Blog Archives

Top Ten Worst Ideas For Horror Film Mashups

Sometimes, I have good ideas I just can’t get out of my head.

These are not those.

10. Army of the Dead Zone
A virus causes people to go crazy, bite 2-3 other people, fall into a coma, then wake up 5 years later with psychic powers. As interesting as all that sounds, this is a heist movie that doesn’t really touch on it.

9. Halloween Out of Space
A strange holiday descends from space, which no one can describe, but celebrating it involves lots of people showing up without calling first, spending time with your least favorite relatives and your boss’s family, and killing people with an axe.

8. Nightmare on Wall Street
What’s that you say, the movie Wall Street isn’t a horror film, so this isn’t a horror film mashup?
(Stares at you in late-stage capitalism.)
After conning retirees out of their life savings, a Wall Street bigwig is burned at the stake. But his greed is so great, he survives as a dream-based apparition, who can force people to pay him if they want to sleep.

7. Silence of the Quiet Place
Yes, hearing-based aliens have invaded the world and everyone must operate in complete noiselessness. But the FBI still needs to catch serial killers, even if they have to pass notes delicately written in crayon to serial killers for insight into what kind of wacko goes on a killing spree during an alien invasion.

6. Amityville of the Corn
It turns out the same architect who built the Amityville House built an identical house for himself in the corn fields of Nebraska. Sadly, entirely by coincidence the architecture itself is a form of spirit-summoning rune, and He Who Walks Behind the Corn, and the kid who wishes you to the cornfields, and the cannibalistic creeper who pretends to be a scarecrow have al moved in.

5. Bride of Young Frankenstein
The wife of Young Frankenstein decides to make her own monster, for the merchandizing potential.

4. Train to Cabin in the Woods
An evil corporation tries use supernatural monsters to kill off everyone on a train to appease evil gods who are conceptual stand-ins for the audience itself, while constantly complaining that their actions are largely pointless, derivative, and a crude cash-grab as conceptual stand-ins for what the audience are thinking. Obviously, this is a prequel.

3. The Mummy of the Opera
An opera singer’s voice is so bad, it could wake the dead. And it does.

2. Night of the Cabinet of Doctor Dracula’s Labyrinth Hostel
Doctor Dracula, professor of bloodletting, lures innocent tourists into his maze-themed air bnb so his animated cabinet can torture them. … Or something like that, anyway.

1. Interview with a Voorhees
An unkillable psychopathic murderer agrees to give a reporter an exclusive interview on what it is like to be the vengeful spirit of not letting teenagers have any fun. In the end, the Voorhees turns the reporter into a vengeful spirit of not letting teenagers have fun

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support more free material!)

Nanocyte ThemeType For Starfinder

I mentioned in the article on the precog, I wanted to make sure I have Multiclass Themetypes for all of the official classes for Starfinder (and likely some other classes too!), so here’s the article on the last missing offficial class the nanocyte (from Starfinder Tech Revolution). You can check out the precog Multiclass ThemeType article for the rules and design logic behind Multiclass ThemeTypes.

(Art by warmtail)

Nanocyte ThemeType

You have been infused with morphic nanites that obey your subconscious commands. These are neither as strong nor as flexible as the nanites of a true nanocyte, but they are still far more advanced than anything available for commercial purchase.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): You gain a nanite surge, as the nanocyte class feature. You gain a total number of nanosurges per day equal to 1/3 your character level (minimum 1). Select one skill. You can expend a nanosurge as part of making a skill check with that skill. This grants you an insight bonus to the skill check equal to 1/4 your character level (minimum +1). Each time you gain a new character level, you can change what skill your nanosurge can apply to.

Minor Faculity (Ex, Archetype, 2nd Level): You gain the 1st level ability of one nanocyte faculty. If this faculty grants a nanocyte a class feature early, you gain the class feature. You cannot select a faculty that modifies or requires an array you do not have.

Knack (Ex, Archetype, 4th Level): You gain one nanocyte knack, selected from the list of 2nd level nanocyte knacks. You treat your level in the class this archetype is attached to as your nanocyte level for all nanocyte knacks gained from this Multiclass ThemeType.

Minor Array (Ex, Theme, 6th Level): You gain a single form of nanite array (sheath, cloud, or gear). You calculate this array’s effect’s using your character level -4. Additionally, you can expend a Resolve Point to immediately gain and use a nanite surge.

