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PF1 Essentials, Spell Redesign Goals (and Hold Person)

Obviously if I am doing a redesign of elements of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (and this Index suggests I might be…), one of the things I need to tackle is spells. It’s extremely easy for spellcasters to dominate spotlight time in a campaign, because they have a powerful, flexible toolset that can be applied to nearly any problem. “Fixing” that is a narrow line to walk, since it’s one of the things that appeals to people who love spellcasters, and it’s easy to go too far in the opposite direction, or make spellcasters and other classes so similar they lose their distinctive play experience.

Some of the fix can be done by looking at broader options for other classes. But some spells just need to be reconsidered. They may be overpowered, or underpowered, but most importantly, they may lead to less fun in play. So let’s talk about the most frustrating and swingy spell in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game– hold person.

If your target makes their saving throw, you accomplish nothing that round. Nothing at all. Sure, when a fighter swings his sword and misses he may accomplish nothing, but the fighter doesn’t have a daily limit on how often they can swing a sword. Plus, it’s much easier for a fighter to get multiple attacks per round than for a spellcaster to get multiple spells per round. Ignoring balance, it’s just not FUN when you burn a resource for an iconic spell and nothing-at-all happens.

On the flip side, if your target fails their saving throw, odds are they’re out of the fight. Yes, they could save on their next turn–but while paralyzed they are subject to sneak attacks and coup de grace, and at minimum they lose a full round of action. I’ve been watching hold person get used for 20 years, and 75% of the time if the target fails their save, their dead before they ever get to act again. This is particularly worrying since so much of PF1 encounter design assumes a group of multiple heroes face off against one monster. The action economy already favors the PCs, and if they take a full round of actions from the foe, it’s generally game over. Which, to be honest, is often less fun for everyone else, especially if the spellcaster refuses to risk encounters if they don’t have this spell available.

Rather than these two extreme factors being balanced, they create two different but equally extreme unbalances.

So we need a spell that always has some effect, sometimes has lots of effect, but rarely has an encounter-ending effect.

While we are at it, I foresee breaking spells into three categories — arcane, divine, and psychic, to match the three kinds of spellcaster. Spells will also be broken into common, uncommon, and rare. Classes get spells of a given school(s) and rarity. So a wizard might get common, uncommon, and rare arcane spells, while a witch gets common and uncommon arcane spells, and common psychic spells. We can add a few class-specific spells in each category, like oracle’s burden is an oracle-only spell on the cleric spell list in standard PF1. (This system has oodles of advantages over each class having its own lit, which I’ll discuss in another post).

(Art by Lunstream) (I assume this guy got held in that stupid pose)

Hold Person
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level arcane 2 (common), divine 2 (common), psychic 2 (common)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, F/DF
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target one humanoid creature
Duration 1 round/level (D); see text
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

The subject is staggered. A target that makes its saving throw is staggered for just 1 round. A target that fails its saving throw by 5 or more is dazed for 1 round, then staggered for the spell’s duration. A target with a CR greater that double this spell’s spell level is never effected for more than 1 round. A target with a CR greater that double this spell’s spell level that makes its save by 5 or more is not affected at all.
A winged creature staggered by this spell must land, and must take 1 action to do so each round while flying.

Hold Person, Mass
School enchantment (compulsion) [mind-affecting]; Level arcane 7 (rare), psychic 7 (uncommon)
Targets one or more humanoid creatures all within a 20-foot-radius

This spell functions like hold person, except as noted above.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

PF1 Essential Feats, Part 3: General Feats

Last Friday I tackled some “1st Edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Essentials Feat,” a theoretical project to revise all the feats for PF1, cutting down the total number of feats by 80% or so, while maintaining as many character concepts as possible. I also hope to do some rebalancing so feats are all meaningful choices, and possible even tackle class balance issues

I’ve been focusing on Stance Feats, especially the Power Attack stance feats. Today, I decided to work on a many general feats I think can be condensed down to just a few options.

(Art by Lunstream)

DIFFICULTY FOCUS
You have improved how difficult it is for foes to resist one specific ability of yours.
Prerequisites: Spell, special attack, or class feature that has a save DC.
Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s special attacks, or class features, or one school of magic. Add +2 to the DC for all saving throws against the special attack, class feature, or spells and spell-like abilities from the school of magic on which the creature focuses.
Special: A creature can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time the creature takes the feat, it applies to a different school of magic, special attack, or class feature.

