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“Imaginary Friend,” a Quirky Feat for ShadowFinder (a Starfinder Play Mode)

This feat is specifically designed for ShadowFinder, a play mode for Starfinder, but should work in any Starfinder game where it is thematically appropriate. It’s in a category called “Quirky Feats,” that a GM may exclude from a ShadowFinder game… or might give every character one as a bonus when the campaign starts, or after a major event. In this case, the feat represents a character with an apparently at least semi-real “imaginary friend.”

Imaginary Friend (Quirky)
There’s a…. thing, that talks to you sometimes. It may look like an animated mouse in a trenchcoat with pistols. Or a stuffed animal from your childhood. Or a translucent ghost costume made out of a sheet. You’re not sure it’s real. But it seems to want to help, and it’s not like you haven’t seen weirder things…
Benefit: With very rare exceptions, only see your imaginary friend.

(Or maybe your imaginary friend is the logo off one of your favorite ttRPG books, come to life to save you. Art by ヴィダル.)

Most of the time, your imaginary friend comes and goes without doing a lot to help (often making snide remarks in the process). Your GM can use this as an opportunity to have an NPC around to crack jokes, though they should be sure they aren’t so annoying with this that you (the player) regret spending a precious feat slot to get an imaginary friend. It’s fine for your character to wish they didn’t have an imaginary friend, but overall you should be enjoying the experience.

You can choose to have your character’s imaginary friend take one of the following actions. This is not dependent on the character being free to act—the action occurs on the character’s initiative count, but can be taken even if the character is unconscious, paralyzed, nauseated, or unable to take any action. Once you have used this ability you cannot do so again until after you next recuperate*, and doing so requires you to expend a number of Resolve Points equal to the number of times you’ve already used the ability in the same day.

Demoralize: The imaginary friend briefly reveals itself to a creature, and makes a check to demoralize that creature, as the demoralize task of Intimidate. The check has a special bonus bonus equal to your level plus your Charisma modifier or key ability modifier, whichever is higher.

Gather Information: The imaginary friend zooms around and spies on conversations… but somewhat at random. Imaginary friend comes back with the information at the beginning of your next turn, and this functions as the gather information task of Diplomacy. The check has a special bonus bonus equal to your level plus your Charisma modifier or key ability modifier, whichever is higher.

Look Out!: Your imaginary friend warns you about an ethereal or incorporeal creature, which it can see even if you don’t. As a move action each round you can listen to it try to describe what and where the threat is. This allows you to make an appropriate recall knowledge check to identify the creature, prevents you from being flat-footed or off-target against it, and tells you what square it is in. This lasts for one round per character level, after which your imaginary friend falls unconscious in dizzy frustration.

Snap Out of It: The imaginary friend tries to snap you out of a mind-affecting effect. It may do this gentle… or it may blow an airhorn in your ear, set fire to your toes, or treat your nose as a punching bag, depending on its personality and attitude. You gain an immediate saving throw against one mind-affecting effect you are under, at the same DC as its original save. This is a boosted** roll. If the save succeeds, the effect ends.

*Recuperate is my proposed term for when a character takes 10 minutes and expends a Resolve Point to regain all their Stamina Points.
**Boosted is a term that refers to a d20 roll with a special benefit. If the d20 result is a 1-10 (the die shows a 1-10), you add +10 to the result (so, effectively, a boosted roll always results in a value from 11-20, though only an actual 20 on the die counts as a “natural” 20).

Patreon
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 Starfinder or ShadowFinder content (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!

Weapons in ShadowFinder, a Starfinder Play Mode

In the upcoming ShadowFinder modern fantasy play mode for Starfinder, weapons don’t do a set damage based on their item level, and mundane, typical weapons aren’t bought with credits. Instead anything reasonably available to a typical person (bolt cutters, road flares, blue jeans, baseball bats, cars, firearms, bandages, and so on) use a wealth mechanic to see if you can find and afford what you want when you want it. Credits are used for more esoteric items, such as magic and hybrid equipment, fringe science, psychically imbued crystals, alien relics, and so on.

Similarly, rather than a set damage, weapons have their damage based on a damage tier, which is calculated using a set of rules that are being polished as we speak. If you are proficient with a weapon, it’s base damage tier is your character level. If you are not proficient, it’s base damage tier is your base attack bonus -2 (and you suffer the normal nonproficiency penalty to your attack roll). Weapons then have a damage tier modifier, often based on things like their critical hit effects and special properties.

