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Mynchen, A Pathfinder 1st Edition Class in 2 paragraphs and 1 sentence

Quick Base Classes are a design challenge to build a new character class (in this case, for Pathfinder 1st edition) using elements from existing classes, but doing so in a way that produces a very different play experience. I did a bunch of Quick Base Classes back in 2015 (specifically focusing on those I could create with “two paragraphs and one sentence”), but never got around to using the wealth of material that came out for PF1 later to make new versions. So, here’s a new Quick Base Class, designed to create a very different kind of supernatural martial artist.

Mynchen

(Art by warmtail)

Mynchen are spiritualists and combatants who depend not on speed of sinew or might of muscle, but on mental focus and mystic power gained through mastery of their own body and mind. In many regions, mynchen gather in holy orders that act as a check on the might or more traditional military forces, and accept the physically weak, slow, or frail into their orders to train them to impact the material world through insight and personal conviction rather than muscle and agility. The mynchen uses the hit dice, proficiencies, base attack, base saves, class skills, skill points, unarmed strike, AC bonus (including Wisdom to AC), fast movement, starting wealth, and starting age as an unchained monk. She gains ki strike as an unchained monk at the same levels, but rather than lawful at 10th level her attacks gain her own alignment (and becomes a force effect if she is neutral). A mynchen treats her mynchen level as her monk level for all prerequisites.

The mynchen gains the spirit fighter class feature. This allows her to add her Charisma modifier to her hit dice gained from the mynchen class, rather than Constitution. She may also choose to add her Cha rather than Con to her Fortitude and rather than Dex to Reflex saves. A mynchen may add her Wisdom modifier rather than Strength to melee attack and damage, her Cha rather than Dex to ranged attacks (and to damage if she could normally add her Str or Dex), and her Cha rather than Dex to AC — for multiclass mynchen she cannot apply more of her Cha or Wis bonuses to these than her mynchen class level. At 1st level the mynchen gains the spirit fist class feature, which works as the mesmerists’ hypnotic stare, except it affects the first creature each round the mynchen hit and damages with a unarmed, natural, or weapon attack. The mynchen also gains painful stare, and bold stare at 3rd level, and every 4 levels thereafter. At 1st level, 2nd level, and every other level thereafter, the mynchen gains the mind over body class feature, which acts as mesmerist tricks. She uses her mynchen level as her mesmerist level, can only target herself with her tricks, and can implant a trick in herself as a move action. At 5th level, the mynchen’s unarmed, natural, and weapon attacks gain a +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage. This increases by +1 every 4 levels.

The mynchen gains no other features.

Expanded Post: Although part of the point of this exercise was to make a class in two paragraphs and one sentence, I went ahead and presented it in a more traditional form, with a class progression table and such, exclusive for my Patrons. So…

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For Pathfinder 1st edition: The Eldrilock

I am too under the weather to write a post for today, so here is an unfinished Pathfinder 1st edition class I was working on way back in 2017, and never finished. It’s a rough draft, with undeveloped language and concepts that would need a thorough review before it was in publishable shape.

The eldrilock is designed to take the concept of the “adept” npc class from Pathfinder 1st edition, and turn it into a viable PC class, on par with the artificer, cleric, witch, and wizard. Basically, as warrior is to fighter, adept is to eldrilock.

Eldrilock

Hit Points: 6
Stamina Points: 6

Key Ability Score – Wis
Your Wisdom determines your spellcasting ability, the saving throw DCs of your spells, and the number of bonus spells you can cast per day, so Wisdom is your key ability score. A high Strength or Dexterity score can also help you in combat situations.

Class Skills
Appraise (Int), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (all skills taken individually) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Survival (Wis), and Use Magic Device (Cha).

Skill Points at each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
Proficiencies
Armor
Light armor, Medium Armor
Weapons
Simple Weapons.

Eldrilock Class Features

Spells/day
LevelBase Attack
Bonus
FortRefWillSpecial0 1st2nd3rd4th5th6th
1+0+2+0+2Primary eldritch discipline, first primary discipline power31
2+1+3+0+3Hexalent42
3+2+3+1+3Intuitive skill43
4+3+4+1+4Hexalent431
5+3+4+1+4Secondary eldritch discipline, first secondary eldritch discipline power442
6+4+5+2+5Broad study543
7+5+5+2+5Intuitive skill5431
8+6/+1+6+2+6Second primary discipline power5442
9+6/+1+6+3+6Hexalent5543
10+7/+2+7+3+7Eldritch boost +155431
11+8/+3+7+3+7Intuitive skill55442
12+9/+4+8+4+8Second secondary discipline power55543
13+9/+4+8+4+8Third primary discipline power555431
14+10/+5+9+4+9Hexalent, eldritch boost +2555442
15+11/+6/+1+9+5+9Intuitive skill555543
16+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Broad study5555431
17+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Third secondary discipline power5555442
18+13/+8/+3+11+6+11Eldritch boost +35555543
19+14/+9/+4+11+6+11Intuitive skill5555554
20+15/+10/+5+12+6+12Greater Hexalent5555555
(Art by Daniel)

Spells

An eldrilock casts divine spells drawn from the adept and shaman spell lists. If a spell appears on both the adept and shaman spell lists, the eldrilock uses the lower of the two spell levels listed for the spell. An eldrilock must prepare her spells ahead of time, but unlike a cleric, her spells are not expended when they’re cast. Instead, she can cast any spell that she has prepared consuming a spell slot of the appropriate level, assuming she hasn’t yet used up her spell slots per day for that level.

