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Monday Bad Idea: Gelatinous Ghoul

Monday Bad Idea

Monday Bad Ideas are periodic, and not fully fleshed out. because, you know, they’re bad ideas.

A gelatinous ghoul is a rare from of ooze undead that generally occurs when some object an undead is connected to and which allows it to reform after destruction (sometimes the phylactery of a weak rich, or an object tied to a ghost’s reason for existence) is consumed by a gelatinous cube, but not destroyed, When the undead’s essence reforms around the object, the necromantic energies infuse the square ooze, creating a hybrid mix of gel and corpse.

Gelatinous ghouls generally look like a skull or severed head floating in a cube of transparent snot, though sometimes only a single hand or a glowing green tibia is sign of the deathly influence. Gelatinous ghouls have all the powers and immunities of both the ooze and the undead, and any ability that affects only one or the other has only a 50% chance of affecting it.

On the other hand they lack appendages, and are generally pretty ticked off (though a few ex-lich gelatinous ghouls are telekinetic, and describe the new state as “surprisingly comfy”).

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Spring Elves

Spring Elves

Spring elves are between 25 and 110 years old—physically adult, but still in what staid and traditional elven society considers their “Spring Years,” too emotional and impulsive to be allowed to leave the safety and education of the home. They are essentially eternal teenagers, sure of their own intellect and ability, but largely incapable of considering the long-term consequences of their actions—a particularly troubling trait for the long-lived race. Spring elves are always, always supervised and watched over by older, most experienced elves, and kept from adventure, and as much as possible kept from any decision-making. While spring elves are physically and mentally capable of the same kind of training and education as young humans, these decades are a time when they are so wild, so free of consideration, that over the course of eight decades they only manage as much preparation for life as a typical human manages by age 16.

However, in rare circumstances, a spring elf lacks any of the careful parenting and sheltering from life the races has learned from long experience is necessary to prevent the just-post-adolescent elves from setting the world on fire. For example, the Elves of Solstice are an entire race rules by spring elves, given power and authority with no sense of responsibility. And the gods help everyone else.

Spring Elf

Standard Racial Traits

Ability Score Racial Traits: Spring elves are nimble and amazingly likable, and still have their youthful resilience, which is the only reason they aren’t all killed for weeklong benders and experimental magic, but they lack the intellectual focus of properly raised, adult elves. They gain +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, and –2 Wisdom.

Size: Most spring elves are Medium creatures and thus have a 30 foot base speed and receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size. Some are still size small, and have all the normal bonuses and penalties for that size and a base move of 20 feet.

Type: Elves are Humanoids with the elf subtype.

Languages: Spring elves begin play speaking Common and Elven. Those with high Intelligence scores are drawn to “fun” languages and can choose from the following: Abyssal, Aklo, Cyclops, Dark Folk, Draconic, Gnome, Necril, Protean, and Sylvan. See the Linguistics skill page for more information about these languages.

Keen Senses: Spring elves receive a +2 racial bonus on Perception checks.

Impulsive: Spring elves gain a +2 bonus to Initiative checks, but they cannot delay an action (though they can ready), and take twice as long to take 20 on skill checks (as they are constantly distracted).

Elven Proclivities: Spring elves are immune to magic sleep effects, but take a -2 saving throw penalty against enchantment spells and effects. They gain a +2 bonus to charisma checks, and to the save DCs of their own enchantment spells and effects.

Low-Light Vision: Spring elves can see twice as far as humans in conditions of dim light.

Reckless Abandon: A spring elf can reroll a single attack roll, ability check, skill check, or caster level check (but not concentration check) per encounter, immediately after determining the result of a failed roll. However, if the spring elf does this, the GM earns an impulsive token. The GM can later spend a token to force the spring elf to move to anyplace within the spring elf’s base move that is not obviously hazardous, as the spring elf is overcome by an impulse. This can begin a fight, set off a hidden trap and so on, though the spring elf gains +4 to AC and a +4 to saves against the initial effect of anything set off by this impulsive move.

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Relic Masters: Magic for the Spell-less

Though it is far from universal, there are several common styles of Pathfinder RPG play that cause groups to decide classes that lack any spellcasting ability are at a disadvantage, and that the disadvantage grows as other classes gain increasingly powerful spells. This is especially frustrating for players who have a character concept for someone who shouldn’t have spells (spellcasting would invalidate the character concept), but seem to then be penalized with fewer options in many encounters due to their lack of access to magic.