Here’s a sample of what some melee weapons will look like, and how the damage tier chart works.

Baseball Bat (1-h/2-h Basic Melee Weapon)
Wealth Check: 10
Damage Tier -1 (B)
Properties: Analog, archaic,
Critical Hit Effect: Knockdown

Stiletto (Operative Melee Weapon)
Wealth Check: 12
Damage Tier +0 (P)
Properties: Analog, conceal, feint
Critical Hit Effect: Bleed (1d6, +1d6/5 damage tiers)

Single Target Melee KAC Weapons

Damage   1-h          2-h                       1-h           2-h
Tier     Adv.        Adv.      Oprtv      Basic       Basic

-3            1d2         1d4          1 pt.        1 pt.        1d2

-2            1d3         1d4          1 pt.        1 pt.        1d3

-1            1d3         1d4          1 pt.        1d3         1d3

0              1d4         1d6         1d3         1d4         1d4

1              1d4         1d6         1d3         1d4         1d6

2              1d6         1d6         1d4         1d6         1d6

3              1d6         1d8         1d4         1d6         1d6

4              1d8         1d8         1d4         1d6         1d8

5              1d8         1d10      1d6         1d8          1d8

6              2d4         2d6         1d6         1d8         1d10

7              2d6         2d8         1d8         1d10      1d12

8              2d8         3d6         2d4         1d10      2d8

9              3d6         4d6         2d6         2d8         3d6

10           4d6         5d6         3d4         2d8         3d8

11           5d6         4d8         2d8         2d10      4d6

12           4d8         6d6         3d6         3d8         5d6

13           6d6         7d6         3d8         3d10      4d8

14           6d8         9d6         4d6         4d8         5d8

15           9d6         10d6      5d6         5d8         8d6

16           10d6      11d6      6d6         6d8         9d6

17           12d6      13d6      7d6         7d8         10d6

18           14d6      15d6      8d6         8d8         12d6

19           16d6      17d6      9d6         9d8         13d6

20           18d6      20d6      10d6      11d8      15d6

21           20d6      22d6      11d6      12d8      17d6

22           22d6      25d6      12d6      13d8      19d6

Patreon
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 Starfinder or ShadowFinder content (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!

Owen Explains It All: Tiny Terrors for Starfinder

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

This post is tagged as an “Owen Explains It All” post because it links into a show from the BAMF podcast I’m on, titled “Owen Explains It All!“. We do episodes picking new or classic things from the zeitgeek to use as inspiration for game material, specifically the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. This article ties in to the “Owen Explains It All: Ice Pirates” episode.

In this ep. we talked about a lot of the shameless scene-stealing of Ice Pirates (and, to be honest, added content warnings we discovered we needed after watching the movie for the first time in decades — not all old content holds up), and focused on the scenes that resented a small, fast, infectious threat that serves as a B Plot in the movie.

The show has a logo and everything!

(Logo by the amazing Jacob Blackmon)

This kind of small, infectious, lurking threat is fairly common in scifi fiction, but not well-supported by most existing Starfinder monsters. It works particularly well when the PCs are stuck in a specific area, such as on a starship during a long voyage, in a city or prison complex, or taking shelter in an ancient alien ruin to escape a deadly ion storm ravaging the outside. It can also work well as a recurring threat — a tiny terror that attacks the players, works to infect one, then flees the scene only to come back again later.

So whether your PCs are dealing with an alien that burst out of someone’s chest at lunch, acid-spitting reptilian aliens working to establish dominance, or a disgusting git that’s infected your ship, you can create a new kind of threat for your players by introducing a tiny terror to your Starfinder game.

THE TINY TERROR

Sometimes you encounter a hostile creature that’s not a threat in a direct stand-up fight, but rather a lurking threat you have to hunt down, trap, or maybe even blow up the whole planet just to be sure. Making a tiny terror can be easy, with this template you can slap onto any thematically appropriate creature. Shrink the monster down to diminutive or tiny size (no need to change its ability scores — if PCs can tap into the cosmic forces of gravity, entropy, and magic, a 6-inch insectoid threat can carry a man away with a +8 Str bonus, if that’s what the stat block has), and add the following special rules.

Dodge And Weave (Ex): A tiny terror ignores the movement penalties for difficult terrain, and treats difficult terrain as cover against attacks made by any creature larger than it is.

