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OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1st edition (Part 6: Hexes as Invocations)

So far on our project to create a Pathfinder 1e warlock, we’ve done the class advancement chartspell access rules, a Fiendish patron , a Draconic patron, and some pact boons.

Let’s get started with Invocations.

While we WILL have other invocations, this is also how warlocks access hexes. So let’s take care of those options, shall we?

Fantasy warrior girl

(Art by Maxim B)

Invocations
A warlock gains their first invocation at 2nd level, and gains an additional invocation at 3rd level and every other level thereafter. If an invocation requires a saving throw, the DC is 10 + 1/2 your warlock level + your Charisma modifier unless otherwise noted. You cannot select the save invocation more than once unless otherwise noted.

Hex: One of the most common invocations is the hex, a power patrons grant to warlocks more sparingly than witches, but remain a common symbol of their otherworldly power.

Each time you select this invocation, you gain a common hellion, shaman, or witch hex. You cannot select a spirit hex or patron hex. You treat your warlock level as your the appropriate class level for all purposes with hexes, and you must meet any prerequisites the hex has. You cannot select an individual hex more than once. If a hex by the same name exist for both the witch and another class, you use the witch version. You cannot select a hex that affects class features you do not have. Unless otherwise noted, using a hex is a standard action that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. The save to resist your hexes is 10 + 1/2 your warlock level + your Charisma modifier.

You can select this invocation more than once, but not more than once for every 2 levels of warlock you have. Each time, you select a new common hex.

Major Hex: As the hex invocation, but you gain a major hex. You cannot have more major hexes known than hexes known. You must be at least 11th level before you take this invocation.

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OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1st edition (Part 5: Pact Boons)

Okay, so while working on the Pathfinder 1e warlock, we’ve done the class advancement chart, spell access rules, and a Fiendish patron and a Draconic patron.

Let’s move on to Pact Boons.

Horned Warlock
(Art by bueroeisenmann)

Pact Boon
Your pact boon is a special link between you and a creature or object that is granted to you by your patron. In most cases any patron can grant any pact boon–the nature of the pact boon says more about the warlock than the patron. Once you select a pact boon, this choice cannot be changed.

Pact boons are obviously the kind of thing we could expand endlessly, but let’s start with three very different kinds of pact boons, which build three very different kind of warlocks.

Pact of the Blade (Su): As a standard action you can create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it, and are automatically proficient with it while you wield it. This acts as a magic weapon. Your pact weapon disappears if it is more than 5 feet away from you for 1 minute or more. It also disappears if you use this feature again, if you dismiss the weapon (a free action), or if you die. W When you make attacks with your pact weapon, you add your Charisma bonus (rather than Strength, Dexterity, or any other ability score) to attack rolls and damage. This value is not adjusted for light, finesse, or 2-handed weapons.
You can transform one existing weapon (including a magic weapon) into your pact weapon by performing a special ritual while you hold the weapon. You perform the ritual over the course of 1 hour. You can then dismiss the weapon, shunting it into an extradimensional space, and it appears whenever you create your pact weapon thereafter. You can’t affect an artifact or a sentient weapon in this way. The weapon ceases being your pact weapon if you die, if you perform the 1-hour ritual on a different weapon, or if you use a 1-hour ritual to break your bond to it. The weapon appears at your feet if it is in the extradimensional space when the bond breaks.
At 6th level you can summon your pact weapon as a move action. At 9th, you can do so as a swift or immediate action. At 12th, you can do so as part of an attack, and as long as you have a free hand you are considered to be threatening with the weapon even when it is not summoned.

Pact of Loyalty (Ex): You gain a familiar, as a wizard with a level equal to your warlock level. This is automatically an improved familiar, as if you had the Improved Familiar feat. You qualify for improved familiars as if your level was 4 higher. The familiar cannot have an elemental or alignment subtype that does not match your patron (subject to GM approval).
The familiar has a typical alignment for a creature of its kind. However, due to its bond of loyalty with you, it acts and makes decisions as if its alignment matched yours precisely. Though it may complain about such acts if they diametrically oppose its alignment, it does not attempt to skirt typical alignment decisions.
It is entirely loyal to your and your commands, even unto its death.
If it dies, you receive a new improved familiar when you next gain a warlock level. You cannot gain one before this.

Pact of Whispers (Ex): You bond with an object of your choice that grants you secret knowledge, becoming a lore whisperer. The item cannot be a weapon, magic item, toolkit, shield, or armor. Knucklebones are common, as are playing cards, bowls, rune-sticks, knotted cords, and even skulls.
When the item is either adjacent to you or in your hand (essentially it must be exposed to attacks as either a held or unattended object), you can make a special Knowledge (any) check, or a Diplomacy check to gather information (at no cost) or Use Magic Device check. The bonus for this check is 3 +your Charisma bonus + your warlock level. Once you have done this, you cannot do so again until you next regain spell slots.
Additionally, at 8th level you gain a bonus feat your can use as long as you have access to your lore whisperer (it need not be exposed). This feat may be a Crafting feat, or Skill Focus, or a feat that does nothing other than give you access to class skills, additional skill points, or bonuses to skills. You must meet the feat’s prerequisites normally. You gain an additional such feat at 12th level, and every 4 levels thereafter.
If your lore whisperer is lost or destroyed, you can create a new one in a ritual that takes 1d12 hours, ending your bond to your previous lore whisperer.

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OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1st edition (Part 4: Draconic Patrons)

Given how popular the Fiendish patron was for thePathfinder 1e Warlock class I worked on last week and wrote the spell access rules for, I thought we’d tackle another Patron before moving on to the Pact Boons and Invocations.

Draconic Patron
You have become tied to draconic power, and bound forever to one or more dragons or groups of dragons. This link may be a classic pact made with a dragon god or elder dragon, perhaps even similar to your being the familiar of a true dragon wizard. But it also might be a more primal tie, such as being born of a sorcerer with a draconic bloodline when the Constellation of Draconis was ascendant, or being marked by a ritual as an infant with the blood of a dragonne.
Regardless of where your bond comes from, it is as much a part of you as your mind, soul, and blood. There is draconic might coursing through your veins, demanding you meet its needs, even if you don’t have a pact with one specific dragon or council of wyrms.

