacks family that might need him, and is younger than other councilors who might otherwise be free to make the trip.

The PCs go about their lives. Holly spends time focusing on the strange new elemental energy she accessed n the first session. So does Morgan, though he does so through the sword exercises his ex-adventurer father taught him. Jaedyn practices with the amazing rapier Nana Cutthroat seems to have just had sitting around to give her. Nambra hunts. Averill puts in extra shifts as a telekinetic dock worker.

It remains an unusually stormy fall.

After a week the PCs get together at the Smoke Pine Taven, and discuss what to do. Pottage should be back now, but no one has seen him. Several PCs notice that Guster, one of the most stand-offish of the semiferal cats that hang around the Smoke Pine stays near Holly, which is unusual. He is also recently well-brushed, and that’s unusual. He’s the same cat that sat on Holly in Session 1 when the PCs warmed by the fireplace in the common room. The PCs wonder if he is a spy for a local witch?

With a major storm threatening, they decide to have Averill and Morgan go to Pottage’s Tottage to see if he’s back, or if his employees have an eta. Meanwhile, the storm looks to have winds strong enough to blow cinders back into the homes of people with simple, cheap chimneys. That means lots of folks will be coming to the Smoke Pine to grab packs of food wrapped in cheesecloth, so they can eat cooked food but close the flue on their fireplaces for the storm, so the other PCs stick around to see if Guster eventually leaves the Smoke Pine, so they can follow him.

Upon arriving at Pottage’s Tottage, Averill and Morgan see Mac, a human who works for Pottage and is famous for moving and talking slowly, battening down the window shutters. The front door is open, so they go in, and encounter a gorgeous young woman they have never seen before. She says her name is Chandra Chace, is very friendly, and says Pottage hasn’t returned yet. So, the two PCs head back out… and Morgan notices he’s hearing shutters around the back of the building bang continuously in the wind. Mac should be able to secure a shutter quickly, so the fact this is still banging is weird. Morgan finds Mac’s prints in the soft earth around the shop, and follows them around to the back where they lead up to the banging shutter and just… stop.

Morgan looks up at the top of the shop, and for a spilt second sees a lumpy, hair-covered face with two giant round black eyes and… fangs? But the face, twice the size of a human’s, ducks back behind the ridgeline of the roof just as Morgan spots it.

End Part 1. I’ll get to part Two tomorrow.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

A PF2 NPC Idea, an Arboreal: Old Witch Hazel

I’ve had the dreaded scheduling conflict eat the past couple of Saturday games, and the next few don’t look good either, so no new session posts for my Gatekeeper’s campaign for PF2 for a while. But I am still jotting down PF2 ideas when they come to me, especially those that feel like they might make for interesting encounters or adventureplots.

I don’t know that this one will ever make it into the campaign, but if so I’ll list this to my Gatekeeper’s campaign index.

Old Witch Hazel

Also known as Grantha Mountain-Ash and Quickbeam Lament, Old Witch Hazel is legendarily old and grumpy arboreal (sometimes called a “treant” by locals) that appears to be a moss-covered, partially burned rowan tree, possibly wrapped around a larger, even older tree, with foliage and berries in states representing all 4 seasons. Old Witch Hazel can supposedly be bribed to teach occult and primal magic secrets, but no one knows anyone who has ever successfully done so. The treant is also known to oppose hags, skelm, and evil fey. While a few folks say this is also just rumor and myth, there are dozens of people who will attest to having seen Old Witch Hazel drive such creatures away from small farm communities, roads, and peaceful groves.

Old Witch Hazel is also well-known for thrashing younger humanoids, apparently for no reason. Such attacks always take place outside of settlements, and many adults claim that clearly the treant is warning adolescents away from dangerous creatures or punishing them for bad behavior or violating some secret tree-pace, perhaps without knowing it. Those that have been beaten by Old Witch Hazel protect their innocence, claiming they had done nothing and gone nowhere to invite such treatment.

