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ShadowFinder Bestiary Teaser: Soul Lamprey
As work on ShadowFinder continues, I will occasionally preview things that will be in its Bestiary section. Many of these will be creatures from the ShadowBlast, but others will fill in the “normal” niches a typical modern adventure/scifi/fantasy/surreal/horror game might need.
For each of these, I plan to show some art, talk a bit about why I’m putting it in the ShadowFinder Core Book, and enough info a GM could create a version of the monster at any CR, using the standard Starfinder creature creation rules. In the final entries for these in the Core Book there will be at least one full stat block, but I do also want to give enough info on special abilities and role in an adventure that a GM can reliably make versions at different CRs as they need them.
So, let’s start with the soul lamprey.
Soul lampreys are creatures apparently native to the Shadowblast (though like anything in the Shadowblast, they might originally be from somewhere else and just trapped in that dim demiplane). They are driven by an insatiable hunger to consume the determination and drive of sapient beings, as well as the flesh of any sentient creature they can eat while it still lives.
The idea behind the soul lamprey is to get some of the player-dread that creatures that inflicted level drains and negative levels did in older ttRPGs… without the bookkeeping, refiguring, and literal inability to keep playing the character usefully in the same adventure that those rules often inflicted on players. Instead, soul lampreys eat Resolve Points.
To build a soul lamprey, you use a combatant stat array, a single bite melee attack that deals piercing damage, and give it these special abilities and adjustments:
Slow But Tough: A soul lamprey has EAC and KAC 2 lower than normal for the combatant array at its level, but also has 25% more Hit Points.
Devour Determination (Su): When a soul lamprey damages a target with tis bite, the target must make both a Fortitude and Will save. If it makes both saves, there is no additional affect. If the target fails 1 save, it loses 1 Resolve Point. If it fails both saves, is drained of 1d4 Resolve Points (+1d4 for every 4 full levels of the lamprey’s CR). Drained RP do not recover normally. Instead, each time the character regains their daily abilities, they reroll the Fort and Will saves, regaining 1 RP for each save they succeed at each day. If they make both saves, they regain an addition 1d4 RP (+1d4 for ever 4 character levels they have).
The soul lampry gains these Resolve Points, and can use them normally and to fuel its special abilities. While a soul lamprey has RP, any creature missing RP from a soul lamprey drain is flat-footed and off-target to the soul lamprey.
Digest Determination (Su): When a wounded soul lamprey devours determination, it can choose to expend any number of the RP it absorbs to heal itself as part of the attack. For each RP expended, it regains 1d8 HP + 1/2 its CR. It may only do this when it absorbs new RP.
Target Sense (Su): As part of any action it takes, a soul lamprey can expend 1 RP to gain blindsight (telepathy) with a range of 5 feet per CR of the lamprey. This only detects creatures missing RP drained by a soul lamprey. The ability lasts for 10 minutes per CR of the soul lamprey.
Trap Blind (Ex): A soul lamprey is vulnerable to attacks from things that lack their own determination. This includes traps, mindless creatures, and mechanic’s drones. Such attacks gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls and save DCs, and deal double damage, against soul lampreys.
Shudder Step (Su): When a creature damages a soul lamprey with a ranged attack, the soul lamprey can follow the trace of psychic energy carried by the decision to attack it back to its point of origin, teleporting to be adjacent to the attacker (or as close as possible if there is no safe space adjacent to the attacker). This does not take an action, but does expend 1 Resolve Point.
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Mountain Dew Cake and Mountain Dew Pie
Look, I’m not in charge of the Mountain Dew-to-Gamers connection, but I do like playing with it. People specifically asked for these recipes when I noted I had made them, so…
Mountain Dew CAKE
1 box Duncan Hines Orange Supreme cake mix
1 box Jello instant pudding mix – lemon
1 teaspoon lime flavoring (or extract, I refer flavoring)
green food Coloring if desired, to your preferred neon hue
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup Mountain Dew (fresh and fizzy)
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 cup Mountain Dew
Preheat oven to 325
Liberally coat bunt pan with nonstick spray
Add all cake ingredients together and beat for 2 minutes
Pour into pan and bake 50-60 minutes at 325
About 5 minutes before cake is done, make the glaze
Add all glaze ingredients together in a sauce pan and boil for 2-3 minutes
Once cake comes out, pour glaze slowly over cake
Leave in pan for 20-30 minutes to let glaze soak in, or up to 24 hours in fridge
Remove. Color will be much darker on the outside than within each slice.