Item Mastery Feats are a great way to add magic abilities to characters that don’t gain spells or spell-like options from their class features. In a nutshell, they allow characters to force magic items to do things the item isn’t normally able to do. Since the Use Magic Device skill proves that spells are necessary to use magic items, and numerous classes can pick up just a little spellcasting without being a spellcasting class (such as minor magic from rogues), the idea that there is a technique to manipulate magic in new ways to do new things without being a spellcaster is in keeping with the suggested metaphyscis of the Pathfinder rules.

Item Mastery Feats can patch one or two holes in a character’s options easily, but using them to alter how nonspell classes play in general requires some new options. Some of those should be limited to characters who really focus on these feats, which is nromally rep[resented with the relic master archetype. However, that archetype can only be taken by fighters, and there are a lot of classes that don’t gain spells.

So, step one is to give rules for the relic master archetype to be usable by every class with no automatic access to spells, extracts, or similar broad-utility magic options. That means we need replacement options for the relic master’s powers at the appropriate levels for the barbarian, brawler, cavalier, gunslinger, kineticist, monk, rogue, slayer, swashbuckler, and vigilante.

Below are the rules for a “More Universal” Relic Master, that also tweaks the archetype itself to fix weaknesses that have been found in play since the archetype was published.

“More Universal” Relic Master

Skills

The relic master receives Knowledge (arcana) and Use Magic Device as class skills, but doesn’t receive two class skills of the base class, as noted below: as class skills.

Barbarian: Handle Animal and Ride

Brawler: Handle Animal and Ride

Cavalier: Bluff and Swim

Fighter: Handle Animal and Ride

Gunslinger: Handle Animal and Ride

Kineticist: Intimidate (already receives Use Magic Device)

Monk: Intimidate and Knowledge (history)

Rogue: Intimidate (already receives Use Magic Device)

Slayer: Intimidate and Knowledge (geography)

Swashbuckler: Intimidate and Ride

Vigilante: Knowledge (engineering) (already receives Use Magic Device)

Improved Item Mastery (Su)

At 3rd level, once per day, a relic master can use an item mastery feat she knows with a magic item that doesn’t have an appropriate spell in its construction requirements. The magic item must meet all other requirements of the item mastery feat. Alternatively, if she is using a magic item with an appropriate spell in its construction requirements, she can use an item mastery feat without it counting against the feat’s total uses per day. She can use this ability one additional time per day at 7th, 11th, and 15th levels.

This ability replaces or modifies a class feature gained at or before 3rd level depending on the relic master’s base class, as detailed below:

Barbarian: Trap sense

Brawler: Maneuver training

Cavalier: Cavalier’s charge. (The cavalier still receives mighty charge and supreme charge at their normal levels)

Fighter: Armor training

Gunslinger: Any 2 of the following 3 deeds: gunslinging initiative, pistol-whip, utility shot. Anytime the gunslinger gains new deeds from any source in the future, she may choose to forgo the new deed in favor of gaining one of these deeds.

Kineticist: Infusion gained at 3rd level

Monk: Still mind

Rogue: Trap sense

Slayer: The slayer does not gain the slayer talent normally gained at 2nd level.

Swashbuckler: Any 2 of the following 3 deeds: kip-up, menacing swordplay, precise strike. Anytime the swashbuckler gains new deeds from any source in the future, she may choose to forgo the new deed in favor of gaining one of these deeds.

Vigilante: Unshakeable

Relic Channeler (Su)

At 5th level, a relic master can increase the potency of a magic item she wields by investing it with a bit of her vitality as a swift action. If the item is armor, a shield, or a weapon, its enhancement bonus increases by 1 to a maximum of +5. If the magic item creates a spell or has a save DC, its effective caster level increases by 1. The bonus gained increases by +1 at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter, to a maximum of +4.

A relic master can use this ability for a number of minutes per day equal to 1 + her Constitution modifier (minimum 1 minute). This duration doesn’t need to be consecutive, but it must be used in 1-minute increments.