When Old Witch Hazel attacks youngsters, all its attacks are nonlethal(taking the normal -2 to its attacks for dealing nonlethal damage). It also often throws clusters of rotting berries, which act like moderate water bombs (except they smell worse). If any target attempts to protect someone Old Witch Hazel was attacking, the treant always switches to the defender, ignoring the old target as long as it doesn’t make new attacks. After everyone has been hit at least once, or anyone knocked unconscious, Old Witch Hazel lets them flee, and wanders off into the nearest woods.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 1, Part 2

Since people asked for it, I’m posting session notes for my Gatekeepers game for PF (index here if you want to look something up) . Here’s Part 2 for Session 1. (Part1 is here.)

The heroes have saved children from the basement of a flooding ruined tower outside the town of Tidegate. The children were apparently captured by devotees of a Bloodletter faction leftover from the Bloodletter wars of more than a century ago. The heroes want to keep the Bloodletter connection quiet as long as they can, and attempt Diplomacy to convince the children not to tell anoyone about tht part of the event.

The Diplomacy roll goes badly, but the children all claim to agree.

However, as soon as the heroes make it back to the Smoke Pine Taven, and the children see their clan patriarch, Syrkin Dale, in the great room, they rush up to him and loudly begin shouting all the details of what they saw happen.

This makes the townsfolk and shipwreck survivors in the Taven uneasy, but the councilfolk present don’t seem shocked. As the children are taken to a private room to calm down, the councilfolk tell the heroes that Bloodletter Sectarians have shown up trying to perform strange rituals every few decades. The council tends to keep it quiet, but it’s a known risk.

When the heroes mention the Sectarians seems to be waiting for them, specifically, the councilfolk note it may not have been about the PCs individually. Some Bloodletters have access to ritualistic divination, and can create situations that will bring in the elements that give them the best chance for success. So rather than “five specific townsfolk whose names we know are here!” the message might really have been “the divination indicates these are the random people who give our ritual the best chance of success!”

The PCs don’t mention their strange experiences with apparently elemental power sources, and most of the PCs don’t realize anyone but themself experienced it. Jaedyn and Morgan say each other’s Mystery Point uses and have acknowledged it to each other, but don’t mention it to anyone else.

It’s decided by the council that Hexer Hellaina will be asked to go investigate.

When the PCs go to get warm by the fire, the council-member Pottage swings by to give them some of his “Feel-Better Soup,” and at the same time quietly and in the most serious tone of voice any PC has ever heard him use, says “The Bloodletters wanted you, specifically, We’ll talk later. Be careful.” Then quickly moves away.

Several cats climb into the lap of halfling barbarian Hollyhock Stonefound, and keep her pinned in place by the fire all night.

Hexer Hellaina eventually shows up, and wishes to speak to the PCs. They tell her the general course of what happened, answering questions about the blood-drinking stone, but don’t mention the Mystery Point powers. Hellaina decides she needs to go look herself, after the storm ends, sometime the next day, and asks the PCs to go with her. They agree.

The next day the group including Hellaina have an uneventful journey back to the Ruined Tower. Hellaina does some rituals and analysis and determines that 1: The tower is the anchor for a wedge between the Mortal Realm and the Unlit World (where shadows, death spirits, and forgotten things dwell), 2: That wedge was asleep until awoken by a ritual recently, 3: Once awoken it was why the stone was drinking blood, and if it had gotten *enough* of the *right* blood, it could have forced open a full doorway between the Mortal Realm and Unlit World, and the PCs prevented this by moving the bodies of the fallen away from the tower, and 4: There must be an relic of some sort to serve as the focus for this anchor, and they need to find and destroy it.

So she gives everyone dowsing rods and explains how they work (search with Perception or Occultism, takes time), and Nambra ends up using a Red Mystery Point to reroll her check.

Well before anyone else has gotten more than a slight twitch on their dowsing, Nambra is strongly pulled to the keystone of the main door into the tower. Her dowsing rod then bursts into flame, the fire strikes the keystone and blows the front off it it, revealing it’s a hollow, lead-lined container dressed in stone, and containing a skull covered in sigils very similar to those of the Bloodletter Sectarians. Also, Hellaina notes that is NOT how the dowsing rod should work.

It’s suggested that maybe Nambra has a stronger connection to the relic because she took a critical hit and spilled the most blood on the stone before Averill telekinetically pulled her out. Hellaina is shocked Averill’s tk was strong enough, and he explained he felts a rush of power when he was straining, and Jaedyn and Morgan exchange glances. They begin to ask if everyone experienced such a thing, and Nambra confirms she had a similar rush when using the dowsing rod, and Hollyhock that she had the night before when running on top of the mud.

