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American Fighter: An Analogy as Superhero History

American Fighter was born Roy Wood to an unwed mother in 1925. Of Irish/German descent, he showed no particular faults or aptitudes as a child, getting unremarkable grades and managing well enough for a child with first no father, then a largely absent step-father, who left the family by the time Roy was 15. He was remembered as a shy boy who worked in a car shop and sang in the school glee club.

He graduated from high school in 1943, and immediately enlisted in the United States Marines. Ordered to a Repair and Overhaul unit in the Pacific, he was exposed to a mix of experimental gasses from secret super-soldier programs being run at the same facility. His skin, uniform, and helmet became significant more resilient, able to bounce small arms fire and even survive antimaterial and anti-tank munitions. He was immediately given a nom de masque of American Fighter, and sent into much of the worst island fighting. Though American Fighter is often depicted in posters and art of the era standing with the heroes of Liberty Force who operated in Europe, he never served with them, and only rarely met any of Liberty Force’s members.

In 1946 he was discharged, and moved to Los Angeles to live with his mother. He tried to join the Liberty Guard, a national hero teams forming at the time, but was rejected for low academic standards. When he was spotted by a scout for the Universal utility corporation, which was interested in creating hero teams to protect their own interests and garner positive P.R., he was signed to a lengthy U.U. “taxi hero” contract. The taxi heroes were paid on a per-mission basis and assigned to regions and teams as determined by U.U’s Hero Relations department.

American Fighter was initially assigned to the Coastal Crimefighters, who largely opposed the Undertow Gang of underwater pirates. While he was always assigned back-up or support roles, he also received training from Universal Utility handlers in public speaking, judicial law, small unit tactics, horseback riding, and etiquette. As he was photogenic he also came to be featured heavily in hero-themed magazines, despite his relatively minor activity level. Through the late 1940s and into 1942, he also worked with the Freedom Hawks, Hero Cadets, and on loan as one of the Big Man’s “irregulars”

In 1952, American Fighter was assigned as the team leader of the Furious Five, with the more experienced heroine Talavera as the team secretary and unofficial second-in-command. Talavera had worked with American Fighter in the Freedom Hawks, and had a career that went back to before WWII. The Five quickly grew to be to popular to keep as a single unit, and each was moved to taxi hero roles in other groups for part of every year from 53-55, with American Fighter serving as second-in command for the Hero’s Horizon and then standing as the leader of the Law Breed when founder Golden Blade was injured in the line of duty.

In 1953, a new villain struck the we coast. Known only as the Obsession, this mastermind combined complex heists with random acts of mayhem and violence and terrorist attacks using clouds of psychotropic drugs that made coordinated responses by local authorities almost impossible. The Obsession began to co-opt and unify organized crime west of the Rockies, and Universal Utility suffered multiple significant thefts and kidnappings for ransom. U.U. turned all its Hero Relations resources to bringing the Obsession to justice. In a Los Angeles raid on August 4, 1954, American Fighter was part of a small team that breached the Obsession’s base of operations, and American Fighter delivery the knockout blow to the crazed villain—immediately elevating himself to major hero status.

By 1955 American Fighter was voted one of the ten most popular and effective heroes in American by Modern Hero Magazine. Universal Utility immediately made him the focus of multiple teams, including the newly-renamed Fighting Five, the Freedom Brigade, and the Giants of Justice.

However, his popularity waned within a decade. By 1965 the Fighting Five and Giants of Justice had been disbanded, and American Fighter had been moved to “emeritus” status in the Freedom Brigade, to make room for new heroes such as Repulsor, Fast Cat, Chiller, and Doctor Phoenix.

During this time it became well known in the hero community that American Fighter was gay. He was discrete about his privacy, and little attention was publicly paid to the question at the time. His handlers as U.U. worked strenuously to keep his private life out of the public eye.

American Fighter left the Fighting Five (which disbanded a few years later, though numerous revivals have been attempted) when his U.U contract ended, and tried live as an agent of S.T.E.E.L. (Special Taskforce on Espionage and Enforcement of Law), and then as one of the Strangefellow, and finally as the leader of the Second Chances (a time-travelling group that worked to fix minor disasters in such a way as to not affect history in any other major way). Though none of these efforts were considered noteworthy at the time, the Second Chances have in recent years come to be considered one of the few truly successful time-travelling hero teams.

