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Role Relics, Pt. 2

Role relics are magic items designed to encourage specific roles or playstyles (perhaps given to children who enter a fantasy world on a roller coaster and each are given a single relic to help them out). I did two already in Part One.

Since these are designed to be character-defining relics that stand outside normal rules, I’ve written only sketches of how they work, so they are compatible with most d20-evolved RPGs. A GM who wants to fill out details like item level and school of magic are free to do so, but the core idea here is to offer legendary items that make it easier for a character to fulfill one classic heroic role.

Cloak of Stealth
Once activated (which can be done as part of any other action taken on the wearer’s turn), as long as the character wearing the cloak takes no actions other than movement, they can make a Stealth check against all senses and detection abilities of any creature. For these Stealth checks, the wearer rolls twice and takes the best result. Each activation lasts no more than one minute, and the cloak then cannot be used again for ten minutes.

(Art by Grandfailure)

Energy Bow
The energy bow automatically creates magic arrows when used for attacks, and does not require any ammunition. These arrows are Force effects, and do untyped pure magic damage. They ignore false images of a target, and any magic or technological effect that creates a flat chance of missing even if a an attack roll is successful.

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Role Relics, Pt. 1

I’ve just been thinking about what magic items designed to encourage specific roles or playstyles (perhaps given to children who enter a fantasy world on a roller coaster and each are given a single relic to help them out) might look like.

Two came to mind immediately. I’m vague on details like cost and such, because these are designed to be character-defining relics that stand outside normal rules. And these should work for most d20-evolved RPGs.

(Art by Андрей Трубицын)

Shield of Tanking

While you have this shield equipped, any foe that can see you and has line of effect to you, but has not attacked you in this combat or forced you to make a saving throw, takes a -2 penalty to attacks and against anyone else and the save DC of effects against others is reduced by 2. The first time a foe attacks you, if they do damage, you take half damage. If a foe’s first attack against you also attacks other targets or forces them to make saving throws, the foe does not take the shield of tanking’s penalties against those targets.

Staff of Acrobatics

Any round in which you make no attack rolls and do not force anyone to make a saving throw, you roll twice and take the better result on all Strength- and Dexterity-based skills based on movement or maneuvering (such as Acrobatics, Athletics, Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Swim, and so on), and gain a +4 bonus to your AC and all saving throws. If you fail such a check, and it was to get you to some location you could have arrived at through flight, the check is treated as a success, but your turn ends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what do I mean by spitballing ideas?

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

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

RWW Glass Eye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hex Rounds and Wandshells for Starfinder

Yesterday we presented spell guns and runethrowers, magic devices that can produce spell effects from battery power. The next obvious question is — can you have magic bullets that produce spell effects?

Of course you can. Presenting: Magic Muntions!

Magic Bullet
(art by Yuri Hoyda)

Magic Munitions                     Item       Credit
Item                                            Level      Cost       Bulk
Hex round, 0-level spell          2             140           L
Wandshell, 0-level spell          3             325           L
Hex round, 1st-level spell       5             450           L
Wandshell, 1st-level spell       7             750           L
Hex round, 2nd-level spell     8          1,400           L
Wandshell, 2nd-level spell    11         3,250           L
Hex round, 3rd-level spell     11         3,700           L
Hex round, 4th-level spell      14       10,600          L
Wandshell, 3rd-level spell      15       17,500          L
Hex round, 5th-level spell      17       36,650          L
Wandshell, 4th-level spell      19       81,000          L
Hex round, 6th-level spell      20     112,800          L

Magic munitions allow you to load a one-shot, consumable version of a spell into a weapon. Any spell with a casting time of no more than 1 standard action, that does not require Resolve Points or materials with a cost, can be turned into a magic munition. Activating a magic munition is a standard action, and when you do so the weapon does not have its normal effect (and does not use any ammo or battery beyond the magic munition). The magic effect normally originates as if you had cast the spell. If the spell has a range of touch, you can instead target any legal target within the weapon’s reach of first range increment. The caster level for the spell effect is equal to the magic munition;s item level.

A hex round can only be fired from a spell gun or runethrower able to cast a spell of the same or higher level, or a weapon with the spellthrower fusion. A wandshell can be loaded into any weapon. As magic munitions these ammos can be loaded into any ranged or melee weapon, even ones not designed for physical ammunition or that are normally totally unpowered. Loading a single he round or wandshell into a weapon is a move action. A weapon can’t have more total item levels worth of magic muntions loaded into it at a time than its own item level. Thus a item level 9 laser pistol with the spellthrowing fusion could have one hex round with a 2nd-level spell, or three wandshells with 0-level spells.

