Heavy Lifting: Guardian Domain

I like how the Defense subdomain (of the Protection domain) looks when applied to the War domain, shifting the focus so it’s a little less aggressive. I think this might be the start of a hybrid domain that would be suitable for more defensive combatants and guardians.

Let’s see how this goes.

Starting Point

I will be trying to create a synthesis of the Protection and War domains, using the Defense subdomain as a guide.

Protection Domain

Granted Powers: Your faith is your greatest source of protection, and you can use that faith to defend others. In addition, you receive a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws. This bonus increases by 1 for every 5 levels you possess.

Resistant Touch (Sp): As a standard action, you can touch an ally to grant him your resistance bonus for 1 minute. When you use this ability, you lose your resistance bonus granted by the Protection domain for 1 minute. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Aura of Protection (Su): At 8th level, you can emit a 30-foot aura of protection for a number of rounds per day equal to your cleric level. You and your allies within this aura gain a +1 deflection bonus to AC and resistance 5 against all elements (acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic). The deflection bonus increases by +1 for every four cleric levels you possess beyond 8th. At 14th level, the resistance against all elements increases to 10. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Domain Spells: 1st—sanctuary, 2nd—shield other, 3rd—protection from energy, 4th—spell immunity, 5th—spell resistance, 6th—antimagic field, 7th—repulsion, 8th—mind blank, 9th—prismatic sphere

War Domain

Granted Powers: You are a crusader for your god, always ready and willing to fight to defend your faith.

Battle Rage (Sp): You can touch a creature as a standard action to give it a bonus on melee damage rolls equal to 1/2 your cleric level for 1 round (minimum +1). You can do so a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Weapon Master (Su): At 8th level, as a swift action, you gain the use of one combat feat for a number of rounds per day equal to your cleric level. These rounds do not need to be consecutive and you can change the feat chosen each time you use this ability. You must meet the prerequisites to use this feat.

Domain Spells: 1st—magic weapon, 2nd—spiritual weapon, 3rd—magic vestment, 4th—divine power, 5th—flame strike, 6th—blade barrier, 7th—power word blind, 8th—power word stun, 9th—power word kill

Defense Subdomain

Associated Domain: Protection

Replacement Power: The following granted power replaces the resistant touch power of the Protection domain.

Deflection Aura (Su): Once each day, you can emit a 20-foot aura for a number of rounds equal to your cleric level. Allies within the aura gain a +2 deflection bonus to AC and combat maneuver defense.

Replacement Domain Spells: 1st—shield, 2nd—barkskin, 7th—deflection

As indicated above, the Defense subdomain is associated with the Protection domain. I expect the new domain will be associated with both the Protection and War domans.
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Hybrid Domain: Guardian Domain

I like how the Defense subdomain (of the Protection domain) looks when applied to the War domain, shifting the focus so it’s a little less aggressive. I think this might be the start of a specialized domain that would be suitable for more defensive combatants and guardians.

This article originally showed the work, but 3,000 words is a lot of reading, so I moved it to another post.

Guardian Domain (Specialized)

Associated Domains: Protection, War

Granted Powers: You receive a +1 resistance bonus on saving throws. This bonus increases by 1 for every 5 levels you possess.

Deflection Aura (Su): Once each day, you can emit a 20-foot aura for a number of rounds equal to your cleric level. Allies within the aura gain a +2 deflection bonus to AC and combat maneuver defense.

Aura of Protection (Su): At 8th level, you can emit a 30-foot aura of protection for a number of rounds per day equal to your cleric level. You and your allies within this aura gain a +1 deflection bonus to AC and resistance 5 against all elements (acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic). The deflection bonus increases by +1 for every four cleric levels you possess beyond 8th. At 14th level, the resistance against all elements increases to 10. These rounds do not need to be consecutive.

Domain Spells:  1st—compel hostility, 2nd—shield other, 3rd—nap stack, 4th—sudden aegis, 5th—mage’s faithful hound, 6th—blade barrier, 7th—refuge (favoring modified version), 8th—read intentions, 9th—prismatic sphere

New Pathfinder Cleric Domains: Hybrid Domains

A couple years ago I took the Demon subdomain and created the Abyss domain to replace it. The process used might be useful for combining other domains, using a subdomain as a starting point. For instance, the Heroism subdomain (Glory domain) might be useful in bridging Glory and War, and the Defense subdomain (Protection domain) actually is a nice fit to the War domain, and could be used to bridge Protection and War (‘Guardian‘ seems like a good domain name here). Knowledge and War might merge by way of Tactics (which is already a subdomain of War).

