Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Trillic Zellorgosz

Trillic Zellorgosz, the Tethyrian bard (here he is!)

returned home to the ranch in Longsaddle after a month away in the Spine of the World. A snake was lying across his path, sunning itself. It eyed him with contempt. He stabbed it. It became a serpent-looking humanoid (a Yuan-ti) and ran away. The next day he confronted an odd visitor at his ranch on that same road. The human tried to get away, but showed his true colors in trying to steal the bard's fabled drum. Battle ensued, and the man turned into a tiny viper, sliding away into the weeds. Later he assumed humanoid form again, this time showing his reptilian heritage. It died at the hands of Trill and his friends. It left behind several noteworthy items, one of which this magical sword (yay!):

Monday, April 19, 2010

3.5 Katana

Ok, so the version of the 3.5 katana is a tad broken. But I like the spirit of the rules for it. It's a dynamic that allows multiple options to the wielder depending on their style of use (it can be finessed, wielded two handed, and the crit range and multiplier changes depending on training and use).

But it is perhaps the single most powerful mundane weapon if allowed to be used as written.

The problem with the standard 3.5 katana is that it's just a bastard sword. But would William Wallace and a samurai really use the same weapon?

Without some change, the only reason a player would pick up the katana for their character would be for role playing flavor. I wanna find a middle ground.

To the exasperated reader who stomped feet about a two-handed finesse-able weapon being stupid and without precedent: FAIL. It's already been done in 3.5. Please read the spiked chain entry.

How about this? Stats are for a medium katana.

Katana (Exotic One/Two-Hand Melee)

Cost: 150gp
Dmg 1h: d8
Dmg 2h: d10
Crit: 19-20/x2
Weight: 5lb

You can use your weapon finesse feat to apply your Dexterity modifier instead of your Strength modifier to attack rolls with a katana, but this may only be used while wielding the weapon one-handed.

Wielding the weapon with two hands increases the damage to d10 and adds 2 to damage when sundering.

Comparative notes on balance: When wielded one-handed, this weapon hangs in the balance between the longsword (d8 dmg, 19-20 crit, no finesse) and the elven thinblade (d8 dmg, 18-20 crit, finesse). Wielded with two hands, this weapon lies in between the greatclub (d10 dmg, 20 crit, no special feat required if 2h) and the bastard sword (d10 dmg, 19-20 crit, no special feat required if 2h).

So if this weapon lies in between existing weapons on the spectrum, why would you wield it? OPTIONS.

If your character is William Wallace, choose the bastard sword, or the greatsword. If your character is Elebros Moonblade, wispy loafer-light fighter, choose the thinblade. But if you have an above average dexterity, and want to have OPTIONS when fighting without changing weapons, wield the katana.

This katana is truly for the Asian-inspired martial artist character.

The more research I did on the katana the more I saw a similar thread. This blade was made for samurai to react suddenly to their foes. By sheathing it blade up, they could strike while drawing it. I couldn't find any 3.5 feats to this effect, so here's one I made.


Draw Strike

Prerequisites: Base Attack +6, Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Katana, Weapon Focus: Katana, Quick Draw

This feat allows the wielder to draw their katana and strike in the same motion. When drawing the katana, the wielder may make a single melee attack at his highest base attack bonus as a free action in conjunction with drawing the weapon. He may then 'complete' a full attack as a standard action, using any remaining attacks from his normal total number of attacks.

Example: Kao Kao, a tenth level fighter, walks into an ambush with his weapon sheathed. He notices his foes and gets to act during the surprise round. During the surprise round (assuming the ambushers were in melee range) he may draw his katana and strike in one motion using his highest base attack bonus (+10). As this is a free action, he may still take either a move action or standard action during this surprise round. He chooses to take a standard action to 'finish' his full attack, and attacks again using his next-highest base attack (+5). He could also take a single move after his draw strike.

Another Example: Kao Kao, now fifteenth level, is parlaying with a sinister feudal lord. Negotiations go sour, and the lord draws his blade and casts an abjuration on himself. Kao, seeing his opportunity, draws and strikes as a free action using his highest base attack bonus (+15). He now has options: finish his attack (two more attacks, using his progressively lower base attack bonuses (+10/+5) as a standard action then and a single move; or give up the full attack and make a sprint move, or plenty of other options.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Possible House Rule Change: 3.5 Weapon Enhancement and DR

I'm considering house ruling this option.

Monte Cook (original 3.0 and 3.5 designer) has some great thoughts on overcoming the the 'golf bag' syndrome and restoring the +5 sword to its once-fabled glory.

The rules (and eloquent explanation and design notes) are here.

