Blog Archives

Adventure Sketch: Lord of the Rapids (for Pathfinder)

Adventure Sketches are just the most basic set up, plot, twist, and development for as many or as few sessions as a GM wants to turn them into. They’re enough guidance to make plotting out a game easy, but not so much it’s hard to fit into any existing campaign.

Intended for Pathfinder, this adventure sketch can be modified to work with nearly any RPG with lawless lands, frontier zones, and numerous races.

The rapids are the most dangerous part of the great river, but are also on a branch of the river easily bypassed by those wishing to use it for travel. The land around the rapids is rockier and heavily overgrown, bad for farming and hard to travel through. It was considered to be most concerning as a potential place for bandit hideouts, but no such group was ever known to use it. As recently as a generation ago the rapids were considered too far from anything of value for any thinking group to bother with them.

But in recent years, numerous aquatic animals and magical beasts have attacked all up and down the rest of the great river, and most ponds and lakes near it. At first such attacks were only on isolated groups, mostly itinerant traders, and local settlements ignored it. But in recent months the attacks have been bolder. Major trade shipments have been attacked, and a few small thorps have been abandoned, with signs of attacks in the disused buildings.

Major merchant princes in faraway lands wish the disruptions of trade to end, and assume some brigand ranger or  petty druid is finally using the lands of the rapids to set up an outlaw camp. The merchant princes wish to end the problem quickly and cheaply, and thus have placed a bounty on the leader of these presumed “rapids rogues.” The PCs are drawn into this situation, perhaps to pay off a debt, perhaps as guards for a river trader and his shipment, perhaps as a favor for a struggling vendor, or perhaps just for the bounty.

But in truth, it’s a brine dragon (a juvenile brine dragon perhaps, CR 8, and a good capstone fight for 5th or 6th level PCs) and its lizardmen conscripts that have been causing problems. The brine dragon, Breakwave, has also conquered the local nixie clan who once lived in idyllic peace in the rapids and surrounding lands. Breakwave wishes to build an empire, and forces the nixies to use their talents to train and command aquatic threats (giant caimans, anacondas, arapaima, monstrous electric eels, and dire river otters), and uses threats and bribes to turn any other nearby creatures into soldiers.

The PCs must fight their way through the rapids, learn the true nature of the threat, rescue citizens of the abandoned settlements (many of whom have been pressed into service by Breakwave), bypass monstrous and aquatic guards, and finally defeat Breakwave himself.

And then the real adventure begins.

Breakwave has angered numerous other nearby threats–attacking some, extorting others–and his death causes those threats to rush into the lands around the rapids to claim his presumed hoard. Further, without his *undesired) patronage, and with the rapids now seen as a crucial tactical location, the nixies and their care for that section of the great river are doomed–unless they can convince the PCs to protect them (perhaps in return for the nixies’ loyalty).

And the merchant princes suddenly think the PCs may be making too great a profit. And the lizardmen came from a not-too-distant tribe, who expected regular payments in return for the lizardman mercenary service, and will demand recompense for the loss of the income Breakwater provided.

The PCs can flee the situation, or try to use diplomacy to re-establish equilibrium, or claim the area as their own base of operation, of even pick up where Breakwave left off…

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This Adventure Sketch exists in direct response to backer suggestions for more Pathfinder content, and more adventure ideas. I can only take the time to write up things like this, thanks to my Patrons support! If you’d like to support this kind of material, and suggest other content I might add more of, why not join my Patreon for as little as $3 a month?

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Writing Basics: RPG Pitches (Part One)

One of the things I have given as advice to people who want to break into rpg writing or increase the amount of rpg writing work they receive, is to make pitches to smaller companies. The logic here is that while Paizo and Fantasy Flight and Wizards of the Coast pretty well all know exactly what books they are doing for the next 12-18 months, and likely already have some sense of their schedule over the next 5 years or so, smaller RPG companies are more likely to be flexible and interested in projects freelancers are excited to write. You probably can’t get WotC to publish your idea for an adventure or a book on halfling baking magic, but Rogue Genius Games, Rite Publishing, and other small-to-mid-range companies are more likely to be interested.

If you do it right. And I never really talk about what that looks like. So, here’s a new Writing Basics to cover making rpg-related pitches. A lot of this is going to carry over to other publishing mediums and freelance work… and a lot won’t. As usual this is where I have the most experience, so this is where I am focusing my advice.

Way Before You Pitch

But before you do more than jot down some ideas you want to pitch, you have some pre-work to do. A lot of this is boring, and requires you to put in a lot of effort and thought before you get to any of the fun stuff of making things up for a game. That’s one of the big secrets of freelance work. It’s three jobs—successfully get the assignment, do the assignment, and then get paid for the assignment. The willingness to do this “boring part” is a huge part of how to get good without depending on getting lucky.

So, you want to pitch some companies, So, first, you need to pick some targets. Study your targets. I don’t want to make this sound creepier than it has to, but that really is the best way to say this.

You need to know who to pitch to, and you need to know what to pitch to them. One good way to find companies who are doing current work in the game system you want to write for is to go to DriveThruRPG, search for the game system, and click its home page. On the left is a list of game companies that have had good recent sales on products for that game line. Those are prime targets, because they are making money on that game and are doing do recently.

That’s not the only method of course—see who is active, who freelancers are talking about, who releases lots of products. Ask around.

