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Fantasy Folding Navaja Sevillana Blade for Pathfinder

The navaja is one of the first folding blades to gain widespread acceptance as a combat item, starting in regions of Spain, and was used in various eras as an openly carried utility knife, a trusted offensive weapon, a concealed choice for self-defense, and a highwayman’s tool of intimidation. While many different styles of navaja have existed, among the largest is the navaja sevillana, which commonly had a blade at least eight inches long, a locking ratchet, and a long curved handle. The blade was generally razor sharp (and may have evolved from folding straight razors), and when opened the overall length could easily run 16 to 20 inches.

This is a fantasy version of the navaja sevillana, appropriate for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaigns that mix rapiers, firearms, and printing presses. It doesn’t attempt to be a historic representation, and more than the game’s versions of longswords or falchions are, and though inspired by a real-world weapon it is not intended to reflect on any of the social, ethnic, or national groups that have used navajas throughout history.

(Martial) Light Melee Weapons
Name    Cost       Dmg (S) (M)        Crit         Weight  Type      Special
Navaja    50 gp     1d3        1d5*        18-20, x2             1 lb.     S     Deadly, finesse

*Numerous companies, including Impact Miniatures, now make d5 dice, but it you don’t have one (or don’t like them) you can treat this as 1d4+1 (and thus if you have a +1 STR bonus to damage, you’d roll 1d4+2)

Deadly: When you use this weapon to deliver a coup de grace, it gains a +4 bonus to damage when calculating the DC of the Fortitude saving throw to see whether the target of the coup de grace dies from the attack. The bonus is not added to the actual damage of the coup de grace attack.
Finesse: You can use the Weapon Finesse feat (and ability that work with weapon you can use with that feat) with a navaja sevillana.

Navaja Sevillana: If it is folded, you can conceal and draw a concealed navaja sevillana (using Sleight of Hand) in the same amount of time it takes to draw or sheath a normal weapon, and you gain a +4 bonus to Sleight of Hand checks to conceal it. If you are proficient with a navaja sevillana, you can open it and shut it as part of the same action used to draw or sheath it (even from concealment). If a navaja sevillana has the broken condition, its locking ratchet does not work, and it cannot be used to make attacks.

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The Shape of Gelatinous Evolution

Idea: Gelatinous Oozes change shape from cubes as they age, and gain special powers, based on their shape.

Gelatinous Torus: Gets increased speed and Spring Attack
Gelatinous Pyramid: Gets Spell Resistance equal to 15 + CR
Gelatinous Reuleaux Triangle: Gains the power of two other oozes, selected as random.
Gelatinous Apollonian Gasket: Can cast enlarge and reduce person, even on oozes, at will
Gelatinous Hyperboloid: Can cast haste and slow at will, and time stop once per day
Gelatinous Lemniscate: Gains the ghost’s rejuvenation ability.

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Microsetting: The City of Hoard

Microsetting: The City of Hoard

I’ve been on a bit of a Starfinder RPG and general essay kick recently, but I’m still a big fan of fantasy RPG settings in general, and Pathfinder in general. So as a palate cleanser, here is a microsetting, the City of Hoard!

The City of Hoard

It’s not formally called “Hoard” of course. It’s listed as Draconis Rekai Achael in the old Imperial Charter of Settlements, Drakkenhelt in the dwarven tunnel-maps, and Aerivermaeli in the elven Songs of Places. Among the academic writings and speech of most dragons and draconic-oriented scholars, it’s Brarguren’s Canton, an acknowledgement that the mighty Brargured has carved out land acknowledged by other nations as hers, and hers alone. But even those learned individuals generally call it “Brarguren’s Hoard” in casual conversation, and from that long title most common folk have taken to just calling the city “Hoard.”

Brarguren was an active dragon in her youth, traveling extensively as soon as she ceased to be a wyrmling, claiming temporary territories, exploring lands with no sapient creature settling them. There are numerous credible accounts of her worldwide, suggesting she did not limit herself to any one continent or trade route. Many of those tales speak of her establishing herself on the edges of major civilizations, speaking to their scholars and acting as patron for their great artists. Though she spent no more than a few decades in any one place in her first few centuries of life, she was intellectually active and curious during these visits, each year doing as much research and learning as any member of the shorter-lived races could manage, and thus compiling numerous lifetimes of knowledge in just a few hundred years.

