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.
Continue reading

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.