NIMBLE MOVES
You can move across a difficult terrain with ease.
Prerequisites: Dex 13.
Benefit: Whenever you move, you may move through a number of 5-foot squares of difficult terrain each round as if it were normal terrain. The number of squares you can move through each round is equal to your Dexterity bonus. This feat allows you to take a 5-foot step into difficult terrain.

SKILL FOCUS
Choose a skill. You are particularly adept at that skill.
Benefit: You get a +3 bonus on all checks involving the chosen skill. If you have 10 or more ranks in that skill, this bonus increases to +6.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new skill.

SKILL SYNERGY
You understand how two skills work well together.
Benefit: Choose two skills. These skills become class skills for you. If one or both were already class skills, you gain a +2 bonus to those skill checks instead. If you have 10 or more ranks in one or both of these skills, you gain an additional +2 bonus to skill checks with those skills.
Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects don’t stack. Each time you take it, it applies to two different skills.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

PF1 Essential Feats, at 2: Power Attack Stance Feats

Last Friday I tackled some “1st Edition Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Essentials Feat,” a theoretical project to revise all the feats for PF1, cutting down the total number of feats by 80% or so, while maintaining as many character concepts as possible. I also hope to do some rebalancing so feats are all meaningful choices, and possible even tackle class balance issues

One of the things I presented were Stance Feats, and I then rewrote Power Attack to be a prime example of such feats. Today, I am presenting what I see as the key Power Attack Stance feats, compiled, revised, and revisiting dozens of PF1 feats to compile into just 9 total feats. (You can follow the link above to Friday’s post to see how I set up Stance Feats and Power Attack.)

It’s worth noting that, at least at the moment, I don’t plan to make the Improved Combat Maneuver feats Power Attack Stance feats, and may not even keep Power Attack as prerequisites for them. That may change once I get deeper into this project, but for now I’m not including them here.

I also suspect one of the things the fighter class is going to get is a way to have multiple stances active at once. But I’ll figure out how and at what levels to do that after I have more feat stance chains built.

(Art by Lunstream)

Power Attack Stance Feats

POWERFUL ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can focus on inflicting inflict bloody wounds that are slow to heal.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and you damage a foe with a melee attack you inflict 1d4 points of bleed damage, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the weapon. A creature continues to take bleed damage every round at the start of its turn. Bleed damage can be stopped by a Heal check (DC 10 + your base attack bonus) or through any magical healing. Bleed damage from this feat does not stack with itself.
If your base attack bonus is +11 or higher, when you are in Power Attack stance, you may instead choose on melee attack you make each round to attempt to daze your target. This choice must be made before your attack roll. If the attack hits, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the attack that target must make a successful Fortitude save (DC of this save is 10 + your base attack bonus) or be dazed for 1 round. Subsequent attacks in the same round also have a chance to daze targets, but each subsequent melee attack you make in the same round reduces this DC by 5. If the DC drops to 10 or less, there is no change to daze targets.
You cannot use this feat to both cause bleed damage and have a chance to daze targets.

HARDER THEY FALL (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can work with an ally to move or knock over a foe that’s too large for either of you to overcome alone.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, if the first melee attack you make in your turn successfully hits and damages a foe, your allies gain a +2 bonus to combat maneuver bonus checks against that target until the beginning of your next turn. Additionally, until your next turn allies can attempt to bull rush, drag, overrun, reposition, or trip that target even if it is two size categories larger than them.
Normal: Those combat maneuvers can normally only be attempted against creatures no more than one size category larger than you.

INTIMIDATING SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
Your terrible attacks strike fear into your enemies.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, Intimidate 1 rank, base attack b9nus +1.
Benefit: You may add your Strength modifier, rather than Charisma modifier, to Intimidate checks.
When you are in Power Attack stance, the first time in your turn you damage an opponent with a melee, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize your opponent.
Additionally when in Power Attack stance, the first time each combat you drop a foe to 0 or fewer Hit Points, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize all opponent within 60 feet.
Alternatively, if you attempt to demoralize a foe within your reach as a standard action and succeed, you may choose to immediately enter Power Attack stance (ending any other stance you are in) and make a single melee attack against them as a swift action. You cannot then attempt to use this feat to demoralize them again on that attack.

ONSLAUGHT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
No one is prepared for how hard you strike until they see it firsthand.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, sneak attack class feature.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, you can add your sneak attack damage to the first melee attack you make in each combat, even if the target is not flanked or denied their Dex bonus to AC.