Dragon Warlock
(Art by ratpack 223)

Patron Spells
The following spells are considered part of your warlock spell list, allowing you to select them as spells known and use spell completion items linked to them.

1st—snapdragon fireworks, 2nd—burning arc, 3rd—draconic reservoir, 4th—detect scrying, 5th—spell resistance.

Eldritch Blast (Su)
You gain the power to breath an energy attack that does. You can use this as an attack action, and do not need a hand free to do so. Beginning at 8th level, you can take a full attack action to make multiple eldritch blasts just as you would with a standard weapon. You are proficient with your eldritch blast, and can select it for feats and class features that apply to weapons (such as Weapon Focus).

Your eldritch blast can benefit from effects that augment natural attacks, such as an amulet of might fists or the magic fang spell. However, any augmentation to damage applies to only one target of your choice in the area.

Your draconic eldritch blast is a 15-foot cone that deals 1d4 damage of the the same energy type you gain resistance to from your draconic affinity feature. You make a ranged attack roll against each creature in the area (rolling once, and comparing the result to the AC of each creature). You add your Charisma bonus, rather than your Dexterity bonus, to your attack rolls, and also add half you your Charisma bonus to the damage of your eldritch blast.

Your eldritch blast has a critical threat range of 20. You make one attack roll to see if you confirm the critical hit, comparing the result to the AC of all targets. On a critical hit you do double damage, and may make a free Intimidate check to demoralize each creature damaged.

Draconic Affinity
Select one type of true dragon. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changes. You gain resistance to one energy type (selected from acid, cold, electricity, fire, sonic) that dragon deals as breath weapon damage. You may choose the type, and once made this choice cannot be changed. If the selected dragon does not do one of the possible energy types you automatically gain fire resistance. This is your affiliated energy type

Your resistance is equal to 5 + your warlock level. At 15th level, you gain immunity to the selected damage type.

Additionally, whenever you do energy damage that is not of your affiliated damage type (or grant other creatures the ability to do energy damage, or grant them resistance to an energy type) you may choose to make it your affiliated damage type instead.

Patron Gift: A warlock with the fiendish patron can choose from any of the following patron gifts.

Breath Weapon (Su): The primal power of dragonkind seethes within you. You gain a breath weapon. This breath weapon deals 1d6 points of damage of your affiliated energy type per warlock levels you have (Reflex half ). The shape of the breath weapon is either a 30-foot cone or a 60- foot line, selected when choosing this revelation. You can use this ability once per day at 1st level, plus one additional time at 5th level and one additional time per day for every 5 levels beyond 5th.

Draconic Presence (Ex): Whenever you successfully do damage of your affiliated damage type, as a swift or immediate action you can make an Intimidate check to demoralize one creature that can see you and the damaged target.

Draconic Resilience (Ex): When you suffer a fear effect other than being shaken, you are instead shaken for the same duration. You are immune to magic sleep and paralysis.

Draconic Resistances (Ex): Like the great dragons, you are not easily harmed by common means of attack. You gain resistance 5 against one chosen energy type and a +1 natural armor bonus. At 9th level, your energy resistance increases to 10 and your natural armor bonus increases to +2. At 15th level, your energy resistance increases to 20 and your natural armor bonus increases to +4.

Dragon Magic (Sp): Your draconic power grants you a limited form of access to arcane magic. Select one spell from the sorcerer/wizard spell list that is 2 levels lower than the highest-level spell you can cast, or two spells that are both at least 3 levels lower. You can cast each of the selected spells twice per day as a spell-like ability.
You must be at least 10th level to select this patron gift.

Dragon Senses (Ex): Your senses take on a keen draconic edge. You gain darkvision with a range of 60 feet, or low-light vision, or scent. At 9th level, you can select one of those options you do not already have or gain gain blindsense with a range of 30 feet. At 15th level, you one of the previous option you do not already have, or add 60 feet to your darkvision, or 30 feet to your blindsense, or gain a +4 bonus on Perception checks.

Form of the Dragon (Su): Your kinship with dragonkind allows you to take on the form of a dragon. As a standard action, you can assume the form of a Medium dragon, as per form of the dragon I. At 15th level, you can assume the form of a Large dragon, as per form of the dragon II. At 19th level, you can assume the form of a Huge dragon, as per form of the dragon III.
You can use this ability once per day, but the duration is 10 minutes per warlock level. If you are at least 15th level and choose to have this ability function as per form of the dragon I, the duration is instead 1 hour per warlock level.
Rather than form of the dragon spells, you can choose for this revelation to act as form of the alien dragon I, II, and III or form of the exotic dragon I, II, and III if your draconic affinity is for such a dragon. This choice must be made when you first gain this revelation, and cannot be changed.
You must be at least 10th level to select this revelation.

Kith of the Shell (Ex): Even as you are bound to dragonkind, there is a drake bound to you. You gain a drake companion, and it has one bonus drake power.

Mystic Arcanum (Sp): You gain a spell you can cast once per day as a spell-like ability. You may select one spell from the following list. You may select this patron gift more than once. Each time, you select a different spell. You must meet the listed minimum level to select the listed spells.
Warlock Level 12th– ancestral memory, command, greater, siphon magic, true seeing, or any 5th level spell from your warlock spell list.
Warlock level 14th– age resistance, chain lightning, transformation 
Warlock level 16th– arcane sight, greater, firebrand, spell turning
Warlock level 18th– spell absorption, greater

Presence of Dragons (Su): Those who would oppose you must overcome their fear of dragons or be struck with terror at your draconic majesty. As a swift action, you can manifest an aura of draconic might around yourself. Enemies within 30 feet who can see you when you activate this ability must attempt a Will save (DC 10+1/2 warlock level + Cha bonus). Success means that the creature is immune to this ability for the following 24 hours. On a failed save, the opponent is shaken for 2d6 rounds. If the creature is already shaken its level of fear is not increased, but the duration of its shaken condition is extended by 2d6 rounds. This is a mind-affecting fear effect. You can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day at 10th level and for every 5 levels beyond 10th.