Duck And Hide (Ex): A tiny terror has Stealth as a master skill. If it already had Stealth as a master skill, it gains a +1 bonus on Stealth checks. It can make Stealth checks anytime it is 30 feet or more for any observer (even if it lacks cover or concealment), and anytime it is in difficult terrain. A character that has successfully used the identify creature task on a tiny terror(using whatever is the appropriate skill for the tiny terror’s creature type), can make an Engineering check to modify any equipment that qualifies as a scanner to detect the tiny terror. Such modified scanners allow Perception check to ignore the tiny terror’s Stealth checks, though only to identify what square it is in.

Hit And Run (Ex): Once a tiny terror has successfully damaged a foe, it gains a +4 AC bonus whenever it takes the fight defensively or withdrawal actions. This ability lasts until the tiny terror makes an attack roll, or is out of combat for 10 minutes or more. As a result once a tiny terror hits (and potentially infects) a foe, it generally seeks to escape the encounter, often by fleeing to an air duct, dense foliage, or other region where pursuers cannot easily follow.

Infection (Ex): If a tiny terror’s attack doesn’t already have a disease attached to it, it gains one. if it had a curse, poison, or other affliction, this is removed in favor of a disease. A target is exposed to the disease, (which is always a physical disease — select any you like the sound of), and the save DC is typical for the ability DC of a creature of the same array and CR as the tiny terror. If the target is killed by the disease, a new tiny terror is born out of the corpse in 1d4 hours. (A tiny terror may grow into the full-sized version of the creature you apply this template to, but how long that takes is a narrative decision made by the GM based on the story’s needs.)

Terror’s Sting (Ex): A tiny terror’s attacks are highly accurate and focused enough to penetrate most defenses, but deal little actual damage. The tiny terror gains a +2 bonus to all attacks, and ignores an amount of its target’s hardness, energy resistance, and damage reduction equal to its CR. However, its attacks deal a maximum amount of damage equal to its CR (roll its damage normally, but if it exceeds the tiny terror’s CR, reduce the damage dealt to equal its CR). In most cases this means it can easily hit target’s AC and bypass defenses, but will still only do a little damage.

Anytime a tiny terror’s attack damages a target, that target is exposed to the infection (see above).

Patreon
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 adventure sketches, or Pathfinder 1st or 2nd edition, 5e, or Starfinder content (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!

If you prefer, you can drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi. It’s like buying me a cup of coffee, but more convenient!

Starfarer’s Codex: More PF1 Metamagic Feats for Starfinder

While I have already converted all the metamagic feats in the PF1 Core Rulebook to Starfinder, there are tons more official PF1 metamagic feats out there we can use to create interesting magic options for spellcasters in Starfinder.

Here are a few converted from the APG.

(Art by Travel Dawn)

Focused Spell
When you cast a spell that normally affects more than one creature, you can focus it on one opponent that finds it more difficult to resist.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast spells.
Benefit: When casting a spell that an area with a 5-foot-radius or larger, or targets more than one creature, you can choose to cast it with a casting time of 1 full action. This focuses the spell on only a single target within the spell effect. The saving throw DC to resist the spell is increased by +2 for that creature. You must choose which target to focus the spell on before casting the spell. Spells that do not require a saving throw to resist or lessen the spell’s effect do not benefit from this feat.

Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again until after you next recuperate*. If your caster level is 5th or higher, you can instead expend 2 Resolve Points to use this ability again without recuperating.

Intensified Spell
You can cast damaging spells at higher spell level, to increase their damage.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast 2nd level or higher spells.
Benefit: When you cast a damaging spell with a casting time of 1 standard action, that is at least 1 spell level lower than the highest-level spell you can cast, you may cast it with a casting time of 1 full action using a higher-level spell slot than it normally takes. Such spells do 2 additional dice of damage for every level the spell slot you expend is than the spell’s normal level. The extra dice deal the same type of damage and follow all the rules of the original spell. You also calculate the spell’s save DC using the level of spell slot expended, rather than its normal spell slot. If you have other feats or abilities that depend on the spell level of the spell you cast, you treat its spell level as being equal to the level of spell slot you use to cast it.

Lingering Spell
Your spell clings to existence, slowly fading from the world.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast one or more instantaneous spells that affect an area.
Benefit: When you cast an instantaneous spell that affects an area and that is at least 1 level lower than the highest-level spell you can cast, you may cause it to persist until the beginning of your next turn. Those already in the area suffer no additional harm, but other creatures or objects entering the area are subject to its effects. A lingering spell with a visual manifestation obscures vision, providing concealment beyond 5 feet and total concealment beyond 20 feet.

Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again until after you next recuperate*. If your caster level is 5th or higher, you can instead expend 2 Resolve Points to use this ability again without recuperating.

Merciful Spell
You can make your damaging spells less-than-lethal.
Prerequisites: Ability to cast spells that deal damage.
Benefit: When you cast a spell, you can choose for the damage it does to be nonlethal.

*Recuperate is my proposed term for when a character expends a Resolve Point and rests for 10 minutes, allowing them to regain all their Stamina Points.

Patreon
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 adventure sketches, or Pathfinder 1st or 2nd edition, 5e, or Starfinder content (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!

If you prefer, you can drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi. It’s like buying me a cup of coffee, but more convenient!

Random Cool-Sounding Science-Fantasy Terms

No, this isn’t going to be as focused (or authentic) as my Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words (which can be found here), but if you need jumping off points for soft science-technobabble, science-fantasy black-box-magic, or technology so advanced it’s indistinguishable from magic, these may be good places to start.

A few of these can be put together to maybe mean something, but don’t count on it (or feel limited by it).

Arcasement

Asymmetric Chronal Matrix

Decoherence Canon

Depleted Oragone

Eldrion

Enriched Orichalcum

Exterociter

Focal Inflection

Half-Death Decay Rate

Haser (H.A.S.E.R; Hex amplification by stimulated enchantment of radiation)

Inertial Converter

Inverse Reactive Force

Logarithmic Casing

Neogenic Incursion

Phrenic Bus Bar

Picoites

Prefabulated Amulite

Positronic Impulsor

Psionic Accumulator

Q-Shaped Helix

Quantum Coherence

Radiopsytronic

Resublimated Vril

Scry Shielding

Sinusodial Transmission

Spellation Particle

Spinal-Mounted Primary

Subcritical Thiotim Breeder

Subspace Decay

Superstring Equilibrium

Transadiate/Transaditation

Void Circuit

Warp Plasma

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Converting PF1 spells to Starfinder: Revealing Emoji and Scrying Emoji

Yep, another emoji spell as part of the run to convert to Starfinder all the Pathfinder 1st edition spells that don’t already exist (or have a clear replacement) in that game. Currently I’m working on doing all the glyphs, runes, and symbols.

You can find an index of the spells that have already been converted on this blog to-date here.

(Art by tigatelu)

Revealing Emoji
Class
 technomancer 5
School divination
Casting Time 10 minutes
Range 0 ft.; see text
Effect one rune
Duration see text
Saving Throw Will partial (see text); Spell Resistance yes

This functions as mirror emoji, except as noted above and as follows. This rune can only be triggered by creatures that have an altered appearance, including those that are polymorphed, shapeshifted, disguised, or have their appearance concealed or changed by magic or technological means. Creatures that are invisible do not trigger it, but if a creature that triggers it becomes invisible, the effect does reveal their location. Each viewer of the rune perceives it slightly differently, with the rune taking the visible form of a simple symbol that is commonly associated with shock, surprise, or understanding. When triggered, affected creatures in the area have a visual and audio illusion of the emoji rune appear above them, gasping in surprise and moving with them wherever they go. If a creature succeeds at their initial save against this effect and leave the area, they are not affected again if they re-enter the area. Creatures that fail their save are affected each time they enter the area.

Creatures who succeed at a saving throw and have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining are marked by the emoji rune for a single round.

Both creatures that succeed at a saving throw but do not still have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining, and creatures that fail at a saving throw and do have both SP and HP remaining, are affected in the same way while in the rune’s area.

Creatures that fail a saving throw and do not have both SP and HP left are marked as long as they are in the area, and for 10 minutes after they leave it.

Detect magic allows you to identify a revealing emoji with a DC 20 Mysticism check. Of course, if the symbol is set to be triggered by reading it, this will trigger the symbol.

Magic traps such as revealing emoji are hard to detect and disable. While any character can use Perception to find a revealing emoji (which may trigger it), a character must use the lowest of their Engineering or Mysticism skill (based on the skill’s total bonus) to disarm it. The DC in each case is 31.

