Monday, October 29, 2012

Feat Ideas

So sorcery is unreliable in The Known World, it tends to go bug nuts crazy and do things like remove the oxygen from the air or start turning people to stone for no reason. One of the oddities of this is that Fallen, Fell Humans, and Soulless (three races that owe their continued existence to sorcery) do not do this. Granted, there are background reasons as to why they don't just randomly explode or cause nasty magical complications, but it is odd nonetheless. I'm actually really surprised no one has commented on it considering I've made such a big point of saying magic items and magic are prone to misfiring. What is a Soulless if not an extremely complex sentient magic item?

Oooo, that is an interesting idea for a character. Imagine an intelligent magic weapon sitting in a cave. Left there from a battle from long ago, just lurking and getting shit on by cave wights or something. This intelligent item is all alone, unable to speak to anyone and completely unable to do anything to affect its surroundings. Now imagine that it can feel its animating magic slowly unraveling and bringing it ever closer to just exploding. Every day it tries to think smaller thoughts so as not to push the boundaries of its animating magic, but by its very existence and ability to be concerned about the unraveling magic, it is activating the magic because the magic is what created it. I wonder if that is how Eloise got started. I should actually run that concept by Fred tonight. 

Anyway, so I got to thinking about a feat that might allow a Fell Human to explode his ensorcelled blood if he concentrated on it. I thought it might be a cool concept, albeit one no one in the group would ever use. The prerequisites would be that he was a full blooded Fell Human, not a Fell Descendant or anything like that, and that he had one or more of the Fell blood feats (Acidic Blood, Fiery Blood, Icy Blood, etc).

The effect would be that as a full round action, the Fell Human could concentrate and basically destabilize the sorcery in his blood and cause a blast of energy to spread outward from him. The blast radius would be 5 feet per Fell Heritage feat (which is basically any feat with the word Fell in it, plus a few others). The damage would be 1d4 for every two Fell Heritage feats the character has and the save for half damage would be a Reflex save with a DC of 10 + the character's Charisma modifier + 1 for every two Fell Heritage feats. The type of damage the blast does would be tied to one of the energy types of the Fell blood feats the character has, he'd choose one when he activated the ability. The character would not get a save against the damage, but his Fell blood feat would protect him to some degree. The character would be able to use this ability a number of times equal to his Charisma modifier each day, minimum of 1/day.

I'd also create a pile of feats that would alter this ability. Something to increase the damage die, something to allow a shaped blast like a cone or line. Nothing that would allow the character to shoot bolts of energy, because basically the ability causes your blood to burst out of every orifice and be all magically violent, not allow you to shoot mind bullets or spit daggers of fire. Hmm, I dunno, I guess allowing it to be a ranged touch attack rather than a line or cone or whatever wouldn't be awful.

In this vein, I also think I'd like to create a feat that allows a character to use a swift action to deal themselves 1 point of damage with a piercing or slashing weapon (or a bludgeoning weapon if they've already been injured) to coat their weapon with their sorcerous blood. This feat would also be dependent upon the Fell blood feats. Once coated, your weapon would do like +1 or +1d4 elemental damage on strikes for one round. The type of damage would depend on which Fell blood feats you had.

Alright, that is enough about Fell blood feats.

I'm not sure when, but I think at some point during our latest session, one of the guys may have said that the Unarmored Combatant feats were overpowered. This is when I made Dodge a prerequisite, rather than Evasive Reflexes. Looking at Greater Unarmored Combatant, the +10 bonus at 20th level combined with the Dexterity requirement means that the feat basically grants you +5 Mithril Scale Mail that is not vulnerable to firearms. Thinking about it, that isn't a big deal. There is a whole other +5 worth of enhancements that could be on such an armor that you have no ability to get because you don't wear armor. Plus, +5 Mithril Scale Mail is kind of chump change for a 20th level character. The armor is valued at 29,050 gold pieces and a 20th level character should have roughly 880,000 gold pieces worth of shit. Basically a drop in a bucket.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Special Materials

Alright, so lately I've been thinking of the whole wolf-iron upgrade as a viable alternative to unreliable magic weapons. The basic concept of the upgrade system is that instead of +10 worth of magical abilities, each weapon can fit 8 (10 if the weapon is masterwork) points of upgrade. The system is a carbon copy of the magic item system as each magic ability is valued at +1-5 and each upgrade is valued at one or more upgrade points.

Now a +1 enhancement bonus to a weapon starts at 2000 marks and scales up till it hits +5. The price increase sizable each plus, with +5 coming in at 50000 marks. The wolf-iron upgrade follows the same progression, as you increase the wolf-iron content of the steel/wolf-iron alloy, you increase the enhancement bonus and the cost. I kept the costs the same with the logic that you can cut them to 1/3 by building the upgrade yourself. But that doesn't really help character that don't want to spend eighty days making a dagger.

There are two crucial elements I forgot though (aside from some players not wanting to bother with Craft skills). The first is that wolf-iron does not count as magic in terms of penetrating damage reduction. The second is that the value of the masterwork enhancement bonus to attack rolls is only 300 marks, and can be reduced to 1/3 of that by building it yourself.

Realizing this has led me to consider reducing the costs of the wolf-iron upgrade for weapons. Except I am not sure how to plot out that value. One could make the argument that the attack roll bonus from masterwork is half the ability, so a bonus to damage rolls should cost another 300 marks. Perhaps we could say a non-magical +1/+1 enhancement bonus is valued at 600 marks, and compare that to the 2000 mark value of the magical version and just divide the costs of +2-5 by 3.3 (2000 divided by 600 = 3.3) and call that the costs. For some reason though, I feel like Paizo would say a bonus to damage is worth more than a bonus on attack rolls. I dunno.

I think what I need to do is overhaul the upgrade system. Perhaps a tiered system of non-magical pluses with the enhancement bonus being quality based and the material providing special abilities and determine how good the quality of an item can get.

