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

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

Let’s get started with Invocations.

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

Fantasy warrior girl

(Art by Maxim B)

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Dragon Warlock
(Art by ratpack 223)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s time to tackle a Patron.

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

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

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

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

Tiefling Warlock

(Art by Brian Brinlee)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1e?

So, 4e had a really interesting class, the warlock. I played a few, and enjoyed them. I kinda wanted to make a pathfinder st ed version, but since nothing in 4e was covered by the Open Game License, I couldn’t.

Now 5e also has a warlock, and it IS covered by the OGL. That means I could legally take the OGL ideas fo the 5e warlock, and adapt them for any other OGL game. I might well do this for Pathfinder 2e or Starfinder at some point, but I am going to start by looking at a Pf1 version.

Let’s look at what the class table and proficiencies and such might look like.

Warlockess

(Art by Ratpack223)

Alignment: Though they are often seen as dire and untrustworthy, a warlock may be of any alignment.

Hit Die: d8

Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp (average 140 gp.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gp or less.

Class Skills

The warlock’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Knowledge (planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Use Magic Device (Cha)

Skill Ranks Per Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: The Warlock
                                             Base Atk                                   Spells       Spell     Max Spell    
Level  Class Features       Bonus  Fort    Ref  Will      Known     Slots     Level
1st       Cantrips, Patron      +0         +2       +0       +2         2                  1           1st
2nd     Invocation                +1         +3        +0      +3         3                  2          1st
3rd     Invocation                 +2         +3        +1      +3         4                  2           1st
4th     Pact Boon                   +3         +4        +1      +4         5                  2          1st
5th     Invocation                  +3        +4        +1      +4          6                 2          2nd
6th     Patron gift                  +4        +5        +2       +5         7                 2          2nd
7th     Invocation                  +5        +5        +2       +5         8                 2          2nd
8th     Patron gift                  +6        +6        +2       +6         9                  2         2nd
9th     Invocation                  +6        +6        +3       +6         10               2          3rd
10th   Patron gift                  +7        +7        +3       +7         10                2          3rd
11th   Invocation                  +8        +7        +3       +7         11               3          3rd
12th   Patron Gift                 +9        +8         +4       +8         11               3          3rd
13th   Invocation                  +9        +8        +4       +8          12              3          4th
14th   Patron Gift                  +10      +9        +4       +9         12               3          4th
15th   Invocation                  +11      +9         +5       +9         13               3          4th
16th   Patron Gift                  +12      +10      +5       +10       13               3          4th
17th   Invocation                  +12      +10      +5       +10        14               4          5th
18th   Patron Gift                  +13      +11      +6       +11       14               4          5th
19th   Invocation                   +14      +11      +6      +11        15               4          5th
20th   Eldritch Master          +15      +12      +6      +12        15               4          5th

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
A warlock is proficient with all simple weapons and light armor. She can cast warlock spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. Like any other arcane spellcaster, a warlock wearing medium armor, heavy armor, or a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component. A multiclass warlock still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.

So, what do all those class features mean? And why is spell slots a single entry, rather than a whole table like most spellcasters?

Tune in tomorrow to find out!

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

Gamifying Friday the 13th in 4 Game Systems

It’s Friday the 13th, a day long associated with misfortune and evil spirits… and urban legends.

So, what would such a day look like in an RPG? Let’s examine 4 different ideas, in 4 different game systems–Pathfinder 1st and 2nd edition, Starfinder, and 5e.

PF1

Blood Night

On blood night, the moon takes on a dull reddish hue that lasts through the night. Blood night is always in autumn, but exactly what night it occurs is based on a complex set of rules only heirophants really seem to understand. What is known is that when a blood night occurs on the night of a full moon, the bad luck is far worse.

From sundown to sunup, any attack that normally only threatens a critical hit on a natural 20, or 19-20, instead threatens one on an 18-20. Additionally, attack rolls made to confirm critical hits gain a +8 circumstance bonus

PF2

Minotaur’s Moon

When the ancient Cyclops Calendar begins the month of Maze on the week of a new moon, that is the day of the Minotaur’s Moon, when the Bull Man works to kill the small and weak. Goblins, in particular, greatly fear this.

On the Minotaur’s Moon, everyone has Doomed 2.

