Category Archives: Pathfinder Development

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)

WOLFSHEAD

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
Bonus
FortRefWillSpecial
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
19+19/+14/+9/+4+6+11+6Avoidance
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.

Patreon
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!

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).

Patreon
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!

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.

Mythic
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.

Patreon
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!

Diligence and Patience

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

DILIGENCE
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.

PATIENCE
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.

Patreon
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!

PF1 Essentials, Spell Redesign Goals (and Hold Person)

Obviously if I am doing a redesign of elements of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (and this Index suggests I might be…), one of the things I need to tackle is spells. It’s extremely easy for spellcasters to dominate spotlight time in a campaign, because they have a powerful, flexible toolset that can be applied to nearly any problem. “Fixing” that is a narrow line to walk, since it’s one of the things that appeals to people who love spellcasters, and it’s easy to go too far in the opposite direction, or make spellcasters and other classes so similar they lose their distinctive play experience.

Some of the fix can be done by looking at broader options for other classes. But some spells just need to be reconsidered. They may be overpowered, or underpowered, but most importantly, they may lead to less fun in play. So let’s talk about the most frustrating and swingy spell in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game– hold person.

If your target makes their saving throw, you accomplish nothing that round. Nothing at all. Sure, when a fighter swings his sword and misses he may accomplish nothing, but the fighter doesn’t have a daily limit on how often they can swing a sword. Plus, it’s much easier for a fighter to get multiple attacks per round than for a spellcaster to get multiple spells per round. Ignoring balance, it’s just not FUN when you burn a resource for an iconic spell and nothing-at-all happens.

On the flip side, if your target fails their saving throw, odds are they’re out of the fight. Yes, they could save on their next turn–but while paralyzed they are subject to sneak attacks and coup de grace, and at minimum they lose a full round of action. I’ve been watching hold person get used for 20 years, and 75% of the time if the target fails their save, their dead before they ever get to act again. This is particularly worrying since so much of PF1 encounter design assumes a group of multiple heroes face off against one monster. The action economy already favors the PCs, and if they take a full round of actions from the foe, it’s generally game over. Which, to be honest, is often less fun for everyone else, especially if the spellcaster refuses to risk encounters if they don’t have this spell available.

Rather than these two extreme factors being balanced, they create two different but equally extreme unbalances.

So we need a spell that always has some effect, sometimes has lots of effect, but rarely has an encounter-ending effect.

While we are at it, I foresee breaking spells into three categories — arcane, divine, and psychic, to match the three kinds of spellcaster. Spells will also be broken into common, uncommon, and rare. Classes get spells of a given school(s) and rarity. So a wizard might get common, uncommon, and rare arcane spells, while a witch gets common and uncommon arcane spells, and common psychic spells. We can add a few class-specific spells in each category, like oracle’s burden is an oracle-only spell on the cleric spell list in standard PF1. (This system has oodles of advantages over each class having its own lit, which I’ll discuss in another post).

(Art by Lunstream) (I assume this guy got held in that stupid pose)

Hold Person
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level arcane 2 (common), divine 2 (common), psychic 2 (common)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, F/DF
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target one humanoid creature
Duration 1 round/level (D); see text
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

The subject is staggered. A target that makes its saving throw is staggered for just 1 round. A target that fails its saving throw by 5 or more is dazed for 1 round, then staggered for the spell’s duration. A target with a CR greater that double this spell’s spell level is never effected for more than 1 round. A target with a CR greater that double this spell’s spell level that makes its save by 5 or more is not affected at all.
A winged creature staggered by this spell must land, and must take 1 action to do so each round while flying.

Hold Person, Mass
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level arcane 7 (rare), psychic 7 (uncommon)
Targets one or more humanoid creatures all within a 20-foot-radius

This spell functions like hold person, except as noted above.

Patreon
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!