Scaled Toughness (Su): You can manifest the scaly toughness of dragonkind. Once per day as a swift action, you can harden your skin, giving it a scaly appearance and granting you DR 10/magic. During this time, you are also immune to paralysis and sleep effects. This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to your warlock level. At 13th level, you can use this ability twice per day. You must be at least 8th level to select this revelation.

Tail Swipe (Ex): You express your wrath through sweeps of a wicked tail. You can grow a scaly tail. This tail can be used only to make attacks of opportunity, but it allows you to make one additional attack of opportunity each round. This tail attack deals an amount of bludgeoning damage equal to 1d8 (1d6 if you are Small) + your Charisma modifier. At 10th level, you can attempt a free trip combat maneuver check against any creature damaged by your tail attack. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Talons of the Dragon (Su): You fight with the fearsome talons of dragonkind. You can grow claws as a free action. These claws are treated as natural weapons, allowing you to perform two claw attacks as a full attack action using your full base attack bonus. Each of these attacks deals an amount of slashing damage equal to 1d4 (1d3 if you are Small) + your Charisma modifier. These claws are considered magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming DR. At 8th level, the damage die increases by 1 step, to deal an amount of slashing damage equal to 1d6 (1d4 if you are Small). At 11th level, these claws deal an additional 1d6 points of damage of your affiliated energy type on a successful hit. You can use your claws for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Wings of the Dragon (Su): Like the great dragons, you can take to the skies and terrorize opponents from above. As a swift action, you can manifest leathery dragon wings that grant you a fly speed of 60 feet (clumsy maneuverability). At 10th level, your maneuverability increases to poor. You can use these wings for 1 minute per day for each warlock level you have. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-minute increments. At 12h level you can use these wings for 10 minutes per day for each warlock level you have. At 15th level, you can use the wings indefinitely. You must be at least 8th level to select this gift.

Eldritch Master
At 20th level, you gain the ability to cast spells as a sorcerer of 9th level (gaining spells known and spells per day as a 9th level sorcerer, with a caster level of 9 for these spells).

Additionally, you can select any one patron gift from any patron that does not list a level requirement, or any patron gift from your own patron.

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Want me to create more adaptations from other games to pathfinder 1e? Want to see the warlock for other game systems? Want something else? Really Wild West content? Would you rather see more material for 5e, or industry insider articles? Join my Patreon for a few bucks a month, and let me know!

OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1st edition (Part 3: Patrons)

So Monday we took a first look at adapting the 5e Warlock class for Pathfinder 1st edition. (tackling proficiencies and the class table), and yesterday we outlined how we are going to handle spell access and spell slots.

It’s time to tackle a Patron.

Your patron is one of the crucial elements of the warlock. It represents the otherwordly force with which you have made a pact, and from which you gain your powers. The concept is extremely similar to witch patrons, but warlocks interact with their patrons using different rites and rituals, and have access to their own list of possible patrons.

At 1st level each patron gives you an eldritch blast, a granted power, an expanded list of spells you may select as warlock spells known at the appropriate level, and a series of patron gifts you can choose from.

While we’d likely to patrons for most of the same ones witches have access to in a full version of the class, for now let’s create the classic fiendish patron option.

Fiendish Patron
You have made a pact with a fiend from the lower planes of existence, a being whose aims are evil, even if you strive against those aims. Such beings desire the corruption or destruction of all things, ultimately including you. Fiends powerful enough to forge a pact include demon lords, archdevils, pit fiends and balors that are especially mighty, and ultroloths and other lords of the yugoloths.

Tiefling Warlock

(Art by Brian Brinlee)

Patron Spells
The following spells are considered part of your warlock spell list, allowing you to select them as spells known and use spell completion items linked to them.

1st—protection from good, 2nd—align weapon (evil only), 3rd—magic circle against good, 4th—unholy blight, 5th—dispel good.

Eldritch Blast (Su)
You gain the power to channel a form of fiendish fire as an attack against your foes. You can use this as an attack action, and must have a hand free, or holding a weapon with which you are proficient, to use this power. Beginning at 8th level, you can take a full attack action to make multiple eldritch blasts just as you would with a standard weapon. You are proficient with your eldritch blast, and can select with for feats and class features that apply to weapons (such as Weapon Focus).

Your eldritch blast can benefit from effects that augment natural attacks, such as an amulet of might fists or the magic fang spell.

Your fiendish eldritch blast is a ranged attack with a range increment of 30 feet, that deals 1d8 fire damage. You add your Charisma bonus, rather than your Dexterity bonus, to your attack rolls, and also add your Charisma bonus to the damage of your eldritch blast.

Your eldritch blast has a critical threat range of 19-20. On a critical hit you do double damage, and your target takes a -2 penalty to saving throws for 1d4 rounds.

Dark One’s Blessing
Starting at 1st level, when you reduce a hostile creature to 0 or fewer hit points, you gain temporary hit points equal to your Charisma modifier + your warlock level (minimum of 1). These hit points last until expended or you next regain your spell slots, but do not stack.

Patron Gift: This is be a flexible class feature similar to oracle revelations. In fact, I borroewed heavily from an oraclae mystery for the following  into patrons, just so I don’t have to create a whole slew of new class features.

A warlock with the fiendish patron can choose from any of the following patron gifts.

Balefire (Su): You call upon the searing fires of the lower planes to burn your foes. As a standard action, one target within 30 feet is wreathed in screaming flames and takes 1d6 points of fire damage per level. A successful Reflex save halves this damage. At 10th level, the fire’s howls cause any creatures damaged by it to be staggered for 1 round. At 15th level, creatures who fail their saves against the balefire are staggered for 1d4 rounds and stunned for 1 round. You can use this ability once per day plus one additional time per day at 10th level.

