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More Random Thoughts

I suspect I still won’t have time to DO anything with these, but as I find or recall ideas I have while on these painkillers, I like to publicly archive them.
So, the idea is a series of Class Plots. Specific ways the abilities and options of various classes can be worked into any existing storyline, to help PCs feel special. For example:
Barbarian: A race of manipulative puppermasters are aiding the Main Bad Guy (whoever that is in your adventure). They are invisible and intangible.. except to people in rage.
Bard: A major Weapon of the enemy is an ancient song that controls the minds of those who hear it, but which countersong works especially well against.
Cleric; An ancient rite of the Old Church, which can ONLY be prepared as a domain spell (self-scaling so its more effecting when prepared as a higher level spell)
Druid: A nature-based magical beast with an Int of 1 or 2 that is a CRUCIAL ally… but can ONLY be handled using wild empathy.
Fighter: A weapon forged in ancient days to help defeat the Main Threat (whatever that is), but can only be wielder by someone who has special Weapon Training.
… and so on.

Things I have thought about in the past 12 hours.

*Kite golems. Most likely as Asian, ninjaesque spies.
*A series of short PDFs called “The Twist!” each one gives a single game-mechanical bolt-on option for a creature, encounter, location, or items, and discusses ways to use that to change existing things to focus on new stuff. Like, a simple template that turns any creature into a ghost possessing its own dead corpse. A deadly trap that has killed so many psychics, it has become self-aware (and both hates its existence, and feels it must fulfill it’s core function). An archetype that lets a cleric be the only worshiper of her god, in all the universe. A complex family tree, with both great heroes and ancient tyrants, that can be used to slot any PC or NPC into a vast and storied geneaology.
*Modern spells with joke (but thematically appropriate) components. Like something that makes poison safe to eat, but requires ketchup or pepper; or one that lets you fire a fiorearm without reloading, but requires a DVD of an action film as a focus.
*A fantasy stronghold that is headquarters and working churgical center of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller, as a site for adventures, or a base of operation, or a way for GMs to allow PCs to fix any character-ruining ailment, but only after completing an adventure there.
*A time traveler who can only go from one bordello to another, because it’s the World’s Oldest Profession.
*A new category of Spell Dragons, broken down by school (Evocation Dragons, Divination Dragons, et al)
*For a near-future setting: Remote drone flying taxis called AirLyft.
*According to this note I scribbled down while sleeping – “Th band is the hive.” I’ll see if I remember anything more about that.
*Also “Twinkie porn.” … I HOPE I was thinking of a Pinterest-like site for people who love to look at pictures of interesting twinkie recipes.
*Genre Mash-Ups. Old West Vikings (“Longarm”). Post-Apocalypse Jungle Book. Tron/Transformers (Cyber-Tron).
Some other stuff I have written down in the other room…

There Are Unspeakable Things, and Magic is Dangerous

Painkiller-induced idea for how to add more Lovecraft vibes to your Pathfinder game, while also balancing out martials and casters.

10% of everything with a CR you encounter is Noisome and Disquieting. (The GM should get a list of Lovecraft Adjectives, or Lovecraftives, so as to easily describe these things.)

When encountering them, you must make a Will or Fort save (whichever is better for you). If you fail, you gain a negative level and take a -5 penalty to your attack and damage rolls and save DCs for 1 hour. The DC for this save is 15 + CR.

If you fail this save by 10 or more, the GM gets to run your character as a madman for 1 round per CR, or slip you a note about a new (crazy) objective you have picked up and aren’t telling anyone about.

Because magic is dangerous and full of knowledge that can blast your inner self, your save against Noisome and Disquieting things takes a penalty equal to the highest level spell or spell-like ability you can cast, plus -1 for each supernatural ability you possess.


A rough sketch of vague thoughts of an idea for Pathfinder Magic

I don’t have time for it, but there’s a more flexible form of spellcasting I have often wanted to play with, as a design space.

In it’s simplest form, it would work something like this.

You prepare a number of effects for the day, in the same way an arcanist currently prepares spells. You’d also prepare a number of Descriptors, like charm, and fire. You might get one per ability score bonus, I dunno.