Knack (Ex, Archetype, 6th Level): You gain a second knack, following all the rules of the knack granted by this ThemeType at 4th level.

Lesser Faculty (Ex, Archetype, 9th Level): You gain the 4th level ability of the faculty you selected at 2nd level.

Improved Array. (Ex, Theme, 12th Level): You now calculate the effects of the nanite array you selected at 6th level using your character level -2. You gain a second array option, which you calculate the effects of using your character level -4. You can still only have one array active at a time.

Knack (Ex, Archetype, 12th Level): You gain a third knack, following all the rules of the knack granted by this ThemeType at 4th level except it may be a 2nd- or 6th-level knack.

Greater Array (Ex, Theme, 18th Level): You now calculate the effects of the nanite array you selected at 6th level using your full character level, and the effects of the array you gained at 12th level using your level -2. You gain a third array option, which you calculate the effects of using your character level -4. You can still only have one array active at a time.

Knack (Ex, Archetype, 18th Level): You gain a fourth knack, following all the rules of the knack granted by this ThemeType at 12th level.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more adventure sketches, or Pathfinder 1st or 2nd edition, 5e, or Starfinder content (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

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

Starfarer’s Codex: More PF1 Metamagic Feats for Starfinder

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

Here are a few converted from the APG.

(Art by Travel Dawn)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more adventure sketches, or Pathfinder 1st or 2nd edition, 5e, or Starfinder content (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

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

Random Cool-Sounding Science-Fantasy Terms

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

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

Arcasement

Asymmetric Chronal Matrix

Decoherence Canon

Depleted Oragone

Eldrion

Enriched Orichalcum

Exterociter

Focal Inflection

Half-Death Decay Rate

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

Inertial Converter

Inverse Reactive Force

Logarithmic Casing

Neogenic Incursion

Phrenic Bus Bar

Picoites

Prefabulated Amulite

Positronic Impulsor

Psionic Accumulator

Q-Shaped Helix

Quantum Coherence

Radiopsytronic

Resublimated Vril

Scry Shielding

Sinusodial Transmission

Spellation Particle

Spinal-Mounted Primary

Subcritical Thiotim Breeder

Subspace Decay

Superstring Equilibrium

Transadiate/Transaditation

Void Circuit

Warp Plasma

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support more free material!)

“Celestial Heroes,” An Adventure Sketch (With Notes for 4 Game Systems)

I’ve wanted to do a full write-up for this adventure for years, but never had time. So, here’s a sketch of the general idea.

Players their PCs are all very junior angels–celestial outsiders who mostly sort through prayer requests to see what to pass up to higher ranks of the divine bureaucracy, but who also get an occasional flash of excitement by being summoned by the faithful to aid in a fight. The players should give their characters names and personalities, but not worry about game stats yet.

The PCs are spending time sorting through prayers, and notice that a specific priest keeps praying for guidance about the impending destruction of the Astral plane (the “Catastralphe”). There’s nothing in their sorting guidelines about that topic, so protocol is to take it to a one-rank-higher angel, who assures them there is not such thing, and to file the prayer requests under “mortal paranoia.”

Then, on their way back to their duties, the PCs are summoned… by that selfsame priest! She’s 1st level, so she can only keep them for a limited about of time.

If you are running this as a 5e game, the priest has used a scroll with a 1st-level variant of conjure animals, and gets the PCs as minor celestials instead, but can’t give them verbal orders and she can only concentrate on it for up to 1 minute. If this is a PF 2 game, the PCs are summoned with a summon lessor servitor spell and can be around for up to a minute if the priest is able to maintain concentration. If PF 1, it’s summon monster I to call up celestial animals for 1 round. If Starfinder, it’s summon creature at a 1st-level spell, again for 1 round.

Rather than just sticking with the creatures those spells normally summon, allow each PC to select a creature of the same power level to represent their summoned form, AND let them pick anything vaguely appropriate for their appearance. If the rules would let them be an eagle, but they want to be a winged housecat, let their imagination loose. Note to the players that they are celestial spirits in a temporal mortal body regardless. Death has no consequence for them here.