So Jaedyn and Morgan explain their experiences, and Hexer Hellaina finds this curious and important. She tells the PCs she’ll need to do some research ebfore she can even guess what is going on, and suggests (but does not order) that they keep their experience quiet for now.

Then she uses a ritual to destroy the relic, closing the sliver of a gap connecting the Mortal Realm and Unlit World at this location.

End of session.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

Gatekeeper’s Campaign for PF2, Session 1, Part 1

Since people asked for it, here’s part 1 of the notes for session 1 of my Gatekeepers game for PF2.

It’s early fall in Tidegate, and the storm season has been unusually bad. As we begin play, a major storm has caused a ship to wreck on the shore north of town, and most of the town council and senior people of note have gone to help survivors. As is the norm for local disasters, survivors are being brought to the Smoke Pine Taven, and all the PCs end up there to help settle people in. The many cats of the Smoke Pine are all present, but staying well out of reach of anyone.

Among other things the PCs have someone manning to Smoke Pine’s door, so they can open it to let people in but otherwise hold it closed against the wind and rain. The PC spots two councilmembers struggling towards the door – Syrkin Dale, who is clearly injured, being part-carried by Pottage (who is also struggling with a giant cauldron of his modestly famous “Feel-Better Soup”).

The PCs help them in and patch up Syrkin Dale, and determine that in the rough category of “Battle, Beast, or Debris,” the wound seems caused by debris. Syrkin explains that one of his tenant farmers’ children were last seen playing in a tower of the Old Keep outside of town, and hadn’t shown up since the storm began. Syrkin had gone to look for them, heard them calling for help from the tower’s basement saying they were tapped and the basement was flooding, but then a piece of the old tower’s structure fell on him and both injured him and blocked the only door in. Syrkin staggered to town to get help, and Pottage had spotted him and helped him in.

PCs note that Syrkin seems very annoyed Pottage is the person who found and helped him… and Pottage doesn’t seem to notice. Also, the Smoke Pine’s cats take turns coming up to and rubbing happily on Pottage.

With all the townsfolk who would normally go help already busy outside of town with the shipwreck, and a flooding basement not something that can wait to be dealt with later, the PCs decide they need to go save the children themselves. The Smoke Pine’s owner, Nana Cutthroat, gives them some gear to help, and they rush out into the storm.

The tower is up on a hill that’s a bit steep under the best of circumstances, and is a dangerous mudslide waiting to happen in the heavy rain. With some careful use of ropes and letting the most nimble PCs go up first, the group manages the ascent without incident.

The tower is a ruin, with a staircase on the outside spiraling up to the top of its 25-foot wall (the roof long-since gone), a pile of rubble on the other side making a rough but passable ramp, and a single door that does seem to be blocked by some collapsed timber. The PCs split up, with half heading toward the blocked door, and half heading to the stairs to seek an alternate way in.

As the PCs approach the blocked door, it slams down having obviously been rigged as a trap. Four sailors are just inside, all with thin leather handwraps common to sailors from the Akkaron region of the Continental Empire. One sailor has a headband, the other three have sigils freshly cut into their exposed foreheads. The headwrapped sailor yelled “They’re *all* here! Kill them!”

Fight ensues.

More foes climb up from the basement, warning children below to shut up.

Jaedyn opts to leap from the top wall down onto the new targets, a 30-foot leap. The player invokes the white Mystery Point, which allows her a good roll and Jaedyn discovers the wind is swirling around and guiding her. Morgan leaps after her, his player using a blue Mystery Point, and the rainwater water guides him. Nambra takes a critical hit from a crossbow, and is knocked out.

As the PCs defeat the sailors, they discover the stone of the tower is literally drinking up any spilled blood. The PCs begin to haul fallen bodies outside, beyond the apparent reach of the thirsty stone. Averill uses his telekinesis to pull Nambra out of the tower, so it can’t access her blood, which also required the power of a Mystery Point. However, they don’t manage to do so before enough blood gathers to form a icy blood paraelemental, which they must defeat.

Trying to get the children saved, allies patched up, and bodies moved, Hollyhock’s player expends the green Mystery Token, and the muddy ground supports her, preventing her from sinking in.