Moving back to traditional hero teams, American Fighter joined The Undefeated, a team of U.S. heroes operating overseas in 1969. The team was fairly well-known as successful, but their operations had a high financial and political cost, and they were disbanded in 1971. From ’71 to ’77, American Fighter settled down in San Francisco, and operated with the Heroine Saint Angel as part-time, local heroes taking on minor regional issues. He and Saint Angel married, but quietly divorced in ’76, though still working as crimefighting partners for a year after that.

A lifetime of heavy drinking and smoking began to take its toll in the late ‘70s and early 80s. American Fighter participated in a number of one-time mass hero operations, but could not catch on as a permanent member of a hero team. He notably took part in the Avalanche Wars in 1978 and the Martian Campaigns in 1980. An effort was made to build a new team around him, the Devlin Dogs, in 1981, including adding Fighting Youth to the rooster, the son of American Fighter and Saint Angel from before their marriage as a teen sidekick. However, multiple bypass heart surgery sidelined American Fighter a few months after the team launched, and though he returned to it after recover, the team disbanded within a year after that.

He joined the Dynasty of Warriors in 1984, but was clearly past his prime and often contributed little to major conflicts.

Unknown to the public, American Fighter was diagnosed with HIV in 1984, just one year after the initial identification by scientists of the HIV virus. The hero kept the disease secret for many months while working with old colleagues to search for a cure. His health was visible declining. Rumors began to spread that he had liver cancer, but eventually his publicist announced that American Fighter had AIDS. As one of the first well-known American heroes to be publicly diagnosed with AIDS, this sparked a national debate about his sexuality and the disease.

American Fighter died in October, 1985, of infections related to the AIDS virus.

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The Chosen… ish

“You are the Chosen Seventeen.”

“Say what now?”

“Chosen. The Chosen Seventeen. I mean, one of them, obviously. You’re not all 17.”

“I… I mean. I thought there was a Chosen One?”

“Oh, there is! She’s great. Met her at a seminar a couple of years ago. But, yeah, no. You’re not THAT Chosen. I mean, only one person is the Chosen ONE, right?”

“O… Okay. So… after the Chosen One, we go to the Chosen Seventeen?”

“Oh heck no! Wouldn’t that be weird? No, after the Chosen One, there are the Chosen Two. Who I have NOT met, but I am told are equally great. Well, I mean not EQUALLY great, obviously. They are only half as Chosen. But the two of them together are just as good as the Chosen One, and each on their own are still WAY better than an Un-See.”

“An Un-See?”

“Yeah, UnChosen. UnSee, for short.”

“So… after the Chosen Two, there are… ”

“Then the Chosen Three, the Chosen Five…”

“No Chosen Four?”

“What? No. Four isn’t a prime number.”

“Pri… but you said there were a Chosen Two?”

“Yeah. Two is prime. You… you weren’t paying attention in math class, were you?”

“Well I TRIED, but I kept having these weird daydreams about awful things happening to my friends.”

“Oh, yeah, the Fel Abstraction. That’s one of the powers of the Chosen Seventeen.”

“Oh. Ah, okay. What’s it good for?”

“I mean, not a lot. It’s an abstraction. Of fel things. Terrible things that could, theoretically happen, but probably won’t. Though I *am* told it’s good for coming up with lyrics to death metal songs.”

“I see. So I have vicious woolgathering?”

“Pretty much, yeah. Though that’s only ONE of your powers.”

“Uh-huh. And, tell me, am I one-seventeenth as useful and powerful as the Chosen One?”

Oh heck no. Not even close. You have one-seventeenth of her POTENTIAL, sure. But she’s 27 years old, we identified her when she was 9, she’s been trained by the greatest mystics and warriors most of her life, and she was granted the holy relic, the legendary blade Durandal.

“Where as I am 48, you JUST found me, and up til now I have been trained by a failing public school, two community colleges, and one Fast-Burger Shift Manager training Program.”

“Er… yeah. So you see how you are way, I mean WAY, less than one-seventeenth as potent as the Chosen One.”

“Do I even get a holy relic? Like, the Pope’s steak knife, or something?”

