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Dash Cantrip, in Four Game Systems

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

And almost none of them impact movement.

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

Can I do in in four game systems?

Behold, the dash cantrip.

Pathfinder, 1e

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

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

Pathfinder, 2e

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

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

Starfinder

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

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

5e

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

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

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Technomancer Mind-Affecting Spells VI

Today we wrap up (for now, at least) exploring the design space of technomancer mind-affecting spells.

If we want a mind-affecting spells to feel like a viable concept for a technomancer (which is the only time at which it would make sense to select the robot influence magic hack), we’re going to need at least two different mind-affecting spells at each spell level for 1st and higher, and at least one 0-level spell.

So far we’ve done a 0-level spelltwo first, a 2nd-level (to go with their existing 2nd-level mind-affecting spell, daze monster), two 3rd-level, 4th-level, and 5th-level spells. So, let’s do two technomancer-flavored 6th-level mind-affecting spells.

For balance on these we looked at a lot of 6th-level spells, but since there don;t seem to be any 6th-level mind-affecting spells in Starfinder, there aren’t any specific 1-to-1 comparisons.

mysterious woman in futuristic cloak with hood walking with blue light particles, digital art style, illustration painting

Algorithm [Technomancer 6]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range medium (100 ft. +10 ft./level)
Targets one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 feet apart
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

You impose an algorithm on the decision-making processes and efforts undertaken by of the spell’s targets. Each round, you can designate one creature to be protected by the algorithm. Any affected target takes a -5 penalty to all skill checks regarding the target, attack rolls against the target, and to the save DC of any ability they use that affects the target. You can change the protected creature each round, ending the protection against any previous creature. Targets that fail their saving throw are unaware their actions are being influenced by a spell.

Targets that succeed at their Will save only take a -2 penalty to skills, attacks, and DCs, and are aware they are under the effects of a spell.

Target Lock [Technomancer 6]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range medium (100 ft. +10 ft./level)
Targets one creature
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

You lock the target’s attention onto one foe, and prompt it to attack that foe. The target must attack the foe with the attack most likely to be effective against it with at least one action per round. If the target succeeds at a Will save it can ignore this command, but the mental effort to do so causes it to be fatigued for the duration of the spell. The fatigue ends when the spell ends, or if the creature decided to attack the designated foe.

PATREON
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Technomancer Mind-Affecting Spells V

We’re still exploring the design space of technomancer mind-affecting spells.

If we want a mind-affecting spells to feel like a viable concept for a technomancer (which is the only time at which it would make sense to select the robot influence magic hack), we’re going to need at least two different mind-affecting spells at each spell level for 1st and higher, and at least one 0-level spell.

So far we’ve done a 0-level spell, two first, a 2nd-level (to go with their existing 2nd-level mind-affecting spell, daze monster), two 3rd-level spells, and two-fourth-level spells. So, let’s do two technomancer-flavored 5th-level mind-affecting spells.

Blockchain looks at the scaling fear spell for determining it’s total power level–it’s not as debilitating, but has a much larger area, targets nonliving creatures, only targets enemies, and at this level lasts long, and has some effect even on targets who make their save, with off-target a pretty good guaranteed effect (and even dazzled causes you to be -1 on all attack rolls, which may not seem like much but isn’t bad if you hit a bunch of foes as the minimum effect they take on top of off-target).

Greater check the comments looks to greater command for how to upgrade 1st-level spells at 5th level.

Technomancer Eye

Blockchain [Technomancer 5]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range 60 feet
Targets all foes in a cone-shaped emanation
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

You flood the minds of of every foe in the area to a series of interconnected mental checklists they must fulfill while taking any action. Targets are entangled as they constantly start and stop each thing they do, trying to fulfill the checklists demanded for each decision they make. Targets that succeed at their Will save still find their minds filled with checklists, but know they are artificial and can be ignored, though the distraction causes them to still be off-target. Targets already off-target are instead dazzled.

Check the Comments, Greater [Technomancer 5]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Targets up to one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart
Save Will negates

This spell functions like check the comments, except you can affect up to one creature per level and creatures make their announcements in one language you know of your choice, even if they do not speak that language (or, indeed, even if they speak no language).

