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Partial List of Very Fantasy Words (Update!)

As I do from time to time, I’ve updated the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words (which can be found here)!

So if you want to have a banneret use axinomancy to gird himself against a spadassin’s gainpain, these are the words for you!

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Bravery Alternatives for the PF1 Fighter

In Pathfinder 1st ed, fighters get the feature “bravery.” It’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not super-exciting. As I looked at doing a PF1 version of Starfinder’s Soldier class, I was considering how I wanted to handle bravery, and looked into what abilities archetypes give to replace it.

And there are… a lot.

I realized I was considering turning the Soldier’s “gear boost” into a more flexible “combat boost” (which might or might not be gear-based), and that all the things fighters can repalce bravery with might make a great starting point for that.

Then I realized a lot of people playing fighters might like to just be bale to pick things to take as alternate class features in place of bravery.

So, I made those. I’ll look at converting Starfinder soldier gear boosts into PF1 combat boosts later.

Alternate Class Features for Bravery (“Combat Boosts”)

Agility (Ex): You gains a +1 bonus on saving throws made against effects that cause you to become paralyzed, slowed, or entangled. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels beyond 2nd.

Ardent (Su): You are difficult to sway from your beliefs. You gain a +1 bonus on Will saves against charm effects. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd. Once per day, if you are forced to take an action that is diametrically opposed to your alignment, beliefs, or values while under the influence of a charm or compulsion effect (as determined by the player), you can immediately attempt a Will save against the effect’s DC to resist acting out that order. Success does not remove the existing charm or compulsion effect, but does allow you to resist betraying that belief.

Armored Vigor (Ex): As a swift action, you can gain 2 temporary hit points that last for 1 minute. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Constitution modifier (minimum 1 per day), but only while wearing armor. At 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the number of temporary hit points the you gain increases by 2.

Bravery (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on Will saves against fear. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels beyond 2nd.

Buckler Bash (Ex): You can perform a shield bash with a buckler (use the same damage and critical modifier as for a light shield).

Burst Barrier (Ex): You can use a tower shield to screen yourself from burst spells and effects, gaining a +1 bonus on Reflex saves against them while employing a tower shield. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 2nd.

Deceptive Strike (Ex): When you are wielding a 1-handed melee weapons, and have a hand free (not holding a weapon, shield, or anything else), you gain a +1 bonus to CMB and CMD on disarm checks and on Bluff checks to feint or create a diversion to hide. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 2nd.

Deflective Shield (Ex): You specialize in using your shield to deflect attacks. You gains a +1 bonus to your touch AC, and this bonus increases for every four levels beyond 2nd; however, this bonus cannot exceed the sum of the armor and enhancement bonus to AC provided by the shield you are currently carrying.

Dirty Maneuvers (Ex): You become skilled at deceiving and discomfiting your opponents. You gain a +1 bonus on disarm, dirty trick, and steal combat maneuver checks, and to your CMD against the same maneuvers. These bonuses increase by 1 for every four levels after 2nd.

Duplicitous (Ex): You add Bluff, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth to your list of class skills. You gains 2 bonus skill ranks at each level, which must be allocated among these skills.

Efficient Packer (Ex): You adds a bonus equal to 1/2 your soldier level on Sleight of Hand checks to conceal objects on your body. You also add a bonus equal to 1/2 your class level to your Strength score for the purpose of determining his carrying capacity.

Expertise (Ex): You qualify for feats and other abilities as though you had the Combat Expertise feat. If you are 10th level or higher, you gain Combat Expertise as a bonus feat, even if you would not normally qualify for this feat. If you already have Combat Expertise, you instead gain any one combat feat that includes Combat Expertise as a prerequisite (and for which you otherwise qualify).

Fame (for Performance Combat)(Ex): When you begin a performance combat, you always starts with at least 1 victory point. If you already have victory points, you gain 1 extra victory point. At 10th level, you start out with at least 2 victory points (and if you already have victory points, you gains 2 extra victory points).

Fearful Might (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on Intimidate checks to demoralize a foe. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd.

Fearsome (Ex): You can make an Intimidate check to demoralize an opponent as a move action. At 10th level, she can do so as a swift action. At 18th level, she can demoralize a foe as a free action once per round. You can never do so more than once per round.