Starfinder

Which Weird

The kasatha and shobad calendars do not normally line up, being from different worlds with different year durations. But both have a “wyrd” day that is observed in grim reserve, and every few years those days happen to overlap by a period of 11 to 17.5 hours.

During that “which weird,” all Reflex saving throws take a -4 penalty.

5e

Lichgate

When the Imperial Calendar gets a full day off from the Seasonal Calendar, a day must be added to adjust the beginning of Spring. This day is seen as a gate through which evil dead spirits can speak into the world to so discord for one say, and weaken the resolve of heroes, and is known as Lichgate.

On Lichgate, when making a Wisdom saving throw, you roll twice and use the lower result as if you had disadvantage. However, if your unused result is enough to resist the effect, you only suffer the consequences of the failed saving throw for 1 round. After that you shake off the evil spirits that weakened you, and are no longer effected. But if both die rolls are failures, the effect’s duration upon you is doubled.

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One Feat: Four Systems (Allied Spellcaster)

So, obviously, I’ve been working in a lot of different game systems recently. With the 52-in-52 program, I’m developing the same game content for Pathfinder 1st ed, Pathfinder 2nd ed, Starfinder, and 5e.

It’s been a fascinating view of how the different game systems look at game elements that have the same name, but different functions.

For example, feats.

In Pathfinder 1e and Starfinder, feats are cross-character goodies that are generally designed to be optional, and sometimes tie into class design (such as for the fighter and soldier), but not always.

For Pathfinder 2e, feats are the quintessential character ability, and different kinds of feats are crucial to your ancestry, class, and any archetype you take.

For 5e, feats are entirely optional, and if taken come in place of ability score advancements. Each feat is more potent in many ways, but you can make a character with a single feat, or no feats, and no class depends on feats for any part of its core functions.

As an example, we’re going to take a PF1 teamwork feat, and present it (as a non-teamwork feat) in different versions, one for each of the four game systems.

Here’s the original, a PF1 Teamwork feat

Allied Spellcaster (Teamwork)
With the aid of an ally, you are skilled at piercing the protections of other creatures with your spells.
Prerequisite: Caster level 1st.
Benefit: Whenever you are adjacent to an ally who also has this feat, you receive a +2 competence bonus on level checks made to overcome spell resistance. If your ally has the same spell prepared (or known with a slot available if they are spontaneous spellcasters), this bonus increases to +4 and you receive a +1 bonus to the caster level for all level-dependent variables, such as duration, range, and effect.

Here’s a new PF1 version, that isn’t a teamwork feat

ALLIED SPELLCASTER
You can aid an allied spellcaster, adding your magic power to their own.
Prerequisite: Caster level 1st.
Benefit: Whenever you are adjacent to an ally who can cast spells, as a standard action you can expend a spell slot or prepared spell of 1st level or higher to attempt to boost their spellcasting ability. This requires a Spellcraft check, DC 10 + double the level of the spell slot expended. On a successful check, you increase their caster level for the next spell they cast before the beginning of your next round by an amount equal to the level of the spell or spell slot expended.

You can also take eldritch power from a willing adjacent spellcaster to boost the power of your own spells. The allied spellcaster must ready to grant you a spell slot or prepared spell of 1st level of 1st level or higher on your turn. If they do so, you make the same Spellcraft check as a swift action and, if successful, for the next spell you cast this round your caster level is increased by an amount equal to the spell level your ally expended.

*So, that plays with both action economy and resource management, but it lets you play the spellcaster who can work in a group without anyone else having to also have the feat in question.

Here’s the same spell for Starfinder.

ALLIED SPELLCASTER
You can aid an allied spellcaster, adding your magic power to their own.
Prerequisite: Caster level 1st.
Benefit: Whenever you are adjacent to an ally who can cast spells, as a standard action you can expend a spell slot of 1st level or higher to attempt to boost their spellcasting ability. This requires a Mysticism check, DC 10 + triple the level of the spell slot expended. On a successful check, you increase their caster level for the next spell they cast before the beginning of your next round by an amount equal to the level of the spell or spell slot expended. If the spell does damage and does not have a duration, area, or damage calculation based on level, you can instead grant +3 damage per level of spell you expended.

