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An OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1e (Part 8: Archetypes)

At this point, our Pathfinder 1e warlock has the class advancement chartspell access rules, a Fiendish patron , a Draconic patron, some pact boons, and the base invocation rules along with the hex-access invocations, and a set of non-hex invocations. What’s left?

Well, one of the things you need in Pathfinder for a class to be “complete” is archetypes.

Honestly? A LOT of archetypes. This is a place where Pathfinder 2e and Starfinder are much easier to work with, because their archetype schemes work for all classes.

But we’re doing a PF1 class, so we need some archetypes to give it the full flexibility typical of base classes. I likely can’t turn this into the Warlock Archetype Blog (although, I mean if you are paying me on my Patreon and want to see that, let me know!) But I can do one or two, just to give some examples of what those might look like.

So, let’s create an archetype!

Art by Dominick

Shadow-Haired Warlock

A shadow-haired warlock is so infused with shadow energy it leaks out of her body in her eyes, skin… and long, animate shadowy hair.

The shadow-haired warlock is an archetype of the warlock class.

Shadow Hair (Su)
At 1st level, a shadow-haired warlock gains the ability to use her hair as a weapon. This functions as a primary natural attack with a reach of 5 feet. The hair deals 1d8 points of damage (1d6 for a Small warlock). The warlock adds her Charisma bonus to attacks and damage with her hair in place of any other ability score bonus (such as Strength or Dexterity).

In addition, the warlock gains one of the following feats of her choice: Improved Bull Rush, Improved Disarm, Improved Drag, Improved Grapple, Improved Reposition, Improved Steal, Improved Sunder, or Improved Trip. She gains this feat without meeting the prerequisites, but if she does not meet the prerequisites she may only use it with her shadow hair. As long as her hair is free to make attacks, the shadow-haired warlock can add her Charisma bonus to her CMD and CMB in addition to the typcial ability score modifiers.

When grappling a foe with her hair, the warlock does not gain the grappled condition.

At 4th level and every four levels thereafter, a shadow-haired warlock’s hair adds 5 feet to its reach, to a maximum of 30 feet at 20th level.

The hair cannot be sundered or attacked as a separate creature.

At 2nd level, when the shadow-haired warlock’s successfully performs a combat maneuver with her hair (including to maintain a grapple) she can also constrict the target as a swift action*, dealing damage equal to that of her hair attack.

This replaces the eldritch blast gained from the warlock’s patron, and the pact boon class feature.

Shadow-Hair Warlock Invocations

A shadow-haired warlock can select from the following invocations in addition to the standard list.

Maneuver (Ex): The shadow-haired warlock gains another Improved Combat maneuver from the list given in the shadow hair archetype feature.

Pull (Ex): If the shadow-haired warlock successfully strikes a foe with her hair, she can attempt a Reposition combat maneuver check to pull the creature 5 feet closer to her as a swift action. this does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Rogue Talents: The shadow-haired warlock can learn rogue talent from a limited list, using her warlock level in place of her rogue level.

A shadow-haired warlock cannot select an individual rogue talent more than once, and can select from among the following: assault leader, combat trick, finesse rogue, positioning attack, resiliency, surprise attack, and weapon training. beginning at 17th level, she can choose from among the following advanced rogue talents: another day, defensive roll, improved evasion, opportunist, redirect attack, slippery mind, and thoughtful reexamining.

Shadow Form (Sp): You can cast shadow projection once per day. If you are at least 15th level, you may instead choose to shadow body once per day. You must be at least 9th level to select this shadow-haired warlock invocation.

Shadow Magic: The following spells are added to your warlock spell list at the listed spell levels. You must still select them as spells known if you wish to cast them with your spell slots–shadow trap (1st), shadow anchor (2nd), shadow step (3rd), shadow conjuration (4th), shadow walk (5th).

Strangle (Ex): When the shadow- hair warlock is using her hair to grapple with an opponent, that creature cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components.

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An OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1e (Part 7: Other 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, some pact boons, and the base invocation rules along with the hex-access invocations.

So, let’s get to the other potential invocations, shall we? These follow the rules we outlined yesterday (and it’s worth noting even spell-like invocations use the invocation rules for determing save DCs, unless otherwise noted).

(Art by Asanee)

Armor of Shadows (Su): You gain a +3 armor bonus. In bright light, the armor bonus is reduced by 1. In dim light, the armor bonus is increased by 1.

Beast Speech (Sp): You have a persistent speak with animals. If this is dispelled, you can cast it on yourself at will.

Beast Whispers (Sp): You can cast animal messenger at-will. You must have beast speech to select this invocation.