Guard (Ex): You add Appraise, Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nobility), and Perception, to your list of class skills. You gains 2 bonus skill ranks at each level, which must be allocated among these skills.

Guarded Senses (Su): You gain a +1 bonus on saves against sonic effects, figments, glamers, patterns, gaze attacks, and scent-based attacks. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd.

Harsh Training (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on saving throws against effects that cause the exhausted, fatigued, or staggered conditions or temporary penalties to ability scores. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 2nd.

Hawkeye (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on Perception checks, and the range increment for any bow you use increases by 5 feet. These bonuses increase by +1 and 5 additional feet for every 4 levels beyond 2nd.

(Art by Work on Color)

Pole Fighting (Ex): As an immediate action, you can shorten the grip on your spear or polearm with reach and use it against adjacent targets. This action results in a –4 penalty on attack rolls with that weapon until you spend another immediate action to return to the normal grip. The penalty is reduced by –1 for every four levels beyond 2nd.

Reconnaissance Training (Ex): You are trained to operate in heavily trapped or naturally hazardous areas. You gain a +1 bonus on Reflex saving throws to avoid traps, natural hazards, and environmental effects. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd.

Ruin Raider (Ex): You add Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (dungeoneering), Knowledge (religion), and Use Magic Device, to your list of class skills. You gains 2 bonus skill ranks at each level, which must be allocated among these skills.

Shattering Strike (Ex): When using a 2-handed melee weapon, you gain a +1 bonus to CMB and CMD on sunder attempts and on damage rolls made against objects. These bonuses increase by +1 for every four levels beyond 2nd.

Spark of Life (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on saving throws made against death effects, energy drains, and necromancy, and to constitution checks to become stable when dying. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels beyond 2nd.

Stand Firm (Ex): When you are wielding a shield, you gain a +1 bonus to CMD against bull rush, drag, overrun, and trip attempts. This bonus also applies on saves against trample attacks. The bonus increases by +1 for every four levels beyond 2nd.

Steadfast Mount (Ex): After you have spent 1 hour practicing with a mount, the mount gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC and a +1 morale bonus on saves while you are mounted on it or adjacent to it. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 2nd.

Tactical Awareness (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on initiative checks. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 2nd level.

Tactician (Ex): You gain the cavalier’s tactician class feature, treating your soldier level as your cavalier level for the purposes of this ability.

Tenacious Tracker (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on Diplomacy checks to gather information and on Survival checks made to identify or follow tracks. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 levels the vengeful hunter possesses beyond 2nd.

Tidal Celerity (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on Reflex saves and saving throws against effects that would immobilize or paralyze you. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd.

Unassailable Allegience (Ex): You gain a +1 bonus on Will saves against compulsion spells, spell-like abilities, and effects. This bonus increases by 1 for every 4 levels beyond 2nd.

Weapon Guard (Ex): You add the bonuses to attack you gain from Weapon Focus (and Greater Weapon Focus and Mythic Weapon Focus), to your CMD against disarm and sunder attempts while wielding the appropriate weapon. This bonus also applies on saves against any effect that targets that weapon (for example, grease, heat metal, shatter, warp wood).

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Companion Bond as a Connection for the PF1 Fantasy Mystic

So, can we find a way for our PF1-compatible Fantasy Mystic to get an animal companion?

A lot of PF1 classes have a way to gain an animal companion. It absolutely seems on-concept for the mystic (especially some of the weirder options, like genie-touched or monstrous companions), but it is something we can do as a simple and balanced option? Well, let’s look at what other classes in the game have as options that can be replaced with an animal companion.

At 1st level, a druid can take either an animal companion or one of a short list of cleric domains as their nature bond class feature. While that’s not proof that those two options are equivalent, the fact that players still often choose the domain after more than a decade of PF1 game theory and play experience certainly suggests they are close enough in total utility to serve as a starting point.

So, that means to determine if a connection being replaced with an animal companion is reasonable, we need to compare the utility of a typical connection with the utility of a typical druid-allowed domain. Once we do that. we can see if we need to have a mystic give up more than just their connection to get an animal companion, or if we need to give them some benefit beyond a companion in order to balance taking the connection away.