“You DO get a hold relic, if you complete your 90-day probationary period.”

“Great. Super. What holy relic?”

“Well, I mean, the weapons are mostly handed out to the Magnificent Eleven. You know, the Chosen One through the Chosen Five.”

“Sure. makes sense.”

“And the holy shields, gauntlets, and vambraces generally get divvied up among the Awesome Eighteen. Then…”

“Hey, one isn’t a prime number either!”

“Excuse me?”

You said there was no Chosen Four, because four isn’t prime. But neither is one. I do remember THAT form math class!”

“It’s not that all prime numbered groups of people are Chosen. It’s that there are ranks of Chosen, with the Chosen one at the top, and every tier UNDER that is eldritch potential divided among a prime number of people.”

“Why?

“Who the hell knows? Not my department. Anyway, you wanted to know about your relic?”

“Sure. Why not?”

“Well, as the last of the Seventeen, you’re part of the Terrible Thirty…”

“Terrible as in terrible to behold?”

“Ah, no. More like “terrible twos,” to be honest. I mean, these aren’t official group designations but… look. While there ARE a Chosen Nineteen, and a Chosen Twenty-Three, by the time the eldritch potential is divided that thinly, it’s not a lot different from just being an UnSee. We don’t even recruit them, normally.”

“Really? Because one-seventeenth of being Chosen doesn’t seem to be that different from one-nineteenth of being Chosen.”

“You’re right. It’s not.”

“So… ah.”

“Yeah. Historically, most of the Chosen Thirteen are constantly bitching about how each of them is very nearly as good as one of the Chosen Eleven, but gets no respect, and most of the Chosen Seventeen are complaining no one takes them seriously. So, their Compeers–that is the people who train, advise, and direct them, like I am with you right now–their compeers generally find the Terrible Thirty–the Thirteens and Seventeens–are a huge pain in the ass to deal with.”

“So why bother?”

“Because if we don’t, the Bockshexe, Goulekon, or Nelapsi will recruit you. Any of those groups are bad enough without any decent amount of Chosen-ness to give them an edge. And the Terrible Thirty may often be worse than useless, but they do less damage as crappy heroes than augmented villains.”

“So a Seventeen is just potent enough to make preventing them from going Dark Side smart, while a Nineteen simply isn’t worth the effort? Awesome. Tremendous. What a glorious destiny I foresee. And my relic?”

“Oh, sorry! So the Thirteen get the  flops and pings..”

“The what?”

“My bad, that’s Compeer talk. They get the majority of the cloth and metal relics that aren’t arms or armor–cloaks, boots, rings, amulets, that kind of thing.”

“Uh-huh. And what, dare I ask, does that leave for a Seventeener?”

“You have the advantage of picking from a fairly large category of relics. We have more than seventeen of these, so even as the Last Seventeen, you’ll have a choice within the category.”

“Okay, swell. but what’s the category?”

“Holy Miscellany.”

“… Seriously?”

“Look, we don’t make holy relics. Not for centuries. So we have to make do with what we’ve found over the centuries. And some things just defy easy categorization. But like I said, we have a LOT of those, so…”

“Gimme an example.”

“What?”

“Miscellany doesn’t tell me much. So give me an example of some holy relics in that category.”

Well, okay. There are the Tablets of Destiny, stolen by Anzû the Demon Bird from Enlil and hidden on a mountainside. They offer dominion over all the things written within their divine law.”

“Er… wow. That’s amazing!”

“Yep! Of course they’re made of clay and are thousands of years old, so there are parts missing…”

“How much is missing?”

“More than 99% The remaining clay bits pretty much fit in a wallet now, and just give dominion over onions, cucumbers, adzes, bronze daggers, and clay tablets. Itself included.”

“Ah… well, okay. I an still see lots of uses for that.”

“Absolutely. It’s the most powerful of the Miscellany, so it’s always the first thing selected by a new generation of Seventeens.”

“Oh. I see. And I am the LAST Seventeen? So that’s been taken?”

“Oh, heck yeah. No, the Tablets are absolutely spoken for. But you wanted an example, so…”

“How about an example of things I could actually pick from?”

“Oh. Well, sure. I mean, they won’t be Tablets of Destiny…”

“My point exactly.”

