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Owen Explains It All — Command Voice and Sonic Weapons for Starfinder

Before we get to any OGL content, an editorial aside:

First, this blog has spoilers for Dune — the book, both movies, and the miniseries. So if you want to avoid those, don’t read this.

Second, you may be wondering why is this tagged as an “Owen Explains It All” post, when that’s very unlike my normal marketing tone? Well, because this links into a show from the BAMF podcast I’m on, titled “Owen Explains It All!“. We do an episode every two weeks, picking new things from the zeitgeek to use as inspiration for game material, specifically the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

We have a logo and everything!

If you haven’t already gone and watched the October 25, 2021 episode, we talk about various version of Frank Herbert’s Dune. Specifically, how it’s very much a skill-based setting, with the Voice, Prana-bindu training, and the Weirding Way as taught and learned abilities. We also spoke about David Lynch’s 1984 Dune movie, which replaced much of that with raw technology, in the form of “Weirding Modules,” which still required training as the words used impacted its effectiveness.

And all of that leads me to Command Voice and Sonic Weapons, as OGL content

Command Voice Feats

The brain of any sentient is designed to take in information, process it, decide what it means, and use that to form a mental picture of what reality is and what actions should be taken. Normally, speech is processed as a form of information that must be carefully analyzed and considered before being accepted. However, with extensive training it is possible to change the pitch and intensity of the spoken word such that short commands bypass a brain’s normal analysis portion of taking in information, and accept it as a decision made by the target’s own mind. This is known as the Command Voice.

Command Voice
You can cause the weak-willed to briefly obey you.
Prerequisites: Charisma 13, 5 ranks of Diplomacy, 5 ranks of Intimidate.
Benefit: You can expend 1 Resolve Point to use the bully task of the Intimidate skill as a full action, rather than the normal 1 minute. The creature is only bulled for 1 round, plus 1 round for every 5 by which your check exceeds the DC.
Special: An envoy can take Command Voice as an envoy skill expertise, without meeting its prerequisites.

Greater Command Voice
Your command over can cause the weak-willed to briefly obey you.
Prerequisites: Charisma 15+, Command Voice, 8 ranks of Diplomacy, 8 ranks of Intimidate.
Benefit: You can use Command Voice as a standard action (though it still requires you to expend a Resolve Point). Alternatively you can use Command Voice without expending a Resolve Point, but take a -10 penalty to your Intimidate check when you do so. When using Command Voice, if you exceed the normal DC by 5, the target does not realize you bullied it and it’s attitude towards you does not change as a result of it. If you exceed the normal DC by 10, the bullying lasts for 1 minute.
Special: A character with 5 or more envoy levels and Command Voice can take Greater Command Voice as an envoy skill expertise without meeting its prerequisites.

Sonic Weapons

Faiet Module

Faiet Modules are hybrid magic item weapons that use the power of specific words or sounds, and converts them into killing energy. They are the ultimate expression of the Faiet Way, a method of influencing and controlling creatures through the use of specific tones of voice and combinations of phrases that bypass much of the psychological defense of a target. However, Faiet Modules take those sounds and convert them into physical harm far beyond some tool of coercion or deceit.

(Faiet Module art by Jacob Blackmon)

In addition to a small hand-held emitter, a Faiet Module has a throat mic, which must be worn to use the weapon. The price is included in the price of the module, and it can be added to armor without taking up an upgrade slot. If the operator of the Faiet Module is for some reason unable to speak or make a sound as loud as a shouted word, the module cannot be used to attack,

The results from attacking with a Faiet Module are only partly about accuracy and combat acumen. A great deal of the successful use of a such a module depends on the ability to accurately create the needed killing words, and to do so in rhythm with the sounds of a conflict. As a result, despite being small arms Faiet Modules cannot be used to perform trick attacks (the misdirection required for trick attacks is not compatible with the voice control and forthrightness needed to create effective killing words), and rather than the normal Weapon Specialization a character gains bonus damage equal to their ranks in Bluff, Culture, Diplomacy, or Intimidate (whichever is higher). A character that has no ranks in Bluff, Culture, Diplomacy, or Intimidate can’t use a Faiet Module at all.