Cleric domains give you a bonus spell you can prepare on top of your normal spell choices for every spell level. Often, domain spells aren’t on the cleric or druid class spell list. That’s not the same as a bonus spell known for each spell level, as a connection normally gives a mystic, but it’s close enough in utility for us to treat them as equivalent. So we can have an animal companion give up its bonus spells known to offset the domain spells.

Each cleric domain has two granted powers, one gained at 1st and one at 6th or 8th. Those granted powers are in the same ballpark as connection powers, so we can say we need to give up two connection powers (out of the seven a connection gives). That means it should be reasonable to have a mystic connection grant 5 connection powers, and a full animal companion.

That is a tad awkward, since we now have to create a set of connection powers that come with an animal companion… butmake them flexible enough they work with any animal companion, and spread out enough you only get 5 of them over 20 levels. Luckily, there are spells not normally available to a mystic that are animal-companion-focused, and animal companion-relared feats, which we can make as options out animal companion mystic can choose from.

So, here is what our Companion Connection looks like. (And now we know what connection the image I used for the original mystic class write-up has taken, which is why she has a hunting dog!)

(Art by Daniel)

Companion

Associated Skills: Healing, Handle Animal.
Spells: None

Animal Companion (1st): You gain an animal companion, as the druid’s nature bond option. Your mystic level acts as your druid level for your companion.

Companion Boost: At 3rd, 6th, 10th, 14th, and 18th level, you may select a companion boost. This is either a companion feat, or a companion spell, as defined below.

Companion Feat: Select one of the following feats, for which you meet the prerequisites. You gain that feat as a bonus feat. Alternatively, you can select a feat your animal companion meets the prerequisites for, and grant it to your animal companion as a bonus feat. You may select this connection power more than once. Each time, you must select a different bonus feat.

Andoren Falconry, Animal Soul, Beast Rider, Beast Speaker, Beast Speaker Mastery, Bully Breed, Curious Companion, Devotion Against the Unnatural, Distant Spell Link, Evolved Companion, Extra Item Slot, Forceful Charge, Genie-Touched Companion, Greater Tenacious Hunter, Heft Brute, Huntmaster, Improved Forceful Charge, Improved Share Spells, Improved Spell Sharing, Monstrous Companion, Pack Flanking, Pack Tactics, Share Healing, Skaveling Companion, Spirit’s Gift, Stalker’s Focus, Tenacious Hunter, Totem Beast.

Companion Spells: Select one of the following spells. It is considered to be a spell on your spell list and, if you can cast spells of the listed level, you gain it as a bonus spells known. You may select this connection power more than once. Each time, you must select a different spell.

acid maw (1st), carry companion (2nd), scamper (2nd), phantom hunt (4th), share shape (4th), raise animal companion (5th)

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ShadowFinder Class Preview: The Enigma

Today, I am going to continue actual OGL rule examples of some material coming in the Starfinder Infinite ShadowFinder book.

I wanted a class to fill the “modern character with weird powers” niche so common in much of the inspirational media that has influenced the form ShadowFinder took. This is more than being a spellcaster, or even something the psionic themetype I wrote up can represent. I needed a class for firestarters, dead zones, shining, heckspawn, and mutants.

I needed a way for a PC to be an enigma. So that because the class.

Here’s a preview of some elements of this new, 100% Starfinder-compatible, character class.

(Yes, I have new ShadowFinder art for all 8 classes I’m supporting in the ShadowFinder Core Book. No, this one is not the enigma. Yes, you’ve seen the enigma digitized tease already. Guess which one it is?!)

Enigma

An enigma has power, but no one (not even the enigma) is sure why. Unlike spellcasters or combatants, it is not a trained or learned power, and unlike warlocks it is not part of some bargain for power from otherworldly forces. That doesn’t mean the enigma can’t train to use their powers more effectively, or that it might not have been bestowed by an entity beyond the enigma’s understanding, but no science or mystic research has yet to understand enigmas’ abilities, and the growing number of enigmas is seen by many groups as a rising threat.

An enigma has often had to hide for much of their life, at least early on. Their powers are hard to control when they first manifest, and can both disrupt the stability of a support group and attract attention from others. It’s not unusual for an enigma to be the product of some mysterious experiment who escaped, and to be hunted by their former keepers. Others seem to bloom with power on their own, but organizations exist who wish to find the source of that power, even if they have to cut it out of the enigma. As a result, many enigmas learn to be self-sufficient when young, both in urban and wilderness settings.

