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Excerpt from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Indigo Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Ages 14-17)

Excerpts from another of the “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes” by Ben-Derek Hayes. This one is exclusively “Worstiary” entries (“Like a Bestiary, but the monsters are even worse!”), and indeed is exclusively creatures created through “Menagermancy,” which appears to be a lost school of magic practiced by the Nightfall Empires and People From Before the First Dawn. Also unlike the majority of the Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes, there is a range of ages listed on this one. Many entries have a cruder drawing that seems to be their original illustration, and then more photo-mash-up looking examples pasted in later “for art reference” when the “publishers come knocking.”

So, adapting the original sketches and later art-references of the hybrid creatures found in the Commonlands* calls for a different art style than previously used. For this task, the art of Marinavorona has been used in this article. While there are dozens of hybrid creatures in the Indigo Book, I have selected three that I particularly enjoy for this excerpt.

*Apparently, according to a note I found with the Arktos entry, the Commonlands are “Those lands held “in common” by the original city-states of the Dwarven, Elven, Human Alliance [“Dehallia”]. While those City-states have mostly expanded into kingdoms [or collapsed], the Commonlands are not allowed to have any government bigger than a single city and what can be hit by a bowshot from its walls. This is supposed to ensure freedom of people in the Commonlands from invasion or conquest by foreign cultures, but in practice actually means the various Dehallia kingdoms are constantly fighting and maneuvering and scheming to gain more control over the various smaller governments, and their alliances and factions which try to bypass the government-size restrictions. This vicious and constant backbiting, ignoring of other more serious threats, and constant digging into older layers and accidentally unleashing things is why the vocation of “Adventurer” is considered normal within the Commonlands, despite being almost unknown elsewhere.”

Arktos

The Arktos is the Beast of the North, also known as the Ursapard, Winter Warden and King of the Midnight Sun. An Arktos has the head and antlers of a caribou, body of a polar bear, and tail of a snow leopard. They are extremely intelligent, but have utterly un-humanoid interests and concerns. They can live for centuries, some learn druidic magic, and they are extremely territorial.

(Arktos)

An Arktos thinks nothing of eating other thinking creatures, and is not offended when other creatures try to eat it. What they do mind is anything that makes major changes to what they consider their territory. However, packs of Arktos sometimes prowl over a circuit that takes 10-20 years to complete. When Commonlands settlements expand hunting, logging, or even building further north, sometimes they discover years after doing so the area is considered claimed by an Arktos pack, which is merciless in driving out what it sees as “invaders.”

Some older Arktos grow black lichen on their horns. They are shunned by others of their kind, sometimes practice necromancy, and usually end up going on killing sprees southward until put down.

The Klaken

(The Klaken)

The Klaken has the forebody of a lobster, but a series of tentacles instead of a tail. The Klaken prefer to eat seafood that comes from a hard shell, for unknown reasons, causing them to attack other shellfish, the armored WhaleGods… and ships. A Klaken can eat x5 its body weight in a day, but can also go for years in a form of torpor when food is more scarce, waking during storms to see what has been churned up by the thunder and rough seas.

Unlike most creatures that top out at Apocalypse -tier, the Klaken can grow to Kaiju and even Daikaiju tiers. Indeed, Klaken continue to grow in both size and intelligence as they age, with many Dusk Kingdoms have rules about how big a Klaken you can eat (though the Dehallia have no such restrictions), with a length of 118-157 inches being typical cutoff points.

Magnificat

The species commonly known as Magnifcats are technically “peafelines,” brightly-colored felines with the wings, talons, and tail plumage of peafowls. Magnificats come in a range of colors, and unlike peafowls feather patterns can be bland or bold regardless of gender. White, cream, and calico Magnificats are most often female, and males are much more likely to be almost exclusively red, orange, gold, black, or azure in color, with multicolor male cats rarer.

The talons of the Magnificat are deceptively long and dangerous. When “retracted” the tips remain visible (though canted upwards, allowing the peafeline to softly push with its paws without causing injury. However, the claws can still “extend” from that position, making them x3 to x4 larger than those of a typical cat of the same size. They are also of much stronger material than most animals, and Magnificats do claw damage as if they were two size categories larger than their true size.

Magnficats are on the same intelligence and power scale as pseudodragons, imps, and quasits. rather than the powers of those creatures, Magnificats can use their tail-display to dazzle, confuse, stagger, or even blind and stun. They make amazing familiar, but rather than being selected by a spellcaster, a Magnificat forges a familiar bond with whoever it wants to, weather mage or not, and with no warning. Some families host colonies of Magnificats at their homes or lands in the hopes their children will be so familiarized. When asked why they bother, most Magnificats just claim they like having someone nearby who has thumbs.

(Peafeline, aka “Magnificat”)

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to the end of the first Horrors & Heroes post, so serve as an Index for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

Patreon

Obviously this kind of undertaking requires resources! If you wish to support me in developing “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” please join my Patreon, or drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi.

Excerpt from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Caput Mortuum Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 16)

Excerpts from another of the “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes” by Ben-Derek Hayes. This one is from a few years later in Hayes’ career, and it’s clear from both the use of “caput mortuum” to describe a purple-brown spiral notebook color, and the periodic notes in margins about Greek architecture, the Roman Empire, the “missing Sea Peoples,” and pop quiz dates that out author wrote much of this while taking ancient history and Humanities courses in public school. As before, the art of Zdenek Sasek attempts to capture the essence of Hayes’ art sketches, which show real improvement since his earliest notebooks.

While the idea of wargates and other “typical” categories of trapped items is fascinating, I actually chose to showcase this excerpt because of the worldbuilding hinted at, with multi-species empires fighting and collapsing, apparent categories of societies based on how “new in the day” they are, and some shade thrown at classic “fantasy good guy” lands rules by dwarves, elves, and humans. I hope to find more information on these topics as I go through the notebooks, but it looks like it is scattered throughout the last few years of notebooks, and may take considerable compiling and revising before a clear picture of this fantasy world (which, if it has a name, I have not found yet) becomes clear.

Even so, the deep mix of the familiar, the gonzo, and the unexpectedly reasonable in this excerpt reminds me of my earliest days as a GM, and takes my breath away.

WARDGATES

Wardgates are one of the Seven Typically Trapped Things -7TTT- along with chests, forbiddings, holdouts, panopticons, necropolises, and sarcophagi. As long as appropriate knowledge/lore checks or recon reveals something to be one of the 7TTT, characters automatically get to search for traps without the player having to say so. If something isn’t a 7TTT, and is trapped (THIS IS RARE – NO MORE THAN ONCE PER STORY ARC) you still get such automatic checks but at -5 (unless you have a power to allow you to always be trapfinding), in which case you do not. Players never need to (or get to) slow down the game by asking if things are trapped, but also never get penalized for not thinking to ask if every single thing is trapped — all trapchecking rolls are called for by the GM, though research and study of an area in advance can grant checks to know if there are 7TTT or Rare Other Traps present.

Wardgates originated with Gaub-Algen Empire, before it’s destruction at the hands of the Dwarf/Elf/Human Alliance (or Dehallia) [which created the Dehallia prejudice against all Gaub-Algen, or “goblins” including orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, ogres, giants*, trolls, knuckies (the mammalian of the two races both wrongly called “kobolds” by Dehallian sources), draugh (or “dark elves” which can be any color but have much longer ears making them “obviously” degenerate and inferior to High Elf/Wood Elf standards)], and like many things Gaub-Algenian has been adopted by most of the Dawn Kingdoms, and no small number of Noon Kingdoms and even a few Dusk Empires.

*Technically not the Fomorians — athatch, cyclops, ettins, and firbolgs, who were part of the Giganarchy which opposed and was destroyed by Gaub-Algen prior to the DEH Alliance taking down the Empire — nor the Nephilim — oni, rakshasa, titans, and other part-angelic creatures, who are still quite in power to the Far West in Muthuul-Danleib and only some of which come far enough east to hit the Commonlands and run into adventurers. But most Dehallia sources don’t bother to differentiate between types of giants.

