Category Archives: Pathfinder Development

Fantasy Akrafena for Pathfinder

So, I am a huge fan of the show “Forged in Fire.” And, to my surprise, they sometimes forge weapons I am unfamiliar with. One of those is the Akrafena.

I can’t claim to be a scholar of the Akrafena, though I am fascinated by what little I have learned so far. So this is only a stab at a fantasy version of the weapon, no more accurate than the Pathfinder versions of the longsword or falchion.

Akrafena

The Akrafena is a sword with a curved blade roughly 2-1/4 feet long with heavy round elements in the handle, and cut-outs within the blade. It can be wielded as a 1-handed martial weapon, but if Exotic Weapon Proficiency is taken with it, it also can be used as a 2-handed weapon with different damage dice (noted below). Additionally, the markings on an Akrafena and how it is carried can convey information about its use and the intent and position of its user. Anyone with Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Akrafena) can make a single special Bluff check to convey a specific message about their intent and status when they strap on an Akrafena each day. Only people with 1 or more ranks in Knowledge )(nobility) and those who also have Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Akrafena) can receive this message. The character wishing to send this message can make a base attack bonus check, rather than a Bluff check, to make the desired message clear.

Cost 40 gp     Weight 8 lbs.

1-handed: Dmg (S) 2d3     DMG (M) 2d4     Crit 19-20, x2
2-handed with EWP: Dmg (S) 2d4     DMG (M) 1d4+1d6     Crit 18-20, x2

Patreon

I also have a Patreon, which helps me continue to offer this free content, and has some exclusive material as well. In this case, I made a quick rule set for another weapon from the show, the Ida.

Check it out!

 

New Pathfinder Race: Medusine

I was working in a design space on how to create a new PC race without having to create a huge number of race-specific options, such as favored class bonuses, traits, and so on. And in doing so, I accidentally wrote a whole race. So, here it is.

Medusine

Though normally all children of a medusa are themselves medusa, there are exceptions. Sometimes a parent who was petrified for a long time by a medusa before being saves has children who have snaky hair and intense eyes. Sometimes the original divine curse that created medusa sparks back to life in a minor way, creating lesser medusa-like creatures. Sometimes a medusa gains a desire to have a different form, and becomes a parent while polymorphed into another form, and the offspring is not entirely free of the original medusa bloodline.

These are the medusine.

Medusine appear to be tall, attractive, lean men or women with amazingly bright eyes (often green, but also sometimes red, yellow, silver, gold, or flat black), with snakes for hair. Some have exclusively snake hair, while others have a mix of serpents and normal follicles.

Medusine are Medium humanoids with the medusine subtype.

Ability Scores Medusine have -2 Str, +2 Wis, and +2 Cha.

Medium Medusine are Medium, and have a 30 ft. movement rate.

Elflike/Humanlike (Ex) Select elf or human. You gain that as a subtype, in addition to your medusine subtype. You count as a member of this race for prerequisites and can take the race’s favored class options. You can Disguise yourself as a member of that race out of combat with a DC 10 Disguise check by concealing your hair serpents. A close examination reveals this disguise, and if you make an attack or are hit by an attack, your serpent’s reactions makes your medusine nature obvious.

Serpents (Ex) Your hair serpents can bite your foes. You can choose for your unarmed attacks to deal lethal piercing damage, in which case they do not provoke attacks of opportunity. Additionally if you drink a dose of injury poison, and make a successful save against it, you do not suffer any effect from the poison. Instead it becomes a dose of poison you can inject into a target with a successful unarmed strike using your serpents. You can only have one such dose of poison ready at a time—drinking a new dose and making the save replaces any previous dose.

Stoneproof (Ex) You gain a +4 bonus to saving throws against petrification. Once you make a successful save against a specific source of petrification, you are immune to that source for 24 hours.

Stunning Gaze (Su) A number of times per day equal to your level, as a standard action, you can attempt a stunning gaze. This is a gaze attack, but it affects only a single creature within 60 feet you can see and that can see you. Stunning gaze forces a foe to make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Cha modifier). A defender who fails this saving throw is stunned for 1 round (until just before your next turn). A stunned character drops everything held, can’t take actions, loses any Dexterity bonus to AC, and takes a –2 penalty to AC. Constructs, oozes, plants, undead, incorporeal creatures, and creatures immune to critical hits cannot be stunned.