PATREON
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Technomancer Mind-Affecting Spells IV

We’re exploring the design space of technomancer mind-affecting spells.

If we want a mind-affecting spells to feel like a viable concept for a technomancer (which is the only time at which it would make sense to select the robot influence magic hack), we’re going to need at least two different mind-affecting spells at each spell level for 1st and higher, and at least one 0-level spell.

So far we’ve done a 0, two first, a 2nd (to go with their existing 2nd-level mind-affecting spell, daze monster), and two 3rd-level spells. So, let’s do two technomancer-flavored 4th-level mind-affecting spells.

The quantum zen king / 3D illustration of male android hardwired to computer core

CAPSLOCK looks at the various fear spells as a way to establish a power-level baseline, while safety on is balanced against hold monster.

CAPSLOCK isn’t nearly as debilitating as fear, but even on a failed save the target is affected briefly.

I also wrote safety on as a reminder (to myself as much as anyone) that’s there is more to technology than just computers, and thus technomancer spells should play with nondigital concepts as well. I like the concept of a technomancer being able to take the concept of a gun’s safety, and apply it to a person. It’s not as debilitating as hold monster, but the target also doesn’t get a save to end it every round, and again it has some impact even on targets that make a save.

CAPSLOCK [Technomancer 4]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets all foes, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

You rewire the targets’ ability to make decisions, forcing them to go all-or-nothing on everything they do. They can only take actions designated a full actions or double move actions (preventing any single attacks, standard actions, or single move actions) and cannot take reactions or swift actions. If they speak they must shout, and when moving they make heavy, deliberate steps, preventing any Bluff check to pass secret messages, and any Sleight of Hand or Stealth checks. They cannot take 10 or take 20 on skill checks, even if they have an ability that would normally allow them to do so when distracted or in danger.

If a target succeeds as a skill check, the duration of this spell is reduced to 1d4 rounds for that target.

Safety On [Technomancer 4]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets one creature
Duration 1 round/2 levels (D)
Saving Throw Will partial, see text; Spell Resistance yes

The target cannot use a weapon for any purpose, make any attack roll, or take any action that would force creatures to make saving throws if they were targeted by or in the area of the action’s end result.

A target that succeeds at a Will save can take any actions it wishes, but suffers a -2 penalty to attack rolls, and the save DC of any effect it creates is reduced by 1.

PATREON
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Technomancer Mind-Affecting Spells III

We’re exploring the design space of technomancer mind-affecting spells.

If we want a mind-affecting spells to feel like a viable concept for a technomancer (which is the only time at which it would make sense to select the robot influence magic hack), we’re going to need at least two different mind-affecting spells at each spell level for 1st and higher, and at least one 0-level spell.

So far we’ve done a 0, two first, and a 2nd (to go with their existing 2nd-level mind-affecting spell, daze monster). So, let’s do two technomancer-flavored 3rd-level mind-affecting spells.

When determining the power level of these we used mental block to compare the power level of EULA, and charm monster to compare to IFF hack.

high resolution 3d render of cyborg soldier and dragon

End-User Licensing Agreement [Technomancer 3]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets up to one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes

You cause targets of this spell to be unable to bring themselves to use technological and hybrid items. Whenever the targets wish to use any technological or hybrid device (including weapons) that requires a skill check or action of any kind, they find themselves overpowered by a need to register their ownership online first, and read all the manufacturer’s rules and warnings for device use.  Targets are aware that this compulsion will take so long to fulfill that there is no point in even trying to fulfill it. Each round at the end a target’s turn, that target can attempt another Will save to end this effect.

IFF Hack [Technomancer 3]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets one living creature
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes

You influence the ability of the target creature to tell friend from foe. The target cannot treat any creature as an ally. Additionally, it must succeed at a Will save or on its next turn it must attack a creature you designate at the time of casting. If target has no attack that can reach the creature you designate, it is instead confused for 1 round.

