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Barbaric Axe Fighting, for Pathfinder 1st edition

Jacob Blackmon noted yesterday that there are a LOT of illustrations of barbaric characters fighting with two axes. He’s right, and I also noticed that often that art shows them using 2-handed axes in each hand.

I thought it was a shame it’s not something the 1st edition Pathfinder RPG supports well as a character concept.

And then, this idea hit me.

(Art by Konstantin Gerasimov)

BARBARIC AXE FIGHTING (Combat)
You have mastered a vicious axe-fighting technique.
Prerequisites: Martial weapon proficiency, rage class feature, Str 13.
Benefit: You can fight with two weapons you are proficient with from the axes weapon group, one in each hand. You can do this even if one or both is a two-handed weapon (you can use each 1-handed, without taking any special penalty for doing so, otherwise using 1-handed weapon rules). You are not considered to be two-weapon fighting, and do not gain any extra attacks of benefits of two-weapon fighting. If you gain multiple attacks per round from a high base attack bonus or haste effect, you can choose which weapon to make each attack with.
Additionally, when you make an attack roll where the d20 show a result 1 or 2 less than your threat range, your attack is a lesser critical threat. Roll to confirm the lesser critical threat, just as if it was a normal critical threat. If your lesser critical threat confirms, your attack does double damage. You do not gain any other benefit you would normally gain with a critical hit, and any effect that would prevent a critical hit from being effect also negates your lesser critical hit.
Special: A character that gains rage powers may select this as a rage power if they meet the prerequisites. It functions exactly as noted above, even when the character is not raging.

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I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!


For Starfinder: Jet Jutsu

The idea of developing a fighting style specifically designed to benefit a jetpack or other movement-boosting device is certainly not a new one, but it’s not something I have seen apply to the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. While this might grow to be a whole series of fighting techniques for soldiers to operative specializations, for the moment I’m just starting with a couple of combat feats.

(Art by matiasdelcarmine)

For the following options, “jetpack” applies to any armor upgrade or technological, hybrid, or magic item that gives you a flight speed, or gives you a bonus to Athletics checks made to jump (including items that increase your land speed enough that the increased speed gives you a bonus to Athletics checks to jump). “Using” the jetpack means being able to activate it and expending any battery power, use duration, fuel, or similar consumable required to gain the flight or bonus to Athletics checks to jump. You don’t actually need to take an action to do this, it is part of whatever action is required in the Jet Justsu option.

Jet Back (Combat)
Benefit: When you are attacked by a foe you observing (see States of Awareness), as a purely defensive reaction you can use your jetpack to dodge out of the way. You can move up to half your land or fly speed, and gain a +4 circumstance bonus to your AC against that one attack, and to any Reflex save required by the attack. On your next turn, you must take a Move action to recover as your first action. If you are prevented from doing this (such as if you are stunned), you fall prone. You are also off-target until the end of your next round.

Jet Punch (Combat)
Benefit: You can use your jetpack as part of a charge. You do not take a -2 penalty to your attack roll as with a normal charge, but your penalty to AC increases by -2 (normally to -4 AC). You add half the item level of your jetpack, to a maximum of half your ranks in Piloting, to your damage on a a successful attack.

You may also want to take Jet Charge, Mobility, Sky Jockey, and Spring Attack as part of your Jet Justsu techniques.

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Soldier Feats for Starfinder

Unlike the fantasy RPG it evolved from, which has feats only members of the fighter class can take, Starfinder does not have feats that only Soldiers can take. It does have fighting styles and gear boosts as exclusive class features, but those serve somewhat different roles. As a class that is supposed to be the master of standard combat, it still makes sense that soldiers be able to use their bonus combat feats to pick up specific feats that allow them to perform actions in combat other classes cannot master. Here are some possible examples of soldier combat feats.

(Illustration by grandfailure)

Soldier Bonus Feats: These feats can only be taken using the soldier’s bonus combat feat class feature. A soldier must meet the feat’s prerequisites, but also cannot take them with feats gained from other sources–only their bonus feats gained from the soldier class.

BRACE (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You have learned how to set yourself before an attack, trading defense for accuracy.
Prerequisites: Soldier Level 2.
Benefit: At the beginning of your turn, before you take any other actions, you can choose to brace as a move action. You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls, and take a -4 penalty to your EAC and KAC. This penalty does not apply to your AC values against combat maneuvers, and it lasts as long as you are braced and until the beginning of your next turn even if your brace ends. You remain braced until you move, or choose to end your brace as part of any other action (which ends the brace after the action you combine it with).