This ability replaces or modifies a class feature gained at or before 5th level depending on the relic master’s base class, as detailed below:

Barbarian: Rage powers gained at 4th and 12th level.

Brawler: Brawler’s strike or close weapon mastery (once this decision is made, it cannot be changed)

Cavalier: Banner

Fighter: Weapon training

Gunslinger: Gun training

Kineticist: Metakinesis.

Monk: Purity of body

Rogue: Sneak attack is 1d6 lower than normal for a rogue of the same level.

Slayer: Has 1 fewer studied targets than normal for a slayer of the same level

Swashbuckler: Swashbuckler weapon training

Vigilante: Startling appearance

Improvised Item Mastery (Su)

At 19th level as a full-round action, the relic master can select one item mastery feat whose prerequisites she meets but that she doesn’t already have. She gains access to this feat, though she can’t use it as a prerequisite for other feats or options. If she selects a different item mastery feat, she loses access to her previous use of improvised item mastery and any magic effect created with it ends immediately. Any daily uses of a selected improvised item mastery feat count against all improvised mastery feats selected in the same day.

This ability replaces or modifies a class feature gained at or before 19th level depending on the relic master’s base class, as detailed below:

Barbarian: Damage reduction does not increase to 5/–

Brawler: AC bonus does not increase to +4 at 18th level

Cavalier: Challenges does not increase to 7/day

Fighter: Armor mastery

Gunslinger: Any one deed gained at this level is not gained. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed.

Kineticist: Metakinetic master

Monk: Empty body

Rogue: Rogue talented not gained at 8th level

Slayer: Improved quarry

Swashbuckler: Any one deed gained at this level is not gained. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed.

Vigilante: Social talent

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Turning Down Work is Part of the Job

I turned down an offer of work today. On a cool project I’d love to do, too.

Now, this is unquestionably the right decision for me. I am behind on a lot of projects, and booked out for months and months on Starfinder opportunities and other things. I can’t, responsibly, take on anything else right now. When I had a thin wedge of availability, I filled it with high-priority items I think will pay a lot of career dividends, and even that was as much excitement as smart planning (though it did get my Business managers approval).

But my Freelancer Reflexes remain strong. The idea of someone offering to pay me to make games, and declining, rubs me the wrong way and often sets of waves of near-panic. I mean, if I turn down work, people will stop offering to me, right? And then I’ll have huge gaps in my production, and everyone will forget who I am, and I won’t be able to get any work, and I’ll go broke and starve.

Yes, it’s not rational. But it is part of what drove me for so many years.

But being a GOOD freelancer, even a good creative employee, means giving the people paying you their money’s worth. And that means you can’t take on so much work that you either rush any of it, or end up not being able to complete it on time, or maybe at all.

Those are hard lessons to learn. Most freelancers I know, myself definitely included, make the mistake of agreeing to too much early on, and then re-make that mistake from time to time.

You can’t do everything. You need some down time. More work will come. And, in my experience, telling someone that you’d love to do a project, but right now you are overbooked, never causes them to write you off forever. Frequently, producers appreciate that you know your limits, and make notes to contact you for other projects later on.

So yes sometimes turning down work is part of the job.

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Fixing the 15 Minute Adventuring Day

The Issue

For people who haven’t run into the term, the “15 minute adventuring day” is a phenomenon where players in RPGs with strong resource-management element (such as spell casters in Pathfinder and similar games) that reset daily, often use some of their most powerful options, then decide not to go forward with any more encounters until they have regained everything.

How often a group of adventurers gets to rest is hugely variable to play style, and a huge part of the question of balance between casting classes and nowcasting or limited-casting classes.

But… there’s no reason restoration of what are after all MAGIC abilities needs to be tied to sleep., Maybe you get spells back once per week. maybe you recharge your mystic powers only when the right conjunctions occur. Maybe you need to see your holy powers thwart evil before you have the righteousness built up to restore those abilities.

In short we make these things “per day” because that is how games do it, and because it’s easy, not because there is any internal logic to it.

So if it’s an issue… change it.

The Metaphysics

Some players want to have an in-world justification for any rule, especially any rule that restricts their existing power curve and tactics. So, give them one.

Magic does not follow a set schedule. Holy power isn’t tracked on a punch clock. Even your amazing extraordinary powers require the circumstances for them be JUST right, and that doesn’t happen just because the sun went down and came up again.

