LawStar Justicar (for Starfinder)

We’ve explained ThemeTypes—a kind of character option that uses both your theme and an archetype to make a bigger change to your character that either could by itself—and presented a number of specific ThemeTypes designed to be alternate multiclass rules for adding some envoy, mechanic (drone), mechanic (exocortex), mystic, operative, and technomancer class abilities to a character.

But ThemeTypes can do much more than replace multiclass rules. That can open up whole new realms of character concepts, allowing for roles and ideas that are more than just a background or a subset of any one character class, but don’t rise to the level of needing their own character class. These are things like champions of interstellar police forces, space-faring knights-errant, and entities who have had their whole bodies replaced with transforming cyborg frames. Within each of these concepts, a character could still be an envoy, soldier, mystic, and so on. Indeed, entire campaigns can be built around such role-based ThemeTypes, emulating popular comics and cartoon series that focus on one specific group of starfaring heroes, while still exploring the individuality of each character.

As an example of this kind of sweeping, character-defining ThemeType, we present the LawStar Justicar.

LawStar

The LawStar is an organization that promotes order, justice, and safety throughout the known galaxy. A central LawStar Executive exists that works to build systems and train agents to end war and crime, support peace and prosperity, and oppose evil and suffering in all forms. Seven LawWorlds form the core of this organization, each ruled by a branch of the Executive and operating under the LawStar Code, which promotes fairness, freedom, and equal treatment. It is believed that the LawStar Executives themselves answer to a High Executive, a being of pure beneficent order, which may be an angel, demigod, or ancient alien species that have long since become creatures of pure energy.

Typical LawStar agents and even LawStar fleets and ground forces operate mostly in lawless zones, applying the most widely-recognized, democratically selected laws against slavery, piracy, tyranny, and oppression. Any world can request LawStar enforce such laws on that world with a general referendum of the population, with a 2/3 majority being seen as the will of the people, regardless of the will of the government.

But even beyond the agents, judges, and executives, the most elite members of the LawStars are the Justicars.

The Code of the LawStar
It is the right of all Sapients,
To Live free of slavery, tyranny, torture, or oppression.
To Choose their own life path, to Gather and to Freely Express Themselves,
To be treated with Dignity, Fairness, and Compassion,
And to be able to seek Redress for wrongs against them.
This is the Code of the LawStar.
We Live by the Code, We Die by the Code.

RGG-LashuntaLawstar-color-02

LawStar Justicars

Those individuals who show an extraordinary aptitude for investigation, law enforcement, compassion, and drive, are sometimes selected to become LawStar Justicars. While such candidates are often taken from the ranks of LawStar agents and officers, it is not unknown for a Justicar position to be offered to a sapient creature with no connection to, or even knowledge of, the LawStars.

Justicars are considered the LawStar elite, but they are also outside of the lawStar’s normal chain of command. Each LawStar Justicar is an authority onto itself, and neither takes orders from, nor has any power to give orders to, any other LawStar. If a LawStar Justicar turns from the Code of the LawStar, it is the duty of any Justicar who learns of this breach to make amends for their kin’s wrongdoing, and to insure that such wrongdoing stops. Of course the fact that the LawStar sigil cannot be made to function for those with evil intent generally makes this easier, but there are cases of LawStars who truly wish to do good to be so damaged or mistaken in their beleifs that they must be stopped by other Justicars.

The sign, and power source, of the Justicars are their LawStar Sigils, powerful hybrid items that defy all efforts to determine their origin, function, or power source. Each Justicar is offered a sigil when offered the role of starfarer agents of justice, and once accepted it becomes part of their spiritual essence. It appears as a ring, broach, piercing, or similar item appropriate for the Justicar’s species, but is in fact inherent to each Justicar—it cannot be removed, damaged, or destroyed, it fades when a Justicar dies, and it returns if they are raised from the dead.

Justicars often work with similarly gifted individuals who are outside the LawStar organization to seek out injustice and tyranny and oppose it, though small bands of Justicars also sometimes form to tackle more significant issues.

LawStar Justicar ThemeType

LawStar Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, you gain Culture as a class skills. If you already have Culture as a class skill, you instead gain a +1 bonus to all Culture checks. Additionally, you gain limited telepathy. If you already have (or later gain) limited telepathy, you instead gain a number of bonus languages equal to your character level, which only count as languages for purposes of determining what creatures you can use your limited telepathy with.

LawStar Sigil (Su, Archetype, 2nd Level): You can absorb nonliving equipment into your LawStar Sigil. This takes ten minutes per item, and requires the equipment be unattended. If the equipment has proficiency requirements, passwords, activation phrases, security measures, or prerequisites for use, you must have full access to all of the item’s abilities before it can be absorbed. You can absorb items with an item level no greater than your character level +2, and can have a maximum number of items absorbed equal to your maximum number of Resolve Points. While absorbed in your ring the equipment is nonfunctional and safe form outside influences, though time passes for it normally. Items in your LawStar Sigil do not count towards your maximum bulk. You can have no more bulk worth of items absorbed into your LawStar Sigil that your two highest ability scores.