PILE ON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can keep a foe shuddering in fear.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Intimidating Smash, Power Attack, Intimidate 6 ranks.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you damage a creature that is shaken, frightened, or panicked, you can choose to deal half your normal damage in order to extend the duration of its fear condition by 1 round.

PUSHING ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can use attacks with two-handed weapons to drive your foes before you.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you make a melee attack that damage sa creature that is no more than one size category larger than you, you can choose to push the target 5 feet directly away from you. Alternative, you can choose to do half damage to push the target 10 feet directly away from you. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunities, and the target must end this move in a safe space it can stand in. You choose which effect to apply after the attack roll has been made, but before the damage is rolled.

SET WEAPON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can set your weapons to deal extra damage against moving foes.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, all weapons you wield with the reach special weapon feature are also treated as if they had the brace weapon special feature. Additionally, if you are using a weapon that normally has the brace special weapon feature, if you successfully hit a target an an attack of opportunity the target provoked from movement, you deal double damage.

SHIELD OF SWINGS (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
A wild frenzy of attacks serves to bolster your defenses.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and make a melee attack, you can choose for all your attacks to do half damage in order to gain a +4 shield bonus to AC and CMD until the beginning of your next turn. The reduction in damage applies until the beginning of your next turn.

SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You overcome obstacles by breaking them.
Prerequisites: Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, your melee attacks ignore 5 points of hardness. This has no effect on DR. You also receive a +5 bonus on Strength checks made to knock down or break open doors.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

PF1 Essentials, Feats and Index

I mentioned on Facebook the idea of doing “Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st edition Essential Feats,” which would cut down on the total number of feats by about 80%, while not significantly reducing the number of different builds you could create with such feat.

Ideally, such a project would also address issues with needless complexity, and known roadblocks to popular character concepts. To be honest, this would also be one major step I would take on a Revised Pathfinder Roleplaying Game 1st Edition — something I’d want to be 90% or more compatible with existing 1st edition, just with some shuffling with how details work.

As I work on the “PF1 Essentials” idea, I am updating this post so it serves as a compilation of feats, and an index of other PF1 Essentials content.

INDEX

Classes: Here’s a preview of the PF1 Essentials Fighter
Feats: You’re already here!
Spells: We outline some design goals and tackle hold person here.

Stance Feats

My first step in doing all this would be with Stance feats, which make some popular feats easier to access, simpler to run, and slightly more powerful, but also prevents you from benefitting from them all at the same time. I have presented some key ones below.

(Art by Lunstream)

When you use a stance feat, you cannot use any other stance feat that is not the same type of stance feat. For example, if you are using a Power Attack Stance feat, you can use other Power Attack Stance feat, but not a Combat Expertise Stance feat.

CLEAVE (Combat, Cleave Stance)
You can strike two adjacent foes with a single swing.
Prerequisites: Str 13, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: As a standard action, you can make a single melee attack at your full base attack bonus against a foe within reach. If you hit, you deal damage normally and can make an additional melee attack (using your full base attack bonus) against a foe that is adjacent to the first and also within reach. You can only make one additional attack per round with this feat. When you use this feat, you take a –2 penalty to your Armor Class until your next turn.

COMBAT EXPERTISE (Combat, Combat Expertise Stance)
You can increase your defense by focusing on parries and dodges.
Prerequisite: Dex 13 or Int 13.
Benefit: You can choose to enter the Combat Expertise stance to gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every +4 thereafter, the dodge bonus increases by +1. You can only choose to use this feat when you declare that you are making an attack or a full-attack action with a melee weapon. The effects of this feat last until your next turn.

POWER ATTACK (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can make exceptionally deadly melee attacks by focusing on powerful swings.
Prerequisites: Str 13, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: You can choose to enter the Power Attack stance, to gain a +2 bonus on all melee damage rolls. This bonus to damage is increased by half (+50%) if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your Strength modifier on damage rolls. This bonus to damage is halved (–50%) if you are making an attack with an off-hand weapon or secondary natural weapon.
When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and every 4 points thereafter, the bonus to damage increases by +2.
You must choose to use this feat before making an attack roll, and its effects last until your next turn. The bonus damage does not apply to touch attacks or effects that do not deal hit point damage.

VITAL STRIKE (Combat, Vital Strike Stance)
You make a single attack that deals significantly more damage than normal.
Benefit: When you make only a single attack in a round, you can make one attack at your highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage. Roll the weapon’s damage dice for the attack twice and add the results together before adding bonuses from Strength, weapon abilities (such as flaming), precision-based damage, and other damage bonuses. These extra weapon damage dice are not multiplied on a critical hit, but are added to the total.
You must enter this stance before you make any attack rolls in your turn. Once you have done so, you cannot make any other attacks (including attacks of opportunity) until the beginning of your next turn.
If your base attack bonus is +11 or higher, you instead roll the damage dice for the attack three times. If you base attack bonus is +16, you instead roll the damage dice for the attack four times.