Effects might look like this:

0-Level Effect: Bolt (1d3 Descriptor damage, ranged touch, short range)
Detect Magic (Detect magic, identify Descriptor)

1st-Level Effect: Enamor (become friendly toward caster 1 minutes/level, if Charm Descriptor double duration, if other descriptor target deals 1dr Descriptor damage when adjacent to you).
Spray (1d4/level Descriptor damage, 15 ft cone, save for 1/2)

You’d have a set number of Effects/day, but each time you used it you could pick or effect (so if you got 3 1st-level effects per day you could use Enamor three times, Enamor twice and Spray once, or whatever). (Or the system could use Spell Points.)

Each time you cast an effect, you choose from your available Descriptors. Then Descriptors would be like:

charm: Unless an effect specifies otherwise for this descriptor – Damaging spells deal nonlethal damage. If target fails save by 5 or more, or you hit target’s AC by 5 or more, it takes a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls against you and saves against your effects with the charm Descriptor for 1 minute.
fire: Unless an effect specifies otherwise for this descriptor – Damaging spells deal fire damage. If target fails save by 5 or more, or you hit target’s AC by 5 or more, it catches on fire.


That’s just the most basic sketch, but the core idea is that there’s a big list of effects, and a small list of Descriptors. Each Descriptor makes a small change to how spells work (or, in a few cases, a big change), and maybe some effects can’t be used with some Descriptors (no shadow Light effects perhaps). A caster would have a wide range of options by combining a smaller set of rules, and if you want to play an Ice Mage you’d never have to worry about burning hands, scorching ray, and fireball being your best offensive choices.

There are question that would have to be answered (what does fire Cure Light Wounds look like? Should the Divination school become the divination descriptor, or does fire augury require a fire to look into to cast it? How many descriptors is too many for the system, and how do we decide which ones a spellcaster gets?)

But, seriously, it’s not something I have time to work on…

Alternate Level Advancement: An Idle Thought

I haven’t even really begun to consider the implications of this, but:
What if, as an alternate form of Level Advancement, instead of tracking experience points, you tracked encounters.
And instead of all encounters counting toward this total, you have to get a certain number of various types.
For example, to gain a level you must have 14 encounters, which must include 1 combat with 8 or more foes, 1 combat with 4-6 foes, 1 combat with 2-3 foes, 1 combat with a single foe, 2 social encounters, 2 roleplaying encounters, 1 trap, 1 puzzle, and 1 exploration or investigation.
Of the 4 combat encounters, 2 must be against foes with strong magic resistance, and one must be against a foe with strong weapon resistance.
No more than 1 encounter in each category can be APL -1 or lower in CR, and no more than 7 can be APL -1 or lower CR. Encounters with a CR of APL +3 or higher count as two.
These would be tacked on a simple encounter sheet, which would also name enc encounter (and have a line for notes, helping players and GM easily remember what has happened).If you have an encounter of a type you’ve already maxed out, you track it as a repetitive encounter. For every three repetitive encounters you have, you can mark off an encounter of a different type.
If the GM fails to make the appropriate encounters available 75% of the time, you get to throw pickles at him.
(I DID mention this is a first blush idea.)


This is just an exploration of ideas that are already out there, in an effort to create a game with familiar rules and a different feel. It borrows heavily from Ryan Stoughton’s E6: The Game Inside the World’s Most Popular Roleplaying Game, and numerous other sources.