Your LawStar Sigil gives you the benefit of any one suit of armor (and its upgrades, as well as its drawbacks such as slower speed or Max Dex Bonus to AC) absorbed into it at a time, and you can swap what suit of armor that is as swift or move action. If you have a suit of powered armor in your LawStar Sigil, you can manifest it using the rules below separately from gaining the benefits of a suit of absorbed light armor. You can change what upgrades are in what absorbed armors during a ten-minute rest without a check of any kind, though upgrades must be placed in armors able to accommodate them.

You can manifest any other items absorbed into your LawStar Sigil as hardlight constructs from your sigil, and use them normally. If you use a consumable item, it is no longer absorbed into your LawStar Sigil, and equipment needs batteries, ammunition, fuel, and similar charges normally, and can be reloaded normally. Any item destroyed or disarmed or stolen from you is removed from the items absorbed in your LawStar Sigil.

You can’t use the appendage your LawStar Sigil is on for any other function while you have equipment manifested. However, your LawStar Sigil can support two hands/limbs worth of items without using any other hands from you. If you need to use more equipment than that, you can handle your manifested equipment normally. You cannot manifest more items than you can wield at once.

You can drop a manifested item, causing it to fully form (no longer as a hardlight construct) an no longer count towards items absorbed in your LawStar Sigil.

LawStar Sigil Flight (Su, Archetype, 4th Level): Your LawStar Sigil grants you 30 feet of flight when in a vacuum or zero-G environment.

Improved LawStar Sigil Absorption (Theme, 6th Level): Your LawStar Sigil causes all absorbed items to count as having an item level at least equal to your character level for purposes of determining hardness, Hit Points, and save DCs. This is true even while such items are manifested, but not if they are dropped. Additionally, all damaged equipment absorbed in your LawStar Sigil regains a number of Hit Points equal to your character level whenever you take an 8-hour rest and regain your daily abilities.

Greater LawStar Sigil Flight (Su, Archetype, 4th Level): Your LawStar Sigil grants you 30 feet of flight.

Improved LawStar Sigil Absorption (Su, Archetype, 9th Level): Your LawStar Sigil can now manifest (a LawStar Sigil nd allow you to wield) two additional arms worth of hardlight equipment.

Improved LawStar Sigil Environmental Protection (Su, Theme, 12th Level): Your LawStar Sigil can now grant you environmental protection for a number of weeks equal to your character level. You must forgo any environmental protection from your LawStar Sigil (including from any armor absorbed into it) for 24 hours to recharge this ability.

LawStar Sigil Space Travel (Su, Archetype, 12th Level): Your LawStar Sigil flight speed increases to 60 feet. Additionally, you can fly through space to travel from point-to-point on a planet, go into orbit or land, reach satellite, or travel in-system using the starship Standard Navigation and Astrogation rules. You cannot enter hyperspace using your LawStar Sigil, nor leave hyperspace if already there, though you can fly around within hyperspace normally.

LawStar Telekinesis (Sp, Theme, 18th Level): You can use the sustained force function of the telekinesis spell at will, and use the combat maneuver function 5 times per day. Additionally, you can carry willing, unconscious, or helpless creatures weighing no more than 2,000 lbs and extend your LawStar Sigil’s environmental protections to them, though each creature you carry reduces the number of limbs worth of equipment you can manifest as hardlight by one.

LawStar Starship Construct (Su, Archetype 18th): Your LawStar Sigil can now absorb one starship, with the same restrictions on access and passwords as absorbing equipment. You can access this starship as a hardlight construct, as long as you are in the same system, or gain its abilities when engaging in starship combat. The LawStar Sigil will fill any role you do not, and has a flat bonus equal to your character level for any checks in makes.

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Writing Basics: Introductions for RPGs

This is only the second article I’ve done on “game writing basics” (the first being on Headers for RPGs), and like the first one this is designed to cover a topic that I never got a lot of training on in school. In this case, that topic is “Introduction,” by which I specifically mean the text at the beginning of a product, book, chapter, or section (likely with its own header—these things are often interconnected), that explains what’s actually in that section of text. Ideally, it’s interesting to read, gives the reader some idea of what information is coming and why, and gives some context how that material connects to other books/products/chapters/ or sections of text.

That paragraph right above this one? That’s in introduction.

Like headers, I am moved to write about introductions because there are something I see so many new writers not have any idea how to handle. All to often if I contract someone to write a 5,000 word pdf manuscript that covers a topic, the text I receive leaps right into the details of that topic with no warm-up prose. For example, I have gotten bestiaries that open with the name of the first monster, class write-ups that open with a description of the role of that class, and articles on GM advice that leap into what you should and shouldn’t do at a game without ever mentioning they’re supposed to be collections of GM advice.