PF 1 Essentials, Fighter Class Preview

I’ve done a lot of work on my idea for a revised “PF1 Essentials” rewrite of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, going over a number of feats (which are now compiled here, along with my thoughts on them and a growing index of other articles). I thought it was time to show what i think a PF1 Essentials class might look like, so I did a rough preview of the FPF1 Essentials Fighter.

Obviously this is just a starting point, and I’ll need to integrate a lot of things into it (like how Fighters get to have multiple Stance feat stances going at once, which is likely an advanced combat training option). But as a preview of where I am taking this, i thought people might enjoy it.

(Art by Lunstream)

Essentials Fighter Class Preview

Hit Die: d10.

Starting Wealth: 250 gp. In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skill: The fighter’s class skills are Animal Handling (Dex or Cha), Appraise (Int), Athletics (Str), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (engineering) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Survival (Wis).

(Animal handling now includes Handle Animal and Ride. Athletics now combines Climbing and Swim. Profession now includes Craft and Profession.)

Skill Ranks Per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table 1: The Fighter

LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial
1st+1+2+0+2Bonus feat, combat style
2nd+2+3+0+3Bonus feat, combat training
3rd+3+3+1+3Combat training
4th+4+4+1+4Bonus feat
5th+5+4+1+4Combat training
6th+6/+1+5+2+5Bonus feat
7th+7/+2+5+2+5Combat training
8th+8/+3+6+2+6Bonus feat
9th+9/+4+6+3+6Combat training, advanced combat training
10th+10/+5+7+3+7Bonus feat
11th+11/+6/+1+7+3+7Combat training
12th+12/+7/+2+8+4+8Bonus feat
13th+13/+8/+3+8+4+8Combat training
14th+14/+9/+4+9+4+9Bonus feat
15th+15/+10/+5+9+5+9Combat training
16th+16/+11/+6/+1+10+5+10Bonus feat
17th+17/+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Combat training
18th+18/+13/+8/+3+11+6+11Bonus feat
19th+19/+14/+9/+4+11+6+11Combat training
20th+20/+15/+10/+5+12+6+12Bonus feat, combat mastery

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
A fighter is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with light armor.

Obviously the class has had major upgrades in Will saves and skill points. I’ve been working with the basic d20 fighter nonstop since 1999, and I believe these pure power boosts are warranted, and will help make the fighter the go-to class for players who want to be strong-jawed swordsmen and dashing heroes.

Bonus feats are largely unchanged.

At first level, you’ll gain a combat style. This will set one fighter apart from another at the very beginning, and some combat trainings will require a set style. A combat style might give you proficiency with medium and heavy armor, all shields (including tower shields), and give you a solid armor training/armor mastery path for your combat mastery. Or it might give you bonuses to AC when wearing no more than light armor and give you a panache option combat training path. Or give you an order, oath, light and heavy armor, and a mounted combat/cavalier order combat training path.

It might even give you some combat magic, for a bgeing-at-first-level version of the eldritch knight.

Nearly everything else fighters get has been rolled into “Combat training.” This will be a system much like rogue talents, but focused on different fighting options. Combat training will have all the armor training and weapon training options, and a lot of the things that built off those in Player Companions and archetypes.

At 9th level you’ll gain access to advanced combat training, which will have higher-level-appropriate options, and likely a way to pick up a “second fighting style” if desired.

This system can roll a ton of archetypes and even some base and hybrid classes into a single, flexible class that takes less room than all those options combined, but can actually create more different custom PC builds, all on the same game-balanced chassis.

Patreon
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!

PF1 Essential Feats, Part 3: General Feats

Last Friday I tackled some “1st Edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Essentials Feat,” a theoretical project to revise all the feats for PF1, cutting down the total number of feats by 80% or so, while maintaining as many character concepts as possible. I also hope to do some rebalancing so feats are all meaningful choices, and possible even tackle class balance issues

I’ve been focusing on Stance Feats, especially the Power Attack stance feats. Today, I decided to work on a many general feats I think can be condensed down to just a few options.