For instance, stuff like bone or stone is limited to masterwork (+1/+0), bronze is limited to good quality (+1/+1), wood and iron are limited to fine quality (+2/+2), steel is limited to very fine quality (max of +3/+3), springsteel is limited to exceptional quality (max of +4/+4), and wolf-iron is limited to flawless quality (max of +5/+5). Armor would have a similar breakdown of material and qualities. Then the materials would also have their special abilities, like the ultra lightweight and flexibility of springsteel decreasing armor penalties and the ultra hard and dense nature of wolf-iron ignoring object hardness.

I think this system is more versatile and more sensible. With the current system, you basically cannot make upgraded light armors with increased armor bonuses. There is no 100% wolf-iron leather armor with a +7 bonus to AC. It also makes the special materials special, but doesn't force an agile character like Eran to carry around big dull gray kukris that weight six pounds a piece if he wants to deal more damage.

Anyone have any thoughts on this idea?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eric's Alternate Rules: Developement Flaws

I was making a character for Jason's pirate campaign and was thinking that there was not all that many Feats available and how many times you have to choose one aspect of a character over another. I realize this is to make it so your character is not too powerful too fast, but sometimes it is frustrating. I have not played a character to 20th level in... well, a long fucking time.

I thought to myself how awesome Flaws are and how they can really help in character creation and actually building a character and its roleplaying capabilities. Really, I choose Flaws based on what I could play that character as, helping determine character personality.

Anyway, I thought that if you met certain prerequisites and roleplayed your character like you needed to, determined by the GM, you could have up to two more Flaws called Development Flaws. These Flaws would come at certain intervals, like 5th and 10th level and only if that character met the reques. Each of these D.F. would allow you to choose one more Feat as a sort of "compensation" that your character would have for being inadequate in another area, kinda like a Red Corvette for a 40 year old man.

I would even say that existing Flaws from character creation could be used. Jargon Conversationalist comes to mind, but with a twist. If you have 5 or more ranks in a Profession, Knowledge or Craft skill, you could take that D.F. and gain something else, like Skill Focus on Intimidate, or Iron Will.

I am not really sure how to implement this well, just that I think you could do it. I think I could flesh it out a bit better, but the rules are pretty simple anyway. Maybe it would just be a matter of coming up with a list of Development Flaws by modifying existing ones.

Any thoughts on this, peoples?

Edit After the Fact: Steve fixed some stuff. 

Monday, October 22, 2012


Honestly, I am at a loss as to what I should type for this post. I normally have at least a vague idea of where my brain is wandering before I set down to the computer, but today I'm just blank. Sometimes I just have nothing to say really, and then you get a randomly constructed completely directionless post like this. Oh well. Shit happens.

I guess I'll start with being really excited about the next chunk of the Orcunraytrel campaign. The guys have had five scenarios to be their own bosses and finally when it comes time to choose, they choose to be the bitch. I am very curious to see how comfortable their characters are taking orders and not having any leeway to make their own decisions about the future. The power to do whatever the fuck you want whenever you fucking want can be very intoxicating and I am wondering how much they will chafe under Vanden's command. Should be interesting.

I am actually rather excited to play Captain Vanden. It has been a long long time since my npc was anything remotely resembling the man in charge, and that is what Vanden will be. He will give the orders and the players will do exactly what he says when he says it because he is their Captain. I haven't got any clear ideas on his personality, aside from being a grouch. I'm not going to have him abuse the players for no better reason than he can, but he is an Elduman of over 2,000 years old, so he expects discipline and order. He's already clashed with Eran, so we'll see how that develops.

I'm am interested to play Mog and Gamog as well. I needed to round out the troops a little more and kind of pad the numbers a bit so it wasn't just four dudes and their captain. My understanding is that military units usually consist of more than four dudes. Plus, the group isn't exactly thick with big frontline bruisers. Anyway, already controlling Vanden, I didn't want any complicated npcs in the group. Vanden is complex enough. So what I did was make twins with the exact same stats, skills, feats, and gear. Now I only need to know one set of info to control two characters. The other thing I wanted to try out is teamwork feats. Teamwork feats are feats that only function when two or more characters have them and perform them together. They are kind of interesting for a group mechanic. There is one that improves the flanking bonus for characters, one that is a kind of sneak attack, another allows two characters to switch spots in combat, another allows for volley attacks with arrows. They're a neat tactical element for group combat. I think they're impractical for parties though, most players view their characters as individuals and battle plans usually don't consist of much more than kill the boss before he kills us.

I'm not entirely sure how long this Vanden arc will take, but I do have a few scenarios planned so I am assuming at least half a year worth of in game time. The hopeful culmination of events is that the players will either reaffirm their ties to the pirates and commit to being full time members of the expedition, or will sever ties completely and go their own way with the whole airship/Immortal/Goebleen paratroopers thing. Jason was just musing about how to make a lot of cash and came up with burning Asosa to the ground, I told him to crash a hydrogen filled blimp into the city.

My goal with this arc is also to get the guys to level eight or nine and begin the whole Leadership aspect of the group. I plan on introducing the thrall and cohorts of the group as new recruits for Vanden's team and using that as a convenient way to fold them into the group. Cary, Eric, and Jason will still have control over them and will still create them, I just feel like it offers a convenient method of recruitment/psychic mind fucking. Plus, it pads the team's numbers and allows them to take on more difficult challenges while they're working as pirates.

Meanwhile, while they're off fighting the good fight in the name of their homeland and whatnot, I want Gob to begin consolidating power using the Fort as his base. He takes Leadership as well when he hits level 7. By  9th level he'll have a 5th level cohort and 5 1st level followers. When I say consolidating power, I don't mean he'll be staging a coup to steal the tower. If he wanted his own fort, he'd just dig his own warren.

