Monthly Archives: December, 2016

Echelon Reference Series Spell Books

Echelon Game Design Logo

News release? New releases? Whatever.

My books, let me sell you them.

It is to my immense satisfaction that I announce that I have completed, for now, the Echelon Reference Series Spell Book line.

They are not yet all published, but all have been compiled and laid out.

Most are already available at OneBookShelf (DriveThruRPG/RPGNow), the rest are being uploaded and scheduled for release, two per week until done… at the end of March.

They are all being uploaded for release at the Open Gaming Store and at Paizo. Because their packaging works differently I might simply do each line of spell books in one step, rather than releasing as I have been at OBS.

Spell Book Description

The full spell book for each spell list (alchemist, bard, cleric/oracle, druid, inquisitor, magus, paladin, ranger, sorcerer/wizard/arcanist, summoner, witch) contains the compiled spell list across all included sources. For the PRD-Only version this includes

  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Player’s Guide
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Magic
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Race Guide
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide
  • Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures

Despite the spell books containing spells from all sources listed above, I have not yet prepared spell books for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide classes yet, nor for the classes from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures.

The 3pp+PRD spell books contain all of the above, plus spells — thousands of them — from select third-party sources. For Open Game License reasons (product titles are considered Product Identity) I can’t list them as I did the books above (permission granted via the Pathfinder Compatibility License). As the table below shows, this often doubles or triples the number of spells.

Each spell list is split by level, and then by school. While the wizard is really the only class that depends on the school information, splitting by school makes it easier to find spells with similar themes or applications even for other classes. For instance, a cleric interested in protecting others can focus on abjuration spells, while one interested in conquering the realm of undeath might focus on necromancy spells.

The spells themselves are grouped by level and sorted alphabetically. All the first-level spells are together, all the second-level spells, and so on.

Spell Books By Level

The spell books are each released on PDF per spell level, with a compilation at the end. The Bard Spell series starts with a PDF for cantrips, then a PDF for each spell level from 1 through 6, then a compilation with the entire compiled spell list and all seven levels of spells. This was done in part so each could be released in stages, and in part because the compilations can be quite large: ERS Cleric/Oracle Spells (3pp+PRD) is 580 pages, and ERS Sorcerer/Wizard Spells (3pp+PRD) is somewhat over 1,100 pages!

The compilations can be large, but because they involve so little additional work on my part because of how I prepared the smaller PDFs, at OBS I bundle them together: if you have bought the level-specific PDFs, they come off the bundle price and you can get the compilation for free.

Spell Counts by List and Level

The table below shows the number of spells in each list and level.

Spells per Level
Spell List 3pp/PRD 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total Classes Using Spell List
Alchemist 3pp 92 100 99 77 59 46 473 Alchemist
Alchemist prd 42 58 54 40 23 20 237 Alchemist
Bard 3pp 140 250 277 216 145 118 109 1,255 Bard, Skald
Bard prd 20 82 107 68 50 34 34 395 Bard, Skald
Cleric/Oracle 3pp 128 225 284 264 219 206 143 138 99 107 1,813 Cleric, Oracle, Warpriest
Cleric/Oracle prd 13 62 94 70 60 58 36 25 26 21 465 Cleric, Oracle, Warpriest
Druid 3pp 101 232 262 220 180 153 118 84 72 79 1,501 Druid
Druid prd 14 67 74 64 49 34 32 20 18 18 390 Druid
Elementalist prd 6 15 28 25 24 27 17 13 14 12 181 Elementalist Wizard
Inquisitor 3pp 34 124 137 121 101 72 55 644 Inquisitor
Inquisitor prd 14 65 77 66 52 36 24 334 Inquisitor
Magus 3pp 30 92 101 96 63 49 44 475 Magus
Magus prd 15 58 57 48 32 22 25 257 Magus
Paladin 3pp 117 104 93 106 420 Paladin
Paladin prd 44 46 33 27 150 Paladin
Ranger 3pp 204 149 121 84 558 Ranger
Ranger prd 65 55 41 20 181 Ranger
Sorcerer/Wizard 3pp 229 491 568 534 483 403 318 277 215 208 3,726 Sorcerer, Wizard, Arcanist
Sorcerer/Wizard prd 22 137 163 142 124 102 83 74 49 44 940 Sorcerer, Wizard, Arcanist
Summoner 3pp 39 81 95 100 87 83 83 568 Summoner
Summoner prd 12 37 45 56 52 45 45 292 Summoner
Witch 3pp 123 200 251 221 188 163 142 131 122 109 1,650 Witch
Witch prd 15 83 107 88 70 51 39 40 28 22 543 Witch