(Art by Lunstream)

DIFFICULTY FOCUS
You have improved how difficult it is for foes to resist one specific ability of yours.
Prerequisites: Spell, special attack, or class feature that has a save DC.
Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s special attacks, or class features, or one school of magic. Add +2 to the DC for all saving throws against the special attack, class feature, or spells and spell-like abilities from the school of magic on which the creature focuses.
Special: A creature can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time the creature takes the feat, it applies to a different school of magic, special attack, or class feature.

NIMBLE MOVES
You can move across a difficult terrain with ease.
Prerequisites: Dex 13.
Benefit: Whenever you move, you may move through a number of 5-foot squares of difficult terrain each round as if it were normal terrain. The number of squares you can move through each round is equal to your Dexterity bonus. This feat allows you to take a 5-foot step into difficult terrain.

SKILL FOCUS
Choose a skill. You are particularly adept at that skill.
Benefit: You get a +3 bonus on all checks involving the chosen skill. If you have 10 or more ranks in that skill, this bonus increases to +6.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new skill.

SKILL SYNERGY
You understand how two skills work well together.
Benefit: Choose two skills. These skills become class skills for you. If one or both were already class skills, you gain a +2 bonus to those skill checks instead. If you have 10 or more ranks in one or both of these skills, you gain an additional +2 bonus to skill checks with those skills.
Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects don’t stack. Each time you take it, it applies to two different skills.

Patreon
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!

PF1 Essential Feats, at 2: Power Attack Stance Feats

Last Friday I tackled some “1st Edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Essentials Feat,” a theoretical project to revise all the feats for PF1, cutting down the total number of feats by 80% or so, while maintaining as many character concepts as possible. I also hope to do some rebalancing so feats are all meaningful choices, and possible even tackle class balance issues

One of the things I presented were Stance Feats, and I then rewrote Power Attack to be a prime example of such feats. Today, I am presenting what I see as the key Power Attack Stance feats, compiled, revised, and revisiting dozens of PF1 feats to compile into just 9 total feats. (You can follow the link above to Friday’s post to see how I set up Stance Feats and Power Attack.)

It’s worth noting that, at least at the moment, I don’t plan to make the Improved Combat Maneuver feats Power Attack Stance feats, and may not even keep Power Attack as prerequisites for them. That may change once I get deeper into this project, but for now I’m not including them here.

I also suspect one of the things the fighter class is going to get is a way to have multiple stances active at once. But I’ll figure out how and at what levels to do that after I have more feat stance chains built.

(Art by Lunstream)

Power Attack Stance Feats

POWERFUL ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can focus on inflicting inflict bloody wounds that are slow to heal.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and you damage a foe with a melee attack you inflict 1d4 points of bleed damage, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the weapon. A creature continues to take bleed damage every round at the start of its turn. Bleed damage can be stopped by a Heal check (DC 10 + your base attack bonus) or through any magical healing. Bleed damage from this feat does not stack with itself.
If your base attack bonus is +11 or higher, when you are in Power Attack stance, you may instead choose on melee attack you make each round to attempt to daze your target. This choice must be made before your attack roll. If the attack hits, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the attack that target must make a successful Fortitude save (DC of this save is 10 + your base attack bonus) or be dazed for 1 round. Subsequent attacks in the same round also have a chance to daze targets, but each subsequent melee attack you make in the same round reduces this DC by 5. If the DC drops to 10 or less, there is no change to daze targets.
You cannot use this feat to both cause bleed damage and have a chance to daze targets.

HARDER THEY FALL (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can work with an ally to move or knock over a foe that’s too large for either of you to overcome alone.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, if the first melee attack you make in your turn successfully hits and damages a foe, your allies gain a +2 bonus to combat maneuver bonus checks against that target until the beginning of your next turn. Additionally, until your next turn allies can attempt to bull rush, drag, overrun, reposition, or trip that target even if it is two size categories larger than them.
Normal: Those combat maneuvers can normally only be attempted against creatures no more than one size category larger than you.