Wardgates were used as large, impressive entrances to important places. They would often be open and safe, but could be both locked, and locked as “armed” (meaning the trap is set to go off). The function of a wardgate is multifold. First, it is a symbol of power — look, see, we have entrances that can defend themselves! Second, when locked and activated it serves as an unmanned line of defense — likely not enough to stop a rampaging beetlephant or pyrosaurus rex, but something that hurts them, may drive off less sapient monsters, and delays or slows them while the guard/army/magic missile-only brigade prepares a defense in-depth. Third it can be a crowd control deterrent — no one wants to riot in Upper Silverholt because the Royal Elven Wardgate might be closed, making it difficult for anyone to get home. Fourth, they can be tested in the name of local defense, but thus showing off how advanced your kingdom’s flaming poisoned caltrop launchers have become as a form of international saber-rattling.

Since most of those functions require people to know a wardgate is a wardgate, they tend to be big, conspicuous, and obviously something more than just a hole in their connected wall. Of course, wargates from different cultures are marked differently, so especially when dealing with Dusk or Nightfall Kingdoms, cultural/historical knowledge/lore is helpful when identifying them. Even so, if when crawling through an Nightfall Ruin, if an archway has a fanged face worked into its keystone, and that turns out to be a wardgate, it’s easy enough to treat all future portals with fanged-face-keystones as potentially trapped.

Some typical wardgate traps:

INSTANT ROCKFALL: Crude, yet effective, the instant rockfall is built so a defender inside the attached wall (or a watchtower for slightly more advanced versions) can hammer loose a brake, dropping a weighted chain down a shaft, causing the chain to pull free lynchpins within the wardgate, so it collapses. This is a one-use wardgate that literally requires it to be rebuilt after each use, so they are almost always only observer-triggered. Thus difficult to disarm. In ruins an instant rockfall is only dangerous because the lynchpins may be rusted or missing, thus a strong shock (like a fireball) can cause it to collapse more easily than surrounding ruined sections.

HELLGATE: A hellgate is a form of iron portcullis made of hollow, perforated metal with spaces at the bottom for Greek fire. Arming it requires placing the Greek fire in the slots, and then if it is dropped (rather than slowly lowered) the Greek fire vials break, the hollow grille works as a chimeny, and the whole gate and an area around it bursts into fire. More advanced hellgates may also have ways to add agents through the hollow grille from above, ranging from oil (to keep the fires going), smoking/tear gas agents, and even fire-elemental-summoning-stones.

(Hellgate)

SPIN SCYTHECLE: A spin scythecle has blades on spinning wheels mounted low that can rotate out and cut everyone off at the knee. The gearworks are generally driven by weights on chains, and thus have limited runtimes, but more advanced versions can be powered by waterwheels, or have backuphampster-wheel power to extend runtime once activated.

WALLCRUSHER: The wardgate is a short corridor, and the sides are under pressure, often from counterbalanced gears and shafts. When closed, it is armed by the door being broken. Once armed, any pressure on the center of the corridor released the spiked walls. After the walls crush, they form two new narrower hallways, allowing counterattacks to be launched. Damage, area, escape difficulty all scale with level. Setting it off when disarming tends not to damage trapwright, but it’s loud as heck.

(Wallcrusher)

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to the end of the first Horrors & Heroes post, so serve as an Index for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

Patreon

Obviously this kind of undertaking requires resources! If you wish to support me in developing “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” please join my Patreon, or drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi.

Excerpt from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Brown Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 12)

From time to time there come into my possession works by gamers who, for whatever reason, have not previously received the level of exposure and appreciation they deserve. Such is the case in the “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes” by Ben-Derek Hays. These notebooks were sent to me mysteriously and anonymously, with no known provenance, but clear instructions for me to make what I could of them and legal papers freeing me from my normal concern for looking at unsolicited submissions. All effort to find the original author have, as thus, failed.

Somewhat chaotic as a first draft, these notebooks of varying size and composition range over a number of years and are color-coded in a system I have yet to fully grasp. But there is no doubt that mixed in with the raw exuberance and untested systems, there are sparks of true genius in these books. As they sit in my care now I shall, as editor and chronicler tasked with compiling these disparate nuggets of raw creativity into some cogent, playable form, from time to time offer excerpts of partially-developed material taken from one or more of the notebooks. A each is color coded and marked with the age of the author (though it is unclear if this is the age when a notebook is begun, or when it is finished, or some other relevant date), I’ll include such information in these entries when I can.

This is very much a work-in-progress, as development is going to be a lengthy process undertaken in stages. For example, for the moment I am correcting spelling and doing my best to ensure sentences are complete and can be parsed, but am otherwise not altering the content of the entries I am previewing here. Similarly, Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 12) provided many illustrations in the Brown Notebook, which are clearly intended as just sketch stages (with notes such as “draw better,” “Pay real artist to make this ozsome,” and “get gud” scrawled next to many), but at the same time I feel the general style used for each picture carries important content and tone. While the illustrations in this article are all by Zdenek Sasek, I have endeavored to ensure they capture the spirit of the original sketches as closely as possible

The material presented today is not only all from The Brown Notebook (Age 12), the selected entries are all marked as being from a theoretical “Worstiary” (which, it is noted in a few entries, is “Like a Bestiary, but the things in it are Worse”). I’m not yet sure if the Worstiary is a separate notebook, from which some data was copied, or if the intent was to someday compile the monsters from the Brown Notebook into a formal Horrors & Heroes Worstiary. Indeed, it’s not clear to me if Horrors & Heroes was intended as a stand-alone game system, a supplement for some specific game (or chimera of multiple similar game systems), or a truly audacious attempt to create a supplement that works with any ttRPG.

But those organizational concerns are by burden to bear. You may simply sit back, and bask in the unfettered imagination of Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 12).

Your humble editor and appointed Horrors & Heroes developer, Owen K.C. Stephens

Man of Arms

(Man of Arms)

A Man of Arms is a zombie thing made of nothing but people arms stitched together. It has no head, but it’s body, legs, and arms are made of lots of different arms. It can move as fast when prone as when standing by doing that creepy stop-motion-skittering thing from cable horror movies.

Other than being undead, a man of arms is just 1d4+1 humanoid monsters that only move once a round, but get to make attacks and do other things as often as that many people would. So a Man of Arms made of 3 people moves once, but has initiative and actions for 3 people. All damage goes to the people making it up one at a time, and when you kill one, you’ve hacked off that many arms (so it attacks less and stuff). With no heads they can’t hear or see things and are immune to gazes and songs, but still fight good (but maybe not any ranged attacks since that would be dumb).

Any treasure a Man of Arms has should be a cool weapon some Hero can use.

Scare Bear

(Scare Bear)

A scare bear is like a normal bear (or a Dire, Fel, or Apocalypse Bear for higher-level fights), but it has the Direful Howl. Whenever the scare bear sees things but doesn’t attack for a round, or anytime it takes damage or fails a save against an effect, it howls (not an action, just happens). All creatures within 6561.68 feet must save against fear or be more frightened than they were before. You can only be less frightened by running away from the scare bear for a round, killing it, or successfully saying something witty about fear or bears (must roll as high as the scare bear’s Direful Howl save). Which means Scare Bears can understand any language, I guess, so they’re magic too.

Scare bears are big and shaggy, and their eyes glow scary colors, which means even if they use Stealth you know there’s something with glowing eyes in their space.

Scare bears were created through Menagermancy by Udek-Kai the Unliked. One of the People From Before the First Dawn, Udek-Kai grew the Gardens of All Feeling, and made Scare Bears to scare off thieves and kids and crows and stuff. The Gardens of All Feeling also were home to the Fel Scorpionbees, who are immune to fear and make the Eternal Honey, so Scare Bears never got hungry or aged. When the Gardens were burned in the First Day War, the scare bears scattered and changed. They are still drawn to the few remaining Feeling Plants, especially Orchids of Sadness, Roses of Love, and the tiny, delicate Clover of Wondering if Someone Likes You.

Marginal Ideas

Literally ideas written in the margins of the notebook. Some of these may have longer writeups or sketches in later notebooks, which would supersede these short descriptions.

Eye Bug: An eye bug is a big round beetle that crawls into your face when you are sleeping, and eats one of your eyes without you feeling it. To make sure you don’t dig it out, it looks cool and gives you better vision so you can see ghosts and invisible hobbits and traps and stuff. When you cry, microscopic eye bug eggs flow away in your tears and grow up to eat other people’s eyes.