Links in the table above:

  • For a specific spell level, takes you to that specific spell lists level’s PDF;
  • For the total, takes you to the compendium of that spell list PDF;
  • For a class name, takes you to the Echelon Reference Series title for that class.

Schedule of New Releases

There are 22 spell books in the table above that have not been released, plus 6 compilations/bundles. They are ready for release, but because of the flooding mechanisms at OBS I’m going to release them two per week until the middle of March.

Release Date Product Code Title
2016-12-12 ers-1612-005 ERS: Cleric/Oracle Spells V
2016-12-15 ers-1612-006 ERS: Alchemist Extracts IV
2016-12-19 ers-1612-007 ERS: Druid Spells V
2016-12-22 ers-1612-008 ERS: Summoner Spells IV
2016-12-26 ers-1612-009 ERS: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells VI
2016-12-29 ers-1612-010 ERS: Bard Spells V
2017-01-02 ers-1701-001 ERS: Cleric/Oracle Spells VI
2017-01-05 ers-1701-002 ERS: Summoner Spells V
2017-01-09 ers-1701-003 ERS: Druid Spells VI
2017-01-12 ers-1701-004 ERS: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells VII
2017-01-16 ers-1701-005 ERS: Cleric/Oracle Spells VII
2017-01-19 ers-1701-006 ERS: Alchemist Extracts V
2017-01-23 ers-1701-007 ERS: Druid Spells VII
2017-01-26 ers-1701-008 ERS: Bard Spells VI
2017-01-30 ers-1701-009 ERS: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells VIII
2017-02-02 ers-1702-001 ERS: Alchemist Extracts VI
2017-02-06 ers-1702-002 ERS: Cleric/Oracle Spells VIII
2017-02-09 ers-1702-003 ERS: Summoner Spells VI
2017-02-13 ers-1702-004 ERS: Druid Spells VIII
2017-02-16 ers-1702-005 ERS: Bard Spells
2017-02-16 ers-1702-006 Bard Spells Compiled [bundle]
2017-02-20 ers-1702-007 ERS: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells IX
2017-02-23 ers-1702-008 ERS: Alchemist Extracts
2017-02-23 ers-1702-009 Alchemist Extracts Compiled [bundle]
2017-02-27 ers-1702-010 ERS: Cleric/Oracle Spells IX
2017-03-02 ers-1703-001 ERS: Summoner Spells
2017-03-02 ers-1703-002 Summoner Spells Compiled [bundle]
2017-03-06 ers-1703-003 ERS: Druid Spells IX
2017-03-09 ers-1703-004 ERS: Sorcerer/Wizard Spells
2017-03-09 ers-1703-005 Sorcerer/Wizard Spells Compiled [bundle]
2017-03-13 ers-1703-006 ERS: Cleric/Oracle Spells
2017-03-13 ers-1703-007 Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled [bundle]
2017-03-16 ers-1703-008 ERS: Druid Spells
2017-03-16 ers-1703-009 Druid Spells Compiled [bundle]

Off the Path: City Construction, Part 4: Polyhedral Process

In discussing city wards in my last post, I said that each ward could have up to three qualities. This was partly to keep the total number of qualities in a multi-ward settlement to reasonable levels, but also to prepare for this step: applying the polyhedral process (introduced in Polyhedral Pantheons) to settlement design.

