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ShadowFinder Class Preview: The Enigma

Today, I am going to continue actual OGL rule examples of some material coming in the Starfinder Infinite ShadowFinder book.

I wanted a class to fill the “modern character with weird powers” niche so common in much of the inspirational media that has influenced the form ShadowFinder took. This is more than being a spellcaster, or even something the psionic themetype I wrote up can represent. I needed a class for firestarters, dead zones, shining, heckspawn, and mutants.

I needed a way for a PC to be an enigma. So that because the class.

Here’s a preview of some elements of this new, 100% Starfinder-compatible, character class.

(Yes, I have new ShadowFinder art for all 8 classes I’m supporting in the ShadowFinder Core Book. No, this one is not the enigma. Yes, you’ve seen the enigma digitized tease already. Guess which one it is?!)

Enigma

An enigma has power, but no one (not even the enigma) is sure why. Unlike spellcasters or combatants, it is not a trained or learned power, and unlike warlocks it is not part of some bargain for power from otherworldly forces. That doesn’t mean the enigma can’t train to use their powers more effectively, or that it might not have been bestowed by an entity beyond the enigma’s understanding, but no science or mystic research has yet to understand enigmas’ abilities, and the growing number of enigmas is seen by many groups as a rising threat.

An enigma has often had to hide for much of their life, at least early on. Their powers are hard to control when they first manifest, and can both disrupt the stability of a support group and attract attention from others. It’s not unusual for an enigma to be the product of some mysterious experiment who escaped, and to be hunted by their former keepers. Others seem to bloom with power on their own, but organizations exist who wish to find the source of that power, even if they have to cut it out of the enigma. As a result, many enigmas learn to be self-sufficient when young, both in urban and wilderness settings.

Once enigmas grow into their abilities, most groups consider opposing an enigma directly to be too dangerous, though organizations with more reach and resources may feel differently. An enigma does well to forge bonds with allies to ensure anyone interest in knowing how they manipulate energy, form, or even reality itself sees that the enigma is not alone, and has friends who will come after them if they disappear.

Hit Points: 6
Stamina Points: 6

Key Ability Score
Cha

While no one knows where the power that makes enigmas comes from, the fact that it fueled by their own force of personality seems clear. Enigmas may be bold or shy, honest or deceptive, friendly or hostile, but they all have the strong sense of self that makes them naturally apt at interpersonal relationships. Your Charisma determines the save DCs of your various enigma powers, and is thus your key ability score.

Class Skills

The enigma’s class skills are Bluff (Cha), Culture (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Medicine (Int), Mysticism (Wis), Profession (Cha, Int, or Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand(Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Survival (Wis)

Skill Points at each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Proficiencies

Armor

Light armor

Weapons

Basic melee weapons, small arms.

(Yes, I am ending this preview before the class features table on purpose!)

Would You Like To Know More?

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon! This post has an Expanded Version on my Patreon as well, which talks a little about the design philosophy behind secret signs.

ShadowWalkers

Continuing a theme, here’s another preview of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book! Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

ShadowWalkers: Not everything can move back-and-forth between the Material plane and the Shadowblast. No magic, technology, power, or effect can allow travel between the two for anything but random and sporadic inanimate objects, and the rare breed of creature who are ShadowWalkers.

All PCs are assumed to be ShadowWalkers, whether they know it or not. Any NPC or monstrous threat the GM wishes to be a ShadowWalker is one. Being a ShadowWalker doesn’t let you move to or from the Shadowblast with your own power. It just means you can use the spells, devices, and gates that would normally allow planar travel can take you both ways, if you happen to have access to it.

No one knows what percentage of creatures are ShadowWalkers. It could be 1-in-10, 1-in-1,000, or even 1-in-1,000,000. That’s for each GM to decide, and for ShadowFinders without their games to find out over time. It could even be that ShadowWalkers native to the Material plane are rare, and those native to the Shadowblast are common… or vice versa.

What is known is that the cleverest, most dangerous creatures of the Shadowblast generally aren’t ShadowWalkers, much to their annoyance. They are trapped in the Shadowblast, unable to move to any other plane of existence. Many such creatures were once freer entities, sailing Astral winds at a whim, and will do nearly anything to regain that freedom. Since the Shadowblast appears to be anchored by the Earth of Rasputin’s Legacy on one end, and Lost Golarion on the other, the little gods trapped in the Shadowblast often feel destroying one world, or both, is their best bet for escaping their gloomy prison. To do that, they craft complex plans that often involve sending ShadowWalker minions from the Shadowblast to one or the other world, perhaps to set up cults to perform rituals to find yet more ShadowWalkers among the denizens of the Material plane, to turn those into more minions, to start more cults…

(ShadowWalkers… Come out and play-aaaaay.)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowFinder: Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, The United States

Continuing a theme, here’s another preview of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book! Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

ShadowFinder assumes you are applying it’s Play Mode to one of two worlds — Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, or Lost Golarion. Both are at a similar point technologically, magically, and in planar terms, and both are based on worlds Starfinder players are likely to be familiar with (our own Earth, or Pathfinder’s Golarion). But both also have significant differences. In the case of Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, an incursion into WWI Russian by heroes from Golarion has caused both a leak of magic back into the world, and the formation of the planar scar known as the Shadowblast.