The fight is over, but the game session goes on (to be covered in Part 2).


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

The Player Characters in my Gatekeepers Campaign for PF2

Since people have asked for a recap of what happened in Session 1 of my Gatekeepers game for PF2, I’m working on converting my gameplay notes to something human-readable. But those notes will make more sense if readers know who the protagonists/PCs are, so here’s a quick rundown of the primary characters in Gatekeepers.

Primary Characters:

Averill (human laborer psychic)
Averill is a telekinetic in his late teens, and his family have a long history as “lifters,” telekinetic laborers who help load and unload cargo. The family is originally from Eirsyus and Tidegate locals tend to roll their eyes a bit at the idea of using innate magic powers to carry things, but Averill’s family have been local for nearly two centuries, and despite some ribbing for being weird Westerners are well-accepted.

Hollyhock Stonefound (halfling warrior barbarian)
Hollyhock is a halfling equivalent in age to a human’s late teens. She was found in a small stone shelter on the beach near Tidegate after a major storm, and is presumed to have been a survivor of a wrecked ship though no one knows for certain. She was adopted by a family of halfling caravan guards and merchant marines, and though young has been preparing to follow in the family business. She’s dealt with bullies a time or two, and locals know that if she looks very, very calm she is about to unleash hell on someone.

Jaedyn Valis (human with some elven ancestry barkeep swashbuckler)
Jaedyn was raised the son of a woman who worked out of the Smoke Pine Taven and told his father was an elven noble who wintered in Tidegate. Jaedyn took odd jobs to help bring in income as he grew up, but his mother eventually drank herself to death. Jaedyn had no other place to go, but Nana Cutthroat was fine with Jaedyn living and working at the Smoke Pine. Now an older teen, Jaedyn worked hard and embraced this degree of freedom, and let the community know she was a woman rather than the boy her mother had presented her to be. Though Jaedyn has had no formal training, when she found a rapier in her hands the use of it and daring acrobatics to go with came to her as naturally as breathing.

Nambra (elf ranger, background currently unrevealed)
Nambra is an adult elven woman who has ranged the lands around Tidegate for decades. She prefers to be out in the wilderness with her companion bear Brôg, but spends just enough time in town for locals to think of her as one of their own. She has been approached many times by Warden Ellicent to join the Duchess of Tides’ official crown wardens, but so far has preferred to remain indepedent.

Morgan (human farmhand monk)
Morgan is an older teen who lives on one of the many farms near Tidegate, one owned and run by his father, and ex-adventurer. Morgan was subject to bullying in town as a child, but never raised a hand to defend himself. However, when Morgan saw a younger child being bullied he stepped in with the training his father had given him, and ended up dropping the bullies so severely he had to do their chores in town until they recovered. While family of the boys he put down treat him coolly, the rest of Tidesgate sees him as a young man willing to defend those in need.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

Gatekeeper’s GM Rulings: Animal Companions

Having run the first session of my Gatekeepers game for PF2, I’ve now made some in-play GM rulings that alter the Rules-As-Written. These “Rule 0” calls were made during the game session, in consultation with all the players. I want to keep a written record of them both to share with people as they come up, and as a reference for myself and the players.

Both the Gm Rulings from Session 1 were about animal companions.

  1. An animal companion can take a reaction for purpose of using the aid another. The animal must take an action to prepare to aid, as normal.
  2. If a character is unconscious or dead, and their animal companion knows where they are, the companion will move to be adjacent to the downed character.

Neither of these is a major change, but I prefer to keep track of such things.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

Gatekeepers Campaign for PF2 – Mystery Points

I’ve now run the first session of my Gatekeepers campaign for PF2. There was the usual awkwardness to be expected when a group tackles a brand-new game system (I’m the only person in that group to have played in a PF2 game, and I’ve never been the GM for one before), but everyone agreed they had a good time.

I also dropped something new on the players, to represent strange forces at play within the reality of the game — Mystery Points.

Mystery Points

Every player began the game with one Hero Point, which was represented by a black poker chip. I clarified that spending a Hero Point was a player-based decision that did not necessarily represent any special effort on the part of their character.

