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I was asked by a patron what Super Genius Games classes I would recommend to replace the existing Paizo base and core classes. The answer got lengthy, so I decided to include it here in case anyone else was interested in that idea.


Alchemist: I don’t want to suggest a replacement for the alchemist, but I DO want to suggest a way to make the class feel very different with SGG products – specifically Advanced Options: Alchemists’ Discoveries. That’s because in addition to the standard “more discoveries” material, it includes two alternate forms of alchemy – spagyric devices and metamorphosis – that can replace mutagens, or extracts, or bombs. Spagyric devices are essentially “DaVinci Punk” age-of-enlightenment mad scientist creations, and metamorphosis is an in-and-out-of-combat set of options to turn lead into gold, or sweat into acid, or whatever.

With these options not every alchemist is a bomb-throwing Mr.Hyde wannabe, allowing the class to be much more flexible and much less predictable).


Barbarian: The Mighty Godling (from The Genius Guide to the Godling). Like the barbarian, the mighty godling does well in a ‘hit-it-until-it-stops’ moving capacity, and has a set of expansion options (godling stuff rather than rage) allowing for expansion beyond thews and axe-swinging.


Bard: If what you want from a bard is a spellcaster with a different flavor I suggest the Mosaic Mage (from The Genius Guide to the Mosaic Mage), Ryan Costello, Jr.’s awesome take on a caster that ties magic abilities thematically to one (or two) colors.


Cavalier: I’ll go with the War Master (from The Genius Guide to the War Master), as a full-attack-progression class with group-augmentation abilities). It has group tactics powers, ties to the upper class, and fair fighting capacity on its own.

Also, the talented cavalier (The Genius Guide to the Talented Cavalier), which (along with Genius Guide to More Cavalier Talents) can be used to create everything from knights to samurai to sheriffs to naval officers.


Cleric: Though the end results can be very different, I’d recommend either the adept or eldritch godling (from The Genius Guide to Mythic Godlings). You’d have to pick the right spell lists to really fill the same niche, but the spellcaster-with-divine ties comes through nicely.


Druid: Oddly, the Death Mage from The Genius Guide to the Death Mage. The death mage is to wizards as the druid is to clerics — a similarly-built spellcaster with a strong thematic link to one concept. It won’t work as well if you want your druid-replacement to be a strong healer, but if you just want a spellcaster who is useful but doesn’t feel like a typical cleric or wizard, it fills the “other spellcaster” role well.


Fighter: I’d use the Armiger, from The Genius Guide to the Armiger. Oddly the armiger only has a 2/3 base attack progression, but its focus on defense (for itself AND for others, to encourage foes to attack the armiger first even if other PCs are doing more damage) does a good job for the “tank” role some players desire with fighters.

Also, the talented fighter (The Genius Guide to the Talented Fighter), which can turn your fighter into any of a wide range of classic combatant-types.


Gunslinger: The Fusilier, an alternate class or gunslinger presented in Ultimate Options: Grit and Gunslingers. It replaces Wisdom-based Grit with Charisma-based panache, and can use deeds with precision weapons (including rapiers), allowing it to be useful even in games with no firearms.


Inquisitor: The Justicar, an alternate class of inquisitor presented in Advanced Options: Inquisitor’s Judgments. The Justicar is a full-attack-progression class with no spellcasting, but a much wider range of judgments available.


Magus: The Archon, from The Genius Guide to the Archon. The archon has a full attack progression, and arcane spellcasting similar to the paladin and ranger’s divine spellcasting. If the magus is an even mix of fighter and wizard, the archon is more like a fighter with a dash of wizard for spice.


Monk: I recommend the clever godling, from The Genius Guide to the Godling. Like a monk it’s a combatant, but has tricks up its sleeve and can be surprisingly self-sufficient.

Also, the talented monk (The Genius Guide to the Talented Monk), which lets you built traditional students of eastern fighting philosophies, or more rough-and-tumble martial arts of any alignment, or even highly trained masters of the samurai fighting styles (with or without weapons, with or without armor, and so on)


Paladin: The Templar, from The Genius Guide to the Templar. This class can be of any alignment and serves as the militant arm of a religion, rather than a beacon of justice and order, but a LG templar is going to act a lot like a paladin. Full attack progression, no spells, but prayers and granted powers in keeping with their religious background.


Oracle: The Magister, from The Genius Guide to the Magister. A spontaneous class with some neat abilities, the magister’s main claim to fame is it can pick spells from multiple class lists (subject to some well-proven restrictions to maintain balance). In fact, almost any spellcasting class *can* be swapped out for a magister, but I think it’s most likely to scratch the same itch as the oracle for PCs.


Ranger: The Vanguard, from The Genius Guide to the Vanguard by Marc Radle. It’s a hybrid fighting/casting class with moderate attack and 6 levels of spells, but it does very well as an in-the-door-first character, and compliments other classes well in much the same way the ranger does.

But also, the Spell-Less Ranger, ALSO by Marc Radle. It’s not a SGG book, but it does a GREAT job of turning the ranger into a class that depends on knacks and talents over spells, and I am a big fan. I even wrote #1 With a Bullet Point: 6 Spell-Less Ranger Feats to support it!


Rogue: The Shadow Assassin, from The Genius Guide to the Shadow Assassin. A class with specialty darkness powers and a lot of stealth, that can do many of the same jobs a rogue does, even though it has an almost totally different set of abilities.

Also, the talented rogue (The Genius Guide to the Talented Rogue), which lets you build everything from cold-blooded killers to criminal thugs, confidence men, and bounty hunters.