  1. Character level is unlimited, but class levels are capped, based on what kind of character you are.
    a. Mooks are limited to 3rd level. These may well be professionals, but they are no one of importance.
    b. Veterans are capped at 4th level. Veterans are Mooks who have accomplished a lot, and are a step above. Veterans may be sergeants, old soldiers, experienced burglars, knights, students of great promise, or highly skilled craftsmen.
    c. Notables are limited to 5th level. Notables are a cut above the rank-and-file of even experienced characters. These may be guild leaders, captains of the guard, city champions, lieutenants to major heroes or villains, and so on.
    d. Heroes are limited to 6th level, and the people stories are told about and who get hired by cities to slay dragons and end curses.
    e. Legends are limited to 7th level and are, well, the stuff of legends.
    “Typical” campaigns will start characters at 3rd, allow them to advance to 6th normally, and then
  2. When a character’s level exceeds his class level, he gains +2 hp and +1 bonus feat. He must meet the prerequisites, and if his levels are all in one class (such as fighter) he gets to treat his character level as his class level to meet these prerequisites.
  3. Bonuses by Level, from Pathfinder Unchained, are in use.
  4. There is no assumed wealth by level. Non-consumable magic items require rare and dangerous materials to craft, and are almost never for sale. If you get a magic item, you’ll actually be *better* at the area it boosts, rather than requiring it just to keep up. Magic treasure is rare, and many creatures won’t have much wealth… though gold may actually be more plentiful in big adventures, since it doesn’t equate to combat power.
  5. Because the range of attack numbers are much more tightly clumped (base attack bonuses only go from +1 to +6 in most games), instead of roll 1d20 for attacks, skills, saves, checks, and so on, 2d10 are rolled. This produces more average numbers more often. Critical threat ranges for all weapons are increased by 1 AFTER all other adjustments. (So a battleaxe is 19-20, x3, and a keen battleaxe is 81-20, x3).
  6. Monsters are also capped by effective CR, though in most cases this is a hard cap of CR 7 (though legendary monsters can go up to CR 11… an epic fight for a group of legendary heroes). When a monster exceeds this CR (such as ) it takes the Target Monster Statistics by CR (from the Bestiary) for its CR cap, and it brought down to those levels. For every +1 CR it normally exceeds its CR cap, it gains 1 bonus feat, +2.5 hp, +1 to primary attack and average damage, and +.5 to AC, all saves, secondary attacks, average secondary damage, save DCs. It’s CMB and CMD are reduced by an amount equal to what its primary attack is reduced.
    For example a typical Dire Crocodile is not legendary, and thus has a CR cap of 7. Since it’s actually CR 9, its statistics are restricted to the target numbers for CR 7, plus adjustments for being CR 9. It’s hp go down to 90 (85 for target CR 7, +5 for 2 cr beyond that), it’s AC stays at 21 (20 for CR 7, +1 for 2 CR beyond), it’s bite goes down to +15 (+13 for CR 7 target, +2 for +2 CR beyond) and 3d6+14 (32 average, no improved crit), tail slap +11/ 4d8+5 (average 23), death roll and swallow whole also 4d8+5, CMB +23, CMD 33.
    Of course this still means even a non-legendary adult red dragon (CR 14) is incredibly dangerous, with an AC of 23 and six attacks, even if the primary is restricted to +20 and low attacks to +13 (though in its case, damage doesn’t change), and a breath weapon that deals 5d10 (DC 20 for half).


Give Yourself a Hand #Microfeats

Give Yourself a Hand. As a result of a spectacularly unfortunate and unusual magical mishap, your left hand’s attachment to your body is optional. Under most circumstances, you and your hands function just like everyone else’s. However, you left hand can detach can function independently.

This function as the alchemist tumor familiar discovery, except the “familiar” is your left hand and is treated as a cat with a smash rather than a bite (damage based on its size), it doesn’t have scent, it does have Grab which is can use on creatures of up to your size. And it can use a single magic glove, and one magic ring, and no other magic items. Also, if the hand is not in line of sight of you, it’s blind. And while it’s gone, you don’t have a left hand (and being missing a hand doesn’t qualify as “having a hand free” for abilities that require a free hand).

While you hand is attached, there’s no sign it’s unusual and nothing short of a miracle or wish reveals its true nature. While detached, it’s a separate hand crawling about and it’s pretty obviously weird. If your hand is ever destroyed (while detached or not) it regrows in 24 hours.

#Microfeats #WTF

Thaumaturge, a Pathfinder RPG Base Class in 2 paragraphs + I sentence.

Thaumaturge: The thaumature is a base class that grants the greatest possible range of spells available and spells per day… and nothing else. Use hit dice, proficiencies, base attack, base saves, starting wealth, and starting age as an arcanist. Use class skills as an arcanist, except you do not receive Use Magic Device as a class skill. Gain 4 + Int mod skill points/level.