Patreon Exclusive Content

Of course, just because the medusine don’t NEED race-specific options, doesn’t mean they couldn’t use some. I sketched out two such options as exclusive content (meaning only that this is the one place it’s available for the moment) over at my Patreon.

Check it out!

Tailorthurgy

I don’t know if I have a lot of tailorthurgy spells in me, but one came to mind.

Bundle Up

School abjuration; Level bard 0, cleric 0, occultist 0, shaman 0, sorcerer/wizard 0, witch 0

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range touch

Target one outfit

Duration 1 hour

Saving Throw Fortitude negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

You cause one touched outfit to grant to its wearer the benefits of any one other outfit with a base cost of 10 gp or less. It retains any of its normal benefits. An outfit can only have a single bundle up spell on it at a time. If a new bundle up spell is cast on an unattended outfit, it replaces any older bundle up spell. If a new bundle up is cast on an outfit someone is wearing, the wearer knows what outfit benefit the spell grants the outfit, and can choose to allow the new spell to take effect, or not.

Only worn items referred to in their title as outfits benefit from this spell.

Patreon Exclusive Content

Okay, while writing that one MORE came to mind, the repattern spell, which I opted to offer as exclusive content to my patrons.

Check it out!

Castle “Vania” Whip Feat

No, I’m not going to explain that title. 🙂

Just a new whip feat, inspired by a game, and its anime.

Whip Wield

You can wield weapons. You can wield whips. You can wield weapons using whips.

Prerequisites: Improved Whip Mastery, Weapon Focus (whip), Whip Mastery, base attack bonus +2.

Benefit: As a move action you can use your whip to grab a light bludgeoning or slashing melee weapon appropriate for your size, that you are proficient with, that is in your possession or within your threatened range and unattended. (Alternatively you can also use this feat with an appropriate weapon you have disarmed from a foe.) You can make attacks with this weapon using the range of your whip and using any feat that applies to your ship, but deal damage with the weapon and all its relevant feats and abilities. If you have the same feat for both whip and wielded weapon (such as Weapon Focus), you can only apply one of the feats. You cannot use Improved Whip Mastery to hold any other item with your whip while it has a weapon grabbed. If you roll a 1 on an attack roll using Whip Wield, the light weapon it had grabbed falls in a randomly determined space adjacent to you.

Patreon Exclusive Content

Given how fast anime heroes tend to wade through low-level foes, and how easily spellcasters can deal with such foes with mid- and low-level spells, I also added a “Slay” feat over at my Patreon.

Check it out!

 

The Ogre of Battle

Spurred on by a discussion where someone suggested monster tactics as a product line, I took a quick pass at looking at some tactics for iconic monsters, to see if I think they can be useful and generic enough to make a good product. I’m not convinced wither way yet, but sharing my first draft seemed a great way to test the waters. Thus, here I present my ideas for ogre tactics. As the first giants PCs are likely to run into, ogres make a good stand-in for all Large humanoids, though obviously things like spell-like abilities and rock-throwing may give true giants better options. (Or you could use this with ogres that have orc ferocity, and call them orrocs!)

First, many GMs intentionally give ogres terrible tactics because they have an Intelligence of 6. But remember that this is three times as smart as a wolf. Would the smartest wolf you can conceive of make the bad tactical choice you are considering? No? Then neither should an ogre. Further their typical Wisdom of 10 and the fact they have Perception as a skill suggests ogres can recognize and analyze a situation even if they may do a terrible job describing it with good grammar. Certainly an ogre can recognize a spellcaster, see the issue with allowing foes to heal, know when to press the attack o have one unconscious foe and one healthy foe as preferable to two injured foes who can both fight back, and so on.

Indeed, recognizing spellcasters will often drive ogre tactics. With reach (which you can augment with various options below) an ogre has a decent chance of being able to strike a spellcaster in melee, and an ogre should know that they let their guard down when they cast spells, so desire to keep spellcasters close enough that they must cast defensively to avoid provoking attacks of opportunity from the ogre.