What I mean is that he'll be making some additions to the fort without the precise approval of the other members of the group while following the guidelines they set down. One of those will be a mushroom cave to grow fungi for food and to distill them for alcohol. He'll also, with the King's approval and from his own finances, begin construction of a tunnel leading from the Goebleen warrens to the Fort. This will basically allow Goebleen scouts safe travel from the Fort to the warrens and vice versa. It will also allow the Goebleen to safely send merchants to the tower to sell shit to Gob's crew while the group is gone. It also gives a reason for Goebleen to drop by the Fort, it is directly connected to the Goebleen Warrens and safer than just walking cross country. This would make something like an inn or tavern or shop of some kind a reasonable to build as a source of income for the guys. The tunnel would likely be outside the walls of the Fort, so someone couldn't dig, find the tunnel, then wander in under the Fort's walls. Also, Goebleen are pretty good about protecting their tunnels and preventing folks from penetrating them and sneaking in. 

So there are some thoughts I guess. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

So I came up with an idea, big surprise, right? The character I have at the moment is a gun toting Wizard named Karl with an archetype of Spellslinger. This allows him to cast spells through his pistol(s).

I see him as as someone who does not want to actually be a pirate but was around them just to get to a different land and away from his "problems.' I also seen him as making pistols, as it is sort of his obsession that is sort of tied in with his magic use. His family was clan based and that is why he gets along with the Goebleen so well. He also has slight plans for making "anti-siege" weapons eventually to protect the tower and to sell to the pirates at New Haven (at a hefty price) to protect their settlement.

Now, I want to give you an idea how I have always seen the Wizard class: Batman. Honestly, for how expensive things can get when you are making items/ casting spells as a Wizard, you should probably be a billionaire anyway, this shit is unreal. Yes, there are large returns, but look at a Monk with no armor or weapons or most psionic classes. Yeah, if he had magic equipment it would help a lot, but those guys are still ass-kickers without even trying.

With how I see Wizards and keeping that in mind, the real reason for this post: mass production and selling of guns to maintain our fort and my character's goals. I feel like our little group may have a falling out with the pirates eventually and want to plan for that accordingly. Selling guns to them seems dangerous and thinking about that made me think that as a Wizard I should be able to produce an effect that would essentially disable anything they try to use against us that we produced. Talking with my GM about it, he thought it was a great idea.

We tossed a few ideas around, like break and contingency, which would make it a really high level thing to do. There was the ill-fated thing of just making the pin weak so it would break at random. Then: GOLD. Steve struck it, pan handling in the books of Pathfinder. Explosive Runes, a 3rd level spell. Use spellcraft to see if I can make it do what I want and BAM, a small controlled explosion that only breaks the pin. I still need to do that make those checks, damnit.

Edit After The Fact: Steve fixed some stuff.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Alternate Rules: Ki Points/Power Points

So way back when I started posting this random alternate rules posts, I made the ruling that Monks were psionic characters, which is a fairly obvious and sensible ruling. Monks have always been linked to the more fully psionic classes, and there are even a few Monk/Psion hybrid type prestige classes as well, the same way there are Fighter/Wizard style ones.

So working with this understanding that Monks are psionic characters, does that mean ki points are power points?

It makes a certain amount of sense and would further create synergy between existing psionic classes and the Monk. The questions is whether or not it is overpowered. I mean, Monks typically have 10 or so ki points, plus a few from a high Wisdom. That is assuming a 20th level Monk with no vows or anything for bonus ki points. A 20th level Psychic Warrior has a base of 128 power points, plus additional ones based on his Wisdom. A Wisdom of 16 will net a Psychic Warrior another 30 power points. Now, granted, most Monks can't do much more than penetrate damage reduction and do a few supernatural abilities like dimension door or heal themselves, so having 100 more ki points than normal isn't exactly game breaking in nature. A Qinggong Monk could more easily take advantage of power points and ki points being interchangeable, but that depends on which ki abilities he selects as he grows in level.

I don't know that this is necessarily game breaking, but a Monk with a few dozen power points to use as ki points could pretty much have an extra flurry attack every single round of combat ever. The only restraint might be that those power points would be more useful with psionic powers like biofeedback or offensive or defensive precognition, rather than just spamming on extra flurry attacks. 

I dunno, ki points being power points does make a certain amount of sense, they're both internal power sources based on mental attributes used to do supernatural stuff. I don't think I'd automatically make them interchangeable. Perhaps a trait or feat to do so? They are similar types of energy, but the ki points are very specialized in their purpose, the Monk uses them to enhance his own abilities and in a few occasions do spell type stuff. Perhaps make it a feat that allows a one way transfer of use, power points can be used as ki points. My campaign only has one psionic character and no Monks, so it isn't like anyone is clamoring for this sort of adjustment to the game. 

I dunno. Whatever. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sharkosian Empires

I like sharks. I don't know why. I think it has to do with the fact that they're these brutal creatures that have been apex predators for like a million years and they have those black utterly inhuman and emotionless eyes.

Anyway, so a long time ago I wrote this little bit on the blog here about sharks and dolphins and porpoises and their war for control of the cosmos. Recently I was trying to figure out a race for Jason's campaign and wandered through the Stormwrack 3.5 book to see if there was anything noteworthy in there. There wasn't. However, I did see the...I dunno what their name is, but they amount to killer whale humanoids. This got me to wondering if there was anything shark-like for me to play, something in the vein of the Atlantean from my Inconsistencies Continued story. There isn't. The closest thing is the Sahuagin. They have the ability to communicate with sharks and worship Sekolah the shark god. The problem with them is that in most of the literature they look like a fish with arms stuck on them. Ugly and ungainly. Not anything like the sleek and deadly killers that sharks are. Sometimes they look cool, but yeah, the majority of what I've seen is goofy and unthreatening.

So this thought process naturally led me to imagining an ocean world where many of the aquatic creatures we know and love have evolved (for whatever reason) into a humanoid form. Why after a million years or so a shark would suddenly need legs and arms and opposable thumbs instead of just growing more teeth, I have no idea. Whatever, logic is for other places.

So I imagine we have a bunch of humanoid aquatic races dividing up all the territory of an archipelago style world of water and smallish islands. I imagine this world primarily being populated by dolphins and sharks with the other well known fishies kind of tagging along for the ride. I imagine sharks being the most numerous, because I like sharks.