Hangman’s Kite: Sometimes when a kite gets stuck in a hangman’s tree and abandoned, it absorbs the mean from the dead people in the tree. It turns its string into a hangman’s noose, and goes flying looking for people to choke and pull up into the sky by their neck.

(Hangman’s Kite)

Web Kittens: The size of kittens, but with two tails and six spider legs (ending in kitten-paws) rather than normal kitten legs. Can make webs, but normally only do so to form their own balls to play with. Venomous, but their venom makes you love them and want to take care of them. Popular as pets, but illegal in many fortresses and valleys.

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to future articles here, so serve as repository for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

The Caput Mortuum Notebook (Age 16) – Wardgates, explanation of the Seven Typically Trapped Things, notes on the Gaub-Algen Empire (“goblins”), the Dwarf/Elf/Human Alliance (or Dehallia), Dawn, Noon, Dusk, and Nightfall Empires, Giganarchy, the “Far West” of Muthuul-Danleiband, and the Commonlands. Namedrops beetlephant and pyrosaurus rex.

The Brown Notebook (Age 12) – This page! Monsters from the Worstiary.

The Indigo Notebook (Ages 14-17) – More Worstiary entries (Arktos, the Klaken, Magnificat), and some notes on the Commonlands.

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Obviously this kind of undertaking requires resources! If you wish to support me in developing “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” please join my Patreon, or drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi.

Creative Resources Online

Today, I’m just listing some online resources I find useful, and other gamers. GMs, and creators might as well. I may expand this list as time goes on, in which case I’ll link back to it when it gets updates.

As always, I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice. Read terms and conditions of any resource you sue for commercial products.

Gold Standard
These are the very best of their kind. The gold standard of usefulness, in my opinion.

Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources (https://dmnes.org/names) – This is just what is says on the tin. The list is long, and hyperlinked to definitions, origins, and atributions.

Dyson Logos’ Commercial Maps (https://dysonlogos.blog/maps/commercial-maps/) – A huge, amazing repository of excellent maps by Dyson Logos that have free, commercial licenses attached to them. Read the license and understand it before use (i am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice), but if you need a city, tavern, dungeon, castle, and much, much more either for your game tomorrow night, or your product you want to sell without incurring cartography costs, this is an amazing place to start.

The Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: The Online Edition, by Jess Nevins (http://jessnevins.com/pulp/introduction.html) – Jess Nevins is a true scholar of entire forms of fiction I adore, including Victoriana, Pulp Stories, and more. This is an amazing list of pulp fiction characters, as well as important introductions, descriptions of archetypes, cross-referencing, and so on. For inspiration or a better understanding of the genre, this is an invaluable resource. (His Encyclopedia of Golden Age Heroes is nearly as good, and a valuable companion piece, but is not as finished as the pulp encyclopedia. And , of course, he has numerous published books as well, and a range of similar subjects, most of which are in my cloud reader and a few of which are on my physical bookshelves.

OneLook Dictionary Search (https://www.onelook.com/) – I don’t care about the definitions section of this. What’s amazing is the ability to enter a word and click the “related” button. That provides a list of words that are, somehow, related to the search term. Not synonyms (necessarily), but words that share some kind of link to your search word. Searching for words related to “death” gets you executioner, tomb, slaughterhouse, and so on. The utility for when I want words tied to a theme for spells, hero names, groups, magic items, archetypes, and so on is huge.

Almost as useful is the * before or after searches (such as death*), which give you words and phrases that start with or end with your search term. death*, for example gets you death’s head, death throes, and more. And, you can click through the examples to find out what they mean and/or where they come from.

There are tons of search options and ways to organize and sort the results, so spend some time reading the site and trying out options.

My Patreon and Ko-Fi

Speaking of resources, the tons of material I have on this site is supported by the members of my Patreon, and cups of donation to my Ko-Fi. So, if any of the links above open a new world of options for you, please consider supporting my current and future efforts to bring you more!

ShadowFinder Magic Item Sketches

Yep, I’m still working on ShadowFinder. Here are some ides I’m working on for magic items in that modern play mode for Starfinder. I haven’t worried about things like bulk, cost, or item level yet. I want to get the cool ideas nailed down a bit, then I’ll fill in game stats as appropriate for what the items do.

Floating Flashlight

(Art by Oleksandr)

A floating flashlight acts as a normal flashlight, but floats at your command. It can even draw itself and put itself away, which takes normal time but does not require you to have a hand free. It can float along with you, moving as you do and facing wherever you look, or as a move action you can direct it to go up to 60 feet from you. When moving with you, attacks against it are sunder combat maneuvers based on your KAC, as if you held it. When moving independently of you, it has an EAC and KAC of 12.

Temporary Hand Tattoos

Temporary hand tattoos look like small, innocuous items of 0 bulk you can hold in one hand. When picked up, they become tiny tattoos in the palm of your hand. You can have only one temporary tattoo in the palm of each hand, though artificial limbs and limbs you can use to carry more equipment (such as prehensile tails) also count for this purpose. You can activate a temporary tattoo as a standard action, which creates a magic effect. The tattoo is then discharged and no longer exists. You can “put down” a temporary tattoo, causing it to remove itself and go back to looking like a 0 bulk item.

Unless stated otherwise, activating a temporary tattoo is a standard action, which also triggers whatever ability it grants For example, if a temporary tattoo allows you to make an attack, the attack is part of the action to activate the tattoo.

(List to follow)

Door, Slammable

(Art by 3Dmavr)

A slammable door appears to be just a doorknob until picked up. You can make a single melee attack as part of activating the tattoo, causing a full-sized door to briefly appear, which you slam on a foe as if they were standing in a doorway. If it hits, the unarmed attack does 1d10 more damage than normal, and it does not count as nonlethal or archaic. The item is then expended.

This same magic item sometimes takes other forms, such as a giant wooden mallet that appears just in time for you to hit a foe and then fades away, an anvil that drops on the target, or a gun that, when fired, has an enormous boxing glove extend out of it to punch your target.

Gun Slide, Instant

(Art by Kamiya Ichiro)

Also known as a “ka-chunk-chunk,” an instant gun slide looks like the slide of a typcial pistol (such as a 1911a Colt .45) until picked up. Triggering an instant gun slide is a move action, which allows you to boost a ranged weapon (as the boost special weapon quality) for an additional 1d10 damage. This looks like you are working the slide of an automatic weapon, racking a pump-action shotgun, cocking the hammer of a firearm, or otherwise getting ready to fire. This is a magical action–it doesn’t matter if your weapon is already fully ready to fire (it still looks and sounds as if you racked it again), and this does not expend or eject extra ammunition.

Vest, Surprise Concealed

This item looks like an extremely thin, barely noticeable armored vest that can easily be worn under even the flimsiest of shirts. Normally it cannot be detected when worn, unless you choose to show it to someone. However, if you are attacked while at 0 HP by an attack that would require you to spend Resolve Points to not die, the surprise concealed vest automatically negates that one attack, revealing itself in the process as if you had always worn it. It is then expended and useless.

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Deep Dive: The PF1 Mindblade (Magus Archetype) Revised

Sometimes, specific things about how classes, archetypes, and rule subsets work together in the first edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game come to my attention. Sometimes it’s due to my own research or design work. Sometimes it’s from a forum post or social media. Sometimes it’s from someone in my gaming group. A lot of these I can incorporate in other articles, or do a quick determination and move on.

Sometimes, it needs a Deep Dive.

So, today, I’m taking a look how the magus class, its mindblade archetype, and the psychic magic rules from Pathfinder Occult Adventures, all blend together. For this article to make sense, you likely want to be familiar with all those elements first.

So, here’s the magus class progression chart, as it would look after taking the mindblade archetype, without the spells/day and spells/day info:

Mindblade

LevelBABFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial
1st+0+2+0+2Psychic poolcantripsspell combat
2nd+1+3+0+3Spellstrike
3rd+2+3+1+3Magus arcana
4th+3+4+1+4Psychic access
5th+3+4+1+4Bonus feat
6th+4+5+2+5Magus arcana
7th+5+5+2+5Psychic access, dual weapons
8th+6/+1+6+2+6Rapid manifest
9th+6/+1+6+3+6Magus arcana
10th+7/+2+7+3+7Fighter training
11th+8/+3+7+3+7Bonus feat, psychic access
12th+9/+4+8+4+8Magus arcana
13th+9/+4+8+4+8Dual manifest
14th+10/+5+9+4+9Psychic access
15th+11/+6/+1+9+5+9Magus arcana
16th+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Counterstrike
17th+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Bonus feat
18th+13/+8/+3+11+6+11Magus arcana
19th+14/+9/+4+11+6+11Psychic access
20th+15/+10/+5+12+6+12True magus

Okay, that looks pretty good. But, there are some hidden problems in there. Let’s look at each archetype class feature in turn.