However, each player also got four Mystery Points which were represented by a set of 4 poker chips, 1 each of blue, green, red, and white for each player. Players were told that a Mystery Point worked like a Hero Point, but it DID represent an in-character choice on the part of the character. Specifically, sensing a deep reserve within themselves that they could access with extra effort, without truly understanding what it was. And that using these was entirely option, no one had to do it, and while there might well be consequences they were designed as a fun part of the campaign, not a way to screw players over. (This is a group I’ve played with for 35+ years, so trust is well-established.)

One a character played a Mystery Point, they lost all their other mystery points, Further, every other player would lose access to the Mystery Point of that color. There were four players so everyone had a shot at a Mystery Point, but the choice of colors (which I affirmed when asked did meant *something*, but I didn’t say what) would dwindle as other players used them.

I also affirmed that Mystery Points were not guaranteed to be used in every game session, or to work the same way if they did show up again.

To embrace the fun, all four players did end up using a Mystery Point during the first game session, and their characters discovered this gave them a brief burst of elemental power (blue = water, green = earth, red = fire, and white = air; while later discovering a NPC had also experienced something similar with either “shadow” or “spirit”). How and when the characters decided to share that revelation with each other and NPCs on the Town Council became an important roleplaying aspect of the night which influenced play far more than the one extra Hero Point of options had. I was extremely pleased how the use of game mechanics and props managed to create an actual air of mystery for the players, where they could choose on their own when to potentially become embroiled with unknown powers, and then explore what their characters though was going on.

If there’s interest, I’ll talk briefly about what actually happened in that first game session in a future post.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

Three Things I Plan To Use in My PF2 Campaign, “Gatekeepers”

While I try hard not to plan out 20 levels of adventuring in advance when I start a homebrew campaign such as my upcoming Gatekeepers PF2 game, I do like to think about what kinds of things I want to put into a world and use to set up specific kinds of stories and themes.

So, here are three ideas I plan to use in Gatekeepers… at some point.

Caliburn: Masterfully crafted objects from the World Before, about which almost nothing is known. Caliburn are usually durable items made of stone or metal, as they have survived for thousands of years (and perhaps even since before time itself), though very rare examples of Caliburn made of cloth, leather, and even glass are known. Caliburn are always some kind of personal item, such as a comb, broach, ring, or dagger. They are not magical in the classic sense (and do not detect as, or follow the rules of, magic items), but their very age and perfect crafting make them things that bend destiny slightly in favor of the possessor. Every Caliburn gives its possessor one additional Hero Point per day, and more potent ones have similar effects that aid those who carry them in ways that are hard to define.

However, the more potent a Caliburn, the more it inspires envy in others that see it, and the more it places dangerous paths in front of its bearer. Such paths can be resisted, but doing so creates a mental pressure that mortals often handle by turning to their worse natures, engaging more in avarice, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath. Caliburn are the stuff of legends, but are also accepted as being very real.

(You can carry more than one Caliburn, but there are… risks… Art by warmtail.)

Gollusks: There are dark forces in the world that are constantly whispering to mortals, but do so in a whisper of concepts so depraved, most living things are truly incapable of hearing them, or comprehending them if they do catch a whisper. But when someone craves something strongly enough, and is willing to do anything to get it, sometimes they hear the fel whispers. If they do, they are given immoral, dreadful advice on how to fulfill their desires through actions that cause harm and misery to others. There is no compulsion, just an opportunity. And if a mortal seizes that opportunity, the whispers become a bit more clear… and the mortal has set foot on a terrible path. Such paths are often not great evils, but petty things — opportunities to hurt those you dislike, or finally win a festival prize, or to sleep in a bigger home than your neighbors. If a mortal embraces these prosaic crimes for their own benefit they transform slowly into Gollusks, still their original ancestry but with various external signs of the evils they have decided to undertake, and benefits of strength and resilience from the dark powers they now serve, but also are driven to claim more and break the cycle of foul returns they blame others for. A Gollusk looks different than they did before their fall, but the change can be anything. Some take on flabby, fat long arms and legs, but have lean, emaciated torsos and necks. Others gain a cold beauty, some long fingers, others a third eye some random place on their body.

Gollusks often seek out other Gollusks as the only entities they don’t feel hidden shame to be near. A Gollusk can reverse the process of their transformation and fate, but doing so requires true repentance and working to undo that harm they have caused.