I imagine the sharks being heavy in the physical stats and light on the mental ones, with dolphins the opposite. I imagine the sharks basically being aquatic orcs, hordes of savagely tough warriors with a fairly binary view of life, you are either a predator or prey and lending their society a might makes right/toughest guy is in charge theme. The dolphins would be more cerebral I guess, kind of the opposite. Maybe they could be wizards, or psions. For some reason I feel that psionics would be more appropriate for this world than magic would. 

If the sharks were not too bloodthirsty, I think I'd have rays being their pals. Kind of a cartilaginous fish alliance or something. The porpoises would be allied with them as well because dolphins will straight up hatemurder a porpoise on sight. Killer whales, whales, eels, and other assorted races would exist, though I don't exactly have a theory about their alliances and whatnot.

I'm not sure how I would arrange the technology and whatnot. I think sharks would mostly rely on their teeth and maybe bone or coral weapon, probably rely on thick hide and Dexterity for armor with the equivalent of armor spikes to replicate their sandpapery skin. Dolphins, being mammals and smart, might have like iron or bronze and live on little islands near the water. 

I dunno, this isn't going anywhere, but it was fun to think about. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

What I Want To Play

So with Jason working on his own Age of Sail style piracy campaign, the question that comes to mind is what should I play? I know we're a ways off from actually playing it, but I always like to have an idea in mind. My first thought is, Gunslinger, duh. I really like that class. I love firearms in my DnD because to me they represent progress and evolution, rather than the weird stagnation of technology of most fantasy worlds where there are either remnants of ancient advanced civilizations, or no one can figure out how to put together a printing press or make gunpowder. Gunslinger is definitely one of my all time favorite classes, but I feel like Gob scratches that itch well enough that I have no need to play a Gunslinger. Normally I favor Rogue-type or hybrid classes. I've never played a full bore caster as a character or an npc and I have no real desire to with Jason's crazy magic and sanity rules.

One of the things I have always wanted to play is a Monk/Shadowdancer or a Monk/Assassin or a Bard/Assassin, or a Rogue/Shadowdancer/Assassin. By the way, I love the Shadowdancer prestige class. Hands down my favorite prestige class. Don't get me wrong, stuff like the Psion Uncarnate is pretty cool too, but the Shadowdancer has a special place in my heart.

I think I wouldn't mind trying a Monk/Shadowdancer, but I don't know if I can play Lawful Anything. I mean, Lawful Good to me is fanaticism. Lawful Good to me is a former partner of mine at work that is a really nice and quiet charitable religious guy that got kicked out of his church for being too anti-homosexual. So to me, Lawful Good is actually Lawful Evil. Lawful Neutral to me is...heartless, passionless. What motivates someone that isn't motivated by greed or mercy or whatever? House M.D. is supposedly Lawful Neutral according to the Internets, so I suppose the challenges of one's profession? Lawful Evil seems silly. I'm evil as fuck and want power and glory and riches and will kill and enslave anyone to get them, but I have a code or discipline or something. At what point does reliably killing everything that pisses you off and only stealing half of a mark's food and money become less of a code and more of a Chaotic Evil. 

This is why alignments are stupid to me. You cannot cram the complexities of human mentality and personality into two words that mean different things to every person at the table. To that former partner of mine's current church, he is Good. To me, he is a hateful, stupid, delusional bigot that should be locked up. He follows the tenets of a crazy religion to the letter, so he is Lawful, but he is all about oppression and crazy Old Testament law, so he is Evil. To me. Alignment is stupid and means nothing. Might as well say your alignment is Barking Dog Dicks and play your character however you want, it'd mean about the same thing. 

Anyway. I don't know that the Monk/Shadowdancer is the right thing for Jason's campaign though. There aren't a lot of shadows on a ship in the middle of the sea. Are we going to be mostly doing ship things or are our adventures primarily going to be in port cities or forgotten coves on unexplored islands? Shadowdancer and Assassin are kind of urban prestige classes to me, not sure they'd have a whole lot of application on a sailing ship or in the jungle. I mean, if we're going to be doing a lot of boarding action and ship to ship combat, say hello to my elven Rogue/Duelist and his dual rapiers or scimitars or whatever. Actually, not really. I don't care much for the Duelist prestige class. I mean, looking at the Duelist prestige class, it is very agile and maneuverable. I can see its abilities having some fun uses on a ship, but it doesn't pop for me. There is no moment where I go THIS! I must have this!

The reason I start with class rather than background or race when I create a character is because I have to want to play the character and enjoy the way the character functions in the game. I need to find a facet of something, an aspect I know I will enjoy during play that won't leave me wanting to split my focus or shift my focus mid game. Naturally, once you've got class down you can get a better idea about what the race and background is going to be. Talking about an archer idea, normally a Dwarf isn't an archer, so either you've automatically scratched that race as an option or you've forced yourself to come up with an interesting concept and justification as to why the normally axe wielding and cave dwelling Dwarf has decided to specialize in the longbow.

The two ideas I am flirting with right now are something ranged and snipery and something Monkish and grappling focused with the goal of taking the Jawbreaker/Bonebreaker/Neckbreaker series of feats, because I want to do those things. Neckbreaker is pretty sweet, 2d6 Dexterity or Strength damage with successful pins and grapple checks and Bonebreaker allows you to do 1d6 Dexterity or Strength damage with your Stunning fists. I believe you can substitute Stunning Fist for your attacks in Flurry of Blows. So yeah.

I just don't quite know how I want to implement the ranged one. A Hobgoblin Fighter (Archer) appeals to me on some level, but so does a knife throwing Ninja or Rogue. The Ninja has a lot of versatility, as you can use their tricks to augment poisoning, gain an assassination ability, and gain a Monk's unarmed damage. Plus they gave some ki and smoke bomb abilities that are fun. Plus I could literally be a pirate ninja. Paradox.