Psychic Magic

The first is that this is clearly build on the idea that psychic magic and arcane magic have the same value for the magus build. At a glance that seems fair — each arcane component of a spell is replaced with a different component for psychic magic — emotion for somatic, and thought for verbal. And that’s fine, as far as it goes. But built into thought components is the need to either have the DC of concentration checks be 10 higher, or to take a move action to negate that penalty.

And neither of those works at all well for a magus.

The core power of the magus is spell combat, which allows a magus to take a full round action to make all their normal melee attacks and cast a single spell. Since you can only do this in melee, it obviously requires you to cast defensively… for which the DC is 10 higher. And the magus can’t lower the DC back to normal with a move action while using spell combat, since spell combat is already a full-round action.

That’s not the only potential issue, either. The core magus is carefully built around starting with light armor, then gaining medium and heavy over time. The mindblade, however, can load up in full plate (yes, without proficiency) and cast a shield spell at 1st level (or as soon as they have the money, which is likely to actually be 2nd level), and be fine. Which isn’t great for a straight magus build… but is awesome as a 1-level dip for cavaliers, fighters, and paladins. Those character likely don’t even care what their other spells are, though picking enlarge person and magic weapon certainly gives a cavalier 1/mindblade magus 1 with time to prepare a great one-combat combat loadout.

When a design works better for a 1-level dip for a different class than to support it’s own core ability, it’s an issue.

So, what if we rewrite how their psychic spell power works? Allow them to cast psychic spells in light armor without the DC of their thought spells increasing by 10. Then, add the ability to do this in medium and light armor at the same level a standard magus gains those armor proficiencies. That lets a mindblade use spell combat the same way a standard magus does, and makes the archetype a less-attractive 1-level dip for heavy armor combat classes. Okay, one problem solved.

Psychic Pool

Psychic pool basically replaces the ability to enhance a melee weapon with magic, with the ability to summon one that is magical as a standard action. There are some tradeoffs here. On the up side you are safe from losing a valuable piece of gear since you can always just summon a new sword; you can spend money standard magi would use for buying magic weapons for other magic items; you can use a two-handed weapon or twin weapons (really a function of being a psychic spellcaster, but most relevant here); you end up getting +7 bonuses worth of benefits over the course of the class, rather than just +5. On the down side, it starts as a standard action (again negating the usefulness of spell combat); you can’t combine the bonuses with those of an existing weapon; you can’t throw it; it ties up 1, 2, or 3 or your psychic pool points (yes, you get them back if you lose the weapon, but you can’t spend them on other things if you don’t want to be without your weapon in later rounds.

I get why having a “free” weapon seems like it has to come with huge drawbacks, but this doesn’t pan out as balanced at mid- and high-levels. Even at low-level, doing something like sacrificing 3 psychic pool points to have an effective 2-handed melee weapon is a big cost, and that’s in addition to needing to take a standard action to create it. Now, the ability gets better over time, but does so as stand-alone abilities that replace things like improved spell combat… and it never gets as good enough you could take Quick Draw and pull your weapon and make a full attack action in the same round, which again cuts back on the mindblade’s ability to do core, iconic magus things.

Also, being able to create dual weapons or double weapons later at higher level… sucks in play. Dual weapon wielding only works well if you have a ton of feats to back it up. That means you either have to take those feats early, before you can use them with you psychic weapon, or you wait until you can summon dual weapons at which point you are behind the curve compared to any other 2-weapon fighter.

Pretty clearly, this ability is too restrictive and too likely to frustrate players without giving nearly enough back in terms of either raw power or alternate tactical options. We can fix it by allowing characters to create dual weapons or double weapons at 1st level (by tying up 3 psychic pool points, just like with 2-handed weapons, and dividing their bonuses between them). That currently leaves some blank class levels but that’s okay. We’ll get to them.

Psychic Access

Okay, here’s the biggest one — psychic class spells! Sure, you give up (deep breath) spell recall, knowledge pool, improved spell recall, greater spell combat, and greater spell access, but it’s worth it, right?! I mean, you get more spells!

Except sadly, you don’t.

What you get is to add some spells from the psychic class list to your mindblade class list. But you *don’t* add them as additional spells known. Over the course of 4th to 19th level, you add 10 psychic spells to your mindblade spell list. You don’t end up with any more spells known, and you give up 5 features each as powerful as a magus arcana to do it, including greater spell access. greater spell access literally gives you 14 extra wizard spells for your magus class list, and lets you automatically know them and have them scribed into your spellbook with no time and no cost.

So, psychic access gives you fewer spells than greater spell access alone, and gives you less of a benefit with the spells you do know, and takes up 4 more major class features to do it. That’s objectively worse than the magus. This might make sense of the psychic spell list were massively more effective for a mindblade than the wizard is for a magus… but looking at the lists that is clearly not the case.

Also, as worded, it causes the spell blending arcana to not only grant you psychic spells rather than wizard spells, it doesn’t change the wording of them being added as “spells known.” That’s fine for a preparation spellcaster, where spells known doesn’t impact how many spells they have to choose from in combat (as that’s determined by what is prepared). But as a spontaneous spellcaster, the mindblade suddenly can expend every magus arcana and typical feat (for Bonus magus Arcana) to gain another spell known, and (using various “blending” arcana) can do it from the bard, psychic, and witch class lists.

Giving up knowledge pool, all by itself, is PLENTY of cost for any edge a mindblade might pick up from their psychic blades and the psychic spell list. it is, in fact, an enormous blow to any 7th-level or higher mindblade. Similarly, not having some ability to boost spells-per-day the way spell recall and improved spell recall do is similarly a *vast* cost. Not only should the archetype not also give up a slew of other core magus powers after losing spell recall, knowledge pool, improved spell recall, and greater spellacces, they actually need both some powerful options added BACK, and more ways to spend theirpsychic pool points.

A spontaneous caster doesn’t gain as much from having a bigger class spell list as a preparation spellcaster. It doesn’t increase the potential number of spells they can have ready at one time, or that they can use to meet prerequisites, or craft items. The hunter hybrid class, for example, gets the whole ranger class spell list and 0-6th druid class spell list, and clearly hasn’t had to give up a ton of other cool options to do so.

Given how much overlap already exists with the magus and psychic class lists, it seems obvious that like the druid, we should just give the mindblade access to two class spell lists (magus and psychic), starting at 1st level. Then, to fill the holes left by spell recall, improved spell recall, we add some phrenic amplifications from the psychic class, which both ties into the “mind” part of mindblade, and gives the class something to spend their psychic pool points on.

Here’s the revised class feature chart, and the rewritten mindblade powers.

(Art by Warmtail)

Deep Dive Mindblade

LevelBABFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial
1st+0+2+0+2Psychic poolcantripsspell combat
2nd+1+3+0+3Spellstrike
3rd+2+3+1+3Magus arcana
4th+3+4+1+4Psychic access
5th+3+4+1+4Bonus feat
6th+4+5+2+5Magus arcana
7th+5+5+2+5Medium armor, psychic access
8th+6/+1+6+2+6Dual weapons, improved spell combat
9th+6/+1+6+3+6Magus arcana
10th+7/+2+7+3+7Fighter training
11th+8/+3+7+3+7Bonus feat, psychic access
12th+9/+4+8+4+8Magus arcana
13th+9/+4+8+4+8Heavy armor
14th+10/+5+9+4+9Greater spell combat
15th+11/+6/+1+9+5+9Magus arcana, psychic access
16th+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Counterstrike
17th+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Bonus feat
18th+13/+8/+3+11+6+11Magus arcana
19th+14/+9/+4+11+6+11Psychic access
20th+15/+10/+5+12+6+12True magus

Spell Casting

A mindblade casts drawn from the magus spell list and psychic spell list as psychic spells. She can cast any spell she knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a mindblade must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell’s level. The saving throw DC to resist a mindblade’s spell is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the mindblade’s Intelligence modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a mindblade can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. She knows the same number of spells and receives the same number of spells slots per day as a bard of her magus level, and knows and uses 0-level knacks as a bard uses cantrips. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Intelligence score (see Table 1–3 on page 17 of the Core Rulebook).