Dark One’s Own Luck (Su): You can call on your patron to alter fate in your favor. When you make an ability check, skill check, or saving throw, you can use this feature to add a d6 to your roll. You can do so after seeing the initial roll but before any of the roll’s effects occur. This increases to 1d8 at 8th level, and 1d10 at 16th level. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you regain your spell slots.

Demonhide (Su): You alter your flesh to be as tough as a demon’s hide, granting you a +4 armor bonus. At 7th level, and every four levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +2. At 13th level, this armor also grants you DR 5/cold iron. You can use this revelation for 1 hour per day per warlock level. The duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-hour increments.

Dread Resilience (Ex): You have been hardened by exposure to the otherworldly energies of the lower planes, and you just keep getting tougher. You gain a +1 inherent bonus to Constitution upon taking this revelation and another for every four warlock levels gained thereafter. You must be at least 10th level to select this revelation.

Fiendish Magic (Su): Your spells gain a +4 bonus on caster level checks made to overcome the spell resistance of chaotic, good, or lawful outsiders.

Fiendish Resilience (Su): Each time you regain your spell slots, you can choose one damage type. You gain protection against that damage type until you choose a different one with this feature. If you select bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing you gain DR/gld iron equal to 1/4 your warlock level. If you select acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic, you gain energy resistance equal to your warlock level.

Fiendish Weapon (Su): Your understanding of the powers that move through the lower planes allows you to imbue weapons with the ability to penetrate the defenses of creatures native to other planes. Once per day as a standard action, you can touch one weapon (or a group of up to 20 similar pieces of ammunition) and give it the ability to penetrate DR/cold iron for 1 minute per caster level. At 9th level, you can also grant the additional ability to bypass DR/chaotic, DR/evil, or and DR/law. You can use this ability an additional time per day for every 5 warlock levels you possess.

Hurl Through Hell (Sp): Once per day when you hit a creature with your eldritch blast, you can use this feature to instantly transport the target through a temporary demiplane you create that emulates the lower planes. This is treated as plane shift with a spell level equal to 1/2 your class level, though the effect is as follows — the creature disappears and hurtles through a nightmare landscape. At the end of your next turn, the target returns to the space it previously occupied, or the nearest unoccupied space. If the target is not a fiend, it takes 10d10 damage as it reels from its horrific experience.

Mystic Arcanum (Sp): You gain a spell you can cast once per day as a spell-like ability. You may select one spell from the following list. You may select this patron gift more than once. each time, you select a different spell. You must meet the listed minimum level to select the listed spells.
Warlock Level 12th– caustic blood, commune, flame strike, unholy ice, or any 5th level spell from your warlock spell list.
Warlock level 14th– curse of the outcast, dust form, invoke deity (chaos, evil, fire, law only)
Warlock level 16th– blasphemy, dictum, word of chaos
Warlock level 18th– divine vessel (anarchic, axiomatic, or fiendish only)

Planar Haze (Su): You can fill an area with the smoky miasma of the lower planes. Once per day when you cast a spell that has an area, as a swift action you may also fill that area with a thick haze that acts as obscuring mist, except it originates at the center of your spell effect and cannot expand beyond the spell’s area. At 10th level, the haze functions as fog cloud. You may use this ability one additional time per day at 7th level, and one additional time per day at 14th level.

Planar Infusion (Su): As a standard action once per day, you can cause a 20-foot-spread to gain the mildly chaotic-aligned, mildly evil-aligned, or mildly-lawfully aligned planar trait for a number of rounds equal to your warlock level. Lawful creatures in a chaotic-aligned area take a –2 circumstance penalty on all Charisma-based checks, as do good creatures in an evil-aligned area and chaotic creatures in a lawful-aligned area. At 11th level, the infusion makes the area strongly aligned, which causes the –2 circumstance penalty to apply on all Intelligence-, Wisdom-, and Charisma-based checks made by any creature that lacks the matching alignment component (these penalties stack with those from the lower-level effect).

Telepathy (Su): You can mentally communicate with any other creature within 100 feet that has a language, as per the telepathy power of demons. You must be at least 10th level before selecting this gift.

Unearthly Terrain (Su): You can twist the material world into the harsh, jagged edges and uneven angles of the outer planes. As a standard action, you can turn one 20-foot square into difficult terrain for 1 round per level. Once you use this ability, you cannot do so again until you next regain your spell slots.

Wings of Terror (Su): You can manifest a pair of enormous, batlike demon wings that grant you a fly speed of 60 feet with average maneuverability and a +4 bonus on Intimidate checks. At 10th level, your speed increases to 90 feet, your maneuverability increases to good, and the bonus increases to +8 on Intimidate checks. You can use these wings for 1 minute per day per warlock level. This duration does not need to be consecutive, but it must be spent in 1-minute increments.

Eldritch Master
At 20th level, you gain the ability to open rifts between planes. This allows you to use gate as a spell-like ability once per day. If you use this ability to call creatures, you still need to provide 10,000 gp in offerings to secure the creature’s aid.

Additionally, you can select any one patron gift from any patron that does not list a level requirement, or any patron gift from your own patron.

Patreon
Want me to create more adaptations from other games to pathfinder 1e? Want to see the warlock for other game systems? Want something else? Really Wild West content? Would you rather see more material for 5e, or industry insider articles? Join my Patreon for a few bucks a month, and let me know!

Alternatives to “All or Nothing” Options For Hampering Magic

In many rpgs, spellcasting is an extremely powerful option that is difficult to curtail without shutting it down entirely (or at least creating a risk of shutting it down entirely). While it’s often fairly straightforward to make life more difficult for weapon-users without making them entirely ineffective, that can be harder for spellcasters. Especially when spells are a very limited resource (such as using spell slots or prepared spells), even things that can be used to put a weapon-wielder at a  disadvantage (such as a penalty to attack rolls)

The following options are specifically designed for Pathfinder 1st ed, Pathfinder 2nd Ed, Starfinder, and 5e, but could certainly be expanded to a wider range of games by an experienced GM.