The Monk thing would be kind of awesome as well. Just imagine this burly scarred bastard swaying across a deck and instead of blocking your sword, he just rips the arm out of the shoulder, chokeholds you to the ground, then literally snaps your neck. It's a powerful image, but grappling is something of a more complex method of attack than just straight up punching a guy a half dozen times. I also believe there is a chance of your allies striking you while you're grappling someone so with a six man party, things might get just a wee bit crowded. 

The thing I am toying with as of earlier this week is a Rogue (Knife Master). I'm not sure on race or background yet, but the design is to make him equally adept at stabbyness in melee as he is at range. Daggers aren't that impressive, 1d4 with criticals on 19-20 with only x2 modifier. However, a Knife Master deals d8s with their sneak attack with small blades and rogue talents can turn 1s and 2s on the rolls to 3s at around 10th level, so as long as you have a flanking buddy or some ranks in Stealth you can easily compensate on your damage. I think I'd roll with Two-Weapon Fighting and Rapid Shot as well, so plenty of extra attacks for extra chances of critical hits.

I think focusing on both ranged and melee applications of the daggers would be less than ideal, it splits the focus of a character too much. Sneak attack seems like it is more difficult to implement at range as well. You can't flank at range as far as I know, so you need to leave them flat-footed or otherwise deny them their Dexterity bonus to AC. You can do that by using Bluff to feint in combat or become invisible, which a few Ninja tricks allow you to do, which you can get via some Rogue talents. The low tech way is to just hide before the fight starts and start slinging daggers at people's backs, I think the sniping use of Stealth has a hefty penalty to the check to stay hidden though. 

I don't have anything particularly nailed down quite yet I guess, but I am getting there. I just have so many ideas and so few chances to play that I tend to go a little crazy trying to get a feel for a concept. More as it develops I guess. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alternate Rules: Attacks of Opportunity

I think attacks of opportunity are stupid. I've never liked them and I have never looked at a feat or class ability or trait that added a benefit to attacks of opportunity and remotely felt an interest in taking it.

One of the things about it is the illogical nature of it in regards to the rules. You can make one attack of opportunity per round. Why the limit on it? Time constraints? That makes no sense. If a Fighter can somehow fit four attacks into a six second period of time, plus one or more from his off hand weapon, plus an additional possible attack of opportunity that may or may not come up, why can't he fit in as many opportunity attacks as regular attacks? Combat Reflexes allows you to make attacks of opportunity up to your Dexterity modifier because you have good reflexes or something. If you have such good reflexes, why not a bonus to Reflex saves or a Dodge bonus to AC? If you are so agile and such that you can fit more opportunity attacks in a six second period than a normal person, why can't you just add in an extra regular attack? It's ridiculously abstract. I'm really quick and agile, so I can make more attacks in a six second period than most people, but only if you trip over your shoe laces or charge at me swinging your massive sword or attempt to disarm me or attempt to sunder my shield with your hammer. This is one of my constant gripes about Pathfinder/DnD, the combat and such is so abstract and inconsistent with its rules logic that if I think about it longer than five minutes, I start to stroke out and the system starts to break down.

I've thought about removing them from the game, but we barely use them ever so it feels like a pointless gesture. If anyone ever charged or disarmed or feinted in combat, I'd consider it, but no one does. I've considered treating them the same way I do critical hit confirmations. We don't use them, but if a feat helps them and it is a requirement for another feat or prestige class or something, you have to take the useless feat. Sorry. I don't know if that system is overly punishing, but the feat that offers a +4 bonus to confirmation rolls on critical hits unlocks the whole chain of critical feats. The ones that allow you to blind and stun and bleed on critical hits. I mean, with a rapier and Improved Critical and a one or two of those feats you can do some serious damage. 

The other option is to figure out something to replace them with. So you provoke an attack of opportunity when you do something that would in theory leave you more open to attack. When you charge a guy, he gets an attack of opportunity. If you leave an enemy's threatened square, you provoke one. Any time you perform a combat maneuver, cast a spell, fire a bow/gun while threatened by a melee weapon, use unarmed attacks against an armed opponent (without Improved Unarmed Strike that is), use a skill, or drink a potion, you provoke an attack of opportunity. There's a whole table of actions that provoke them and what I've listed is not comprehensive.

So what would I replace them with if I were going to replace them? Off the top of my head, flat-footed. So flat-footed AC represents you being off your footing or otherwise unable to defend yourself by serpentining and hopping around like a ninja and such. You're denied your Dexterity bonus to AC because you're not aware of your attacker or you're immobilized or something along those lines. So why not say that any time you would provoke an attack of opportunity from someone, their attacks against you use flat-footed AC for the rest of the round? It is a short enough period of time that it doesn't leave you super vulnerable, and it doesn't slow down combat by adding in extra attacks, but it does show that you are more vulnerable than you were. 

Granted, it doesn't slim down the rules at all. It's just an alternate take on an already in place system. Plus, you have to figure out what all the attack of opportunity feats do now because if you're going to change a mechanic instead of just removing it, you have to change the rest of the game with it. I dunnno, whatever.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Asosa vs. Goebleen 101

So Asosa and the Goebleen have been at war for some time. They've fought and killed and some atrocities have been committed on both sides of the conflict. I may play the Goebleen as the underdog, but no conflict in Hekinoe is black and white. I love the gray area between black and white where there are no good or bad guys, just people trying to do their thing and get by. For instance, Kusseth takes slaves and their entire government is centered around the concepts of bribery and favors. Basically, their lords and officials are mobsters. They kill, cheat, and anything else you can think of to keep themselves in power. Additionally, pretty much everything is legal in Kusseth, drugs, slavery, prostitution, etc. It is all taxed and fined and if you can't pay the fine/tax, you go to a labor camp for a ridiculously long sentence that likely kills you. So, sounds like a rough and lawless place. However, no citizen of Kusseth has to worry about a witch hunter breaking down their door to purify them with fire, or a Vyanth war party storming the city streets to take slaves back to die in blood and pain in their arenas. Nor do they have to worry about coastal raids from Haven slitting throats and taking plunder. As rough as Kusseth is, the army is literally everywhere acting as a shield of bodies, bombs, and rifles protecting the citizens from the country's enemies. The witch hunters are a strong military force, and they actively hunt the sorcerous monstrosities that live in The Fallen Empire of Man, but hoping there is a party of witch hunters hanging around when a party of Soulless storms your little feudal city is a little bit different than having a garrison of Brasscoats and Greycoats constantly hanging around drinking the town's liquor and slapping its daughter's asses. Like I said, it is all a lovely muddled gray color that is neither bright nor shiny in any way shape or form.