Once enigmas grow into their abilities, most groups consider opposing an enigma directly to be too dangerous, though organizations with more reach and resources may feel differently. An enigma does well to forge bonds with allies to ensure anyone interest in knowing how they manipulate energy, form, or even reality itself sees that the enigma is not alone, and has friends who will come after them if they disappear.

Hit Points: 6
Stamina Points: 6

Key Ability Score
Cha

While no one knows where the power that makes enigmas comes from, the fact that it fueled by their own force of personality seems clear. Enigmas may be bold or shy, honest or deceptive, friendly or hostile, but they all have the strong sense of self that makes them naturally apt at interpersonal relationships. Your Charisma determines the save DCs of your various enigma powers, and is thus your key ability score.

Class Skills

The enigma’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Culture (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Medicine (Int), Mysticism (Wis), Profession (Cha, Int, or Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand(Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Survival (Wis)

Skill Points at each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Proficiencies

Armor

Light armor

Weapons

Basic melee weapons, small arms.

(Yes, I am ending this preview before the class features table on purpose!)

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The Icosantheon. No 20 — Aor

The Icosantheon is a host of twenty deities bound not by a common origin, but by a united conservatorship of the immaterium that forms the sides and edges of the material plane.

(Art by grandfailure)

Aor is among the most unusual of deities in the Icosantheon, as it is not perceived as self-aware. Rather Aor is the Beacon Tower, the very first structure created by mortals to serve as a warning to others. It is believed to be the first structure made by any civilization to be so tall it’s top could not be reached by one standing on the shoulders of another, the first made of stone, the first to have artifice and magic both involved in its creation, and the first built by more people than the land around it could support, requiring the coordination of multiple communities over months or years.

Thus Aor became a thing early civilizations would swear by, and call upon when attempting to rally people. Aor represents the act of creation and cooperation not to destroy, or even to defend, but to warn. A nonviolent transmission of data that required people struggling and sacrificing in order to pass a benefit on to later generations. While there is significant disagreement about when, where, and by who the true Aor was built, that made no difference to it’s growth as a symbol. And much as the sun, or the ocean, or the wind could act as a divine force with no anthropomorphization, so, too, could the Beacon Tower.

The first worshippers of Aor were essentially philosophers and planners who discovered that parables about the effort needed to build Aor, and the benefits that were reaped not by those who did so but those who came after, granted them more than just wisdom. Stories spread, and were compiled, talking about the need to maintain Aor so it would not fall into disrepair, to man it so the beacon could be lit as needed, to set aside some effort of a community to keep the advantages Aor had granted them. Aor became a symbol of a thing mortals did without the gods, and in doing so took the palce of gods in the minds of many.

Aor has no tenets, being an inanimate object, but its worshippers actively promote the ideas that must have held sway when it was constructed. They see themselves as beacons of their own, looking for dangers to entire societies and teaching the needed behaviors that will prepare populations to be ready for such threats.

*Aor is Neutral, and accepts worships of all non-chaotic alignments. The essential quality to worship Aor is to accept that there are benefits of forethought, and working together, and maintaining that which has been wrought. Such beleifs can be applied to good and evil, to strict laws or general trends, but do not mesh well with those who hold individual freedom of choice above joint, organized action.
*Aor’s color is gray — the gray of rock, stone, and dust gathering in ancient corners. Often Aor is represented by a single vertical gray stripe, which may be placed in the center or to the left of any other pattern or image.
*Aor’s favorite weapons are hammers, which were used to help craft and place it.
*Aor’s favored animal is the ganet. There are debates about why. Ganets are seabirds, suggesting the Beacon Tower might have been the first ligthhouse. Ganets are also famously fearless and easy ot kill, perhaps suggesting they need Aor more than other animals.
*Its servitors are non-chaotic outsiders linked to architecture and crafting, regardless of their other affiliations.
*Its holy symbol is a tower with a light or bolt at the top, spiraling outward from it.
*Its areas of concern are architecture, cooperation, communication, diligence, forethought, navigation, teaching, and warning.
*Its domains are Artifice (industry, toil), Community(cooperation, education), Rune (wards), Sun (light), Travel (trade), and Water (oceans).