At 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, a mindblade can learn a new spell in place of one she already knows, using the same rules as a bard. In effect, the mindblade loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and the new spell must be at least 1 level lower than the highest-level spell the mindblade can cast.

A mindblade need not prepare her spells in advance. She can cast any magus/psychic spell she knows at any time, assuming she has not yet used up her allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level. A mindblade who takes the spell blending magus arcana selects additional spells from the occultist spell list, rather than wizard, and none of the “blending” magus arcanas grant the spells added to the mindblade’s class list as bonus spells known.

A mindblade in no armor or light armor can cast mindblade spells with thought components without increasing the DC of related concentration checks by 10. Like any other psychic spellcaster, a mindblade wearing medium or heavy armor, or using a shield, has the DC of related concentration checks increase by 10 if the spell in question has a thought component. At 7th level, the mindblade gains proficiency in medium armor and this ability extends to medium armor. At 13th level, the mindblade gains proficiency in heavy armor, and this ability extends to heavy armor.

This ability replaces the magus’s spellcasting, and the medium armor and heavy armor magus class features.

Psychic Pool (Su)

A mindblade gains a psychic pool, similar to a normal magus’s arcane pool. At 1st level, a mindblade can expend 1 point from her psychic pool as a standard action to manifest a light melee weapon of her choice, formed from psychic energy, and by spending 2 points, the mindblade can manifest a one-handed melee weapon. By spending 3 points, she can manifest a two-handed melee weapon, two light melee weapons, a light melee weapon and a 1-handed melee weapon, or a double weapon. This psychic weapon can last indefinitely, but it vanishes if it leaves the mindblade’s hand. The mindblade can dismiss a held psychic weapon as a free action. When a psychic weapon vanishes, the mindblade regains the psychic energy used to create it. She can maintain only combinations of weapons listed above (and thus cannot, for example, manifest two one-handed melee weapons).

At 1st level, a psychic weapon counts as a magic weapon of whatever type the mindblade selected, with a +1 enhancement bonus. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the weapon’s enhancement bonus increases by 1, up to maximum of +5 at 12th level. Starting at 5th level, the mindblade can add any of the weapon special abilities listed in the arcane pool class feature in place of these bonuses, although the weapon must maintain at least a +1 bonus to benefit from any weapon special abilities. At 15th and 18th levels, the weapon gains an additional +1 enhancement bonus, which the mindblade can spend only on weapon special abilities.

At 4th level, the mindblade can manifest her weapons as a move action. At 8th level, the mindblade can manifest her weapons with the same effort needed to draw a normal weapon from a shealth.

If the mindblade has two weapons, or a double weapon, she must divide her total enhancement bonus and weapon special abilities between them. Until 3rd level, this means one weapon (or one end of a double weapon) counts as a magical weapon but has no enhancement bonus. From 3rd level on she must maintain at least a +1 enhancement bonus on each weapon (or end of a weapon), and beginning at 9th level she can divide her remaining enhancement bonuses and weapon special abilities as she prefers.

This ability replaces arcane pool, and counts as arcane pool for the purpose of feats, abilities, and class features.

Psychic Access

At 4th level, and again at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the mindblade gains a phrenic amplification drawn from the psychic class feature of the same name. The mindblade uses her psychic pool to power these (rather than a phrenic amplification pool), and treats her mindblade level as her psychic level for all purposes regarding these amplifications.

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Fantasy Witchwarper for Pathfinder (Full Playtest Version)

Okay, after a few weeks of blogging about drafts, design decisions, and development concerns, a first draft of the witchwarper for Pathfinder is done. So, this is the point when I bring it all together and see about some of the alternative ideas I had during the first draft. Most notably, I have decided to tweak this to be a psychic spellcaster, which both feels more in-line with the class flavor, and gives witchwarpers a less crowded niche as 0-9th level spellcasters.

This is still just a second draft, and in a commercial version I’d have more fluff, supporting feats, some alternate class features, and more paradigm shifts, but this is absolutely playable as-is. It’s at the stage where being playtested is extremely useful.

(Art by Kalleeck)

WITCHWARPER

Most people believe that reality is limited to their physical surroundings. You know the truth: that everything around you is merely a thin veil draped across the infinite tapestry of existence. Your reality is a palimpsest, with all possible worlds and all alternate existences at your disposal. Through your magic and force of personality, you can peer into these time lines and pull from them as you see fit, using their dimensional echoes to twist and reshape your own world.

Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d6.
Starting Wealth: 2d6 x 10 gp (average 70 gp).
Class Skills
The witchwarper’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Fly (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Knowledge (planes)(Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int).

Skill Points at each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table 1–Witchwarper Class Features

Level      BAB        Fort        Ref         Will        Special

1             +0           +0          +2           +0         Infinite worlds (1st-level Spells) 

2             +1           +0           +3          +0         Paradigm shift, warp pool

3             +1           +1           +3          +1         Compound sight +1, infinite backgrounds

4             +2           +1           +4          +1         Infinite worlds (2nd-level Spells)

5             +2           +1           +4          +1         Paradigm shift 

6             +3           +2           +5          +2          Alternate outcome 1/day, compound sight +2 

7             +3           +2           +5          +2          Infinite worlds (3rd-level Spells)

8             +4           +2           +6          +2          Paradigm shift

9             +4           +3           +6          +3           Compound sight +3 (two skills)

10           +5           +3           +7          +3           Infinite worlds (4th-level Spells)

11           +5           +3           +7          +3           Paradigm shift

12           +6           +4           +8          +4           Alternate outcome 2/day, compound sight +4 

13           +6           +4           +8          +4           Infinite worlds (5th-level Spells)

14           +7        +4           +9          +4           Paradigm shift

15           +7         +5           +9          +5          Compound sight +5

16           +8         +5        +10         +5           Infinite worlds (6th-level Spells)

17           +8         +5        +10         +5           Paradigm shift

18           +9         +6        +11         +6           Alternate outcome 3/day, compound sight +6 

19           +9         +6        +11         +6           Infinite worlds (7th-level Spells)

20           +10         +6        +12         +6           Paradigm shift, reality stutter

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Witchwarper are proficient with all simple weapons. Witchwarpers are also proficient with light armor, but not shields of any kind.

Spells: A witchwarper casts psychic spells drawn from the witch spell list. However, they do not receive curse and mind-effecting spells on the witch list unless those spells are also on the sorcerer/wizard spell list at the same spell level, and they do not gain access to any spell with the healing descriptor. They also add to their class spell list all conjuration and transmutation spells on the druid or sorcerer/wizard spell lists, except those with the healing descriptor. They do not gain access to any spell that requires access to a class feature they lack (such as a spell that affects your ability to use hexes, unless the witchwarpers has somehow gained hexes). They can cast any spell they know without preparing it ahead of time. To learn or cast a spell, a witchwarper must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a witchwarper’s spell is equal to 10 + the spell’s level + the witchwarper’s Charisma modifier.

A witchwarper can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Their base daily spell allotment is given on Table 2: Witchwarper Spell Progression. In addition, they receive bonus spells per day if they have a high Charisma score (see Table 1–3 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook).

The witchwarper’s selection of spells is limited. A witchwarper begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of the witchwarper’s choice. At each new witchwarper level, they learn one or more new spells, as indicated on Table 3: Witchwarper Spells Known. Unlike a spells per day, the number of spells a witchwarper knows isn’t affected by their Intelligence score; the numbers on Table 3 are fixed.

At 4th level and every even-numbered level thereafter (6th, 8th, and so on), a witchwarper can choose to learn a single new spell in place of one they already know. In effect, the witchwarper loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least 1 level lower than the highest-level spell from the witchwarper’s class list that the witchwarper can cast. A witchwarper can swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that they gain new spells known for the level.