Eldritch Might (Su): You gain a +1 enhancement bonus to the attack and damage rolls of the eldritch blast you gain from your patron. This increases to a +2 bonus at 9th level, and a +3 bonus at 18th level.

Eldritch Might, Greater (Su): The enhancement bonus you gain for your eldritch blast increases by 1. At 14th level, the enhancement bonus instead increases by 2. You must have eldritch might to select greater eldritch might. You must be at least 7th level to select this invocation.

Eldritch Reach (Su): The range of your eldritch blast increases. If it has a range increment or is a cone or line, it’s range doubles. If it is a melee attack, its reach increased by 5 feet. If it is a radius, its radius increases by +10 feet.

Eldritch Vigor: You gain Endurance and Toughness as bonus feats.

Eldritch Vision (Ex): You gain the see in darkness ability. If you have darkvision of low-light vision, you also gain a +2 bonus to Perception checks in dim or no light.

Fel Words (Sp): You can cast bane at will.

Mask of Many Faces (Sp): You can cast alter self on yourself at will. You can use this to make a Disguise check as part of the same action, without taking penaties for altering your gender, size (if it is the size of your new form), or species (if it is a humanoid species).

Minions (Sp): Once per day you can cast a summon monster spell with a spell level up to half your warlock level. The summoned creatures all speak one language you know of your choice. The spell has a duration of 1 minute/level, but when in combat each round of combat reduces the duration by 1 minute.

Misty Visions (Sp): You can cast silent image at-will.

One With Shadows (Sp): In areas of dim light or no light you can cast vanish at-will. The invisibility ends if you are even in normal or greater light.

Otherworldy Leap (Sp): You can cast jump on yourself at will.

Repelling Blast (Su): When you successfully damage a creature with the eldritch blast from your patron, you may choose to push the creature 10 feet directly away from you. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Shield of Shadows (Sp): You can cast shield on yourself at will. In bright light, the AC bonus it grants is reduced by 1. In dim light, the AC bonus it grants is increased by 1.

Sign of Ill Omen (Sp): You can cast bestow curse once per day.

Sinful Comforts (Sp): You can cast create food and water, prestidigitate, and unseen servant at will. Only you can benefit from the food or water you create. If others touch it, it turns to dust.

Vengeful Blood (Su): When a creature scores a critical hit against you, the critical effect is not someone countered, and you take damage from the attack, your eldritch blast gained from your patron becomes bane against that creature for 10 minutes. You can only be bane against one creature at a time, any new bane ends a previous one.

Visions (Sp): You can cast arcane eye at will. You must be at least 15th level to select this invocation.

Warlock Sight (Sp): You gain persistent true seeing, but it only allows you to see the true form of creatures within 30 feet — all other illusions affect your normally.

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OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1st edition (Part 5: Pact Boons)

Okay, so while working on the Pathfinder 1e warlock, we’ve done the class advancement chart, spell access rules, and a Fiendish patron and a Draconic patron.

Let’s move on to Pact Boons.

Horned Warlock
(Art by bueroeisenmann)

Pact Boon
Your pact boon is a special link between you and a creature or object that is granted to you by your patron. In most cases any patron can grant any pact boon–the nature of the pact boon says more about the warlock than the patron. Once you select a pact boon, this choice cannot be changed.

Pact boons are obviously the kind of thing we could expand endlessly, but let’s start with three very different kinds of pact boons, which build three very different kind of warlocks.

Pact of the Blade (Su): As a standard action you can create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it, and are automatically proficient with it while you wield it. This acts as a magic weapon. Your pact weapon disappears if it is more than 5 feet away from you for 1 minute or more. It also disappears if you use this feature again, if you dismiss the weapon (a free action), or if you die. W When you make attacks with your pact weapon, you add your Charisma bonus (rather than Strength, Dexterity, or any other ability score) to attack rolls and damage. This value is not adjusted for light, finesse, or 2-handed weapons.
You can transform one existing weapon (including a magic weapon) into your pact weapon by performing a special ritual while you hold the weapon. You perform the ritual over the course of 1 hour. You can then dismiss the weapon, shunting it into an extradimensional space, and it appears whenever you create your pact weapon thereafter. You can’t affect an artifact or a sentient weapon in this way. The weapon ceases being your pact weapon if you die, if you perform the 1-hour ritual on a different weapon, or if you use a 1-hour ritual to break your bond to it. The weapon appears at your feet if it is in the extradimensional space when the bond breaks.
At 6th level you can summon your pact weapon as a move action. At 9th, you can do so as a swift or immediate action. At 12th, you can do so as part of an attack, and as long as you have a free hand you are considered to be threatening with the weapon even when it is not summoned.