WEAPON FINESSE (Combat, Weapon Finesse Stance)
You are trained in using your agility in melee combat, as opposed to brute strength.
Benefit: With a light weapon or a weapon with the finesse trait (including the elven curve blade, rapier, whip, or spiked chain) made for a creature of your size category, you may use your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier on attack rolls and damage rolls. If you carry a shield, its armor check penalty applies to your attack rolls.
You do not add 1.5x your Dexterity modifier to damage with 2-handed finesse weapons. You only add half your Dexterity modifier to damage with off-hand weapons.
Special: Natural weapons are considered light weapons.

(Art by Lunstream)

Power Attack Stance Feats

The following are my current vision of the key Power Attack Stance feats, compiled, revised, and revisiting dozens of PF1 feats to compile into just 9 total feats.

It’s worth noting that, at least at the moment, I don’t plan to make the Improved Combat Maneuver feats Power Attack Stance feats, and may not even keep Power Attack as prerequisites for them. That may change once I get deeper into this project, but for now I’m not including them here.

I also suspect one of the things the fighter class is going to get is a way to have multiple stances active at once. But I’ll figure out how and at what levels to do that after I have more feat stance chains built.

POWERFUL ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can focus on inflicting inflict bloody wounds that are slow to heal.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and you damage a foe with a melee attack you inflict 1d4 points of bleed damage, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the weapon. A creature continues to take bleed damage every round at the start of its turn. Bleed damage can be stopped by a Heal check (DC 10 + your base attack bonus) or through any magical healing. Bleed damage from this feat does not stack with itself.
If your base attack bonus is +11 or higher, when you are in Power Attack stance, you may instead choose on melee attack you make each round to attempt to daze your target. This choice must be made before your attack roll. If the attack hits, in addition to the normal damage dealt by the attack that target must make a successful Fortitude save (DC of this save is 10 + your base attack bonus) or be dazed for 1 round. Subsequent attacks in the same round also have a chance to daze targets, but each subsequent melee attack you make in the same round reduces this DC by 5. If the DC drops to 10 or less, there is no change to daze targets.
You cannot use this feat to both cause bleed damage and have a chance to daze targets.

HARDER THEY FALL (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can work with an ally to move or knock over a foe that’s too large for either of you to overcome alone.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, if the first melee attack you make in your turn successfully hits and damages a foe, your allies gain a +2 bonus to combat maneuver bonus checks against that target until the beginning of your next turn. Additionally, until your next turn allies can attempt to bull rush, drag, overrun, reposition, or trip that target even if it is two size categories larger than them.
Normal: Those combat maneuvers can normally only be attempted against creatures no more than one size category larger than you.

INTIMIDATING SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
Your terrible attacks strike fear into your enemies.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, Intimidate 1 rank, base attack b9nus +1.
Benefit: You may add your Strength modifier, rather than Charisma modifier, to Intimidate checks.
When you are in Power Attack stance, the first time in your turn you damage an opponent with a melee, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize your opponent.
Additionally when in Power Attack stance, the first time each combat you drop a foe to 0 or fewer Hit Points, you may make an immediate Intimidate check as a free action to attempt to demoralize all opponent within 60 feet.
Alternatively, if you attempt to demoralize a foe within your reach as a standard action and succeed, you may choose to immediately enter Power Attack stance (ending any other stance you are in) and make a single melee attack against them as a swift action. You cannot then attempt to use this feat to demoralize them again on that attack.

ONSLAUGHT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
No one is prepared for how hard you strike until they see it firsthand.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, sneak attack class feature.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, you can add your sneak attack damage to the first melee attack you make in each combat, even if the target is not flanked or denied their Dex bonus to AC.

PILE ON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can keep a foe shuddering in fear.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Intimidating Smash, Power Attack, Intimidate 6 ranks.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you damage a creature that is shaken, frightened, or panicked, you can choose to deal half your normal damage in order to extend the duration of its fear condition by 1 round.