Alright, so the Asosans and the Goebleen Nation. They've been at war for generations. I don't have exact dates for all this because I don't have a calender designed for Orcunraytrel the way I do for The Known World so we are unfortunately going to speak in vague terms. So a long long time ago in Orcunraytrel there was this disaster that broke up the massive kingdom of humanity. One chunk of the nation pledged fealty to a demon prince of some kind and then tried to renege on their deal. The demon prince thing's response was to sink the nation into the earth and drown it with the waters of a nearby swamp. The backlash from this disaster disrupted a lot of stuff about Orcunraytrel that the guys have no idea about, but one of the main repercussions was that the strongest nation of Orcunraytrel, the human kingdom, kind of split up into four smaller ones. One of which is Asosa. Now the human nation was fairly benevolent and wide and lots of trade and resource support existed to keep the entire kingdom supplied and happy and fat. Asosa had a lot of bodies and a lot of metals and a lot of dried out, rocky soil. So when the kingdom broke up, they were left with bodies, metal, and dried out, rocky soil. Things got dark and destitute pretty quickly. Civilians themselves became a resource, rather than a population, their sole purpose to work their fingers to bloody nubs yanking metals out of the dirt and trying to put seeds back in the holes. The purpose of this resource was to support the military of Asosa. The military of Asosa is pretty good for Orcunraytrel, very organized and well supplied and armed. However, because the country is so resource poor, they have difficulty maintaining supply lines very far from their borders (one of the main reasons they haven't ridden out and trampled the pirates).

Alright, so the Goebleen. The Goebleen have existed for as long as the Asosans have, but they typically live underground, but not so far underground that demons nap under their beds or anything like that. The Goebleen are Hekinoe's, actually, just Orcunraytrel's version of Goblins. I conceived of them as Goblins if they managed to get over their fear/hatred of fire, writing, dogs, and horses. So they occupy the same land that they always have, but underground farming mushrooms and cave fish and doing a little bit of surface world hunting as well. They're small and don't need much space and have very large litters of children (which explains why Gob has enough cousins to fill out the ranks every scenario despite that Asosan sterilization of the Goebleen woman). The territory now called Asosa was basically split more or less in half between the Asosans and Goebleen back before the Asosans called themselves Asosans. The north chunk of the land was nearer to the central area of the ancient human kingdom Asosa is a fragment of and the Goebleen just kind of kept to themselves in the south. The Goebleen actually hail originally from the land the giants occupy now. They were just sick of fighting with the giants all the time and they found demons were much more common in mountains than in plains and hills for some reason, so a bunch of them up and left, though there are still a few clans and warrens there. This was all hundreds and hundreds  and hundres of years ago, maybe a thousand.

So we reach this point where the Asosans have been expanding and expanding because their soil is shit and what they can plant for farming doesn't grow very well, so they need quantity if they can't have quality. So they expand and expand and expand, and the Goebleen don't really have a problem with it because the Goebleen live underground and as long as the Asosans don't dig up their warrens, there won't be a problem. About five hundred years ago we reach a point where the Asosans are trying to scrape every little thing they can from their territory and are expanding and expanding on their farmlands and digging everywhere they can put a shovel into the dirt to find iron or copper or gold or something to use to trade to supplement their lackluster food supplies. Well push comes to shove and the Goebleen reach a point where they would really prefer it if the Asosans backed off just a hair and stopped digging holes in the ground. The Asosans, being human and desperate laughed it off because the Goebleen are small and use bows and arrows and wear hides and the Asosans have knights and whatnot. Push shove push shove push shove etc. About four hundred and fifty years ago, the Goebleen decide to push back. Hard. The Asosans don't take them seriously because they have plate armor and the Goebleen have arrows and tiny arms. Well, fifty arrows per knight alters the equation and the Goebleen are winning epically and the Asosans are freaking the fuck out because these tiny little dudes with arrows the size of pinkies are killing them in droves and stopping their cavalry charges before they even get their momentum up.

Now the Asosans have always had their war priests and battle wizards, the Armiger has been a protector of Asosa for as long at it has existed, so his priesthood has always been prominent. Ok, so this is what I hate about Pathfinder/3.5/whatever Cleric type classes. So this country has food problems and a government monitored priesthood. Why the fuck don't they have their priests making food all the fucking time? Uh...uh...uh.... Yeah. How can plague or sickness or any sort of disease exist in a country with more than a dozen priests with the ability to cast cure wound and disease spells and do things like create food and water. Oh that's right, uh, there are magical diseases and stuff because magic. That isn't a sentence I forgot to finish. Because magic. Pretend I said it like the Ancient Aliens guy says aliens. This is why I hate divine classes, they break my fucking game and shatter any semblance of logic to the campaign world.

So there is this priesthood dedicated to the Asosan cause because the Armiger is the protector of Asosa. So the priesthood initially stayed out of the fight, and the number of actual wizards and sorcerers is a very small amount compared to the number of cleric types. Plus, the Goebleen have their witches to handle that threat. The priesthood initially stayed out of the fight because the Armiger is a protector, a defender. He is not one to pick fights, he is a defender, which is why Asosa is focused so much on defending their borders instead of tearing on out beyond them to fuck up pirates. However, when the Goebleen tore out the throats of the Asosans in the initial attacks, they became concerned. The Armiger is a defender as I said, however when it was shown that the Goebleen had teeth and would not just be rode down, matters changed and the priesthood became involved.