Pact of Loyalty (Ex): You gain a familiar, as a wizard with a level equal to your warlock level. This is automatically an improved familiar, as if you had the Improved Familiar feat. You qualify for improved familiars as if your level was 4 higher. The familiar cannot have an elemental or alignment subtype that does not match your patron (subject to GM approval).
The familiar has a typical alignment for a creature of its kind. However, due to its bond of loyalty with you, it acts and makes decisions as if its alignment matched yours precisely. Though it may complain about such acts if they diametrically oppose its alignment, it does not attempt to skirt typical alignment decisions.
It is entirely loyal to your and your commands, even unto its death.
If it dies, you receive a new improved familiar when you next gain a warlock level. You cannot gain one before this.

Pact of Whispers (Ex): You bond with an object of your choice that grants you secret knowledge, becoming a lore whisperer. The item cannot be a weapon, magic item, toolkit, shield, or armor. Knucklebones are common, as are playing cards, bowls, rune-sticks, knotted cords, and even skulls.
When the item is either adjacent to you or in your hand (essentially it must be exposed to attacks as either a held or unattended object), you can make a special Knowledge (any) check, or a Diplomacy check to gather information (at no cost) or Use Magic Device check. The bonus for this check is 3 +your Charisma bonus + your warlock level. Once you have done this, you cannot do so again until you next regain spell slots.
Additionally, at 8th level you gain a bonus feat your can use as long as you have access to your lore whisperer (it need not be exposed). This feat may be a Crafting feat, or Skill Focus, or a feat that does nothing other than give you access to class skills, additional skill points, or bonuses to skills. You must meet the feat’s prerequisites normally. You gain an additional such feat at 12th level, and every 4 levels thereafter.
If your lore whisperer is lost or destroyed, you can create a new one in a ritual that takes 1d12 hours, ending your bond to your previous lore whisperer.

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OGL Warlock for Pathfinder 1st edition (Part 2)

So yesterday we took a first look at adapting the 5e Warlock class for Pathfinder 1st edition. We tackled proficiencies and the class table. Now we need to outline how we are going to define the abilities we’re giving the class. We may adjust exactly how these things work as they come together in development, but it’s good to have a road map for where we think we’re headed.

Let’s look at spells first.

Warlock 2

(art by info@nextmars.com)

The Warlock Spell List

Obviously if the warlock is going to cast spells, it needs to have a spell list to draw from. One option would be to just give the class access to the sorcerer/wizard spell list, which has both blasty/combat spells and good utility magic, but that both lacks the kind of flavor warlocks traditionally have, and it less interesting. A second possibility would be to craft a custom spell list unique to the warlock. There are two main problems with this — first, there are thousands of spells in Pathfinder 1st ed already, so this would take a long time and require a lot of space. Secondly, anyone allowing the warlock in their game is likely to allow other third-party content as well, and there’s no practical way to get every spell from every publisher, especially since some publishers are still creating new content.

Instead, we’re going to give the warlock access to two other classes spell lists. the warlock gets a very limited number of spells known so this isn’t going to result in one character being able to do everything, but it does give a vast range of possibilities for a player to build a character concept around.

So, to ensure the class has both some good combat options and some neat, weirder stuff, we’re going to give our warlock access to both the magus and psychic spell lists, though only up to 5th level since that’s how the warlock spell access works.

Speaking of spell access…

Spells Known/Max Spell Level: This is your total spells known. When you gain a level and get more spells known, you can select them off the warlock spell list to a maximum of your max spell level. Thus at 5th level you would know five 1st-level spells, and one 2nd-level spell you just gained.

Spell Slots: Whenever you cast a 1st-level or higher spells, no matter what spell level it is, you expend one of your spell slots. However, you can regain ALL your spell slots by meditating for ten minutes. Thus you have fewer spells and lower-level spells than most spellcasters, but can generally use them all in every encounter.

This helps give our warlock a very different feel from any other spellcaster. They can’t pull off the huge-but-not-often magics of clerics and wizards, but absolutely can depend on having some resources available in most encounters.

Cantrips: The warlock will get a fair number of cantrips, which really are pretty minor in Pathfinder 1e. It may end up needing an entry on the class table, or we might just say you start with 4 cantrips,and gone one at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter.

So what direction are we taking patrons, gifts, and invocations? Does the warlock get access to hexes? (Hint yes, some).

Tune in tomorrow to find out!

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Fallback Feats for 5e, PF1, PF2, and Starfinder

Tuesday’s Fallback feats were a bit hit. Sadly, circumstances prevented me from posting two new rules-elements worth of content Wednesday.