She gained cunning and power in equal measure. Early descriptions of her make it clear her coloration was “bright” and “metallic,” but never matched her to a single hue. She can breath fire, but has also proven to have draconic and magic talents that allow her to breath acid, and ice, and even frozen acid. She can access the power of sorcerers, druids, and even witches, leading some to suggest she has studied as a shaman. She is also a mistress of illusion, or transmutation (or both), and certainly her appearance in the past few centuries has shifted and changes enough to suggest she is keeping her true nature secret, though she always has the same piercing, nearly glowing, amber eyes.

No one is sure when she became fascinated by architecture, urban planning, and landscaping. Perhaps it was when she carried out a vendetta against the Order of the Broken Claw as a young adult, joining and leading armies to sack the order’s cities on both sides of an ocean. Perhaps her visits to the continents of the Ivory Empire, Jade Kingdoms, or the lands of the Spice Road as an adult and mature adult piqued her interest in how different cultures build and grow settlements. Certainly her Guild of Masons was established at that time, and she forged alliances with dwarves and elves both to aid and learn from their greatest artificers, fort-builders, and urban engineers and planners.

What is known for certain is that as an old dragon, more than 4 centuries ago, Brarguren stopped her regular travels and claimed her Canton, a rich land with access to ocean, trade, field, and ore. The land surely would have been claimed by some nation before her, located between small kingdoms and in a route between major empires as it was, if not for the gorynych that laired there, and the twisted mutant cult that worshiped it. Brarguren was not the first dragon to seek to destroy the wicked creature known as “The Three Sinners,” but she was the first to succeed in destroying the gorynych and scattering the cult.

And to mark her success, she claimed the piles and piles of treasure the Three Sinners and its minions had collected…. And built a city.

People claim that early on no one lived in Hoard, but of course that’s not true. Expending money as a waterfall expends water, Brarguren hired hundreds of planners and thousands of workers. Even before Hoard had a finished building, it has inhabitants. Nor where buildings the first permanent structures to be raised. Brarguren had roads laid, and aqueducts, canals, wells, and cisterns built, long before any buildings. She gave broad guidance to her lord architects, and insisted their plans be revised many times, but did little of the direct planning herself. The first city was to be designed to house 10,000 citizens in wealth and comfort, and to have a network of towns to support it, but she also demanded plans be in place for it to grow. Even the names of its major sections, “First Ward, Second Century Ward, Third Century Ward,” showed what her plans were for its expansion.

Now, Hoard is 310 years old, a city of nearly 50,000, and one of the most powerful and wealthy trade cities in the world. Though Brarguren is the unquestioned owner and ruler of the city and the surrounding valley, including it’s roads, dozens of supporting towns and farms, minor auxiliary ports and shipyards in nearby islands, she rarely takes a direct hand in ruling or protecting it. The Canton Guard serve as both city guard in Hoard, and ranging military force throughout Brarguren’s lands, and the Dragonfire Wardens act as scouts, investigators, and game wardens further from the city. Both answer directly and separately to Brarguren, though their Lord Commanders (Guard Commander Alvric Krakarral—a human investigator—for the Guard, and Warden Commander Jealis Irontusk—a half-orc hunter—for the Wardens) are cagey about how how those reports are delivered. But 72 years ago when Brarguren devoured the then-Guard Commander Thurgen Thurgenis, the dragon made it clear she would react if her forces failed to report as she expected them to. Her lack of direct action since is taken as proof the Lord Commanders are doing as they are supposed to.

However, neither of those forces run the city (or any of the townships),and lack the power to makes laws or edicts. Laws are made only by Brarguren herself, and she hasn’t changed the short list of basic rules (outlawing slavery, insisting on equal basic rights for all sapient creatures, establishing the civil and paramilitary organizations in her lands) in almost a century. Edicts come from the Council of Stakeholders—made up of guild leaders, religious heads, neighborhood alders from Hoard and town magistrates from supporting settlements, representatives of the Guard and Wardens, hereditary members from important families, one judge from each court circuit, and ministers of various Hoard city offices—and are signed by the Marshal of the Exchequer (or become law without the Marshal’s signature if 2/3 of the Council of Stakeholders agree to do so after 90 days… which almost never happens).

The Marshal of the Exchequer acts as the chief executive of Hoard, oversees legal cases against any member of the Council of Stakeholders or judge within Hoard, and is in charge of the budget of the entire region. Since taxes are surprisingly low in Hoard, and city services are quite high, there’s a persistent rumor that the Marshal of the Exchequer pays for things directly out of some vast supply of wealth Brarguren has accumulated. While every Marshal of the Exchequer has always denied this is the case, and the city has had budget troubles many times over its three centuries of existence, the rumor remains common.