If facing foes without reach, an ogre with no adjacent enemies can safely attempt combat maneuvers against foes 10 feet away without provoking attacks of opportunity, and their Large size and high Strength makes them reasonable likely to succeed. Tripping foes can help with battlefield control (especially as the foe is likely to provoke an attack of opportunity when it stands), and disarming an enemy at least reduces the chance of suffering a full-attack action.

Some tactics are more like customizations, in that they move the ogre away from the base stat block of the bestiary, while staying a legal monster build.

Even if using slow progression, an ogre should average 550 gp of treasure, There is no need for this to all be gold and gems it hoards away in a pocket to be looted off its body. An ogre can have some of its treasure as gear it might use. As simple a choice as allowing it to carry a Large longspear (10 gp) gives the ogre an impressive 20 foot melee range, and it can drop the weapon and draw its greatclub if needed. With that much reach melee foes might well feel the need to risk a charge, and that means the ogre can brace to receive charge. (If this seems likely, consider a boar spear, which costs the same and gives a bonus to AC in that situation).

Similarly a Large heavy crossbow (100 gp) may only fire once every two rounds, but it gives the ogre a much heavier, longer-range initial punch. Since an ogres hide armor proves it is proficient with medium armor, upgrading to a Large breastplate (400 g, though it can save by not also buying Large hide armor for 30 gp) gives it +2 AC. A cure light wounds potion, thunderstone, tanglefoot bag, or other alchemical weapons can also increase it’s flexibility in battle, and are useful to 3rd level PCs as treasure.

If using multiple ogres, one throwing javelins and one with a boar spear can be an effective ranged-combat options until PCs manage to close in. If you have three or more ogres, you might consider giving one a kumade (which is a simple weapon with the grapple special weapon property) or a sickle (a simple weapon with the trip special weapon property) to keep foes worried about combat maneuvers.

If considering adjusting the ogre’s feats, Toughness can generally be swapped out for better choices. Improved Iron Will makes the ogre less likely to be defeated with a single bad Will save, or Power Attack gives it an excellent trade off of damage for a little reduced accuracy. If your campaign allows retraining, consider having two or more ogres with the Crowd Control teamwork feat to make it harder for foes to get inside their reach. If an ogre is going to be alone, the Desperate Battler feat may be useful.

And Now, A Tactical Mention of my Patreon

I have a patreon, I helps me justify the time spent writing all this free content. Sometimes it even has bots of exclusive bonus content. Go check it out!

Totally Random Pathfinder Feat

Inspired by a DC Comics hero, and apropos of nothing:

Detonatable

You can blow up.

Benefit: You can cast a fireball at your location as a spell-like ability. Its caster level is equal to half your HD. This causes you to explode, as well. Your body flies apart as part of the fireball, but this does not kill you. Instead, your body exists as dust in the area of the fireball, and you reform (with all your gear and in the same condition as when you exploded) at a random point within the area of the fireball 1d4 rounds later. While you are dust, you can take no actions, and are subject only to effects that can impact a creature made of dust. You gain the fatigued condition (or exhausted if already fatigued, or unconscious of already exhausted) for 1 hour after reforming, even if you are normally immune to these conditions.

Patreon Exclusive

There’s a similarly random feat involving removing your own eyes and still looking around with them, Eye can See, as a patron exclusive over at my Patreon.

Check it out!

Concept Feat: Wings!

There are lots of different ways to pick a character concept to play in a roleplaying game. For class-and-level games like Pathfinder, I generally flip through the various core options and customizable choices, and those will spark a character concept. (If I’ve made characters in a specific game system many times, my process may be a little different). The advantage of this system is that my concept is inspired by mechanics, so I am unlikely to try to make a character the system doesn’t handle well.

But in my experience with players, it’s actually more common to be inspired by a character from fiction, or video games, or even other RPGS, and try to find a way to build that concept using whatever rules are available. That can cause issues, because not every RPG is designed to support every character concept. Extreme cases of this issue are fairly intuitive—no one seems surprised that Pathfinder is the wrong RPG to try to play Superman—but if the inspirational character is in a genre anywhere near the RPG’s genre, players get more annoyed. There’s no good way to play a rich princess with hundreds of servants and loyal knights as a 1st level character in Pathfinder except for the GM to decide the campaign being run will give you that position outside of anything on your character sheet.