Ogre Caster
(Art by DM7)

Blackout Zones

You CAN use antimagic shells as minor hindrances if you make them very small, and spread them out. And don’t allow the main villain to just sit in one and be immune to all magic. A few small areas where magic works but spells cannot be cast (perhaps strange metoric iron disrupts the act of conjuring the power for a spell, but doesn’t negate magic in general) can become a form of battlefield terrain spellcasters just need to work around.

Extra Actions

Rather than make it impossible to cast spells or highly likely that efforts to do so will result in failure, you can make spellcasting take additional effort. In Pathfinder and Starfinder, casting times of 1 standard action become full rounds. In 5e, you cannot move or take a bonus action or reaction in a round you cast a spell with a casting time of 1 action. In Pathfinder 2e, add one action to any spell with a casting time listed in actions.

This option forces a spellcaster to make more tactical decisions, but doesn’t make it any more likely their precious resources are wasted if they take the needed extra time.

Feedback

Rather than make spellcasting more difficult, you can just slap some consequence on it that hinders or damages the caster for using spells. This can be as minor as one point of damage per level of spell cast, or a minor penalty to saving throws and attack rolls for 1-4 rounds after casting a spell (perhaps that stacks if you rapid-fire spells every round), to more major neative erffects depending on how harsh you want your penalties to be. You could also simply add a risk of penalties, such as forcing the caster to make a Constitution or Fortitude save every time they cast a spell or gain a level of fatigue.

Increased Spell Cost

A much more impactful options it to increase the cost of spellcasting. Perhaps casting a spell requires additional eldritch power, which must come from somewhere. A character could be required to use multiple spell slots, or sacrifice an additional prepared spell.

You could also require the expenditure of some additional resource beyond additional spells. For example in Starfinder you could require a Resolve Point be spend, or in 5e a Hit Die. Pathfinder 2nd edition could require a focus point (though not all characters have focus points). These are pretty steep costs, so it might be smart to have the additional cost only be needed once every 2d4 rounds or so, or even just once per ten minutes, as the spellcaster “attunes” themselves to some specific circumstance.

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Some Fictional RPGs

Look, sometimes you need to reference a tabletop RPG (or similar game, like a MMORPG or video game) in your real ttRPGs. So here’s a list to use for that.

Or maybe I just wanted to talk briefly about all the games I WANT to make, but don’t have time to work on right now. Either way, at least I have these names written down in public now. 🙂

Adventures of the Ladies’ Spelunking League
No Man can Survive these Perils!
Set in three time periods (Late 1800s, early 1900s, and Nowish), this math-free, dice-based, story-oriented ttRPG sets the members of the Ladies’ Spelunking League against horrors found beneath the Earth’s crust… and in the inherent biases of the patriarchy we all live in.

Blades Against Cthulhu!
A Barbaric Horror Fantasy rpg.
It’s swords and sorcery against unspeakable things, with two themes. One, all humans have much more in common with each other than they do with eldritch horrors. Two, there are lines even mecriless killers won’t cross.
And a lot of severed tendrils of indescribable ichor.

Blades Against Cthulhu

Checked Out
You can’t win, but you can choose to keep playing.
A zombie apocalypse game where the most important attribute is your Humanity. Survival requires accomplishing difficult tasks. Difficult tasks are made easier if you choose to do things that reduce your Humanity. Your Humanity is also what lets you form alliances, earn trust, and keep going. If it gets too low, you Check Out.

Eye of Argon, the RPG
No horror can match it
Bad pastiche fantasy, with the resolution mechanic being based on how many pages of Eye of Argon you can read without laughing, groaning, or rolling your eyes.

Persuade. Ponder. Prepare. Punch.
You Only Do One Thing Well
The game has exactly four attributes — Persuade (all social interactions), Ponder (for all investigation, knowledge, and thinking), Prepare (for all crafting, planning, leading, and equipping), and Punch (for all fighting).
You can Master one of those categories (automatically succeeding at all related tasks), and be bad at all the others, or you can be Great at two and Okay at two, or you can be Good at all four.
But no two characters can have the same selections.

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Starting With Ideas: Really Wild West “Oddities” (for Starfinder)

Fairly often, I get asked how I START a big project. Like, if I know I want a chapter of magic items for the Really Wild West, where would I begin organizing my thoughts and planning that out?

Assuming the pagination and wordcounts was already done by someone else, I’d start with ideas.

Especially for a series of elements using the same basic rules subsystem (such as the features of one character class, a series of magic items for one campaign, feats, spells, new superpowers, whatever), I like to start the conceptual work by spitballing ideas to myself. This isn’t an effort to create completed rules elements yet, just to begin filling out what kinds of ideas I want those rules elements to cover.

There are numerous advantages to this for me. First, I can begin to hash out a tone and flavor for the section. Second, I find it easier to figure out how to use rules to model concepts if I have several of those concepts already in a hopper. Third, often coming up with interesting ideas is the important part of a project for me.  I can’t do it all in one sitting. By making a list early on, I give myself time to iterate, modify, and even reconsider if I need to.

After I have a fair percentage of the ideas I think I need, I’ll go back and begin turning the ones I like best into full rules elements. this lets me see how much wordcount those take up, which lets me know how many ideas I’ll need to fit the space.*

*(Unless the project is based on a specific number of items– like a list of 100 NPC catchphrases or 2 things to do in a dungeon when you’re dead, in which case I still like this process but the thing I learn at this stage is if I need to modify how much info I am putting in each entry to the pre-determined number of items will fill up the pre-determined wordcount. IN this case the feedback loop may be more likely to tell me if my concepts need to change to be more of less detailed.)