It is reasonable to expect that while settlements within a culture will vary, that they will also have some similarity between them. For instance, a militaristic culture could be expected to have that reflected in the settlement scores or in common qualities. Not all settlements will have the same, or even all, qualities that are commonly found, but it’s reasonable to expect that there will be recognizable elements.

Here, it can mean having wards present in multiple settlements with the same qualities. It can help having certain pairs of qualities present, each pair being associated with a different third quality.

In other words, the polyhedral process can be a good fit.

Applying the Polyhedral Process to Settlement Design

Choose twelve qualities (possibly doubling up on some if you want to reinforce them or have them very common). Assign these qualities to the twelve points of an icosahedron (d20). This can be done randomly, deliberately, or a mix of the two (if I want to have Fortified and Religious associated at least once I make sure of that pair, then randomly assign the others).

The Polyhedral Pantheons Worksheets can be handy here. They say ‘pantheon’ and ‘domains’ in the sheets, but the sheets will work with ‘wards’ and ‘qualities’ just as easily.

When you’ve done that, each face of the icosahedron will have three qualities associated via the points of the face. This provides a set of twenty ward configurations that are common across the culture.

Assigning Priority

A later step in the process will involve rolling for wards present in a settlement. You could use the numbers on the faces of the icosahedron, but things will work better if you order the wards from highest priority (i.e. most important or common across the settlements) to lowest (least important or common).

If you want to get really fancy you could assign a prime number to each quality, then multiply the quality values for each face. This will give you twelve unique values that can then be ordered from lowest to highest. The first twelve primes are (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31, 37). I’d say this is getting pretty geeky, but you are reading this right now….

In any case, assign the most important or most common ward configurations to the lowest values in a twenty-row table, less common to higher values. This will be useful in the next step.

Ward Selection

Now that you’ve got a table of twenty ward configurations, arranged from most common to least common, grab a number of dice equal to the number of wards you want. I’d start with 1d4, then add 1d6, 1d8, 1d10, 1d12, then as many d20s as are needed (or d4, d8, d12, d20, or d6, d10, d20, etc.). Roll them all at once on a piece of paper, keeping them reasonably close together (I roll them in the lid of an old box set, with a piece of paper in the lid).

This is why you want the most common wards with lower numbers, and less common with higher numbers. The small dice cannot roll high, but all dice can roll low. It is certain that you will end up with at least one die rolling 1..4, quite likely the d6 will roll 1..4, and so on.

If you roll doubles you might change one of them to a different number (bump it to the next higher unassigned number, or next lower unassigned number), or keep the same ward numbers but tweak the quality values — perhaps there are two dockyards, one for commercial trade and the other for industrial purposes.

Dice Physical Placement

In Cörpathium

In Cörpathium

When rolling the dice, you rolled them all at once and in a constrained space, on a piece of paper. Draw a rough circle around each die, and extend a line from the point of ‘each triangle’ on each die to see if it intersects another die. If it does, draw a line between the circles of the two dice.

I’m borrowing a picture from Logan’s most excellent In Cörpathium post to show what this looks like, kind of. You can see the dice used, the physical arrangement, and the lines drawn between them. He doesn’t show circles drawn around the dice but I find they’ll be useful when moving this to another medium.

From here we can fall back on the previous steps of assigning settlement scores, allocating points to the ward qualities (we now know what wards are present, where they are, and some of the connections between them), and so on.

Closing Comments

This process makes it easy to quickly assemble a toolkit that can be used to design settlements with a consistency you might expect to see in a strong, distinctive culture. There will be elements common across many settlements, with variation within that to keep them from being too homogeneous.