Scrying Emoji
Class
 technomancer 5
School divination (scrying)
Casting Time 10 minutes
Range 0 ft.; see text
Effect one rune
Duration see text
Saving Throw Will partial (see text); Spell Resistance no

This functions as mirror emoji, except as noted above and as follows. Each viewer of the rune perceives it slightly differently, with the rune taking the visible form of a simple symbol that is commonly associated with eyes, seeing, spying, or visual events. When triggered, it creates a scrying sensor that acts as an arcane eye., but forms at the location of the rune (regardless of how far from you that is, even if it is on another plane or in a different star system), cannot move, and lasts 10 minutes.

Creatures who succeed at a saving throw and have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining are difficult to see through the scrying sensor, and you can only determine their position, size, and creature type (but not subtype), and they gain a +10 bonus to Disguise checks to conceal any of those details if they are attempting to do so.

Both creatures that succeed at a saving throw but do not still have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining, and creatures that fail at a saving throw and do have both SP and HP remaining, have the same details revealed, but do not gain a bonus to Disguise checks. You can make a Perception check opposed by their Stealth checks (even if they are not attempting Stealth and lack cover or concealment) to gain full visual information about them.

Creatures that fail a saving throw and do not have both SP and HP left are as easy to spot as if you were present, and you gain a +10 bonus on any Perception or Sense Motive checks you make against them through the sensor.

Detect magic allows you to identify a scrying emoji with a DC 20 Mysticism check. Of course, if the symbol is set to be triggered by reading it, this will trigger the symbol.

Magic traps such as scrying emoji are hard to detect and disable. While any character can use Perception to find a scrying emoji (which may trigger it), a character must use the lowest of their Engineering or Mysticism skill (based on the skill’s total bonus) to disarm it. The DC in each case is 31.

PATREON!
If you enjoy any of my various thoughts, ideas, and posts, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!, or dropping a cup of coffee worth of support at my Ko-Fi (which is also filled with pics of my roommate’s cat).

Converting PF1 spells to Starfinder: Beguiling Emoji and Pain Emoji

Okay, I’m hopping back to the project to convert to Starfinder all the Pathfinder 1st edition spells that don’t already exist (or have a clear replacement) in that game. We’re still working on doing all the glyphs, runes, and symbols.

You can find an index of the spells that have already been converted on this blog to-date here.

(Art by film.design)

Beguiling Emoji
Class
 technomancer 6
School enchantment [charm, compulsion, mind-affecting]
Casting Time 10 minutes
Range 0 ft.; see text
Effect one rune
Duration see text
Saving Throw Will partial (see text); Spell Resistance yes

This functions as mirror emoji, except as noted above and as follows.  Each viewer of the rune perceives it slightly differently, with the rune taking the visible form of a simple symbol that is commonly associated with charm, enchantment, or being starry-eyed. When triggered, affected creatures in the area gain a charm effect toward the caster. The effect lasts as long as they remain within the area, and a limited duration after they leave (see below). If a creature succeeds at their initial save against this effect and leave the area, they are not affected again if they re-enter the area. Creatures that fail their save are affected each time they enter the area.

Creatures who succeed at a saving throw and have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining take a -2 penalty to any attack against the caster and skill checks opposed by the caster, and the caster gains a +2 bonus to all saving throws against their effects. This effect lasts for 1 round after an affected creature leaves the rune’s area.

Both creatures that succeed at a saving throw but do not still have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining, and creatures that fail at a saving throw and do have both SP and HP remaining, are affected in the same way, but the effect lasts for 10 minutes after they leave the area.

Creatures that fail a saving throw and do not have both SP and HP left are charmed by the caster, as if they had been affected by a charm monster spell. This lasts for 1 hour per caster level.

Detect magic allows you to identify a beguiling emoji with a DC 21 Mysticism check. Of course, if the symbol is set to be triggered by reading it, this will trigger the symbol.

Magic traps such as beguiling emoji are hard to detect and disable. While any character can use Perception to find a beguiling emoji (which may trigger it), a character must use the lowest of their Engineering or Mysticism skill (based on the skill’s total bonus) to disarm it. The DC in each case is 34.

(Art by voinsveta)

Painful Emoji
Class
 technomancer 5
School necromancy (pain)
Casting Time 10 minutes
Range 0 ft.; see text
Effect one rune
Duration see text
Saving Throw Fortitude partial (see text); Spell Resistance yes

This functions as mirror emoji, except as noted above and as follows.  Each viewer of the rune perceives it slightly differently, with the rune taking the visible form of a simple symbol that is commonly associated with agony, suffering, or trauma. When triggered, affected creatures feel pain for as long as they are in the area, and a limited amount of time after they leave (see below).