(Art by lenka)

The priest doesn’t speak any of the languages they do, so they have to guess what she wants them to do — but they are summoned while she and four other people (clearly adventures — a fighting type in heavy armor, an arcane type, a sneak, and some kind of sage) are fighting for their lives (all already badly damaged) against what appear to be negative wind elementals (just use air element stats and have them do cold or shadow damage) in an ancient stone chamber that clearly depicts the Astral Plane being rended to destruction, and all the planes of the multiverse being flung apart (no longer able to connect to each other).

With a bit of luck the summoned celestial PCs can save the heroes (if not, just replace any that get killed in future encounters), and regardless of how the fight goes the PCs see that the ancient temple clearly has some real eldritch power connected to it, and the impending Catastralphe.

When their time is up, whether the priest and her adventuring party are safe or not, the PCs return to the angelic plane. They can take up the issue of whether the Catastralphe is real or not, but the celestial bureaucracy considers it to be much more likely that a set of junior angels misinterpreted what they saw than for there to be a true multiplanar threat the Angelic Host never heard of.

Later, the PCs get summoned again… but it’s clear that months have passed on the mortal plane, and the priest is now 3rd level, so she can use more powerful spells to summon more powerful allies. The PCs can maintain their appearance (or evolve it, perhaps from winged housecat to winged bobcat), get to choose new higher-level creatures for their ability scores. This time they are helping defend the priest and her adventuring allies who are being attacked at night, in an inn, by humanoid assassins who have no face, just a lamprylike fanged maws taking up the whole of the front of their heads. (Pick any CR-appropriate monsters and just give them new descriptions).

The priest is clearly surprised to see the PCs, suggesting they are not what she thought she was summoning, but she is also happy for their help.

Upon their return to the Angelic Host, if the PCs bring it up the event, they are directed to the Conjuration Control Department, where they discover there’s at least one other angel that believes in the Catastralphe, a planar traffic controller who is directing them to answer the priest’s summoning when she is showing to be near an important moment in her life.

The adventure goes on like this, with PCs working their way up through the ranks of the Celestial Bureaucracy, most angels not really believing in the interplanar threat, but grudgingly suggest the Pcs should look for specific clues when summoned. The GM should come up with a list of things — specific sigils, or eldritch currents, or the scent of the abyssal influence, so PCs can have investigating they can do when summoned. Meanwhile the priest continues to gain levels and summon the PCs with higher-and-higher level spells, months or years passing between the times they see her, and her quest is also clearly taking a toll on her. Some of her companions die, and are replaced. She loses and eye, from then on having an eyepatch when the PCs are summoned. At some point, she manages to learn their language, so she can speak to them when they arrive… but they can only go to her when she summons allies in a crucial moment in her life, so communication is always rushed during a desperate fight.

As the PCs gain influence among Angels, they are allowed to explore Forbiddings –places within the Heavens once kept by angels that fell and became devils. These encounters are to seek out lost lore on the Catastralphe, as their recurring encounters with cultists and supernatural entities on the Mortal Plane trying to kill the priest and her adventuring party suggest it might be real after all. However the Forbiddings are in the same heavenly reality as the PCs. While they use the same game stats as when they were last summoned for adventures in the Forbiddings, death there is permanent even for up-and-coming angels.

Eventually the combination of clues gained when summoned and when exploring the Forbiddings expose that the Catastralphe is real, and it is the eons-long plot of a fallen angel who wishes to rip the planes apart so it can become effectively a god of whatever bit of the multiverse it has access to after the Astral plane is destroyed. Once this revelation is in place, there are two more major encounters. First, the Fallen Angel can only be stopped with a weapon found in the most dangerous of Forbiddings, and that weapon can only be wielded by those who procure it, so the PCs must go get it. Second, the Fallen Angel’s ultimate base of operations is impossible for any celestial to enter without being summoned from within. So the PCs must wait for the priest to call them for aid one last time, and hope she does so in time for them to use their newly acquired relic weapon to stop the impending Catastralphe.