I often do ideas in three big waves–when I first start a project, when I run out of those ideas I started with, and when I have a good idea how many ideas I’ll need to finish it. Sometimes one or more of those waves isn’t needed–occasionally I find my first brainstorm gave me everything that will fit, for example. I also jot down ideas as they come to me when I am working on other parts of the work, or even other projects.

So, what do I mean by spitballing ideas?

I just want some sense of what the item is going to be. Maybe a name, maybe a description. If I have some idea of how the rules for the idea should work, I jot that down.

Here’s an example of those spitball ideas (cleaned up to a standard format for presentation on its own, rather than as notes only I will see). These are concepts for “Oddities,” magic items that occur as a result of weird events and energies, rather than being created intentionally, for my Really Wild West setting. Each of these gives enough info to see how it might work in game, but doesn’t yet worry about things like item level, cost, and any special rules Oddities may have as opposed to typical magic items.

RWW Glass Eye

(Art by i-pciture. Of the Eye by the Witch Hazel Pentafaust)

01. Weathered copy of a leather-bound book titled “Diplomacy Through Other Means.” It has hardness 20, 20 hp, and can be used as a light simple melee weapon dealing 1d4 damage (+1d4 per 4 ranks of Culture you have). You can’t add Strength (or any other any ability score modifiers) to damage dealt, but do add you ranks in Culture.

02. Pearl-Handled corkscrew. When screwed into people (normally a full round action that requires they be restrained and which deals 1-2 hp) it forces them to reveal their name, even if they don’t know it themselves.

03. Small hourglass filled with dark blue sand. If flipped and allowed to run normally without being moved, when it goes off it casts a random summon creature (or a random spell level) which no one has any control over. It lasts 1 hour if not otherwise damaged or dispelled.

04. Single old scarf about a yard long, with a smoke stain near top. Does not conduct heat (but can burn), thus can be used as perfect oven mitt or grant fire resist 20 for a thing you touch with it.

05. Zippo lighter with the kanji for “stork” on the side. If used to illuminate a written word medium (scroll, book, so on), the text within it slowly scrolls by in the shadow created by the flame.

06. Wire-frame glasses. If kept tucked in a pocket, halves falling damage for possessor.

07. Stained paper map of Fort Harrison, Indiana, from 1823. If mis-folded and then opened, it creates a fog cloud (as the spell). The map itself is always torn free by a gust of wind that brings in the fog, and normally takes (4d4 – 1d4) x 10 minutes to find.

08. An 1888 John J. Loud ball point pen with green ink. Rapidly (and loudly) clicking the pen gives a +5 bonus to Perception checks, but only against people using Stealth.

09. Small box of “Court Orlock” brand safety matches. If thrown at someone within 15 feet they must make a Will save (DC equal to the touch attack roll to hit them) or spend 1 round picking up the matches. Has 1d4 uses per day.

10. Wicker Picnic Basket, with its own plates, cutlery, and stacking cups as service for 6. If loaded with food and taken out of any settlement and then used for an hourlong or longer picnic, the ort remaining can be interpreted as a diving device. It may act as augurydivination, or commune, as randomly determined by the GM. One of the picnic participants will then have an encounter within 1 week of a high enough CR that average treasure for that encounter would pay for a spell gem of the divination spell gained. The basket don’t work again until the creature using them has had this encounter, which doesn’t have any actual treasure associated with it.

11. Tortoiseshell make-up compact. Anyone who has the powder from the compact (requiring an successful EAC attack against an adjacent creature) blown on them is slowed (as the spell) for 1 minute, and the person who used it is slowed for 10 minutes. Only a creature not slowed can use it.

12. Dried pea. If placed up your nose, it grants a +4 bonus to saving throws against poison, and a successful save always ends the poison. Someone who knows you have it up there can get you to shoot it out with a successful dirty trick maneuver (replacing the normal options for dirty trick).

13. Cork table coaster. Anything placed on it doesn’t experience any passage of time as long nothing else is touching it but air. This DOES keep drinks cold (or hot) much longer, but it also prevents fruit from spoiling, dynamite from exploding, radioactive isotopes from decaying, and so on.

14. Wooden, obviously-toy pistol. When pointed at an animal and the trigger pulled, causes the animal to talk randomly in French for 1 round. There is a 10% chance the first time it  is used each day the animal says something useful and relevant to the user holder.

15. Worn leather coin purse. As long as nothing but coins are stuffed into it there does not seem to be a limit how many fit in, but they can only be added or removed at a rate of 4 credits per round.

16. Tablecloth-sized parchment with complex diagram for an unidentified steam engine. If placed on a stationary, prone creature the piping diagram changes to represent the organs (and injuries) or that creature, granting a +5 bonus to Medicine checks with that creature.

17. Old-style iron key. Fits in any lock. Can’t unlock a lock, but can lock it. If it was already locked, the next person to touch it takes 1 point of electricity damage.

18. Small pot of glossy black lipstick. Never runs out. The first time each day someone wearing the lipstick is damaged by an attacker the wearer has not ever damaged, the wearer may kiss a weapon. That weapon delivers critical hit effects (but not critical hit damage) against that attacker the first time it successfully hits and damages the attacker.

19. A granite die with 20 sides, numbered 7-26. Anyone with this on their person is lucky (gain one reroll each day, rerolling after you see the result of a roll and taking the better of the two results) except in games of chance (always roll twice and take the worst result for all games of chance).

20. Carved whalebone whistle. If blown directly in someone’s ear is heals them for 1d8+1 damage, and they are deafened for 1 hour per hp healed. If the deafness is removed early, the healing is also removed. It cannot heal someone temporarily deaf from this effect. The healing appears to be the revelation the wound wasn’t that bad to begin with — there’s never any actual sign of improved health. A person cannot benefit from this again until after they next expend 1 RP to regain SP after a 10-minute rest.

21. The Sinister Glass Eye of the Witch Hazel Pentafaust. This cracked, yellow glass eye spins and looks about of its own accord. When held in a closed fist, it causes you to be shaken (despite any immunities you might have) and automatically be able to identify any spell you see being cast.