Once you know who you want to pitch, you want to make it as easy as possible for the people you pitch to say yes, and that requires knowing somethings about them. Check their web sites. Look to see if they have submission guidelines. Look to see if they have a “Contact Us” link somewhere. Look to see if the owners or employees or recurring freelancers have social media you can follow and, if they do, read everything you can.

Take notes.

You can’t be a writer if you aren’t a reader. You want to know as much as you can about every company you are going to send pitches to. If they are looking for something specific, if they work in particular game lines, you want to know. Do they use a lot of authors for each product? What size product do they publish? What kinds of products do they publish? Adventures? Monster books? New rules content? Campaign settings? Entire game expansions? Whole games?

Before you ever approach a game company asking if they want to give you work, you want to have a solid idea what kinds of things they publish. That’s a big part of “making it easy to say yes.” Sure, if you have a brilliant idea that’s radically different from what a company normally does they may opt to take a risk on you… but that’s a bigger ask than suggesting you be the person to fill a slot they are already likely to want somebody to fill.

Also, BUY some of the company’s products. Yes, this means spending money before you make money. But not every game company has a style guide, and even the ones who do don’t include all the things they do out of institutional momentum. How a company arranges headers, whether it uses first-person, second-person, or third-person language, how it handles pronouns, how much art it uses, how many maps it presents, how serious or jokey their products are—those things can vary wildly (and can vary by line, or even by product). Knowing at least some of how a company actually presents game material is a huge help both when deciding what to pitch them, and in producing a manuscript they like enough to want to work with you again.

If you can, categorize the types of products produced by numerous game companies and their various lines. This can be helpful when you are first pitching, but it can also be helpful later on. For example, if you know what companies product short monster books for pathfinder tied to a single theme, then if you pitch a book like that to one of them and get turned down, you can quickly decide who to pitch it to next.

Finally, if you have any contacts within the industry, you may want to ask about their experiences working for each of the companies you have picked. Knowing if they are friendly, timely, how they pay (profit-share? Per word? Upon completion or upon publication?), what rights they take (work for hire or share of rights?) can help you know what to expect. You can always try to negotiate these things if they don’t match your needs (and should walk away from an offer rather than take one not worth your time or that takes advantage of you), but that’s another issue that may make it harder for a company to say yes to you.

We’ll continue this advice with Part Two: What to Pitch and When to Pitch It.

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Horrifically Overpowered Star-Feats

Very soon, RGG will be releasing Starfarer’s Codex: Horrifically Overpowered Feats.

And it’s my fault.

This is, obviously, a new entry in the Horrifically Overpowered line of game supplements, bringing the world of OP to Starfinder-compatible games. And while it WILL update many of the old Pf-edition OP feats, that’s not all the book has.

Oh heavens no.

It is SO much worse than that.

“How bad could it be?” you ask. Pretty bad. game-breakingly bad. You should never allow ANY of these into your campaign.

Seriously, let me show you.

Here’s just a few examples of Horrifically Overpowered Star Feats.

Ain’t Got Time To Bleed (Horrifically Overpowered)
You can rest when you’re dead.
Benefit: As a full action, you can use any option available to you that normally takes 10 minutes. You are subject to all the other restrictions of the action (it’s fast not free, get real).

Ancestral Plasma Canon
You have an item your family has carried into star battle with star demons for star centuries.
Benefit: Select one category of item that is not consumed when it is used, such as a small arm, heavy weapon, light armor, an armor upgrade, or a technological, hybrid, or magic item. Each time you gain a new character level, this item is upgraded to any item of the same category you wish with an item level no greater than your character level +2. If the item is lost or destroyed, it or a replacement returns to you no later than the next time you gain a character level.

Resolved (Horrifically Overpowered)
No one is more resolved than you are.
Benefit: The Resolve Point cost of any ability or option that requires Resolve Points is one lower than normal for you. If that makes the Resolve Point cost 0 or less (yeah, or less—if you are allowing THIS option, who KNOWS what you’ve allowed into your campaign?!) you can still only use the ability if you have at least 1 Resolve Point remaining in your Resolve Pool.

If you want to make me stop writing such ridiculous pandering products which appeal only to power gamers and bring shame on my reputation as a professional, feel free to join my Patreon, in the hopes the money will distract me and put an end to this terrible idea.
Or… I mean back me and tell me to write more. As long as you give me money, I don;t care what you ask me to do.

Hill Person — Cinematically Inspired Class for Pathfinder

Hill Person

The hill people are as much a culture as an occupation. They have traditions and customs different from civilization, but those off-the-norm backgrounds come with powers that are just as different from the standards of society. Hill people often suffer from significant wonderlust, and it is not unusual for them to spend many years adventuring. However, they dislike committing violence, and generally look for places they can safely travel, or companions they can safely travel with. However on the rare occasion they are pushed to defend those they love, their powers to do so are significant.

Despite not fitting any of the classic roles of heroes, most groups who have a hill person as an ally are delighted to have their knowledge, good cheer, and not a small bit of luck along even in the darkest of times. And hill people are rugged and sturdy enough (though they mostly don’t look it) to survive even the most dangerous of adventures without being a significant drain on their allies.

Hill people are, obviously, inspired by one of my favorite fantasy movies. (And they aren’t the first thing the movie inspired.)

Alignment: Any

Hit Die: d12

Starting Wealth: 2d6 × 10 gp (average 70 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less, and one pie.