Logan’s dice drop mechanism makes it easy to determine how the various wards are placed and how they connect to each other. The connections might be physical (gates in walls, bridges over water), social (the ward of higher artisans provides services and crafting only to the nobility, while the ward of crafters serves the rest of the city), or other. Sometimes the dice placement will suggest things about the settlement (this particular ward is well away from the others, is that because it is full of pariahs and other social outcasts? Or is it just located on an island in the middle of the bay?).

Sadly, I don’t have time to work up an example right now (lunch break ends in a few minutes). If I were to do so, based on the example of Port Elren I might devise a culture with the Mercantile quality highest priority, then Skill (Craft) and Industrial, with Fortified and Religious somewhere around the middle (Port Elren does after all have a Fortified ward, despite having only three wards altogether). This could mean that most settlements generated under this mechanism would have one or more wards with Mercantile and Industrial wards (and possibly Mercantile/Industrial, if they’re paired on faces), while only the larger places might have major Religious wards.

Off the Path: City Construction, Part 3: Wards

So far, the city construction process has really only covered fairly homogeneous settlements. You might describe a bustling port as having lots of commerce (high Trade score and the Mercantile property) but highly-transient population that can get pretty rowdy (low Stability score). This isn’t a lot of detail, but until you need more it can be enough.

When you do need more, though, it’s possible to take a closer look.

Historically, many cities are actually made up of smaller pieces referred to as wards, districts, quarters, boroughs, neighborhoods… you get the idea. Each has its own characteristics that differentiate it from the others. Sometimes they grow over time, with the city expanding outside its walls or other barriers (such across a river) and then incorporating the new growth again. In other cases (such as the Seven Hills of Rome) several smaller settlements might grow until they merge together into a single, larger settlement.

The city construction guidelines make it easy to implement either of these.

Multi-Ward Settlements

It is very easy to split a settlement into wards, simply by dividing the population into smaller pieces and treating each as its own settlement with its own qualities. The settlement as a whole retains the same base settlement scores and level adjustment (if needed). Each ward has its own level adjustment and can assign the base scores differently.

Each settlement can have up to three qualities, plus one more at levels 13, 17, and every four levels after that. The settlement can assign a number of ranks up to the settlement’s level to these qualities. These ranks don’t need to be split evenly, but no quality should get more than half the ranks available (rounded up).

Each ward can have up to three qualities, and a number of ranks allocated to them equal to half the ward’s level, rounded up. Again, no more than half the ranks (rounded up) can be assigned to a single quality. The qualities of the wards should reflect those of the settlement as a whole (if you have a Mercantile quality for the settlement, at least one ward should have the Mercantile quality).

Port Elren

Port Elren is a small town (level 9, nominal population 283) at the mouth of the River Elre, where there are some modest docks that actually do more business than might be expected — possibly because of the crafters (tanners?) on the other side of the river. It has base scores of 16, 7, 13, 8, 11, 8, and I’ll assign them to Trade, Stability, Military, Social, Craft, and Infrastructure respectively:

  • Military 13 (+1)
  • Trade 16 (+3)
  • Infrastructure 7 (-2): I suspect the tanners are a bit upstream of the town proper
  • Craft 11 (+0)
  • Stability 8 (-1): pretty rowdy, lots of transients and ne’er-do-wells.
  • Social 8 (-1): lots of dives and cheap entertainment, not so much of the elites and whatnot.

Being a level 9 settlement, it’s grown and improved a bit, and gets a +2 modifier to all its scores:

  • Military 15 (+2)
  • Trade 18 (+4)
  • Infrastructure 9 (-1): things are cleaned up a bit, the roads are no longer paved in sewage, etc… still subject to some problems here, though.
  • Craft 13 (+1)
  • Stability 10 (+0): enough money and trade happen now that a city watch has been formed.
  • Social 10 (+0): some money has come in, and this is no longer quite as much a backwater.