“Well, okay. There is the Holy Door of Alexander the VI.”

“A door?”

“Yeah, I mean it’s not something you’re going to carry around with you, but you could have it installed in an RV or something. And when you walk through it, for 24 hours you gain the Borgia Sight”

“Great. Fantastic. And what does that do?”

“The next significantly bad thing that happens to you?”

“Yes?”

“You see how you could have avoided it.”

“But only after it happens?”

“Yeah, but that’s still some potent hindsight?”

“Okay, true. Not terrible. What else?”

“There’s the Iron Jiaozi. It’s a 900-year old paper bank note, which was used to pay a swordsman to kill a demon. Whoever last licked it has the power to always know how much a killer would require to kill someone for pay.”

“Only killers?”

“Yeah. Not just assassins, but anyone who has killed another person.”

“Righty. Grim, and weirdly specific. And I don’t think i want to lick thousand-year-old money. But I could see it being a huge help in the right situation. Gimme one more example.”

“There’s the Whitehall Chair. it was designed by Inigo Jones. Sitting in it allows you to sleep, no matter your condition, restfully and for exactly how long you wish.”

“No drawbacks?”

“Well… it’s a 85-pound chain. That just lets you sleep…”

“But it’s not sleep cursed with nightmares, or you snore loudly enough to wake the dead, or you end up with a weird crick in your neck?”

“Oh no. The sleep is always restful and fulfilling.”

“Great. Sign me up. I feel super Chosen.”

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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.

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Setting/Writing Prompt: Lok

The Geigamorphs can become anything, and turn anything into more of their kind, and mix with anything. No one knows where they came from, but they are destroying the world.
But every once in a rare while, when two Geigamorphs meet, the attack one another. And if one dies at another’s hand, it always turns into a weapon. No one knows why, and what random is entirely random.
That weapon never changes, and it can kill Geigamorphs, though not easily. But it can only be wielded by someone it locks onto… and that’s a one-in-a-few-million chance, apparently also at random.
And when it does? That person gains vast strength, endurance, resilience, and speed. And? Their physical form never changes again for more than a split second. If wounded, they heal. If they eat, it just goes away. If they were groggy when they were locked? They’re groggy forever.
You get a lock weapon near enough someone who it can lock onto, it’ll pull them to it.
So the last lines of defense send “loks,” people set in a single physical state forever, into zones with lots of Geigamorphs to find more lock weapons. then they take those to population zones, to lock them to someone.
And that person’s life changes forever… but their body never changes again.
They’re a Lok.
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Updated List of Very Fantasy Words

The most recent update to the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words!
Here!

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The Solarian for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Fantasy Solarian

The solarian is the class in the space-themes game built off the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that is the furthest from any of the official fantasy rpg classes. The solarian specifically takes themes, tropes, and ideas from science-fiction settings and uses them to build a class very different from most fantasy heroes. But if the idea of a warrior-philosopher able to call upon the fundamental forces of the universe is what you want in your fantasy campaigns, it’s certain possible to take the space-faring solarian class, and revise it to work for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.

Mostly you can ignore the rules tied to the science-fantasy ruleset (Stamina points, 10-minute rests, Resolve Points, and so on), and run the character using straight Pathfinder rules. Some universal adjustments are needed as follows: a reaction can be done as a swift or immediate action; ignore rules that refer to spells, equipment, feats, or weapons that do not exist in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game; if a solarian effect creates a condition that does not exist in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, apply the same penalties and rules the condition would have applied in the star-faring version of the rules; bonuses to EC or KAC or both apply to AC; bonuses to AC against a combat maneuver are bonuses to CMD against the same maneuver.

For a few features, alternatives must be presented. Each of the items below replaces or alters the solarian feature of the same name. No abilities of this fantasy-themed solarian class use Resolve Points. The following also presents hp, skill, and proficiency rules for the envoy for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game rules. Otherwise, you can use the normal tables and class features of the solarian.

(You may also want to check out our Fantasy Envoy, and give us feedback on if you want to see more Fantasy-versions of starring classes!)

Fantasy Solarian

FANTASY SOLARIAN

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d10

Class Skills: The solarian’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Intelligence modifier

Proficiencies: The solarian is proficient with light and medium armor (but no shields), and all simple and martial weapons.