Sorcerer: I’m not sure anything can replace a sorcerer but more sorcerers. Instead I am again going to suggest just changing how your sorcerers play without getting rid of the class. Use the Endowments from Sorcerer’s Options: Beyond Bloodlines. These are like the sorcerer version of wizards’ discoveries, but focus on the idea that magic is *innate* to sorcerers, making them even more different from preparation spellcasters.


Summoner: If you like the link to another creature that is a big part of your class power, and some spellcasting, AND you happen to like dragons, you might like the more martial version of that connection from The Genius Guide to the Dragonrider. (My FIRST Pathfinder-compatible product!)


Witch: The hellion, from The Genius Guide to the Hellion. The hellion is to the witch as the magus is to the wizard, along with having options different from either of its predecessors. I am very happy with this design, and it seems to be a fan favorite in play.

Wizard:  The Time Thief, from The Genius Guide to the Time Thief. Which is NOTHING like a wizard, but I haven’t mentioned yet, and it’s my favorite of all the classes I have designed as a 3pp Pathfinder writer. 🙂 If you want a little more magic with your time control, try The Time Warden, instead.



Feats for the Dungeon! Boardgame

For people unfamiliar with the last few versions of the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game (and for that matter its stepchild the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game), feats are special abilities players can select to customize and improve their heroes. The Dungeon! boardgame doesn’t have anything like feats in its core rules – but there’s no reason they can’t be added! While there could easily be dozens of feats in the game, I started with a fairly basic set of eight.

Adding Feats

Prior to play, each player may select one of more feats to add to his heroes abilities. Feats are entirely optional, even in a game using feats a player is not required to add feats.  Each feat a character adds increases the amount of treasure that hero needs to escape with by 5,000 gp. Clerics and rogues may select a maximum of 2 feats, while fighters and wizards may select a maximum of 4.

The Feats

Cleric Spells
Only a cleric may take cleric spells. The cleric gets 1d6 spells. (You can use index cards to track a cleric’s spells). The cleric may choose any number of the following spells, up to the limit rolled. Like a wizard’s spells these can be used only once. Unlike a wizard, a cleric cannot replace spells by spending a round in the Great hall.
Cure Wounds: When the cleric is seriously wounded or wounded as a result of a Monster Strikes Back roll, he may use this spell to instead only be stunned (drop 1 treasure card).
Divine Might: The cleric may use the wizard’s attack number to fight a monster. (This is only a good option for one of the monsters that wizards have lower numbers against.)

Die Hard
Only a hero who has Toughness may take Die Hard. The hero beings with 1d6 Die Hard tokens (you can use anything to track these). When the hero suffers a Monster Strikes Back result, he may spend one Die Hard token to force the monster to reroll. The hero is stuck with the second result, even if it is worse.

The hero does not lose a turn when a trap says to lose a turn.

The hero may move up to 6 spaces, instead of the normal 5.

Spell Focus
Select one spell (fireball or lightning bolt if a wizard, divine might if a cleric with the Cleric Spells feat). When fighting a monster with this spell, add 1 to the die roll.

The hero does not drop a treasure if stunned by a Monster Strikes Back roll.

Weapon Focus
If the hero rolls doubles on a die roll to fight a monster, the hero may add +1 to the result. This does not apply to spells.

Weapon Specialization
Only a fighter may take Weapon Specialization, and the fighter must also have taken Weapon Focus. The fighter adds 1 to all die rolls to fight monsters.

Cooperative Dungeon!

The playstyle and rules of the new Dungeon! boardgame are very, very close to the way the original ran when I played it back in the late 1970s. There are some name changes (elves are now rogues, heroes are now clerics, superheroes are now fighters), some new monsters, and some new management details, but in general the play experience is about the same. I’d say this was more a clean-up and updating than a revision, and that’s fine by me. I loved the original, and am enjoying the current version as a quick-and-easy diversion with friends.

However, just because the new Dungeon! isn’t a major revision doesn’t mean you can’t take it farther. While playing the game this week, it struck me that all the elements for making it a cooperative game, where everyone works to win together, are already in place. With just a few extra rules, the existing boardgame can offer an entirely different style of play. Below are more initial rules for Cooperative Dungeon!

Cooperative Dungeon!

In Cooperative Dungeon!, either all the players win, or they all lose. To win, the players must “bank” treasure equal to the combined victory treasure values for all their heroes. (Thus a group of two dwarves and one wizard must bank 50,000 gp to win). The following rules are added to a Cooperative Dungeon! game.

*A hero “banks” treasure by ending a turn in the Great Hall, and placing treasure in a “bank” cup. (Any space where you can keep the treasure that has been banked separate from treasure in play will do.) It doesn’t matter which treasure is banked by which player – all banked treasure counts towards the amount needed for the players to win.

*Banked treasure can no longer be used by players. This makes the decision to bank items like the ESP medallion and magic swords tricky.

*If a hero dies (gets a “12” on a roll of The Monster Strikes Back table), and unused heroes are available, the player begins a new hero in the Great Hall as normal. However, the amount of treasure the group needs to bank to win increases by the value of treasure the new hero would have needed to win in a normal game.

*If a hero dies and there is not an unused hero available (all eight possible heroes have been used or are currently in play) the players lose the game.

*When anyone gets a treasure card, they may decide to keep it or give it to another hero, as long as that hero is not in the Great Hall. This can be useful for moving treasure from lower levels to heroes closer to the Great Hall, or for moving useful treasures like magic swords to heroes who can best use them. A treasure can only be given to another hero when it is first obtained – afterwards it stays with whoever has it until it is banked.

*Any cards that are revealed (such as those uncovered with the ESP medallion or crystal ball) are shown to all players and placed face-up.

I have lots more rules expansion ideas – new heroes, new treasures, new monsters, even feats to customize heroes — and I hope to present those as time goes on, after I see how many people are interested in these.