As a level 9 settlement there are three qualities. Let’s say Trade, Military, and Industrial. This is primarily a trade town, with lesser emphasis on craft (local but valuable trade goods) and defense (fortification):

  • Mercantile IV (+4 to various checks relating to Trade and other connections);
  • Industrial III (+3 to checks relating to Craft and other ‘can we make it?’ questions);
  • Fortified II (+2 to checks related to Military defense and the like).

Altogether this tells me actually quite a bit about the settlement. I’ll still want to work up what the numbers mean specifically, especially with regard to player concerns (+8 to many Trade checks sounds like there should be a good market for valuable stuff like recovered treasure), but even so I’ve got a relative sense of things.

Port Elren, Multiple Wards

I’ve got a high-level view of Port Elren, but it looks like the PCs are going to hang around for a while. I’d like to get some greater detail.

It looks like I’ve got three major centres to the settlement: the fort, the market and docks, and the crafters. I’ll create three wards.

  • The mercantile ward is largest, so I’ll make it level 8.
  • The crafters is the next biggest, even if they’re on the other side of the river (so presumably there is at least one bridge), I’ll call that ward level 5.
  • The fort on the hill might have been quite important at one time, but is now almost an afterthought, so I’ll call that ward level 3.

The level 9 population (nominally 283 people) is now split between three wards of levels 8, 5, and 3 (nominal populations 200, 71, and 35 respectively, with modifiers of +2, +1, and +0 to all ability scores respectively). Because I’ve split these up, I’ve decided to use the same base scores but arrange them differently.

Score Settlement Scores Mercantile Ward (+2) Crafter Ward (+1) Military Ward (+0)
Military 15 (+3) 13+2 = 15 (+2) 8+1 = 9 (-1) 16 (+3)
Trade 18 (+4) 16+2 = 18 (+4) 8+1 = 9 (-1) 7 (-2)
Infrastructure 9 (-1) 11+2 = 13 (+1) 11+1 = 12 (+1) 13 (+1)
Craft 13 (+1) 7+2 = 9 (-1) 16+1 = 17 (+3) 8 (-1)
Stability 10 (+0) 8+2 = 10 (+0) 13+1 = 14 (+2) 11 (+0)
Social 10 (+0) 8+2 = 10 (+0) 7+1 = 8 (-1) 8 (-1)

Still not a lot of great night life around here. Each ward is better than the others at something, and these are largely reflected in the settlement scores as a whole. I see some differences between the settlement as a whole and all the wards. That the settlement’s Infrastructure as a whole is lower than the individual wards might mean I should change the score assignments for the settlement (swap Social and Infrastructure, say), or I could interpret it as a distinct lack of cooperation between the districts.

If I’d stuck with my original plan where all wards use the same base scores this wouldn’t happen. I might amend this so that if I do rearrange the scores, the settlement score must be equal to or greater than the lowest matching score among the wards. In all cases the settlement as a whole should be at least as strong — have a score no worse than — the weakest of its wards.

The qualities are pretty straightforward. Each ward can have up to three qualities.

  • Mercantile Ward is level 8, which means it can assign four ranks to qualities, no more than two to any one quality. Obviously gets Mercantile II (+2 to Trade checks, among other things), and I’ll assign Patrollers I (+1 to Stability) and Wealth I.
  • Crafter Ward is level 5, which means it can assign 3 ranks to qualities, no more than two to any quality. Craft (Leather) II (+2 to Craft checks) represents the fine leathers and leather products produced locally, and Industrial I suggests there’s a fair bit of other production done here.
  • Military Ward is level 3, which means it can assign 2 ranks to qualities, no more than 1 to any quality. There’s a decrepit old fort (Fortified I) and a small temple to the god of war (Religious I).

This is a higher-detail view of Port Elren than I started with, and I’m getting a better feel for the nature of the place. It’s a dirty industrial port town, still pretty rowdy in places, but busy and accumulating quite a coin for someone.

I don’t know that I’d go to this level of detail for a town that I’m not expecting to use a lot, but I think there is some potential for this to be useful when developing a town the PCs are likely to be around for a while.