Faiet Modules target EAC, despite doing both sonic and bludgeoning damage. Additionally Faiet Modules have the sound-dependent weapon special property.

New Weapon Special Properties

Sound-dependent: If a target cannot hear you when you attack with a sound-dependent weapon, it cannot be harmed any sonic damage dealt by that weapon. Thus, for example, they don’t deal sonic damage in a vacuum. However, if the weapon does more than one damage type (such as a Faeit Module dealing both sonic and bludgeoning damage), the weapons can still deal the non-sonic portion of the damage.

Sonic Small Arms
WEAPONLVL$DAMRNGCRITCapacity/
Usage
BULKSpecial
Faiet Module, Mummer14001d6 S & B30 ft.Wound20/1LSound-dependent
Faiet Module, Eulogy42,5001d10 S & B40 ft.Wound20/1LSound-dependent
Faiet Module, Epitaph76,5002d6 S & B40 ft.Wound20/1LSound-dependent
Faiet Module, Lament1128,0004d6 S & B40 ft.Wound40/2LSound-dependent
Faiet Module, Dirge15100,0006d6 S & B40 ft.Wound40/2LSound-dependent
Faiet Module, Requiem19625,0009d6 S & B50 ft.Wound100/4LSound-dependent

Expanded Post

This is an Expanded Post, with the rules for Warpboxing (another item inspired by the same sources) available to my Patrons, who provide me with the support that makes these posts possible. If you aren’t already a member of my Patreon, sign up and all the Expanded Posts to date become available!

GammaFinder Mutations (for Starfinder)

So there are quick and easy rules for mutations in the GammaFinder base rules (a campaign hack for Starfinder), but a weird post-apocalyptic game just isn’t the same if you can’t be even more mutated than that.

So, here are some more ways to gain even more mutations, and lots of mutations you can get.

PA Mutie

MUTIE THEME (+1 to any)
Yup, you’re a mutie.

Theme Knowledge (1st)
Your brain focuses on something a little differently than other people. Select one skill to gain as a class skill or (if you already have it as a class skill at 1st level) gain a +1 racial bonus to.
In addition, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to one ability score of your choice at character creation.

Mutation (6th, 12th)
Your mutant abilities grow and evolve. Select a mutation from the Mutant Abilities list, below.

Mutant Heartiness (18th)
Your mutant physiology allows you to recover more easily than those with standard genomes. Twice per day you can recover Stamina Points after a 10-minute rest without expending a Resolve Point to do so. This does reset any abilities that normally reset after you expend a Resolve Point to recover Stamina Points after a rest.

PA Shive

MUTAMORPH (Archetype)
Your body, exposed tot the strange energies of the GammaFinder World, has morphed.

Mutation (2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12)
At these levels you may choose a mutant ability (see below) as an archetype ability, or take your class’s normal class feature instead. Each time you take a mutant ability, you may also replace one mutant ability gained at an earlier level from the archetype or the mutie theme with a new mutation (losing the old mutant ability).

Mutant Abilities
The following mutant abilities can be gained from mutie theme or mutamorph archetype.
Additional Arms
Blindsense
Change Form
Climber
Compression
Creaturelike
Digger
Exceptional Vision
Expanded Lung Capacity
Fortified
Frenzy
Limited Telepathy
Mutable
Natural Weapons
Psionic, minor
Psionic, moderate
Psionic, major
Rapid Revival
Steady Stride
Swimmer
Telekinetic Flight
Toughened
Venomous
Wings

Additional Arms
You grow two additional arms (or a long prehensile tail, or other manipulative limb), which allows you to wield and hold up to two more hands’ worth of weapons and equipment. While your multiple arms increase the number of items you can have at the ready, it doesn’t increase the number of attacks you can make during combat.