Obviously, this can be as quick as a 3-4 session mini campaign, or as long as a 1st-20th game, depending on how many encounters the GM decides to fill into this vague sketch of plot points. But I love the idea of Pcs being summon creatures (originally the idea was celestial badgers, back in 3.5 rules days), who have no fear of dying in most of their fights, but have to get anything they want done in the mortal realm done quickly, when summoned, while another fight is already going on. I also like the idea of players not having to make characters in any traditional sense, though it would be easy enough to let them pick special abilities as they “gained levels,” like being to reroll one attack roll per fight, or one saving throw, or teleport once, to represent their angelic nature growing stronger even as they hop from stat block to stat block as more and more powerful spells call them to battle.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more adventure sketches, or Pathfinder 1st or 2nd edition, 5e, or Starfinder content (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

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

The Mighty Justiciar’s League

Jacob Blackmon and I will be doing more with this group in time (for Mutants & Masterminds and ICONS, is the current plan, with Mike Lafferty’s help), but I like sharing bits of this new supers world and it’s biggest and most powerful hero group, the Mighty Justiciar’s League, as it develops.

Here’s the current lineup.

(Art and visual design by Jacob Blackmon; characters and art direction by Owen K.C. Stephens)

From Left to Right, they are:

Thrae
A heroine who has been fighting supernatural and fascist threats since the 1930s, Thrae is gifted with “Melissa’s Sting,” and nearly a century of experience and training. She is bulletproof, superhumanly strong, carries and indestructible spear, flies, and can shrink down to the size of a bee, gaining a ranged blast power when that size.
She also called forth the heroes who became the founding members of the Mighty Justiciar’s League in order to stop a great disaster she saw unfolding, and was the first member and chairperson of that organization.

Stormlad
An eoten orphan taken in, trained, and raised as his own son by the Giant Emperor Ægishjálmur, one of the greatest of Stormhammer’s nemeses. Ægishjálmur plotted to set him against Stormhammer once he was of age, but Stormlad eventually saw through to Ægishjálmur’s true nature and tried to prevent him from killed innocent mortals. Ægishjálmur sought to destroy Stormlad, but was stopped by Huntsman, Stormshield, and Stormhammer, the last embracing Stormlad as kin and placing to be raised with the same mortal parents who raised him.
Stormlad is not as strong or tough as Stormhammer or Stormshield, and has no divine powers, but has a beginning mastery of rune magic allowing him to do things they cannot. He is a senior member of the Young Justiciars, and thus a reserve member of the Mighty Justiciar’s League.

Stormhammer
The Last Aisir, Stormhammer is powerful beyond the ken of mortals. He bears the rune Úr on his chest to mark his name, Vænn, meaning Hope. He is the strongest and most resilient of all known heroes, the storms obey his divine will, and his eyes and ears cannot be deceived. Only shards of shattered Mjolnir weaken him. He is among the heroes summoned by Thriae to stop a great disaster she saw unfolding, and became a founding member of the Mighty Justiciar’s League.

Stormshield
Eirwind, daughter of Queen Freya Valkyr, Stormshield is the Last Valkyrie. Raised by Helalok to ensure a valkyrie would remain to carry Stormhammer’s slain form to Valhalla, she is Queen of Valkyries, has the strength and might of a goddess, is commander and guardian of the Honored Dead, and inheritor to the hair and armor of Sif, and the artifact-shield Svalinn. She was unwilling to take Stormhammer’s life unjustly, turned from Helalok, and joined the Mighty Justiciar’s League.

Green Knight
Jessica Steele is the current Green Knight, an agent of the Spectrum Corps (who send sets of 7 Spectrum Weapons to each of the 667 Cosmic Anchors that stabilize the space-time continuum). Earth has had many waves of Spectrum Corps agents sent over the centuries, with each agent in each wave deciding for themselves how best to keep the Cosmic Anchor secure. Jessica Steele is a genius engineer who spent her career designing exosuits to protect first-responders and augment their ability to help in disaster situations, but had yet to find a functioning power sources for her most potent designs. While helping evacuate civilians in the disaster that caused Thriae to call upon those who would form the Mighty Justicier’s League, which occurred exactly as the Spectrum Corps was assigning a new set of Spectrum Weapons to Earth, Steele’s heroism caused her to be granted the Grün Zweihänder, making her Spectrum Agent Green. She realized the sword could power her most advanced armor, and immediately joined the fight, later becoming a founding member of the Mighty Justiciar’s League.

