Monthly Archives: July, 2011

Valkyrie Class, Tweaked

GreyKnight is starting a campaign set in the world implied by Nethack, using Pathfinder RPG as his base rule set.  Among other things, this requires him to build some new character classes.

He has taken a run at the Valkyrie class and asked for some comments and suggestions.  This post identifies a few changes I would make.

While working on it I felt a huge urge to crank up the death aspects of it, and possibly make it more design.  Shift it from “cold fighter with a bit of death” (which might be reasonably close to the NH source material we’re modeling) to (eventually) “avatar of frost and death” — grant a mix of cold and death powers.  The spell casting looks too good, it should probably be backed off a fair bit — perhaps replace it with a reduced Sorcerer casting progression (where the first two spells of each level must be related to cold and death).  For now though, I’ll stick to tweaks.

The Valkyrie gets a weird mix of abilities from several different core classes because I’m trying to model the feel and play of the Nethack Valkyrie.  Among other things, they get the “Speed Intrinsic” at XL 7.  I have chosen to model this using the flurry of blows ability (as done in the RSRD Monk; I didn’t think the Pathfinder Monk flurry of blows fit as well here).

I may take another run at this later, starting from first principles.


Echelon Moving

Now that GreyKnight’s working on Echelon as a contributor, I figured I’d post new Echelon-related materials to instead of here.  I may or may not migrate the existing articles from here to there (probably not), but new material here will likely be more focused on what happens in my campaign rather than the new rule set, and on other, more general gaming articles such as my Campaign Setting Design series.

You can read GreyKnight’s introduction at

Two-Weapon Fighting, First Cut

(Sorry about the title)

This talent is still in development. I’m reasonably happy with the Basic, Expert, and Heroic tiers, Legendary looks okay now, but Master could use a bit of awesome and Champion doesn’t have anything yet.

Two-Weapon Fighting

You are trained to fight well with a melee weapon in each hand.

Tier Benefit
Basic Off-Hand Defense
Expert Extra Attack
Heroic Rend
Master Improved Extra Attacks
Legendary Web of Steel, Swift Extra Attack


Sample Geomorphs

GreyKnight asked for some sample tiles that show ‘nonlinear features’, so I’ve done up three tiles.

Simple Cave

Simple Cave

Water Caves

Lava Lake

Lava Lake

Sample Cave Tiles

I decided to do cave tiles because it was quick and easy (draw some squiggles, floodfill them, and call it done).  Drawing with a mouse sucks.

Tile 1: Simple Cave

This is a very simple tile containing a cave with three entrances (NW, EN, SE).  No special features, but the cave walls in the NE, ES, SW, WS, and WN sides can be considered ‘nonlinear features’ by the definitions of the previous post because the cover the entire section.

Tile 2: Water Caves

This  is a slightly more complex tile.  There are several linear connectors (river in the NW, tunnels in the EN and WS), and a lake covering the ES and SE sections.  Again, the stone of the caves in the NE and WN sections can be considered nonlinear features as well.

Tile 3: Lava Lake

This may be the simplest tile of the three.  This might be found in a large cave, there is a lava lake in the NW and WN sections, a stream of lava running to the southeast, and it travels out the SE connector.  All the other connectors and sections (linear and nonlinear features) are empty space.


Extending Geomorphs

I recently had this blog added to the RPG Blog Alliance (there’s even a wee banner in the links section); I won’t insult anyone by describing what it is.

This aggregator has shown me a slew of blogs I wasn’t aware of and I’ve found some articles that greatly interested me.  There are a lot of old school games and gamers out there, many people designing new games, and a fairly significant number of people interested in mapping.

There also appears to be a large overlap between the mapping and old school contingent who like to use and develop geomorphs.  I’m coming to find them interesting myself.  I’m a big fan of semi-random techniques and these are really coming to strike a chord with me.

However, I think I see ways to do them better.


Ability Damage in Echelon

After my recent posts about Ability Pools and their use, including as a resource opponents can target, I thought I would do a bit of simple analysis to see if things are sane or not.

So far, I think they are.

In this article I am exploring only the effects of ability damage in Echelon, not Ability Pool expenditures such as various talents use.  I am also not considering effects that can increase Ability Pool values, permanently or temporarily.  Also, I am not at this point considering the effects of being larger or smaller than medium size; that will be explored in another post.


Initial Thoughts on “Favored Enemy” Talent

I was thinking yesterday about how I might model in Echelon the Favored Enemy ability of RSRD rangers. I haven’t found a specific answer yet, so what I’ll do here is describe some of my thoughts on it. Writing this down might help clarify my thoughts and lead to a solution, but if nothing else it will open the topic up for conversation.

The Ranger Favored Enemy Class Ability

Let’s start by looking at the existing class ability from previous (D&D 3.x and earlier) editions.


Short on Sleep? It can Help

For various reasons I won’t go into, I have not been sleeping very well this week.

I walked into the lunchroom at work this morning and saw the latest AVON brochure on the table, and misread the title (something about something that is ‘Super’, don’t much care what).

I have to think “Von Sniper” is a name made for an RPG villain, yeah?

Ability Pool Reserves

I was thinking about how Ability Pools will be used. There are some obvious uses such as fueling talent abilities (such as Spot talent’s clairvoyance), they are a way to measure (and mitigate) conditions and ability damage.  I love that they should get rid of ad hoc adjustments during play.

It occurred to me that instead of just spending them we could reserve them for later use.  For instance, a barbarian might reserve a certain amount of his Constitution Pool for use as emergency healing while raging.  Given a spontaneous spell casting system that draws from the Intelligence Pool to fuel spells, perhaps you can reserve a certain amount of your Intelligence Pool to prepare a quickened spell (so you can have fireball or globe of invulnerability or whatever usable as a swift or maybe even immediate action) or to ready a counterspell (reserve the points specifically for counterspelling; unlike the quickened spell you don’t have to prepare a specific spell but you can only use these points for counterspelling).  Perhaps almost anything that is a standard action that draws from an Ability Pool could be so prepared for immediate use, without necessarily impeding normal actions.

The reserve might count as spent (reserve six points and they are not available for use for other things decided when needed) and do not recover until you release or use the reserve.  If you have a base Intelligence Pool of 15 and a quickened fireball in reserve (which costs 8 points, say — adjusted spell level) you might have only seven points of Intelligence Pool remaining for use (or damage) before you suffer a condition effect.  You might end up not using the quickened fireball during an encounter and decide to hold it ready until you need it, so you don’t recover the eight points you have reserved.

Similarly, the barbarian mentioned earlier might carry a Constitution reserve at all times to help prevent dying in an ambush — if he gets damaged he can recover from it as an immediate action (spend the reserve on healing).

Just an idle thought before I leave work for the day, but I’m curious about the response to the idea.

Ability Scores, Modifiers, and Pools

I have mentioned in previous posts the possibility of using ‘ability pools’ to fuel various powers and as a replacement for ability score damage and temporary effects. I wrote up a first draft at that I will summarize here.

Echelon does not inherently need ability scores, and I have considered a few times removing them altogether.  However, since I am trying to model a better version of D&D 3.x (which has ability scores) and I think I can gain some significant benefit from their inclusion, I will use them.