As for where such a vast pile of treasure might be kept… no one knows for certain. Brarguren dives into and flies out of the ocean harbor on most of the rare occasions she makes an appearance in the city itself, but no one has ever found any sign of an aquatic lair. The city center includes a massive, round, fortified building known as The Vault when used as a landmark, but it has no known entrance and its purpose is secret. The mountains that border the valley Hoard sits at one end of have numerous caves, but none have ever shown size of draconic habitation. Everyone agrees Brarguren must have at least one secret lair, but no one can agree on where it is, what it’s like, or how much treasure is piled up in it.

But it is known what treasure has gone into it, at least on some occasions. Brarguren does not directly defend Hoard or its lands, unless a threat arises so great only an old dragon could oppose it (such as the arrival of the Archtitan Oceator, more than two centuries ago), or when the Guard and Wardens have already suffered major losses and are clearly being overwhelmed (such as during the Wightblade Plague nearly a century ago). When she does become directly involved, however, she takes everything of value possessed by any foe she defeats—from Oceator’s Trident of the Wave-Gods to the ghost swords left over from the Plague. Hoard is safe from nearly any direct threat, but does not receive the spoils of war from foes it’s draconic owner finishes.

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Falx for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

The falx is a weapon so powerful, it forced the Romans to make the only change to their armor (reinforced helmets) that was recorded as occurring specifically because of an enemy weapon. Used by the Dacians and Thracians, the falx was a curved blade sharpened on the inside edge. Contemporaneous accounts suggest it was made in both one-handed and two-handed versions, but the one-handed may also have been used in both hands at least sometimes. It seems to have come in both swordlike and polearm-like designs, and while its most powerful swing appears to have been a devastating overhand chop, it may also have been used to thrust. It seems related to the rhomphaia (as featured on a recent episode of the television show Forged in Fire), and went through many design evolutions. During much of the time it was a popular weapon, creating a long, sharp, strong blade required particularly skilled smiths, so the longer-bladed falx may have been weapons of prestige as well.

In short, it is exactly the kind of weapon rpg players love to argue about by finding specific references or illustrations that support one concept of what it looked like and how it was used, while ignoring others. And there’s just no need for that in an rpg setting. There’s room for lots of falx ideas to all be lumped together in one game mechanical weapon, the same way the pathfinder Roleplaying game combines numerous distinct weapon designs into the broad categories of shortsword” or “longsword.”

(Martial) Two-Handed Melee Weapons Name    Cost       Dmg (S) (M)        Crit         Weight  Type      Special

Falx        75 gp     1d4        1d6        19-20*, x4             8 lbs.     P or S     Disarm, trip

*See description

Falx: A falx is a two-handed martial weapon, but if Exotic Weapon Proficiency is taken with it, it can be wielded as a one-handed weapon. It is part of the axes, heavy blades, and polearms weapon groups. A falx is considered to have a threat range of “20” for the purposes of all abilities that increase threat ranges, but after making all such calculations its threat range is increased by 1. For example, a keen falx doubles its normal threat range of 20 to 19-20, then increases that threat range by 1 (to 18-20).

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Buff Feat (for Pathfinder)

Since I did a Lithe feat, fair’s fair.

Let’s see how crazy this drives people.

Buff (1)
Your extremely tone and firm muscles protect you from the ravages suffered by some less well-defined individuals.
Prerequisite: Strength 13+
Benefit: For any calculation that normally uses your Constitution score or Constitution modifier, you may instead use your Strength score or Strength modifier.
Special: You may take the Intercept Blow feat without meeting its prerequisites, and may ignore any non-feat prerequisites for feats that have Intercept Blow as a prerequisite. You do not have a master, for purposes of this feat, but have a “key ally.” Whenever you first all for initiative in an encounter, you may declare any one creature to be your “key ally” for this feat.

Buff (2)
Your incredible stamina and unbreakable physique allows you to get more out of your frame.
Prerequisite: Constitution 13+
Benefit: For any calculation that normally uses your Strength score or Strength modifier, you may instead use your Constitution score or Constitution modifier.
Special: You may take the Intercept Blow feat without meeting its prerequisites, and may ignore any non-feat prerequisites for feats that have Intercept Blow as a prerequisite. You do not have a master, for purposes of this feat, but have a “key ally.” Whenever you first all for initiative in an encounter, you may declare any one creature to be your “key ally” for this feat.