While obviously I can’t go into deep detail on the state of entire worlds, both Rasputin’s Legacy Earth and Lost Golarion are different enough from what people are used to that SOME amount of explanation is in order. Chapter Ten of the ShadowFinder core book is the “ShadowFinder Gazetteer,” talking a bit about the who, what, and where of the worlds you can adventure in.

Here is the draft of the entry on the United States of America, unedited, still with its formatting tags.

[H2]The United States of America

The U.S. is one of the worst-off major nations in the battle against the Shadowblast, and the reasons are varied and, in many cases, self-inflicted. The fact that early research into the Shadowblast was largely undertaken by the Soviet Union (and treated as a state secret), kept the U.S. in the dark through the 1930s. But encounters soldiers and observers had during WWII made it impossible for the U.S.A. to miss that there was a real, growing, supernatural threat.

Well, it made it impossible for everyone to ignore it. It turns out, willful ignorance and politics can often go hand-in-hand.

At first, the threat of the Shadowblast was simply considered too minor to be a priority in the rush to rebuild post-war Europe, establish political dominion over the Western Hemisphere, and flex the U.S.’s newfound worldwide clout. After all, the Soviets explored the Shadowblast first because those threats were local to them. Why should a country protected by two oceans worth of moat worry about local things happening in Europe and Asia?

In the next decades the problems caused by the Shadowblast spread into the U.S., though always quietly, in shadows and small towns, untracked wilderness, abandoned buildings, backwoods and dark alleys. However, political and religious pressures began to hold back any serious preparation by U.S. groups. The whispers of such threats were called communist plots, un-Christian efforts to promote magic, and drug-induced counter-culture hallucinations. Not only did federal and state forces refuse to take such threats seriously, they actively suppressed knowledge of them, ruined the reputations of those who tried to raise the alarm, and set up counterintelligence campaigns to ensure any rumors of supernatural events were seen as junk journalism.

This left U.S. institutions vulnerable to infiltration by more organized Shadowblast factions. Some factions even managed to place moles and even high-level administrators within federal and state law enforcement and bureaucracies. In the 1970s and 1980s, Shadowblast activity within North America skyrocketed, and the very systems designed to find and neutralize threats against the country and its citizens were more often used to cover-up the growing incursions.

Even so, the number of unsolved missing persons, eyewitness accounts, and unexplained phenomenon were so extensive that private groups and individuals stepped up to fill in the gap left by a lack of any official program. Many of these groups suffered terrible losses, and things they learned in dealing with the Shadowblast were often lost without being passed on to other groups. The system was haphazard at best, but it slowly expanded into a decentralized network of vigilante groups, community patrols, and secret societies, sometimes augmented by meddling kids on bicycles or teenage bands traveling by van.

As a kind of counterculture, the fight against the Shadowblast integrated at the edges of other fringe communities. People who were already mistreated by the government, or suspicious of indoctrination by orthodoxy, were more likely to both encounter these threats and decide if something was to be done, they had to do it. The chances of a hero rising to oppose the Shadowblast being from LGBTQ groups, carnies, oppressed minorities, punk, grunge, or metal music, disillusioned veterans, and fans of various forms of speculative fiction was simply much higher than from more mainstream groups. In many cases, they had little choice – if these communities did not protect themselves, no one else would.

This situation has evolved over the decades, but remains the norm in the current era. Specific parts of the United States can have different governmental reactions to Shadowblast threats. Alaska in general has a history and culture similar to Canada when regarding the Shadowblast, and there are areas along the southern border that are much closer to the situation in Mexico than the rest of the U.S. (especially further from major population centers). But, in general, even now governmental research of and resistance to Shadowblast incursions is generally haphazard, ad-hoc, and isolated. While the FBI has Taskforce X, the National Parks Service has the Cryptology Division, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation’s “Directive 8” oversees the surprisingly well-informed K’n Yan Intelligence Section, for the most part officials aware of and working against the Shadowblast have to do so with little support from their organizations. Indeed, sometimes such efforts are actively hindered by officials that believe such efforts are a waste of time… or who are secretly on the Shadowblast’s side.