Magic munitions not loaded into a weapon are easily identified as magical at a glance, of even by their unusually heavy heft. Most have the spell loaded into them carefully noted on their casing. You cannot craft a a magic munition of a specific spell unless you can cast that spell, or have someone able to cast the spell available to do so when you create the munition.

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Spellguns and Runethrowers for Starfinder

As soon as you say a setting has spellcasters and blasters, there’s a group of players who want to have spellguns. And that’s fair. After all there are numerous examples of spell-generating hybrid technology in science-fantasy fiction (my specific inspirations come from The Irregular at Magic High School and Outlaw Star, but there are many more examples).

But Starfinder doesn’t really have anything like that. There are spell ampules and spell gems… but those are 1-shot consumables, not the spellguns we want.  So I was going to post a few examples of spell guns last Friday… and realized I hadn’t written how how I figured the item level and cost of such things. So I delayed the article to today, and you get a enarly-double-length Monday article that both shows the design process I used, AND presents two sets of finished spellcasting weapons.

So how do we figure out the effective item level of a device that can cast detect magic using a battery, and how do we scale that against a baleful polymorph rifle?

Well, let’s start with something we CAN easily scale — damage. If we can find a relationship between damaging spells at each level and weapons that are roughly as effective, and spells of each level have roughly the same impact on the game as one another, that should allow us to set item levels for devices that create other spells effects of each level.

It’s best if we pick a few spells that come as close as possible to JUST doing damage at each level. We can then figure out a rough benchmark for the typical weaponlike damage each of these things does, looking back at our benchmarks for weapon damage. There’s some subjectivity there of course, but in general we can compare these to damage from weapons (treating a save and attack rolls to be about even in terms of damage-per-round options, and treating area or ongoing attacks as being 10-20% more damage for benchmark purposes) to tell us roughly what item level weapon does comparable damage.

We want two effective item levels (EIL) for each spell — one taken from the closest equivalent longarm or advanced melee weapon (representing an item used by people skilled in combat), and one taken from the closest 1-handed basic melee weapon or small arm (representing an item use by those unspecialized in combat). Those are listed with a slash as skilled/unspecialized. We’ll go into why we want those separate numbers in a moment.

Technomancer spells have the following exemplar damage spells at each spell level:

Energy Ray (1d3, single target EAC ranged)  EIL – 0/1

Jolting Surge (4d6, single target EAC melee) EIL – 12/15
Overheat (2d8 energy in a cone, save for half) EIL – 11/15

Caustic Conversion (4d6 energy, single target EAC ranged, ongoing damage) EIL – 13/18

Arcing Surge (10d6 energy, line, save for half) EIL – 19/24
Explosive Blast (9d6 energy, radius, save for half) EIL –  19/24

Since we already hitting item level 19+ by 3rd level spells, it’s pretty clear 4th-level and higher spells would be beyond the scope of even 20th level equipment.

So, erring on the side of items that duplicate spells skewing up at lower item levels (as we not the benchmark damage for low-level weapons is a bit off, a weirdness the designers accepted so no one would actually have a weapon that did 1 point of damage), and standardizing the curve between skilled and unspecialized, we come up with the following typical item level for something that can reliable reproduce magic effects:

EIL by Spell Level
0-Level Spells: 3/8
1st-Level Spells: 11/16
2nd-Level Spells: 13/18
3rd-Level Spells: 19/24

We know from the price difference in spell gems vs spell ampules that giving a spellcaster access to more spells from their spell list is cheaper than allowing anyone to use that magic effect, so let’s use the same logic here. The lower “skilled” EIL is what we use for “Spell Guns,” which we define as only being able to be used by a character who can cast spells of the same spell level and class list as the one reproduced by the spell gun. So a microbot assault spell gun can only be used by a technomancer who can cast 2nd level spells.

The higher-level EIL we’ll use for Runethrowers. They function just like Spell Guns, except they can be used by anyone.