To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the eldrilock must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell’s level. The saving throw DC against an eldrilock’s spell is 10 + the spell’s level + the eldrilock’s Wisdom modifier.

An eldrilock can only cast a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table 1–1. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Wisdom score.

An eldrilock may know any number of spells, but the number she can prepare each day is limited. At 1st level, she can prepare four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells each day. At each new eldrilock level, the number of spells she can prepare each day increases, adding new spell levels as indicated on Table: Eldrilock Spell Preparation. Unlike the number of spells she can cast per day, the number of spells an eldrilock can prepare each day is not affected by her Wisdom score. Feats and other effects that modify the number of spells known by a spellcaster instead affect the number of spells an eldrilock can prepare.

Eldrilock, unlike wizards, do not acquire their spells from books or scrolls, nor do they prepare them through study. Instead, they meditate or pray for their spells, receiving them as divine inspiration or through their own strength of conviction. Each eldrilock must choose a time each day during which she must spend an hour in quiet contemplation or supplication to regain her daily allotment of spells. Time spent resting has no effect on whether an eldrilock can prepare spells. During this hour, the eldrilock decides what spells to prepare and refreshes her available spell slots for the day.

Like an oracle, an eldrilock can choose to apply any metamagic feats she knows to a prepared spell as she casts it, with the same increase in casting time (see Spontaneous Casting and Metamagic Feats in the Core Rulebook). However, she may also prepare a spell with any metamagic feats she knows and cast it without increasing casting time like a cleric. She cannot combine these options—a spell prepared with metamagic feats cannot be further modified with another metamagic feat at the time of casting (unless she has the metamixing arcanist exploit).

Primary Eldritch Discipline (1st level)

At first level an eldrilock’s devotion to a kind of magic allows them to gain special powers related to magic of that type. The eldrilock selects a cleric domain, oracle mystery, psychic discipline, sorcerer bloodline, or wizard school. When the eldrilock can cast spells of a spell level equal to spells granted by the selected discipline, they gain that spell as a bonus prepared spell (though they do not gain any additional spell slots).

At 1st level, the eldrilock gains a single ability of their choice from their discipline, which must be one the discipline can normally grants by 1st level. At 8th level, the eldrilock gains a second ability of their choice from their discipline, which must be one the discipline normally grants by 8th level. At 13th level, the eldrilock gains a third ability of their choice from their discipline, which must be one the discipline normally grants by 13th level. If the discipline does not have a third power to grant, the eldrilock may select a power from an associated discipline (such as a subdomain or inquisition related to a domain selected as their discipline).

Hexalent (2nd Level)

At 2nd level, the eldrilock selects one rogue talent or shaman or witch hex. The hex or talent must be one the eldrilock could qualify for if the eldrilock was of the appropriate class (meeting any alignment, species, deity, ancestry, nationality, ability score, feat, talent, hex, or similar prerequisite). The eldrilcok gains an additional hex or talent at 4th, 9th, and 14th level.

Intuitive Skill (3rd level)

An eldrilock often finds their understanding of how the world works, the ways things fit together, and how tasks can be accomplished comes to them as much through intuition as training and practice. At 3rd level (and every 4 levels thereafter), the eldrilock can select a skill that is not a class skill, and make it a class skill. Alternatively, the eldrilock can select a class skill that normally adds a character’s Dexterity, Intelligence, or Charisma modifier to their total skill bonus, and instead add their Wisdom modifier to their total skill bonus with that skill.

Secondary Eldritch Discipline (5th)

At 5th level, the eldrilock selects another cleric domain, oracle mystery, psychic discipline, sorcerer bloodline, or wizard school to be their secondary discipline. They gains a single ability of their choice from their discipline, which must be one the discipline can normally grants by 5th level. Additional secondary discipline powers are gained in the same way at 12th and 17th level. If the eldrilock’s primary discipline has extra powers that could be selected at all of these levels in addition to those gained at 1st, 8th and 13th (such as would be the case many oracle mysteries), the eldrilock can choose to not gain a secondary discipline, instead gaining additional level-appropriate powers from their primary discipline.

Broad Study (6th)

The eldrilock gains a single ability granted by an archetype for the cleric, oracle, sorcerer, or wizard class. The archetype granting the power must be one the eldrilock could qualify for if the eldrilock was of the appropriate class (meeting any alignment, species, deity, ancestry, nationality, ability score, feat, or similar prerequisite). The archetype ability must be one that could be gained by 6th level. It also must be one that replaces armor or weapon proficiency, spontaneous cure or summon nature’s ally casting, bonus spells, bonus feats, bonus skills, channeling, arcane bond, a single bloodline, psychic discipline, detect thoughts, domain, mystery, or school power, or phrenic pool.

A second broad study is gained at 16th level, and follows the same restrictions, except it can eb a power gained by 16th level.

Eldritch Boost (10th Level)

Though an eldrilock never masters 7th, 8th, or 9th level spells, over time they do manage to infuse their lower-level spell selections with greater power. At 10th level, the save DC of all the eldrilock’s spells gained from this class gain a +1 bonus. This bonus increases to +2 at 14th level, and +3 at 18th level. This increase stacks with other typical methods of increasing a spell’s save DC, such as Spell Focus and casting it as a higher-level spell with the Heighten Spell metamagic feat.

[Design Note: This ability allows the eldrilock to have the same range of save DCs for their highest-level spells as a 9-level spellcaster, despite only having 6-level spellcasting. This makes them effectively a “full” spellcaster, despite their more limited selection of spells.]