Solar Manifestation

Solar Armor: The bonus granted is a shield bonus to AC, and it works with light, medium, or heavy armor. It increases to +2 at 5th level and by an additional +1 every 4 levels to a maximum of +5 at 17th level. The solarian can enhance armor any of the following armor special abilities: energy resistance (normal, improved, and greater), fortification (heavy, light, or moderate), glamered, and spell resistance (13, 15, 17, and 19). Adding any of these special abilities replaces an amount of shield bonus equal to the special ability’s base cost. For this purpose, glamered counts as a +1 bonus, energy resistance counts as +2, improved energy resistance counts as +4, and greater energy resistance counts as +5. Duplicate abilities do not stack. The armor must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus before any other special abilities can be added.

The enhancement bonus and armor special abilities are determined the first time the ability is used each day and cannot be changed until the next day. These bonuses apply only while the solarian is wearing the armor, and end immediately if the armor is removed or leaves the solarian’s possession. This ability cannot be applied to a shield.

Solar Weapon: Change the damage of the solar weapon to match the damage of a monk’s unarmed strike, but with a minimum of 1d8. A solarian weapon can be used with weapon finesse, and any special ability that works with rapiers or scimitars.

Additionally, when the solarian is attuned he can grant his solar weapon a +1 enhancement bonus. For every three levels beyond 1st, the weapon gains another +1 enhancement bonus, to a maximum of +7 at 19th level. However, no more than a total of +5 of this bonus can be applied to attack and damage rolls. Beginning at 5th level, these bonuses can be used to add any of the following weapon properties depending on whether the solarian is graviton-attuned or photon-attuned: graviton-attuned—agile, anchoring, dancing, frost, icy burst, keen, speed, vorpal; photon-attuned—beaming, brilliant energy, dazzling radiance (DC 10 +1/2 solarian level + Cha bonus), disrupting, flaming, flaming burst, shock, shocking burst.

Adding these properties consumes an amount of bonus equal to the property’s base price modifier. At least a +1 enhancement bonus must be added before any other properties can be added. These bonuses and properties are decided when the solarian becomes graviton-attuned or photon-attuned, and cannot be changed until the next time the solarian gains attunement. These magic weapon properties can be added to a solarian weapon even if it would not normally qualify (such as placing disrupting on a solarian weapon that doesn’t do bludgeoning damage). If a magic weapon property has an ability that can only be used a limited number of times per day (such as beaming), once the solarian leaves attunement his total enhancement bonus he can grant his weapon is reduced by a value equal to the property’s base price modifier until the solarian next rests and regains daily abilities.

Solarian weapon crystals can be bought or crafted with the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat. A solarian weapon crystal has a cost equal to a weapon enhancement bonus equal to half the solarian weapon crystal’s item level (such that a 7th level solarian weapon crystal has the same cost as a +3 weapon enhancement).

Sidereal Influence: The list of skills this applies to is adjusted as follows:

Graviton Skills: Bluff (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Knowledge (religion)(Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex)

Photon Skills: Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (nobility)(Int), Survival (Wis), Use Magic Device (Cha)

Weapon Specialization: At 4th level the solarian gains Weapon Specialization as a bonus feat in any one weapon with which he is proficient. This can be his solar weapon, if he has taken that option. He does not need to meet this feat’s prerequisites.

Flashing Strikes: At 7th level the solarian can make two melee attacks with a weapon able to be used with Weapon Finesse as a standard action. Both attacks take a –2 penalty to their attack roll.

Solarian’s Onslaught: At 13th level as a full-around action the solarian can move up to double his movement, and at the end of his movement make one melee attack at his full bonus, or two melee attacks both at –2.

Stellar Paragon: At 20th level when the solarian enters a stellar mode, he gains 2 attunement points of the corresponding type immediately and is considered attuned, and when he keeps your current stellar mode at the start of his turn, he can gain 2 attunement points instead of 1, allowing him. to become fully attuned after 2 rounds.

Additionally once per day he can become fully attuned as a free action once per day, regardless of his previous attunement. He may do this even when not in combat, in which case his attunement lasts for 1 minute or until a combat begins (at which point it follows normal attunement rules).

Stellar Revelations: Most stellar revelations do not require any rules changes. A few exceptions are detailed below.