Also, we’ll use Small Arms proficiency for Spell Guns (so any spellcasting PC can use them), and Longarms for Runethrowers. Of course attack rolls won’t matter for all spell effects, but we’ll rule that any nonproficiency penalty you take with with a Runethrower impacts both any related save DCs, and reduces the Runethrower’s caster level.

We’re also going to ban any spells that require Resolve Points, have a casting time greater than 1 action, or require an experience material mentioned in the spell description. Otherwise each item casts a spell and works like a spell-like ability with a caster level equal to the item level, and all decisions made by whoever pulls the trigger.

So, borrowing some typical costs and battery usages from appropriate items:

Small Arms

SPELL GUNS                    Item     Credit      Spell
Name                              Level    Cost         Level   Battery  Usage
Spell Gun, Apprentice        3         1,500       0           20            2
Spell Gun, Mage               11       26,000       1           40            4
Spell Gun, Arcanist           13        52,000       2           80            8
Spell Gun, Archmage        19      600,000       3         100          10Spell Gun by info at nextmars dot com
(art by


RUNETHROWERS                 Item     Credit      Spell
Name                                    Level    Cost         Level   Battery  Usage
Runethrower, Neophyte       8          10,000       0           40            4
Runethrower, Warlock         16       180,000      1           80            8
Runethrower, Theurge         18       400,000      2         100            10Spell Rifle by info at nextmars dot com
(art by

Runethrower (neophyte, Warlock, Theurge)
A runethrower is a hybrid weapon that contains a single spell of the listed level. It can convert energy from a battery into the energy needed for that spells, using a rune embedded within the weapon to provide all the eldritch control needed to create magic effects.
Only spells that can be cast in a single action or reaction can be placed in a runethrower (and always use a standard action to activate), and it must not have any Resolve Point cost or require any material with a cost (as noted in the spell description). A runethrower’s caster level is equal to its item level, and any decisions that need to be made when it creates a spell effect are decided by the user.
A runethrower can normally only have a single spell added into it. That spell can be changed to another spell of the same level by anyone with the ranks needed to craft the runethrower, at half the cost of creating a new runethrower. A runethrower can also have a additional spells of the same or lower level placed within it as Weapon Fusions (at the normal fusion cost, though it cannot be transferred from another weapon). Each weapon fusion of this type is treated as a weapon fusion with a level equal to 5 + the level of spell it contains. If a runethrower has multiple spells, the user decides which one to use each time it is activated.
Any penalty to attack rolls a character takes applies to a runethrower’s save DC, and if a character is nonproficient, that penalty also applies to the ruenthrower’s caster level when they use it.

Spell Guns (Apprentice, mage, Arcanist, Archmage)
A spell gun is a hybrid weapon that contains a single spell of the listed level. It can convert energy from a battery into the energy needed for that spells similar to a runethrower, but rather than have an internal rune that provides the directions to create a spell effect, requires an eldritch spark from the user to initiatie this conversion. Thus a character can only use a spell gun if they are of a class and level able to cast the spell contained within the spell gun (though it need not actually be a spell known).
Spell guns otherwise follow the rules for runethrowers.

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Keepsakes and Baubles in Really Wild West (for Starfinder)

The Really Wild West intentionally doesn’t have as broad a range of consumables that are easily available to PCs. Unless someone takes the Mad Genius or Wonder Worker genre feats, most consumables beyond dynamite are available only as treasure. That reduces a PC’s ability to dip into a pool of resources when the going gets rough, and that can make life more difficult than the setting intends.

That’s where keepsakes and baubles come in.

In a world where magic is real, spiritualists can read minds, and Martians literally invaded from another world, when your grandmother tells you to keep hold of the holy symbol she had the day she outran a werewolf, or you narrowly avoid death right after finding a lucky penny on the sidewalk, or you discover feeling the weight of your book of proverbs from Ubar in your coat pocket keeps your calm, you take those things seriously.

Is it magic? Positive theosophic vibrations? Divine blessing? A boost to morale? Who knows, but you are holding on to your keepsakes just in case.

RWW Keepsakes

(art by Poltavska)

A keepsake gives a character a new way to spend Resolve Points. Unless it says otherwise, a keepsake’s use is triggered by a specific event, it never requires an action, it can only be done if the keepsake is on your person, it requires you expend 1 Resolve Point, and once you use a keepsake you cannot use any keepsake again until you spend a RP to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest. Many keepsakes require conditions that may not be obvious to a player. If you attempt to use a keepsake when its conditions have not been met, you do not expend the Resolve Point (or loose the bauble, see below)

A bauble is works like a keepsake (including the limitation on how often you can use keepsakes), but using it does not require a Resolve Point. However, once used, a bauble breaks.