Greater Hexalent (20th Level)

At 20th level, the eldrilock’s ability to duplicate the abilities of others is unfettered. The eldriclok gains any one rogue, ninja, or slayer talent or greater talent, or any one shaman or with hex, major hex, or grand hex. The eldrilock need not meet any of the talent or hex’s prerequisites or requirements.

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Under the Weather: Minor Ailments for 4 ttRPGs

So, I have a bug. Not covid, according to the testing I have available, but something more like the “Con Crud” of days of yore. And, while I can still do stuff, I’m tired, achy, slow, and my mind is generally focused on being under the weather.

So, you guessed it, I’m writing game rules for it.

These are minor ailments, representing colds and mild flu, things bad enough they impact a hero and reduce peak performance, but not crippling. If caused by a disease, remove disease or similar effects end it. Otherwise, you get a saving throw at the disease’s DC each day to end the ailment.

Pathfinder 1e & Starfinder: Lesser Sickened. You’re achy and sniffly enough to make things unpleasant, but not enough you can’t generally function. You need of the 150% the sleep and rest to regain abilities or end the fatigued or exhausted condition, take a -2 penalty to Constitution checks and Con-based skill checks, Fortitude saves, and Perception and Stealth checks. These penalties do not stack with those of being sickened, which is largely just a worsened version of this condition.

Pathfinder 2: Lesser Sickened. You take a -1 status penalty on all your checks and DCs. You require an additional 1d4 hours of sleep each night to recover daily abilities or end the fatigued condition.

5e: The idea of adding another condition to 5e, especially one as crunchy as this suggestion is, goes against a lot of the design philosophy of 5e. OTOH, having a situational rule that comes up once as part of a plot (“Expedition to the Flu Season Peaks”) can be a fun change of pace.

Achy: You’re gnerally not at your best, but the situation isn’t bad enough to give you disadvantage to all rolls. When you roll a 10 or 11 on a d20 roll, you must roll a 2nd d20. If the second roll is a lower result, you take the lower result. If it is a higher result, you use your original roll. This is a lesser form of disadvantage, and if you have disadvantage on a roll, use the normal rules for that roll in place of these.

Cat Pics

I have a ko-fi, where you can see pictures of my housemate’s adorable cat, and (if you like), buy me a coffee (or, today, a mug of hot soup).

Guard Dog Feat for d20 Games

Look, guard dogs are a common element of fantasy and feudal adventures, but they can add a lot of hassle for bookkeeping and worrying about their well-being in a ttRPG. So, maybe we just let people take a feat so they can have a dog that barks when assassins creep up in the night, and otherwise don’t worry about it?

This can also be used as a group benefit a GM passes out as a reward for PCs buying a stronghold, or saving an animal, or having an official group name and working together.

This is written to work in a number of d20-baed ttRPGs, so the formatting and language may need to be tweaked to perfectly match the exact game you are playing.

If they don't keep dogs, maybe.
(I *love* The 13th Warrior)

Guard Dog

You have a guard dog. It doesn’t put itself at risk during combat, does not make attacks, and just serves as an early waring system when you are stationary. You cannot use it to send messages, threaten prisoners, carry equipment, or any other task.

As long as you have access to your normal equipment you are expected to have access to your guard dog, unless the GM specifically says otherwise. While the GM can have your guard dog involved in other matters if they wish, doing so is specifically under the purview of the GM’s discretion. This game mechanics of this feat provide for a guard animal’s senses to help protect you out of combat, and in return for expending the resource of the feat and limiting the animal to early warning, you are not required to track its exact location, hit points, food needs, and so on. If the guard dog needs special accommodations to survive in the area you are adventuring, and everyone else in the party has them, you are considered to have managed to cobble together what the guard dog needs.

When you are camping or otherwise staying in one place for a long period of time (such as hanging out in a tavern, sleeping, having a picnic, crafting objects in a shop, and so on), the guard dog can make a Perception check with a bonus equal to half your maximum possible Perception bonus without any spells or equipment augmenting it. The guard dog can see, smell, or hear threats. If the guard dog perceives a threat, it barks loudly, alerting everyone nearby who then may act as if they had successfully made a Perception check to notice the threat.

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Heroic Auras for Pathfinder 1st edition

I’m considering running an E6-style campaign for Pathfinder 1st edition in the not-too-distant future. That’s a play mode where character level progression stops at 6th level, and after that characters pick up a feat every few thousand experience points (and some higher-level abilities can be accessed as feats, and higher-level spells are sometimes available as rituals). I find such campaigns can have a very different feel from standard levels-go-normally-to-20th Pathfinder games, and can be great for more “Sword & Sorcery” stories (with typical Pathfinder often going quickly into High Fantasy and Epic Fantasy).

Being me, I am likely to use some houserules for such a campaign, to help produce a specific play experience focused on competent characters with flexible tools to encourage players to find creative ways to overcome situations. So far I have drafted from fodder foe rules, so I can still throw hordes of adversaries at my stuck-at-lower-level PCs, a set of cantrip buffs to make 0-level spells more impactful and give spellcasters a set of options that won’t run out of daily uses, and a set of skill specializations for most nonspellcasters and combat feat bonuses for fighters.

But characters without access to spells and/or a ton of special abilities also need something else to match their Sword and Sorcery heroic counterparts in genre fiction. They need an ability to just be *more* than typical people. Something between force of personality, keen cunning, and indominable will. Their mere presence can change the outcome of an encounter. Yes, this may change the course of combat, but it can also impact negotiations, bolster rookies, and just generally make things easier for their allies.

In short, they need to have Heroic Auras.