IMPROVED FIRE SUPPORT (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You know how to fire for effect.
Prerequisites: Soldier Level 2.
Benefit: You you provide covering fire or harrying fire (including when you do so while using other abilities, such as Suppressive Fire), until the beginning of your next turn the bonuses apply to all attacks against the ally you protect with covering fire or attacks allies make against the foe you penalize with covering fire.
Additionally if you take a full attack, you can use one or both of those attacks to perform covering fire or harrying fire (taking the normal attack penalty for your full attack to the attack roll needed for the covering or harrying fire to be successful).

OVERWATCH (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You are skilled at attacking when specific circumstances arrive.
Prerequisites: Soldier level 6.
Benefit: You can ready an action to enter overwatch. While in overwatch, until the beginning of your next turn you can make an attack as a reaction to any action by others that you perceive. Your attack always occurs after the triggering action, you you do not need to declare what that circumstance is in advance. If you are knocked down or moved, your overwatch ends.

OVERWATCH MASTERY (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You are expert at attacking when specific circumstances arrive.
Prerequisites: Overwatch, soldier level 8.
Benefit: When you are in overwatch, you can choose to take a -4 penalty to the first attack you make as part of overwatch. If you do so, you can make a second overwatch attack (also at -4) before the beginning of your next turn.

SKIRMISH (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You can move up quickly to engage foes in melee and move swiftly from target to target.
Prerequisites: Soldier level 4.
Benefit: When you make a full attack with melee attacks, you can move up to your speed. You can move before or after both attacks, but all your movement must be taken at once, and you cannot move between the attacks. Once you make a melee attack roll against a foe while using Skirmish, until the beginning of your next turn your movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity from that foe.
Special: If you also have Spring Attack, when you use Skirmish you can break up your movement to move before, between, and after the attacks as long as your total movement does not exceed your speed.

WALKING FIRE (Combat, Soldier Bonus)
You can move while laying down heavy fire.
Prerequisites: Soldier level 4.
Benefit: When you make a full attack with ranged attacks, you can move up to your speed. You can move before or after both attacks, but all your movement must be taken at once, and you cannot move between the attacks.
Special: If you also have Shot on the Run, when you use Walking Fire you can break up your movement to move before, between, and after the attacks as long as your total movement does not exceed your speed.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts, but especially longer and more experimental ones like this. If you’d like to see more game-bending rule options (or more fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

PF1 Essential Feats, Part 3: General Feats

Last Friday I tackled some “1st Edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Essentials Feat,” a theoretical project to revise all the feats for PF1, cutting down the total number of feats by 80% or so, while maintaining as many character concepts as possible. I also hope to do some rebalancing so feats are all meaningful choices, and possible even tackle class balance issues

I’ve been focusing on Stance Feats, especially the Power Attack stance feats. Today, I decided to work on a many general feats I think can be condensed down to just a few options.

(Art by Lunstream)

DIFFICULTY FOCUS
You have improved how difficult it is for foes to resist one specific ability of yours.
Prerequisites: Spell, special attack, or class feature that has a save DC.
Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s special attacks, or class features, or one school of magic. Add +2 to the DC for all saving throws against the special attack, class feature, or spells and spell-like abilities from the school of magic on which the creature focuses.
Special: A creature can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time the creature takes the feat, it applies to a different school of magic, special attack, or class feature.

NIMBLE MOVES
You can move across a difficult terrain with ease.
Prerequisites: Dex 13.
Benefit: Whenever you move, you may move through a number of 5-foot squares of difficult terrain each round as if it were normal terrain. The number of squares you can move through each round is equal to your Dexterity bonus. This feat allows you to take a 5-foot step into difficult terrain.

SKILL FOCUS
Choose a skill. You are particularly adept at that skill.
Benefit: You get a +3 bonus on all checks involving the chosen skill. If you have 10 or more ranks in that skill, this bonus increases to +6.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new skill.

SKILL SYNERGY
You understand how two skills work well together.
Benefit: Choose two skills. These skills become class skills for you. If one or both were already class skills, you gain a +2 bonus to those skill checks instead. If you have 10 or more ranks in one or both of these skills, you gain an additional +2 bonus to skill checks with those skills.
Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects don’t stack. Each time you take it, it applies to two different skills.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

PF1 Essential Feats, at 2: Power Attack Stance Feats

Last Friday I tackled some “1st Edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Essentials Feat,” a theoretical project to revise all the feats for PF1, cutting down the total number of feats by 80% or so, while maintaining as many character concepts as possible. I also hope to do some rebalancing so feats are all meaningful choices, and possible even tackle class balance issues

One of the things I presented were Stance Feats, and I then rewrote Power Attack to be a prime example of such feats. Today, I am presenting what I see as the key Power Attack Stance feats, compiled, revised, and revisiting dozens of PF1 feats to compile into just 9 total feats. (You can follow the link above to Friday’s post to see how I set up Stance Feats and Power Attack.)