INTIMIDATING SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
Your terrible attacks strike fear into your enemies.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, Intimidate 1 rank, base attack b9nus +1.
Benefit: You may add your Strength modifier, rather than Charisma modifier, to Intimidate checks.
When you are in Power Attack stance, the first time in your turn you damage an opponent with a melee, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize your opponent.
Additionally when in Power Attack stance, the first time each combat you drop a foe to 0 or fewer Hit Points, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize all opponent within 60 feet.
Alternatively, if you attempt to demoralize a foe within your reach as a standard action and succeed, you may choose to immediately enter Power Attack stance (ending any other stance you are in) and make a single melee attack against them as a swift action. You cannot then attempt to use this feat to demoralize them again on that attack.

ONSLAUGHT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
No one is prepared for how hard you strike until they see it firsthand.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, sneak attack class feature.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, you can add your sneak attack damage to the first melee attack you make in each combat, even if the target is not flanked or denied their Dex bonus to AC.

PILE ON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can keep a foe shuddering in fear.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Intimidating Smash, Power Attack, Intimidate 6 ranks.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you damage a creature that is shaken, frightened, or panicked, you can choose to deal half your normal damage in order to extend the duration of its fear condition by 1 round.

PUSHING ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can use attacks with two-handed weapons to drive your foes before you.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you make a melee attack that damage sa creature that is no more than one size category larger than you, you can choose to push the target 5 feet directly away from you. Alternative, you can choose to do half damage to push the target 10 feet directly away from you. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunities, and the target must end this move in a safe space it can stand in. You choose which effect to apply after the attack roll has been made, but before the damage is rolled.

SET WEAPON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can set your weapons to deal extra damage against moving foes.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, all weapons you wield with the reach special weapon feature are also treated as if they had the brace weapon special feature. Additionally, if you are using a weapon that normally has the brace special weapon feature, if you successfully hit a target an an attack of opportunity the target provoked from movement, you deal double damage.

SHIELD OF SWINGS (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
A wild frenzy of attacks serves to bolster your defenses.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and make a melee attack, you can choose for all your attacks to do half damage in order to gain a +4 shield bonus to AC and CMD until the beginning of your next turn. The reduction in damage applies until the beginning of your next turn.

SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You overcome obstacles by breaking them.
Prerequisites: Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, your melee attacks ignore 5 points of hardness. This has no effect on DR. You also receive a +5 bonus on Strength checks made to knock down or break open doors.

Patreon
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!

Maneuver Defense Feats for Pathfinder 1e

Some players just hate being disarmed. Or grappled. Or tripped. Or having their weapon sundered. Sure, it’s a reasonable and normal tactical option for GMs, but that doesn’t mean players don’t want ways to improve their defenses against such maneuvers.

(Art by Javier)

The classic answer is to take the appropriate Improved combat maneuver feat, which increase your CMD… but they also does a lot of other things. In fact, their primary abilities are offensive in nature, rather than defensive. Which means an all-defensive version is reasonable… but it needs to not stack, or defensive numbers can grow beyond what the game system is designed to allow.

CMD is also a place where spells and magic items don’t really make up the growing gap in value for characters not focusing on Strength and Dexterity. A wizard can use mage armor to boost their AC, and get ever-more-effective bracers of armor as they gain levels. But if they want to keep their Intelligence competitive, they can’t afford to boost their Strength and Dexterity as they go up in levels. Other classes have the same (or worse) problems, especially those dependent on multiple attributes.

There should be SOME way to make sure their CMD can stay in good defensive ranges if they expend character build resources on it, without also allowing high-Strength, high-Dexterity characters to become effectively immune.

Those are pretty narrow design spaces, but they’re certainly ones we can work with.

Combat Maneuver Defensive Focus (Combat)
You have trained yourself to avoid one specific combat maneuver.
Benefit: Select one combat maneuver. You gain a +4 bonus to your CMD against this combat maneuver. This bonus does not stack with the bonus to CMB from the matching Improved (Combat Maneuver) feat. When you gain a level, you may replace this feat with the matching Improved (Combat maneuver) feat if that feat is a legal choice for your character.
Special: You may select this feat more than once. Its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, you must apply it to a different combat maneuver.