Heroic Auras

Heroic auras require affected creature to be aware of your presence. This is always the case if they can see or hear you. It is up to GM discretion under what circumstances a creature might be aware of your presence in other circumstances. You must be conscious and not helpless for your heroic aura to function, unless it says otherwise. Bonuses from different heroic auras do not stack, but they are otherwise untyped bonuses. Heroic auras don’t have prerequisites and do not require an action to activate.

As with skill specializations, the less access to special abilities a character class grants, the more heroic auras it gains.

Least Special Powers (fighter): Heroic aura gained at 2nd, 4th, 6th, and every 4 levels thereafter.

No Spell Access (barbarian, brawler, cavalier, samurai, shifter): Heroic aura gained at 2nd, and every 4 levels thereafter.

Minor Spell-Like or Supernatural Access (gunslinger, monk, ninja, rogue, slayer, swashbuckler, vigilante): Heroic aura gained at 3rd, and every 5 levels thereafter.

1st-4th Level Spell Access (bloodrager, kineticist, medium, paladin, ranger): Heroic aura gained at 4th, and every 5 levels thereafter.

Partial List of Auras: Before this idea would be viable in-play, even for a game limited to 6th level, I’d need a LOT more auras. This is especially true since in most game groups, the players aren’t going to double up on auras, instead preferring each character with access to them to take different heroic auras, maximizing the benefit to the group as a while.

This is just a proof-of-concept starting point.

Aura of Goodwill (Ex): Within 60 feet of you, creatures that are friendly to a creature they interact with instead function as though they were helpful. This does not prevent a friendly creature’s attitude from changing in normal response to actions, nor do they feel pressured for having acted in a helpful manner, even after they are outside your aura.

Aura of Readiness (Ex): Your alertness helps your allies stay alert and aware. Whenever you are not flat-footed, your allies within 60 feet also are not flat-footed.

Beloved (Ex): Your allies are moved to extraordinary acts to aid you. Each ally can, once per day, if you are paralyzed, helpless, bleeding, unconscious, or under the effects of a mind-affecting effect from a foe, take an additional standard action to move towards you, or to aid you (including casting a spell or using an ability that increases your saving throws, grants you a new save, heals you of damage, or removes a condition, penalty or affliction). Additionally, while you are adjacent to an ally that is not unconscious, held, paralyzed, or helpless, your actions do not provoke attacks of opportunity, and you cannot be targeted by a coup de grace. this heroic aura functions even when you are unconscious or helpless.

Call It In (Ex): You can help your allies more accurately land their large-area attacks. Adversaries within 30 feet of you with improved evasion only gain the benefit of normal evasion, and those with just standard evasion do not benefit from it.

Commando (Ex): You can direct a raid with great cunning, ensuring that everyone moves together to mask the movements of the unit as a whole and get to where they need to be. Allies within 60 feet of you have a minimum Climb check bonus equal to your Climb bonus -5, and minimum Stealth check bonus equal to your Stealth bonus -5.

Dire Aura (Ex): Your mere presence bolsters your allies, and turns your adversaries’ blood cold. When an adversary within 60 feet is demoralized from any source, the duration is increased by +1d4 rounds. When an ally within 60 feet is subject to a fear effect, they may make a saving throw against it with a cumulative +1 bonus each round (at the same save DC as the original effect, or a DC of 10 +1/2 source’s level + source’s Cha mod, if it does not normally have a saving throw), and on a successful save the effect ends.

Master of Beasts (Ex): You have an instinctive effect on domestic animals Allies within 60 feet of you have a minimum Handle Animal check bonus equal to your Handle Animal bonus -5, and minimum Ride check bonus equal to your Ride bonus -5.

Set My Will Against You (Ex): Your iron resolve to oppose your enemies literally weakens their ability to reject magical change. Allies within 60 feet of you gain a +4 bonus to caster level checks to overcome spell resistance. You do not gain this bonus.

Streetwise (Ex): As long as you are out and about in a community, once per day you can automatically take 20 on Diplomacy checks to gather information while still just taking the normal time to make the attempt. Allies travelling with you can make separate checks to gather information, and if successful gain any additional related information the GM determines is available.

Subtle Signs (Ex): Allies within 60 feet of you always succeed at Bluff checks to pass simple secret messages to you, and you always succeed at Bluff checks to pass secret messages to allies within 60 feet. The Sense Motive DC for unintended recipients to pick up on such messages is 25 + your level + the highest of your Int, Wis, or Cha modifiers.

Vicious Assault (Ex): Your fighting style not only hits hard and fast, slipping under foe’s defenses, it encourages your allies to do the same. You and allies within 30 feet reduce the DR of foes by 5, to a minimum of DR 0.

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Boosting Noncaster Pathfinder 1e Classes

I’m considering running an E6-style campaign for Pathfinder 1st edition in the not-too-distant future. That’s a play mode where character level progression stops at 6th level, and after that characters pick up a feat every few thousand experience points (and some higher-level abilities can be accessed as feats, and higher-level spells are sometimes available as rituals). I find such campaigns can have a very different feel from standard levels-go-normally-to-20th Pathfinder games, and can be great for more “Sword & Sorcery” stories (with typical Pathfinder often going quickly into High Fantasy and Epic Fantasy).

Being me, I am likely to use some houserules for such a campaign, to help produce a specific play experience focused on competent characters with flexible tools to encourage players to find creative ways to overcome situations. So far I have drafted from fodder foe rules, so I can still throw hordes of adversaries at my stuck-at-lower-level PCs, and a set of cantrip buffs to make 0-level spells more impactful and give spellcasters a set of options that won’t run out of daily uses.