Creatures who succeed at a saving throw and have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining take a -1 penalty to all attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. If they expend a Resolve Point at the beginning of their turn, they can ignore this penalty for 1d4 rounds. The penalty ends when affected creatures leave the rune’s area, but returns if they re-enter.

Both creatures that succeed at a saving throw but do not still have both Stamina Points and Hit Points remaining, and creatures that fail at a saving throw and do have both SP and HP remaining, take a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. If they expend a Resolve Point at the beginning of their turn, they can ignore this penalty for 1d4 rounds. The penalty ends 1d4 rounds after an affected creature leaves the rune’s area, but returns if they re-enter.

Creatures that fail a saving throw and do not have both SP and HP take a -4 penalty to to all attack rolls, ability checks, skill checks, and saving throws. Each round such creatures may expend a Resolve Point to reduce this penalty to -2. This penalty is active anytime the affected creature is in the rune’s area, and for 10 minutes after they leave it.

Detect magic allows you to identify a painful emoji with a DC 20 Mysticism check. Of course, if the symbol is set to be triggered by reading it, this will trigger the symbol.

Magic traps such as painful emoji are hard to detect and disable. While any character can use Perception to find a painful emoji (which may trigger it), a character must use the lowest of their Engineering or Mysticism skill (based on the skill’s total bonus) to disarm it. The DC in each case is 32.

PATREON!
If you enjoy any of my various thoughts, ideas, and posts, please consider adding a drop of support through my Patreon campaign!, or dropping a cup of coffee worth of support at my Ko-Fi (which is also filled with pics of my roommate’s cat).

Owen Explains It All: Plot-Driven, City-Destroying Fireworks for Starfinder

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

You may be wondering why is this tagged as an “Owen Explains It All” post, when that’s very unlike my normal marketing tone? Well, because this links into a show from the BAMF podcast I’m on, titled “Owen Explains It All!“. We do episodes picking new or classic things from the zeitgeek to use as inspiration for game material, specifically the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. This article ties in to the “Owen Explains It All: Independence Day” episode.

The show has a logo and everything!

The main game-rule idea we discuss in the show is that sometimes, for plot purposes, you want to be able to catch PCs in an area of mass destruction (be that a hurricane, carpet bombing, or alien citykiller beam), which places them as risk but can’t kill them. This is splitting the difference between an entirely game-driven event (where standing around as a city is destroyed can definitely do enough in-game damage to kill someone) and an entirely-narrative even in a game (where the GM just tells the players what happens to set up an important situation necessary for the game).

This allows a GM to ensure the PCs end up in the situation needed for the game to move on, and places them at some risk (which their actions and abilities can mitigate), with no chance they’ll be killed.

Plot-Driven, City-Destroying Fireworks

The skies darken as the K’ruel City Killer materializes high above the city center. There’s a moment of silence as the population takes in the sight of the massive starship, it’s hull covered in runic circuitry glowing a sickly yellow. Then, as its dematerializer pylon begins to power up with a thundercrack, the sounds of screaming and panic begin…

So, the PCs have been caught in a massive, plot-driven even that’s going to destroy everything around them. That’s bad, but as the GM you have assured them that they’ll survive… but their actions, characters’ resilience, and the luck of the dice are going to determine in what condition they survive. They’ll be at 0 Stamina regardless (it’s a massive city-destroying effect after all — of their starship exploded, building collapsed on them, interdimensional oozes swept away all corporeal matter into a interdimensional vortex — whatever massive event your plot needs). But their Hit Points and Resolve Points are still up for grabs, and they may be able to do something about those.

The Warning

This even isn’t supposed to be a gotcha moment — the GM should tell the players what is happening, and how it’ll work. That lets them set their expectations appropriately, and make informed decisions as part of the event, which is an important part of a fun game.

Once you tell the players how this will work, each character gets two rounds of actions before The Event hits them. They can try to get defenses ready, aid one another, take cover–whatever makes sense to them to help their characters come out of this in the best possible condition.

The Threat

Since there aren’t any game statistics for “Plot-Driven, City-Destroying Fireworks,” you’ll need to have a baseline to make sure your Event is an appropriate challenge for the PCs. So, go to the creature creation rules in Starfinder Alien Archive, and look at a combatant with a CR equal to the character’s average character level. When we discuss the Event having an attack bonus, or skill bonus, we’ll be talking about the values from that line of the combatant character creation table.