Mountain Dew PIE
This is NOT a cheesecake, but an effort at pure Mtn Dew as a pie filling.
1 frozen pie crust, in pan
2 liters Mountain Dew (to make 12 oz. Mountain Dew Reduction)
2/3 cup sugar
8 tbsp flour
6 tbsp butter, diced
To make a Mtn Dew reduction, simmer 2 liters of Mtn Dew over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours. You should reduce the volume by at least half, and up to 65% or so. It doesn’t matter if the Mtn Dew is fresh, since you’ll lose all the carbonation anyway.
Preheat oven to 395
Pour 12 oz of Mtn Dew reduction in the pie crust, while the crust is still frozen
Mix the sugar and flour, then sprinkle the mix evenly over the surface of the Mtn Dew reduction. Yes, it’s powder on syrup.
As best you can, scatter the diced butter evenly over the flour/sugar mix.
Cover edges of crust with foil.
Carefully move into over. Bake for 30 min.
Reduce temp to 340, then bake for another 30 min.
Remove from oven, and take off foil. Pie filling is now a hot sticky plasma, so be careful. Fully cool, preferably on a stone or tile countertop.
Once fully cooled, chill covered in fridge for 6-24 hours.
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Saint Bennen, and Paladins, in the Sovereign Kingdoms
My mention of the Bennenites–staff-wielding warrior-priests from my old Sovereign Kingdoms fantasy campaign–in an article about Staff Mastery Feats has apparently raised some interest in the worldbuilding about the order. (More than in the feats they inspired, in any case 🙂 ).
Most of my notes about that more-than-20-year-old-game are scrawled in pencil in a few different notebooks and one big red 3-ring binder. Having moved 11 times in that two decades they aren’t all in one place, and many are in boxes in storage (though I have laid eyes on most of them on the past 18 months). But I have dug some up, and can
In the Sovereign Kingdoms the major religion was the Apostolic Church, which worshiped a supreme deity who had 4 specially blessed demigods who oversaw interactions with mortals. Three of those rebelled (essentially taking the role of three differently-themed antichrist/lucifer figures), and the fourth, YSRIES, began teaching various mortals directly. Those mortals who followed his teachings to a state of high enlightenment were granted tiny motes of his divine power, becoming saints.
Sainthood was essentially treated as a mega-paladin template in that campaign, making every paladin essentially a potential saint in training. Paladins were considered to have been given a mote of divine power they were trusted to use appropriately, with only those dedicated to the concepts of benevolence and morality even giver that power. There are paladins of other faiths (though they were rarer, and included the singular Green Knight of the druidic faith, the Proctors of the Gnostic faith, and the Salt Warriors of the eastern Apostolic Church).
The power of a paladin was sometimes granted temporarily for a good, faithful follower in particularly desperate straits (as happened to a PC at least once during the campaign). However, the ability to draw on the mote of divinity required a level of dedication and purity. If a mortal failed to live up to that standard, the connection literally became metaphysically impossible. It was not that divine powers withdrew their assistance, but that mortals too far out of balance with the essence of the divinity couldn’t access it.
(As an aside, while the power of a paladin came from outside themselves, actually drawing on the power of a mote of divinity was a skill that could apply to different power sources. If a paladin fell far enough from grace, one of the three fallen demigods could grant a fiendish power source which, if accepted, turned the bearer into an anti-paladin. Anti-paladins tended to have powers diametrically opposed to paladins because they were using the same training manuals to manipulate the aligned planar energy within them.)
Within the Apostolic Church, saints were arranged in three tiers of reverence–the Apostles (taught directly by YSRIES), the ArchSaints (taught by one or more of the Apostles, usually after YSRIES left the mortal plane), and the Canon Saints (recognized as saints by the authority of the Ecclesiarch of the Apostolic Church).
Saint Bennen was the first of the Canon Saints, a farmer-turned-mercenary-turned-priest who had decided to dedicate his life to the protection of the oppressed. Most famously, during a war against devilish cultists, Bennen-as-mercenary refused to leave a town of innocents when local defenders pulled out, as the defenders believing any fight to save it doomed to total defeat. Because the retreat had to be performed swiftly, the sick, wounded, young, and old were all left behind. When Bennen refused to leave, his commander stripped him of his spear, sword, and dagger. Thus when Bennen stood at the edge of town to defend it from oncoming attackers, he did so armed with only a staff.