I'm very close to house ruling this; I'm just giving players the chance to review it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Steampunk Classes, Part I

After two playtest sessions (ridiculously adventurously fun sessions, by the way), I'm looking into some of the rules and assumptions I started out with in this Steampunk Campaign Setting I'm working on.

I've been using the Fantasy Flight Games book Sorcery and Steam as a jumping off point (it's 3e generic, but it's pretty in line with the way I want to run things).

The basic pathfinder classes I want to use are:


I'm also considering the Cavalier, which is a marshall/knight type of class if you're familiar with 3.5.

Today I'm mulling also over the Musketeer class, which is presented in S&S as a unique character class. It's fraught with dead levels, which is something Pathfinder doesn't take kindly to, so I've been thinking of how to modernize it for the system. But I was thinking, does the musketeer need his/her own class? Couldn't a fighter accomplish the same?

What about the artificer class? This is also in S&S and it's essentially a skilled (8 skill points per level like the rogue) character who gets craft-related special abilities. I think something like this class is essential in a technologically advanced setting. It's especially relevant (and appealing) in a gestalt game (which mine will be, if you recall) due to the fact that you can be a creator character without sacrificing pulpy action (by taking a fighter class or something similar in conjunction with the artificer class).

Any other thoughts? What classes would (or wouldn't) work well in a world where religion isn't (necessarily) relevant and magic is outlawed but existent?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Foray into Steampunk

I am but an infant standing before an ocean when it comes to the genre of Steampunk, but I am quite excited about the gaming opportunities it extends. A gnome escaping from a train heist by sealing the dining car's door with a glue bomb would be amazing. Or a group of half-orc tribesmen that take down the zeppelin of the local oppressive duke with bows and arrows, yeah, that's the ticket!

I'm a long way from making this a true sustained campaign reality, but so far here's what I know.

The world will be my own (sort of).
The geography will match that of our Earth, but history shall be quite different.
The 'civilized' world at this point currently reside on the continent we call North America.
There are approximately 36 nation-states. The two most powerful of which are the Federated States of Ullera and the Sovereign Kingdom of Rausch, currently allies which share borders.

Ullera sits between what we know as the Mississippi River and the East Coast, going north to the shores of the Great Lakes and south to the Everglades. It is a technologically driven state which in many ways mirrors the U.S. in the 1860s. Magecraft has long been outlawed here, but it is rumored to exist.

West of the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean spans the vast, sparsely populated Kingdom of Rausch. It's king rose from despondent orphanhood to a high position in the state church, eventually securing royal status by marrying ALL THREE of the prior king's daughters. He is highly respected and quite just.

Ulleran settlers, sick of coalsmoke-clogged cities, set east decades ago on all manner of craft (from dirigible to clipper to ship), but the harsh conditions and violent natives in the continents to the east have prevented Ullera from establishing meaningful colonies.

Gameplay will likely be limited to three player characters at a time. Pathfinder RPG rules will be used, augmented by third party steampunk expansions (mainly 3.0 books, actually). Players will all run gestalt characters (taking the best of any two classes).

Gameplay in the first campaign will include limited options. Greater options will be 'unlocked' as the world is explored (Example: once players encounter Knights of Rausch, the paladin class will become available.)

Players will start in Ullera (in game one), and race/class options will be limited to:

Races: Human, Half-elf, Elf, Gnome, Dwarf, Halfling.
Classes: Barbarian, Bard, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer.

Magic knowledge available to players will be limited to 3rd level spells until higher knowledge is unlocked.

Equipment: Modified black powder weapons exist. Reloading will take something like two full rounds (anything more will make it little fun for an RPG), which can be reduced by feats and class features.

There's plenty to flesh out here. Hit me up with questions. I'm sure there are aspects I haven't considered yet!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3.5 Sorcerer, I Can't Stop Myself

I really like the new feel of my sorcerer class, but I feel like it's missing the mark. I wanted sorcery to feel so different from wizardry (in execution, not in power or effect). I thought the pseudospell powers would do the trick, but I quickly learned (thanks to some friendly DMs) that it would be hard to adjudicate. So I scrapped it. But without it, I feel the whole point of my endeavor was unmet.

Something I have considered and am now reconsidering is treating sorcerer spells like psionic powers. Those unfamiliar with psionics...well, instead of spell slots and spells per day, the psionicist gets points which they spend to evoke powers, and they can spend more points to augment those powers as they see fit (increasing damage, extending duration, adding secondary effects, etc.)

In my experience, psionics come with their own set of pains, but (like many non-standard ideas) they work if used responsibly.