PATREON
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Technomancer Mind-Affecting Spells II

We’re exploring the design space of technomacner mind-affecting spells.

If we want a mind-affecting spells to feel like a viable concept for a technomancer (which is the only time at which it would make sense to select the robot influence magic hack), we’re going to need at least two different mind-affecting spells at each spell level for 1st and higher, and at least one 0-level spell.

Which sounds like a great subject for a short series of blog posts!

We already did two 1st-level spells, and there’s already daze monster at 2nd, so let’s look at a 0-level and a 2nd-level.

Fragmented uses fatigue as a comparison to make sure we’re still at a 0-level spell’s power level.

Fragmented  [Technomancer 0]
School enchantment (mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range touch
Targets one creature
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
You can fragment the mental processes of the target, causing them to feel disrupted and attacked by slivers of old sensations and memories. You make a melee attack against a single target’s EAC, adding your key ability score modifier to the attack roll instead of your Strength modifier if it is higher. The target must succeed at a Will save or be sickened for the spell’s duration. Casting this spell doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.

Malware is much more complex, but we still looked at hold person and daze monster as comparisons. It’s designed to be of use even if the target succeeds at a save, without even being as completely incapacitating as hold person and daze monster. It’s compulsion has strong limits, but still gives some interesting options within those limitations.

Malware [Technomancer 2]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range Medium (100 ft. +10 ft./level)
Targets one creature
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Will partial; Spell Resistance yes
You insert a psychic control program into the target, causing you to have some control over its actions. The target must make a will save. If it succeeds it fights off the control program, but doing so causes it to be staggered for 1 round. If it fails, the creature is staggered for the spell’s duration, but you can also give it one command each round. If the target takes a standard action, you can command it to take a specific additional move action. If it takes a move action, you can command it to take a specific additional standard action. If the action you command it to take places itself or its allies in direct risk, it gains an additional saving throw with a +5 bonus to end your ability to give it orders, though it remains staggered for the spell’s duration.

PATREON
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Design Space: Technomancer mind-affecting spells I

Sometimes a game has rules or options that suggest there are things that should exist, but they don’t. Or at least, they don’t existing in the form or to the degree they should. This is often a sign of a good ‘design space,’ a place where a game seems to need more material designed for it, where the existing rules don’t feel every reasonable iteration of the concept, and where such material won’t feel extraneous or uninteresting.

As a negative example, there’s not much design space between a shortsword that does 1d6 damage, and a longsword that does 1d8 damage. There are certainly things you can do (some companies make 7-sided dice, you can add or remove other elements such as cost and weapon traits and proficiency, and so on). So yes, you could make a ‘broadsword’ that cost more than a short sword, and weighed more, and did a d8 damage, but was easier to gain proficiency in than a longsword. But it’ll feel :showhorned in,” and not be as useful an addition to the game as a weapon with a totally different damage die or some more clear differentiating feature.

A positive example is in the Starfinder Roleplaying Game, where technomancers have a magic hack (“robot influence”) that allow them to affect constructs, robots, and other creatures that have the technological subtype, even if they’re mindless or would normally be immune.

Now, think about what mind-affecting spells a technomancer would use that with. … Right. Daze monster doesn’t suck, but it’s not worth a whole magic hack. The problem, of course, is that mind-affecting spells don’t normally feel like they are closely connected to technology. But that’s a conceptual hurdle that can be overcome, and mind-affecting spells are such a broad category that we can design them to feel very different from existing spells that mystics and witchwarpers get.

So, let’s create some! Specifically some low-level, technology and computer culture-inspired mind-affecting technomaner spells!

Check the Comments [Technomancer 1]
School enchantment (compulsion, mind-affecting)
Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets one creature
Duration one minute/level
Save Will negates

The target creature announced each action it is about to take before it takes it. If it is aware of a shared language it has with you, it uses that language to make these announcements, otherwise it uses its native language. If it announces an attack or effect that requires a saving throw, any creature that understands its announcement gains a +2 circumstance bonus to their AC or save against that effect. Additionally, if someone who understands the announcements readies an action to be triggered by an action the target announced, the readied action is triggered by the announcement, and thus is resolved before the triggering action. 