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Lithe Feat (for Pathfinder)

Let’s see how crazy this drives people.

Lithe (1)
Your strong personal style and flexible frame make you much more nimble that one would think at first glance.
Prerequisite: Charisma 13+
Benefit: For any calculation that normally uses your Dexterity score or Dexterity modifier, you may instead use your Charisma score or Charisma modifier.
Special: You may take the Narrow Frame feats without meeting its prerequisites, and may ignore any non-feat prerequisites for feats that have Narrow frame as a prerequisite.

Lithe (2)
Your flexible frame and strong personal style allow you to define your social interactions through your body movements.
Prerequisite: Dexterity 13+
Benefit: For any calculation that normally uses your Charisma score or Charisma modifier, you may instead use your Dexterity score or Dexterity modifier.
Special: You may take the Narrow Frame feats without meeting its prerequisites, and may ignore any non-feat prerequisites for feats that have Narrow frame as a prerequisite.

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Advanced Item Mastery Training Feats (Pathfinder)

I am very fond of Item Mastery Feats for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. I think there are lots of interesting places those feats can take characters, especially fighters. I am also a big fan of the Advanced Weapon Training rules that allow fighters to make weapon training do more than just grant flat attack and damage bonuses. The two already combine somewhat (with the item mastery advanced weapon training option), but I think there are yet more interesting ways they can be mixed for fighters, and some other classes.

Arcane Fighter (Combat)
You know magic is a potent weapon, and you study how to fight with magic items.
Prerequisite: Fighter level 1.
Benefit: You are considered trained with Use Magic Device, and can make special UMD checks with a bonus equal to your fighter level + your Constitution bonus +3, rather than your normal skill bonus.

Draught Mastery
When you drink a magic potion, you gain additional benefits.
Prerequisites: One of the following class features: armor training, brew potion, weapon training.
Benefit: Select three item mastery feats for which you meet the prerequisites. Each time you gain a new level, you can change this selection.
Once per day when you drink a potion, you may use the benefit of one of those item mastery feats if the potion would qualify to grant you if it were a permanent magic item. You may use this feat a second time per day when your base attack bonus, caster level, or alchemist level reaches +5 or 5th, and every +5 or 5 levels thereafter.

Extra Weapon Training (Combat)
You are a master of many weapons and weapon fighting techniques.
Prerequisites: Weapon training class feature.
Benefit: You can select another weapon group your weapon training class feature applies its benefits to. Alternatively, you may select another advanced weapon training option for which you meet the prerequisites.

Patreon Exclusive!
The point of the Advanced Item Mastery Training Feats article was to create new ways to use existing Item Mastery Feats and find synergy with advanced weapon training, rather than to present new Item Mastery Feats. However while writing it I thought of one new Item Mastery Feat which fills a gap in what those feats can allow a character to do: Buff Mastery. It is presented at my Patreon, exclusively (for now) for my Patrons!

The Value of Spellcasting

I have often wondered how valuable players and GMs find spellcasting. For example if you place limitations and degradations on spellcasting and boost the cost of acquiring it, at what point does it become not worth the effort? How close is that to the point when most GMs are comfortable allowing spellcasting easily-acquired outside of a class into a campaign?

This leads to a though experiment of a feat.

Spellcasting (Thought Experiment)

You can cast spells. Just not very well.

Benefit: Select one class’s spellcasting list. If that class has alignment, code, equipment requirements that must to be able to cast spells (such as a paladin’s code, or a druid’s need to be partially neutral and avoid metal armor), you must meet those requirements or suffer the same consequences with regards to spells gained through this feat) as the class you selected.

You gain spells known and spells per day as spell-like abilities from that spell list, using the spells known and spells per day of a 1st level sorcerer and your character level as your caster level. To determine your save DCs and max spell known, instead of Charisma or the ability score used by the class you picked for the spell list, you use your lowest ability score. You can change one spell known at every character level, using the rules for sorcerers to swap spells known, but they must all come from the selected spell list.

Special: You can take this feat more than once, but not more times than 1+1/2 your character level. Each time, you increase your effective sorcerer level for determining your spells known and spells per day from the selected spell list by +2, and increase the number of spells you can swap out at each new level by +1.