Gravity Boost: The skill bonus applies to all Acrobatics, Climb, and Swim checks.

Gravity Hold: This revelation functions as mage hand, with the exceptions as noted in the ability.

Astrologic Sense: You may use this ability once per day, plus one additional time at 11th and 16th level.

Crush: Once per day when you are attuned or fully attuned, you may choose to force the target to save or be stunned for 1 round, rather than staggered.

Glow of Life: You may use this ability once per day, plus one additional time for every 3 levels you have beyond 9th. However, you cannot use this ability within 10 minutes of having used it previously.

Reflection: This ability only works when fighting defensively if you are attuned or fully attuned.

Soul Furnace: You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day for every 3 elvels you possess above 10th.

Gravity Shield: The bonus granted by this revelation is +2.

Zenith Revelations: In place of a normal zenith revelation, a solarian can choose to gain access to a solar weapon (if he originally selected armor as his solar manifestation) or solar armor (if he originally selected a solar weapon). This allows the solarian to use both abilities at once.

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I Am Iron Fan

I love sci-fi superadvanced armor.

From the very first mention of the concept ever (Galactic patrol, by E.E. “Doc” Smith) to anime armors big and small, to iron Man in comics and movies, to the novel “Armor,” I am a fan.

One of the advantages of this is that when someone kindly decides to get me a geeky gift, I’m easy to buy for. Case in point, LEGO Iron Man Brickheadz.

I have loved LEGO in principle for years, but I haven’t actually built any in decades. So not only did this gift appeal to my sci-fi armor/Iron man fandom, it let me reconnect (no pun intended) with LEGO.

My wife and I took about 20 minutes to assemble this as a 3-D jigsaw puzzle, and we were both surprised how much fun we had. I was originally going to just take two pictures, a “before” and “after,” but got excited and documented the whole process more thoroughly than expected.

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The pieces come in two plastic bags, and includes a pictorial  instruction booklet.

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The instructions are clear that step one is sorting all the pieces into the different specific types.

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It’s interesting to me that I get Hulk Green pieces, as well as some orange and pink, which are part of the interior and will be totally concealed once the piece Brick Headz is finished.

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The torso is… squat.

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I am embarrassed to admit I hadn’t realized the pieces with bumps on the sides of them were designed to put studs on the sides at a 90 degree angle to the “top”of the Brick Headz. Those studs are how the tiny arms are clicked in place.

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I call this the “Creepy Cage Head Iron man” stage.

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While there are a very few specialty pieces that clearly exist only for this Brick Headz, I was impressed how few of them are needed.

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It’s amazing how big a difference the smooth-topped LEGO make to  the final appearance.

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I was simple amused by the apparently universal symbol for “Turn your Brick Headz upside-down.”

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Here is the final Brick Headz! I had four tiny one-stud, smooth-topped LEGO left over.

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The “Chibi LEO” Iron Man suit looks weirdly appropriate on my “random” shelf in my home office. It may end up moving to my desk at Paizo… we’ll see.

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More Massively Revised Feats

I’ve been toying with what it would take to create a different kind of d20 game. One where just a  few key choices, that don’t take a ton of planning or prerequisites and that don’t require *exactly* the right tactics to use, can make a major impact on who a character is and what neat, exciting things they can do.

I posted about it some yesterday.

So, of course, now it’s stuck in my head. There’s TONS of stuff I’d have to do to make this overall vision work (like rewrite all classes so they all have three lines of abilities, two tied to one ability score each and a third not tied to any ability score)…
But for now I’m still just exploring interesting revisions to feats many people tell me are either terrifyingly dull, or actively frustrating.

Agile Maneuvers (Combat, Revised)
You’ve learned to use your quickness in addition to brute force with performing combat maneuvers.
Benefit: You add your Dexterity bonus to your base attack bonus and Strength bonus when determining your Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Bonus. When a creature attempts a combat maneuver against you and fails, it provokes an attack of opportunity from you (separate from any AoO provoked when it attempted the combat maneuver, and even if it the attacker doesn’t provoke AoO when attempting a combat maneuver). However, you can only use this attack of opportunity to attempt your own combat maneuver (which does not itself provoke an AoO). You can only perform one AoO per round using this feat, even if you have multiple attacks of opportunity each round.