Of course, granting a universal set of buffs to classes with access to cantrips obviously gives characters with those classes an edge. Given that being underpowered it not generally the problem with spellcasting classes, if we are going to give those classes a big boost every other class needs a few things as well. When looking at who has options in a game that wants to challenge players to get creative, classes with access to spells already had an edge, so the fewer spells (and similar abilities) a character class has access to, the more of a boost it needs for our Sword and Sorcery E6 game.

Since we’re not getting those boosts from spells, we need to look at other game elements, specifically, skills and feats.

Skill Specialization

To help them keep up with our super-cantrip spellcasters, classes with more limited spell access gain some bonus skill ranks and early access to Skill Unlocks (as presented in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Unchained). Since the game is designed to cap at 6th level, PCs would normally never get the skill unlocks for having 10 and 15 ranks in a skill. So by granting skill unlocks early, we can give classes with fewer spells a flexible edge that other characters don’t have access to. This special skill boost is referred to as skill specialization.

The less access a class grants to spells and other special powers, the more skill specialization it needs. As convenient break-points, I’ve created major and minor skill specialization (defined below), and a lesser option to access some skill specialization by spending a feat (for classes with a lot of general spellpower, but who don’t get cantrips). These don’t apply to all a characters’ skills, just a few they select from their class skills (which helps encourage spotlight protection of different rolls, without locking any class into one one option).

For purposes of deciding how many skill unlock boosts a class gives you, point-based power pools such as monk’s ki and gunslinger panache are treated as spell-like abilities, due to their flexibility and utility, even though in some cases the powers they grant are all extraordinary and/or supernatural. Similarly some classes (such as kineticist) are placed in categories based on their overall magic power access, even if they don’t gain normal spellcasting. I’ve categorized the official classes by how much skill specialization they gain, with brief descriptions of why in case the system gets mixed with 3pp classes… which, let’s be honest, I have written a ton of.

Least Special Powers (fighter): 2 major skill specializations, 2 minor skill specialization

No Spell Access (barbarian, brawler, cavalier, samurai, shifter): 1 major skill specialization, 2 minor skill specialization

Minor Spell-Like or Supernatural Access (gunslinger, monk, ninja, rogue, slayer, swashbuckler, vigilante): 2 minor skill specializations

1st-4th Level Spell Access (bloodrager, kineticist, medium, paladin, ranger): 1 minor skill specialization

1st-6th Level Spell-Like Access [No cantrips] (alchemist, investigator): 1 minor skill specialization available as a feat choice.

Major Skill Specialization: Select a class skill. You gain a bonus rank in this skill at every class level (not to exceed a number of ranks equal to your character level), and use your total ranks +9 as your effective number of ranks for skill unlocks with that skill.

Minor Skill Specialization: Select a class skill. You gain a bonus rank in this skill at every class level (not to exceed a number of ranks equal to your character level), and use your total ranks +4 as your effective number of ranks for skill unlocks with that skill.

Minor Skill Specialization Feat: You can expend a feat to gain a +4 bonus to the number of effective ranks you have in a class skill of your choice when determining your skill unlocks for that skill. You may only expend a feat for this bonus for a single skill.

Improved Combat Feats For Fighters

The fighter should be a viable, even attractive option for a Sword and Sorcery genre ttRPG. However, the fighter is the least flexible and utilitarian of all the standard PC classes in Pathfinder 1st edition. Not only are fighters often not the best combatants (with barbarians, cavaliers, and all the classes with full attack bonuses and access to up to 4 levels of spells frequently outdoing fighters in pure combat), but they have many fewer special abilities that other classes can’t access somehow. While there are “fighter feats” that were originally fighter-only, many classes (often hybrid classes of the fighter and another class) gain access to fighter feats at some level, and nearly everything else a fighter gets as an exclusive class feature is just a bonus or weakening of a penalty.

So, for our E6/Sword and Sorcery campaign, fighters get Improved Combat Feats, giving them options other characters just don’t have.

Improved Combat Feats: The bonus combat feats gained by a fighter grant the option to automatically apply the benefits of the feat’s combat trick (as normally gained through the Combat Stamina feat) without having to expend stamina points. Combat Stamina is not available for characters to select as a feat–fighter bonuses feats gaining combat tricks automatically for their bonus feats is the only way to access combat tricks in this campaign model.

If a combat trick has a variable stamina point cost up to a specific ability score modifier (such as Agile Maneuvers), the fighter gains the benefit of spending points equal to the maximum. For other variable costs, the fighter gains the benefit of spending stamina points equal to half their class level.

Additionally, a fighter ignores ability score minimums when determining if they meet prerequisites for combat feats gained with the bonus feat class feature. Everyone else may need a 13 Intelligence to take Combat Expertise, but fighters do not.

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Buffing Pathfinder 1st ed Cantrips

I’m thinking of running an E6-style Pathfinder 1st edition game in the not-too-distant future, and I want to make cantrips a more important and impactful element of that campaign. So, I have come up with scaling power increases to every official cantrip for Pathfinder 1st edition.

To be clear, these are a pure power-up, and using these rules makes all characters able to cast cantrips at least slightly more powerful. I plan on using these rules only in campaigns where noncasters gain a similar boost to effectiveness.

Those affects that use half your caster level always round down. Those that allow you to make a skill check only allow a single check for each thing you wish to attempt, and you can never take 10 or take 20. Such checks are often made by the GM in secret.

Acid Splash: Add half your caster level to the damage done by this spell.