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First Look – Psionics for Starfinder

I have begun to put serious thought into what Psiconics would look like in Starfinder. There’s a wonderful set of PF1-compatible psionics rules, and those would obviously be the place to start, but how much change would be needed?

As a thought experiment (see what I did there?!), I grabbed a 0-level psionic ability, “conceal thoughts”

Here’s the PF1-compatible version:

Conceal Thoughts
Discipline telepathy [mind-affecting]
Level cryptic 0, dread 0/1, gifted blade 1, marksman 0, psion/wilder 0, psychic warrior 0, tactician 0
Display Mental
Manifesting Time 1 standard action
Range Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target One willing creature
Duration 1 hour/level
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Power Resistance Yes (harmless)
Power Points psionic focus or 1

You protect the subject’s thoughts from analysis. While the duration lasts, the subject gains a +10 circumstance bonus on Bluff checks against those attempting to discern its true intentions with Sense Motive. It also gains a +4 bonus on its saving throw against any power or spell used to read its mind (such as read thoughts or mind probe).

Starfinder psionic warmind

(Art by grandfailure)

Now, what do we need to do to Starfinderize it?

Well, we’d have to decide what classes got it, which means we’d have to decide what psionic classes we wanted. Obviously the easiest thing to do would be just port all the PF1 psionic classes to Starfinder… but that’s not necessarily the best way for them to feel like they belong in the game. Just as a soldier isn’t *just* a space fighter, we’d want to do more than simply say “space psychic warrior” and “space psion.”

I’d want, at minimum, a pure power-of-the-mind class, a hybrid combat-class, a psionics-and-computers/machines class, and a pew-pew-psionic-blaster. For the moment we’ll call those (in order) cogitator, warmind, psiborg, and vrilokinetic. Those names may not stick, heck the concepts may no stick, but it gives us a starting point to work with.

We’ll use the core Starfinder spell rules as the basis for how psionics works, so we can dispense with things like Display. I know a lot of people like having psionic disciplines be separate from magic schools… but Starfinder is supposed to be less complex than PF1, so let’s just convert everything back to schools. I think we can keep manifesting time, but power resistance should go back to being spell resistance.

Power points is tricky. While I might want to change it in the long run, right now I am going to leave it alone. After that, it’s just a matter of tweaking rules language and balancing for Starfinder’s math assumptions.

Conceal Thoughts
Classes Cogitator 0, Warmind 0, psiborg 0
School abjuration
Manifesting Time 1 standard action
Range Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets One willing creature
Duration 1 hour
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance Yes (harmless)
Power Points psionic focus or 1

You protect the subject’s thoughts from analysis. While the duration lasts, the subject gains a +4 circumstance bonus on Bluff checks made to oppose Sense Motive checks. It also gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting divination spells.

Not earth-shattering, but it’s a start for what would be a very, very long process.

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Cephalephants for Starfinder

So, the amazing Jacob Blackmon (support his Patreon!) illustrated a cephalopod – elephant creature, and I was so taken with it I knew I had to write it up for Starfinder. The flavor text below is geared around the really Wild West setting, but you could equally well use it as a mutation in a GammeFinder game, or just a weird creature for a typical Starfinder science-fantasy campaign.

RWW Cephlephant

Cephalephants are native to the shores of the Kingdom of Orungu, on the western equatorial coast of Africa. They are amphibious, able to breath both air and water, and powerful swimmers. They mate for life, and give birth in the water, with young cephalephants not bale to move onto land until they are 7-8 weeks old.

The Myènè speaking people of Orungu accept cephalephants as sapient equals, and local law has always given them right-of-way through Orungu lands and waters, as long as they do not do significant damage to an area. However, as the tentacled pachyderms are not tool-users and depend on telepathy and memory-ivory to communicate and pass down their culture, many other nations see them as no more intelligent than a typical dog or camel. There are only two places they are commonly found outside of Orungu — Germany (where a expedition herd migrated to petition for inclusion in the Paderborn Edicts, but arrived decades too late and are now waiting for the 1896 council), and Montana, U.S. (where a small herd has maintained itself while searching for some mammoth-related item they consider to be of great importance.

While cephalephants are as sapient as typical humanoids, they are also insular and slow to trust. When they are threatened or attacked, or those they think of as allies of the herd are, they are quick to respond with overwhelming force (especially bulls). The long-term safety and security of the herd–often as defined by its matrons and young–are considered much more important than the life of a single member.

Cephalephants eschew tool use not out of stupidity, but because their own tool-making is limited by a nomadic lifestyle that includes spending a great deal of time in water, and a focus on training as mystics. Most cephalephants prefer to learn magic that augments their daily needs, rather than become proficient with objects.

CEPHALEPHANT
Cephalephant     CR 6
XP 2,400
N Huge magical beast (aquatic)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +13

DEFENSE              HP 90
EAC 18; KAC 20
Fort +10; Ref +10; Will +5
Defensive Abilities Camouflage

OFFENSE
Speed 50 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee gore +13 (3d4+13 P, critical bleed 1d6)
tentacle +15 (1d8+13 B, grab)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (20 ft., tentacle)
Offensive Abilities Ink cloud (DC 14)

STATISTICS
Str +5; Dex +2; Con +3; Int +1; Wis +2; Cha +1
Skills Athletics +13 (+21 when swimming), Profession +13, Stealth +22, Survival +13
Other Abilities amphibious

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Camouflage (Ex) A cephalephant can change its exterior to match the coloration of its surroundings. This allows it to hide even when they do not have cover or concealment.
Ink Cloud (Ex) A cephalephant can create a 20-foot radius cloud of ink that works in air or underwater. this acts as a smoke grenade (DC 14). All cephalephants are immune to a cephalephant’s ink cloud.