Alignment Channel (Revised)
Choose chaos, evil, good, or law. You can channel divine energy to affect creatures with this alignment.
Prerequisites: Ability to channel energy.
Benefit: Instead of its normal effect, you can choose to have your ability to channel energy heal or harm creatures of the chosen alignment element. You must make this choice each time you channel energy. If you choose to heal or harm creatures of the chosen alignment element, your channel energy has no effect on other creatures.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat, it applies to a new alignment element. Whenever you channel energy, you must choose which alignment element to effect, or a combination of elements. For example if you have selected chaos and good, you can choose to affect all chaotic creatures, all good creatures, or just all chaotic good creatures.

Arcane Armor Training (Combat, Revised)
You have learned how to cast spells while wearing armor.
Prerequisites: Light Armor Proficiency, ability to cast 1st level arcane spells.
Benefit: You do not suffer arcane spell failure from light armor. When you cast an arcane spell that gives you an armor bonus while wearing light armor, you may choose to increase the armor bonus of either you light armor or the spell by 1 for the duration of the spell. If you can cast cantrips, you can also use magic to put on or remove your light armor as a move action.

Augment Summoning (Combat, Revised)
Your summoned creatures are more powerful and robust.
Prerequisite: Ability to cast a conjuration (summoning) spell that conjures a creation.
Benefit: Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains a +2 enhancement bonus to melee attacks and damage and +2 hp per Hit Die. Additionally, if the spell has a duration of 1 round/level, it increases to 1 hour/level when outside of combat. But if the creature is in a combat (even if it neither attacks nor is attacked) each round of combat reduces the spell’s duration by 1 hour.

About my Patreon

I have a Patreon, and normally I’d link directly to it from here. It seems small, but it’s an important part of my income. My patrons allow me to do less formal freelance writing, which gives me time to do more, longer, better-considered articles and essays here.
But there have been changes to how Patreon charges my patrons.
As a result I wrote a blog post discussing some changes I have made, and while I would love for you to choose to support me, at the moment I’d ask you go check out my thoughts on how to handle changes to Patreon before you go pledge. 🙂

Character-Defining Feats

I’ve literally been playing and writing for d20 system games since before D&D 3.0 came out. That long experience has led me to not really fear overpowered characters. If characters are overpowered it’s actually very easy to upgrade encounters in a consistent manner until they’re challenge, and the vast majority of things that cause groups to decide a specific build or ability is overpowered are tied as much to play style as objective balancing of rules.

What I AM afraid of is characters that are boring or frustrating. Players will put up with a lot if they find their character interesting, including a GM modifying pre-written encounters in a possible slightly haphazard way, if they enjoy and are engaged with their characters. All too often, however, feats become a source of both frustration \(as long lists of prerequisites, carefully worded language that excludes numerous combinations, and situational bonuses that may never come up in play cause a player to interact with feats negative far more often than positively. While having a predictable power curve is good for designing adventures and trying to get all players to have equal spotlight time, if brakes built into a game to provide that predictability slaps down players more often than it enables them to do something exciting it reduces fun instead of facilitating it.

Ideally, I’d like to see a d20 game where characters are defined by their feats as much as by their class and race, but only because a few feats are enough to give a character a wide range of new capabilities or augment them enough that their performance itself provides a new play experience. Such a system might well have to affect other subsystems such as bonus acquisition, action economy, and featlike powers from other sources (such as traits, favored class bonuses, alternate race traits, and even archetypes), but it also has to redefine feats to a player envisions a character being notable different in play with even a single feat.

While I clearly can’t tackle ever feat in the core rules in the space of a single blog post, I though a selection of revised feats, all based on d20 feats that are regularly derided for being useless or boring, might provide a good example of the kind of design space I am envisioning. These are just a starting point, and a game build around them would have to make some other hard choices to keep frustration levels down and ease of character design and advancement up.

Alertness (Revised)
Your ability to notice things is almost preternatural.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Perception had Sense Motive, and both of these are treated as class skills for you. (You gain an additional +1 bonus to each skill if it is a class skill for you as a result of some other option.)  You automatically gain one rank per level in each of these skills, though this cannot give you more total ranks than your character level (if you had already point skill ranks into these skill prior to gaining this feat, you can spend those skill points on other skills). You gain each skill’s unlocks (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Unchained) appropriate for the number of ranks you have +4 (so you gain the 5 rank skill unlock at 1st level, and the 10 rank skill unlock at 6th level).