As I've said before, the Asosans sterilized a large chunk of the Goebleen female population. Now, there isn't a spell for sterility, but if you can cast cure disease, you can reverse it to cast cause disease. So we'll hand wave it and say they figured it out from there and did the deed. After that, the Goebleen freaked out. Another thing. Clerics break sieges. Oh, you have a castle? Say hello to contagion, which a 5th level Cleric can cast. They started basically building these warrens into tombs with layers and layers of arcane and physical defenses and hiding their women and children in them. It was very cramped and boring in these armored warrens, but they were well supplied and mothers and children were together while warriors and witches went off and killed Asosans. The priesthood figured out the location of these warrens through trial and error and set to preforming their spells and rituals and suddenly piles and piles of females found themselves with miscarriages and later found they couldn't get pregnant. 

This is when the Goebleen started to become a very clannish society. Warriors started congregating in clubs or lodges composed of brothers and sisters and cousins. Interesting note, females among the Goebleen did not act as warriors till the sterilization occurred. Originally it was just sterile females trying to find a purpose to their life, but in modern times when the sterile lines are rarer and rarer the tradition has just continued with anyone who wants to pick up a blade or bow just doing so. This period of time is when the Goebleen get very clannish as I said. Warrens start consisting of one family line and its cousin lines, rather than several different family groups and Goebleen start to wage war in family groups as warriors. This is also when the Goebleen get very very vengeance minded. This is not an implication of incest, the Goebleen breed so quickly that any sort of inbreeding would very quickly show its results.

The Goebleen didn't just mourn for their damaged females, they also mourned for the children that would not exist. Goebleen like kids and their litters typically consist of 3-5 per pregnancy. Goebleen find a lot of comfort in a noisy, rambunctious warren, it shows them the warren is full of life and light. When things are quiet and still is when they get agitated or scared. Anyway, there was a lot of grief and anger in the Goebleen when the sterilization happened.

The Goebleen are small, live in caves, and see perfectly well in pitch blackness. They're pretty competent in night fighting and guerrilla warfare. They had enough numbers to field whole armies though, so their guerrilla tactics consisted of scouts and skirmishers rather than a nation wide means or prosecuting war. When the Asosans attacked their females, they decided to go with their strengths. They started refusing to meet the Asosans in battle. The Asosans would roll out to fight, and the Goebleen would be nowhere. They couldn't find them. The Goebleen would bypass enemy lines and start burning villages to the ground, killing anything they could find that was taller than them, this included civilians, women, and children. They started taking scalps and ears, disfiguring the dead so their families could never identify them. They didn't just kill though, they'd lame or wound warriors to make them unfit for war but still a burden on society. They'd burn fields and farming communities to make civilians homeless and deny the army food. They'd sneak into mines and kill everything living and just throw the bodies in the shafts, forcing Asosans to dig through piles of their dead to reopen the mine. The Goebleen went from a tough, horde-like force, to invisible ghosts that struck without warning and left horror in their wake. The Asosans had their own scouts and guerrillas, but as small detachments, this was an army of warriors striving to break the opposing army's nerve and destroy their support infrastructure.

For the Asosans, the Goebleen basically became the thing that goes bump in the night. The monster  tapping its claws on the window just outside the candlelight. Many many many Asosans died after with the barely heard chittering voices and the soft patter of leather clad feet just reaching their ears. Once again, the Asosans freaked the fuck out. They had a good military, and the Goebleen did not get by unscathed in this time, but once again these tiny little warriors with knives and bows and leather armor and no cavalry were killing them, beating them. Once again, they responded with an extreme.

The way things work in Orcunraytrel is that the underground is terrifying. You get below like a hundred or a hundred and fifty feet underground and things get weird. Light stops working right, heat doesn't work right. A blazing bonfire starts shedding light like a match and being as warm as a exhaled breath. The laws of nature start bending and wrapping around one another. The deeper you go the weirder things get. There are whole kingdoms run by liches and vampires with hordes of ghouls and zombies and wights and such serving them. Beneath that is the realm of the demons, creatures of nature warped and twisted. Things of living flame or earth. Pools of acid that scream and howl and hunger for the life of the living. Kingdoms of immortal beast men seeking only to kill and rule over the living above as gods. These rules are by no means hard and fast, sometimes demons and undead pop up where they shouldn't and sometimes you wander into a cave after making camp outside and find a hole in the ground that leads to the center of Hekinoe.  Sometimes you find that your root cellar rots or rusts anything left in it for more than a minute. Long ago, Lotharian the God King, once the ruler of that ancient utopian human empire Asosa was part of made a deal with the Nock and the Mork, the two main races of this Underhel. If they would dedicate their lives to war against these creatures, the surface world would tithe them anything they needed. Metals, coin, magic, anything. The agreement was struck and since time immemorial, the Nock and Mork of the Underhel are treated as heroes when they journey to the surface and are granted riches and gifts that would make greedy Kusseth and greedy Haven shit, piss, and come in their pants all at the same time.

So the Asosans made a deal with the nations of the Underhel. They would withhold their tithe for the year, then pay a double tithe on the next, with interest on the missed year if the Nock and Mork would just fail to sally forth from their fortresses to fight the undead and demons beneath Asosa. The Nock and Mork cared nothing for the Goebleen, or the Asosans for that matter, but a year of pay plus interest for sitting in their fortresses not dying sounded good to them. So the demons and undead obliged and wreaked havoc among the Goebleen. So lots and lots of the Goebleen that weren't engaged in war died and this pulled the Goebleen off the field to fight the new invaders from underground. This was quite a blow, as a large portion of their females were sterile and now most of their non-combatant population was dead, and a lot of them died ousting the demons.