Huntsman
The adopted then orphan survivor of a wealth family who were killed by huntsman spiders guarding a secret land his parents hoped to raid for antiquities and exploit when he was a child, Huntsman was saved with an experimental antivenin that granted him spiderlike abilities, including the ability to process input from 8 different inputs (though he had to have a helmet designed to input such data, as he didn’t grow extra eyes), and superhuman strength, speed, and balance. He has given away the majority of his parents fortune, and become Huntsman to ensure the privileged and powerful don’t tread on justice and fairness the way his family did. In addition to his mutated enhancements, he has dedicated his life to being a trained criminologist and tracker. He is among the heroes summoned by Thriae to stop a great disaster she saw unfolding, and became a founding member of the Mighty Justiciar’s League.

NEMESES
Since it’s inception, the Mighty Justiciar’s League has been the target of multiple major foes and fiendish organizations, including the Lawbreaker Legion (formed of notable foes of all the Justiciar’s members), The Morlock King (a time-travelling cannibal monarch from 100,000 years in the future), the Crime Church (an ancient cult who literally worship lawbreaking), the Conquering Star (a sentient star that runs an evil empire of fusion entities that wish to turn all matter into plasma), the Jotunn Guard (super-powered giants and Ægishjálmur’s interdimensional strike force), Ultriac (the ultimate intelligence, an AI wishing to destroy all life, which was created by an ex-Justiciar when trying to prove biological heroes were too variable to be trusted), Penumbro (the Shadow God, who wishes to crush the light of hope), Doctor Future (a time travelling genius and android-maker who believes the Justiciars must be destroyed to humanity will toughen up enough to avoid being conquered by the Morlock King), Exergy (the cosmic embodiment of all the unused potential in the universe), Crimson Brigade (a now-rogue spacefaring peacekeeping force created by the Spectrum Corps before the Spectrum Weapons) , Korgath Vralk (an ancient reptilian sorcerer from a billion-year-old lost civilization from early earth), Genghis Kong (a super-genius gorilla psychic and conqueror), The Central Assassination Industry (superkillers-for-hire), Fimbulwinter (the personification of endless winter and night), the Slaugh (shapeshifting ancient sorcerous aliens), O.P.T.I.C. (Organization for Powerful Technologies, Intelligences, and Construction), the Madalief (crime cartel), the Kruthe (hostile and warlike colonizing alien species), Dark Justiciar (undead versions of the Justiciar’s from an alternate reality where the undead rule supreme), and the Demo Team (thug villains for hire).

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It helps me carve out the time needed to create these blog posts, and is a great way to let me know what kind of content you enjoy. If you’d like to see more of the Mighty Justicier’s League, or Pathfinder 1st edition, Starfinder, or ShadowFinder content (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

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

Short Fiction: “Plan Z”

Introduction: The Tao of Jim

If you’re readying this, there’s a good chance you already know more about how Plan Z worked out than I do now while writing it. I don’t know if it’s more likely that you’re a bored schoolkid reading a dog-earned third edition of a book made from my writing, or another survivor holding a blood-stained copy you pulled out from under my corpse while wondering what hubris lead to my demise, but either way you’re seeing the end result of our efforts, and I’m still uncomfortably near what still feels like the beginning.

But either way, you’re likely wondering how this manuscript, and the place I’m writing it in, came about. And that means you need to understand Plan Z. To understand how Plan Z came about, you have to understand our friend Jim. Which, I mean… it’s not like any of us really understand Jim…

Okay, let me try to explain.

So, first, Jim doesn’t process information like anyone else I know. He has a deep, subconscious need to connect any information he has to a potential explanation for it. It doesn’t matter if that explanation is silly, iffy, or obviously wrong–he has to have some rationale to link to anything he sees, hears, thinks of, or watches. If he can’t, if he runs into anything that doesn’t make sense to him, it eats him up inside until he finds a way to attach a rationale, any rationale, to the unexplained.

If a movie has a huge plot hole, Jim is bothered by it until he (or often someone else) can provide reasoning–no matter how far-fetched–on how it could have happened. If he hears about an unsolved mystery, he has to study and research it until he has a potential solution figured out. If someone does something stupid, he has to theorize about it until he can come up with a theoretical example of what the hell they were thinking that made them do it. It doesn’t matter if he’s learning about a crime of passion, a b-movie full of plot holes, or archeological artifacts found with no context. If he comes across something that doesn’t have a clear, well-laid-out history of how and why it happened, he needs to make one up for himself.