Class Skills

The hill person’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all, each skill taken individually) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Stealth (Dex), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: Hill Person

Level     BaB                       Fort        Ref         Will        Special

1st          +0                          +2           +2           +2           Hill shape, knack, lack the power to do harm, organize notes

2nd        +1                          +3           +3           +3           Luck of the hill folks 1/day

3rd         +2                          +3           +3           +3           Knack

4th         +3                          +4           +4           +4           Luck of the hill folks 2/day

5th         +3                          +4           +4           +4           Knack

6th         +4                          +5           +5           +5           +1 hill shape luck of the hill folks, 3/day

7th         +5                          +5           +5           +5           Knack

8th         +6/+1                   +6           +6           +6           Luck of the hill folks 4/day

9th         +6/+1                   +6           +6           +6           Knack

10th       +7/+2                   +7           +7           +7           Luck of the hill folks 5/day

11th       +8/+3                   +7           +7           +7           Knack

12th       +9/+4                   +8           +8           +8           +1 hill shape, luck of the hill folks 6/day

13th       +9/+4                   +8           +8           +8           Knack

14th       +10/+5                 +9           +9           +9           Luck of the hill folks 7/day

15th       +11/+6/+1           +9           +9           +9           Knack

16th       +12/+7/+2           +10        +10        +10        Luck of the hill folks 8/day

17th       +12/+7/+2           +10        +10        +10        Knack

18th       +13/+8/+3           +11        +11        +11        +1 hill shape, luck of the hill folks 9/day

19th       +14/+9/+4           +11        +11        +11        Knack

20th       +15/+10/+5         +12        +12        +12        Hill lord, luck of the hill folks 10/day

Class Features

The following are class features of the hill person.

ErgaTheMagnanimous-color-01

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Hill people are proficient with all simple weapons and light armor, but not with shields.

Hill Shape (Su): At 1st level, a hill person gains the ability to turn himself into any Tiny or Small animal of no more than 1 HD (and back again) three times per day. This ability functions like the beast shape III spell, except as noted here. The effect lasts for 1 hour per hill person level, or until he changes back. Changing form (to animal or back) is a standard action and doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity. The form chosen must be that of an animal the hill person is familiar with. The hill person retains the ability to speak in this form, though he can also make sounds appropriate to the form, and speak to creatures of the same general grouping (canine, feline, avian, etc.) as determined by the GM as though using speak with animals.

You can also attempt to use this power on another target, in which case it functions as baleful polymorph. However, you must roll a natural 20 on a d20 for this to work. Otherwise you transform yourself into the desired creature, as if you had used the reflexive form knack. (Though you can use luck of the hill folk to try this roll multiple times).

A hill person can use this ability an additional time per day at 6th level and every six levels thereafter, for a total of six times at 18th level.

As a hill person gains in levels, this ability allows him to take on the form of larger and smaller animals and elementals as an extreme measure. Each form expends one daily usage of this ability, regardless of the form taken. Any time the hill person uses this ability to become anything except a Tiny or Small animal of 1 HD or less, it counts as making an attack for purpose of his Lack the Ability to Do Harm class feature.

At 6th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Medium or Large animal or a Small elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape functions as elemental body I.

At 8th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Huge or Diminutive animal, or a Medium elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape now functions as elemental body II.

At 10th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Large elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape now functions as elemental body III. At 12th level, a hill person can use hill shape to change into a Huge elemental. When taking the form of an elemental, the hill person’s hill shape now functions as elemental body IV.

Lack the Power to Do Harm (Su): The hill people dislike violence, and are blessed by powerful good fortune when they avoid it while maintaining strong hill people traditions. A hill person gains a luck bonus to AC and saving throws equal to his Charisma bonus. However, if the hill person makes an attack (as defined by the invisibility spell), they lose this power for 24 hours. Additionally, if a hill person multiclasses to the point they don’t have more “hill person” levels than all other combined class levels, they also lose access to this power.

Organize Notes (Ex): All hill people have a pile of notes, generally in the form of a loose shuffle of papers and mementos, but they can take nearly any easily-recognizable form, which contain their thoughts on mystic incantations, cooking, and anything else they find important.

These are never organized.

Each day you try to organize your notes. You can only do this once per day, and only after getting 8 hours of rest. This takes one hour, and resets your daily class abilities. Also, if you have not attempted to organize your notes for more than 24 hours, you lose access to one randomly determined hill person knack, plus one additional knack for every additional 12 hours. These return once you properly attempt to organize your notes.

Hill Person Knacks: You gain one hill person knack at 1st level, and an additional knack at 2nd level and every level thereafter. You cannot take a knack more than once unless it says otherwise.

Actions Give You Weight (Su): Hill people often place themselves at risk to aid others. As a standard action you can give an ally within 30 feet the benefits of your Lack the Power to Do Harm class feature until the beginning of your next turn. If the ally makes an attack (as defined by the invisibility spell) during this time, they lose this benefit and cannot regain it for 24 hours.

General Knack: You gain one general feat (a feat that is not also any other kind of feat) for which you meet the prerequisites, as a bonus feat. You may take this knack more than once. Each time, you must select a different general feat.

Great Chooser of Roads (Ex): You and your allies increase your overland travel speed by 10%, and do not have it reduced for terrain.

Minstrel (Ex): You have learned some of the storytelling and singing art of the hill people. You know spells and have spells per day as a bard of 1/3 your class level. Your caster level is equal to your class level. You must be at least 3rd level to select this knack.