Worshipers of Aor are often gifted with divine foresight, and an inherent understanding of construction. They may give up any skill known to gain Knowledge (Engineering) and have one bonus rank in that skill per level (still limited to max ranks equal to their level). Additionally, any worshiper of Aor that receives a domain, hex, or mystery can sacrifice a domain power, hex or, revelation to gain a power from the divination wizard school, or any of its subschools, that could be gained at the same or lower level.

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The Icosantheon. No 5 — Eirsival

The Icosantheon is a host of twenty deities bound not by a common origin, but by a united conservatorship of the immaterium that forms the sides and edges of the material plane.

(Art by grandfailure)

5. Eirsival

Eirsival is known as the Knight of the Final Thunder and the Coming Storm. She is the last of the Storm Mothers, agents of the primal divinities from before the fall of the Cthonic Gods. The Storm Mothers oversaw the destiny of those who would die defending others. In a twist of what could be considered irony, they were unable to foresee their own destiny, dying to defend the birth of mortals during the Gogolmachy when gods and elder beings first came into direct conflict and destroyed so much of reality, including entire alternate histories and places where technology was far more advanced than the current world.

Along with the other Storm Mothers and the First Heroes they had guided, Eirsival stood to hold the Final Line against aberrant horrors that sought to unmake the rules of the material plane. Had they failed, there would be no natural order to things, just a whirling tumult where the will and power of an entity were the only limits of what it could force others, and matter itself, to become. Though the Final Line did not break, when the maelstrom fell back, only Eirsival and Ixalicor, the progenitor of all unicorns, remained. Ixalicor swore to serve as Eirsival’s mount for all time, and Eirsival swore that those who defended the innocent, weak, and abused should never have to do so alone.

And in that moment, she went from the last of a line of angelic servants to being a deity.

Eirsival neither requires nor even requests worship, as she wishes to support all righteous defenders, whether they pay her obeisance or not. However, that very fact draws some to venerate her and wish to spread her name, and as long as they do so in the name of protecting a better world and respect the lives in the current world, she does not refuse them. Her temples are few, but tend toward massive fortifications that can take in and defend vast populations when needed. Slightly more common are stables and cavalry forts with a small shrine to her, as the friendship between her and Ixalicor has carried down to many forms of equine.

Eirsival believes that rules and order are a necessary part of protecting the rights and dignity of all things, but she also accepts that rules and order can be used for darker purposes. Thus while she has a natural distrust of anarchy and randomness, she does not inherently oppose it until it begins to impinge on her quest to protect all. Eirsival is a close ally with Karrackar, and where she and the Shade Dragon disagree on some finer details of how to best proceed, their mutual respect is so great they simply defer to one another within their specific areas of concern. Eirsival actively dislikes Garuuhl, and considers him excellent proof that if the ends is sued to justify the means, evil will eventually result. She largely ignores other members of the Icosantheon, and other gods in general, unless their interests and goals somehow overlap or oppose her own.

*Eirsival is Lawful Good, and accepts worships of all good alignments, and those who are Lawful Neutral. She supports all efforts to protect and aid others, and acknowledges that there are often many ways to do so, but does not tolerate evil in any form, or anarchy for the sake of anarchy.
*Eirsival’s colors are sky blue, silver, and pearly white, often in wind and cloud motifs. However, her colors are for times when color is appropriate, her worshippers feel no pressure to embrace those colors unless they both desire to and are safely can.
*Her favorite weapons are any form of lance or spear, most often one sheathed in lightning.
*Her favored animal is the horse and all horselike creatures, especially pegasi, unicorns, and hippogriffs.
*Her servitors are winged unicorns the color of thunder and lightning, tengu spearmasters who are wandering teachers, and smiths, especially lance-smiths.
*Her holy symbol is a single bolt of lignting, surrounded by darkness.
*Her areas of concern are destiny, dignity, heroes, honor, loss, resolution, and solitude.
*Her domains are Air (cloud, lightning, wind), Glory (chivalry, heroism, and honor), Good (friendship), Law (loyalty), Protection (defense, fortification, and solitude), and Weather (storms).