A spell point system truly opens up the caster to (near) complete freedom. He could throw everything he has into his fireball, augmenting it to max damage, but leaving himself spell-less until the next day.

Here is a good basic spell point concept. What it lacks is the complete freedom of augmentation (this one only allows for increasing of damage dice from the minimum).

Here's an example of a psionic power and the augmentation possibility: The first-level power force screen (the psionic equivalent to shield) allows this: "For every 4 additional power points you spend, the shield bonus to Armor Class improves by 1."

And another: This is found in the power energy bolt, a third-level Wilder power: "For every additional power point you spend, this power’s damage increases by one die (d6). For each extra two dice of damage, this power’s save DC increases by 1."

In summary, I'm considering changing sorcerer spell slots to spell points, using an amalgam of the variant spell point rules and psionic power augmentation. If I do that, I'll remove the bonus feats from the sorcerer.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Customized Paladin Code

One of the difficulties of playing a paladin (or DMing for a paladin, or being in a party with a paladin) is the strictness of the code of said paladin.

One of the more difficult things about most paladins I've seen played (and played myself) is the lack of a defined code. The gameplay is then reduced to presumption about what the paladin can and can't do.

One of the natural tendencies for most of us in the Western world is to assume that every paladin fits in the Knight Templar box. The reality is that in almost every D&D world, there are vast pantheons of deities that expect their followers to act very differently.

In Forgotten Realms, for example, a paladin of Sune should act a lot different than a paladin of Hoar. Heck, even two paladins of the same deity could (and usually should) have different codes, capturing their own emphasis on certain tenets of their patron deity (much like chosen domains of a cleric).

This then requires the characters to establish a code at character creation; this may be a daunting task (or your players might be lazy).

If you want to take a look at the option, hit me up and I'll send the doc to you (it's 15 pages!)

NOTE: I didn't create this and I have no idea where it comes from, but I like it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Real World Dungeon Room

The most treacherous 5'x5' space on earth is in my office. Some crazy lady got fired and they just now got around to cleaning her cubicle. The pics below are her office space after an hour of diligent cleaning. You can imagine the original disposition.

Incorporate this into your next dungeon and watch your players retire instantly.


What a mess!: The entire room is treated as hindering terrain. Also, creatures in this area have concealment.

Trap: Bowl of rotten food (CR 4). Has been festering for several months. Upon opening, characters within 30ft must succeed on a Fort Save (DC 20) or be nauseated for 1d6 hours.

Incongruent Philosophies: The walls of this room are plastered with a myriad of demotivational anecdotal cartoons, watered down Christian philosophy, random quotable phrases, and pictures of long-dead pets. Understanding the beliefs of the inhabitant requires a Decipher Script check (DC 30) which takes several minutes. It is likely that during this time you will be attacked by a...

Cockroach Swarm (CR 5)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Magic Missile the Fat One!

I have a player that made an obese character. That presents all sorts of interesting possibilities, mind you.

I decided to make up game statistics for the overweight. Here goes:

Character Trait: Obesity

Benefit: You are treated as one category larger for the purposes of opposed rolls such as trip attempts, bull rush attempts, and grappling.

Drawback: You are treated as under medium encumbrance.

Friday, February 19, 2010

D&D Dora

Having a daughter, I've spent more time than I ever expected (or wanted) watching Dora the Explorer. As I got familiar with the character, I realized she could easily be ported into your favorite D&D campaign.

Dora the Explorer is clearly either a druid, or a ranger of at least 4th level. Why do I make this assertion? She has an animal companion, Boots the Creepily Sentient Monkey.

Given her low level, her failure to show any combat prowess, and no apparent favored enemy*, I would have to say she is a young budding druidess.

This would explain so much, like her affinity with--and ability to speak to--animals such as Tiko the Squirrel and Benny the Bull.

More to come. I plan to gen up some stats for Dora, as well as an awesome sketch.

*Swiper the Fox is NOT her enemy, just a confused and misdirected fox bandit whose kleptomaniacal pursuits are easily thwarted. Thank you, liberal media.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jeffs Gameblog: On System

Jeffs Gameblog: On System: "spot-on"

This guy made me nod a lot and made me want to shut my yap. Kudos!

3.5 Sorcerer Feedback

A pal and veteran DM gave me some comprehensive feedback, and helped me to decide to take out the pseudospell powers from the sorcerer. They're too unwieldy and will likely be more a pain for the DM to use.

With his help I came up with this breakdown regarding balance between the sorcerer and wizard, too. It appears to be balanced.