The Season subdomain (Weather domain) is even more interesting to me, since it could be used to merge Weather with the elemental domains to get a domain for each season:

  • Weather + Water = Winter
  • Weather + Earth = Spring
  • Weather + Fire = Summer
  • Weather + Air = Autumn

There are many ways this could be done. It may prove interesting to explore them.

Teratic Exploration

Teratic Tome Cover

Teratic Tome Cover

For some time now I’ve wanted to rework some standard monsters into more ‘Teratic form’. I need a break from the Echelon Reference Series, if only for a few days, so I thought I’d take a run at some.

There are four primary points to remember in these adaptations.

  • They are inhuman. It is not enough to make them look different, there must be something other about them. This otherness does not need to be horrifying, but it has to stand out as not human.
  • Grounded in the setting. The monsters in the core rules (any core rules, really) tend to be written to be somewhat generic, so they can be readily applied in many campaigns and settings. Teratic monsters have at least an implied setting — I may not know where the Forest of Kirela is, but I know you can find hilljacks there… unless they find you first.
  • There is nothing quite like them. Each monster (or group of like monsters may share some characteristics with others, but there is something that makes them stand apart from even the others they are similar to.
  • Identifiable even when not present. Whether it’s the spoor they leave behind, the nature of the wounds they leave on their victims, or the omens of their coming, there are signs that they have been or will be present.

I had originally planned to focus on one creature type at a time, but I think instead I will pick a theme and build around that, probably using multiple monster types. This gives me a little more freedom to pick while I’m getting a feel for the process, then I may decide to narrow my focus.

So, since my imagination needs help, I have some random ideas to get me started.
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Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians… Goes Live

It’s taken somewhat longer than I expected, but Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians is now live at DriveThruRPG. In two versions, in fact.

And now also live at d20pfsrd.

I’d kind of like to talk about it more, about the challenges faced and overcome — I’ve learned a hell of a lot about how to use the tools I am, and how to fit together a long workflow — but instead I’m going to take a break. This book has been more than a year in the making, and I need a few days to unwind, maybe write some Teratic monsters or something. Maybe work on Echelon itself a little bit.

Now that I’ve gotten most of the heavy lifting out of the way and released this book into the wild, I’ll give it a bit of time to shake down, see how people like it and what changes would make it better. I know of some, and I have ideas for others, but it’s time for a public view.

Echelon Reference Series: Clerics is next in the pipe, and already mostly done. In fact, unless there are some significant changes identified by people who have bought Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians there is probably only a couple of weeks’ work left to finish Clerics.

In the meantime, I’m going to kick back, have a cold drink, and think about how to make goblins really freaky….

Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians

Echelon Reference Series: Barbarians

DCC Funnel, Pathfinder Guidelines

Last night I was involved in a conversation with someone who wanted to run a Pathfinder game on an episodic basis: the PCs as 0-level characters, then third level, sixth, ninth, and so on. Each episode is set a few years after the previous one. There is continuity of character, but each may have things happen ‘between adventures’.

There was some thought about how the 0-level characters and play might be structured, and I suggested he look into Dungeon Crawl Classics… and especially the funnel.

The Funnel in DCC consists of each player bringing three or four quickly-developed (ability scores, roll on an occupation table for occupation and starting gear, go!) characters that are quite expendable. They go on an adventure they are poorly equipped for, woefully poorly in fact, in which they they find some fortune. Some is good (coins! jewels! wondrous devices!), some not so good (I had three drown in the same mud pit, dammit). ‘Wealth by attrition’ is a thing, though, so dead PCs let you concentrate your starting equipment. I’ve found playing the funnel to be a lot of fun because of how clever you need to be to survive, and that it really gives shape to the characters that survive. I don’t want a steady diet of it, but it works as a nice start to a campaign — especially since you can use up potential-PCs without feeling bad about it, while getting a feel for certain campaign elements.

Then I considered how a funnel might be constructed and applied in Pathfinder, and I came up with the following guidelines:

  • Each player gets three or four fodder fledgling adventurers.
  • As with DCC, roll stats (3d6 in order… Pathfinder doesn’t usually do it this way, but I’ll explain more below)
  • Choose a race, but perhaps don’t apply any racial traits. Right now it’s just for show.
  • Each character is a first-level commoner. Raid the DCC tables or similar for occupation (which would determine starting skills, though I’d probably identify them during play — “yeah, a scribe might have a rank in a knowledge skill” — rather than try to nail them down up front) and starting gear.

Now go on the first adventure, use up some of the fledgling adventurers (remember, wealth by attrition), and when you’re done you pick a survivor for your first-level character.