Several keepsakes allow you to make a “boosted reroll.” This is a reroll where if the d20 result on the second roll is 1-10, you add ten to the final value. You always take the second result of a boosted reroll.

Every PC starts with one keepsake of their choice. You can pick up other keepsakes and baubles as the campaign progresses, as they are fairly common and may be treasure, payment or loot.

There also exist relics, which work like keepsakes but are much more powerful. relics are generally the focus of entire adventures, and sought by numerous powerful groups.

These are the categories of keepsakes a PC may begin with, each with a few examples (though a PC may select another form). Other types may also exist.

RWW Scarab Coin

Emblem of Knowledge: [Book of Scientific Learning, medal of an appropriate saint, Science Agent badge, compass] Gain a boosted reroll on any failed skill check to recall knowledge.

Holy Symbol: [Symbol of any religion or faith] Gain a boosted reroll on any failed saving throw against an effect with the evil descriptor, or magic effect from a creature with the evil descriptor.

Icon of Health: -[Serpent medallion, Rod of Asclepius, red crescent, bottle of tonic] Gain a boosted reroll on a failed Fortitude save.

Icon of Rationality: [Book of Aristotle, scarab, class ring, mantra] Gain a boosted reroll on a failed Will save.

Icon of Safety: -[Eye of Horus, appropriate saint’s medal, the Yellow Sign, Seal of Solomon] Gain a boosted reroll on a failed Reflex save.

Lucky Charm: [4-leaf clover, lucky penny, rabbits foot, deck of cards, dice] Gain a boosted reroll on any attack, save, or skill check when you rolled a natural 1.

Icon of Grace: [Swam medallion, jaguar medallion, blue ribbon, bone pistol grips] Gain a boosted reroll on a failed Reflex save.

Not only is Really Wild West growing again, it’s starting to get its own art! Obviously that takes money, so if you want to see more of it, you can throw a couple of dollars a month into my Patreon!

Halidoms: Relics of the Unburned World for GammaFinder (Part 2)

Okay, we’re still discussing Halidoms, for GammaFinder! We introduced the concept in yesterday’s article, and now we start looking at game rules.

PA The Gray

Halidom Game Rules

Halidoms are a form of item that come without instructions. The GM can replace 25% of all treasure given out with Halidoms, though they are most common as Moderate and Major items.

The good news for layers is that if you find a Halidom, getting it to work gets you a scaling item. A halidom upgrades itself as you gain levels (normally once every 5 levels, based on when a version of roughly the same item is available with a higher item level). The base news is, you may blow yourself up trying to figure out how to use it.

Halidom Key Skills

Every Halidom has a key skill that is the primary way it was designed to be interfaced with. In 70% of cases this is Computers, Engineering, Life Science, Mysticism, or Physical Science. In 20% of cases, it’s Culture, Diplomacy, Medicine, or Sleight of Hand. And in 10% of cases, it can be literally any other skill. That said, take it easy on Halidoms with Profession as their key skill–there are a lot of different Profession options, and no group can possibly cover them all. On the other hand, a quantum knife that keys of Profession (cook) is both reasonable and, if we are being honest with ourselves, funny. (I like the idea of “Soup’s On!” as a battle cry…)

A GM may pick the skill to match either the form of function of the Halidom, if desired. For example, a laser pistol that takes the form of a small remote control steering wheel (which is used to guide a targeting dot like a flying remote, with a gear shift to fire the weapon) might have Engineering (for the laser weapon aspect), Physical Science (for the general laws dictating how such a device works ), or Piloting (for the actual interaction with the device’s steering mechanism).

On the other hand, it might interact with Culture (to recognize the Unburned World toy name brand and marketing), Acrobatics (because you have to twist and turn the device to make its various functions work), or Bluff (because it constantly asks if you have parental approval to use it without the safety systems engaged).

A GM can also just roll on the table below to determine a Halidom’s Key Skill.