Narrow of Purpose (Ex): Hill people are capable to being very focused, directing all their attention to a single goal. You gain Skill Focus as a bonus feat. Each day when you try to organize your notes, you may select what skill this bonus feat applies to. This must be a skill you have ranks in.

Pack Mule (Ex): Hill people can be surprisingly hearty when carrying large piles of gear. Your carrying capacity is tripled.

Reflexive Form (Su): If the result of an attack is a critical hit, or causes you to be unconscious or dead, as an immediate action you can expend one daily use of your hill shape ability to turn yourself into a tiny 1 HD animal. This causes the attack to miss entirely, but you are stuck in that shape for 1d4 rounds.

Rushed Flight (Su): Once per day you can expend one daily use of your hill shape ability to turn into a fireball that flies through the air at a speed of 1,000 miles per hour. You can do nothing but fly during this time, and if you touch down, hit an object, or are stopped or slowed down at any point the effect ends. Navigation in this form is difficult, and requires a Survival check with a DC equal to 10 +1 per 100 miles travelled.

Short in Stature (Ex): You are particularly slight of build, even for one of the hill people. While your weapon and equipment use, space, reach, and movement are determined by your true size category, for all other purposes you calculate your modifiers as if you were one size smaller.

Sweet tooth (Ex): Many hill people are strongly drawn to sweets, from gooseberry pies to nut bars. However, they do not carry such things themselves, and do not wish to pay for them. You are one such hill person. If you acquire a dessert through a skill check (Bluff, Diplomacy, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth are most common), once during the next 24 hours you can use that skill check result in place of any failed skill check for a skill you have at least as many ranks in. If you acquire a new dessert with a new skill check before you use the old one, you can keep the new check in reserve if it is better, but you may only have one in reserve at a time. Once you use this ability to replace a skill check, you can’t use it again until you organize your notes.

Wide of Vision (Ex): Hill people are often very alert to their surroundings. You gain a bonus to Perception checks equal to half your class level (minimum +3). Additionally, if you succeed at a Perception check to act on a surprise round, you may choose to limit yourself to a move action while warning your allies within 60 feet of the danger you spotted, allowing them to also act on the surprise round.

Wishful Banter (Ex): Hill people are excellent at cheering people up and imagining better circumstances. Over the course of one minute, you can daydream about better circumstances for yourself, and a number of willing allies equal to your Charisma bonus (who must be willing to discuss things they would prefer with you). You and those allies each gain a +1 morale bonus to one d20 check made in the next 24 hours. The decision to use this bonus must be made prior to the check. The bonus increases to +2 at 5th level, and by an additional +1 for every 5 levels thereafter.

Luck of the Hill Folk (Su): Things just tend to go well for hill people, and their allies, and tend to go badly for those who wish them harm. Beginning at 2nd level, once per day as a swift or immediate action after a d20 roll of a creature within 60 feet has been determined to be a success or failure, you may immediately force the die to be rerolled. The new roll is used to determine if the original roll was successful or note. This second roll gains a bonus or penalty (your choice), equal to 1, +a value equal to 1/5 your level.

You gain an additional use of this ability at 4th level, and every 2 levels thereafter.

Hill Lord (Su): At 20th level if the hill person would lose the lack the power to do harm class feature due to making an attack or taking a hill form that isn’t a 1 HD or less animal, he can decide not to lose the benefits of the ability by expending a daily use of luck of the hill folk. This leaves the hill person clear to attack and take any desired form for 1 minute.

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Pathfinder Template: Boss Monster

A template for 1st ed Pathfinder, to turn a foe into a Boss Monster.

CR: +2
Initiative: If a boss’s total initiative is less than 15, it changes to 15. If that would cause it to go last in the first full round of combat, it’s initiative improves until it goes next-to-last.
HP: Double total HP
Boss Action: At the end of each round, the Boss gains an additional full-round action. It cannot use this to run, charge, or double-move if it has already done any of those things this turn.
Boss Bash: As a full-round action, a Boss can move itself up to its move and damage all creatures adjacent to it at any point as if it had hit them with a melee attack. If the boss had some kind of limitations on its movement they do not affect this action, but are still in place after it takes this action. This movement does not provoke an attack of opportunity. Alternatively, it can expend a spell or spell-like ability to damage these creatures equal to  1d6 per spell level +1d6 per 2 caster levels.
This ability looks and is described differently based on what the boss is, and does damage of a type the boss can normally do.
Boss Options: Anything other than boss bash that the boss can do a limited number of times per day, or per minute, or per round, it can do twice as often.
Boss Resilience: If a failed saving throw would normally cause a boss to be helpless, unconscious, dead, or paralyzed, and the boss still has the boss action ability, the failed saving throw instead just strips the boss of its boss action for 1d4+6 rounds.
Treasure: Give double treasure.

There you go! All the boss’s numbers and abilities are in the range PCs can deal with, but it’s twice as tough and dangerous, and harder to pin down or isolate!

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Updated List of Very Fantasy Words

The most recent update to the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words can be found here!

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Starfinder Archetype: Xorarcan Centurion

The proud warrior species of the Xorarcan, and rules for using them as a player character species, were introduced here. While all Xorarcans are resilient, and those raised in the native tradition of Xorarcan warriors are all feared in battle, the legend of the unstoppable Xorarcan champions largely comes from encounters with their elite centurions.