You can also take eldritch power from a willing adjacent spellcaster to boost the power of your own spells. The allied spellcaster takes a standard action to imbue you with energy by expending  a spell slot of 1st level or higher on your turn. If they do so, on your turn you can make the same Mysticism check as part of the action to cast your next spell and, if successful, gain the benefits listed above. If you do not cast a spell within 1 round of being imbued, the additional spell energy is lost.

*That’s very similar, though it makes an adjustment for the fact that Starfinder doesn’t generally have damage affected by caster level and readied actions work differently caused us to make some adjustments.

Here’s a version for 5e.

ALLIED SPELLCASTER
Prerequisite: Caster level 1st or higher
You are skilled at magic manipulatipons. Increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score by 1.
You can cast a spell to boost the effectiveness of an allied spellcaster within 60 feet, rather than its normal effect. If allied spellcaster casts a spell of their own that is no more than one spell level higher on their next turn, they have advantage on any attack roll the spell requires, or one target of their choice has disadvantage on any saving throw the spell requires.
An ally can cast a spell to boost your effectiveness rather than the spell’s normal effect, giving you the same benefit on your next turn.

*Things in 5e are simpler. Like, way simpler. Advantage or disadvantage is 75% of how the game handles things. And they are pretty big bonuses (work out to about a +4 bonus on a d20), so it’s okay that this only applies to spells of a level close to the level you expend.

That said, weaker feats in 5e also give you a +1 to one ability score (since you gave up a +2 to get the feat), which applies here given how circumstantial this is.

Here’s the same feat for PF2

ALLIED SPELLCASTER     FEAT 2
General Skill
Prerequisites: Expert in Arcana, Nature, Occultism or Religion
You can use the aid reaction to assist an adjacent ally when they cast a spell. This requires a successful Arcana, Nature, Occultism or Religion check (you must be expert in the selected skill) with a DC of 20 + double the level of spell the ally is casting. You must expend a spell slot of 1st level or higher, and you gain a bonus to your skill check equal to the level of the spell expended. You grant the ally a +2 circumstance bonus to their attack roll, or a +1 bonus to the save DC of their spell.
An adjacent allied spellcaster can attempt to use the aid reaction when you cast a spell. This works the same way, except you must make the Arcana, Nature, Occultism or Religion check.

*Pf2 uses a universal proficiency system for everything, so a +2 bonus matters as much at 15th level as it does at 5th level. There’s already an aid action which might be usable if a spell required an attack roll, but it’s not clear how it would apply and it certainly won’t boost save DCs. This cut through that, and is a skill feat spellcasters might really appreciate.

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d20 Design Diary (Part 6)

This is the sixth in my series of class-focused d20 Design Diaries. I suspect I only have a couple more posts to go on this topic, but we’ll see how the topics actually shake out (and what kind of feedback I get).

If you followed class design steps in the order I have written about them, we’ve settled on an appropriate and interesting class concept, set up the right class progression tools, made sure we are following (or at least only breaking by intent rather than by accident) the game’s style and etiquette, looked at how many options you want for each level of your class and how that impacts complexity, and discussed spell access and progression.

But we still need to talk about spell lists. Specifically, do you give your new class access to one (or more) existing spell lists, or make a brand-new spell list? And, it turns out, that.s a pretty complex question that depends very much on the game system you are using.

So, you know, let’s start by saying studying what that system does and how it handles those questions.

Also, it’s very important to know if you are building expansions classes that are in addition to a *core* set of pre-existing classes or are building a whole set of classes from scratch. Most of the advice here is directed at the former case. If you are in the latter situation, there may not even be pre-existing spell lists for you to borrow from. In that case you’ll need to make decisions about how many class lists to build from scratch, and the following advice may still be applicable to that decision.

Certainly the more you want a spell list to have a very strong theme tied to the class’s concept, the more you should consider a unique class spell list. The more you want the spell list to interact and grow well with other publisher’s content, the more you should consider using an existing class list.