  • For each ability score, roll another d6 and drop the lowest of the four dice (the three original ones plus the new one).
  • Swap two scores if you want.
  • Apply racial modifiers and traits.
  • Choose your class.
  • Roll hit points as usual (maximum at first level) and add the ‘commoner hit points’ as a one-time bonus. You’re replacing the Hit Die (you are not a second-level character, so you don’t have two Hit Dice).
  • Choose your skills and feats. You can keep the skills and skill points previously gained from the commoner level, but (having only one Hit Die) do not get a higher number of ranks. I think I would allow you to keep those skills as class skills though, regardless of class, so you get +3 to all of them. You also gain proficiency regardless of class with any weapon you use and carry at the end of the funnel.
  • Apply any goofy stuff you may have picked up during the funnel.
  • Spend your loot and carry on as a blooded adventurer!

This should allow the funnel to be  the charmingly amusing experience we enjoy in DCC while not shorting the PCs power (ability scores) once they are full-fledged adventurers. The PCs have ability scores roughly in line with 4d6 drop 1 — the loss of ‘arrange to taste’ is, I think, mitigated by being able to swap two scores and by having developed something of an image of the character that isn’t based on ability scores. Slightly unoptimized perhaps, especially compared to point buy (which I’ve honestly never much cared for), but workable.

Early Peek: No Salvation for Witches

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Rafael Chandler’s work, what with my posts about the Teratic Tome and Lasus Naturae (which I’m really looking forward to getting, Rafael tells me it’s on target for release on schedule).

No Salvation for Witches Indiegogo BannerI was recently sent a preliminary copy of No Salvation for Witches, a 64-page adventure (A5 format, roughly 6″x9″ book) for Lamentations of the Flame Princess being published through James Raggi’s company Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

Also, not incidentally, it is the subject of a soon-to-end Indiegogo project, something of a old experiment: Pay What You Want. There is a minimum 1€, and shipping is not included but roughly estimated as “around 5€, but we cannot guarantee that postage costs will not rise”. Historically shipping from Finland has worked out surprisingly well — I just checked with _Lamentations of the Flame Princess_, a 160-page hardcover (2.5 times as long as this book) with the same page size and shipping costs to Canada range from 6€ for ‘economy shipping’ through 30€ for ‘tracked shipping’ (and 11€ for ‘first class shipping’).

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Hall of Fame: Vulpinoid Geomorph Tutorials

I’ve just added a new entry to the Hall of Fame regarding geomorphs and their design and use.

Michael Wenman of Observations of the Fox has been publishing a collection of mapping tutorials, and lately has been exploring and explaining geomorphs. I’ve been inspired by this series to start working on my own, and have created a couple PDFs of hex tile templates that may be useful for those interested in doing the same.

Observations of the Fox logo

Progress Linking Prerequisites Programmatically

Still working on the Echelon Reference Series, and I’m rebuilding my prerequisite parsing and linking system.

I didn’t think to capture metrics before I started, but I’m already a little over 90% ‘pretty definitive matches’ — that is, where I can match a prerequisite string to a specific game entity such as a feat or class feature. There are some cases where the link is ambiguous, such as when a named prerequisite matches both a feat and a class feature. In cases like that I modified the scripts to favor feats over class features (and similar decisions for other collisions… of which I had 26 out of the 6,695 prerequisite strings being examined.

Of the 6,695 strings being examined, right now I have 661 that I not successfully parsed (see below/beyond ‘more’ if on the front page). Many are trivially solved, but I’m sleepy and have to get up early tomorrow.

  • ‘caster level #’ and related (around 65? tricky to count without finding duplicates) are a bunch of cheap wins.
  • racial traits (56) will be as easy as feats and class features, as soon as I integrate racial information into my data set. This will be mildly funky because not only can later data sources modify an existing race — much as a new data source can add new rage powers or cleric domains — but the same-named racial trait can appear in many races. I know how to do it, I just haven’t done it yet.

Some others can be picked up by looking at ‘unqualified values’, such as class subfeatures that do not identify their parent feature. Normally the data says something like ‘suggestion bardic performance’, but I can add code to have it accept ‘suggestion’ and recognize it as the same thing (being able to cast suggestion is labeled ‘ability to cast suggestion‘, so it is distinct). Similarly with special attack (‘breath weapon’) and so on.

Tomorrow! Tonight it’s time for sleep.

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Echelon Reference Series Covers

I haven’t posted since the A-Z Challenge back in April. It was partly burnout, and largely because completing the challenge severely cut into my work on the Echelon Reference Series.

I’m still catching up on that, and shaping up to have my first release in the next few weeks. I had a bit of time tonight and decided to put together preliminary covers for all the books.

I chose from stock art I had (mostly) on hand. I didn’t have any available for the Gunslinger book, but the rest I’ve got at least something… though a few are likely to be replaced.

In the meantime, have some covers.