It’s worth noting that, at least at the moment, I don’t plan to make the Improved Combat Maneuver feats Power Attack Stance feats, and may not even keep Power Attack as prerequisites for them. That may change once I get deeper into this project, but for now I’m not including them here.

I also suspect one of the things the fighter class is going to get is a way to have multiple stances active at once. But I’ll figure out how and at what levels to do that after I have more feat stance chains built.

(Art by Lunstream)

Power Attack Stance Feats

POWERFUL ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can focus on inflicting inflict bloody wounds that are slow to heal.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and you damage a foe with a melee attack you inflict 1d4 points of bleed damage, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the weapon. A creature continues to take bleed damage every round at the start of its turn. Bleed damage can be stopped by a Heal check (DC 10 + your base attack bonus) or through any magical healing. Bleed damage from this feat does not stack with itself.
If your base attack bonus is +11 or higher, when you are in Power Attack stance, you may instead choose on melee attack you make each round to attempt to daze your target. This choice must be made before your attack roll. If the attack hits, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the attack that target must make a successful Fortitude save (DC of this save is 10 + your base attack bonus) or be dazed for 1 round. Subsequent attacks in the same round also have a chance to daze targets, but each subsequent melee attack you make in the same round reduces this DC by 5. If the DC drops to 10 or less, there is no change to daze targets.
You cannot use this feat to both cause bleed damage and have a chance to daze targets.

HARDER THEY FALL (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can work with an ally to move or knock over a foe that’s too large for either of you to overcome alone.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, if the first melee attack you make in your turn successfully hits and damages a foe, your allies gain a +2 bonus to combat maneuver bonus checks against that target until the beginning of your next turn. Additionally, until your next turn allies can attempt to bull rush, drag, overrun, reposition, or trip that target even if it is two size categories larger than them.
Normal: Those combat maneuvers can normally only be attempted against creatures no more than one size category larger than you.

INTIMIDATING SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
Your terrible attacks strike fear into your enemies.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, Intimidate 1 rank, base attack b9nus +1.
Benefit: You may add your Strength modifier, rather than Charisma modifier, to Intimidate checks.
When you are in Power Attack stance, the first time in your turn you damage an opponent with a melee, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize your opponent.
Additionally when in Power Attack stance, the first time each combat you drop a foe to 0 or fewer Hit Points, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize all opponent within 60 feet.
Alternatively, if you attempt to demoralize a foe within your reach as a standard action and succeed, you may choose to immediately enter Power Attack stance (ending any other stance you are in) and make a single melee attack against them as a swift action. You cannot then attempt to use this feat to demoralize them again on that attack.

ONSLAUGHT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
No one is prepared for how hard you strike until they see it firsthand.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, sneak attack class feature.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, you can add your sneak attack damage to the first melee attack you make in each combat, even if the target is not flanked or denied their Dex bonus to AC.

PILE ON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can keep a foe shuddering in fear.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Intimidating Smash, Power Attack, Intimidate 6 ranks.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you damage a creature that is shaken, frightened, or panicked, you can choose to deal half your normal damage in order to extend the duration of its fear condition by 1 round.

PUSHING ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can use attacks with two-handed weapons to drive your foes before you.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you make a melee attack that damage sa creature that is no more than one size category larger than you, you can choose to push the target 5 feet directly away from you. Alternative, you can choose to do half damage to push the target 10 feet directly away from you. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunities, and the target must end this move in a safe space it can stand in. You choose which effect to apply after the attack roll has been made, but before the damage is rolled.

SET WEAPON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can set your weapons to deal extra damage against moving foes.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, all weapons you wield with the reach special weapon feature are also treated as if they had the brace weapon special feature. Additionally, if you are using a weapon that normally has the brace special weapon feature, if you successfully hit a target an an attack of opportunity the target provoked from movement, you deal double damage.

SHIELD OF SWINGS (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
A wild frenzy of attacks serves to bolster your defenses.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and make a melee attack, you can choose for all your attacks to do half damage in order to gain a +4 shield bonus to AC and CMD until the beginning of your next turn. The reduction in damage applies until the beginning of your next turn.

SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You overcome obstacles by breaking them.
Prerequisites: Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, your melee attacks ignore 5 points of hardness. This has no effect on DR. You also receive a +5 bonus on Strength checks made to knock down or break open doors.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

PF1 Essentials, Feats and Index

I mentioned on Facebook the idea of doing “Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st edition Essential Feats,” which would cut down on the total number of feats by about 80%, while not significantly reducing the number of different builds you could create with such feat.