Roll 1d100 
01-14 Computers
15-28 Engineering
29-42 Life Science
43-56 Mysticism
57-70 Physical Science
71-75 Culture
76-80 Diplomacy
81-85 Medicine
85-90 Sleight of Hand
91 Acrobatics
92 Athletics
93 Bluff
94 Disguise
95 Intimidate
96 Perception
97 Piloting
98 Profession (Pick one at random)
99 Sense Motive
100 Survival

PA Electroflies

Discovery Checks

A Halidom does not come with instructions, and it doesn’t work in a way that is obvious to adventurers of the GammaFinder World. Even if it looks like a gun, acts like a gun, and has a trigger, a Halidom gun may require you to think a mantra in praise to the Saint of Bullets before you pull the trigger, or might have a palmlock that requires you to fake only having 3 fingers, or might only work when held sideways.

And, of course, it might exactly like the serum of healing that requires you to place the gunlike object against your own thigh and pull the trigger.

There were reasons for all these odd things to exist, and they made sense to the society of the Unburned World. But those reasons were based on philosophies and conditions that are in many cases inconceivable to heroes of the world as it exists now, and the factors that caused such unusual designs are long-lost to the Chasm of History.

When a character first encounters a Halidom, they can make skill checks to try to determine its Key Skill. The base DC for any such check is 15 + 1.5x the Halidom’s item level. Any skill that is NOT a Halidom’s key skill has a -5 penalty to all checks regarding the Halidom.

Until a Key Skill is identified, all characters can do it pick a skill, and use it to interact with the Halidom. This can be done once an hour, unless a side effect deactivates the Halidom for a time. You cannot intentionally activate a Halidom until you make enough Identification results to gain that knowledge.

Halidom Interaction Skill Checks
Beat DC by 10. Make a Identification roll.
Beat DC by 5. Identify that if skill being is Key Skill. DC lowered by 1.
Meet DC. Identify if skill being used is Key Skill.
Fail DC by 4 or less. Minor side-effect.
Fail DC by 5 to 9. Minor side-effect. All DCs increase by 1 until Key Skill is identified.
Fail DC by 10 or More: Major side-effect.

PA Robot

Identification Rolls
Roll 1d4. If you get a result you already know, you get the first result of a higher value you haven’t gotten yet.
1. Learn Item Level
2. Learn Item Function (Small Arm, Upgrade, Computer, and so on)
3. Learn Key Skill’s ability score
4. Learn Key Skill. +1 to all future rolls (cumulative with getting this result multiple times)
5. Learn a hapahazard activation. (Can activate Halidom, but suffer a minor effect when doing so unless you succeed at a Fortitude or Reflex save, DC 10 + Halidom’s item level). +1 to all future rolls (cumulative with getting this result multiple times)
6. Halidom mastered, can be used normally.

Minor Side Effects
Roll 1d6.
1. Item changes Key Skill. Any activation is haphazard (as 5, above) until Key Skill is identified.
2. Take damage of a random physical type, 1 point per item level.
3. Take damage of a random energy type, 2 points per item level.
4. Weird discharge. You are sickened for 1 hour per item level.
5. Weird discharge. You are confused for 1 round per 2 item levels.
6. Discharge. You are targeted by the item for its normal function (if it cannot affect targets, nothing happens).

PA Explosion

Major Side Effects
Major side effects function as a wonder grenade, but the area is a radius with a number of feet equal to the Halidom’s item level, rounded down to the nearest 5 feet. If that is less than 5, it only effect’s the triggering character.

A Request
I now depend on my Patreon for more of my income and support than I ever expected to. If you find any value in my blog posts or videos, I could use help with the Patreon. If you can spare a few bucks a month, it’s a huge help. If not, even just sharing and linking to my blogs, videos, and the Patreon itself is a huge help that just takes a moment of your time.

Thanks, everyone.

Halidoms: Relics of the Unburned World for GammaFinder (Part 1)

I introduced GammaFinder, a post-apocalypse campaign hack for Starfinder, yesterday. The response was… positive. 🙂

So, now I am exploring what kinds of rules we can add to that simple framework to help bring the PA flavor to a GammaFinder campaign. We begin with halidoms… which are going to need to be split into two articles. Here’s Part One.

PA Vault

The Unburned World

No one is sure what happened to create the GammaFinder World. Some say it was a war, fought with quantum reassignment projectors, x-ray-pumped lasers, and boson bombs. Others think there was a Great Disalignment, when magic flooded into the world, dragons awoke, demons rose, and common citizens turned into trolls, orcs, kasatha, and wizards. Other theories include a genetic virus, the Gray Death, luddite cults, social anarchy, and even a rogue comet. The records of the time of the Burning are muddled, contradictory, and confused, as if a half-dozen worlds got shoved together into a single shared disaster.