To be clear, Jim knows this isn’t rational, but it’s just part of who he is. It’s actually one reason he got into the University of West Colorado’s Tabletop Game League, where we all met him. Games make sense to Jim — you do things because there were rules, and if a rule is unclear or contradictory everyone agrees it has to be fixed. When he joined the League was mostly focused on wargames and roleplaying games (especially Atomic Age, Glaive 4000AD, NapoleonPunk, and Wyverns & Woodlands), and Jim prefers trading card games and boardgames (due to cleaner and tighter rules I suspect), but he played whatever was most popular… even if he didn’t enjoy it.

By the way, if I’m making Jim sound stupid, I have done him a disservice. Jim is among the smartest people I have ever met. He never forgets a fact, sees how things are interconnected and impact one another, can plan, iterate, theorize, and design at levels few can match. His mind tends more towards concrete systems — math, engineering, things where he can be sure that event x inevitably leads to result y — but in that arena he’s a genius.

Which, sadly, sometimes caused him problems.

Often, Jim will mentally envision complex patterns of events he blames for apparently random events. Someone didn’t just get hit by a car and killed because life sucks. No, if someone was hit by a car, then they weren’t wearing reflective enough clothing. Or they had to walk because they didn’t have a bike. Or the reason the driver didn’t see them was that the car didn’t have tinted directional fog lights. To stay sane, Jim has to blame everything bad on some failure to plan or prepare.

As a result, Jim has spent his entire life building up a mental list of things he needs to be ready for. Whether those things are likely enough that it’s rational to be prepared for them isn’t what matters to Jim. Instead, he preps for whatever he’s spent time agonizing to make sense of, and what steps he can take to prevent a similar “nonoptimal outcome.” Even when I first met him, Jim’s truck was practically a roving emergency shelter and mini-pharmacy for like, 12 people. Jim didn’t just want to keep himself safe from his long list of potential disasters, he needed to be able to protect his friends as well.

And that brings us to point two about him.

Jim is desperate for a close social circle, and doesn’t trust his own personality, choices, or preferences to build it for him. A gaming club was perfect for him, because we’d invite anyone who wanted to play to game days, and if he showed up he was part of the group. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took us to realize Jim was willing to be unhappy in order to be included, but in our defense we were young, stupid, and often drunk. But as long as we didn’t actively tell Jim to go away, he was always happy to hang out. And, as a core group of us became fast friends, we befriended Jim–at least as best we could. Some of us left college to begin careers while Jim got a Master’s Degree… and a second Master’s Degree, and started on a third Master’s Degree. But most of the Monday Night Heroes stayed close enough to campus that we could get together for Monday Game Night most weeks.

And as we dated, married, had fights and falling outs and make-ups and parties, Jim was just always there. For the Monday Nighter’s, Jim became part of the background of our lives. He was invited to celebrations, movie nights, road trips, and he never said no. I suspect Jim was actually really lonely, since we weren’t smart enough to ever think about what he wanted to do. He invited us to do a few things that interested him: camping, hunting, canning, quilting, pressing flowers, Historical Martial Arts practice… but we almost never accepted. And, for whatever reason, he didn’t click with the communities that were interested in those things. So if we did anything, or needed anything, or wanted anything, Jim was there. In short, Jim was a good friend.

The rest of us, maybe not so much.

Finally, and this is crucial to how things panned out, while none of us realized it, Jim was rich. I’m not surprised we had no idea, since he wore the same clothes until they fell apart, drove a 30-year old suv, ate store-brand canned food, lived in a 450-square-foot apartment that was once a garage, and had no interest in expensive things. But his family had owned multiple ranches, and he’d inherited them all. Some had oil wells paying him royalties. Many were leased to other ranchers, or loggers, and one had ended up having a suburb develop around it, so Jim had houses built and rented out an entire small neighborhood. He had a personal banker, a personal lawyer… and I guess we all knew that, but we just chalked it up to his family having lots of professional friends.

But, no. Jim had money. Lots of money.

In a way, I’m glad no one seemed to realize that. I’m not convinced I could have kept myself from taking advantage of Jim wanting friends and being rich, and he doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. I’m only alive today because Jim decided I was a friend, and to be honest I haven’t really done anything to deserve that. But without Jim’s psychological quirks, interest in nerdy things, membership in our social circles, genius intellect, and surprisingly deep pockets, Plan Z never would have happened. And even with all that, it only happened because of a power outage.