These things are tied to fate, destiny, and the ebb and flow of eldritch powers that are unseen and barely understood.

You only recover your daily abilities and spells if you have properly slept, as per the normal rules, because you need to be rested and ready when the Right Moment comes. And if you prepare spells, you still need to take an hour to do so once the Cosmic Well of Mystic Might refills.

But instead of happening every day? That happens when Cosmic Conjunctions and the Destiny of Living things has come to a Juncture.

The Rules

Cosmic Conjunctions? Also known as every 3d3 encounters. On average between 3 and 9 major things happen to characters between recharges, and they don’t know exactly when the Big Recharge is coming.

Encounters 2 more more above your APL count as two. Encounters 1 under your APL count as 1/2, and those 2 or more under your APL don’t count at all. The GM determines how many encounters it’ll take in secret once you hit a reset, and tracks how many encounters you have had since then.

Groups with strong ties track this as a group, but the GM may choose to track individuals separately as the GM prefers.

No wizard knows the hour of the Grand Conjunction that refills HER spells. No cleric can say exactly when the will of the gods renews them. It happens when it happens.

Until then, you just need to husband your resources, and no there’s no point in going home and resting up. If you don’t seek your destiny? Then destiny won’t reward you with power.

So you might as well keep seeking well past 15 minutes into your day.

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Spell: Minor Miracle

It always seemed odd to me that there’s limited wish before wish, but nothing like it at 7th level for clerics. I mean, we have the term minor miracle, why not use it? But since miracle works a little differently than wish, and doesn’t always have a material component cost, you need to be careful what options you give minor miracle.

Minor Miracle

School evocation; Level cleric 7
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S; see text
Range see text
Target, Effect, or Area see text
Duration see text
Saving Throw see text; Spell Resistance yes

You don’t so much cast a minor miracle as request one. You state what you would like to have happen and request that your deity (or the power you pray to for spells) intercede.

A minor miracle can do any of the following things.

Duplicate any cleric spell in a domain or subdomain granted by your deity of 6th level or lower.
Duplicate any other cleric spell of 5th level or lower.
Duplicate any other spell of 4th level or lower
Undo the harmful effects of certain spells, such as feeblemind or insanity.
Have any effect whose power level is in line with the above effects.
Alternatively, a cleric can make a more powerful request. Casting such a minor miracle costs the cleric 1,500 gp in powdered diamond because of the powerful divine energies involved. Examples of especially powerful minor miracles of this sort could include the following:

Swinging the tide of a battle in your favor by raising a fallen ally to continue fighting.
Duplicating anything that can be accomplished by a limited wish.
Moving yourself and one ally, with all your and their gear, from one plane to a specific locale through planar barriers with no chance of error.
Delaying an earthquake, volcanic eruption, flood, or other major natural disaster for a number of hours.
In any event, a request that is out of line with the deity’s (or alignment’s) nature is refused.

A duplicated spell allows saving throws and spell resistance as normal, but the save DCs are as for a 7th-level spell. When a minor miracle spell duplicates a spell with a material component that costs more than 25 gp, you must provide that component.

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Worldbuilding Week: Merothian Emnities

We’re continuing Worldbuilding week with a look at who the Merothians as a group hate, and who hates them. they say you can judge people by their enemies, so this both helps form a background a player can draw from, and gives guidance for things like bane weapons and favored enemies. It also helps a GM know what to use for “Merothian” combat encounters.

We already did a brief history of Merothia here, discussed Merothian traits characters could take here, and looked a Merothian culture here.

Merothian Enmities

Merothia was once a powerful coalition of proud baronies, feared by its foes and respected by its allies. Free Knights were well-known champions of freedom and liberty, and honored in every city that looked toward the light.

Now, only dwarves still look at Merothia as anything other than a failed land, or at Merothians as anything other than peasants who proved they cannot manage (and do not deserve) self-rule.

Some Merothains are bitter about this. Others aren’t, but know that in lands outside their own they are likely to be seen as bumpkins, idiots, or worse small-minded villains who seek only to steal the silverware.