An introduction doesn’t have to be very long, but it’s both an important way to set expectations of the reader, and a great way to include some information that applies to a whole section but may not make sense anywhere else. For example, if I had begun this blog post with just “Introductions are the text at the beginning of a new section of writing, and are important for explaining what is coming and why it matters,” anyone reading this article would rightfully wonder both why they care, and why I thought the topic was worth writing about. When used to introduce a new section within a larger text, an intro also lets the reader know the old topic has ended, and that they are moving on to something else. If you have a chapter on weapons, and it begins with melee weapons, a simple 1-2 sentence introducing the section on ranged weapons helps the reader know they have finished the melee section, and are moving on to different kinds of weapons. It delineates the beginning.

That said, while introductions are read at the beginning of a section of text, it’s often useful to write them last. In part, this is because an introduction serves to let the reader know what topics and ideas are going to be covered, and until you’re done writing a thing there’s always a chance that its focus and exact contents are going to shift. At the very least, it’s a good idea to re-read your introduction after you’re done with everything else, to make such it still matches in tone and details.

One great way to get a feel for introductions is to pick up books you don’t remember having introductions, and then finding and reading them. Often you don’t remember an introduction not because it’s missing or bad, but because you only needed it when you first picked up a book, and haven’t looked at it since. This is especially true for books that you frequently reference, but rarely read cover-to-cover, which is true of most readers of most RPGs. Much like a good editor, a good introduction is often at its best when it goes nearly unnoticed.

There are also things an introduction isn’t. It’s not the table of contents, index, apologia, masthead, dedication, short fiction lead-in, or credits page. If it’s appropriate you may cover some of the same territory as an apologia or dedication, but only when those serve as the kind of context a writer really needs to appreciate the words that follow. It also serves a slightly different function than a foreword, and a book can have both a foreword or an introduction, or just one, or have a single piece of text serve as both (and possibly not be labeled as either).

Ideally, an introduction feels short compared to the section of text it introduces. For most game books, one or two pages is normally plenty for your introduction, though if you are introducing a 4-500-page book, even three or four pages is a perfectly reasonable introduction. For shorter things, such as a single article, chapter, or lengthy blog post, a paragraph is likely to be enough (though if you combine this with art and/or an art element this may still take up a full page or even two—for the most part, that’s a publisher/graphic designer decision, but it’s a good idea to study the introductions of your publisher’s products to get some idea of how much text they need). For a short blog post of something that’s just a new header in a larger section, a single sentence is often enough introduction.

In many ways, the simplest way to decide what goes into your introduction is to ask yourself what someone who was asked to read the following text might ask about it, and try to answer those in broad terms. For example, if you asked someone to read a new RPG, they’d be likely to ask what it’s about, and why you think they would benefit from reading it—that information makes for a great RPG intro, as long as you keep it appropriate short. For things that introduce sections within a larger work, the intro just has to cover questions that would be asked by someone who already knew what book they were reading.

For example if you have a book about new equipment in a game, its introduction can assume people know what game it is for. Then if there’s a chapter on armor, that introduction only needs to discuss things specific to armor, since the reader already knows they are reading an equipment book. If there’s then a section on light armor within the chapter on armor in general, a short intro (maybe as little as a sentence) tells the reader that instead of information on all armor, you are now talking about just one subset of that topic.

While writing introductions can be awkward the first few times you do it, with practice it becomes second nature. In addition to helping your writing seem smooth by preparing the reader with a guide and context for each thing they write, it can also help you as a writing by giving you a tool to help define what you are trying to create, which may focus your thoughts during the writing process, as you subconsciously begin constructing an introduction in your head. It can also help you think about how to draw a section of writing to a smooth and satisfying close, so no one ends up feeling left hanging when they come to the end.

But that’s a topic for another day. 😀

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BEHOLD THE MIGHTY CAPIEKIE!

So, we took a capiekie to the 4th of July gathering we went to.

That’s a cake, stuffed with a pie, stuffed with cookies.

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It seems complicated, but making one isn’t that difficult.

The first step is always to pick complementary flavors. In this case, it’s a rum-glazed yellow cake, stuffed with a cherry pie, that is itself stuffed with chocolate cookies. Cream pies don’t work well for this. Sometimes, to see if it’s a good three-way match, I ask myself if there’s one flavor of ice cream or sauce that would go with all three dessert elements.

So, construction is in steps.

First, bake your cookies. It’s okay if they are only lightly done. Then bake the pie crust by itself, without filling, in a pie pan. Then make the cake batter, and pour about 1/3 of it into a springform pan. Then lift the crust out of its pie pan, and settle it into the batter. Then a layer of pie filling goes into the pie crust, then a layer of the cookies (just one layer—you can set the rest aside for a second capiekie if you want), then the rest of the pie filling. Then the top crust of the pie (just set it on, no need to crimp it or anything), and then the rest of the cake batter, which should cover the pie crust.