Dropped Pixel [Technomancer 1]
School enchantment (mind-affecting)

Range medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets one creature
Duration one minute/level
Save Will partial

The target creature cannot maintain any direct observation of you with a precise sense. They can track you with imprecise senses, but whenever they try to determine your exact  location or appearance they find themselves looking away, fixating on an item near you, or similarly not directly observing you. You gain concealment from the target. If the target succeeds at a Will save, the spell’s duration is reduced to 1 round.

PATREON
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Heightened Spellbook: New Spell Options for PF2

One of the interesting things Pathfinder second edition has done is have a uniform set of rules for casting spells at higher spell levels. Many spells end up taking niches similar to lesser- and greater- versions from the first edition by having a set of effects that get better as you access higher-level versions of the spell.

Of course not every Pathfinder Second Edition spell has heightened benefits… but they all COULD.

So, I’m beginning to look at ways to add heightened effects to PF2 spells that currently don’t have them. For the moment, I’m starting at the beginning of the alphabet and just seeing how far I get, doing just a few each day.

Later these may all get compiled into a pdf, and backers of my Patreon at every level will certainly have compiled access to them eventually, as well as having the similar rules for focus spells I am posting exclusively on my Patreon pages.

I don’t want to duplicate the fine work other people have done compiling the base rules online (such as the PF2 SRD and the Archives of Nethys), so I’ll just list the spell, and it’s new heightened rules.

So, let’s get started with the Heightened Spellbook!

ABYSSAL PLAGUE     Spell 5
Heightened (+2) Targets increases to +1 additional creature adjacent to the touched creature; disease level increases by +2.

AIR BUBBLE     Spell 1
Heightened (+1) Targets increases by +1; duration is doubled (x2 at 2nd level, x4 at 3rd level, etc.)

AIR WALK     Spell 4
Heightened (+2) Targets increases to +1 additional creature adjacent to the touched creature; duration is doubled (x2 at 6th level, x4 at 8th level, etc.)

ALTER REALITY     Spell 10
Heightened (+1) Level of spells you can duplicate in each category increases by +1.
(Note: You’ll need some rules for 11th level spells to use this one, but if you’re using spells from some rando’s blog, who knows what other optional spells you’ve adopted?)

ANIMAL MESSENGER     Spell 2
Heightened (2nd) Animal messenger will bring a message or light Bulk item back to you, as if the recipient has also cast this spell.
Heightened (+1)
 Range and duration is doubled for each time you add this heightened effect.

00 Dragon and Wizard - RetroPunk

Art (c) RetroPunk, used under license

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Social Technomancy for Starfinder

While the technomancer spells presented in the Starfinder Core Rulebook focus on mixing magic and specific, physical applications of technology, as residents of the modern world we know that technology is much more than a set of devices. Social technologies exist, from things like first aid techniques to social media to advances in the social sciences and philosophies, as well as data organization and storage techniques, metadata analysis, and so on. Surely in a galaxy that has spellcasters blending arcana with other fields of study, technomancy would leak into every aspect of advanced knowledge.

So, here are some technomancy spells that investigate other paces magic and advanced techniques might overlap. It also introduces some new focus rules—elements that are useful to casting a spell, but not mandatory.

Cram (T2)
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range touch
Target one creature
Duration 1 minute/level (see text)
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

With this spell, the caster can take the knowledge from any text-based, audio, or video source and implant it into the mind of the target creature. This grants the subject a number of bonus ranks in one skill of the caster’s choice to bring the target’s total ranks (their own ranks + bonus ranks) equal to half the caster’s level (for Int-, Wis-, or Cha-based skills) or 1/4 the caster level (for Str-, Dex-, or Con-based skills). A caster that has access to an infosphere can generally use this to grant ranks in any skill, or a computer can have sufficiently complete versions of the relevant information downloaded into it for the same cost and effort as adding a secure data module.

Focus: If the target has a source of information on the granted skill on their person (such as a book or a datapad with the information downloaded into it) the spell’s duration increases to 10 minutes/caster level.