Ideally, such a project would also address issues with needless complexity, and known roadblocks to popular character concepts. To be honest, this would also be one major step I would take on a Revised Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st Edition — something I’d want to be 90% or more compatible with existing 1st edition, just with some shuffling with how details work.

As I work on the “PF1 Essentials” idea, I am updating this post so it serves as a compilation of feats, and an index of other PF1 Essentials content.

INDEX

Classes: Here’s a preview of the PF1 Essentials Fighter
Feats: You’re already here!
Spells: We outline some design goals and tackle hold person here.

Stance Feats

My first step in doing all this would be with Stance feats, which make some popular feats easier to access, simpler to run, and slightly more powerful, but also prevents you from benefitting from them all at the same time. I have presented some key ones below.

(Art by Lunstream)

When you use a stance feat, you cannot use any other stance feat that is not the same type of stance feat. For example, if you are using a Power Attack Stance feat, you can use other Power Attack Stance feat, but not a Combat Expertise Stance feat.

CLEAVE (Combat, Cleave Stance)
You can strike two adjacent foes with a single swing.
Prerequisites: Str 13, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: As a standard action, you can make a single melee attack at your full base attack bonus against a foe within reach. If you hit, you deal damage normally and can make an additional melee attack (using your full base attack bonus) against a foe that is adjacent to the first and also within reach. You can only make one additional attack per round with this feat. When you use this feat, you take a –2 penalty to your Armor Class until your next turn.

COMBAT EXPERTISE (Combat, Combat Expertise Stance)
You can increase your defense by focusing on parries and dodges.
Prerequisite: Dex 13 or Int 13.
Benefit: You can choose to enter the Combat Expertise stance to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every +4 thereafter, the dodge bonus increases by +1. You can only choose to use this feat when you declare that you are making an attack or a full-attack action with a melee weapon. The effects of this feat last until your next turn.

POWER ATTACK (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can make exceptionally deadly melee attacks by focusing on powerful swings.
Prerequisites: Str 13, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: You can choose to enter the Power Attack stance, to gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls. This bonus to damage is increased by half (+50%) if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your Strength modifier on damage rolls. This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon.
When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every 4 points thereafter, the bonus to damage increases by +2.
You must choose to use this feat before making an attack roll, and its effects last until your next turn. The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage.

VITAL STRIKE (Combat, Vital Strike Stance)
You make a single attack that deals significantly more damage than normal.
Benefit: When you make only a single attack in a round, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage. Roll the weapon’s damage dice for the attack twice and add the results together before adding bonuses from Strength, weapon abilities (such as flaming), precision-based damage, and other damage bonuses. These extra weapon damage dice are not multiplied on a critical hit, but are added to the total.
You must enter this stance before you make any attack rolls in your turn. Once you have done so, you cannot make any other attacks (including attacks of opportunity) until the beginning of your next turn.
If your base attack bonus is +11 or higher, you instead roll the damage dice for the attack three times. If you base attack bonus is +16, you instead roll the damage dice for the attack four times.

WEAPON FINESSE (Combat, Weapon Finesse Stance)
You are trained in using your agility in melee combat, as opposed to brute strength.
Benefit: With a light weapon or a weapon with the finesse trait (including the elven curve blade, rapier, whip, or spiked chain) made for a creature of your size category, you may use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls and damage rolls. If you carry a shield, its armor check penalty applies to your attack rolls.
You do not add 1.5x your Dexterity modifier to damage with 2-handed finesse weapons. You only add half your Dexterity modifier to damage with off-hand weapons.
Special: Natural weapons are considered light weapons.

(Art by Lunstream)

Power Attack Stance Feats

The following are my current vision of the key Power Attack Stance feats, compiled, revised, and revisiting dozens of PF1 feats to compile into just 9 total feats.

It’s worth noting that, at least at the moment, I don’t plan to make the Improved Combat Maneuver feats Power Attack Stance feats, and may not even keep Power Attack as prerequisites for them. That may change once I get deeper into this project, but for now I’m not including them here.

I also suspect one of the things the fighter class is going to get is a way to have multiple stances active at once. But I’ll figure out how and at what levels to do that after I have more feat stance chains built.