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Then, cook as directed for a square cake, though realistically you’ll need to check doneness with a toothpick at the edge (since the center is gooey pie when the cake is solid).

In this case we went with a rum glaze, but you could frost it. Just… only frost the top. A capiekie’s sides don’t have a lot of structural support.

Then cool in the fridge overnight, and remove from springform pan after a good 12 hours of cooling.

Make sure you are taking this thing to a party. It’s not a leave-it-on-the-house-to-snack-on kind of dessert.

20180704_154228

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Awesome Starfinder Teamwork Rules

Teamwork is a common element of adventure fiction, but it can be difficult for a game to grant bonuses to characters that are better at working together than their players are at making support-based tactical decisions. Previous d20 games have attempted to overcome this difficulty with Teamwork Feats but (with the exception of a few specific implementations as class features), those feats require everyone who is to benefit from them all take the feat, making them so uncommon and reviled I didn’t even want to mention them in this article’s title.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

These proposed Starfinder Roleplaying Game Teamwork Feats assume only one character is going to take them, and that the character then coordinated tactics in advance with a set of team members. The team members can change as the party’s needs evolve, and in this way a character can become an expert tactician and coordinator, even if the character’s player isn’t particularly good at game tactics.

Team Members: Team members benefit from all your teamwork feats. You designate your team members among the people you can take to and discuss tactics with, in a process that takes 10 minutes. You can have a maximum number of team members equal to your maximum Resolve Points, or your Charisma modifier, whichever is higher. You increase this maximum by 1 for each envoy improvisation class feature you have. If you have telepathy or limited telepathy, you may have 1 additional team member. If you have the mindlink class feature, all creatures in a mindlink with you automatically count as team members.

Each time you get 8 hours of sleep, or take a 10-minute rest and spend Resolve to regain hit points, you can change your team members. If a team member is unable to communicate with your for 24 hours, they stop being a team member.

Starfinder Teamwork Feats

Back-to-Back (Teamwork)
Benefit: Whenever two or more members of the team are adjacent to each other, foes gain no benefit from flanking them.

Bolster (Teamwork)
Benefit: Whenever a team member restores Stamina Points or Hit Points to another team member, the number of points restored is increased by half your character level (minimum +1).

Bounding Overwatch (Teamwork)
Benefit: Team members gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Perception checks, and to AC against attacks of opportunity, when within 15 feet of another team member.

Close Support (Teamwork)
Benefit: A team member can exclude any one other team member from any area attack or instantaneous area effect.

Coordinated Fire (Teamwork)
Benefit: Team members gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls made for cover fire or harrying fire, and the benefit of such actions increases by 1 with regard to other team members.

Duck and Cover (Teamwork)
Benefit: When a team member makes a Reflex save while within 15 feet of another team member, he gains a +2 bonus to his Reflex save. If an initiating team member makes a Reflex save and an adjacent team member fails a save against the same effect, the initiating team member may choose to fail their saving throw as a reaction, and cause the adjacent team member to succeed at their own save.

Elite Ship Crew (Teamwork)
Benefit: When a member of a team makes a skill check or attack roll in a starship combat role, they may use the total bonus -2 of any other team member’s attack roll or skill check rather than their own bonus. No team member may grant their bonus (-2) to more than one other team member each round.

Got Your Back (Teamwork)
Benefit: An initiating team member can take a standard action to grant an adjacent  team member the ability to take 10 on a skill or ability check, even when circumstances would normally prevent it, until the beginning of the initiating team member’s next turn.

Load Out (Teamwork)
Benefit: A team member can carry any one other team member of the same size or less, with just a 5 foot reduction to the carrying team member’s speed, regardless of bulk. This takes 1 hand.

Set up (Teamwork)
Benefit: As a move action, an initiating team member can give other team members a +2 circumstance bonus to combat maneuver attack rolls against a target adjacent to the initiating team member until the beginning of the initiating team member’s next turn. Alternatively, as a standard action, the initiating team member can grant a +4 circumstance bonus.

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Awesome 80s for Starfinder: Cyber Disc

Some weird, awesome stuff came out in the 1980s, that impacted my geek trajectory significantly. The Awesome 80s line of blog posts is about sharing some of the things I have been inspired to create by movies, shows, games, and literature of that decade. In this case, it’s the digital cyber disc.

Cyber Disc

A cyber disc is a round, glowing hardlight construct about the size and shape of a child’s thrown gliding toy. It functions as a computer of a tier equal to half it’s item level, and can have additional modules and upgrades added (at their normal cost) without increasing its size or bulk. Because it is a focused energy object, it can also be used to block incoming attacks, and to damage targets and objects by flinging it at them at range, or striking them in melee. It returns to the thrower immediately and unfailingly, allowing it to be used to make full attacks if desired, though it can also be used to make more powerful focused attacks (represented by its boost feature).