Any worshipper of Eirsival who is of good alignment and has the animal companion class feature can take the Unicorn Companion feat, even if they do not otherwise meet its prerequisites. Additionally, her worshipers can gain the feat and the animal companion feature needed to use it by giving up specifi class features based on their class: cleric (one domain), inquisitor (domain and stern gaze), oracle (revelations from 1st, 7th, and 15th level), shaman (spirit animal), warpriest (both blessings).

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Owen Explains It All – Super-Shrinking for Starfinder

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

First, this blog has spoilers for an animated series, so if you want to avoid those, don’t read this.

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

We have a logo and everything!

If you haven’t already gone and watched the August 29th, 2021 episode, we talk about the third episode of Marvel’s What If… series, titled “What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” Obviously there are spoilers for that episode both in the OEIA episode, and this tie-in blog, so go no further if you want to avoid those.

Seriously, much more than either of the first two What If… stories, “What If… the World Lost Its Mightiest Heroes?” has twists and reveals you may not want to know until you’ve seen it. It’s a murder mystery, and we’re going to spoil who done it, and how. Ready?

I mentioned in the blog “Owen Explains It All! – Forlorn Hope and Gadgeteer Armor,” superhero movies and TV are particularly good places to pick up ideas for Starfinder, because they are generally modern-or-later settings that include aliens, technology, magic, and small-unit action –and sometimes even starships– much as Starfinder does. In this What If…, Hope Van Dyne (the Wasp in main MCU continuity) dies before the episode begins and Hank Pym, clearly grief-stricken but also possibly driven mad by using Pym particles without a properly protective helmet (as noted as a potential drawback to the Yellowjacket armor hank’s wearing in this in the first Ant-Man movie) kills everyone tagged in the Avengers Initiative as revenge on Shield.

He does this by being small. So small, people can’t see him, and he remains free to employ both his massive genius and full-size strength at miniscule size. And that got me to thinking about how to make miniscule-but-mighty threats in Starfinder!

Now with that explanation out of the way, let’s get to the OGL game content!

Tiered Super-Shrinking

This is now added to the long list of tiered powers we have available for sci-fi Starfinder games, but also FreedomFinder and/or GammaFinder campaigns using the same rules. That link will show you how you can gain tiered powers through feats, themes, archetypes, and so on.

Super-shrinking is about more than just getting small. It is a specific form of shrinking that leaves you the full power of your personal abilities, muscles, and gear while becoming harder and harder to spot. Even movement is unaffected — your reduced weight means you can pump your legs faster or even just jump as needed to maintain the same move rate as you do at full size. The only changes that occur to your character’s game stats at each tier of shrinking are those listed with the power.

Growth-Punch: Whenever you are shrunk, you can end your shrinking as part of a melee attack against a target bigger than you. The target is treated as flanked by you for this one attack, and add your tier to the damage done by a successful attack. The stress of a growth-punch on you means you cannot shrink again (from any source) until after the end of your next turn.