In Pathfinder 1st edition, classes have access to a hodgepodge of class-specific lists, sharing class lists, and mixing class lists. The bard has its own spell list for example (though the skald later gains access to it as well), while the warpriest just has access to the cleric list (though it gets most spell levels later in its own level progression, when they are less powerful compared to the challenges being faced). Both sorcerers and wizards use the sorcerer/wizard spell list, though it has specific spells only one of the classes can take. Hunters get both druid and ranger spells (and gain access to ranger spells much earlier than rangers do, potentially making them more powerful compared to the challenges faced when you first access them), but inquisitors have a unique spell list.

Counting only official classes, no alternate classes, and only actual spell lists (as opposed to formula lists for alchemists and investigators), by the end of its run Pathfinder 1st d had 16 separate spell classes. On top of that, all of the class spell lists are defined as being arcane, divine, or occult.

In that environment, it seems insane to create a brand new unique class list. First, there are tons of lists with different themes already. Second, each of those lists has been expanded by so many supplements (official and otherwise) that any new lists is either going to fill a small book on its own, or have many fewer options than the 16 existing lists. Further, if someone is adding content from other publishers, those 3pp spells won’t even know to suggest what new spells should be on your unique class spell list.

By the same token, by the time a game has 16 unique spell lists, it’s hard to claim a 17th will be the bridge too far for design weight.

Pathfinder 2nd edition, as a counterexample, has only 4 spell lists. Absolutely every class has access to the arcane, divine, occult, or primal spell list. Some classes can pick what spell list they access based on other class features (such as the sorcerer), and many classes have access to a very small number of “focus spells” unique to their class. This includes both classes with access to a traditional spell list (such as the bards and their occult spells), and classes with no other spell access (such as champions). While it would be possible to build a whole 5th spell list (akashic magic, perhaps, or runic magic), this would likely only make sense if designing multiple classes that accessed it, or perhaps writing class variants of existing classes that accessed your new magic type. However, adding a small number of focus spells to any new spellcasting class, but otherwise tying them to one or more of the 4 existing lists, seems an excellent way to both benefit from that class having unique and flavorful spells of its own (new focus spells) and benefiting from ties to a growing standard spell list that other books and companies can expand. Pathfinfer 2nd ed also has things such as spell rarity which could be used to create “new” spell list options (such as creating a magister class that has access to common spells for multiple lists, but can never gain uncommon or rare spells).

By contrast Starfinder goes the opposite route, and give every spellcaster their own unique spell list.

Starfinder only has 3 official spellcasting classes so far of course, and each also has the same level of spell access and spells/day. That certainly sets an expectation for players that a class focused on spellcasting would likely follow the same path. There are many potential reasons to not go that route (if creating a mechanic/technomancer hybrid class, the Dronemancer, that only had access up to 3rd level spells, it might well make sense for it to have the technomancer spell list), but again the key point is to know what tools are at your disposal, and study how the core game (or similar games, if you are starting from scratch) use them.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th ed also gives each class its own spell list (at least in the Player’s handbook), including the sorcerer and wizard, who shared a spell list when the sorcerer was first introduced in 3rd edition. There is greater variety in both spell access (paladins and rangers only get up to 5th level spells), and how the class uses spells (warlocks and wizards have very different game mechanics dictation how they interact with and use their spells). The larger number of lists makes it more likely that you can match a specific class’s theme with an existing class list or combination of lists, but it also drives home player expectation in much the same way Starfinder does.

As a final note, it’s worth mentioning that whether a game has dozens of class spell lists or just three, d20 games almost always have some basic spells that appear on multiple (or even all) spell lists. the most flavorless and utilitarian spells are often there, from detect magic to light. By the same token, most such games have at least a few types of spells that are kept off specific spell lists, in the tradition of “clerics don’t cast magic missile, wizards don’t heal.”

But honestly, that’s another whole blog post worth of commentary.

PATREON

These Design Diaries are among the most popular of the things I wrote, but they are also the biggest, hardest, and most time-consuming to create. If you want to keep seeing them, I encourage you to join my Patreon. Just a few dollars a month can make the difference between me having the time to tackle these larger, in-depth design articles, and sticking to shorter, simpler topics.

d20 Design Diary (Part 5)

This is the fifth in my series of class-focused d20 Design Diaries. I suspect I only have a couple more posts to go on this topic, but we’ll see how the topics actually shake out (and what kind of feedback I get).