Gain cantrips, spells prepared, and spells per day, as an arcanist with a +1 bonus to each value for every spell level you can cast spells (so a 1st level thaumatuge has 3 spells per day, and 5 0-level and 3 1st-level spells prepared). Gain spellcasting and spellbooks as an arcanist. However, you can select, learn, copy into your spellbook, and cast spells from any class’s spell list. If the spell has a game mechanical prerequisite you cannot meet (such as modifying how your bardic performance works, when you have no bardic performance) then casting it has no affect. You can select spells from classes that don’t use spellbooks through scrolls, selecting them as your 2 spells known gained at easch level, or spell research, as if they were sorcerer/wizard spells.

You gain no other class features.

Future to the Back

In 33 minutes, relative to my own time zone I will, as far as my brain is concerned, live in the future.
Yes, it’s an entirely arbitrary definition of the future based on a time travel comedy, but it has real meaning for me. Unlike many things I watched that happened in “the future,” from the time I saw them – such as Escape From New York, 2001, Clockwork Orange and (and the upcoming ‘futures’ for Running Man, and still-far-out Demolition Man), BtF2 really felt like a far-off but achievable date that would come *someday*.
I used to be really concerned about the future, but those thoughts are mostly back-burnered nowadays.
The future has some awesome stuff. Netflix and Internet are awesome. Stadium seating in theaters is nice. There’s some social stuff I didn’t even realize were issues in the 1980-s that we’ve made major progress on (and some we haven’t).
I’m married. I’m a professional game designer. I live in Seattle. I can order a book from a device held in my hand at 3am and have it to read 90 seconds later. People add bacon to donuts. Lord of the Rings movies exist, and are amazing.
Smart phones, which mean I have my own communicator. Electric cars. Mars probes.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the future.

Though jetpacks would have been cooler.

Fever-Induced Ideas

Though Gen Con was awesome, I now have the worst Con Crud ever.

A surprising number of people have told me they’ve enjoyed my flu- and fatigue-induced ramblings over the years, and wanted me to go ahead and write something in this state. Mostly I don’t have the energy – a few quick posts are actually still tiring right now – but with a fresh dose of Dayquil and some bouillon in my system I can make a quick run at some stream-of-semi-consciousness ideas. These are undeveloped and (basically) unedited.

The Spell Warrens – An ancient labyrinth that is actually the fallen spellbook of a dead god or titan. Its corridors and passages are literally the letters of the forgotten deity’s spells. Walking them evokes some of that ancient magic, so the Fireball Chambers are well-known for creating fiery apparitions (fire elementals and fire-themed haunts), and the Shield Halls create force shields that may protect someone for days, or may crush them or suffocate them.
Despite being centuries old and having no living creatures within, the Spell Warrens remain popular adventuring destination. Spellcasters occasionally find walking the dangerous corridors gives them powerful insights into lost magics, and non-casters are occasionally gifted with sorcerous ability. And legend claims there are “secret pages” no one has ever found, containing spells known only to the gods themselves…

Necrovirus — A sentient, undead disease. It spreads like the flu, keeps its hosts alive for a few days to infect more people, and forms a hivemind with itself as it spreads to more bodies. So yes, being bitten by a zombie turns you into a zombie eventually, but that’s not the REAL threat. OTOH, it is also a disease that can infect and destroy other undead, so if a bargain can be struck with it…

Vapor Golem — created with magic bellows, pressurized jars, and wind tunnels shaped into sigils, it’s a golem of gasses, most likely poisons gaseous, that is to an air elemental as a stone golem is to an earth elemental.

Expedition to the Peak Barriers – An adventure for a hard sci-fi campaign that finds an enormous stone structure floating in deep space. The object prevents accurate observations of a star at the edge of the galaxy, and is thus known as the Peak Barrier. This turns out to be a pocket dimension created by a sorcerer from another reality long ago. The sci-fi PCs get to deal with weird fantasy defenses and creatures left over, as well as legendary technologies from precursor civilizations that also sent expeditions here, though none ever returned.

Undead Wood – Wagons and ships made of planks from undead trees, that can move themselves. Mortwood, or black oak, or something.

Rod of Ordinariness – A magic device that can cause any one of 100 or so typical, uninteresting effects. Like cooling nearby beverages, saying “fuck” in 20 different languages, or making bland meals salty. It cycles through these powers at a regular and predictable rate.