Tier 1: You can become Small. If you are already Small, you shrink down to the minimize size for a Small creature. You have a 5-foot space and 5-foot reach (10-feet for any attack with the reach weapon special property), and weigh between 8 and 60 lbs. (as decided by you when you use the power). You gain a +2 size bonus to Acrobatics checks.
Tier 2: You can become Tiny. If you are already Tiny, you shrink down to the minimize size for a Tiny creature. You have a 1-1/2-foot space and 0 reach (5-foot reach for any attack with the reach weapon special property), and weigh between 1 and 8 lbs. (as decided by you when you use the power). You gain a +3 size bonus to Acrobatics checks, and a +1 size bonus to Stealth checks.
Tier 3: You can become Diminutive. If you are already Diminutive, you shrink down to the minimize size for a Diminutive creature. You have a 1-foot space and 0 reach (5-foot reach for any attack with the reach weapon special property), and weigh between 2 oz. and 1 lb. (as decided by you when you use the power). You gain a +4 size bonus to Acrobatics checks, and a +2 size bonus to Stealth checks.
Tier 4: You can become Fine. If you are already Fine, you shrink down to an even smaller size within Fine. You have a 1/2-foot space and 0 reach, and weigh between 0.2 oz. and 2 oz. (as decided by you when you use the power). You gain a +5 size bonus to Acrobatics checks, and a +3 size bonus to Stealth checks.
Tier 5: You can become Fine, but even smaller than even typical Fine creatures. You have a 0-foot space and reach, and can share a space with a creature of any size without either of you taking any penalties. You are between 0.1 and 1 inch in height, and weigh less than 0.1 oz. You gain a +5 size bonus to Acrobatics checks, and a +4 size bonus to Stealth checks. Unless an area is described as totally barren and clean, there is always something in your space you can use to take cover as a move action, retaining cover until you move again.
Tier 6: You can become Fine, but much smaller than even smaller Fine creatures. You have a 0-foot space and reach, and can share a space with a creature of any size without either of you taking any penalties. You are between 0.01 and 0.1 inch in height, and have no effective weight. You gain a +5 size bonus to Acrobatics checks, and a +5 size bonus to Stealth checks. You always have cover against any creature of Diminutive or larger size (allowing you to always attempt Stealth checks against such creatures). Unless an area is described as totally barren and clean, there is always something in your space you can use to take cover against Fine creatures as a move action, retaining cover until you move again.
Tier 7: As tier 6, but you are also treated as invisible by any creature of Diminutive or larger size that is unaware of your presence (see the Four States of Awareness). This applies to all senses except those based on thought and emption, and abilities that normally reveal or sense invisibility do not apply you.
Tier 8: As tier 7, but you are also treated as invisible by any creature of Diminutive or larger size that is aware of your presence, but unaware of your location. (see the Four States of Awareness). This applies to all senses except those based on thought and emption, and abilities that normally reveal or sense invisibility do not apply you.
Tier 9: You can shrink done to microscopic scale. As tier 8, but you are also treated as invisible by any creature of Tiny or larger size that is not using at least tier 8 super-shrinking. (see the Four States of Awareness). This applies to all senses except those based on thought and emption, and abilities that normally reveal or sense invisibility do not apply you.
Tier 10: You can shrink down to atomic scale. As tier 9, but you are also treated as being incorporeal by any creature of Tiny or larger size that is not using at least tier 8 super-shrinking, though you can attack and affect such creatures normally. Unlike most incorporeal things, you can move completely through solid objects (though not those that can stop incorporeal creatures, or that block teleportation).

Wrap Up

So, have different ideas for a Forlorn Hope campaign? Got other supers you think could be turned into archetypes? Interested in having me Explain It All for some other media-inspired content? Leave a comment and let me know! The best way to do that is to Join my Patreon, and leave me a note through that!

d20 Design Diary: How Many Class Options is Enough (Starfinder Inquisitor example)

In the long run, this all comes back to the Starfinder Inquisitor I designed a draft version of. And, as a reminder, if you are a supporter of my Patreon in the timespan from today through tomorrow, you’ll get a slight-revised-and-expanded version of the class as a free pdf!

One common format of d20 game class design is to have selectable options as class features. These may be specializations — things you pick once that then give you fixed abilities as you gain levels (cleric domains, and sorcerer bloodlines are good fantasy examples of this, while mystic connections and operative specializations are the same idea in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game) — or may be a long set of talents that are abilities (some with prerequisites) you get to pick from every few levels (with the ur example being rogue talents, and everything from operative exploits, to mechanic tricks, and soldier gear boosts being iconic Starfinder examples).

These are things like will get endlessly expanded in expansions, campaign settings, houserules, and the blog posts of former-design-leads, so in the long run “enough” is “when the game stops being played.” But when the class is first introduced, you need to decide how many of these choices are presented to begin with. How much is “enough” to feel like there are a range of options with different focuses, themes, and effects. Obviously space constraints are always a downward pressure on these questions, but from a design point of view, you want there to be enough options at launch for players and GMs to have a feel for what kind of things you plan for those options to include, and for characters of the same class to feel different.

So, how much is enough? Well… it depends.

First, if you include bonus feats as choices (or the class feature is nothing but bonus feats, as with the fighter/soldier), you can count that as much more than one entry (depending on how many feats can be selected with the class feature). After that, it’s a question of how many different concepts you want to highlight, and how many such options a single character can take.

In this context, a character can only get a single specialization, so you don’t need as many of them. Talents, otoh, you usually get 5-to-10 of over the course of a single character’s career, so you need more to make sure that no member of the class is forced to pick the same talent as a different character with a different concept.