ECOLOGY
Environment temperate coasts
Organization solitary, pair, family (3-5), or herd (6-30)

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Second Really Wild West Session — After-Action Report (Part Two)

After the first Really Wild West: Doomstone game session After-Action Report, and its Part Two follow-up, numerous people indicated they were excited to keep learning about the campaign as I run it. So, it’s two weeks later, I’ve run another session, and adapted notes taken by my wife Lj (who is playing the fenrin operative bounty hunter named “Sawyer”) as a quick report.

We did Part One yesterday. Here’s Part two. If you don’t recognize a reference, it may (or may not) be in a previous session, or at the updated campaign notes page.

RWW Jerico Pistol

Still Day 4

After recuperating from the fight with monstrous Jerusalem Bugs, the PCs come to a fork in the road. One path leads to the Circle Axe Ranch, the other to the Vicious Hippogriff. There are five people on horses hanging out there, in the middle of the road.

  • When they get close enough, the PCs can see they are cowpokes, the one covered weapons and collar that covers his face, stopping the PCs. They won’t let the PCs pass. Nor will they tell us who they work for (just insisting it’s “the Ranch” without saying which one.)
  • The PCs move away to talk about our options. They glean some information about the cowpoke’s leader. -James “Burning Jack” Byrne,  a gun-for-hire. Wears fire-retardant gear and then covers himself in flammable material. Also, carries dynamite.
  • Burning Jack is clearly crazy.
  • PCs decide to go around, trusting their map and Brone Mallory the half-orc cartographmancer to get them through the badlands. T’ll come back later.

The map indicates that along the route to get to the Circle Axe while avoiding the trail there is–in the middle of nowhere, with no trail or nearby town or even apparent water sources–an inn the PCs can stay at called Tombspider Inn. Skill checks tell the PCs that a Tombspider is spider-based flesh golem construct with built in melee weapons for legs.

  • On the way there they find a ridge that has collapsed about  2 miles shorter than it should be accordign to the otherwise VERY recent and accurate map. Earthquake?

Tombspider Inn

The Inn is veru large and well-maintained… but tumbleweeds blow by right in front of it.

  • Kobold greets us at the door. Seems confused as to why we are here. Says he’s never actually had a customer. His name is Mr. Scrapgnaw.
  • Apparently, this inn was built so that people can fight “the Tombspider” when it returns. It’s been 110 years since the last appearance. Ulysses S. Abernathy was the last, and only, other name in the log book. This is the name of an engineer whose name is a brand of thingamabobs (UPBs) and who created the “phantom pocketwatch” spell. He also built this Inn, and corresponds by mail once every quarter or so.
  • Rooms are free since the PCs are on a quest. Tinned food. Room-temp drinks. Will take awhile to heat up the water for baths.
  • We all partake in the dark gray liquid from a keg marked with a dead dog. Tastes like rum and coke. Not bad!
  • Mr. Scrapgnaw says there’s not been an earthquake per se. Instead, he’s had wonky feelings over several nights recently. He thought it was just tommy-knockers.
  • Scrapgnaw shows the PCs where the Tombspider will supposedly appear in 1936. It’s down below the Inn in a cavern.
  • A rock covered in blood shows the symbol of the spider, but with guns for legs instead of blades.
  • Each Inn room is set up for many people, weapons, wash tubs, curtains, radiators, and gas lamps.
  • We forget to set watches and just enjoy the sleep and the fluffy beds.

Day 05

  • Breakfast: strong coffee, strong tea, cookies.
  • A few Pcs mention they now plan to retire here.

The PCs arrive at the Circle Axe Ranch

  • Sprawling fenced compound.
  • PCs stop at the gate where there is a tall, lanky elf woman. Waterlily.
  • She gets “Bo-hoss” a large ogre to take her post. He sports a rock bandoleer. (A broad leather strap with pockets for 8-10-inch smooth rocks perfect for him to throw)
  • Waterlily takes us to Forman Dwargus Hardfist
    • Hardfist carries a hand cannon (1-shot, 8-gauge shotgun pistol)
    • Has a complex timepiece with multiple functions
  • His family helped establish the ranch, and it was Hardfist’s mother who found the circle-axe the ranch is named for. She claimed it was an old Nordic relic, perhaps tied to the Hardfist family members who helped Leif Erikson explore North America.
  • As a stakeholder, he gets a cut of each Roundup. For the past three years, each time his cattle are separated out they, and not anyone else’s, keep getting eaten by a manticore. No one else ever sees it. If Hardfist can get one more good sale of his share of a roundup, he plans to retire.
  • It’s not the ranch owner’s family doing it.
  • Doesn’t seem to be a curse.
  • This all seems to have started when Felspark, the East Hudson Fur Trading Company representative, arrived as a guest at the Vicious Hippogriff ranch, which is also when relations between the two ranches went bad.
  • Not an illusion.
  • The fighter/mystic, who can both speak to animals and cast grave words, speaks with the skull 0.o
    • PCs hear scared moos from the skull
    • The fighter/mystic hears “Ow! Danger! Danger to the herd! I die.”
  • The skull shows signs of poison. The fenrin;s scent ability allows her to determine the poison is the same as that used by the serpentfolk on the train.

What PCs want to know

  • When is the next cattle round up? (Anytime — it’s been delayed until hardfist could get some help)
  • Where could the serpentfolk and a manticore be hiding?
  • What’re the forces that link the serpentfolk, manticore, and East Hudson Fur Trading Company together after? Water rights aren’t enough for this much trouble.
    • Other ranch may want the water, so they let the manticore folk use the land.
    • Venom King … what’s he after?
    • What have the tripods awoken? Did the black gas seep down and wake something up?
    • What if they’re headed to the hollow world?
    • And the Trading Co would have a monopoly on the passage to the hollow world from the USA.
  • Hardfist is convinced none of his people are leaking information.
  • There were supposedly invisible rattlesnakes in these parts. “Smoke snakes.”
  • The are given the seasonal bunk house to work out of.

XPs: 400 each (PCs now at  11,050, need 15,000 to reach 6th)

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