Sunday, 19 October 2014

At -9 and dropping


(written for my Pop Lit Class as part of character death & attachment module a few years ago.)

Warning, personal cathartic rant begins right now, look away, it gets ugly:

I keep a side of my personality hidden away from my coworkers. In a closet in my house there are books, maps and dice, I game. I admit it, I am a gamer, role playing table top, or better known as D&...D, shadowrun, gurps, and a dozen more well and much less known games. Many or the best
nights of my life, was around a table, books, pop, chips, dice - most times around friends that were also my enemies.

Not only did I play these games, I usually ran the game. I was the story-teller, (Dungeon-
master, Game Master or referee depending upon the game system.) I created the back-end of
the story so the players could adventure. Dice determined success of their choice, but mostly
it was the players, they did and sometimes they did not. I swear best nights of my life.

Together we created a shared storyline. It had everything, pacing, setting, acting, chaos (i.e. dice)
& characters. In fact, in most ways, the characters were the key ingredient, for as story-teller
I created the background but the individual players created their characters. And believe me, they owned the characters. Often setting them up to mirror their favorite TV or movie characters or something else entirely. Yes, it was the gamut of tolkien fantasy (warriors, thieves, wizards, elves, dwarves...) but it was also personality and history and flaws and chosen quirks. sometimes, players could take many hours to sculpt the character on paper. Characters most often kept the characters until the dice failed them, and in the line of duty they died, and then they created a new one unless by circumstance or level they were raised to life to continue their epic journeys. Did I mention you before that these were the BEST nights of my life?

Believe me after months of a journey, in a continuing story arc, finding clues, defeating minions, until they come to the BOG BAD BOSS (C) it all comes down to 1-2 hour game session event, where no holds were barred. I used every dirty sneaky but fair trick. The players worked together, planned, sweated, took chances and it came down to rolls, where players were standing around the table, and their fates (sorry their characters fate, along with the princess, or magical artifact or city or even their world) came down to a roll of the dice. ahh...best nights...of my old life. COME ON TWENTY!!!!!

Often, using the game design quirks players could master a particular skill, say tripping an opponent...then they would do this skill non-stop until I started to throw crazy stuff in to let the player know, stop it, this isn`t fun to do...not for me and not for the other players. Understand success was awesome, but, it was more about the fun we had around the table. And if they kept doing the same thing repeatedly to challenge them, I had to do stupid stuff that limited my imagination, once others players realized it, it lost its appeal....because something of the story was compromised. Some pretty good nights there.

And sometimes after weeks of game story, of doing their leveling and journeys and when they faced the big baddie something wonderful happened. players sacrificed their characters. They jumped into the dragons breath, bear-hugged a demon and jumped into a dimensional portal, cracked their magical sword releasing hell-fire...to stop a BAD THING (C) from happening. Why? Because story matters. They were involved and wanted to stop that pretend BAD THING from happening, and they were sacrificing a character that they may have used for years.

From this I had an amazing revelation - character is secondary to the story. PERIOD. Stop, read it again.

Character is secondary to the story.

This is important. Actually this is my only point here. You only like a character in the first place because the story captured you. Without the story, the character is meaningless.

If players who had created the characters were willing to sacrifice their pretend characters to a pretend danger, then so should authors and screenwriters. They don't because they care too much for their pretend characters and that is horrible. That is putting something else (fans, characters, sequels, money) ahead of the story. Some DM should throw a blue lightning bolt from the sky at them for cheating (I'm sure the Lightning Lady could do it.)

Thats why I love character death, or injury or throwing crazy stuff into the mix. When the creator is respecting the story and doing the bad stuff they are also respecting you as an audience. They are not pandering to you; they are being true to their vision. and if, if you actually liked the story...respect the author, respect the story regardless of what happens.

Game players respect the story enough to sacrifice their character. Believe me, characters who are sacrificed are way better then those who retire or go on. But for us players, the real people rolling the dice and having fun, creating new characters to have more new fun, we remember those good times regardless of the numbers.

And though none of you know him, I still have to say this - this was for Rob, miss ya bud.

/end cathartic rant now.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bishollo - People of the Codex


Everyone on Nyssa has heard the ancient tales of Hembria - the infamous wizardly nation that most people believe inadvertently started the great winter. While virtually all peoples of the domain fell under the chill not all did, out of these renegade nations, only one still stands, Bishollo - the people of the Falls live on.