Xorarcan centurions train to harden body and mind, and hone themselves to battle-ready perfection. They are a tradition that evolved from the shock soldiers of he Overlords, who forced Xorarcans to sacrifice their lives fearlessly to gain even small advantages over the Overlord’s enemies. While those shock troops often died before becoming veterans, over generations of endless combat, and some horrific experimentation by the Overlords themselves, the surviving Xorarcans learned to survive even nearly-impossible battlefield conditions. With the Overlord’s empire collapsed, the Xorarcans take pride in reclaiming this brutal period in their history, and applying the lessons learned through endless war for cruel masters to achieve their own goals.

A Xorarcan centurion expects to be the point of the spear, the first into the breach and the last off the battlefield. They train not for a single method of combat, but to be prepared for any adversity, and to seek out foe’s weaknesses and maximize allies’ strengths.

Xorarcan Centurion (Archetype)

You have spent your life training to be the ultimate combatant. Much of that training is pure skill and martial technique, but some is also calling upon the changes wrought to your lineage by the Overlords when they used Xorarcans as shock troopers and cannon fodder. While your hate for the long-lost Overlords is as great as any native of Xorarca, you have reclaimed some of the horrors they inflicted upon your ancestors to better serve those you hold dear.

Only members of the Xorarcan species, or characters with the Xorarcan Warrior theme, can take the Xorarcan Centurion archetype.

XororcanFemale-color-01

Centurion Traits: At levels 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 18, a Xorarcan centurion may choose to take a centurion trait as an alternate class feature (using the normal rules for archetypes), or may instead gain the normal class feature for their class and level. Once this choice is made at each level, it cannot be changed. Each centurion trait may be selected only once unless it states otherwise.

Battle Meditation (Ex): You have learned the ancient Xorarcan techniques of mind over body, and can force your physical form to obey your will. At the beginning of your turn you have a 50% chance of ending any bleed effect you are suffering. Additionally, you can  imbibe one serum or medicinal (or poison, if you wish), and have the effects delayed as your metabolism holds off any changes wrought by the material. As a move action, you can have the serum, medicinal, or poison take its normal effect on you. Once you use this ability in this way, you cannot do so again for 24 hours.

Combat Training: You gain one bonus combat feat. You must meet its prerequisites normally. You may take this alternate class feature more than once. Each time, you must select a different bonus combat feat.

Crusader’s Blade (Su): Your ancestors were exposed to eldritch energies as part of the Overlord’s efforts to turn them into better shock troops. You have learned to access those energies to melee weapons you use. You may cause any melee weapon you attack with to have the block, bright, and penetrating special weapon properties.

Dimensional Blade (Ex): Your ancestors were exposed to strange dimensional energies as part of the Overlord’s efforts to turn them into better shock troops. You have learned to access those energies to empower attacks you make. Your melee attacks gain the force descriptor. The first ranged attack you make each round also gains the force descriptor. This does not change the AC your attack targets or its damage type (if any), but does generally allow you to affect incorporeal targets normally.

Flight Pack (Ex): You have recovered an ancient Xorarcan flight pack, and restored it to at least partial function. You can attach it to any suit of armor you wear with 10 minutes of work. This does not take an armor upgrade slot. If you do not have a flight speed, this acts as if you had a 1st level flight spell cast on you, and in zero G you are always considered to be adjacent to an object that allows you to push off it and gain a  +4 bonus to Acrobatics checks made in relation to the Moving in Zero G rules.

If you do have a fly speed, your flight pack also increases your maneuverability by one step. If you already have perfect maneuverability, instead you gain a +10 bonus to your fly speed.

Incorruptible (Ex): you have hardened yourself to resist and throw off all efforts to weaken or debase your body. When you make a successful saving throw against an affliction (curse, disease, or poison), you are cured of that affliction. Any damage already inflicted by the affliction must be restored or fade normally.

Ironclad (Ex): You have learned to leverage the joints, lockouts, and hard plates of armor to your benefit when lifting or carrying items. You treat your Strength at 4 higher for purposes of meeting armor proficiency feat prerequisites, and using heavy. When wearing light armor, your carrying capacity is calculated as if your Strength was 2 higher. When wearing heavy armor, your carrying capacity is calculated as if your Strength was 4 higher and you treat your Strength as being 4 higher when determining your effective Strength for wielding heavy weapons.

Martial Prowess (Ex): You have mastered several Xorarcan fighting techniques. Your melee attacks have the disarm and trip special weapon properties. They also have the staggered critical hit effect. If they already have a critical hit effect, when you score a critical hit you may choose between the attack’s normal critical effect, and staggered. If the attack normally has the staggered critical hit effect, you may choose to instead apply the stunned critical hit effect.

Spirit of Xorarca (Su): You can channel the spirit of the harsh world Xorarcans call home to imbue your attacks with lethal forms of energy. Once per day as part of making an attack, you can choose to add the corrosive, flaming, frost, shock, or thundering weapon fusion to one weapon you are attacking with. If you are of chaotic alignment, you may instead add the anarchic fusion. If you are of lawful alignment, you may instead add the axiomatic fusion. If you are good aligned you may instead add the holy fusion. If you are evil aligned, you may instead add the unholy fusion.

This fusion does not count against the weapon’s maximum number of fusions, and can be applied to a weapon of any item level (or your unarmed attacks). The fusion only functions with attacks you make. The fusion lasts until you next regain Stamina Points during a 10-minute rest, though you may suspend it for any attack you do not wish to use it.

If you have already used this ability for the day, you may spend a Resolve Point to use it again. A weapon cannot have more than one fusion from this ability active at a time—if you use it on a weapon that already has such a fusion, the older fusion from this ability ends.