With a successful Computers check (DC 15 + new cyber disc item level) and 10 minutes of work, a cyber disc (and its computer functions) can be upgraded to a higher-level cyber disc. This counts as item creation (you must have ranks in Computers at least equal to the item level of the new cyber disc) and costs UPBs equal to the cost of the new disc, -205 of the cost of the old disc.

Shielding: In addition to having the block special weapon property, the cyber disc has the shielding special weapon property. This means if you take the fight defensively or total defense actions, you gain a +2 bonus to EAC/KAC.

 

Untyped One-Handed Basic Melee Weapons            
WEAPON LVL/$ DAM CRIT Powered

(Capacity/
Usage)

BULK SPECIAL
Cyber disc, basic 1 / 300 1d4 S Stunned 20/1 L Block, boost 1d4, operative, shielding, thrown (20 ft.)
Cyber disc, tactical 4 / 2,500 1d6 S Stunned 20/1 L Block, boost 1d6, operative, shielding, thrown (30 ft.)
Cyber disc, advanced 7 / 6,300 2d4 S Stunned 40/1 L Block, boost 1d6, operative, shielding, thrown (30 ft.)
Cyber disc, superior 11 / 27,500 2d6 S Stunned 40/1 L Block, boost 1d8, operative, shielding, thrown (40 ft.)
Cyber disc, elite 15 / 98,000 5d6 S Stunned 40/1 L Block, boost 2d6, operative, shielding, thrown (40 ft.)
Cyber disc, gladiatorial 19 / 625,000 7d6 S Stunned 80/1 L Block, boost 4d6, operative, shielding, thrown (50 ft.)

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For less than the cost of a weekly cup of coffee… you know what, nevermind. You do you. 😀

Awesome 80s (90s) for Starfinder: Raucous Cicadas

Some weird, awesome stuff came out in the 1980s (okay, I’m cheating, this one was inspired by something from the 1990s), that impacted my geek trajectory significantly. The Awesome 80s line of blog posts is about sharing some of the things I have been inspired to create by movies, shows, games, and literature of that decade. In this case, it’s the smallest imaginable longarm, the raucous circada.

Raucous Cicadas

The tiny disruptors known as “raucous cicadas” are the smallest longarms available, easily fitting in the palm of a human’s hand and possessing negligible bulk. However despite their tiny size, their recoil is so great that they still require two hands to fire with any hope of hitting a target—firing one with one hand is no different that trying to fire any longarm one-handed—you can pull the trigger, but there is no chance your attack will be effective.

A raucous cicada fires a concentrated column of the same kind of effect as is used to create force fields, and does bludgeoning force (BF), and is considered to have the force descriptor. Firing a raucous cicada generates a loud burst of sound, electromagnetic static, and even a compression wave of psychoactive energy that can be heard with telepathic senses. Characters receive a +10 bonus to Perception checks to hear this combination of sensory inputs, and once your fire such a weapon any Stealth check you made ends, and you cannot make another one until the beginning of your next turn. Additionally the recoil of the tiny weapon is disproportionately massive, and the firer moved 5 feet away from the direction of the attacked target. (This is not considered a guarded step, and provokes attacks of opportunity if it moves you out of a threatened square, but it is the same action as making the ranged attack so a creature can only make an attack against you for one of those two triggers.) On a critical hit, the attacked must make a saving throw against the raucous cicada’s critical effect save DC, or be thrown 1d4 x 5 feet back and knocked prone.

Uncategorized Longarms              
WEAPON LVL/$ DAM RNG CRIT Capacity/
Usage
BULK SPECIAL
Raucous cicada, MK 1 1 / 280 1d6 BF 50 ft. Knockdown 20/4 Boost 1d4, unwieldy
Raucous cicada, MK 1 4 / 2,200 1d12 BF 50 ft. Knockdown 20/4 Boost 1d6, unwieldy
Raucous cicada, MK 1 7 / 5,900 3d6 BF 60 ft. Knockdown 40/8 Boost 1d8, unwieldy
Raucous cicada, MK 1 11 / 25,000 6d6 BF 60 ft. Knockdown 40/8 Boost 2d6, unwieldy
Raucous cicada, MK 1 15 / 90,000 10d6 BF 70 ft. Knockdown 80/8 Boost 2d8, unwieldy
Raucous cicada, MK 1 19 / 575,000 12d6 BF 80 ft. Knockdown 100/8 Boost 3d6, unwieldy

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Awesome 80s for Starfinder: The Faiet Module

Some weird, awesome stuff came out in the 1980s, that impacted my geek trajectory significantly. The Awesome 80s line of blog posts is about sharing some of the things I have been inspired to create by movies, shows, games, and literature of that decade. In this case, it’s the sonic weapon, the Faiet Module.