PUSHING ASSAULT (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can use attacks with two-handed weapons to drive your foes before you.
Prerequisites: Str 15, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, once per round when you make a melee attack that damage sa creature that is no more than one size category larger than you, you can choose to push the target 5 feet directly away from you. Alternative, you can choose to do half damage to push the target 10 feet directly away from you. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunities, and the target must end this move in a safe space it can stand in. You choose which effect to apply after the attack roll has been made, but before the damage is rolled.

SET WEAPON (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You can set your weapons to deal extra damage against moving foes.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, all weapons you wield with the reach special weapon feature are also treated as if they had the brace weapon special feature. Additionally, if you are using a weapon that normally has the brace special weapon feature, if you successfully hit a target an an attack of opportunity the target provoked from movement, you deal double damage.

SHIELD OF SWINGS (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
A wild frenzy of attacks serves to bolster your defenses.
Prerequisites: Str 13, Power Attack, base attack bonus +1.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance and make a melee attack, you can choose for all your attacks to do half damage in order to gain a +4 shield bonus to AC and CMD until the beginning of your next turn. The reduction in damage applies until the beginning of your next turn.

SMASH (Combat, Power Attack Stance)
You overcome obstacles by breaking them.
Prerequisites: Power Attack.
Benefit: When you are in Power Attack stance, your melee attacks ignore 5 points of hardness. This has no effect on DR. You also receive a +5 bonus on Strength checks made to knock down or break open doors.

General Feats

A big part of doing an “Essentials” line for PF1 is cutting down on the number of similar-but-just-different-enough options s the total number of things a player has to go through is greatly reduced. here are some examples of how I would do that with core general feats.

DIFFICULTY FOCUS
You have improved how difficult it is for foes to resist one specific ability of yours.
Prerequisites: Spell, special attack, or class feature that has a save DC.
Benefit: Choose one of the creature’s special attacks, or class features, or one school of magic. Add +2 to the DC for all saving throws against the special attack, class feature, or spells and spell-like abilities from the school of magic on which the creature focuses.
Special: A creature can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time the creature takes the feat, it applies to a different school of magic, special attack, or class feature.

NIMBLE MOVES
You can move across a difficult terrain with ease.
Prerequisites: Dex 13.
Benefit: Whenever you move, you may move through a number of 5-foot squares of difficult terrain each round as if it were normal terrain. The number of squares you can move through each round is equal to your Dexterity bonus. This feat allows you to take a 5-foot step into difficult terrain.

SKILL FOCUS
Choose a skill. You are particularly adept at that skill.
Benefit: You get a +3 bonus on all checks involving the chosen skill. If you have 10 or more ranks in that skill, this bonus increases to +6.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new skill.

SKILL SYNERGY
You understand how two skills work well together.
Benefit: Choose two skills. These skills become class skills for you. If one or both were already class skills, you gain a +2 bonus to those skill checks instead. If you have 10 or more ranks in one or both of these skills, you gain an additional +2 bonus to skill checks with those skills.
Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Its effects don’t stack. Each time you take it, it applies to two different skills.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

Maneuver Defense Feats for Pathfinder 1e

Some players just hate being disarmed. Or grappled. Or tripped. Or having their weapon sundered. Sure, it’s a reasonable and normal tactical option for GMs, but that doesn’t mean players don’t want ways to improve their defenses against such maneuvers.

(Art by Javier)

The classic answer is to take the appropriate Improved combat maneuver feat, which increase your CMD… but they also does a lot of other things. In fact, their primary abilities are offensive in nature, rather than defensive. Which means an all-defensive version is reasonable… but it needs to not stack, or defensive numbers can grow beyond what the game system is designed to allow.

CMD is also a place where spells and magic items don’t really make up the growing gap in value for characters not focusing on Strength and Dexterity. A wizard can use mage armor to boost their AC, and get ever-more-effective bracers of armor as they gain levels. But if they want to keep their Intelligence competitive, they can’t afford to boost their Strength and Dexterity as they go up in levels. Other classes have the same (or worse) problems, especially those dependent on multiple attributes.

There should be SOME way to make sure their CMD can stay in good defensive ranges if they expend character build resources on it, without also allowing high-Strength, high-Dexterity characters to become effectively immune.

Those are pretty narrow design spaces, but they’re certainly ones we can work with.

Combat Maneuver Defensive Focus (Combat)
You have trained yourself to avoid one specific combat maneuver.
Benefit: Select one combat maneuver. You gain a +4 bonus to your CMD against this combat maneuver. This bonus does not stack with the bonus to CMB from the matching Improved (Combat Maneuver) feat. When you gain a level, you may replace this feat with the matching Improved (Combat maneuver) feat if that feat is a legal choice for your character.
Special: You may select this feat more than once. Its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, you must apply it to a different combat maneuver.