Some people accept level limitations to character concepts (as soon as you can take Leadership that princess becomes easier, and most people understand in-his-prime Batman isn’t a 1st level character), but it chafes for people who just want to make something they think would be fun and run with it. And ideas that don’t integrate well with the rules at any level are even more disappointing.

In general, it’s up to a GM and players to ensure PC concepts are appropriate to a campaign, and no RPG handles every concept as attempted by any player, but some common difficult trops can be tackled in an effort to show how a GM CAN accommodate some character concepts with house rules, if the GM wants to.

One way to do that is “concept feats,” feats that do more than a typical feat but are taken only at character creation and only with GM approval to create a specific concept for a character. Such feats need to scale carefully, so they aren’t overpowering at low levels, and players just need to accept that the trappings of the idea may not come in at full power early on. Such feats aren’t designed for general use as available options for any character at any level, but as special options granted only at character creation when a GM and player want to stretch the rules a bit. To be most useful a GM needs to be able to create concept feats to match each PC concept the GM likes and wants to allow, but the rules don’t currently exist for. Most likely charatcers should be limited to one concept feat and they such have a notation to indicate their special nature, such as an explanation point in their title. Here’s an example concept feat, Wings!

Wings! (Concept)

Whether a result of a storied lineage or a strange mutation or special blessing, you have innate wings.

Prerequisites: Taken at character creation with GM permission to allow an otherwise-impossible character concept.

Benefit: You have wings. While they don’t weigh you down or cause problems with your gear, you can only use them when you are not suffering any penalties to your movement rate or mobility (such as from armor or encumbrance or slowing magic, or grappling), and only if you have enough room for a creature one size larger than you (though your actual space does not increase). If any effect disables one of your limbs, there is a 25% chance it instead disables a wing.

Fly is always a class skill for you, and you can make Fly checks in place of Acrobatics checks whenever you are able to use your wings, and for any Acrobatics-based prerequisites. At 1st level, your wings allow you to treat all jumps as running jumps, and to jump down a number of feet equal to double a Fly check result without taking damage or falling prone. At 3rd level you can fly downward with a fly speed equal to double your movement rate. At 5th level you double all Fly checks made as Acrobatics checks to jump. At 7th level you can fly with a fly speed equal to double your movement rate for a number of minutes per day equal to your level. At 9th level, you wings grant you a normal fly speed equal to double your movement rate.

Patreon Exclusive Content

I realized I never tackled the idea of the 1st level PC who is royalty, or something similar, so I created the Upper Class! concept feat, which is currently a patron-exclusive post over at my Patreon.

Check it out!

 

Big Magic

For obvious reasons, published spells for the Pathfinder Roleplaying game tend to focus on things that are at least modestly likely to be desired results for spellcasters using them at primary or secondary spell slots. That does mean there’s an entire class of spells – effects that for both balance and cosmology reasons require spell slots so high to create brad but minor results that most spellcasters wouldn’t ever either learning or casting – that haven’t ever been explored. I think of these as “big magic,” things that are obviously powerful but that a typical adventuring spellcaster never needs.

What level spell does it take to do one point of damage to everyone within a mile? Ten miles/ 100 miles?

Yet one of the things I have learned is that there are many ways creative players will find to use spells that as a designer or GM, I wouldn’t have thought of. So, sometimes I play with potential big magic, mostly as a thought experiment.

Here are two examples of big magic, built off iconic low-level spells.

Magic Volley

School evocation (force); Level Wizard 6

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)

Area/Targets every creature within a radius of 100 ft. +10 ft./level

Duration instantaneous

Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes

You fire one magic missile at every creature within the spell’s area.

 

Succor All Wounds

School conjuration (healing); Level Cleric 6

Casting Time 1 standard action

Components V, S

Range long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)

Area/Targets every living creature within a radius of 100 ft. +10 ft./level

Duration instantaneous

Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

You heal every living creature in the area of 1d8+5 hit points.

Patreon Exclusive

I included one other example, a 6th level bardic spell conference, as exclusive content over at my blog. Check it out!

Esoteric Paladin Mercies

Unlike rogues or even rangers and fighters, paladins don’t have a lot of abilities where they get to select one of a list of class features. That can make it tricky to create new paladin options without going as far as building a whole archetype. But if you get creative with mercies, there are some interesting, balanced options you can use.