It’s true. This all started on a cold, dark night. I’ll explain.

While Monday nights were always for gaming, we often had what we called the “Cheese and Cheese Gathering” on Saturdays. The event was specifically designed to watch a cheesy scifi or fantasy movie, and eat a cheese-based dinner and snacks. Yes, it’s stupid, but we had fun, and Jim loved it. He knew what to expect. He could bring anything with cheese flavor, and it was welcomed as appropriate to the event. Sliced cheese? Sure, gimme a slice. Cheeseburgers from the McClown drivethru? Classic. Novelty cheddar soda? What the heck, we need something to get us through watching Cyborg Cannibal Clowns 3 – the Clownening, pop me open a can.

The night Plan Z was born, we were watching Dusk of the Living Dead and enjoying pizza-topping-nachos and cheddar-crusted chicken nuggets, when the power went out. There was a snowstorm, which honestly was worse than we’d been prepared for, and when everything went dark in the whole neighborhood all at once, we realized no one was going home that night. We had enough candles, and Jim had 4 camping lanterns, a backup generator, weather radio, sleeping bags, and MREs in his truck, so we weren’t worried. But, as we set up a faux-camp in Dana and Dale’s living room and sat up through the night, we got bored.

I wouldn’t have remembered exactly who was there that night, but Jim wrote it down on page 1 of what became the Plan Z Survival Guide. There was Jim, me (I’m Casey), Dana and Dale (it was at their house), Jayden, Liam, Mia, and Sanjay. That was pretty much a full house in those days–Jordan had stopped coming around after Mia quite-rightly slapped him, Nevaeh hadn’t really joined the clique yet, and Roger never came to Cheese and Cheese because he and Dale never got along. So we managed to entertain ourselves for a bit by talking about what we’d each done that week, arguing about politics, religion, and pizza styles, and telling bad jokes. But, eventually, conversation lulled.

Then, Jim asked us why the characters in Dusk of the Living Dead had decided to take shelter in a Giganto-Mart when everyone started turning into zombies. While it had lots of useful stuff, he pointed out that it would be a target for any survivalist groups still around, the front of it was all breakable glass windows, and (as the movie was showing when the power cut out), once zombies got inside, there’d be no good way to keep them from roaming over the whole store.

And so, for lack of any better topic, we began figuring out the best plan for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

It was a surprisingly Socratic event. Someone would postulate something, like claiming the best place to hole up would be in a cabin in the mountains, and the rest of us would ask questions to test that claim. Were the woods really the best place? Was a cabin the best option? What about an old-style prison, with stone walls and guard towers? But would the prisoners be a high risk factor? Well, not if it was a decommissioned prison. Would such a place be in good repair? It could be, if it was bought in advance and maintained and updated for survival. What kind of updates and supplies? Well, food, weapons, survival gear, maps, a library of how-to books, at least. Farm equipment? Maybe, how many people are going to shelter here? Well, 7-8 is supposed to be the ideal size for survivalist groups. What about repopulation? Okay, you’d need a bigger group for that, but if you start with 7-8 and they form the leadership of a community made up of survivors who find them…

We spent all night doing it, Our smartphones still had reception, so we could look up facts, locations, pricing, storage, shelf life of foods, the most common ammo type in the state, what crops would be best, what skills you’d want people to have, and how would you arrange in advance for people with those skills to join you? Of course we didn’t think there was any chance there’d be a zombie apocalypse, and we certainly couldn’t have predicted what actually killed the world. We were just goofing around.

But Jim?

Jim was taking notes.

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

Precog Multiclass ThemeType (for Starfinder)

Character concepts don’t always fit neatly into just one character class. Sometimes you want to play a precognitive who has also studied diplomacy, a spy who has studied just enough entropy manipulation to consider it one more tool in her toolbox, or a soldier with nanites flooding through their system. Starfinder offers three broad tools for adjusting a character to fit such concepts—themes (to represent background training), archetypes (to represent a different path than a typical member of a class), and multiclassing (to represent training in more than one role). Generally exactly the right balance of those options can make nearly any character concept work.

But it can take a lot of effort.