Table 2 – Witchwarper Spells Per Day

Level1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th
1st3
2nd4
3rd5
4th63
5th64
6th653
7th664
8th6653
9th6664
10th66653
11th66664
12th666653
13th666664
14th6666653
15th6666664
16th66666653
17th66666664
18th666666653
19th666666664
20th666666666

Table 3 – Witchwarper Spells Known

Level01st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th
1st42
2nd52
3rd53
4th631
5th642
6th7421
7th7532
8th85321
9th85432
10th954321
11th955432
12th9554321
13th9554432
14th95544321
15th95544432
16th955444321
17th955444332
18th9554443321
19th9554443332
20th9554443333

Infinite Worlds (Su) – 1st Level
As a standard action, you can create a bubble of altered reality, projecting elements of parallel existences into your current universe. You expend a witchwarper spell slot of 1st level or higher to create an environmental effect, such as summoning fog or thick vines from other realities, which lasts for a number of rounds equal to your class level unless specified otherwise. Alternatively, you can create an instantaneous effect, such a flash of fire from an explosion that occurred in a parallel universe. The particular effects depend on the level of the spell slot expended.

All effects created by infinite worlds use the following rules unless they say otherwise. They have a range of 100 feet + 10 feet per witchwarper level and affect a 10-foot-radius spread. If you create multiple effects with one use of infinite worlds, they all originate at the same point. If an effect calls for a saving throw, the DC is equal to 10 + the spell level expended to create the effect + your Charisma modifier. You can define the cause and appearance of infinite worlds however you wish (subject to GM approval), but the effects themselves are only quasi-real and have no effects beyond the game mechanics listed as options for this ability.

You can instead create multiple, milder effects in place of a single, more powerful effect. When you do this, you select two effects available to any version of this ability created by expending a lower-level spell slot than that you actually expend. For calculations based on spell level, use the level of the spell slot you expend.

For example, a 10th-level witchwarper could expend a 3rd‑level spell slot and select either a 3rd-level effect or any two abilities normally created by expending 1st- or 2nd-level spells. If you expend a spell slot 2 levels higher than the highest-level slot required for the effects you create, you can create 3 different effects. If you use a spell slot 3 levels higher, you can create four effects.

The environmental and instantaneous effects you can create by sacrificing a witchwarper spell slot of a given level are as follows:
1st (Environmental): You cause the affected area to become difficult terrain. This might mean that stone flooring becomes rough and uneven, a waterway is choked by roots and seaweed, or the air is flooded with floating strands of web-like filaments. You can affect a single movement type (normal movement, burrow, climb, fly, or swim) or any combination of those movement types. When you create difficult terrain in this way, it is considered magically altered terrain for the purposes of other effects.
1st (Instantaneous): You cause a bright flash of light to fill the area. Each creature within the area must succeed at a Fortitude saves or be dazzled for 1 round per witchwarper level. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw (meaning the d20 shows a “1”), it is also blinded for 1 round.
2nd (Environmental): You cause a hazard that deals damage each round equal to the level of the spell slot expended, with a successful Fortitude save reducing the damage by half. A creature attempts this save when it first takes damage from this effect, and its result applies for the duration of the effect. You select the damage type each time you use this ability (acid, bludgeoning, cold, electricity, fire, piercing, slashing, or sonic).
2nd (Instantaneous): You cause a destabilizing event, such as a brief earthquake, a split-second reversal of gravity, or a blast of icy wind. Each creature within the area must succeed at a Reflex save or be knocked prone. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw, it is also moved 5 feet per level of the spell slot expended in a direction of your choice.
3rd (Environmental): You cause the area to grant concealment against one sense—vision, scent, sound, or vibration.
3rd (Instantaneous): You cause a disorienting event, such as bursts of flashing colors and loud sounds, or rain falling upward in spirals. Each creature within the area must succeed at a Will save or take a -2 penalty to attack rolls for a number of rounds equal to the level of the spell expended. If a creature rolls a natural 1 on its saving throw, it is also staggered for 1 round.
4th (Environmental): You create a barrier, the entirety of which must be within the range and area of infinite worlds’ environmental effects. The barrier is a number of 5-foot cubes no greater than double the level of the spell slot expended. The cubes must each connect along one side with at least one other cube, have hardness equal to double the level of the spell slot expended, and each have HP equal to 5 × the level of spell expended. Barriers you could summon might include stone walls, slabs of ice, and so forth.
4th (Instantaneous): You create a burst of damage affecting everything in the area. You select the type of damage each time you use this ability (acid, bludgeoning, cold, electricity, fire, piercing, slashing, or sonic), and it deals 1d8 damage per level of the spell expended (Reflex half).
5th (Environmental): You make the air thicker or thinner, or fill it with toxic vapors. Each creature breathing the air must succeed at a Fortitude save or be sickened as long as it remains in the area. A creature attempts a single save when it is first exposed to the infinite worlds, which determines for the duration of the ability whether breathing within the area sickens that creature.
5th (Instantaneous): You attempt to entangle all targets within the area. You might fill the area with chains, viscous glue, or quick-hardening cement. Each target must succeed at a Reflex save or be entangled and anchored in place for a number of rounds equal to the level of the spell slot expended. Creatures that enter the area after you use this ability are not entangled.
6th (Environmental): You reduce the hardness of objects within the area by 50% (Fortitude negates), or increase their hardness by 10 (to a maximum of double their normal hardness).

Warp Pool (Su) – 2nd Level

A witchwarper has a pool of psychic energy that they can draw upon to fuel their infinite worlds ability, and potentially powers gained through paradigm shifts. The maximum number of points in a witchwarper’s warp pool is equal to 1/2 their class level + their Charisma modifier. The warp pool is replenished each morning after 8 hours of rest or meditation; these hours don’t need to be consecutive. Points gained in excess of the pool’s maximum are lost.

A witchwarper can expend a warp point from their warp pool, rather than expend a spell slot, to fuel their infinite worlds ability. When used for this purpose, the warp point functions as a spell slot with a spell level equal to half the witchwarper’s class level -1 (to a minimum of 1st level spell slot).

Paradigm Shift – 2nd Level

Paradigm shifts represent your ability to briefly install pieces of alternate realities into your own, subtly or radically changing your surroundings for a time. You learn your first paradigm shift at 2nd level, and an additional paradigm shift every 3 levels thereafter. Paradigm shifts require you to be a certain level to learn them and are organized accordingly. You cannot select the same paradigm shift more than once unless it specifies otherwise.

Unless otherwise stated, the effects of a paradigm shift last for a number of rounds equal to your witchwarper level. If a paradigm shift allows a saving throw to resist its effects, the DC is equal to 10 + half your witchwarper level + your Charisma modifier.

Starting at 4th level, your ability to shuffle these realities improves. Upon gaining a witchwarper level (including at 4th level), you can swap out one paradigm shift you know for a different paradigm shift of the same level. You can instead select a paradigm shift of a lower level, but note the level of the original paradigm shift so that when you later swap out the same paradigm shift at later levels, you can select any paradigm shift of the original level or lower.)

2nd level

Disrupt Attack (Su)
As a reaction when you or an ally is targeted with an attack originating within 100 feet, you can expend 1 warp point to impose a –2 penalty on the attack roll. If the attack is coming from a creature, that creature can attempt a Will saving throw to negate this effect. Once you’ve targeted an attacker with this paradigm shift, you can’t target the same attacker with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours. At 8th level, the penalty changes to –3, and at 14th level, the penalty changes to –4.

Disrupt Creature (Su)
As a standard action, you can expend a warp point to target a creature within 100 feet and swap in alternate physiologies (or gears, planar energy, or whatever the creature’s equivalent to physiology is) in its body in this version of existence, imposing the shaken condition for a number of rounds equal to 1/3 your witchwarper class level (minimum 1 round). The target is allowed a Fortitude save to negate this effect. This is not an emotion, fear, or mind-affecting effect, and it does not stack with other shaken or fear conditions. However, if you target a creature that has succeeded at a save against your disrupt creature ability in the past 24 hours, it takes a -2 penalty to its save if you target it again.

Eldritch Secret
You can draw specific magic effects from other realities, allowing you to access spells normally not available to witchwarpers. Select one spell from an arcane or occult class’s spell list. It must be of a level no greater than 1 lower than the highest-level spell you can cast. (Alternatively, you can select one spell from a divine class’s spell list. It must be of a level no greater than 2 lower than the highest-level spell you can cast.) Add this to your list of witchwarper spells known.