That level of hindrance is also why the ShadowFinder Society has no official presence in the U.S.A, forcing its members to work more clandestinely. They often organize regionally under the auspices of some smaller, local group, and use the term Torchbearer to refer to those who fight against the encroaching shadows. There is an unofficial “Torchbearer’s Circuit” of truck stops, diners, bus stations, taxi companies, union laborers, coal miners, loggers, local churches, firefighters, and environmental activists who are aware of the Shadowblast and, at least to some extent, the ShadowFinder Society itself.

But in the end, in the U.S., those who wish to oppose things that go bump in the night are likely to be on their own much of the time.

(Jacob Blackmon‘s aesthetic is perfect for ShadowFinder!)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? Would you enjoy access to a huge backlog of game stuff and articles? Simply want to support me creating more of these things? Check out my Patreon!

ShadowFinder’s Lost Golarion: The Chelaxian Commonrule

Yep, it’s another preview of some of the material from the ShadowFinder book! Nothing on this page is OGL. This is a post of Community Use content of Paizo materials, and is a follow-up to my ShadowFinder Is Coming post from earlier in the week.

ShadowFinder assumes you are applying it’s Play Mode to one of two worlds — Rasputin’s Legacy Earth, or Lost Golarion. Both are at a similar point technologically, magically, and in planar terms, and both are based on worlds Starfinder players are likely to be familiar with (our own Earth, or Pathfinder’s Golarion). But both also have significant differences, in the case of Lost Golarion, centuries of development during a time when the world has lost access to most of the gods and planes, with only segments of reality apparently sectioned off by some kind of cosmic “Gap” accessible even by things such as wish.

While obviously I can’t go into deep detail on the state of entire worlds, both Rasputin’s Legacy Earth and Lost Golarion are different enough from what people are used to that SOME amount of explanation is in order. Chapter Ten of the ShadowFinder core book is the “ShadowFinder Gazetteer,” talking a bit about the who, what, and where of the worlds you can adventure in.

Here is the draft of the entry on the Commonrule of Cheliax, unedited, still with its formatting tags.

[H2]The Commonrule of Cheliax

Among the most powerful nations on Lost Golarion is the Commonrule of Cheliax. Ruled by the Imperial Bureaucracy, of which the most powerful remains the monarchal Majestrix, the Commonrule is a potent economic, scientific, and diabolic powerhouse that can be considered a Global Superpower, on par with the Gokan Republic, Magaambani, New Taumata, and the Padisha Empire of Kelesh.

The Commonrule includes what were once the nations of Andoran, Cheliax, Fangwood, Hold of Belkzen, Isger, Molthune, Nidal, Nirmathas, Thuvia, and Ustalav, each of which retains some local identity as a Commonrule Province. In theory each province is equal in the eyes of the Commonrule Law, but that complex, devil-generated code somehow places the Province of Cheliax above all other regions. Most other Commonrule Provinces accept this as just the way things are, though the Province of Nirmathas continues to produce numerous home-grown, and often violent, independence movements. The region once known as the Worldwound is also controlled by the Commonrule as the Devil Militarized Zone, where mortals are only allowed on official Chelaxian business.

The Commonrule of Cheliax still officially accepts Asmodeus as its patron deity, and devil-worship and fiendish warlock pacts are common parts of everyday life. The fact Torag is the only actual god that responds to petitioners is simply glossed over, and the availability of devils and even archdevils to address prayers, rituals, and business needs makes it easy to forget no one has heard from Asmodeus himself for centuries.

While the majority of the Commonrule’s population is at least partially human or orcish, devils and devilblooded mortals are more numerous here than anywhere else on Golarion. The Commonrule Law is designed to handle such interactions, and explicitly covers both devilish and mortal duties, privileges, and restrictions. Every member of the Commonrule Council, the highest committee within the Imperial Bureaucracy, has a Devil’s Advocate as an advisor, some of which have advised political and noble families for generations.

The Commonrule government is well aware of the dangers of the Shadowblast, but sees it more as a potential source of power than an existential threat. While the Hellknight Order of the Pyre has increasingly focused on rooting out and eliminating Shadowblast cultists in recent decades, the official stance of the Commonrule is that the Shadowblast is little more than a the pesh-induced ranting of Nidalese Nationalist terrorist cells. The idea that an entire demiplane exists and is beyond the control of either the Chelaxian Commonrule of their devilish allies is considered too likely to disrupt the order of the nation, and is not officially acknowledged. Most action against the Shadowblast is either taken on as the pet project of a mid-level official, or by the ShadowFinder Society. Although the Commonrule downplays the ShadowFinder’s claims that the Shadowblast represents a significant, ill-understood threat, the Society is allowed to operate openly (even if any danger they neutralize is “officially” classified as Nidalese in news reports).

(Of course, not ALL warlocks come from the Commonrule…, as shown in this mage by Jacob Blackmon)

Want to ask questions about ShadowFinder? See a huge backlog of game stuff in articles? Just like my stuff and want to support its creation? Check out my Patreon!