Combat Maneuver Specialized Training (Combat)
You have learned to maximize the benefits of your natural talents to avoid being overwhelmed by combat maneuvers.
Benefit: When calculating your CMD, you may replace either your Strength bonus or Dexterity bonus with the ability bonus of one other ability score of your choice. Once these decisions are made, they cannot be changed.

Patreon
I have a Patreon. It supports the time I take to do all my blog posts. If you’d like to see more Pathfinder 1st edition options (or more rules for other game systems, fiction, game industry essays, game design articles, worldbuilding tips, whatever!), try joining for just a few bucks and month and letting me know!

OGL Warlock for Starfinder Part 8: Archetypes and NPCs

Unlike a lot of other d20 games, the Starfinder Roleplaying game needs special rules to apply archetypes to PCs of any class, and to create NPCs for that class. So even if you have all the stand-alone class rules, you haven’t really “finished” a class until you have these.

So, here are the last rules you need to fully integrate warlocks into any Starfinder Roleplaying Game campaign you might have (such as the Really Wild West!).

(Really Wild West Lashunta Celestial Warlock by Jacob Blackmon)

Warlocks with Archetypes.

As with any Starfinder Roleplaying Game class, a warlock that takes an archetype has some of its class features altered or replaced, as noted below.

Altered or Replaced Warlock Class Features

For any level at which an archetype provides an alternate class feature, a warlock who takes the archetype alters or replaces the listed class features.

2nd, 9th: You do not gain an invocation.

4th: You do not gain your pact boon until 5th level. At 5th level you gain a pact boon rather than an invocation.

6th, 12th, 18th: You do not gain a patron gift.

No description available.
(Really Wild West Tiefling Fiendish Warlock by Jacob Blackmon)

Warlock Class Graft

If you wish to make a warlock NPC, you can use the following class graft along with the standard rules for doing so found in the Starfinder Alien Archive.

Special Rules – Patron: Select a patron and give the warlock the associated eldritch blast and eldritch power. The eldritch blast should do damage appropriate for the NPC’s CR.

Special Rules – Spells: All spells must be selected from the mystic or witchwarper spell list. If the warlock is CR 10 or higher, reduce the level of all its available spells in each encounter by one spell level.

Required Array: Spellcaster.

Adjustments: +2 to Reflex saving throws.

Skills: Master Bluff, Intimidate, and Culture or Perception.

Ability Score Modifiers: Highest bonus goes to Charisma, Intelligence, or Wisdom, then Dexterity and Constitution.

Gear: Light or heavy armor (item level = CR), small arm (item level = CR), and basic melee weapon (item level = CR – 1).

ABILITIES BY CR

CR           Abilities

1              Patron and one special ability.
2              Patron, one invocation, and one special ability.
4              Patron, pact boon, one invocation, and one special ability.
9              Patron, pact boon, one invocation, one patron gift, and one special ability.
12           Patron, pact boon, two invocations, one patron gift, and one special ability.
15           Patron, pact boon, two invocations, two patron gift, and one special ability.
20           Patron, pact boon, eldritch mastery, two invocations, two patron gift, and one special ability.

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OGL Warlock for Starfinder Part 8: Eldritch Mastery and Index

At long last, below is the 20th level class feature, Eldritch Mastery. With this article, we have a complete Starfinder Roleplaying Game version of the OGL warlock from 5e.

Here’s the index of where to find elements of the class:

Class table and proficiencies
Spell access and spell slots
The Fiendish patron
Fiendish patron gifts
Invocations
Pact Boons — Pact of Armor and Pact of the Vessel more pact boons here.
Pact of Alteration and Pact of Change
Rules for Archetypes and NPCs

(Art by Jesse-Lang Lee)

Eldritch Master
At 20th level, you gain the ability to cast spells as a mystic, technomancer, or witchwarper (your choice) of 13th level (gaining spells known and spells per day as a 13th level character of the selected class, with a caster level of 13 for these spells). Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. You cannot cast any spell that requires you to have a class feature you lack.

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

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OGL Warlock for Starfinder Part 7: More Pact Boons

We’re close to wrapping up one complete build for our OGL warlock for Starfinder. We’ve done the class table and proficienciesspell access and spell slotsthe Fiendish patron, its patron gifts, a set of invocations, and the first two pact boons. We offer up two more pact boons here.