After the PCs have all has 2 rounds of actions, the Event hits. It comes in 3 waves, but there’s no time to take actions (other than reactions) between the first two. The PCs are going to be subject to an attack roll in part 1, a saving throw in part 2, and then a skill check in part 3. Here’s how it breaks down.

Part 1: Initial Damage

Make a single attack roll using the Event’s highest attack bonus against every PC’s EAC. If the attack hits, the PC takes 4 HP per level of the Event. If the attack missed by 5 or less, the PC takes 2 HP per level of the Event. If the attack misses by 6 or more, the PC takes no HP damage.

Part 2: Saving Throw

Each PC must attempt a Reflex saving throw against the Event’s ability DC. On a failed save, the character loses half their Resolve Points. If the save is failed by 5 or more, the Resolve Points only return at the rate of 1 per full day of rest.

Part 3: Skill Test

Having survived the first two initial waves of damage, the players then get to take a single action to try to avoid the aftershock of flying debris, collapsing buildings, secondary fireballs, and so on. Each player must describe how they use a skill to protect themselves. Appropriate choices include an Acrobatics check to dive into a narrow crevice for cover, an Athletics check to jump into a trench of other safer location, a Computers check to use a datapad to calculate a gap in the oncoming wave of destruction, a Culture check to know where an entrance to a bomb shelter is, an Engineering check to know what walls or vehicles are going to survive the damage and be a good option to get behind, a Mysticism check to use a spell to mitigate the effect, or a Survival check to take steps to mitigate the damage as if it was a natural disaster and damaging weather. The GM has the final say on whether a suggested skill use is appropriate, but the rule of cool should definitely be considered in these cases.

The skill DC is equal to the Event’s Good skill bonus +10. If the PC succeeds by 10 or more, they not only take no damage, they can aid a number of other targets equal to their level + Charisma modifier. This allows them to save an NPC (who will be at 0 SP, 0 HP, and 0 RP), or grant a +5 bonus to an allies’ skill test check. If the PC succeeds by 9 or less, they simply survive with no further effects. If they fail by 5 or less, they lose 1/2 their Resolve Points. If they fail by 6 or more, they lose 1/2 their resolve Points, and those points only return at a rate of 1 per day of rest.

The Aftermath

Unless the PCs are *very* good, and very lucky, after the Event they will be at a serious disadvantage in any combat or resource-intensive encounters (possibly for several days). As the GM you should be ready for this, and may want to focus on things like rescuing other survivors, gathering information, sneaking around, and finding a secure new base or operations before throwing a lot of fights at the characters.

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Contemplating 25 PF1 Alchemist-Hybrid Classes

What if there was a hybrid class for every conceivable combination of base, core, and occult classes?

Yes, it’d probably make a LOT more sense to just go with a full set of Talented Character Class write-ups, and let people mix-and-match themselves. For one thing, with 26 originating classes (as I’d treat the magus as a fighter/wizard hybrid class and the shifter as a druid/ranger, rather than either as a new base class), we’re talking about 650 classes. (And you think people complain about PF1 bloat NOW).

But, the idea still sticks with me. Which made me wonder, can I even come up with a core conceit for 650 hybrid classes? (Well, 638, since there are already 12 things I am treating as hybrid classes… )

So, I decided to take a look at one slice, of all potential alchemist hybrid classes. Not to write them at any level, just to see if I had ideas for each combination.

Here’s my initial list, for the alchemist (which already has the investigator as an alchemist/rogue hybrid).