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Simple Dwarven Name Generator

The very first professional RPG writing of mine that was published was the elven name generator in Dragon 251. I’d done (and even been paid for) freelance work prior to that, but none of it was published before that issue hit the stands. It was the beginning of one of my early series, RPG name and language articles, which included the seven By Any Other Name, Cry Havoc, and Dragontongue articles in Dragon Magazine, What’s In A Name in Pyramid magazine, Call Signs in Star Wars gamer magazine, and some work on the online D&D name generator for 4th edition.

One of the things I am proudest of about the majority of those articles is that in addition to allowing random creation of appropriate-sounding names, the articles have just enough definition to allow the meaning of the names to be determined. It’s rough of course—this is designed to allow some fun details for RPG characters and stories, not create full constructed languages like Klingon or Dothraki. But I’ve found being able to tell someone their magic sword is named the dwarven name for “Dragon’s Bite,” and for the player to then use the article to name a back-up weapon “Dragon’s Fire”, adds a lot even with the fairly lose rules.

But while the elven By Any Other Name in Dragon 251 was the first of all of those to get published, I actually pitched (and wrote) a dwarven name generator first. It eventually got accepted and published in Dragon 261. I never felt “done” with that name generator, but honestly I felt like it was the best of all the ones I did (though the kuo-toa name generator is a lot of fun, too).

But I am always thinking about other ways to do similar things (even though, in the age of the Internet, I don’t know if there is any need for yet more simple name generators). I have wondered, for example, what the shortest possible useful name generator is.

I have made a dwarf name generator, with hints for definitions, with ten elements.

I suspect that is too short.

But it’s worth floating and see how people react to it.

To use the generator roll 1d10 twice, to determine the prefix and suffix of the name. for example, a y and then a 3 gives you Mhordun, which could mean Fire Rune, Scholar of Dragons, Treasured Scroll, Destined to Rage, or any other combination of similar words you like.

If you roll the same number twice, ignore the second result and instead do three word elements. For example if you rolls 10 and then 10 again, ignore the second ten and roll twice more (still ignoring 10s). If you got a 1 and a 8, your name is Wularnhar.

With these rules and just 10 intermixable name segments, you end up with hundreds of possible names, with definitions, to use for anything dwarven. If you want male and female names to be different, you can add some feminine suffixes (-a, dot, -gurd, -hild, -ir) to either use in place of some name segments below, or to add to the end of a name generated using the standard rules.

  1. ar – warrior, axeman, weapon, sword, spear, pick, retribution
    2. bal – armor, shield, guardian, ward, abjuration, iron
    3. dun – dragon, rage, fire, treasure, gold
    4. fel – thief, spy, shadow, darkness, assassin, death
    5. grym – ring, sorcerer, warlock, magic, eldritch
    6. kar – servant, slave, secret, traitor, lock, binding
    7. mhor – scholar, wisdom, scroll, rune, destiny
    8. nhar – battle cry, thunder, bard, horn
    9. thyr – ice, frost, calm, silver, cleric
    10. wul – craftsman, craft, skill, beer, mead, art, artisan, beauty

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Degrees of Fatigue

The fatigued and exhausted conditions are designed to be simple. First, you take a –2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity, and can’t run or charge. Then if you suffer another level of fatigue, your penalties jump to -6, and you move at half speed on top of other limits.

One hour rest takes you from exhausted to fatigued. Eight hours of rest takes you from fatigued to fine.

That’s more granular that my (too frequent) experience with exhaustion, but that’s fine. Simplicity is worth some increased granularity. Part of the question for me is… how simple is that? Neither the jump from -2 to -6, nor the differences in how long it takes to recover from the conditions, feels intuitive to me. Also, it strikes me odd that once you are exhausted, maintaining things that should fatigue you have no effect.

So, that brings us to the ideas of degrees of fatigue.

Instead of going from fatigued to exhausted, you keep taking degrees of fatigue. Each degree has a -2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity, which stack. Once your Strength and Dexterity both drop below 10 as a result of these penalties, all your movement rates are cut in half. If  your Strength or Dexterity is reduced to 0, you pass out until the penalties reduce to allow you a positive ability score.

Two hours of dedicated rest removes one degree of fatigue. (Anything that would end fatigue removes one level, anything that would end exhaustion removes up to 4 levels.)

I don’t know if this is actually easier, but it’s something I’d love to playtest and see how it works out.

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