The Chasm of History

History, in short, has a Chasm. On this side, the GammaFinder World.  Before it, the Unburned World. And in the middle… anarchy, pain, horror, and disagreement. What is certain is that before the rise and fall of the great cities of Alpha and Beta, there was a very different place, able to do things no one can conceive of now.


There are… things… left over from the Unburned World. Or at least, from the time of the Chasm, if not the world before. Objects. Strange devices that use super-science, eldritch powers, or some combination of the two to create effects no one in the GammaFinder World can duplicate. They are often the thing that allows a town to survive in a harsh terrain, grant a petty warlord his power of metal men, or make cursed places seen as vaults of wonder and horror.

These are sometimes called relics, fragments, antiquaries, or crytobjects. But for whatever reason, the most common term for these Unburned Icons is “halidoms.”


PA Toy

A halidom can look like… anything. Some are straightforward–a sword hilt which can project a sunblade. A vial of liquid you drink. A talking teddy bear which informs you of the ill intent of nearby creatures. Others are obtuse. A cube made of 27 smaller cubes which slide and shift into different configurations. A gnarled knot of roots and vines that are never observed to move, but constantly seem to be in different shapes. A tiny metal sphere with incorporeal lights orbiting it.

The problem is, form does not seem to follow function. A sword hilt may project a sunblade… or it maybe designed to be shoved into a rock that forms a mouth that gives medical advice. A vial of glowing liquid may be meant to be drunk, or it may hold the soul of a cryptowizard that casts one random technomancer spell a day. A spoon may full a bowl with soup, or it may project a sunblade.

A GM wanting a jumping-off point for the appearance of a halidom can roll 1d10 and consult the table below. It’s important to note that players don’t get to know what you rolled–if a haildom looks like a gun, that could be because its a kind of gun and you rolled a 1, or it could be a computer, and you rolled a 5.

  1. Typical appearance for its function (a gun looks like a gun)
  2. Representational appearance for its function (a gun looks like stone with a gun-shaped rune on it)
  3. Appears to be a puzzle with no link to its function
  4. Appears to be a toy
  5. Appears to be a typical appearance for an unrelated function (a gun that looks like a vial of serum)
  6. Appears to be a shifting mass of some specific material (a gun that looks like a ball of wires with tiny lights traveling along them)
  7. Representational appearance unrelated to its function (a gun that looks like a holy symbol)
  8. Appearance of a household object unrelated to its appearance (a gun that looks like spoon).
  9. Appearance of an item of apparel with some hint of its function (a gun that looks like a glove with a barrel on the wrist)
  10. Appearance of an item of apparel with no hint of its function (a gun that looks like a belt)

PA Engine

Most denizens of the GammaFinder World don’t risk trying to determine the function of a halidom once they realize what it is. But PCs are made of sterner (or dumber) stuff. So they tend to… experiment.

We’ll get into the rules for interacting with a halidom tomorrow.

A Request

I now depend on my Patreon for more of my income and support than I ever expected to. If you find any value in my blog posts or videos, I could use help with the Patreon. If you can spare a few bucks a month, it’s a huge help. If not, even just sharing and linking to my blogs, videos, and the Patreon itself is a huge help that just takes a moment of your time.

Thanks, everyone.


Homebrew Relic: The Eye of Chanokh

I ran into this note recently from 2013. It’s a relic I wrote for a Pathfinder First Edition game (using the Relics of the Godlings rules), for my wife’s “Daybreak” campaign.

I thought people might enjoy seeing stuff my friends and I homebrewed with.

Eye of Chanokh – The Sixth Lock

The Eye of Chanokh is a gleaming ring of layered gold wire that is bent and twisted into sigils of summoning and control, forming an almost lacelike pattern. Set in the wire is a bright emerald which shines with an internal light each time the wearer casts a conjuration (summoning) spell.

Legend claims that the gem is truly a fraction of a star that forms part of the 8-star elven constellation of Chanokh the Warcalled, a mote of the star forged into the form of an arcane gem when this relic was created. Elvish myth presents Chanokh as a warrior-wizard who summoned arcane armies he commanded as their general, and who eventually learned to summon creatures from the stars themselves. He was a great defender of elven lands, and a proponent of the effectiveness of knowledge and cunning over brute strength. When he died, the star-warriors he had called took him with them into the night sky, creating the constellation that bears his name.