Ragebringer (Alchemist/Barbarian – anger-based mutagens and elixirs) Brewester (Alchemist/Bard – drinks to make you happy, sad, or brave, and to fit any occasion) Glatisant (Alchemist/Cavalier – wide man of the court who rides a strange, ever-changing Questing Beast) Reliquarian (Alchemist/Cleric – priest that carries and empowers holy symbols and icons of the faith) Herbalist (Alchemist/Druid – uses secrets of nature to brew poultices and take on animal aspects) Steiner (Alchemist/Fighter – fights with weapon in one hand, mug of lord-knows-what in the other) Grenadier (Alchemist/Gunslinger – makes and fires strange alchemical grenades from a bombard) Antivenin (Alchemist/Inquisitor – for every divine foe, there is a potential alchemical antithesis) Phlogistor (Alchemist/Kineticist – distills anything down into its core eldritch elements) Lucid Dreamer (Alchemist/Medium – alter reality by projecting energy into your own dreams) Catalyst (Alchemist/Mesmerist – set up elixirs in yourself and others that are triggered by events) Purifier (Alchemist/Monk – use alchemy to purify the self to allow for better and more varied flow of ki) Psychomorph (Alchemist/Occultist – distill the essence of objects true nature into drinkable elixirs) Nectarian (Alchemist/Oracle – affected by the divine drink of the gods, not meant for mortal lips_ Alkahest (Alchemist/Paladin – Imbues substances with holy energy to undo any wicked force or creature) Orgonite (Alchemist/Psychic – Able to distill thought into matter, and matter into pure thought) Beastcrafter (Alchemist/Ranger – turns parts of your enemies into useful materials) Mutate (Alchemist/Shifter – slowly, intentionally becoming different than your beginning species) Uroboros (Alchemist/Sorcerer – create elixirs from your own vital energies and fluids) Ectoplasmic (Alchemist/Spiritualist – conjure spirit fluids with various effects) Metamorph (Alchemist/Summoner – use mutagens to become bizarre creatures with variable evolutions) ThiefFinder (Alchemist/Vigilante – an alchemical criminologist and mastermind) Leach (Alchemist/Witch – create imbalances in foe’s vital fluids to weaken them, or gain their power) Spagyric (Alchemist/Wizard – able to create much more potent elixirs, though not mutagens)

I doubt all of those ideas would survive contact with the design process, and some are pretty similar (do I really have two different ideas for the alkahest and antivenin?), but it’s a good enough starting point I’d feel like the idea had potential. I have no plans to make 24 more hybrid alchemist classes… but sometimes playing with an idea you know isn’t practical can lead to the development of an alternative you do like. It’s the game concept equivalent of doodling, with the goal not to produce a finished picture, but to see what interesting shapes evolve.

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Enlarging Dragons and Charming Outsiders in PF1

I’ve been contemplating how to create a broad set of rules on when you can safely create spells that affect different types of creatures in Pathfinder 1st edition. For example, enlarge person doesn’t work on dragons… would enlarge dragon be a reasonable 1st-level spell? At 1st level we have both charm animal and charm person… would charm outsider make sense too?

There are some tricky side cases that make a universal rule hard to be balanced. For example, if you could easily apply animal growth to any creature, you end up with a spell that can potentially make giants bigger than giant form II can, and at much lower level, and that is just a terror if applied to a summoner’s eidolon.

But if we follow the example of charm person to charm monster, there do seem to be a few ways to make at least a broadly applicable set of metamagic feats that can open up flexibility, just at the cost of both a feat, and a lot of extra spell levels needed.

Monstrous Spell [Metamagic]
You have learned to adapt eldritch energies normally directed at humanoids to affect a much wider range of targets.
Benefit: Monstrous Spell can only be used with spells that limit their targets to only the humanoid creature type. This ability removes the spell’s limitation of only working on humanoids. However, it does not change that some creature types may be immune to the effects of the spell–for example Monstrous Spell applied to enlarge person allows you to use the spell to enlarge a vermin, but Monstrous Spell applied to charm person does not allow you to charm vermin that are mindless and immune to mind-affecting effects.
A monstrous spell uses up a slot three levels higher than the spell’s actual level.

Unexclusive Spell [Metamagic]
You have learned to adapt eldritch energies normally directed at undead to affect a much wider range of targets.
Benefit: Unexclusive Spell can only be used with spells that limit their targets to only the undead creature type. This ability removes the spell’s limitation of only working on undead. For example, Unexclusive Spell applied to halt undead allows you to affect creatures of any type, though most nonundead targets are considered “intelligent” (excepting only those actually lacking an Intelligence score).
This feat only works on spells that specify one or more undead as their targets, not spells that interact with undead in different ways. For example, since create undead targets a corpse, rather than an undead, you cannot apply Unexclusive Spell to it in an effort to have a spell that allows you to create creatures of any type.
An unexclusive spell uses up a slot three levels higher than the spell’s actual level.

Supporting This Blog
I’m absolutely not immune to the money crunch in the game industry, so if you want to help ensure blog posts like this keep getting produced, please consider supporting my efforts through my Patreon campaign, or dropping a cup of coffee worth of support at my Ko-Fi (which is also filled with pics of my roommate’s cat).