PA Add Arms

Blindsense
You grow sensitive antennae that grants your blindsense (vibration)—the ability to sense vibrations in the air—out to 30 feet. You ignore the Stealth bonuses from any form of visual camouflage, invisibility, and the like when attempting a Perception check opposed by a creature’s Stealth check. Even on a successful Perception check, any foe that can’t be seen still has total concealment (50% miss chance) against you, and you still have the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. You are still flatfooted against attacks from creatures you can’t see.

Change Form
As a standard action, you can physically alter your form to look like any Medium creature, as long as you have seen a similar creature before. You can attempt to either mimic a specific creature or look like a general creature of the chosen type. You gain a +10 bonus to Disguise checks to appear as a creature of the type and subtype of the new form. The DC of your Disguise check is not modified as a result of altering major features. You can remain in an alternate form indefinitely.
If you take this mutation a second time, you do not take a penalty to Disguise when you mimic a creature of a different species or type.

Climber
You gain a climb speed of 40 feet.

Creaturelike
You have mutated to be very similar to another creature. You might look like an anthropomorphic animal, have the strange anatomy of an aberration, seem to be a plant, or have some other strange mix of features. Your features are a blend between your true type and substype, and another type (and possibly subtype).
You gain the creaturelike trait. Select one type and, if desired, an appropriate subtype. You gain these in addition to your normal type and potential subtype. You gain no special abilities of the type or subtype except as noted here. When you are targeted by an effect, if it effects just one of your types or subtypes, it affects you. If it affects your types or subtypes differently, you take the effect that is worse for you.
Skill checks to identify your type or subtype take a -5 penalty.
You gain a +2 racial bonus to one saving throw category of your choice, or +1 racial bonus to two saving throw categories.
You gain one of the following senses or movement types of your choice: blindsense (scent) 30 feet, climb 20 feet, darkvision 60 feet, fly 20 feet (poor)(ex), low-light vision, swim 20 feet.
You can change your unarmed attacks to do piercing or slashing damage, if you wish, or gain do +1 damage with unarmed attacks.

PA Hippolike

Compression
You can move through an area as small as one-quarter your space without squeezing or one-eighth their space when squeezing.

Digger
You gain a burrow speed of 30 feet.

Exceptional Vision
You gain low-light vision and darkvision. As a result, you can see in dim light as if it were normal light, and you can see with no light source at all to a range of 60 feet in black and white only. If you already had low-light, your darkvision now grants you color vision with no light. If you already had darkvision, its range increases by 60 feet.

Expanded Lung Capacity
You have extraordinary lung capacity. You can hold your breath for 10 times the normal duration, and you can begin to hold their breath as a purely defensive reaction whenever you are submerged underwater, enter a vacuum, enter a gas or smoke field, or would otherwise begin suffocating or inhaling a substance you suspect to be harmful.

Fortified
You gain a +2 racial bonus to Fortitude saves against environmental hazards and radiation effects. In addition, you reduce the duration of the sickened and nauseated conditions by 1 round.

Frenzy
When badly enough damaged, you enter a fighting frenzy. When you are at 0 Stamina Points, you gain a +1 bonus to melee attacks and AC.

Limited Telepathy
You can communicate telepathically with any creatures within 30 feet with whom you share a language. Conversing telepathically with multiple creatures simultaneously is just as difficult as listening to multiple people speak.

PA Telepathy

Mutable
Your body is mutable and can adapt to many different situations. Once every 1d4 rounds as part of any other action, you can reshape your body and adjust your chemistry to gain one of the following qualities. The adaptation lasts until you dismiss it, use this ability again, fail a saving throw, or are dazed, confused, staggered, stunned, or unconscious.
*Upper limb refinements enable you to add an additional amount of damage to melee attacks equal to half your Strength modifier.
*A toughened dermal layer grants you a +1 racial bonus to KAC.
*Developed lower limbs grant you a +10 bonus to one speed you already possess.
*Molecular-level modifications grant you resistance 2 against a single energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic).
*Elongated limbs extend your to 10 feet.