The next post in this series makes a big step, from the local scene to nation-wide.

Off the Path: City Construction, Part 2: Qualities

In my last post I talked about the basics of city construction. Settlements have

  • settlement scores analogous to characters’ ability scores, though applied to different purpose;
  • levels analogous to character levels, that influence the size and resources available;
  • population analogous to experience points (which will come into play more in the next article);
  • qualities that expand on and help provide texture for the settlement.

In this post I’m going to talk more about qualities.

Settlement Qualities

The Pathfinder GameMastery Guide defines a dozen qualities that influence the nature of a settlement. Each quality is basically binary (present or not) and has a fixed effect. For instance, the ‘Academic’ quality indicates that “the settlement possesses a school, training facility, or university of great renown. (Lore +1, increase spellcasting by 1 level)”, where ‘Lore’ is a score that “measures not only how willing the citizens are to chat and talk with visitors, but also how available and accessible its libraries and sages are”, and ‘spellcasting’ affects the highest-level spells available for purchase or hire in the settlement.

I’m not using the same scores as the Pathfinder GameMastery Guide, so obviously I can’t use the same qualities the same way.

Measuring Qualities

Binary qualities are easily applied and adjudicated, but I am leaning away from that. I think I’d rather see them quantitative, with different values, so I don’t have to define ‘Fortified I’, ‘Fortified II’, and ‘Fortified III’ qualities. I’d rather see ‘Fortified’ with a value of 3 than need three qualities.

Off the top of my head (I haven’t formalized a list) I think I’ll have qualities such as

  • Fortified adds to Military modifier on rolls against attacks. This quality probably looks like a palisade or earthen ramparts or stone walls, choke points in approaches to the settlement (probably with guard posts), siege engines, and so on.
  • Religious might add to Stability checks, but I can imagine examples where it might not. A primary benefit, though, comes in having divine support for the settlement. This quality might indicate a large temple or collection of temples, religious icons commonly displayed, and so on.
  • Mercantile adds to Trade modifier on certain checks. This quality probably indicates many or large marketplaces, caravansaries, dockyards, guilds, and other locations to trade or means of transportation.
  • Industrial could add to Craft (more people working to make stuff) or Trade (more goods to export)… or I could see a couple more possibilities. It might not even add to any checks, instead providing other benefits. I need to think about this. In any case, it probably looks like more crafters, or improved manufacturing resources such as mills and factories.
  • Wealthy would probably add to one or both of Trade and Social checks, depending on the origin of the wealth. The houses are nicer, people tend to be better-dressed, and so on.
  • Resources (needs a better name) would add to Infrastructure checks, and indicates things like storehouses to hold food, aqueducts to ensure good water, and so on.
  • Academic is probably like Religious in that it might not actually add to any checks, but provide support for skills within the city, especially Knowledge or Profession skills. As might be expected, a settlement with the Academic quality probably has schools and colleges and the like.
  • (Skill) indicates that the skill, or rather those that practice it, are easier to find than might otherwise be the case, or more capable than might be expected. This could interact with Religious, Industrial, and/or Academic. For instance, while you can reasonably expect to find an armorer in most cities of a certain size, the Craft (Armorer) quality indicates that more or better armorers are found here than usual. This probably looks a lot like Industrial, except that it should be evident which skill is the focus of the quality. Also, it is probably easy to see the results (products or services) of the skill available for sale.

As I said above, each of these would likely have a numeric value indicating ‘how much’ effect the quality has. This value might be added to specific checks as needed, and in some cases is just a measure. ‘Craft (Weaponsmith) I’ might mean common weapons are readily available for sale, while ‘Craft (Weaponsmith) II’ might mean uncommon weapons or masterwork weapons are readily available — no check needed, they just are.

The list needs to be developed further, but this should give a sense of what qualities are, what they do, and how they might influence the appearance of a settlement.