In the days of the High Barons of Morothia, the three great threats to peace were mountain giants, orc raiders, and the garm. The epic tails of clashed against these forces are still told around bowls of donnersop, and most of the few remaining relics of old Merothia are weapons carried into battle with names like Worlfsplitter or Jotunslayer. Orcs, in particular, often raided into once-peaceful Merothians settlements when the Baron Kings fell, and though that was generations ago the memory of the Merothians survivors runs deep.

Because of the constant wars with orc tribes, many Merothian communities dislike and mistrust orcs and half-orcs, especially those from the Raudak. Though the orcblooded people of the Raudak have no direct connection to the orcs who plundered Merothia at the end of the Age of Tyrants, the fact the Raudak hold many Merothian towns as protectorates and has entirely taken over the few major Merothian cities near it causes current-day Merothians to heap the hate and fear of ancient orc tribes onto the modern-day Raudaki.

Though the old Jotun mountain giants appear to be gone, their degenerate offspring the stone giants and hill giants now control much of the Basalt Mountains. Such giants can raid with impunity into some Merothians towns, and are a constant threat to others. The orc tribes that answer to them, and the orroc who share giant blood, are much more likely to be actually encountered but the distrust, fear and hate for all these groups runs deep.

As the Njor often raid down from the north and clear have some Jotun blood, most Merothians are suspicious of groups of Njor. However, the fact that Njor Giantslayers often travel into the central Basalt Mountains seeking to kill off specific storied villains of gaintkind cause many Merothians to appreciate the value of a friendly Njor. A single Njor, or a couple of Njor travelling with other races, are more likely to be viewed in friendly terms, at least until livestock begin to go missing.

Though true garm are extremely rare since the Age of Tyrants, their close cousins the worgs and winter wolves remain threats throughout Merothia. If anything these canine creatures hate Merothians even more than the Merothians hate them, and worg shamans often gather small warbands together during storm season to destroy as many Merothians villages as possible.

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Worldbuilding Week: Merothian Cultural Touchstones

We’re continuing Worldbuilding week with a look at little cultural notes or “touchstones” that GMs and players alike can use to build on Merothian themes. We already did a brief history of Merothia here, and discussed Merothian traits characters could take here. While the history was pure prose (with no rules to speak of, and the traits were solidly in the realm of rules (though with flavor text, of course), these cultural touchstones include elements of both.

Merothian Cultural Touchstones

There are some common elements of Merothains society that cross the boundary of a single village or group. Some are tied to specific rules elements, but others are just ideas a GM can hang a story or encounter on, of a player can use to craft a particularly “Merothian” background.

Arming Sword

The legendary Free Knights of Merothia carried a distinctive blade known as an “arming sword.” Similar to a longsword, an arming sword has a shorter handle with a cruciform hilt and a large lozenge-shaped pommel. Classically, Merothian knights carried an arming sword for use with shields, and had a greatsword for use in situations where heavier blows were required. This set them apart from most other sword-using elite warriors of the era, who carried bastard swords and adjusted their grip as needed.

Arming swords act like longswords with the following exceptions:
*A Medium arming sword deals 2d4 damage (and arming swords were not normally crafted in any other size)

*Because it is designed to work best with one hand, attacks using two hands with an arming sword suffer a -1 penalty to confirm critical threats.
*Because it is so well balanced and offers a firm grip with one-handed attacks, critical hits with an arming sword deal 2 additional point of damage (after all other calculations).

Community Granna and Granther

Generally every Merothian community has an elder woman and elder man respectfully known as “Granna” and “Ganther” respectively. These are often, but not always a married couple, and some communities have more than one of each (generally resulting in using the gran honorific as a title, such as “Granna Maeth” and “Granna Hilde”). They often act as receptacles of oral lore, teachers and babysitters of the very young, and impartial, unofficial arbitrators of minor community arguments. Though not officially in positions of rulership, these are seen as town elders, and are generally included in any community planning meeting to their opinion is heard (though traditionally they don’t then weigh in on the right course of action, just give historical context and opinions based on their own experiences).

For Merothians being a Granna or a Granther is not explicitly about age, which is why they don’t automatically accord the same title to any centuries-old dwarf or elf they encounter. Instead, Granna and Granther are revered because they continue to survive despite having love the vitality of their prime, and must know act with the knowledge they are closer to death and less able to save themselves. This distinction is well understood by most dwarves, but is often lost on elves of Te Astra and Te Essar.