Combat Expertise (Combat, Revised)
You are a master of increasing your defense at the expense of your accuracy.
Benefit: When you fight defensively (see Chapter 8, Combat) you take only a -1 penalty to your attack rolls. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every +4 thereafter, the dodge bonus you gain from fighting defensively increases by +1. Your dodge bonus from this feat is limited to +2 or your armor’s Max Dex Bonus, whichever is greater.

Skill Focus
When push comes to shove, you can depend on your ability to succeed at a given skill.
Benefit: Select one skill. You gain a +3 bonus to that skill. Once per day when you fail a skill check with this skill, as a free action you may immediately instead change your die result to a 20. This feat must be selected for each Knowledge skill separately, but if taken for Craft, Perform, or Profession it applies to all of those skills.

Weapon Focus (Combat, Revised)
You are highly skills with a class of weapons.
Prerequisites: Proficiency with one weapon in the category, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: Select one fighter weapon group. You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls with every weapon in this group with which you are proficient. At 3rd level, you also gain a +2 bonus to damage with such weapons. When you base attack bonus reaches +8, your bonus to attacks increases to +2. When you base attack bonus reaches +12, your bonus to damage increases to +4.
Special: You can take this feat more than once. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take it, you must select a different fighter weapon group.
Special: If you have at least two levels of fighter (not just a class that acts as a fighter for feats), and you have more levels of fighter than any other class, you gain an additional +1 bonus to attack rolls with the selected weapons. If you have at least three levels of fighter (not just a class that acts as a fighter for feats), and you have more levels of fighter than any other class, you gain an additional +2 bonus to damage rolls with the selected weapons.

The Patreon

Like everything on my blog, this post was brought to you by the fine folks of my Patreon! If you want to see more of this material, consider supporting me!

Dirty Delvers Treasure Division

Two things are on my mind at the moment. “Dirty Santa” style gift –exchange games, and treasure division in dungeon-delving style fantasy RPGs. These two things have nothing to do with each other, and yet…

Let me interrupt my own train of thought to point out that I’m not claiming this is a good idea. I strongly suspect it’s a bad idea. But, it IS an idea, and sometimes those demand our attention.

So, let’s combine Dirty Santa and Treasure Division.

Decide how many items there are to be divided. We’ll call this the number of “picks.” If there’s money or other bulk valuables you can divide the total value by the number of people in the party who get treasure (we’ll call them folks), and treat each amount of that value as one pick. (So if there is 2400 gp of coins and gems, and five folks dividing the treasure, that’s five picks worth 480 gp each.)

Divide the total number of picks by the number of folks, and round up.

Double that number, and each of the folks get that many takes. A take represents selecting an item of loot to keep. They should track their takes.

To decide who gets to spend a take first, players all secretly bid how many takes they will spend for that privilege. Then reveal the bids. Whoever bid the most goes first, and the order after id determined by who bid the 2nd most, and so on. In case of ties, roll off to see who goes earlier.

The person who goes first expends 1 pick to select an item. At least for the moment, it is theirs.

The next person may expend 1 pick to select an item left in the pool, or may expend TWO picks to take the item already selected by the person who went first. If that happens, the person who went first gets one pick back.

Proceed in order. On each turn, a folk can do one of these things:
A: Expend one pick to select an item no one has selected yet.
B: Select an item someone else has. This requires you to spend a number of picks equal to 1 + the number of people who have already picked it. So if two people have already picked it, you have to spend three picks. No matter how many picks you spend, one pick goes back to the person you take it from.
C: Select an item someone else has that you were the very first person to pick. This costs only one pick, no matter how many people have picked it since.

Repeat this process until you run out of items, or everyone runs out of picks. If you run out of items, the process is over. If everyone runs out of picks when there are still items left, everyone gets back all the picks they began with, and keep going.

Speaking of Ideas

Here’s an idea; why not support my Patreon? It’s the main way to encourage me to produce more blog posts so if you enjoyed this, maybe it’s worth a dollar a month?