Natural Weapons
You are always considered armed. They can deal 1d3 lethal damage with unarmed strikes and the attack doesn’t count as archaic. You choose if the attack does bludgening, piercing, or slashing damage when it is gained, and what kind of attack it is (bite, claws, tail slap, and so on). You gain a unique weapon specialization with your natural weapons at 3rd level, allowing you to add 1–1/2 × your character level to your damage rolls for your natural weapons (instead of just adding your character level, as usual).

Psionic, minor
You gain the following spell-like abilities: At will: (select any two of the following) daze, detect magic, fatigue, ghost sound, psychokinetic hand, telepathic projectile, telepathic message, token spell; 1/day (select one): akashic download, battlemind link (lesser), confusion (lesser), detect thoughts, mind link, share language, share memory.

Psionic, moderate
Select two more at-will spells and one more 1/day spell from the minor psionic list. You must already have two of the at-will spells and one of the 1/day spells as spell-like abilities to select moderate psionic.

PA Psionic Cyborg

Psionic, major
Select two more at-will spells and one more 1/day spell from the minor psionic list. Additiinally, select one of the following spells as a 1/day spell-like ability: augury, perfect recall, predict foe, status. You must already have four of the at-will spells and two of the 1/day spells as spell-like abilities to select moderate psionic.

Rapid Revival
Once per day, when you take a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points, you can additionally recover Hit Points as though you had taken a full night’s rest.

Steady Stride
You can move through nonmagical difficult terrain at your normal speed.

Swimmer
You gain a swim speed of 40 feet.

Telekinetic Flight
You gaining a supernatural fly speed of 10 with perfect maneuverability and the ability to hover without taking an action.

Toughened
Your sturdy physiology backs up armor’s defensive properties particularly well. When wearing armor, you gain a +1 racial bonus to AC. If you already have a +1 racial bonus to AC, you instead gain a +1 racial bonus to Fortitude and Reflex saves.

PA Turtle

Venomous
You can deal piercing or bludgeoning damage with your unarmed strikes. When you make a successful unarmed strike (or innate melee attack, such as might be gained from another mutation) that deals piercing damage, and the target takes damage from the attack, as a reaction you can expose the target to venom. Once you have used your venom, you can do so again only after taking a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points. You are immune to the effects of your own venom.
Mutant Venom
Type poison (injury); Save Fortitude (DC = 10 + half your level + your key ability modifier)
Track Dexterity (special); Onset 1 round; Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds
Effect Progression track is Healthy—Sluggish—Stiffened—Staggered; staggered is the end state.
Cure 1 save. All effects end 1 hour after cure.

Wings
You grow wings, gaining an extraordinary fly speed of 30 with average maneuverability.

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Thanks, everyone.

 

In The Long Run, Is The Real Money in the Games Industry Not Going to Come From Making The Games?

Gridiron football grew out of older games, and became a hobby sport. At that point, the money in the game was in producing the materials (equipment) for it, and to a lesser extent selling books with the rules.

Now, far more people watch football than play it, and the money is made by forming professional-level exhibitions and controlling the viewing of such, and related licensing. Making generic football equipment and rulebooks for it is a far, far less lucrative business.

This may just be the natural progression for all games.

In which case, adventure game companies are looking at the hobby they largely created giving someone else most of the money generated by the game.

(And hey, speaking of making money elsewise, please sign up to my Patreon so I can afford to keep making posts like this!)

Video Week: My First Day at WotC (Part 1)

I hope to put up a series of videos this week, beginning some some that recount the many tales of my very first day of work at Wizards of the Coast, back in 2000.

Here’s the video!

If you enjoyed this, check out the other videos I’ve posted on my page of Youtube videos.

Enjoyed this video (or any of my other videos or blog posts?) Consider supporting their production by backing my Patreon!

I Run Starfinder!

For those of you who missed the Starfinder stream premiere game yesterday, you can watch the video here!
I had a great time, and once again want to thank everyone involved in making this happen. 🙂