ShadowFinder is a concept for a Modern Urban Fantasy setting using heavily-modified Starfinder.
The idea behind ShadowFinder is that there used to be magic in our world, but it went away when the Gods of Old Egypt left to go a place Beyond. Then there was no magic to speak of, until a group of mystic champions arrived in Siberia during WWI to kill Rasputin, and accidentally left a few magic devices behind.
Now it’s the Modern era, and magic is common enough that most governments and many international organizations have at least one department that knows about it, and as needed deals with it. But the greatest protection a mundane creature can have is to believe magic does not exist, and so these in-the-know groups are literally protecting the world by keeping magic a secret. Further, just as vampires cannot be seen in mirror, they (and all magic effects and creatures) cannot clearly be recorded or sensed by any camera, film, or recording device, but are vulnerable to atomic weapons. So magic threats tend to try to stay out of sight, so they don’t force the whole world to grapple with their existence and potentially over-react with devastating power.
Both sides work to keep magic in the Shadows, and to find sources, allies, threats, and lost relics in those shadows to bolster their own side in a never-ending was keep just out of sight.
Classes would be drawn from various sources. Soldiers and operative from the core rulebook, certainly, with little change. Likely mechanics, but with neither drones nor exo-cortexes as common options, replaced with some other variable class feature. No solarions or vanguards at all, but maybe sword saints. Warlocks and witches seem more appropriate than mystics or technomancers, though it’d be a shame to not have some kind of modern-device-focused spellcasters — again variant classes might do the trick. Biohackers are out, witchwarpers likely in. The precog is a definite maybe, depending on how it turns out.
Weapons would scale differently, with an equipment list that didn’t assume you got higher- and higher-level weapons, but instead use weapon damage benchmarks to scale up the damage a character does as they gain levels, allowing things like pistols, shotguns, and rifles to retain utility even at extremely high levels.
In a standard characters would at least initially be part of one of the groups that monitor, track, and if needed neutralize supernatural threats, and action would primarily take place in wilderness areas, abandoned towns, lonely highways, and defunct sewers, basements, and subway lines. As players got used to how the ShadowFinder world worked, some scenes might burst into the bright light of day, only to be misconstrued by the public (and maybe even misremembered by witnesses) as gas main explosions, terrorist attacks, or herds of feral hogs.
Plots could include locking down viral zombie outbreaks before they turn into zombie apocalypses, retrieving the book that got moved to a university’s accessible library that is bring people’s nightmares to life, undead serial killers that haunt campgrounds, tracking down wererat colonies that are feeding on the homeless, rescuing student filmmakers from nighthags in the woods, capturing souls that have escaped hell, slaying evil clown demons, and racing against time to beat cultists to the artifacts of power in the bottom of dungeons built in the ancient era to prevent them from falling into mortal hands. Along the way other weirdnesses might be encounters, such as cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers, giant alligators in the sewers, giant cockroaches mimicking humans, and genetically engineered giant spiders.
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I am a huge fan of Post-Apocalypse games. That may be why I wrote for Sword and Sorcery’s Gamma World line, and d20 Apocalypse.
The world ended. A few times. But for living memory, there were two Great Cities — Alpha, a land of ancient technology and highly-educated people living in a gentle, safe, totalitarian Bubble; and Beta — A huge, sprawling rough-and-tumble metroplex of rivers and bridges and canyons where mutants and rogues lived and traded and taught and sometime killed each other, but were free of most outside influences. Both had occasional visitors from a Third Great City — Gamma — but no one knew where ti was or what it was really like.
The Omega Invasion was unlike anything that had been seen in centuries. New horrors, new machines, new creatures, wiped out Alpha and Beta. The OI seemed poised to wipe out all life… until the Gamma Strike, which wrecked their bases and leaders, and left them in a scattered wreck of damaged robots and crazed ex-soldiers and experiments.
But there are Omega Invasion forces left, and they are trying to rebuild their armies. So heroes must seek out Gamma, and see if it can be convinced to once again save the world of the GammaFinders.
Characters start at 4th level. The GammaFinder World is a harsh place, so we start with more competent characters. And that means you are just one level of a nice ability score bump!
Not happening, don’t worry about them.
Every character gets an emphasis. There are three available at the moment.
Mutations: Select one item of your character level -1, or two of your level -3. You gain the abilities of those items as mutations. If they use batteries or ammo, you can use the ability as often each day as one full load of ammo or batteries. As you gain levels, you can change these items. When you gain levels you can improve your mutations to higher-levels of the same thing, or switch to entirely different items your mutations emulate, to represent ongoing mutation.
Relic: Select one item of your character level +1 or less. You have an ancient piece of tech that does what that item does, though you can change its appearance. If it has batteries or ammo, you refill them each time you spend Resolve to regain SP following a 10-minute rest. If your relic is lost or destroyed, you get a replacement when you gain your next level. You can change your relic at each character level, to represent the shifting effects of this ancient technology.