Combat Maneuver Specialized Training (Combat)
You have learned to maximize the benefits of your natural talents to avoid being overwhelmed by combat maneuvers.
Benefit: When calculating your CMD, you may replace either your Strength bonus or Dexterity bonus with the ability bonus of one other ability score of your choice. Once these decisions are made, they cannot be changed.

Patreon
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!

d20 Spotlight Tokens

d20 Spotlight Tokens are an optional rule for most d20-rule based (or “T20”) games. The tokens are designed to give players a concrete way to grab some spotlight time (real-world time where they are getting the most done, being the most impressive, and having the most attention paid to them). These are absolutely a power-up in terms of what a group of PCs can handle, and that’s both intentional and, in my opinion, a good thing. It’s not an increase in what characters can do all the time, but it is a way for a player to decide to have remarkable success when the going gets tough… or when the player just wants that to be the way the story goes.

These are a mechanical solution to spotlight time. A player can’t help but be the focus of attention when one is spent, even if they are shy or not big talkers.

Once you have played with d20 Spotlight Tokens for a few game sessions, it should be obvious how to adjust for them as a GM. It may be the players simply choose to take on more encounters in a row, taking overnight rests or breaks to recharge abilities less often, in which case no adjustment may be needed. Or it may be appropriate to treat the characters as being one or two levels higher, so they face more dangerous opponents that require them to expend some tokens to succeed.

(Art by Grandfailure)

Spotlight Token Rules

You get one token per session, plus one per 5 full character levels. If no other player takes the same spotlight token as you, you gain 1 extra token per session.

Select one of the following tokens. This should be done, together, as a group. If two players choose the same token, they can decide if they want to overlap, or one or both of them change their choice. Once this choice is settled, it cannot be changed until you gain a level or another player selects the same Spotlight Token you already have (in which case, again, you discuss it and one, both, or neither of you can change your choice).

You can spend a Spotlight Token immediately any time the relevant game event occurs, even if the action has already been resolved. For example, if you select the Attack Token, you can spend it after an attack misses, or after it hits but does less damage than you want. When you spend a spotlight token, you also get one additional full round of actions you get to take immediately. This additional round of actions does not benefit from the powers of the Spotlight Token–for example if using the Assault token attacks you make as part of your bonus round of action do not also automatically hit.

Currently, here are the token choices. They are designed to lean into common character focuses, and to have more than one options for each broad focus.

ARMOR – You take no damage until the end of your next turn.

ATTACK – Your attack (anything requiring an attack roll) hits and does 150% its max damage.

ASSAULT — Your attack (anything requiring an attack roll), and all attacks you make before the beginning of your next round, hit.

CRITICAL — Your attack, effect, or spell (anything requiring an attack roll) is a critical hit, if it has rules for being so (for example of a spell does not require an attack roll and has no rules for being a critical hit, it does not benefit from this token).

DEFENSE – An attack misses you, as do all other attacks from the same source until the beginning of your next turn.

EFFECT – One foe fails a saving throw against a spell or effect of yours. If there are degrees of failing a saving throw (such as an additional penalty if the save is failed by 5 or more), it takes the worst effect.

MANA — You activate one spell or ability you can use at least once per day without it counting against your normal uses per day.

OVERCOME — You get to take a single action that can be performed in one round or less, that you would be able to take if your character was not suffering any damage, penalties or effects, and without applying any penalties for current damage, penalties, or effects. Yes, even if you are dead.

RESIST — You succeed at a saving throw, and at all other saving throws from the exact same effect (such as all saves against a poison, or against one ongoing spell).

SKILL — You may choose for one skill check (regardless of how much time it represents), or all skill checks you make in a single round, to be treated as if you had rolled a 20 and the d20 roll.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts, but especially longer and more experimental ones like this. If you’d like to see more game-bending rule options (or more fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!