You cannot select a spell that requires class features you do not possess. If you select a spell of a different source than your own spells (arcane, divine, or occult), it changes to be a spell of that type. You cannot select a spell available only to members of specific groups (such as worshippers of a specific deity) unless you are a member of that group. You cannot select a spell available only through archetypes, prestige classes, or class features other than “spells” (such as spells only available through an arcane school, bloodline, or domain).

Each time you gain the ability to cast a higher level of witchwarper spells, you may swap out the spell gained with this paradigm shift for a new spell of a maximum level no greater than 1 lower (or 2 lower for a divine spell) than the highest-level spell you can cast. You can select this paradigm shift more than once but cannot at any time have more than one additional spell known from this ability at each level of spells you can cast.

Overlapping Forms (Su)
As a standard action, you can overlay faint outlines of yourself from multiple alternate realities, giving yourself a +1 dodge bonus to your AC. At 5th level, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool when using this ability to instead give an ally you touch a +1 dodge bonus to AC. In either case, the bonus lasts for a number of minutes equal to your caster level. You cannot have overlapping forms active on more than one creature at a time–if you place it on a new creature while it is still active on a previous creature, the older use ends.

Prevent Wounds (Su)
As a reaction when you or an ally within 100 feet takes hit point damage, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to prevent 1d4 points of that damage for every 2 witchwarper levels you have. You cannot prevent more damage than was dealt, and even if you prevent all damage any associated effects from the attack (such as disease or poison) still apply.

Push Area (Su)
As a reaction when a thrown attack with an area or splash effect, or instantaneous effect or spell defined as a burst radius that requires a saving throw with has an area of at least 5-foot-radius would be centered within 100 feet, you can expend a point from your warp pool to shift the area’s center by 5 feet before it detonates. Your allies within its area of effect gain a +2 insight bonus to their saving throws against the area-effect. At 8th level, you can shift the area’s center by 10 feet. At 11th level, you can shift the area’s center by 15 feet.

Shift Resistance (Su)
As a standard action, you can change the type of a single energy resistance (but not immunity) of a creature within 100 feet (from cold to fire, for example) for 1 round. The creature can attempt a Will saving throw to negate this effect. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours.

Thwart Ability (Su)
As a reaction when you or an ally within 100 feet is affected by a spell or ability that allows a saving throw and would deal damage, and fails the saving throw, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to grant the target a new saving throw with a +2 bonus to avoid or mitigate the effect’s damage and effects (with success acting as if the original save was successful).

4th level

Inhibit (Sp or Su)
As a standard action, you can prevent a creature within 100 feet from taking its best course of action by overwhelming it with visions of its failures in other realities as a supernatural ability. The target must succeed at a Will save or become staggered for 1 round. At 8th level, alternatively, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to instead use slow as a spell-like ability. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again (regardless of how you use it) for 24 hours.

Optimize (Sp or Su)
You can show a creature a glimpse of the results of its choices in other realities, allowing it to act more efficiently. As a standard action, you can touch a willing creature to increase all of its speeds by 10 feet. This is considered an enhancement bonus and is a supernatural haste effect. At 8th level, alternatively, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to instead use haste as a spell‑like ability. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target them with this paradigm shift again (regardless of how you use it) for 24 hours.

Resist Elements (Su)
As a reaction when you or a creature within 100 feet would take energy damage, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to grant the target resistance 5 against that energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This resistance is applied before the damage from the triggering attack. At 8th level, the resistance granted increases to 10. At 11th level, the resistance granted increases to 15.

Shifting Offensive (Su)
As a standard action, you can touch a weapon or magic item that deals damage and temporarily change its damage type (to acid, bludgeoning, cold, electricity, fire, piercing, slashing, or sonic). If the weapon deals more than one type of damage, you can change all the damage it does (regardless of type) to the new damage type, or change just one of its damage types (leaving its other damage types unchanged). This effect lasts until the end of your next turn.

8th level

Flash Teleport (Su)
As a move action, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to teleport (as the spell) up to 30 feet. You must have line of sight to your destination. This movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

Hobble Creature (Su)
As a standard action, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to target a creature within 100 feet and swap in alternate physiologies or circuitry in its body in this version of existence, imposing the staggered condition for a number of rounds equal to 1/3 your witchwarper level. The creature can attempt a Fortitude save to negate this effect. You must know the disrupt creature paradigm shift to learn this paradigm shift.

Magic Deletion (Su)
As a reaction when you are targeted by a spell, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to gain spell resistance equal to 12 + your witchwarper level until the end of your next turn.

11th level

Dart Aside (Su)
As a reaction when you are hit by an attack but before the attack’s damage is resolved, you can expend 3 points from your warp pool to teleport (as the spell) up to 10 feet away. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If your new location would cause you to be an invalid target for the triggering attack (for example, because you are out of range of a melee attack or the attacker no longer has line of effect to you), the attack is treated as a miss.

Shaped Infinities (Su)
When you use infinite worlds, you can exclude up to one 5-foot square per witchwarper level from the effect’s area.

Substitute Mind (Su)
You can free a creature from mental control or conditions that hamper it. Once per day as a standard action, you can touch a willing or helpless creature. When you do, the affected part of its mind is replaced with a nearly exact duplicate from an alternate reality, ending all mind-affecting effects the target has. The subject is stunned until the end of its next turn.

You can also attempt to use this ability on an ally who would normally be willing, but is currently unwilling due to the influence of a mind-affecting effect. In this case, the ally must attempt a Will save against substitute mind. If that saving throw fails, then your substitute mind works as if the target were willing.

At 14th level, you can use this ability on yourself, even if you’re otherwise unable to take actions because of a mind‑affecting effect. If you do, it must be the first thing you do on your turn, and you are stunned until the end of your next turn.

For dart aside, my main struggle was how to price its warp pool expenditure. It costs 2 Resolve Points in the original Sf version, and that’s a huge cost given RP are also used to recover Stamina Points, stabilize, and get back into the fight. Since this lets you entirely dodge a melee attack, which is much more common in Pathfinder than in Starfinder, I wanted to make sure a typical 11th-level witchwarper still wouldn’t be doing it very often. I think a typical 11th-level witchwarper is likely to have a 24 Charisma (16 to start, +1 at 4th and 8th, +4 from an item — you could absolutely get higher, but I’m looking for a baseline, not the maximum), which would give them 11 warp points. Charging 4 means you can do this once a day and still have lots of other options, but if you use it 2 or 3 times, it starts to be most of what you are doing with your warp points that day. That sounds perfect to me.

Shaped infinities needed no changes at all. Substitute mind felt too complex, so I boiled it down. That said, I left it at once per day, since there’s no limit to what mind-affecting abilities it can stop. It might be a stronger Pathfinder design to make it a dispel check (maybe with a +4 bonus)… I’ll have to think about that, but this is as good as the original, so it’ll do for now.

14th level

Shifting Immunity (Su)
As a reaction when a creature with immunity to a type of energy damage within 100 feet is affected by energy damage, you can change the creature’s immunity to another type of energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic) before the damage is resolved. The effect of this paradigm shift lasts for 3 rounds. This does not affect the creature’s ability to survive environmental hazards or conditions, only what damage it takes from attacks and special abilities. (For example, a creature normally immune to fire that has its immunity shifted to cold by this ability and then swims in lava still doesn’t take damage from the lava even though it’s now vulnerable to fire weapons and spells.) The creature can attempt a Will saving throw to negate this effect. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours. You must know the shift resistance paradigm shift to learn this paradigm shift.

Swapping Step (Su)
Once per round as a move action, you can switch the positions of two creatures within 100 feet, instantaneously swapping their places. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity. You can’t swap creatures’ positions in a way that would cause either creature to take damage or be forced into an inappropriate physical space. (For example, you could not swap the positions of two creatures of different sizes if doing so would cause the larger creature to risk falling off a cliff or into a hazard, or cause one of the creatures to be placed within a solid object). Each targeted creature can attempt a Will save to avoid this effect. If either creature succeeds, this paradigm shift has no effect. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours.