POWERFUL ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can focus on inflicting inflict bloody wounds that are slow to heal.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and you damage a foe with a melee attack you inflict 1d4 points of bleed damage, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the weapon. A creature continues to take bleed damage every round at the start of its turn. Bleed damage can be stopped by a Heal check (DC 10 + your base attack bonus) or through any magical healing. Bleed damage from this feat does not stack with itself.
If your base attack bonus is +11 or higher, when you are in Power Attack stance, you may instead choose on melee attack you make each round to attempt to daze your target. This choice must be made before your attack roll. If the attack hits, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the attack that target must make a successful Fortitude save (DC of this save is 10 + your base attack bonus) or be dazed for 1 round. Subsequent attacks in the same round also have a chance to daze targets, but each subsequent melee attack you make in the same round reduces this DC by 5. If the DC drops to 10 or less, there is no change to daze targets.
You cannot use this feat to both cause bleed damage and have a chance to daze targets.

HARDER THEY FALL (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can work with an ally to move or knock over a foe that’s too large for either of you to overcome alone.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, if the first melee attack you make in your turn successfully hits and damages a foe, your allies gain a +2 bonus to combat maneuver bonus checks against that target until the beginning of your next turn. Additionally, until your next turn allies can attempt to bull rush, drag, overrun, reposition, or trip that target even if it is two size categories larger than them.
Normal: Those combat maneuvers can normally only be attempted against creatures no more than one size category larger than you.

INTIMIDATING SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
Your terrible attacks strike fear into your enemies.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, Intimidate 1 rank, base attack b9nus +1.
Benefit: You may add your Strength modifier, rather than Charisma modifier, to Intimidate checks.
When you are in Power Attack stance, the first time in your turn you damage an opponent with a melee, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize your opponent.
Additionally when in Power Attack stance, the first time each combat you drop a foe to 0 or fewer Hit Points, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize all opponent within 60 feet.
Alternatively, if you attempt to demoralize a foe within your reach as a standard action and succeed, you may choose to immediately enter Power Attack stance (ending any other stance you are in) and make a single melee attack against them as a swift action. You cannot then attempt to use this feat to demoralize them again on that attack.

ONSLAUGHT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
No one is prepared for how hard you strike until they see it firsthand.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, sneak attack class feature.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, you can add your sneak attack damage to the first melee attack you make in each combat, even if the target is not flanked or denied their Dex bonus to AC.

PILE ON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can keep a foe shuddering in fear.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Intimidating Smash, Power Attack, Intimidate 6 ranks.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you damage a creature that is shaken, frightened, or panicked, you can choose to deal half your normal damage in order to extend the duration of its fear condition by 1 round.

PUSHING ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can use attacks with two-handed weapons to drive your foes before you.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you make a melee attack that damage sa creature that is no more than one size category larger than you, you can choose to push the target 5 feet directly away from you. Alternative, you can choose to do half damage to push the target 10 feet directly away from you. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunities, and the target must end this move in a safe space it can stand in. You choose which effect to apply after the attack roll has been made, but before the damage is rolled.

SET WEAPON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can set your weapons to deal extra damage against moving foes.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, all weapons you wield with the reach special weapon feature are also treated as if they had the brace weapon special feature. Additionally, if you are using a weapon that normally has the brace special weapon feature, if you successfully hit a target an an attack of opportunity the target provoked from movement, you deal double damage.

SHIELD OF SWINGS (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
A wild frenzy of attacks serves to bolster your defenses.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and make a melee attack, you can choose for all your attacks to do half damage in order to gain a +4 shield bonus to AC and CMD until the beginning of your next turn. The reduction in damage applies until the beginning of your next turn.

SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You overcome obstacles by breaking them.
Prerequisites: Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, your melee attacks ignore 5 points of hardness. This has no effect on DR. You also receive a +5 bonus on Strength checks made to knock down or break open doors.

General Feats

A big part of doing an “Essentials” line for PF1 is cutting down on the number of similar-but-just-different-enough options s the total number of things a player has to go through is greatly reduced. here are some examples of how I would do that with core general feats.

DIFFICULTY FOCUS
You have improved how difficult it is for foes to resist one specific ability of yours.
Prerequisites: Spell, special attack, or class feature that has a save DC.
Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s special attacks, or class features, or one school of magic. Add +2 to the DC for all saving throws against the special attack, class feature, or spells and spell-like abilities from the school of magic on which the creature focuses.
Special: A creature can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time the creature takes the feat, it applies to a different school of magic, special attack, or class feature.

NIMBLE MOVES
You can move across a difficult terrain with ease.
Prerequisites: Dex 13.
Benefit: Whenever you move, you may move through a number of 5-foot squares of difficult terrain each round as if it were normal terrain. The number of squares you can move through each round is equal to your Dexterity bonus. This feat allows you to take a 5-foot step into difficult terrain.

SKILL FOCUS
Choose a skill. You are particularly adept at that skill.
Benefit: You get a +3 bonus on all checks involving the chosen skill. If you have 10 or more ranks in that skill, this bonus increases to +6.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new skill.