Arcane Mark: You cast use Spellcraft to attempt to find or follow the most recent arcane mark spell you cast, as if using Survival to track.

Bleed: This spell can be cast on creatures not below 0 hp, in which case if they fail a save they bleed 1 hp/round for a number of rounds equal to half your caster level.

Brand: This spell can deal acid, electricity, or fire damage, as you prefer. Add half you caster level to the damage done by this spell.

Breeze: During the duration of this spell, each round as a standard action you can select one creature within range to gain a deflection bonus to AC against ranged missile attacks equal to half your caster level. Only ranged attacks that could be affected by the Deflect Arrows feat are affected by this spell.

Chameleon Scales: When you cast this spell while you have cover or concealment, you can make a Spellcraft check to hide as if using Stealth. You cannot use it for Stealth while moving, and if your cover or concealment ends, so does your Stealth.

Create Water: Casting this spell allows you to attempt to trip a foe, with a CMB of 1/2 your caster level + your spellcasting ability score. It also does 1 point of damage per 2 caster levels to fire elementals (and, at the GM’s discretion, other creatures actually made of fire).

Dancing Lights: Casting this spells allows you to attempt to feint a single foe using Spellcraft, as if making a Bluff check, by using the lights to confuse and distract your opponent. If your check is successful, the feint applies to the next attack made against the target before the end of your next turn.

Daze: This spell affects targets with a max HD equal to your caster level +3.

Detect Fiendish Presence: Casting this spell allows you to use Spellcraft in place of a Perception check to spot outsiders with the evil subtype, as well as the lingering effects caused by their gifts, presence, and spells and divine spellcasters who worship fiendish deities or creatures with fiendish patrons. If you have time to also make a Perception check, you can use this spell in an attempt to aid another with your own Perception check.

Detect Magic: Casting this spell allows you to use Spellcraft in place of a Perception check to spot magical creatures, items, and traps. If you have time to also make a Perception check, you can use this spell in an attempt to aid another with your own Perception check.

Detect Poison: Casting this spell allows you to use Spellcraft in place of a Perception check to spot poisonous creatures, items, and traps. If you have time to also make a Perception check, you can use this spell in an attempt to aid another with your own Perception check.

Detect Psychic Significance: Casting this spell allows you to use Spellcraft in place of a Perception check to spot items of psychic significance. If you have time to also make a Perception check, you can use this spell in an attempt to aid another with your own Perception check.

Disrupt Undead: Add your caster level to damage done with this spell.

Drench: Drenched creatures gain a bonus equal to half your caster level on their next saving throws against fire effects within 1 round per caster level. This spell also does 1 point of damage per caster level to fire elementals (and, at the GM’s discretion, other creatures actually made of fire).

Flare: The duration is 10 rounds, +1 round/2 caster levels.

Ghost Sound: Casting this spell allows you to attempt to demoralize a single foe using Spellcraft, as if making an Intimidate check, by making sudden, distracting, disturbing noises. This use does not allow a Will save, and is not language-dependent. If the target is already shaken, this extends the duration of their shaken effect, rather than increase their degree of fear.

Grasp: This spell gains a target of 1 creature, and a range of 1/2 your caster level x 5 feet.

Grave Words: The chance of the words being of some use is 9+caster level %.

Guidance: Guidance has a duration of 1 minute/caster level, and is not discharged when the target uses it. instead, the target can use its bonus again one minute after a previous use.

Haunted Fey Aspect: The DR is increased by +1 per 3 caster levels.

Jolt: Add half your caster level to the damage done by this spell.

Know Direction: This spell allows you to use Spellcraft in place of Survival for all Survival tasks except tracking.

Light: Casting this spells allows you to attempt to pass a secret message to a single creature using Spellcraft, as if making a Bluff check, by using the lights to send clandestine signals.

Lullaby: You can make a Perform check to conceal casting a lullaby, with observers having to exceed your Perform result with an opposed Perception check to realize you are using this spell.

Mage Hand: The spell’s weight limit is 4 + your caster level in pounds.

Mending: Add half your caster level to the hp restored with each casting of this spell. If a magic item is destroyed by damage, and you mend it back to full hp within one minute, its magic properties are retained.

Message: The DC for those not targeted by your spell to overhear the message is 24 + your caster level.

Oath of Anonymity: Add half your caster level to the bonus granted by this spell.

Open/Close: The casting time for this spell is 1 move action. The weight limit is (5 + your caster level) x 5 lbs.

Penumbra: The target of this spell gains a bonus to Stealth checks (equal to half your caster level) against creatures unable to see in total darkness, when in dim and no light.

Prestidigitation: Prestidigitation allows you to use Spellcraft as wide number of Craft and Professional skill checks (subject to GM approval), including as an aid another option for yourself and others making any Craft or Profession check.

Purify Food and Drink: You can use this spell to make a Spellcraft check to attempt to treat disease or treat poison, as if making a Healing check. If you have time to also make a Healing check, you can use this spell in an attempt to aid another with your own Healing check.

Ray of Frost: Add half your caster level to the damage done by this spell.

Read Magic: You can use this spell to make a Spellcraft check to attempt to decipher written language as if making a Linguistics check. If you have time to also make a Linguistics check, you can use this spell in an attempt to aid another with your own Linguistics check.

Resistance: This becomes an untyped bonus that does not stack with itself (regardless of source), with a duration of 1 minute per caster level.

Root: This spell gains a range of 1/2 your caster level x 5 feet, and a duration of 1 minute/caster level.