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.

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 to 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). Additionally Faiet Modules are sound-dependent—if a target cannot hear them, it cannot be harmed by them (and thus, for example, they don’t work in a vacuum). Despite that, only half the damage from a Faiet Module is sonic (So), the rest being untyped damage (U) that is caused by the association of the sounds with concepts of destruction.

A character that has no ranks in Bluff, Culture, Diplomacy, or Intimidate can’t use a Faiet Module at all.

Sonic Small Arms
WEAPON LVL $ DAM RNG CRIT Capacity/
Usage
BULK SPECIAL
Faiet Module, Mummer 1 400 1d6 S & U 30 ft. Wound 20/1 L Sound dependent
Faiet Module, Eulogy 4 2,500 1d10 S & U 40 ft. Wound 20/1 L Sound dependent
Faiet Module, Epitaph 7 6,500 2d6 S & U 40 ft. Wound 20/1 L Sound dependent
Faiet Module, Lament 11 28,000 4d6 S & U 40 ft. Wound 40/2 L Sound dependent
Faiet Module, Dirge 15 100,000 6d6 S & U 40 ft. Wound 40/2 L Sound dependent
Faiet Module, Requiem 19 625,000 9d6 S & U 50 ft. Wound 100/4 L Sound dependent

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Heroes, Bundles, and Rogues Galleries

So, there’s a really big Bundle of Holding deal with over $100 in superhero game stuff for MUCH less, going on now (June 26-July 16, 2018). It includes two of Jacob Blackmon;s awesome RGG products, the Super Powered Bestiary and Super Powered Sourcebook.

And that got me thinking.

I’ve always been a fan of heroes who have good rogue’s galleries—villains who make up a regular set of threats for the hero. Lots of heroes have great rogue’s galleries—Daredevil, the Flash, Wolverine, and Superman all come to mind. But for me, without a doubt, the two best are Spider-Man and Batman.

And even better, they’re swappable!

You can take the idea of Batman villains and apply them to Spider-Man, and vice versa. You can also swap the bat- and spider-themes of those two characters.

And if you are running a supers game, this kind of thing can be a quick way to have somethign that feels familiar, but isn’t a direct copy of an existing character. Here are some quick swap-out characters a GM could use to build a world quickly, and still have some depth and surprises for PCs.

Chiropteen
Bitten by a radioactive bat, the “friendly neighborhood teen chiroptera” got his (fairly terrible) nick-name from the media when he first began trying to solve crimes in Jersey City, in a homemade hero costume.
Rogue Gallery
Punchline (Joker)
Punching Judy (Harley Quinn)
Vixen (Cat-woman)
Enigma (Riddler)
Fetch (Clayface)
Isimud (Two-Face)
Venus Flytrap (Poison Ivy)
Ugo Fate (Hugo Strange)
Cassowary (Penguin)
Doctor Winter (Mr. Freeze)
Nemesis (Bane)
Pumpkin Jack (Scarecrow)

Red Huntsman
When his billionaire Australian parents were murdered while on holiday with him to Empire City in the US, the child who grew to be one of the most feared villain knew he needed a symbol that would strike fear into the hearts of criminals. A symbol… like a blood-red huntsman spider.
Rogue Gallery
Green Gargoyle (Green Goblin)
Bombay (Black Cat)
Toxin (Venom)
Professor Kraken (Dr. Octopus)
Illusio (Mysterio)
Wasp the Spider-Killer (Kraven the Hunter)
Herr Geier (Vulture)
Komodo (The Lizard)
Landslide (Sandman)
Hammerhead (Rhino)
Body Doulbe (Chameleon)
Volt (Shocker. Or Electro. Doesn’t make a big difference)

Sometimes all you need to flesh out a world, are a few espy pastiche homages. 😀

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Fantasy Folding Navaja Sevillana Blade for Pathfinder

The navaja is one of the first folding blades to gain widespread acceptance as a combat item, starting in regions of Spain, and was used in various eras as an openly carried utility knife, a trusted offensive weapon, a concealed choice for self-defense, and a highwayman’s tool of intimidation. While many different styles of navaja have existed, among the largest is the navaja sevillana, which commonly had a blade at least eight inches long, a locking ratchet, and a long curved handle. The blade was generally razor sharp (and may have evolved from folding straight razors), and when opened the overall length could easily run 16 to 20 inches.

This is a fantasy version of the navaja sevillana, appropriate for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaigns that mix rapiers, firearms, and printing presses. It doesn’t attempt to be a historic representation, and more than the game’s versions of longswords or falchions are, and though inspired by a real-world weapon it is not intended to reflect on any of the social, ethnic, or national groups that have used navajas throughout history.