SKILL SYNERGY
You understand how two skills work well together.
Benefit: Choose two skills. These skills become class skills for you. If one or both were already class skills, you gain a +2 bonus to those skill checks instead. If you have 10 or more ranks in one or both of these skills, you gain an additional +2 bonus to skill checks with those skills.
Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects don’t stack. Each time you take it, it applies to two different skills.

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Maneuver Defense Feats for Pathfinder 1e

Some players just hate being disarmed. Or grappled. Or tripped. Or having their weapon sundered. Sure, it’s a reasonable and normal tactical option for GMs, but that doesn’t mean players don’t want ways to improve their defenses against such maneuvers.

(Art by Javier)

The classic answer is to take the appropriate Improved combat maneuver feat, which increase your CMD… but they also does a lot of other things. In fact, their primary abilities are offensive in nature, rather than defensive. Which means an all-defensive version is reasonable… but it needs to not stack, or defensive numbers can grow beyond what the game system is designed to allow.

CMD is also a place where spells and magic items don’t really make up the growing gap in value for characters not focusing on Strength and Dexterity. A wizard can use mage armor to boost their AC, and get ever-more-effective bracers of armor as they gain levels. But if they want to keep their Intelligence competitive, they can’t afford to boost their Strength and Dexterity as they go up in levels. Other classes have the same (or worse) problems, especially those dependent on multiple attributes.

There should be SOME way to make sure their CMD can stay in good defensive ranges if they expend character build resources on it, without also allowing high-Strength, high-Dexterity characters to become effectively immune.

Those are pretty narrow design spaces, but they’re certainly ones we can work with.

Combat Maneuver Defensive Focus (Combat)
You have trained yourself to avoid one specific combat maneuver.
Benefit: Select one combat maneuver. You gain a +4 bonus to your CMD against this combat maneuver. This bonus does not stack with the bonus to CMB from the matching Improved (Combat Maneuver) feat. When you gain a level, you may replace this feat with the matching Improved (Combat maneuver) feat if that feat is a legal choice for your character.
Special: You may select this feat more than once. Its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, you must apply it to a different combat maneuver.

Combat Maneuver Specialized Training (Combat)
You have learned to maximize the benefits of your natural talents to avoid being overwhelmed by combat maneuvers.
Benefit: When calculating your CMD, you may replace either your Strength bonus or Dexterity bonus with the ability bonus of one other ability score of your choice. Once these decisions are made, they cannot be changed.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Fallback Feats for 5e, PF1, PF2, and Starfinder

Tuesday’s Fallback feats were a bit hit. Sadly, circumstances prevented me from posting two new rules-elements worth of content Wednesday.

So, today not only am I giving your four new Fallback feats, they all work in four game systems — 5e, PF1, PF2, and Starfinder. Though these these feats are written using Pathfinder 1e/Starfinder terminology and formatting (I didn’t take the time to write 4 slightly different versions of each), the actual feats and rules themselves work in all 4 game systems.

These feats all fallow the normal Fallback Feat rules.

ELDRITCH BACKLASH [Fallback]
Your magic harms those that ignore it.
Benefit: When you cast a 1st level or higher spell that does not affect any creatures or significant objects you target or that are in the area, one target of your choice with an AC no greater than 15 + your caster level takes damage equal to one weapon in your possession with which you are proficient (without adding any bonus damage from ability scores, feats, or special abilities), or 5 HP per level of the spell, whichever is greater.

LEARN FROM FAILURE [Fallback]
You are constantly analyzing your efforts, and even when you do not succeed, you may learn something useful from your failure.
Benefit: When you fail at an attack roll or an ability check or skill check to identify, recall lore about, disarm, disable, or bypass a creature, trap, or hazard, or survive or get along in the wilderness, you may immediately make an appropriate ability or skill check to learn one new relevant fact about the creature, object, or region involved at the normal skill DC to learn information or recall knowledge. Multiple failed checks can reveal multiple new pieces of information without the DC increasing.

Fallback Entangled
(Art by GrandFailure)

SIMMERING RAGE [Fallback]
Even when a foe incapacitates you, your anger at being sidelined grows.
Benefit: When you are unwillingly bound, charmed, enchanted, entangled, grabbed, grappled, held, paralyzed, petrified, or magically slept by a foe (or foe’s trap or hazard) during a combat encounter in such a way that you cannot take any effective actions, you gain a +1 bonus to saving throws, rolls, or checks to end the situation incapacitating you (if any), which is cumulative if you are incapacitated for multiple rounds.
Additionally when you stop being incapacitating, you gain a +4 bonus to any attack roll or skill check you make in your first full around, and tot he save DC of any spell or ability you use that round.