Scoop: As part of the standard action to concentrate on this spell, you can use it to deliver a liquid in your possession to a creature within range. This can apply potions and oils to willing targets, or to make a thrown attack against unwilling targets using your spellcasting ability bonus in place of your Dexterity bonus for the attack.

Scrivener’s Chant: This spell allows you to scribe spells into a spellbook in half the normal time and at half the normal cost, and to make scrolls (if you have the Scribe Scroll feat) while travelling (but not engaging in more strenuous activities, such as fighting, research, or crafting).

Sift: This spell uses your Spellcraft check if that is superior to your Perception -5. All other limitations of the spell apply. You can make a Perform check to conceal casting a sift, with observers having to exceed your Perform result with an opposed Perception check to realize you are using this spell.

Sotto Voce: This spell affects targets with a max HD equal to your caster level +3.

Spark: This spell can deal one point of fire damage per 2 caster levels to a creature or object within range. Targets soaked or covered in easily flammable substances (such as being soaked in oil) must make a Reflex save each time they take damage, or catch on fire.

Stabilize: The first time each day a creature has stabilize cast on them, they also recover hit points equal to half the caster’s level.

Summon Instrument: This spell can also summon a typical tool (weighing no more than 5 lbs and worth no more than 1 p, and it is obviously conjured), which will function only for you. Instruments summoned by it grant a +1 circumstance bonus to related Perform checks per 5 caster levels.

Telekinetic Projectile: Add half your caster level to damage dealt by this spell.

Touch of Fatigue: This spell gains a range of 1/2 your caster level x 5 feet.

Unwitting Ally: The spell’s duration becomes 1 round/caster level.

Vacuous Vessel: The duration increases to 10minutes/level, and you can have one vacuous vessel spell active per 2 caster levels.

Vigor: Add half your caster level to the damage bonus provided by this spell.

Virtue: Add half your caster level to the temporary hit points granted by this spell.

Expanded Post:

While I likely won’t use the 2 pre-Pathfinder spells published in official sources (enhanced diplomacy and sign of the dawnflower), I went ahead and included them in the expanded version of this article available to backers of my Patreon.
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“Fodder” foes for Pathfinder 1st-edition

I’ve been considering running a Pathfinder 1st-edition game sometime in the not-too-distant future, as a change of pace for when my current Really Wild West campaign wraps up its current story arc. I’ve been especially considering running a variant of the “E6” concept, where regular character progress ends at level 6, and after that characters get a feat (with some new feats to allow ability score progress, access to new spells, access to higher-level abilities as rituals and such).

One of the nice things about running an E6 style game is that lots of classic monsters remain relevant. You have a range from about CR 4 to CR8, and later even CR 9, where its easy to challenge but not overwhelm characters. That means bulletes, dire animals, tougher mundane animals, centaurs, chimeras, cockatrices, cyclops, dinosaurs, drakes, Medium and Large elementals, giant bugs, gorgons, hell hounds, hill giants et al, howlers, hydras, leucrotta, manticores, medusa, ogres, phase spiders, rust monsters, trolls, unicorns and most typical undead (just to name a few) are all easily introduced into encounters. For many people this power level is the “sweet spot” of the game, so E6 just makes that the default, with power increases increasing breadth of options more than raw power numbers.

But it can also mean it’s tough to have challenging encounters with 8-20 foes, which while needn’t be common can certainly be fun. One of the things that can feel good as a hero is to be able to kill foes in a single blow, take out small gangs that jump you in an ally, and hold the bridge against small armies. Doing that without huge numerical bonuses of being 5 levels higher than your foe is tricky, because being outnumbered gives PCs a massive action economy disadvantage.

Lots of games have solved this issue with “minion” or “thug” rules, creating a class of adversary who has enough offensive values to be a threat, but are easily killed. I’ve enjoyed using “rowdies” in my Really Wild West game, and a similar mechanism seems like it might be useful for the specific feel I want for my E6 Pathfinder 1st ed game. This is just a first stab at such rules, off the top of my head, using the template concept and referring to such quickly-defeated adversaries as “fodder.”

I specifically want to make fodder dangerous enough you can’t ignore them, but weak enough their big advantage in extra actions doesn’t allow them to overwhelm PCs. I also want to make sure they are debuffed both in combatant terms, and when thinking about spells and special ablities.

Fodder Template

Six creatures with the fodder template are equal to a single creatre of the same CR. Thus, six CR 2 fodder worgs have a CR of 2. This also means you can have one CR 2 worg pack leader, and six fodder worgs, for a total of a CR 4 encounter.

Fodder have a -4 penalty to Initiative checks, AC, CMB, and CMD.
Fodder have a -4 penalty to saving throws against effects that do not deal hp damage, and if such effects have a duration of 1 round or more, the duration is doubled on a failed save.
Fodder have hp equal to the CR of the base creature. (Thus a CR 2 fodder worg has 2 hp).
Fodder do half damage with all abilities. The save DCs of their spells and abilities are reduced by 2, and on a successful save targets take no effect.
Any successful Knowledge check to identify a creature also identifies if it is fodder.

That’s just one change I am considering making to the rules–I have ideas about cantrips automatically scaling, feats gained from some classes have additional benefits (such as combat feats fighters gain from the class bonus feats automatically granting the combat stamina advantages if the fighter wishes, without needing to expend stamina points), and allowing PCs to gain abilities from other classes as feats.