(Martial) Light Melee Weapons
Name    Cost       Dmg (S) (M)        Crit         Weight  Type      Special
Navaja    50 gp     1d3        1d5*        18-20, x2             1 lb.     S     Deadly, finesse

*Numerous companies, including Impact Miniatures, now make d5 dice, but it you don’t have one (or don’t like them) you can treat this as 1d4+1 (and thus if you have a +1 STR bonus to damage, you’d roll 1d4+2)

Deadly: When you use this weapon to deliver a coup de grace, it gains a +4 bonus to damage when calculating the DC of the Fortitude saving throw to see whether the target of the coup de grace dies from the attack. The bonus is not added to the actual damage of the coup de grace attack.
Finesse: You can use the Weapon Finesse feat (and ability that work with weapon you can use with that feat) with a navaja sevillana.

Navaja Sevillana: If it is folded, you can conceal and draw a concealed navaja sevillana (using Sleight of Hand) in the same amount of time it takes to draw or sheath a normal weapon, and you gain a +4 bonus to Sleight of Hand checks to conceal it. If you are proficient with a navaja sevillana, you can open it and shut it as part of the same action used to draw or sheath it (even from concealment). If a navaja sevillana has the broken condition, its locking ratchet does not work, and it cannot be used to make attacks.

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Starfinder Roleplaying Game Monster Design Notes—Spellcasting Creatures, Western Rakshasa

We’re going to take a pause from the Multiclass ThemeType rules, to pick up a thread from a few weeks ago when I was discussing how to make creatures and NPCs using the Starfinder Roleplaying Game monster creation rules. I already did two entries in this series using Really Wild West creatures as examples—the grizzly boar for the combatant array, and the rattle-cat for the expert array.

Now, it’s time to talk about the spellcaster array, and for that, we need something special.

Western Rakshasa

Rakshasa are native outsiders—that is they are inhuman creatures of supernatural power, that are born in and native to the mortal world. They are among the more powerful and feared threats of Southern Asia, and plagued that section of the world of the Really Wild West for centuries before anyone in Europe or the Americas knew anything at all about them. Rakshasa are generally born to a rakshasa part and a humanoid parent and few rakshasas immigrated out of South Asian, keeping their population elsewhere low. But there is a second circumstance where a rakshasa can be born—when human parents are exposed to great evil and cruelty and kept away from holy places, practices, and people, sometimes an evil reincarnated spirit to drawn to their misery, and born as a rakshasa in a concealed guide as the same race as its parents.

Sadly, the fact that the United States Naturalization Law of March 26, 1790 denied citizenship to all immigrants not of white lineage, and most South Asians who were brought to North America served as low-paid farm workers, often lead to situations where the immigrants were forbidden to practice their own religions, suffered cruelty and evils committed upon them, and were even sometimes imprisoned and used for experimentation by Caucasians seeking to gain more power through the expanding arts of theosophy and mad science.

As a result, in the mid 1800s, the first natural born western rakshasa began to appear.

Such creatures are natural deceivers, planners, leaders, and generally power hungry. They learn how to manipulate social systems to their advantage while just children, and are not above arranging horrible fates for their communities in order to be found as “lone survivors,” and adopted by wealthier, more affluent families, While some settle in to urban areas to gain political and economic power in increasingly large cities, others prefer to head to the frontier, to carve their own empires out of the wilderness as cattle barons, marshals, regional governors, and even the unquestioned leaders of outlaw gangs.

While an infant rakshasa might be less powerful than the CR 5 given here as a minimum, such a creature would never risk exposing itself. Any rakshasa willing to operate in any open manner is at least a young adult, and no less than CR 5. Western rakshasa are no more powerful or organized than their South Asian brethren, but they have grown to be one of the greatest threats any Really Wild West adventurer might encounter.

In their natural form, rakshasa have the appearance of anthropomorphic animals, usually predators, and have some joint or joints backwards from a human. The use of  tiger-headed rakshasa with backwards-curling hands in the spectacularly popular 1897 Mark Twain novel “The Chronical of Young Rakshasa,” where Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer encounter and must drive away a powerful Satan-like figure (who claims to be the “youngest of 44 master rakshasa”), has caused the common view of rakshasa to be exclusively this version, to the point that some rakshasas take the form when wishing to impress, even if they actually have different animals-features and reversed joints.

Rakshasa Gunslinger - JEB

Building and Defining a Spellcaster

Spellcaster arrays are for creatures that should first and foremost be seen as users of supernatural powers. They gain either spell-like abilities or spellcasting automatically, allowing them to use such powers for offense and defense, while still having other special abilities to make them unique and interesting. Anytime you are making an NPC mystic or technomancer, you want to use the spellcaster array and the appropriate class graft, in addition to any creature graft.

But in this case, we’re going to write up creatures that have innate spellcasting abilities, as natural to them as their unholy blood.