The half-fiend commander of the attacking forces was so amused, it decided to destroy Bennen personally before overrunning the town, so as to sow fear, misery, and despair among the townsfolk. However, as the fight began, Bennen was granted the power of paladinhood, and was joined by a Bagwyn* companion as a steed. Bennen defeated the half-fiend, the devilish cult army fled in fear, and the town was saved. Due to a wound sufferend in the battle, Bennen forevermore moved with a severe limp. In thanks for the divine aid, Bennen turned to religious studies, and became a priest, and in time a Arch-Prelate (the third-highest rank within the Apostolic Church).
*A bagwyn is a heraldic creature of mythology with the body of an antelope, mighty backwards-curling horns, and the fetlocks and tail of a horse. In the Sovereign Kingdoms, bagwyns were basically unicornlike creatures that served any good-aligned mystic forces, while unicorns were specifically angelic.
I haven’t yet found the list of who Bennen was the patron saint of, but if memory serves it included farmers, mercenaries, defenders, wood-gatherers, woodwrights, the ill, the infirm, the lame, bagwyns, and lost causes. While most Apostolic Orders were extremely suspicious of druids, Bennenites often formed aliances with them, and when a Green Knight arose, Bennenite priests would see to their training.
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Mental Health and Suicide Hotlines
I am not currently suicidal. Not even close. I open with that, so people won’t worry about me.
I have been suicidal, even within the past year. I was able to get help, and my support network assisted me. Mental health issues need to be destigmatized, which is why I am often so public about mine.
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It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
Pathfinder Warlock Index
So, here’s how to find the elements of the Pathfinder-compatible OGL Warlock class I designed.
Here’s where you can find the elements of the class on my blog.
The class advancement chart,
Spell access rules
A Fiendish patron
A Draconic patron,
Some pact boons
The base invocation rules along with the hex-access invocations, and a set of non-hex invocations.
The shadow-haired warlock archetype.
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My Stuffed Dino
This isn’t a game-related story, or something to inspire your gaming table. It’s just a tale I don’t recall having ever told that, at 2am, my brain has latched onto as a focal point for a lot of my pain and depression right now.
Feel free to skip it.
I love dinosaurs. It’s one of my very oldest fandoms.
Before Star Wars. Before D&D. Before Micronauts. Before sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, and powered armor.
Maybe the first thing I grokked as a group of things, and loved, were dinosaurs.
When I was a very young child my mother took me with her grocery shopping one day. The store had a bin of soft, fuzzy stuffed-animal dinosaurs.
And I fell in love with one, in particular. So I asked my mother to buy it for me.
It was, she said, out of our price range for toys.
So, I asked, if we don’t buy it… what happens to it. What if NO ONE buys it?
Well then, she said quite reasonably, it’ll stay here and someone can buy it tomorrow.
And asked, genuinely aghast, you mean they’ll leave it in the store. At night? With the lights off?
I sat on the floor of the grocery store, and burst into tears. Not quite little trickles, but snot-out-my-nose, can’t-see, gasping-for-breath tears.
Look, I’m not saying I was above feigning being truly upset to pressure my mother to buy something for me… though I don’t recall that ever actually working. And this was more than 45 years ago, so I can’t claim to have perfect recall. But as I remember it, I was just truly TERRIFIED for the stuffed dinosaur.
I needed to know it would be safe. Be loved. And if I couldn’t do that, I was afraid no one ever would.
My mother stared at me for several seconds, then picked up the dino and told me it could come home. I could barely pick myself up. I don’t even think I thanked her.
(BTW — Thanks, Mom.)
And so I ended up with a bigger-than-most-of-my-animals stuffed dino. I slept with it for months, and then it joined the Council of Pluff that usually just sat on my toy chest. It served as chairman for many years (until I got a Stuffed Polar Bear As Big As Me, which is a different, and much more on-brand for me, story).
But if I saw sad, or upset, or afraid? If I needed to hug something and none of our cats was up fro the job?
For a lot of years, that Dino was my go-to.