Supposedly the Eye of Chanokh is one of eight great rings of conjuration, which were created to lock away a vast and evil summoning gate (which was created by demons to allow them to invade the world of men). Each of the eight rings is a lock that drains power from this evil gate, allowing the wearers of the rings to augment their conjuration spells with the leached power. As long as the rings are used, the gate is constantly weakened and can never become a threat.

Abilities By Character Level

Level 1: Once per day when you conjure creatures with a summoning spell, they gain a +1 enhancement bonus to their existing natural armor bonus to AC.

Level 2: Each creature you conjure with summoning spells gains a +1 enhancement bonus to its existing natural armor bonus to AC.

Level 3: Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains +1 resistance bonus to saving throws.

Level 4: Once per day you may cast a conjuration (summoning) spell with a casting time of 1 round as a standard action. The summoned creature arrives immediately, and may take an action immediately.

Level 5: Once per day when you cast a conjuration (summoning) spell that summons a random number of creatures, you may roll twice to see how many creatures are summoned and take the better of the two results.
Additionally, you are able to speak to and understand all the creatures you summon with conjuration (summoning) spells.

Level 6: Each creature you conjure with any summoning spells gains a +2 enhancement bonus to its existing natural armor bonus to AC.

Level 7: Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains +2 resistance bonus to saving throws.

Level 8: You may now cast a conjuration (summoning) spell with a casting time of 1 round as a standard action twice per day.

Level 9: You may now roll twice to see how many creatures are summoned by a conjuration (summoning) spell twice per day.

Level 10: When you conjure creatures with a summoning spell, they gain elemental resistance 10 for one element of your choice.

Level 11: Each creature you conjure with summoning spells gains a +3 enhancement bonus to its existing natural armor bonus to AC.

Level 12: Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains +3 resistance bonus to saving throws.

Level 13: You may now cast a conjuration (summoning) spell with a casting time of 1 round as a standard action an unlimited number of times per day.

Level 14: The elemental resistance against an element of your choice gained by creatures you summon with a conjuration spell increases to 20.

Level 15: You may now roll twice to see how many creatures are summoned by a conjuration (summoning) spell three times per day.

Level 16: Each creature you conjure with summoning spells gains a +3 enhancement bonus to its existing natural armor bonus to AC.

Level 17: Each creature you conjure with any summon spell gains +3 resistance bonus to saving throws.

Level 18: The elemental resistance against an element of your choice gained by creatures you summon with a conjuration spell increases to 30.

Level 19: Three times per day you may cast a conjuration (summoning) spell of 1st-3rd level as a swift action.

Level 20: Three times per day when you cast a conjuration (summoning) spell that summons a random number of creatures, you may choose to receive the maximum number. You may make this decision after seeing how many creature the spell would have randomly produced.

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Starfinder: Make Some Noise

We continue our look at some of the weirder classic magic items, and how they can be updated to the Starfinder Roleplaying Game.

But first, an aside.

All Starfinder content offered here is third-party material provided under the Open Gaming License and the Starfinder Compatability License. It is not official. It is not available for use in Starfinder Society organized play. It’s not even in its final form. It’s just fun thought experiments that may, or may not, ever show up in a rogue Genius Games product someday.

Air-Horn of Interruption
Hybrid Item
Level: Varies (see text)     Cost: Varies (see text)
Bulk: L

Air-horns of interruption can be found at various item levels, from level 7 and up. They have the same price as the cheapest armor upgrade of the same level from the Starfinder Core Rulebook. When the air-horn is held, you can ready a standard action to use an air-horn of interruption to use against a creature when it next casts a spell. This is a purely defensive action, and the readied action preempts the target’s action if it attempts to cast a spell or use a spell-like ability. When the readied action goes off, you make a ranged attack against the target’s EAC. If your attack hits you do 1 point of damage, and the target loses the spell (and its spell slot). Once you have successfully caused a target to lose a spell with this device, it is immune to the air-horn of interruption for 24 hours.

More Star Magic

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Even More Star Options

There are tons of new PC options for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game in the Starfarer’s Companionavailable at DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store!