As with the creatures we designed in the previous entries, we want to create a template graft, that a GM can use to create rakshasas of any appropriate CR. So, the final template graft looks like this:

WESTERN RAKSHASA TEMPLATE GRAFT (CR 5+)

Required Array: Spellcaster
Required Type: Outsider
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Size: Medium
Speed: 40 feet
Ability Score Modifiers: Dexterity, Charisma, Strength
Special Abilities: 0-Spellcasting (mystic and technomancer). 1- Change Shape (see below). Damage Reduction (equal to CR x 1.5, bypassed by good). 3- Detect thoughts (see below). 4-Spell Resistance (equal to CR +15).
Key Spells: 1st charm person, magic missile; 2nd caustic conversion, invisibility, 3rd arcing surge, holographic image
Skills: Master– Bluff; Good-Diplomacy, Sense Motive
Attacks: Multiattack melee (bite, two claws), melee weapon, ranged weapon.
Detect Thoughts (Su): A rakshasa can detect thoughts as per the spell of the same name. It can suppress or resume this ability automatically at the beginning of its turn. When a rakshasa uses this ability, it always functions as if it had spent three rounds concentrating and thus gains the maximum amount of information possible. A creature can resist this effect with a successful Will save.

To make this monster, a GM just takes the spellcaster array for the desired CR of the end monster, adjusts the numbers as noted for the outsider type, and enters those values in a stat block as directed by the template graft.

There are a few things to look out for with rakshasa. First, since they sue the spellcaster array, they get spellcasting automatically, and you need to pick their spells known. The template graft offers some “key spells,” but that’s largely just to save you time and give you a feel for what a typical rakshasa of this type is likely to focus on. Feel free to deviate from this list if you wish. Also, the stat block doesn’t bother with 1st level spells, because the rakshasa is unlikely to run out of higher-level options during a typical fight. This is the same logic for giving it unlimited 2nd-level spells per day. If for some reason you need to know exactly how many lower-level spells an npc has, check out the rules in Starfinder Pact Worlds.

Secondly, as a tool user, the Raksha needs weapons. The easy options is to pick melee and ranged weapons that are about 10th item level. The same applies if you plan to give them armor, though rakshasa don’t really need it, and it doesn’t impact their AC anyway (you give a creature armor if it makes sense for the creature to have armor, or if you want to use it as PC loot, of if you want them to have an armor upgrade—which may also serve as loot). Since this is a Really Wild West rakshasa I gave it a damascus repeated shotgun and limited it’s pistols to 6 rounds each, but you could swap that out

Finally, I gave them multiattack. That allows them to forgo using a melee weapon to make a series of natural melee attacks. Read the multiattack rules on how to figure out their damage and attack rolls, but this only matters if they take a full attack routine. They can just use their melee weapon to make a normal attack.

Here’s what a CR 10 western Rakshasa (one of the most dangerous things in all of the Really Wild West) looks like, for example.

Rakshasa, Western                                 CR 10          [SPELLCASTER]
XP 9,600 each
LE Medium Outsider (evil, native, rakshasa, shapechanger)
Init +8 Senses darkvision (60 ft.); Perception +19
DEFENSE     HP 140
EAC 22; KAC 23
Fort +9; Ref +11; Will +13
Defensive Abilities DR 15/good
OFFENSE
Speed 40 ft.
Melee +17 microserrated longsword (2d10+13, critical bleed 2d6)
Multiattack bite +11 (1d10+13 P), 2 claws +10 (1d10+13 S)
Ranged +19 damascus repeater shotgun (3d8+10 P) or
+19 elite revolving pistol (3d6+10 P)
Technomancer Spells Known (CL 10th) DC 18
  4th (3/day)greater invisibility, mind thrust (DC 22)
3rd (6/day)
arcing surge (DC 21), charm monster (DC 21), holographic image (DC 21),
    lesser resistance armor
2nd (at will)
caustic conversion (ranged attack +18), invisibility
STATISTICS
Str +3; Dex +8; Con +3; Int +1; Wis +1; Cha +8
Skills Bluff +24, Diplomacy +19, Sense Motive +19
Languages Aklo, Common, Infernal
Other Abilities change shape
Gear Damascus repeater shotgun with 12 slugs and 12 shot, two elite revolving pistols with 36 rounds, microserrated longsword, 2 mk II serums of healing
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Change Shape (Su): As a standard action, a rakshasa can physically alter its form to look like any Medium humanoid or outsider, as long as it has seen a similar creature before. It can attempt to either mimic a specific creature or look like a general creature of any humanoid subtype it is familiar with. The rakshasa gains a +10 bonus to Disguise checks to appear as a creature of the type and subtype of the new form. The DC of the rakshasa’s Disguise check is not modified as a result of altering major features or for disguising themselves as a creature of a different type. The rakshasa can remain in an alternate form indefinitely (or until it takes another form).

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