But those are posts for another day. 🙂

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Cantrip-Based Items for PF1

Yes, these are yet more inexpensive, nonconsumable items for 1st edition Pathfinder, but these are all united by being based on cantrips. The idea is to create items that boost the utility and functionality of low-level spellcasters in a different way that giving them minor scrolls or wands. These items popped into my head over the past few days, inspired by a conversation I had with longtime (37+ years) gaming friends earlier this week. (I’m also making them available to my wife, who is running a currently-5th-level PF1 campaign, in case she wants to pass them out as loot).

Blooddrop Pin
Aura
faint necromancy; CL 3rd; Slot head or shoulders; Price 1,500 gp; Weight
This long silver pin has a bright, blood-colored, teardrop-shaped garnet in the handle. It can be worn as a hairpin (taking the head item slot) or as a cloakpin (taking the shoulder item slot). It can also be used as a Small or Medium dagger without being considered an improvised weapon, but its base damage is 1, rather than 1d4. A spellcaster who has the bleed cantrip on their class list can learn it from the blooddrop pin as if the pin was a scroll, without damaging the item. The pin also allows the spell bleed to be targeted on a creature with a positive hp total, causing them on a failed save to take 1 hp and gain a 1 hp bleed effect. Multiple bleed spells cast on a target in this manner do not increase the bleed effect to more than 1 hp/round.
Craft Wondrous Item, bleed; Cost 750 gp

Brightstrap
Aura
strong (no school); CL 17th; Slot —; Price 250 gp; Weight
A brightstrap is a silvery silk-and-leather strap roughly 6 inches long that can easily be tied to a weapon, torch, holy symbol, belt, glove, or most other common adventuring equipment. A spellcaster who has the light cantrip on their class list can learn it from the brightstrap as if the strap was a scroll, without damaging the item. When a spellcaster casts the light cantrip on a brightstrap, it does not count against their maximum of 1 active light spell at a time.  This item does not grant the ability to cast light, just to modify the spell if the caster already has access to it.
Craft Wondrous Item, continual flame, light; Cost 125 gp

Charcoal Cord
Aura
strong (no school); CL 17th; Slot —; Price 1,500 gp; Weight —The charcoal cord is a short length of dark gray cording that appears to be covered in charcoal, though it leaves no powder or mark behind. The cord can be worn nearly anywhere on the body (wrapped around the wrist, tied to a belt, used to hold back hair, etc), and does not take up a magic item slot. A spellcaster who has the detect poison cantrip on their class list can learn it from the cord as if the cord was a scroll, without damaging the item. Three times per day, the charcoal cord allows a character casting detect poison to do so as a move action. This item does not grant the ability to cast detect poison, just to modify the spell if the caster already has access to it.
Craft Rod, Craft Wondrous Item, Quicken Spell; Cost 750 gp

Guiding Star
Aura
strong (no school); CL 17th; Slot belt, body, chest, or shoulders; Price 1,500 gp; Weight
The guiding star is a fine cloth sash with small patterns matching constellations sewn into it. It can be worn as a belt, shoulder sash, chest wrap, or numerous other ways that allow it to take one of a number of magic items slots (see above) and still function. A spellcaster who has the guidance cantrip on their class list can learn it from the sash as if the sash was a scroll, without damaging the item. Three times per day, the guiding star allows a character casting guidance to have the spell last up to 10 minute pers level (until discharged). This item does not grant the ability to cast guidance, just to modify the spell if the caster already has access to it.
Craft Rod, Craft Wondrous Item, Extend Spell; Cost 750 gp

Ring of Trifles
Aura
feint transmutation; CL 7th; Slot ring; Price 500 gp; Weight
A character able to prepare cantrips can prepare one additional cantrip when wearing this ring. The ring must be worn or 24 hours before it can be used.
Forge Ring; Special creator must be able to prepare cantrips from at least 2 different class spell lists; Cost 250 gp (1st)

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More Minor PF1 Magic Items

More minor magic items for 1st edition Pathfinder.

Beneficial Beltpouch
Aura
minor conjuration; CL 5th; Slot —; Price 500 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This appears to be a typical beltpouch, appearing large enough to hold about a quart of material. In fact, it is like a bag of holding and can actually hold material of as much as 2 cubic feet in volume or 20 pounds in weight.
While such storage is useful enough, the purse has an even greater power. When the wearer reaches into it for a specific item, that item is always on top. Thus, no digging around and fumbling is ever necessary to find what the beltpouch contains. Retrieving any specific item from a beneficial beltpouch is a move action, but it does not provoke the attacks of opportunity that retrieving a stored item usually does.
Craft Wondrous Item, secret chest; Cost 250 gp

Eldritch Brazier of Focus (1st-Level Spell)
Aura strong transmutation; CL 17th; Slot —; Price 1,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.
Once per day a character able to prepare spells of at least 1st level can burn this brazier while making their preparations, allowing them to prepare one additional 1st level spell. A character can only benefit from a single eldritch brazier per day.
Craft Wondrous Item; Special creator must be able to prepare 1st-level spells; Cost 500 gp (1st)

Ring of Escape
Aura moderate illusion; CL 8th; Slot ring; Price 2,000 gp; Weight
Once per day as a reaction when the wearer takes damage or fails a saving throw, they can become invisible as if they had cast vanish, using their character level as the caster level.
Forge Ring, Improved Initiative, vanish; Cost 1,000 gp

Satchel of Endless Bandages
Aura
faint conjuration; CL 8th; Slot —; Price 250 gp; Weight 1 lb.
This shoulder satchel has a faintly pleasant, herbal smell to it, and has a clasp in the form of a snake woven around a small staff. It functions as a healer’s kit, but never runs out of charges.
Craft Wondrous Item; goodberry; Cost 250 gp

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