So, today not only am I giving your four new Fallback feats, they all work in four game systems — 5e, PF1, PF2, and Starfinder. Though these these feats are written using Pathfinder 1e/Starfinder terminology and formatting (I didn’t take the time to write 4 slightly different versions of each), the actual feats and rules themselves work in all 4 game systems.

These feats all fallow the normal Fallback Feat rules.

ELDRITCH BACKLASH [Fallback]
Your magic harms those that ignore it.
Benefit: When you cast a 1st level or higher spell that does not affect any creatures or significant objects you target or that are in the area, one target of your choice with an AC no greater than 15 + your caster level takes damage equal to one weapon in your possession with which you are proficient (without adding any bonus damage from ability scores, feats, or special abilities), or 5 HP per level of the spell, whichever is greater.

LEARN FROM FAILURE [Fallback]
You are constantly analyzing your efforts, and even when you do not succeed, you may learn something useful from your failure.
Benefit: When you fail at an attack roll or an ability check or skill check to identify, recall lore about, disarm, disable, or bypass a creature, trap, or hazard, or survive or get along in the wilderness, you may immediately make an appropriate ability or skill check to learn one new relevant fact about the creature, object, or region involved at the normal skill DC to learn information or recall knowledge. Multiple failed checks can reveal multiple new pieces of information without the DC increasing.

Fallback Entangled
(Art by GrandFailure)

SIMMERING RAGE [Fallback]
Even when a foe incapacitates you, your anger at being sidelined grows.
Benefit: When you are unwillingly bound, charmed, enchanted, entangled, grabbed, grappled, held, paralyzed, petrified, or magically slept by a foe (or foe’s trap or hazard) during a combat encounter in such a way that you cannot take any effective actions, you gain a +1 bonus to saving throws, rolls, or checks to end the situation incapacitating you (if any), which is cumulative if you are incapacitated for multiple rounds.
Additionally when you stop being incapacitating, you gain a +4 bonus to any attack roll or skill check you make in your first full around, and tot he save DC of any spell or ability you use that round.

STREAKBREAKER [Fallback]
Your bad luck doesn’t last forever.
Benefit: When you fail an attack roll or skill check roll (not including taking 10 or taking 20) and your d20 result for the check was 11 or worse, you gain a +1 luck bonus to all attack rolls and skill checks where you make a d20 roll until you succeed at one. If you already have a luck bonus active from this feat when you qualify for it again, you luck bonus increased by 1 until you succeed at a skill check or attack roll.

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Dash Cantrip, in Four Game Systems

Cantrips are interesting, in all 4 of the d20 game systems I work in regularly (PF1, PF2, StF, and 5e). You get unlimited uses of them, so they need to be useful enough to be worth tracking (even at mid- to high-levels), but can’t be so good that casting them endlessly can ruin a game.

And almost none of them impact movement.

Which lead me to wonder, CAN I design a cantrip that impacts movement? Something to give you a little edge when what you need to do is reposition yourself and just a double move (or dash, or triple move, or whatever the game’s equivalent is) won’t do.

Can I do in in four game systems?

Behold, the dash cantrip.

Pathfinder, 1e

Dash
School transmutation; Level Bard 0, Cleric 0, Druid 0, Inquisitor 0, Magus 0, Mesmerist 0, Psychic 0, Shaman 0, Witch 0, Sorcerer/Wizard 0]
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Target you
Duration 1 round

Your movement rate increases by an enhancement bonus equal to your current movement rate, +20 feet.

Pathfinder, 2e

Dash [Cantrip 1]
Traditions Arcane, Divine, Primal
Cast [three actions] Verbal
Duration until the start of your next turn

You move a distance equal to triple your speed +30 feet.

Starfinder

Dash  [Mystic 0, Witchwarper 0]
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range personal
Duration 1 round

You gain a +10 foot increase to your land speed until the beginning of your next turn. As part of casting this spell, you can move up to your land speed.

5e

Dash
Transmutation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V
Duration: 1 round

You can move a number of feet this round equal to double your move, +20 feet.

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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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Animated branded with an Unholy Sign cover 1

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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

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Developing to Spec: Part 22d (The Last PF Core Feats)

This is the fourth section of Part 22 of a series of articles looking at creating a set of Starfinder feats under specific constraints.  You can go back and read previous entries where we converted every feat in the PF core rulebook to Starfinder (and  I shared my thoughts on that process, as a developer and writer)— or you can just look at the finished feats here.

This is it. The very last feats from the PF Core Rulebook that did not exist in Starfinder. This has been my longest ongoing blog series ever. I’m almost sad.