Fashion Plate (T1)
School transmutation
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range touch
Target one set of clothing
Duration 1hour/level
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

This spell transforms the appearance of one set of clothes. The clothes may be transformed into a specific set of normal clothing, or they may be turned into clothes appropriate for a particular group of people. For example, a mage could change his ragged jeans and leather jacket into a business power suit, or skateboarding street gear, or a karate gi. This has no impact on any game mechanical bonuses the clothing offers—a cold weather suit works just as well when it appears to be swimming trunks. This spell ends if the clothing is taken off.

Focus: If the caster has access to fashion information about a specific group (normally available automatically with access to a related infosphere, or compiled with a DC 15 Culture check), this spell can make clothing appear to be perfect for interacting with a specific group or segment of society (such as a specific gang, or a specific social class in a specific city). When wearing clothing perfectly matched for such a group, the clothes grant a +3 circumstance bonus to all Charisma checks and Charisma-based skill checks made with that group. One set of clothing can only be perfect for one group at a time.

Instant Therapy (M2, T2)
School enchantment (language-dependent)
Casting Time 1 minute (see text)
Range close (25 ft. +5 ft/2 levels)
Target one creature
Duration Instantaneous
Saving Throw Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance yes (harmless)

This spell removes the confusion condition from the target. It also acts as dispel magic and remove affliction against all fear and mind-affecting effects on the target and moves the target one step closer to healthy on the mental disease track.

Once a creature has been the target of this spell, it can’t be targeted again until it has undergone a 4-hour traditional therapy session.

Focus: If you have a mental health file for the subject, the casting time for this spell becomes 1 standard action. A target can give you a file they have access to, or one can generally be compiled over 24 hours with a recall knowledge Culture check or liberated from modestly-secured infosphere sources with a Computers check (both DC 15 + 1-1/2 target’s level).

Rap Sheet (T0)
School divination
Casting Time 1 minute
Range close (25 ft. +5 ft/2 levels)
Target one creature
Duration Instantaneous
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes

This spell gives the caster knowledge of one target’s legal record. This acts as a Culture check to gain information about the target as if the caster has ranks in Culture equal to her caster level and has access to a relevant database, but only covers information such as arrests, torts, convictions, adoptions, marriages, divorces, and bankruptcy. Only legal records are revealed, and only for the identity of the target as understood by the caster—disguises are not automatically penetrated and actual guilt or innocence is not revealed.

Speaking of Social Magic!

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Wilderness Spelltweets I

It’s a tad odd to still call these spelltweets, since they aren’t exclusive to twitter and even twitter doesn’t have the same character limit as when I first started these as a design challenge. But the core idea is the same, and it’s a bit more branded for me than just “spell variants.”

The idea is simple–take existing spells and make minor changes that cause them to serve a different purpose. The simplest version of such things is having a fireball do cold damage, but there are lots of other ways you can take rules that are already fully fleshed out, and make them work in new ways.

The base spells for all of these come from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Wilderness. They are organized by base spell, rather than by the variant spell name.

Hive Queen: Bard 4, druid 2, medium 3, mesmerist 2, ranger 3, shaman 2, witch 2.
As alpha instinct, but applies to vermin, gives no bonus to Handle Animal but does allow you to use it with vermin as if they were animals.

Ultramount: Antipaladin 3, druid 4, paladin 3, ranger 4, shaman 4, summoner 3
As aquatic cavalry, but the summoned hippocampi also have land speeds of 60 and fly speeds of 30.

Die For Me: Antipaladin 4, mesmerist 4, witch 4
As bleed for your master, but the target is one creature with an attitude toward you of indifferent or better. If the creature’s attitude changes after the casting, it remains affected.

Hospice: Bard 5, cleric 4, paladin 4, psychic 4, shaman 4, summoner 6
and Greater Hospice: Cleric 7, psychic 7, shaman 7
As callback and greater callback, but target is one willing creature and anytime the target takes damage that would normally trigger the spell it may, if conscious, choose for the spell to not take effect.

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