So, let’s look at the number of such class features that appeared in the Starfinder Core Rulebook, when the classes were first introduced. (I counted these by hand, so I might be off by 1 or 2 on one of these entries — which is fine, since I am looking for an idea of the range of options rather than an exacting tally.)

Envoy

Improvisations – 28

Expertise talents – 19

Mechanic

Artificial Intelligence – 2 (One being the drone, which has ANOTHER set of selectable options)

Mechanic tricks – 30

Mystic

Connections – 7

(The mystic also has spells, but that’s a bit different from selectable class features)

Operative

Specializations – 7

Exploits – 38

Solarion

Stellar Mode – 2

Stellar Revelation – 31

Soldier

Gear Boost – 12

Fighting style – 7

(These are in addition to gaining bonus combat feats at regular intervals, making the soldier highly customizable even with reduced number of gear boosts and fighting styles.)

Technomancer

magic hacks – 31

(The technomaner also has spells, but that’s a bit different from selectable class features)

It’s remarkable how similar some of those numbers are. It’s clear if you have an option that runs most of a class’s 20-level career, such as mystic connections, operative specializations, or soldier fighting styles, you want 7 of them to start. If you are doing talent-like choices, you want 20-40 of them (depending on how much the class depends on them, and how many other custom class features it gets).

So, what do we do with this knowledge?

Let’s apply it to our Starfinder Inquisitor., which is schedule to appear in a “full” version in the book Starfarer’s Companion II.

(Crowdfunding campaign coming this Fall!)

That class has inquisitions, which are very much in the “specialization” category for the kinds of class features we are discussing here. I only have one of those written up for the draft –the Battle Inquisition. I’m not going to have more than at-most one more for the free pdf version going to Patreon supporters, but when I release a “final” version of the class I’ll want 7 of those total. Offhand, I’d likely choose Battle, Madness, Occult, Solar, Technology, Tyrant, and Void for these first 7 slots, to give a wide range of options tied to both common Starfinder tropes, and inquisitor tropes from other science-fantasy fiction.

The class also has inquisitor tactics, which fill our “talent” design space. One of those — Team Tactics — is going to grant option to a range of teamwork feats designed for the class, so we can likely skew toward the lower end of the 20-40 talent number, especially since the class also picks either advanced melee weapon or longarm weapon proficiency at 1st, AND has spells. There are only 10 in the draft, so that number will need to be roughly double in the final version.

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Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words (Update!)

It’s been more than 18 months since I updated the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words (which can be found here)!

So if you want to have a vavasor gallivant across his demesne, or have the sigil in a grimoire be the campaign’s telos, these are the words for you!

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Dash Cantrip, in Four Game Systems

Cantrips are interesting, in all 4 of the d20 game systems I work in regularly (PF1, PF2, StF, and 5e). You get unlimited uses of them, so they need to be useful enough to be worth tracking (even at mid- to high-levels), but can’t be so good that casting them endlessly can ruin a game.

And almost none of them impact movement.

Which lead me to wonder, CAN I design a cantrip that impacts movement? Something to give you a little edge when what you need to do is reposition yourself and just a double move (or dash, or triple move, or whatever the game’s equivalent is) won’t do.

Can I do in in four game systems?

Behold, the dash cantrip.

Pathfinder, 1e

Dash
School transmutation; Level Bard 0, Cleric 0, Druid 0, Inquisitor 0, Magus 0, Mesmerist 0, Psychic 0, Shaman 0, Witch 0, Sorcerer/Wizard 0]
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Target you
Duration 1 round

Your movement rate increases by an enhancement bonus equal to your current movement rate, +20 feet.

Pathfinder, 2e

Dash [Cantrip 1]
Traditions Arcane, Divine, Primal
Cast [three actions] Verbal
Duration until the start of your next turn

You move a distance equal to triple your speed +30 feet.

Starfinder

Dash  [Mystic 0, Witchwarper 0]
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Duration 1 round

You gain a +10 foot increase to your land speed until the beginning of your next turn. As part of casting this spell, you can move up to your land speed.

5e

Dash
Transmutation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V
Duration: 1 round

You can move a number of feet this round equal to double your move, +20 feet.

Want More in Four?

If you enjoy seeing one concept done in 4 different game systems, check out the 52-in-52 subscription, where once a week, every week in 2020, you get a new game product which is released to you in four versions–for PF1, PF2, SF, and 5e.