Unveil Reality (Su)
As a standard action, you can target one creature within 100 feet and tear back the veils of all worlds, overwhelming the target with a bewildering phantasmagoria. This causes the creature to gain the stunned condition for 3 rounds unless it succeeds at a Will saving throw. This is a mind-affecting effect. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours

Compound Sight (Su) – 3rd Level
You can sift through many realities, gaining understanding of a task by seeing it attempted dozens of different ways. Choose a skill. You gain a +1 insight bonus to checks using that skill. This bonus increases by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter. You can change your chosen skill every time you gain a witchwarper level. At 9th level, you become more adept with your compound sight and can choose two skills to apply it to.

Alternate Outcome (Su) – 6th Level
You can use your grasp of other realities to swap an outcome in your current existence with that of a more favorable reality. As a reaction once per day, you can reroll one attack roll, saving throw, ability check, or skill check that you attempt. If the d20 on this reroll results in a 1-10 (the die shows a 1 through 10), add 10 to your total result. You must use the result of the reroll, even if it is worse than your original roll.
Alternatively, you can expend a use of this ability as a reaction to cause a critical hit against you or an ally within 100 feet to instead be a normal hit.
You gain one additional daily use of this ability at 12th level and again at 18th level.

Unfold Existences (Su) – 19th Level
You have nearly unlimited insight into all possible worlds and can pluck power from them as you deem necessary. Select five paradigms shifts you don’t know but whose prerequisites you meet. These paradigm shifts must not require your level to be higher than 8th. You can use the selected paradigm shifts a total number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier.

Reality Stutter (Su) – 20th Level
Your force of will can infuse reality itself, changing key aspects of existence around you. You can spend a spell slot to use any paradigm shift you know. The spell slot must be of a spell level no less than half the minimum class level at which the paradigm shift can be selected.

This doesn’t take an action, but you must use this ability on your turn unless the paradigm shift can be used as a reaction. If the paradigm shift requires a reaction, you still can’t use it unless the stated trigger has occurred, but using it does not expend your reaction for the round. If the paradigm shift requires you to expend spell slots to use it, you must still spend those spell slots in addition to that spent to use this ability. You can use reality stutter only once per turn. You can use the unfold existences ability in conjunction with reality stutter; doing so expends a daily use of unfold existences as normal.

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Converting the Witchwarper to PF1: Paradigm Shifts (Part 8)

Another post working on our PF1 witchwarper. We’re working on paradigm shifts, having written their category rules, and creating the warp pool. Now we’re seeing how many days we can go, converting 2-3 a day (or more), until we run into our next design challenge.

Today, we get into the 14th level paradigm shifts.

When looking at these, I try to keep in mind they’ll come into play the same time as the spells control weather, limited wish, and resurrection. None of these really needed any design choices to convert, and while I am concerned about their power level (it’s high), they’re not any more powerful in pathfinder than they were in Sf, so for the moment I’m just chalking that up to what happens at 14th level.

Paradigm Shifts [14th level]

Shifting Immunity (Su)
As a reaction when a creature with immunity to a type of energy damage within 100 feet is affected by energy damage, you can change the creature’s immunity to another type of energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic) before the damage is resolved. The effect of this paradigm shift lasts for 3 rounds. This does not affect the creature’s ability to survive environmental hazards or conditions, only what damage it takes from attacks and special abilities. (For example, a creature normally immune to fire that has its immunity shifted to cold by this ability and then swims in lava still doesn’t take damage from the lava even though it’s now vulnerable to fire weapons and spells.) The creature can attempt a Will saving throw to negate this effect. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours. You must know the shift resistance paradigm shift to learn this paradigm shift.

Swapping Step (Su)
Once per round as a move action, you can switch the positions of two creatures within 100 feet, instantaneously swapping their places. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity. You can’t swap creatures’ positions in a way that would cause either creature to take damage or be forced into an inappropriate physical space. (For example, you could not swap the positions of two creatures of different sizes if doing so would cause the larger creature to risk falling off a cliff or into a hazard, or cause one of the creatures to be placed within a solid object). Each targeted creature can attempt a Will save to avoid this effect. If either creature succeeds, this paradigm shift has no effect. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours.

Unveil Reality (Su)
As a standard action, you can target one creature within 100 feet and tear back the veils of all worlds, overwhelming the target with a bewildering phantasmagoria. This causes the creature to gain the stunned condition for 3 rounds unless it succeeds at a Will saving throw. This is a mind-affecting effect. Once you’ve targeted a creature with this paradigm shift, you can’t target that creature with this paradigm shift again for 24 hours.

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Converting the Witchwarper to PF1: Paradigm Shifts (Part 7)

No surprises, it’s another post working on our PF1 witchwarper! Still working on paradigm shifts, having written their category rules, and creating the warp pool. Now we’re seeing how many days we can go, converting 2-3 a day (or more!), until we run into our next design challenge.

Today, we get into the 11th level paradigm shifts.

Paradigm Shifts [11th level]

Dart Aside (Su)
As a reaction when you are hit by an attack but before the attack’s damage is resolved, you can expend 3 points from your warp pool to teleport (as the spell) up to 10 feet away. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If your new location would cause you to be an invalid target for the triggering attack (for example, because you are out of range of a melee attack or the attacker no longer has line of effect to you), the attack is treated as a miss.

Shaped Infinities (Su)
When you use infinite worlds, you can exclude up to one 5-foot square per witchwarper level from the effect’s area.

Substitute Mind (Su)
You can free a creature from mental control or conditions that hamper it. Once per day as a standard action, you can touch a willing or helpless creature. When you do, the affected part of its mind is replaced with a nearly exact duplicate from an alternate reality, ending all mind-affecting effects the target has. The subject is stunned until the end of its next turn.

You can also attempt to use this ability on an ally who would normally be willing, but is currently unwilling due to the influence of a mind-affecting effect. In this case, the ally must attempt a Will save against substitute mind. If that saving throw fails, then your substitute mind works as if the target were willing.

At 14th level, you can use this ability on yourself, even if you’re otherwise unable to take actions because of a mind‑affecting effect. If you do, it must be the first thing you do on your turn, and you are stunned until the end of your next turn.

For dart aside, my main struggle was how to price its warp pool expenditure. It costs 2 Resolve Points in the original Sf version, and that’s a huge cost given RP are also used to recover Stamina Points, stabilize, and get back into the fight. Since this lets you entirely dodge a melee attack, which is much more common in Pathfinder than in Starfinder, I wanted to make sure a typical 11th-level witchwarper still wouldn’t be doing it very often. I think a typical 11th-level witchwarper is likely to have a 24 Charisma (16 to start, +1 at 4th and 8th, +4 from an item — you could absolutely get higher, but I’m looking for a baseline, not the maximum), which would give them 11 warp points. Charging 4 means you can do this once a day and still have lots of other options, but if you use it 2 or 3 times, it starts to be most of what you are doing with your warp points that day. That sounds perfect to me.

Shaped infinities needed no changes at all. Substitute mind felt too complex, so I boiled it down. That said, I left it at once per day, since there’s no limit to what mind-affecting abilities it can stop. It might be a stronger Pathfinder design to make it a dispel check (maybe with a +4 bonus)… I’ll have to think about that, but this is as good as the original, so it’ll do for now.

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Converting the Witchwarper to PF1: Paradigm Shifts (Part 6)

Aaaaand… another post working on our PF1 witchwarper! Still working on paradigm shifts, having written their category rules, and creating the warp pool. Now we’re seeing how many days we can go, converting 2-3 a day (or more!), until we run into our next design challenge.

Today, we get into the 8th level paradigm shifts.

Paradigm Shifts [8th level]

Flash Teleport (Su)
As a move action, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to teleport (as the spell) up to 30 feet. You must have line of sight to your destination. This movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

Hobble Creature (Su)
As a standard action, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to target a creature within 100 feet and swap in alternate physiologies or circuitry in its body in this version of existence, imposing the staggered condition for a number of rounds equal to 1/3 your witchwarper level. The creature can attempt a Fortitude save to negate this effect. You must know the disrupt creature paradigm shift to learn this paradigm shift.

Magic Deletion (Su)
As a reaction when you are targeted by a spell, you can expend 1 point from your warp pool to gain spell resistance equal to 12 + your witchwarper level until the end of your next turn.

Other than deciding to have all of those be fueled by our warp pool (rather than expending spell slots, as some did originally), again those all adapted with very little change.

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