Maybe, if they were all blended into one definitive all-encompassing option, a broad range of new character concepts could be made easier and faster to write up. A way to indicate that a character has been working to add a second career to their primary training for most of their life, and plans to continue to blend the things represented by multiclassing, theme, and archetype. Something that takes some of the advantages of multiclassing, and places them in the slots of additional abilities normally granted by themes and archetypes. In short, a Multiclass ThemeType.

MultiClass ThemeTypes

A Multiclass ThemeType gives you some abilities of a second character class, but counts as both your theme (preventing you from gaining any other theme, and requiring you to select the ThemeType at 1st level) and as an archetype for the first class you take levels in (requiring you to give up some abilities of your primary class, as normal for an archetype). You can pick up the pdf of multiclass ThemeTypes for all the classes from the Core Rulebook at DriveThruRPG, and there are articles on this blog giving ThemeTypes for all the new classes from COM. So, this week, we’ll look at the precog class from Starfinder Galactic Magic.

Multiclass ThemeType abilities marked with (Theme) occur when you reach the listed character level, regardless of what classes you have taken levels in. Those marked (Archetype) are gained only when you reach the listed level in the first character class you take levels in. However, it is also recommended that characters with a Multiclass ThemeType not be allowed to also use normal multiclassing rules (in which case the character’s character level and class level will always match).

A character cannot take class levels in the class that matches their Multiclass ThemeType.

(Art by rolffimages)

Precog ThemeType

Whether from careful study of esoteric arts, exposure to strange 5th-dimensional crystals, being the only survivor of an alternate reality that was culled, or through some other means, you gain glimpses of the future itself and have access to eldritch chronal energies.

Theme Knowledge (Ex, Theme, 1st Level): At first level, select one anchor from the precog class feature of the same name. You gain its focal paradox. You have a single precog paradox per day, which you can use for any of the options available to a 1st level precog.

Minor Precognition (Sp, Archetype, 2nd Level): Select one 1st level precog spell. You can cast this spell once per day. Select two 0-level precog spells. You can cast these spells at will. Your caster level for all precog spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType is equal to your character level, and you use your key ability score for all calculations that normally draw on the precog’s key ability score.

Basic Precognition (Sp, Archetype, 4th Level): Select two 1st level precog spells. You have two 1st-level precog spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 1st-level precog spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 1st level spell you gained from minor precognition. Also select a third 0-level precog spell. You can cast this spell at will.

Chromatic Defense (Theme, 6th Level): You gain the chromatic defense class feature of a precog, but can only use it on yourself.

Intermediate Precognition (Sp, Archetype, 6th Level): Select one 2nd level precog spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Advanced Precognition (Sp, Archetype, 9th Level): Select two 2nd level precog spells. You have two 2nd-level precog spell slots per day you can use for any combination of the 2nd-level precog spells gained from this Multiclass ThemeType. This replaces the 2nd level spell you gained from intermediate precognition.

Minor Temporal Anomaly (Theme, 12th Level): You gain a second paradox each day. Select one temporal anomaly from the list available to 2n- level precogs. You gain this temporal anomaly, using your character level as your precog level, and using your key ability score or key ability score modifier in place of any the ability score or ability score modifier listed for any calculations.

Greater Precognition (Sp, Archetype, 12th Level): Select one 3rd level precog spell. You can cast this spell once per day.

Major Temporal Anomaly (Theme, 18th Level): You gain a third paradox each day, and the paradoxical acceleration precog class feature. Select one temporal anomaly from the lists available to 8th-level precogs. You gain this temporal anomaly, using your character level as your precog level, and using your key ability score or key ability score modifier in place of any the ability score or ability score modifier listed for any calculations.

Full Precognition (Sp, Archetype 18th): You replace all your precog spells gained from archetype powers of this Multiclass ThemeType with 4 0-level spells known, 4 1st-level spells known, 3 2nd-level spells known, 2 3rd-level spells known, and one 4th-level spell known. You can cast the 0-level spells at will, and have three 1st-level spell slots, two 2nd-level spell slots, two the connection 3rd-level spell slots, and one 4th-level spell slot.

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


Converting PF1 spells to Starfinder: Revealing Emoji and Scrying Emoji

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

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

(Art by tigatelu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Converting PF1 spells to Starfinder: Beguiling Emoji and Pain Emoji

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

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

(Art by film.design)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Art by voinsveta)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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