-(On average) a Sorcerer can cast 2 more spells/day than a wizard can. Advantage Sorcerer

-A Sorcerer need not prepare spells like a wizard does. Advantage Sorcerer

-Sorcerer has better proficiencies. Advantage Sorcerer

-Sorcerers gain eschew materials and native spellcasting while wizards may scribe scrolls out the gate. Even

-Wizard and sorcerer get bonus (very limited) feats (or bloodline powers). Even

-Same skill points per level. Even

-Same starting gold. Even

-Wizard gets familiar. Advantage Wizard

-Wizard has more spells known. Advantage Wizard

-Wizard has (almost imperceptibly) better class skills. Advantage Wizard

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

3.5 Sorcerer, Beta Playtest

The new 3.5 sorcerer is finished.

I don't know how to post a PDF file here, so let me know if you want to take a look at it. Here's a summary:

Unchanged: Base Attack, Saves, Hit Points, Skills, Spell List, Spells Known, Spells Per Day, Proficiencies

Removed: Summon Familiar

Native Spellcasting (+4 to Spellcraft DC to determine your spells)
Arcane Source (Bloodline or Awakened, bloodline traits or bonus feats)
Eschew Materials bonus feat at level 1
Pseudospell Powers

Thursday, January 7, 2010

3.5 Sorcerer: Bloodlines

I'm taking a little inspiration from some existing 3.5 books and the Pathfinder RPG on the last leg of my quest to revamp the 3.5 sorcerer. This time I'm talking bloodlines. For those not familiar with the idea, here goes:

The sorcerer, unlike the wizard, has inborn magical ability. When they cast a spell, they pour out innate energy that they shape into tangible effects. A wizard is simply an individual who studies the effects that sorcerers and their ilk (elementals, djinn, dragons, outsiders, etc.) and emulate them through study and ritual.

So, how does a sorcerer end up with the ability to cast spells? They have the magic of one of the aforementioned creatures in their blood.

I'm not quite sure how these bloodlines are going to manifest themselves in game terms, but I'm leaning towards periodic (ever few levels) powers or so.

Here are the bloodlines (and their sources) I'm going to allow:

Abyssal - demons
Celestial - good outsiders
Infernal - devils

I'm either going to give the sorcerer decent bloodline powers every 4 levels, or I'm going to give them the option to select from a slightly more powerful bloodline power or a bonus feat (from the Complete Mage reserve feats) every 5 levels.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

3.5 Sorcerer: Pseudospell Powers

As sorcerers are simply conduits of raw magical power, it stands to reason that a limited number of spells is not the only way a sorcerer can manifest such power. These casters likely didn't first realize their prowess by casting a spell with verbal, somatic, and material components (that seems extremely silly, actually). Most sorcerers discover their talents as adolescents, as their desires or frustrations begin to shape the world around them (an angry boy accidentally sets his house on fire with his burning hands while throwing a tantrum, a scared girl magically illuminates her bedroom to ensure there are no monsters under her bed, etc). I think most people understand this idea and even subscribe to it (even the game developers), but it seems as though all of those 'pseudospell powers' go by the wayside once the first game session begins.

Not in my games, anymore.

Sorcerers now have the ability to evoke minor effects (less powerful than level 1 spells, but potentially as powerful as 0-level spells) as long as they have magic coursing through their veins.

The effects they have available rely largely upon the spells he/she has chosen as Spells Known. For every different type of spell known, more options are available.

The sorcerer must have at least one spell per day left uncast of the same level from which the pseudospell ability derives.

If the sorcerer has light (a 0-level spell) in her Spells Known, and has at least one 0-level spell per day remaining, she may produce a light in her hand equivalent to candelight as long as she concentrates.

A sorcerer who knows alter self and hasn't cast all her level 2 spells may transmute a minor portion of herself for various effects (e.g., add/remove a tail or hair).

A sorcerer with burning hands (a level 1 spell) in his Spells Known, and has at least one level 1 spell per day remaining, he may set a torch or kindling (or similar highly flammable material) afire as a standard action.

Perhaps the same sorcerer above also has fireball known, and a remaining 3rd level spell per day uncast, he may also light a torch or kindling as a standard action, even if he has no 1st level spells available.

The sorcerer essentially draws upon the power that he uses for spells. As he become more powerful (i.e., gains more Spells Known), he will have more and more pseudospell powers available to him.

It is up to the DM and the player to police the use of these powers, but they exist for freedom and creativity.

Notes on balance: The sorcerer must maintain concentration for any non-instant effect (a minor altering of one's appearance, or a light, etc). Also, at no time may a pseudospell power damage a creature or object (not even unintentionally).

What are your thoughts? Do you have any examples of pseudospell powers?