Almost.

But, let’s get to them, shall we? We begin with Unseat.

A confession. Having played hundreds (in all honesty, maybe thousands) of sessions of Pf and the games that came before it, I have never seen Unseat be used, or even taken by a character, even once.

It’s a super-specific jousting feat. Yo have to be mounted to use it. And attacking with a lance (and only with a lance). And your target has to be mounted. AND you have to charge to use it. And if you hit, you can TRY a bull rush to unseat the target.

That’s so many rules I’d be inclined to just add them to what a lance can do without needing a feat for it. Plus, does this mean that without this feat, I can’t use trip or bull rush to take a mounted foe out of their saddle? Or only that I can’t do it as part of a charge attack with a lance?

But we HAVE to make a Starfinder version, so:

UNSEAT (Combat)
You can rip foes from the mounts and vehicles.
Benefit: When a foe that is mounted or in a vehicle provokes an attack of opportunity from you, you can make a bull rush or trip combat maneuver instead of a melee attack. If you succeed, you pull the target off their mount or out of their vehicle, and leave them prone in an adjacent space.

I’m still not sure how often that’ll come up, but at least knocking folks off their motorcycle has genre-emulation value.

Next up is Weapon Finesse. Which, like so many PF feats, requires things (like a definition of “light weapons”) that Starfinder doesn’t have to allow something (switching some melee weapons from Strength to Dexterity) Starfinder isn’t designed to allow. In fact Starfinder already essentially decided that light weapons are “operative weapons,” and anyone can use their Dexterity to attack with them, and no other weapons should be allowed to do that under any circumstances.

But there is one thing that Starfinder’s system could allow for — some way for operatives to make trick attacks with different weapons than normal. Not to be more effective (operatives are FINE on the power scale), but to support different character concepts and variable tactical styles.

WEAPON FINESSE (Combat)
You can use bulkier, slower weapons to place attacks with additional effects.
Prerequisites: Trick attack class feature.
Benefit: You can use any weapon to deliver a trick attack. When you do so with a non-operative melee weapon, you may choose to use your Dexterity modifier, rather than Strength modifier to add to your attack bonus. You can only apply the trick attack to a single creature, regardless of how many the attack affects, and must make the appropriate skill check. For that one trick attack, you deal either just your trick attack damage +1 per operative level (with its damage type determined by the weapon), or you do the weapon’s damage without any bonus from your trick attack. In either case, you can apply any other effect your trick attack imposes onto the target you trick attack.

There are things this does, and things it does not do. It won’t increase any character’s single-target damage-per round output, and that’s intentional. It also won’t allow a solarian (for example) to ignore all Strength in favor of Dexterity, and that’s intentional. It is of most use to operatives who want increased flexibility. You may not do any more damage to one target when you deliver a trick attack with a grenade, but you still get the rest of the effect of a grenade. making unarmed attacks as trick attacks won’t bust your damage curve, but it’s a lot better than normal trick attacks if you’ve been disarmed.

Okay, last one.

Whirlwind Attack

Whirlwind Attack is a PF feat that normally comes in at mid- to high-level play that has 7 prerequisites (though a fighter could theoretically meet them all by 4th level), that allows you to make one melee attack against every target within reach. Again, a chunk of that is balanced by the fact that in PF, a good chunk of your Damage Per Round (DPR) is based on making more attacks each round. In Starfinder, your DPR increase is much more strongly tied to each attack doing more damage, so getting to make a single attack against a large number of foes is much more powerful.

We could probably do something with forcing you to take the full attack -4 to your attack rolls, and then maybe another -2 or so… so it’s only useful against lower-level foes, and even then you won’t hit all of them, so if you connect with one or two your DPR is reasonable…

But wow that doesn’t sound like fun or satisfying as a player. Let’s try something else.

WHIRLWIND ATTACK (Combat)
You can surround yourself with lighting-fast, shallow strikes.
Benefit: When you use the full-attack action, you can give up all your other attacks and instead make one melee attack against each opponent within reach. Make a single attack roll, and apply it to the AC of every target in reach. Roll damage once, and apply half the value to every target you hit.

That’s easy to access, it lets you do a little damage to a lot of foes (which is closer to how Whirlwind Attack generally works in Pf anyway), has a much better change of doing SOME damage to multiple targets. If you want to lay about and put a hurt on a lot of people up close this works, even if you won’t be able to pile nearly as much on any one target.

AND THAT’S IT!

What comes next? Who knows! Let me know your thoughts, over at my Patreon, or as a comment here, or at my email, Twitter, or Facebook!

PATREON
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