Esoteric Mercies

Esoteric mercies are special abilities paladins may select in place of a new mercy of the appropriate level, but which give them different mercies than the standard benefits to their lay on hands abilities.

3rd Level Esoteric Mercies

Final Mercy (Ex): The harsh reality of battle is, sometimes there is nothing a paladin can offer but a swift death. A paladin with this mercy can perform a coup de grace as a move action using a use of his mercy ability, and deals additional damage equal to his lay on hands dice. These additional dice are not multiplied by the weapon’s critical damage multiplier. If slain, the target is affected by sanctify corpse, but it gains no other lay on hands ability.

Swift Succor: The paladin has focused on granting her healing abilities to allies quickly. She can lay on hands to heal others as a move action.

6th Level Esoteric Mercies

Boon of Light (Sp): As a move action the paladin can create light, as the spell, at will. If the paladin is holding a magic weapon that produces magic light, this light illuminates to a radius of 40 feet, and counters darkness spells of a spell level equal to 1/3 the paladin’s class level. If the paladin has a holy magic weapon that creates light, this ability acts as the daylight spell, and can counter darkness spells with a spell level equal to half the paladin’s class level.

Ranged Succor: The paladin need not touch allies to grant the benefit of her lay on hands. She can use lay on hands on a target within 60 feet as a full round action (or a standard action, if she has the swift succor mercy).

 

9th Level Esoteric Mercies

Holy Avenger: When wielding a weapon with the holy or bane (vs. evil outsiders) magic special ability, the paladin gains SR equal to 10 + her paladin level + her Charisma modifier. This SR only applies against spells with the evil descriptor, and those from creatures with the evil subtype. Each time the SR successfully prevents a spell from affecting the paladin, the paladin expends one use of her lay on hands ability for the day. If she has no lay on hands uses left, she does not gain DR.

One More Patreon Exclusive Option

I have also played with options to allow paladins to expand their spell lists to be more deity-specific, and one of those ideas is essentially also an esoteric mercy. So I am including it over at my Patreon page as exclusive content (which just means it’s not available anywhere else right now — it may still show up elsewhere or in a product someday). Go check it out!

Independence Sub-Domain

Clearly, the Liberation Domain for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is about making others free, and that is a strong concept for a divine mandate. Those gods who oppose tyranny, slavery, rigid social castes, and systematic oppression of any kind are likely candidates to grant the Liberation Domain.

Liberation has three subdomains – Freedom, Revolution, and Self-Realization. Think between each of these and Liberation is fairly obvious – the object of liberation is freedom, the objective of liberation often requires revolution, and self-realization is a form of liberation from (often self-imposed) confusion and deception. Like all sub-domains, these three swap out either a granted ability or a domain spell slot to better represent their specific forms of liberation-related divine concern.

However, all of those concepts either focus around the act of overcoming existing restraints (be they social, physical, or delusional restraints), or ensuring a lack of restrain specifically for others—defending the restrained, or encouraging them to throw off their restraints.

They dance around, but don’t ever quite cover, the concept of being able to achieve and maintain liberty through self-sufficiency—Independence. It’s easy to see how gods of pioneers, explorers, hermits, and even racial or cultural supremacy or selfishness might encourage not the power to free others or overcome existing limitations, but being able to avoid ever suffering significant entanglements by having the capacity to take care of yourself.

Independence isn’t the same as Liberation, though one might be the object of the other, but is surely close enough to have significant overlap in related divine powers. And, given the season, an Independence subdomain seemed an obvious call.

Replacement Power: The following granted power replaces the freedom’s call power of the Liberation domain.

Undeterred (Su) At 8th level, at the beginning of any turn in which you are confused, grappled, frightened, held, panicked, paralyzed, pinned, or shaken you may, as a free action, choose to ignore that condition until the beginning of your next turn. You may do this even if you are normally unable to take actions (such as if you are confused). This ability only suppresses these effects, and they return once this ability end, if applicable. You may maintain your immunity for a total of one round per level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Replacement Domain Spells: 1st—sanctuary, 7th—transformation, 9th—wish.

Patreon Exclusive–Alternate Power

Over at my Patreon I did an exclusive additional alternate power, at 1st level, for patrons only.