So now we've dropped from the Goebleen outnumbering the Asosans to the Asosan military outnumbering the Goebleen military maybe 1.5 to 1. We started at the height of this process with the Goebleen outnumbering the Asosans about 20 or 25 to 1. The Goebleen have suffered and died and been knocked around and the Asosans have done the same. Finally outnumbered with half their warrens now smoking craters in the ground, the Goebleen truly become guerrillas. They have no choice but to hide and attack from stealth, so they do. This time though, they are cautious. Instead of attacking everything in sight, they strike only when they have to or when there is too juicy of a target. They still scalp and disfigure and in general try to engage in psychological warfare, but their body count is much lower. Meanwhile, the Asosans start spreading out their army attempting to canvas their entire country in armored bodies. They set up their towers and toll booths in what is essentially a grid canvasing their territory. As this all happens, the two groups skirmish here and there but the frequency of the engagements and their intensity declines. Additionally, the Goebleen begin expanding their warrens to head out into empty territory kind of to the south (i.e. where the pirates have set up shop nowadays). 

On the Goebleen side of things, they've found war too wearying and too costly, and backing off from it gives them a chance to repopulate and expand the territory where they live and give themselves more room to grow without running into Asosans digging holes in the earth. On the Asosan side of things, the priesthood of the Armiger basically orders the Pale King to quit wasting lives and resources in a fight that has cost the country too much. They reassert that this is a defensive country devoted to survival, not warmongering. The Goebleen have been kicked out of their way, so call it a win and get back to the process of not dying and keeping a firm hold on the territory they do control. Besides, the demons and undead did some damage to the Asosans too and that all needed to be thoroughly cleaned up.

This puts us more or less in the current timeline. The pirates start setting up shop in New Haven five years ago and make connections with the Goebleen. The Goebleen think guns and explosives are swell, especially the way they just punch through the heavy armor of the Asosans. The Goebleen have no interest in waging war on the behalf of the pirates and the pirates mostly just think the Goebleen are an amusing and runty little race. Captain Vaux and the Goebleen King meet, agree that neither has an interest in the other's fights, but the Goebleen like guns and the pirates want to know about Orcunraytrel and where all the shit to steal is. So they agree, guns and bombs for information and we'll try to keep out of each other's hair for the most part. 

So that is a quick and dirty run down of the whole Asosan and Goebleen conflict. I hope it was illuminating. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


So there has been some talk of Gob being over powered. While I agree that he does appear to be, I believe it is a convergence of several factors, rather than intended min/maxing. Given my knowledge of the game, I feel that my ability to min/max is superior to most of my friends/players. You don't play a game for seventeen or so years (and obsess about it in a way that would be akin to how a fundamentalist feels about their religion) without picking up a few tricks and gaining a knowledge of the game that could be called knowing it to its bones. That said, I am aware of this fact and try to avoid it, especially in my npcs. The game is the story of the players, not my npcs. I like my npcs to have important roles, otherwise they're just tagalong window dressings, but I don't want them to make the players look inadequate or use them as a way to walk through all their challenges. Gob is unusual in that he is a talker, his express role is to tell the guys things they don't know about Orcunraytrel. Normally I make my npcs quiet guys. Kethranmeer was there to take hits for the guys because they were all rogue or spellcaster type classes and had about thirty hit points between them, not teach them about the world around them. Gob's non-educational role is less well defined, but he is quickly becoming the heavy artillery of the group.

Alright, so Gob is a Goebleen. It is no secret that the Goebleen are Hekinoe's version of Goblins. So Gob is a Goblin. They're small, they have a +4 bonus to Dexterity, and they can see in the dark. I knew I wanted my npc to be two things: a Goebleen and Gunslinger. There was a third thing, but that hasn't come to light yet, and it is irrelevant to this post. Beyond that, I haven't really planned much more than he takes Leadership at 7th level and uses the Pistolero archetype.

Now one factor of Gob's OPness is that using a feat from Pathfinder (and guns in general) completely eliminates the penalties for his small size. The feat is called Goblin Gunslinger, it allows Goblins to use medium size guns, rather than small size guns. So he can fire guns that do 1d8 damage rather than 1d6. Not a huge deal, but better than a 1d4 shortbow arrow like his cousins shoot. Guns are also ranged weapons, so again his low Strength and small size are removed from the equation. Gunslingers also have a feature that allows them to add their Dexterity bonus to damage rolls with firearms, so his high Dexterity is worth as much as a high Strength would be to a melee warrior type.

None of this is exactly OP, there are lots of feats, racial features, and class features that can let a character use bigger weapons or add their Dexterity bonus to ranged damage and that sort of thing (or at the very least increase the damage like the Order of the Bow Initiate's "philosophy" attack, hehe). The OPness isn't Gob's stats or his class or his feats alone. It is the combination of all of that, guns, and the enemies the guys are facing right now.

Asosa is a highly militarized country, their soldiers are their heroes and they get the best of what the nation produces. Most citizens and farmers and whatnot are completely destitute because their sole purpose is to support a military infrastructure. Asosans are heavily armored. Their grunts wear chain mail and use spears when most other nations go with leather armor on everyone but their elites. The Asosans are also a tough and strong people, so they're not exactly rolling in high Dexterity. The Mork race is basically the same, except they use steel instead of iron and wear heavier stuff than chain mail. The half-giants use hides and leather, but again, they have little in the way of Dexterity bonuses and compensate by having to be hacked apart and bled out to die.

Now, we all know guns use touch AC within their first ten range increments, so even with pistols Gob's guns are touch attacks for like two or three hundred feet (I can never remember if the range increments are twenty or thirty feet). So the point is that Gob is OP in this area of Orcunraytrel. Once the group starts fighting Morlocks that skitter around on a dozen legs moving from walls to ceilings or surface Nock that slink through the forests like ghosts, things are going to even up a little bit. He'll still obliterate stuff when he does 4d8+20 on a critical hit though. Hehe. Of course by then he'll also probably have like ten ranks in Craft (Alchemy) and have built a crazy alchemy lab atop the tower and have like a grenade launcher or portable mortar or something. Oooooo, new idea for arming Fort Jagged Tooth! Go west and enslave giants and have them carry around cannons.