Donnersop

Whenever anyone hunts, farms, butchers, kills, weaves, tans, or otherwise crafts or gathers materials, scraps are given to Granna and Granther. If the scraps are edible, they are generally turned into a soup by one of the these two elders. If they are a fabric or covering, they are sewn or weaved into a quilt or shawl. If they are wood, they carved into something useful, or if metal adapted to a new purpose with a stick and rawhide.

Granna and Granther uses these items for their own upkeep, but also give them out as needed to families having trouble, or call for an even where a segment of the community comes and enjoys these patched- and stewed- together offerings.

Both the tradition of given scraps, and the materials made from them, are known as donnersop, a uniquely Merothain word. When offered up to a segment of the community for communal enjoyment, this also becomes a time when tales are told, history recited, old songs sung, and initial long-term plans discussed.

While character’s can’t normally “buy” donnersop, they can receive goods worth 1-5 gp or less as donnersop if they seem sufficiently destitute, and worth aiding. Meanwhile a character who donates as little as 1 sp a week of material to a communities donnersop stores gains a +2 circumstance bonus to Diplomacy checks to gather information in that Merothian community.

Weapon Inscriptions

Merothians often inscribe letters onto their weapons, a practive that dates back to the Free Knights of Old Merothia. These are usually letters in Celestial, though older traditions use letters in Fey, that list just the first letter of several words that are a phrase or motto important to the weapon user. Many famously use CMAS which refers to the ancient knight’s cry corie meroth aeter sang, Celestial for “The Heart of Merothia Bleeds Eternally,” a promise that the Free Knights would suffer any hardship to fight for freedom and justice. Current Merothains often don’t speak either Celestial or Fey, and may ask am Abthanian priest or a druid to translate a phrase meaningful to the individual into letters.

Those familiar that own an heirloom arming sword with such an inscruiption consider it an object that must be maintained, and given to a family member who has proven the willingness and ability to use it. Since Merothians communities often can’t afford to make new swords, the inscription tradition has been extended to the more common axes, spears, bows, and knives poorer Merothians depend on to protect themselves.

While most inscriptions are not magical, for 15% above the normal cost of a scroll, a magical inscription that functions precisely like a scroll can be etched onto a weapon as an inscription. This is normally only done by Merothian spellcasters with strong ties to Old Merothia, most often druids, Abthanian priests, and witches.

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Worldbuilding Week: Merothian Traits

We’re continuing Worldbuilding week (which started here) with a look at traits available to Merothian characters.

Merothian Ethnic Traits

These are all traits available to characters that are Merothian, and who were raised in Merothia or a neighboring region where it was known they were Merothian. These serve both as specific tweaks to character abilities that help players with Merothain PCs feel like their backgrounds matter, their very existance also help reinforce a culture and tone for Merothia in general.

Blessed are the Humble (Faith trait). Even the gods seem to know that Merothians have gotten a raw deal. If a divine spellcaster casts a spell with harmless in the saving throw or SR entry, treat that spellcaster’s level as being one higher when determining the spell’s effects 9including amount healed, duration, and so on).

Born to Serve (Race trait). Since the fall of the High barons, numerous groups (most often spellcasters from Te Essar) have made adjustments to Merothian bloodlines to make them better servants, often in an effort to prove Merothains are an inferior race of humanoids. Your family comes from such an altered bloodline. When you aid another in combat or with skills, your aid another bonus is +3 rather than +2. When you make an aid another check to help a creature with a humanoid subtype (other than human) you have never aided before, roll 1d20. If the result is a 20, this trait actually increases your aid another bonus to +4 for creatures of that subtype.

Distant Kin (Family trait). You have an extensive family of Merothian commoners. When in a settlement that has a population of at least 500 Merothians, in Merothia or a neighboring region, if you make a successful Diplomacy check to gather information you can find a distant cousin who may help you. Calculate how many followers you would have if you had the Leadership feat. This is the maximum number of cousins you can find over your career (though as your leadership score goes up, so do the potential number of cousins you are put in contact with). These cousins are randomly assigned npc class levels by the GM based on what follower slots you have remaining, are within one step of your alignment, and begin with an attitude of friendly.