You must have the crusader’s blade, dimensional blade, or martial prowess centurion trait in order to select this centurion trait.

Wallbreaker (Ex): You have trained yourself to overcome the limits of physical exhaustion and trauma, a limit known in Xorarcan philosophy as “the inner wall.” You gain a +4 bonus to Constitution checks to continue running, to avoid damage from a forced march, to hold your breath, and to avoid damage from starvation or thirst. You also gain a +4 bonus to Fortitude saving throws to avoid taking damage from hot or cold environments, to withstand the harmful effects of thick and thin atmospheres, to avoid choking when breathing in heavy smoke, and to avoid fatigue caused by sleep deprivation.

Additionally, as a move action you can recover a number of Stamina Points equal to your character level. Once you have used this ability in this way, you cannot do so again until you have recovered Stamina during a 10-minute rest.

Warrior Spirit (Ex): You can call upon the legendary Xorarcan determination to overcome great adversity. Once per day when you fail at an attack roll or saving throw, as a reaction you may immediately reroll the failed attack or save with a bonus equal to your character level.

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Insectoid Star Knight-color

Birthday Memories on my Birthday

On my birthday, which is today, I tend to think about memories of previous birthdays.

I have a lot of great birthday memories.

I hold the first “OwenCon,” cutting up things like comics to make a flier, and pick an older friend to be toastmaster.

My mother has us all play a game where each kid has a balloon tied to one ankle, and you try to stomp out other kid’s balloons with your other foot.

My mother makes a pinata, which we bash the hell out of.

We stay up all night playing Dungeon, which a friend brought over.
We stay up all night playing Dark Tower, which a friend brought over.

We stay up all night watching the Thunderbirds anime, which is streaming on a pay channel we don’t normally get, but which is doing a free preview that weekend.

We stay up all night watching VHS movies.

I run a D&D game all weekend, as an adult, with friends coming and sleeping over.

My friend Carl rules a Rolemaster game all weekend. My character ends up with a magic tattoo which gives her dragon spells.

I discover my friends all went in together and got me a GameCube, so I can play Mario Sunshine. It becomes my favorite Mario game, to date.

My wife makes a pinata, which we bash the hell out of.

We go to see the B&W Dracula movie as a special theater event. The Spanish-language version filmed on the same sets plays afterward. We expect to just watch a little of it. We stay for the whole thing, fascinated at how much better a movie it is.

The common denominator for all of these, of course, is friends. (With games a close second)

Thanks, everyone.

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Fictional Cosmology

This isn’t an effort to actually solve the question of consciousness, or quantum mechanics, or determinism.
It’s just a though experiment to see if I can make a fictional cosmology I like enough to use in games and stories.
So.
There exists a quantum-affecting energy pattern, the énorkos. Extremely complex neural systems are created by énorkos, which are linked to them. No other system can link to an énorkos. Essentially, complex neural system are discrete slices of the whole that is an énorkos.
An énorkos can perceive all quantum superpositions. However, any specific neural system linked to an énorkos can only perceive a limited set of quantum superpositions. This means that each neural system perceives what appears to be one “reality.” In fact all superpositions exist simultaneously, but each neural system perceives only one set of them encountered by the linked énorkos.
Whenever an énorkos encounters a new superposition, it subdivides into as many neural systems are necessary for one neural system to observe each possible set of quantum positions.
Thus, an énorkos is a quantum energy state that defines consciousness, with each neural system linked to it perceiving one possible combination of collapsed wave states. Conscious things appear to impact quantum superpositions because each consciousness sees only one collapse of a superposition. All superpositions occur simultaneously, but a “living creature” only sees on reality at a time.
Sufficiently advanced technology can create énorkos, or at least link artificial neural networks to existing énorkos. There is thus a concrete difference between a Siri-like computer program with so many billions of responses it can generate that it passes any turing Test, and a true “strong” AI which is linked to an énorkos.
Similarly, if a consciousness shifts to a different position relative to its énorkos is would need to move to an alternate reality, when in fact it is only perceiving the megareality of all superpositions differently.
Also, if you have a technology that can perfectly recreate a person, AND in doing so link their consciousness to the same énorkos as their original consciousness, that is the “same” person, while a duplicate that has no énorkos link, or links to a different énorkos is a “different” person, even if on a macro scale they behave in exactly the same way.

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Words of Wisdom. Sort of.

For more than a decade now, I have been collecting the most profound things I have written online.
Here’s a sample of more than 140 of the best examples.

“Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Goblins are the screaming, burning chaos of little minds.”

A rolling d20 gathers no moss… and delays the game until it stops %*#^ing rolling!”

A picture is worth 1,000 words. A clear, accurate, useful map is priceless.

Edition Wars were BETTER back in my day!

A fool and his money are a miniatures games company’s target audience.

A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. A gamer is the same, but also wants to tell your company with a decade or more of experience how you could do things soooo much cheaper.

A game worth playing, is worth playing badly, on the path to playing well.

If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, I now understand why player characters often burn down kingdoms…

Better the devil you know than the one you don’t. At least then you know what bypasses its DR.

A house divided against itself cannot stand… unless that’s just step one of transforming into a robot.

A closed mouth gathers no foot. But with enough force, you can JAM one in there.

A good lawyer makes a bad neighbor, especially if actually they’re a superhero and villains keep dropping buildings on the law firm but some rubble crosses onto your property.