STREAKBREAKER [Fallback]
Your bad luck doesn’t last forever.
Benefit: When you fail an attack roll or skill check roll (not including taking 10 or taking 20) and your d20 result for the check was 11 or worse, you gain a +1 luck bonus to all attack rolls and skill checks where you make a d20 roll until you succeed at one. If you already have a luck bonus active from this feat when you qualify for it again, you luck bonus increased by 1 until you succeed at a skill check or attack roll.

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Fallback Feats for Pathfinder 1e

It can be frustrating, as a player, to have your entire round go by without doing anything effective. It’s especially frustrating when you tried to do something cool, and the end result is nothing but wasted effort.

On the other hand, if you can’t fail at things, the thrill of success is dimmed.

But failure can be relative. When you lob a fireball at a group of giants and they all make their save, they at least take SOME damage. If you lob a fireball at a group of ninja with evasion, the end result may be doing no damage at all.

Ideally, the game moves along fast enough you can shrug off the bad round and look forward to more opportunities. But that isn’t always the case, and some players seem to have the bad luck to be totally ineffective multiple rounds in a row… and that’s no fun.

Enter the fallback feat… an entirely untested idea on how to make failure less frustrating.

Fallback Feats
Fallback feats only function in rounds when you have not taken any action that exceeded a foe’s CMD, caused a foe to take damage, or caused a foe to fail a saving throw. Ongoing events from previous rounds can do those things, but if any action you take manages one of those effects, your fallback feat does not function that round. Fallback feats also require you to have attempted some specific actions, which must also fail in order for the feat to function.

Fallback Witch
(Art by Roman)

ELDRITCH BOLSTER [Fallback]
When your magic energy fails to effect any foe, it instead bolsters your health.
Prerequisites: Caster level 1st
Benefit: When you cast a spell that has an effect other than to deal damage, and it is entirely negated by saving throws or spell resistance, you gain temporary hit points equal to double the spell’s level. These hp do not stack with other temp hp gained from this feat, and last for 10 minutes or until expended.

HONED DEFENSES [Fallback]
When your efforts to harm your foes fail, you instinctively step up your defenses.
Prerequisites: Caster level 1st or base attack bonus +1
Benefit: When you have made at least one attack that could deal damage, or used a damage-dealing ability or spell, and no foe or targeted object took damage as a result, you gain a +2 bonus to your AC, CMD, and saving throws. You apply this bonus to the next attacks made against you or saves you make before the beginning of your next turn. The bonus applies to a maximum number of attacks or saves equal to the number of attacks you made or creatures you targeted or had in a damaging area.

For example, if you caught three ninja in a fireball and damaged none of them, and didn’t take any other effective actions this round, you apply your Honed Defenses bonus to the next three attacks or saves you make before the beginning of your next turn.

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Mutations as Alternate Class Features (for Starfinder)

One of the interesting things about designing things in blog-sized pieces is seeing how gamers respond to various concepts as they are being developed. In the case of GammaFinder (and it’s conceptually but not-yet-existent cousin, FreedomFinder) there has been a huge surge of interest in mutant abilities and tiered mutations, and ways characters can get them.

PA Distant Ruins

(art by David Edwards)

I had developed options for gaining mutations with alternate racial traits, a theme, an archetype, a feat, and as alternate class features for a single class (soldier). Given how well all of that has been received, I’m adding rules for alternate class features to gain mutations for all the official Starfinder classes, and compiling all the other options to-date in one post (and adding one new archetype), to make it easy for folks to look at these rules all in one place.

(My Patreon backers also got a post today compiling all the mutant abilities and tiered mutations I have released to-date. There’s no new rules in that post, just all the info in one place, but it that appeals to you, go become a Patron!)

MUTIE THEME (+1 to any)
Yup, you’re a mutie.
Theme Knowledge (1st)
Your brain focuses on something a little differently than other people. Select one skill to gain as a class skill or (if you already have it as a class skill at 1st level) gain a +1 racial bonus to.
In addition, you gain an ability adjustment of +1 to one ability score of your choice at character creation.
Mutation (6th, 12th)
Your mutant abilities grow and evolve. Select a mutation from the Mutant Abilities list, below.
Mutant Heartiness (18th)
Your mutant physiology allows you to recover more easily than those with standard genomes. Twice per day you can recover Stamina Points after a 10-minute rest without expending a Resolve Point to do so. This does reset any abilities that normally reset after you expend a Resolve Point to recover Stamina Points after a rest.