Talent: You get one bonus feat at every odd level. You must meet the prerequisites. Alternatively, at each off level you can gain one additional spell slot of the highest-level spell you can cast at that level. If you select this latter choice, you are likely described as a “psionic” or “witch.”
You get one item of your level (Major Item), one of your level-1 (Moderate Item), one of your level -2 (Minor Item), and one of your level -3 (Incidental Item). If it’s a consumable item, you can replace it when used at the beginning of each day (you may be able to make a new one, or find a new one, or have something that produces refills for it once per day).
These items don’t go up in level automatically, and if lost are not replaced.
Level Advancement and Treasure
You gain a level every 12 encounters. Over 6 encounters, you expect (on average) to get one Major, one Moderate, one Minor, and three Incidental items. If you have the ranks in a skill needed to make an item, you can convert an items of the same type into a different item, once. Every time after that you convert and item, it loses one item level.
That’s it! It’s otherwise just Starfinder as a quick-and-easy PA setting!
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Welcome StarBarians! You are the heroic defenders of the world of Barbarth, the most important Science-Fantasy world in the universe! You must oppose Lichlor, the undead technomancer tyrant, and his hoard of villainous themed villains.
StarBarians is a silly, high-action campaign/setting hack for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.
(All art by the spectacular Jacob Blackmon!)
You are 2nd level. You’re never going to gain any levels until the very last adventure (whenever the GM says that is), when you pop up to 4th and get a new costume! This is a fast and silly game, there’s no need to worry about things like experience points. Or continuity. Or whether your feet are in sync with the rate the ground is going by.
Before racial modifiers, your ability scores are one 18, one 16, one 14, one 12, one 10, and one 8. Alternatively you can have one 20, four 10s, and one 8, or three 14s and three 12s. Assign as desired, but if you have an 18 or 20 in any ability score, no one else should. Be adults, work it out.
You get all the benefits of any one suit of armor of your choice that is 3rd level or less. You aren’t WEARING that armor, of course. You’re a StarBarian! You run around in a fur loincloth or (for some reason) skintight Victorian suit. But you get the benefits. If you want an armor upgrade, pick it as an item below, and just strap it on. It’s fine. Jump jets over fur boots is perfect for StarBarians.
You get ONE item of your choice of 5th level or less. this is your THEMED ITEM. You can never lose it for longer than the duration of 1 fight. It should have a name. Lichlor and his minions will try to steal it periodically, They never succeed. This item can be a suit of armor if you like, in which case you get its benefits instead of your baseline 3rd level armor when you wear it.
You get THREE other items of your choice of 3rd level or less.
You get 9 other items of your choice of 1st level.
If you selected a ranged weapon, its item level is 2 lower. All weapons with usage above 1 never run out of ammo or batteries. All weapons and items with a usage of 1 or that are 1-shot count as 3 items, but are fully restored at the beginning of each game session.
Each game session you can use the StarBarian Power to do two spectacular things (two different things, one each). This is because you have a StarBarian Stone. Lichlor is always trying to steal StarBarian stones. He never succeeds, and you can’t lose yours. Ever.
Starbarian Powers are based on class, can be performed whenever an appropriate roll or even occurs, and take no time.
Treat a failed Int/Wis/Cha skill or ability check as if you had rolled a 20 on your d20.
Allow an ally who failed any d20 roll or check to treat it as if they had rolled a 15 on their d20.
Succeed at any one Engineering check
Drone: Allow your drone who failed any d20 roll or check to treat it as if they had rolled a 15 on their d20.
Exocortex: Treat any failed attack roll as if you had rolled a 15 on your d20.
Treat any failed saving throw of yours as if you had rolled a 20 on your d20.
Restore yourself or one ally to full health, ending all conditions.
Treat a failed Str/Dec/Con skill or ability check as if you had rolled a 20 on your d20.
Force a foe who succeeded on any d20 roll or check to treat it as if they had rolled a 5 on their d20.
Take an extra round of action.
Solar Weapon: Treat any one solar weapon attack that failed as if it had automatically hit and done maximum damage. Apply any critical effect, though don’t double your damage.
Solar Armor: Negate all effects of any one successful attack against you.
Treat any failed attack roll as if you had rolled a natural 20 on your d20.
Replace any one damage roll you make, or that is made against you, with either maximum or minimum damage (your choice)
Force a foe to treat any successful saving throw against an effect of yours as if they had rolled a 5 on their d20.
End any one magic or technological effect with a duration.
Lichlor is a 4th level Technomancer with a +2 bonus to every roll he makes. But he always does minimum damage, and the duration of all his effects is a maximum of 1d4 rounds. No matter how often you defeat him, he always escapes.
His Themed Minions are CR 2 NPCs. They always escape between adventures.
No one ever dies. If you should have died, you are just unconscious.
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