(Art by Grandeduc)

Pact of Alteration (Su): Your physical self is mutated and augmented by bits of technology, magic, and even undead matter over time. Select one of more a biotech, cybernetic, magitech, or necrograft augmentations, which have a total item level no greater than your warlock level. You gain these augmentations, and they do not count against the total number of augmentations you have in any given system. The augmentations are obvious and have a dramatic appearance, similar to what happens to weapons when a weapon fusion is added. This appearance is determined by the player, but should tie into the theme of the warlock’s patron. Once set, this appearance does not change until you next gain a warlock level.

If any augmentation uses charges, rounds, shells, darts, or petrol, those are refilled each time you recuperate*. Any such ammo removed from an upgrade fade away and cannot be used for any other purpose.

You can chance your augmentations each time you gain a warlock level, each time picking augmentation of the listed types with a combined item level no greater than your warlock level.

(Art by chainat)

Pact of Change (Sp): You have gained the power to alter your form. You can cast polymorph on yourself as a spell-like ability. The polymorph spell has a spell-level equal to 1/3 your warlock level 9maximum 6th). When not in combat, the spell loses one minute of duration for every 10 minutes of time that elapses. Beginning at 5th level, you may have one form per warlock level, rather than the spell’s normal limit of 4 forms, but all must be designed between game sessions, and you must regain your daily abilities before you can gain a new form. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again until after you recuperate*.

*Recuperate is my proposed game term to represent when a character spends 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest.

Tomorrow we’ll define eldritch mastery, and then we’ll be done!

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OGL Warlock for Starfinder Part 6: Pact Boons

We’ve gotten through most of our OGL warlock for Starfinder, with the class table and proficienciesspell access and spell slotsthe Fiendish patron. its patron gifts, and a set of invocations.

Let’s move on to Pact Boons.

Pact Boon
You gain a pact boon at 4th level. 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 two very different kinds of pact boons, which build two very different kind of warlocks. Then we can do two more, tomorrow.

(Art by thanawong)

Pact of Armor (Su): Your patron empowers you to infuse some of its power into your armor. Select one suit of heavy or powered armor with an item level no greater than your warlock level. When wearing light armor, as a standard action you can cause it to gains all the game values of the selected heavy or powered armor. If the light armor’s bonus to EAC or KC is greater than the selected heavy or powered armor, you retain the light armor’s armor bonus. this effect ends when you stop wearing the armor, or you can end it as a move action.

The armor takes on a dramatic appearance, similar to what happens to weapons when a weapon fusion is added. This appearance is determined by the player, but should tie into the theme of the warlock’s patron. Once set, this appearance does not change until you next gain a warlock level.

When active, the pact of armor also adds one armor upgrade that does not count against the armor’s normal upgrade slots. This must have an item level at least 3 levels below your warlock level, and once decided you cannot change it until you gain a new warlock level.

If the heavy or powered armor, or the armor upgrade, uses charges or petrol, those charges or petrol are refilled each time you recuperate*. Charges or petrol removed from the armor or upgrade fade away and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Each time you gain a warlock level, you can change what heavy or powered armor this ability emulates.

(Art by Grandfaulure)

Pact of the Vessel (Sp): You can summon a vehicle formed from planar energy aligned with your patron. Select one vehicle with an item level no greater than one less than your warlock level. You can summon or dismiss this vehicle as a full action. It cannot be summoned in an area it cannot travel in, that does not have space for it, or that would damage a creature or object. Except as noted this acts as a summon creature spell with a spell level equal to 1/3 your warlock level.

The vehicle has a dramatic appearance, similar to what happens to weapons when a weapon fusion is added. This appearance is determined by the player, but should tie into the theme of the warlock’s patron. Once set, this appearance does not change until you next gain a warlock level.

The vehicle can drive itself as you direct without any effort on your part, and is considered to have a Pilot check equal to your warlock level + your key ability modifier. If the vehicle uses charges or petrol, those charges or petrol are refilled each time you recuperate*. Charges or petrol removed from the vehicle fade away and cannot be used for any other purpose.

Any damage or changes made to the vehicle last until you next regain your daily abilities and then, even if it was totally destroyed, it is restored to its normal state. Each time you gain a warlock level, you can change what vehicle you can summon with this pact.

*Recuperate is my proposed game term to represent when a character spends 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest.

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OGL Warlock for Starfinder Part 5: Invocations

We’ve gotten through most of our OGL warlock for Starfinder, with the class table and proficienciesspell access and spell slotsthe Fiendish patron. and its patron gifts.

It’s time for invocations.