Fire Mud: A thick, viscous slurry of clay, earth, and liquid heat, fire mud is a red-orange, gives off considerable light and heat, and can be found in regions with links to the elemental planes of earth, fire, and water. This paraelemental substance has useful alchemical properties, and can be used as near-permanent sources of light and warmth. It looks a lot like less-intense lava.


I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!

Gatekeepers Campaign, for PF2 – Optional Rule Houserules, 1.0

I’ve already gone over the rule options and houserules I’m starting with in my upcoming Gatekeepers campaign for PF2. However, being a game designer, I obviously also need houserules specifically for my rule options. 🙂 So, these are those.

(None of the players know anything about the Underhill Grotto yet… but they will. Art by JuanJos.)

Free Archetypes And Normal Archetypes
Normally, once you take an archetype dedication feat you can’t take another dedication feat for a different archetype until you’ve taken a minimum number of feats (often 2) from your first archetype. However, I’m going to allow characters to have one archetype using their free archetype feats, and a second archetype if they choose to spend their normal class feats to gain it. So, for example, assuming they met all the appropriate prerequisites, a 2nd level fighter could take the Barbarian dedication feat as their free archetype feat, and also expend their 2nd level Fighter class feat to take the Bastion Dedication feat. However, they’d be at their limit until they acquired 2 more feats in at least one of those archetypes (and could, if they wished, at 4th level could spend both their free archetype feat and their 4th level Fighter class feat to grab 2 barbarian archetype feats).

Proficiency Without Level and Static DCs
Using the Proficiency Without Level rule has no impact on opposed checks against targets of your level — in other words when talking about attack roles against defense or save DCs against saving throws, your chances of success against a foe of your own level are the same whether or not you are both adding your level to the proficiency total. The same, however, is not true for static DCs, such as many skills include. Within the Proficiency Without Level Rules themselves this is noted as acceptable on the assumption that the campaign is designed to be lower-powered (and thus less likely to see Legendary successes for example). However, that is NOT my goal in selecting this houserule, so I want to tweak even the suggested static DCs the game suggests (and alter how some non-static, non-opposed DCs are set as well).

In fact, overall I’d rather PCs be more likely to hit static DCs. There is no universal “take 10” or “take 20” rule in PF2, and rolling a 1 downgrades your level of success/failure even if you hit the DC, so even very low numbers run some risk and drama when the die is rolled. And if someone untrained should have a good chance of succeeding at a task, and they don’t add their level to the roll (and remembering I’m using the -2 to untrained checks version of proficiency without level), even a DC of 5 means a typical person fails 35% of the time.

And, of course, some tasks require a given level of proficiency to even attempt. A task DC might be 20, meaning even someone with +0 bonus has a chance at rolling well enough to hit the DC, but if it requires you to be a master in the appropriate skill and you aren’t, it’s actually a 0% chance of success.

So in the Gatekeepers campaign the baseline static DCs (which are also used for any task that lists DCs from in the same categories, such as Medicine) are as follows:

Proficiency Rank DC

Untrained 5
Trained 10
Expert 15
Master 20
Legendary 25

For other non-opposed DCs (including any targeting a DC set by a creature’s own ability scores and proficiencies) there is, sadly, a formula. It’s not too complicated and won’t come up often, and I’ll likely make myself a custom GM screen so I can find it quickly.

If the DC is 10 or less, use the listed DC. For DCs over 10, halve the value above 10. Thus the Athletics check to make a high jump goes from 30 to [(30 = 10+20) half of 20 is ten, (10+10=)] 20.

Using the same formula, the Athletics DC for a horizontal leap ends up being the distance in feet if 10 feet or less, for 11 or more feet it’s 10 +1/2 feet further than 10 you want to go.

I’m also making one small change to Assurance, based on the fact I am using both Automatic Bonus Progression and Proficiency Without Level. Characters add their skill potency bonus from the Automatic Bonus Progression to their Assurance total. That often means getting Assurance with a skill you have selected for your potency bonus is by far your best bet, and I’m okay with that.

I have a Patreon, which makes these blog posts outlining and presenting a new campaign world (and all the other writing I do on this blog, and most of social media) possible. If you enjoy these posts, join my Patreon!