Editing (or being edited by) your spouse leads to a much closer understanding of each other… or divorce. There’s no middle ground there.

Theory: Sailor Moon is actually a were-sailor. She was bitten by a rabid sailor which is why she transforms into a hybrid scout/sailor form.

When you have a cat in your home, you MUST delight in every precious moment. Because one day you’ll wake up to a hairball in your eye.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Google Maps search.

*Absinthe* makes the heart grow fonder. Any other claim is a typo.

Moving is like doing homework so that you can exercise too hard in painful positions with the main reward being massive inconvenience.

What if you only lose your soul if picture’s taken while sneezing and no one says “bless you”? We’re one coincidence from zombie apocalypse!

It’s beginning to look like the term “testerical” may be my longest-lasting legacy. … I’d be okay with that.

A man cannot serve two masters. Well, he can, but it eats into Netflix time.

I plan to seed the ground above my burial site with caltrops.
So just LET my enemies dance on my grave…

I think Luke Skywalker has probably upgraded his prosthesis a few times since Empire Strikes Back. I think of that as my Personal Hand Canon.

I have no option about whether the chicken or the egg came first. I’m eggnostic.

I’m sorry the release date of the new RPG/Movie/Novel you were looking forward to got delayed, but…
Shift Happens.

I’m pretty sure my patronus is a fat badger. So far it doesn’t chase off dementors, but just kinda shows up and disapproves of them.

As a security measure, I like to keep passwords on post-it notes scattered around my desk. They just aren’t passwords I use for anything.

There are many ways in which game designers are like cats. Mostly, these are not related to being adorable.

Oh Fine. Apparently mixing dragons and turtles or dragons and lions is classic, but my Dragon Lobster is “dumb” and Dragolverinne “silly.”

If someone stabs you instead of crying out “touché!,” the correct response is to yell “Ouché!”

It’s hockey mask and machete, right? No wearing a human-flesh-face-and-chainsaw until after Memorial Day, as I recall Slasher Etiquette.

A man is known by the company he keeps. At least, he is if his company’s advertising budget is big enough.

A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. His lawyer’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer, either.

A man’s home is his castle. And the heating bills on castles are outrageous. I recommend renting a small fort or keep, instead.

“I’ve been trying to figure out how to attack this stronghold, but I’ve had to reconsider every plan…
“Of COURSE you have. What do you expect from a redoubt?”

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. A college-level course can be catastrophic.

Honesty is the best policy… but honestly how many companies do you know that actually follow their own policies?

You can’t judge a book by its cover. Sentencing is even more complex, and allows an appeal.

Familiarity breeds contempt. Familiars mostly breed with fairy-dragons. And a few imps. Maybe a brownie.

All good things must come to an end. An unfortunate number of terrible things just go on, and on, and on…

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Or at least wash it off first.

Too many cooks spoil the broth. And is it too much to ask for SOMEONE to make a salad for table 7 if we have so many damn cooks?!

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or… isn’t broke? What if it’s broke but kinda works? What if it’s not but it’s crappy. This proverb sucks

Cleanliness is not next to Godliness. Unless your dictionary only has 7 entries.

You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Unless you use an ostrich egg. Then it just takes the one.

Keeps your friends close, and your enemies closer. “Prayer” only has a 40-foot-radius.

Birds of a feather flock together. Dinosaurs of a feather engage in sudden but inevitable betrayal.

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Unless it’s bulletproof glass. In that case, go ahead.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. The squeaky kobold gets a fireball!

Jumping to conclusions can be bad exercise. Also, it provokes attacks of opportunity.

Don’t learn safety rules on accident. I mean, that’s better than not learning them at all, but still.

The heaviest thing to carry is a grudge. Though it still doesn’t slow down dwarves at all. which explains a lot, actually.

One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time. Another is glossy magazine covers. A third is bad olives.

Your mind is like a parachute. Always pack it yourself, don’t wait too long to use it, and it’s better with a giant picture of Daffy Duck.

Dress for the adventure you want to go on, not the adventure in your zip code. As long as the adventure you want to go on is HR appropriate.

Labels are for cans, not people. Nutritional information should be universal. If you’re on a desert island you need to know who to eat first.

If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. Also the forge, volcanoes, the Elemental plane of Fire, and Arizona.

It isn’t whether you win or lose that counts, it’s how you play the game. Although constantly losing may suggest you suck at playing the game.

Always get your ducks in a row. Then, one lightning bolt later, fried duck!

Wake up and smell the coffee. Because apparently you have the technology or contacts to have coffee get made while you are still sleeping.

A bird may love a fish, but where would they live? I mean, sure a houseboat, but let’s be real even most humans can’t afford a houseboat.

“Flopportunity” – A chance to make something that could be extremely unsuccessful.

“Evil Stew” – A thick soup made from everything in the house that is “about to go bad.”

Early to bed and early to rise doesn’t actually mean you’re getting any more work done.

“Like a bat out of a handbasket.”

You reap what you sow. Which means there’s a skull with a scythe and robe that’s quietly going around sowing the heck out of things.

You have to take the bad with the good. The facts of life. The facts of life.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but “You’re never too old to learn.” Which tells me the old dog’s teacher sucks.

You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. So you need two cakes, which explains the American obesity epidemic.

You can lead a horse to water. Actually, can you? I am sure a few of you can, but it’s not as common a skill as it used to be.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. That’s just how the pyrotechnics spell works.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Play musical instruments as the place burns to the ground.