While I could adapt a bunch of hexes from Starfarer’s Codex: Legacy Witch Class (and I may well do that in the future…) but for now I’m going to create a dozen-and-a-half or so without going to that resource, and see how they come together.

(Art by Dominick)

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

Evil Eye (Sp): You can force a target within 60 feet to succeed at a Will save of gain one of the following conditions of your choice for 1 minute — fatigued, sickened, or shaken. Once you have caused a target to suffer one of these conditions, you cannot cause it to suffer the same condition until after you have recuperated*. If you cause a target to be dazzled, any creature may attempt Stealth checks against that target without cover or concealment as long as it is dazzled. This is a sense-dependent ability.

Eyes of the Nemesis (Sp): If a creature does damage to you or forces you to make a saving throw, you gain persistent see invisibility against them until you next recuperate*. If you are 12th level or higher, you instead gain persistent true seeing against them until you next recuperate*.

Dread Wings (Sp): You can cast flight on yourself at will. The flight has a spell level equal to 1/3 your warlock level (minimum 1st, maximum 6th).

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 Great Fortitude 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.

Felstorm (Su): Select a grenade that not not a magic or hybrid item, which has an item level no greater than your warlock level -2. You can create the effect of this grenade, as a magic effect, centered on you. You can make yourself, and any ally you can see or hear, immune to this effect. Once you have used this invocation, you cannot do so again until you next recuperate. Each time you gain a warlock level, you may add a new grenade (no higher than your new warlock level -2), and add it to a list of grenades you can emulate with felstorm.

Fel Visions (Sp): You can glimpse the future, though you also see all the possible ways in which the future can be a bloody, horrific mess. You can cast augury at will. After casting it, you are shaken (even if you are normally immune to this effect) until you next recuperate*. This shaken effect cannot be removed by any other means. You cannot use fel visions while shaken or being affected by any fear effect.

Irresistible Voice (Sp): You can cast command at will, except the save DC is calculated as an invocation. After a creature is affected by your irresistible voice, it gains a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls against you and to saves against your spells and effects for 1d4 rounds. Once you have targeted a creature with this invocation, you cannot target the same creature again until you have recuperated*.

Malediction (Su): You can force a target within 60 feet to succeed at a Will save of gain one of the following conditions of your choice for 1 minute — dazzled, deafened, or encumbered. Once you have caused a target to suffer one of these conditions, you cannot cause it to suffer the same condition until after you have recuperated*. If you cause a target to be dazzled, any creature may attempt Stealth checks against that target without cover or concealment as long as it is dazzled. This is a sense-dependent ability.

Many Faces (Sp): You can cast disguise self at will.

Mesmerism (Sp): You can attempt to charm a creature at will. This acts as charm person, except the save DC is calculated as an invocation. If you are 7th level or higher, it instead acts as charm monster. You can only have a single creature charmed at a time, if you use this ability again whole a previous charm is still active, the earlier charm ends. Once you have targeted a creature with this invocation, you cannot target the same creature again until you have recuperated*.

Minions (Sp): Once per day you can cast a summon creature spell with a spell level up to 1/3 your warlock level (minimum 1st level, maximum 6th 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.

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.

Retributive Blood (Sp): When a creature within 400 feet scores a critical hit against you, it is targeted by a bestow curse spell, except the save DC is calculated as an invocation, and the curse effect is determined randomly.

Shadowy Mists (Sp): You can cast fog cloud at will, but any part of its area that is in normal or bright light immediately dissipates.

Sphere of Winds (Su): You can create a radius of save, comfortable, breathable air. This acts as a life bubble, except it is centered on you and affects everything with 10 feet.

Whisper of Rest (Su): You can expend 1 Resolve Point to whisper restful occult words to an adjacent creature. The creature may choose to expend 1 Resolve Point of their own to regain points of damage equal to double their level. If they have taken both HP and SP, they can decide where to place the healing their receive, though neither pool can exceed its normal maximum. This is a sense-dependent effect.

Unseen Servants (Sp): You can cast unseen servant and token spell at will. You can only have one of these spells active at a time–casting it against while a previous casting is still active ends the earlier casting.

Unspeakable Resilience (Su): When you make a successful saving throw against a disease or poison, that affliction ends, even if it normally requires multiple saving throws to end it.Any effect it has had on you remains, just as if you have made the normally required number of saves against the affliction.

*Recuperate is my proposed game term to represent when a character spends 1 Resolve Point to regain Stamina Points following a 10-minute rest.

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