Hard to Kill (Combat). Most Merothian families have more than one ancestor who survived outrageous wounds and odds to live long enough to have children. The trait for survival is often passed on. Add your character level to the negative number of hit points you must reach before dying.

Old Magic (Magic). There aren’t many Merothian spellcaster left, but tales of the Witch-Knights, Green Mages, and Holy Kirks make it clear there were once many eldritch traditions in Merothia. Some of that old lore has been passed down to you, allowing you to occasionally surprise a foe with a different way of doing things. Once per day when you cast a spell that is not the highest-level spell you can cast, and the foe succeeds at a saving throw, you can force the foe to reroll the saving throw. If the foe fails this second save the spell takes effect, though if the spell is not instantaneous its maximum duration is 1 round per 5 caster levels (minimum 1 round).

Used to It (Social trait). Things often suck for Merothians, and to survive they have had to simply learn to manage under harsh conditions. When you have a penalty of -2 or more that applies to d20 checks (such as attack rolls, skill checks, saving throws, and so on), as a move action you can improve that penalty by one for 1 round.

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Worldbuilding Week: Merothia

So, this week I am planning on putting up a set of four linked posts that are an example of how I like to combine game rules, broad mythology, and a selection of small details to build an element for an RPG campaign setting.

This week I’ll be going over Merothia, a region appropriate for PC origins and adventuring in a fairly typical fantasy-style Pathfinder RPG game. I’ll also be mentioning a lot of things that tie into Merothia but don’t get full write-ups just yet, which is also often how I expand a world — toss out details to players, and see which ones they find interesting enough to justify my spending more time on them.

Merothia

Once, Merothia was a series of 27 semi-independent baronies rules by he High Barons, who had significant autonomy in all local matters (and could even wage war on one another to a limited extent), but who all swore to obey a single Baron King in all dealings with foreigners. Merothians were fiercely independent and had strong dedication ot building a world that was “fair,” and it was often said “Twelve Merothians will starve rather than divide unevenly sliced bread.”

In the Age of Quests, this fierce independence generated numerous heroes and small bands that kept Merothia safe. During the Age of Tyrants, it lead to most of Merothia being conquered by the elven nation of Te Essar. Since the end of the Age of Tyrants, Te Essar’s near collapse and the rise of Te Astra and the Golemarium have left Merothia largely ununified.

Most regions of Merothia are now officially protectorates of some foreign power, but generally only those in the far west that answer to the Raudak and those in the south-east that are oppressed by Te Astra actually see any benefit for the taxes they periodically send to their distant foreign rulers. The notable exceptions to this are villages in north-central Merothia that have managed to become official Craft Homes to the dwarven Clan League, which enjoy significant advantages for their formal membership (though it is much more common for a Merothian town to have strong alliances with the league rather than be able to claim Craft Home status).

Merothian settlements that aren’t formal protectorates fall into a few broad categories. Some towns have powerful enough local rulers (usually a retired crusader, Njor raider, mid-level Tarsian merchant-prince, minor aething half-blood Te Astra or even Te Essar noble with casual support from their homelands, or someone who also happens to run a nearby Abthanian church or monastery) to maintain independence, though generally under restrictive rule that favors a small non-Merothian upper classes. Other towns and villages have agreements with varying levels of officialness with bandit bands, raiders, or monster packs.

Notable and well-known exceptions to this trend are the Free Harbor of Auvant, which uses the combination of its access to natural harbors and river routes and distance from any similar ports or major political entities to make enough money to buy mercenaries that keep its ruling council at least nominally in charge, and Whurrak, the mountain holdfast that carefully enforces equality for itself and the Merothian towns and villages that support it economically.

True Merothians rulership in the style of old may only still exist in far-off Presthor, if the storied last Merothian Free Barony (supposedly locked in an endless crusade that keeps its knights and nobles from returning to Merothia proper) even exists.

Merothians

Ethnically, Merothians are humans descended from the High Barons of Merothia, before that suzerain’s fall. They are generally typical in human appearance, with a trend toward light tan skin tones, darker hair and eye color, and thick shoulders, hips, wrists, and ankles. Those with more Njor blood tend to be taller, those closer to Te Astra and Te Essar tend to be thinner and paler (though not as fair as aething half-bloods), and those close to a port or harbor are often darker skinned, and may even be mistaken for Tarsians or Akkesh.

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