The way to a man’s is through his stomach. The way to a man’s stomach is for a facehugger to burst out of a yonic egg and mouthfuck him.

Variety is the spice of life. So it comes from worm butts on a desert planet.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Unless you are paid by the word, in which case for SOME reason, it doesn’t count. 😛

Two heads are better than one. Though an ettin is only CR 6 and a hill giant is CR 7, so maybe one head is actually better.

Too many chefs spoil the soup, but not enough chefs ruin the restaurant.

There’s no fool like an old fool. Well, except a young fool which, just by process of basic logic, we can determine has some similarities.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, but less than three to pet their belly.

There is no honor among thieves. Which may be true, but my MAIN issue with them is that they steal things.

Strike while the iron is hot. It’s more likely to give into your union demands if it’s uncomfortable.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil, but the squeaky mouse gets eaten by the cat.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. And bad intentions. And anything else the devil can get his hands on, he’s a pragmatist.

Rome was not built in a day. But it sure burned down fast.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof of the pie is in the radius.

Keep the home fires burning. That way your enemies have no place to sleep or change their shoes.

Practice makes perfect. I suspect that’s why so many doctors and lawyers think they’re perfect.

Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Which is why the Devil’s Advocate is such a good lawyer,

The pen is mightier than the sword. But not the vorpal sword.

One swallow does not a summer make. Which is either profound on a ‘winter is coming” level, or the tagline for bad porn.

One man’s gravy is another man’s poison. Especially with Vishkanya. Though “Vishkanya Gravy” sounds like a nasty euphemism

One good turn deserves another, but you’re just as likely to roll a 1 next turn.

Old habits die hard. I think they’re mostly worn by vampire nuns and you have to stuff holy wafers in their hems after you deravelcate them.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Which I think means all venturing is painful, according to that other proverb…

Nothing hurts like the truth. Especially +1 keen flaming truth.

No pain, no gain. Of course there’s plenty of pain that ALSO produced no gain, so fuck that.

No news is good news.

No, seriously, nowadays none of the news is good.

Necessity is the mother of invention. But does invention ever call? Ever write? Nooooooooo…

Money doesn’t grow on tree. Except black walnut. Those things are cash cows.

Misery loves company. But honestly most company is kinda sick of misery.

A man is known by the company he keeps. Unless they’re idiots and never noticed him.

Look before you leap. It’s nice to at least know where you are going to go splat.

Love is blind. Love makes the world go ’round. Which may explain why we seem to be headed to hell in a handbasket.

Lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Because if your enemies line up for a lightning bolt, they quickly learn to spread out.

A leopard can’t change its spots. A cuttlefish can. A cuttlepard is CR 5.

It takes two to tango. Also, to flank.

Man does not live by bread alone. Normally he’s also near some other stuff. Maybe a chair, or a tree.

Good things come in small packages. So do evil things. Package size is a terrible gauge for moral value.

Don’t judge a book by its cover – there are critics that will do it for you.

Don’t cry over spilled milk. You’ll get your tears in it and make it salty.

Blood is thicker than water, and harder to get out of the carpet.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but the CR isn’t as high.

Clothes make the man. A woman probably made the clothes.

Beauty is in the eye of the generic non-IP floating eye-monster with ray attacks.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. That’s what catapults are for!

Actions speak louder than words. Full-round actions, especially.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Unless it’s the heart that’s absent, which makes the body grow colder.

A watched pot will not toke.

A lion won’t eat where it sleeps, but a spider must. A spiderlion is CR 5.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Or a teleport spell. Plane shift works, too. Or just summon giant eagles.

If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. Unless what you love is working, in which case apparently you’re screwed.

The friends of our friends are our friends. Except Arlo. Fuck that guy.

A single stick is easily broken. A bundle of sticks is difficult to break. A stick golem is CR 5.

War has no eyes, and justice is blind. Leaving both vulnerable to sneak attack.

If you use your wealth, it diminishes. If you use your wits, they expand. If you use the critical hit deck, you lose a hand.

The foolish build walls. The wise build bridges. The wizard builds a staff of blasting.

The idiotic speak. The wise listen. The rogue rolls for initiative.

Wisdom is like a baobab tree; no one individual can embrace it. But you CAN tongue-kiss it.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, bring a cleric. And a summoner, preferably with one of the broken archetypes.

“If you wait long enough by the riverbank, the bodies of your enemies will float by. But writers don’t have that kind of time.

Can you imagine if dead souls had access to social media?
“Still in Limbo. Working off sins of things I did when I was, like, 8. Really??”

Hcum gnihton spelled backwards is nothing much.

The Black Pudding is not NEARLY as evil, NOR as moist, as the Ochre Bunt Cake!

People need priorities.
Arguing about a game online with people who don’t even play with you should never be at the top.

Go home spellchecker. Your drank.

Any popular game that has human interpretation of rules is inevitably going to have people bitch about how those rules are interpreted.

I am well aware that nearly everything I do could be done by a million monkeys pounding on a million typewriters.
As a result, my career is based in large part on flinging less poo than they would.

Mint absinthe. It’s the ghost of Christmas Passed Out.

“I kept thinking a shark fin was following me, but it was just a fluke.”

Never complain about anyone but yourself. And your dice. And fascists, because frak them.

A clean conscience makes a soft pillow. But so do the corpses of your enemies.

A smile is worth a thousand words. But for some people’s smiles, those are all words of warning.

Life is more than just surviving. That’s why we have refrigerators.

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