If you followed class design steps in the order I have written about them, there’s one big step left to actually creating your class, even after you settle on an appropriate and interesting concept, set up the right class progression tools, made sure you are following (or at least only breaking by intent rather than by accident) the game’s style and etiquette, and looked at how many options you want for each level of your class and how that impacts complexity.

You still need to design the actual class features, the special abilities you class gets that (at least mostly) others don’t.

I mean, technically you don’t HAVE to give a class features beyond it’s progressions. If you gave a Starfinder class 10 SP and HP/level, all good saving throws, 12 skill points + Int/level, any key ability score, all class skills and weapon and armor proficiencies (and Weapon Specialization as appropriate), and a full attack bonus, it would honestly probably be pretty balanced with no other class features at all.

It would also be boring and flavorless as heck. And I have no idea what concept you’d start with that would lead you to that design. but yes, it COULD be done.

And that does touch on an important element of designing interesting and balanced classes — the more useful things the class gets outside its class features, the less room you have to make its class features useful without making the class overpowered. A 5e barbarian has d12 hit dice, and 2 skill proficiencies (selecting from 6 options) and 5 weapon and armor proficiencies. A fighter has d10 hit dice, and 2 skill proficiencies (selecting from 8 options) and 6 weapon and armor proficiencies. A rogue has d8 hit dice, and 4 skill proficiencies (selecting from 11 options), one tool proficiency, and 2.5 weapon and armor proficiencies. It’s not hard to see that while their proficinecy starting points are different, when combined with their hit dice they all come out on a fairly even playing field, allowing their classes to have equally-useful class features.

One of the biggest and most impactful potential class features is spellcasting. Assuming you are building classes for a game that already has a full set of classes you can use as examples, it’s normally best to stick to the spell progression and acquisition schemes that already exist, unless you feel it’s a severely underdeveloped design space. (Classes with some number of spell-like abilities are a different matter than the spellcasting class feature we are discussing in this article.)

For example, first edition Pathfinder has both spontaneous and prepared spellcasting acquisition, as well as spell lists that go from 1st-4th level, 0-4th level, 0-6th level, and 0-9th level. However, every spontaneous class in Pathfinder with access to a 0-6th level spell list has the same base access to spells known and spell slots per day (though OTHER class features, such as domains or archetypes, can vary their total beyond the simple base). Starfinder, on the other hand, *only* has spontaneous spellcasters with access to 0-6th level spells. While adding a whole new spell progression or access to Pathfinder would likely muddle a crowded field, there’s easily room in Starfinder for class with reduced spell access (perhaps level 0-3 spells).

Wizard with Green Disk Spell

The more spell power a class has, the less room it has for any other options. For example, in all the most popular d20 games classes with the greatest spell access never have the highest Hit Point/health value of classes, or beginning proficiency with all types of armor. This has two significant impacts on their design. First, it means that they generally need to use some of their spell power to bring their defenses up to their best level and, even at that level, it’s generally not as good as the best defenses of the most defense-focused class. Secondly, it means they aren’t as durable without depending on their spells (and even then some classes with major spell access have very little in the way of healing or damage mitigation spells — a 1st edition Pathfinder cleric can heal themselves much more easily than a wizard).

Again, using other classes as benchmarks can be extremely useful for making your first stab at granting spellcasting to a class. In 5th edition D&D, paladins and rangers gain up to 5th level spells, clerics and wizards gain up to 10th level spells, and specific specializations of fighters and rogues get up to 4th level spells. Those benchmarks make it pretty easy to see what kinds of class features, both in terms of scope and utility, a class with each of those options can gain. For example, a great deal of the class features of sorcerers and wizards are focused on their spells–allowing them to be more flexible, used more often, or even just boosted in power. Paladins and rangers however, have very few spell-focused class features, with their class features more likely to actually give them entirely new abilities.

Even once you know how your spellcasting class is going to acquire spells and to what degree, there still another crucial question–what spell list do they use?

We’ll tackle that one next week.

PATREON

These Design Diaries are among the most popular of the things I wrote, but they are also the biggest, hardest, and most time-consuming to create. If you want to keep seeing them, I encourage you to join my Patreon. Just a few dollars a month can make the difference between me having the time to tackle these larger, in-depth design articles, and sticking to shorter, simpler topics.