PA Six Arms

(art by warmtail)

ALTERNATE RACIAL TRAITS: MUTANTS
You are a mutated version of your base species. You gain one 
Mutant Ability for which you meet the prerequisites. Your mutation replaces the following racial feature, based on your species, as noted below:
Core Species – Android (upgrade slot), Human (bonus feat), Kasatha (natural grace), Lashunta (lashunta magic), Shirren (communalism), Vesk (armor savant), Ysoki (moxie)
Legacy Species – Dwarf (traditional enemy), Elf (elven magic), Gnome (gnome magic), Half-Elf (adaptability), Half-Orc (orc ferocity), Halfling (sure-footed)
Other Species– Astrazoan (rapid revival), Bantrid (balanced), Borai (resist energy drain), Ghoran (past-life knowledge), Haan (slow fall), Hobgoblin (battle hardened), Kalo (cold resistance), Maraquoi (blindsense), Nuar (maze mind), Orc (fierce survivalist), Pahtra (wary), Skittermander (grappler), Strix (nightborn), Uplfted Bear (limited telepathy).

ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURES

BIOHACKER ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Evolution
Evolution: Whether in an effort to evolve yourself intentionally, or in reaction to exposure to the materials you use to biohack, you gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your biohacker level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of a theorem. You make this decisions each time you gain the theorem class feature.

ENVOY ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Genetic Progress
Genetic Progress: You discover a latent tendency within yourself that can be brought to full expression, allowing you to gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your envoy level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of an envoy improvisation or expertise talent. You make this decision each time you gain one of those class features.

MECHANIC ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Genetic Engineering
Genetic Engineering: You engineer your own gene sequence, perhaps intentionally, perhaps in a bid to prevent some ailment from striking you down, and gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your mechanic level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of a mechanic’s trick. You make this decisions each time you gain the mechanic’s trick class feature.

MYSTIC ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Altered State
Altered State: Your connection to the universe allows you to become something more, and you gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your mystic level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of a connection power gained from your connection. You make this decisions each time you gain a new connection power.

OPERATIVE ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Genetic Quirk
Genetic Quirk: You have always been a little different, so it is no shock to you when you gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your operative level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of an operative exploit. You make this decisions each time you gain the operative exploit class feature.

SOLARIAN ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Cosmic Mutation
Cosmic Mutation: Channeling the power of cosmic radiation, you gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your solarian level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of a theorem. You make this decision each time you gain the theorem class feature.

SOLDIER: Mutant Power, Combat Mutation

New Gear Boost
Mutant Power: You gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your soldier level. You cannot select this gear boost more than once.

Alternate Class Feature; Combat Mutation
Combat Mutation: Maybe you have been exposed to one to many leaky plasma cannons power cores, maybe you have spent too much time in radiation-blasted battlefields, but you gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your soldier level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of combat feat. You make this decision each time you gain the combat feat class feature.

PA Electroflies

(art by grandfailure)

TECHNOMANCER ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Gene-Hack
Gene-Hack: Perhaps you meant to warp your genetic code by turning your eldritch powers inward, perhaps it was an accident, but you gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your technomancer level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of a magic hack. You make this decision each time you gain the magic hack class feature.

VANGUARD ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Genetic Discipline
Genetic Discipline: Entropy controls all things, including the errors in DNA that lead to mutation. Using this knowledge, you gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your vanguard level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of a vanguard discipline. You make this decision each time you gain the vanguard discipline class feature.

WITCHWARPER ALTERNATE CLASS FEATURE: Alternate DNA
Alternate DNA: IN the infinite number of alternate realities, there are infinite variations of you, each with different combinations of DNA. You duplicate one of the variations in an alternate version of yourself, and gain a mutant ability. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your witchwarper level.
You may select this alternate class feature in place of a paradigm shift. You make this decision each time you gain the paradigm shift class feature.

PA Powered Woman

(art by warmtail)

MUTAMORPH (Archetype)
Your body, exposed to the strange energies of the GammaFinder World, has morphed.
Mutation (2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12)
At these levels you may choose a mutant ability (see below) as an archetype ability, or take your class’s normal class feature instead. Each time you take a mutant ability, you may also replace one mutant ability gained at an earlier level from the archetype or the mutie theme with a new mutation (losing the old mutant ability).

POWERED MUTATION (Archetype)
You have a single, growing, focused mutant power.
Mutation (2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th)
Select on tiered mutation. You gain one tier of this mutation at every even class level. This replaces your normal class features at the levels listed above. You cannot gain tiers in this tiered mutation from any other source.

NEW FEAT: MUTANT
MUTANT
You do not fall within the most common genetic baseline for your species.
Benefit: Select one Mutant Ability for which you meet the prerequisites. You gain this mutant ability.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times, but not more than once per 3 levels. If you use this to increase a tiered mutant ability, it cannot grant a tier higher than half your character level.