West of the "old south", East of the Ferrensil Forest stands this ancient land. Starting square in the middle at the Great Falls - its temperate forest and gentle surging rivers expand and cross the whole sub-continent. Dire animals are believed the greatest threat here, and no dragon or other great beast stalks the land, even Rowena’s minions are rare in this realm, the standard undead types are found here, but none of the powerful ice variety. There is only one city, Vromel, and all peoples owe fealty to the ruling Prince of the city.

How and why these people are protected from the cold is the basis of their culture and way of life...The Codex. From the onset of civilization people have argued over who the gods were and how best to represent them. The obelisk is an universal Nyssian symbol of faith and devotion, and in all other places of the domain, each religion has their own obelisk a free standing monument to the one ideal, to one divinity. Not so in Bishollo, here the gods are not seen as distinct but as a unity. The idea of many obelisks is foreign, all gods sit at one heavenly table thus all people worship at the one obelisk, and this is the mile high Codex. This is the core of all Bishoolian peoples and races, their faith, their magical energies and their protection from the cold.

The people or Bish as they usually refer to themselves as share most of the views on the frequency found elsewhere, but here they call it the Surge. Anywhere else on Nyssa, the frequency emerges from an obelisks, spreading randomly like the wind, blowing without form or order. Here in Bishollo, mana emanates outward from the one giant obelisk, the frequency gushes out seen as a colourful wave, repeating several well-known patterns, dispersing mana to the mortal world. Near the Codex the strongest known magical energies in the domain exists, and at certain times spells can be cast with spectacular results. This ever-circling frequency is so overpowering that most clerics spend their lives in Bromel, at one of the many temples that reside around the Codex. Here they worship their divinity, with powers of incredible insight at their calling.

Proximity to the Surge has many other consequences, because the surge comes from the gods, anyone of piety can cast a spell at least once in their lifetime. These "free magic’s" are a thing of wonder and many people await their whole lives before approaching the codex and asking for a "favor" or spell. But just because one asks, doesn't necessarily mean that the favor asked is the one requested, nor even if one may be given at that time. Often those who just lost a parent or lover will come asking for fates to be reversed, only to find no deity is listening to their prayer. Others have their wish granted, not just once, but many times, who or how these spells are granted are beyond a mortal to decipher.

Another affect of the Codex is the closeness of the faiths. All of the gods have open, non-walled temples, facing the obelisk and in the path of the surge. This means that they can all cast-enhanced spells at their temples, but because their traditional enemies can as well, magic is not seen as a destructive force, merely one that gives aid and succor. The light and dark here are more of competitors, and few priests dare use force or violence in their contests with the other followers of the gods. This unity has created a great upheaval in the political power the clerics wield. They control Vromel's army, bureaucracy, major guilds, educational facilities and most importantly the monarchy. They control the city and do so to benefit themselves, the ruling theocracy. Openly, it does not matter which god you worship, as long as you are able to summon priestly might. Secretly, however, wars of favor are still played out by some "holy" and "unholy" men for positions of prestige.

In all of their secretive campaigns, one foe remains true wizards remain anathema - enemies of the state to be purged, at any cost. No spell tower has arisen in Bishollo in over eight thousand years, and public executions are still permitted when one is caught casting an arcane spell. The reason for their mistrust is the same as everywhere else - the Great Winter. It came here, catching everyone unaware, and plunging the land into a long deadly winter, but here the ice retreated back past the mountains, never to re-appear. However, their mistrust has not abated, these people view arcane magic as disgusting and sinful, and if they do not try to destroy wizards outright, they will certainly thumb their noses at the individual, or alert the Standing Knights. Wizards from the outside world are usually arrested upon arrival, thrown in jail or seized by manacles and subjected to torture to find out why they are there.

Sorcerers do not fall prey to the same mistrust, for while wizards must deliberately choose the evil and arcane arts, sometimes individuals are blessed with a natural aptitude for casting magic, and this is not to be shunned, rather it's to be celebrated as a gift from the gods. There is always some hesitation at first, did the individual seek out the magic or otherwise attempt to steal it from the gods, spell-casters must go through an arduous process if they wish to reveal their unique abilities as sorcerers. The most celebrated sorcerers are those infants and teens which manifest their powers, because they are too young to have studies the magical arts, it is always assumed that these individuals are the "real thing" and are not subject to the same scrutiny as their elderly compatriots. There are many folk tales which tell of sorcerer-heroes, given their power from the gods, come to save the people during great crisis. Always the hero has red hair and from a barbarian tribe.

The priests may control the city, but warriors maintain peace in the hinterlands. Rangers, paladins and even barbarians are tremendously important in the regions and towns, and except for a wondering monk, few preacher-like types are rarely seen. In fact, there is little magic outside of Vromel, and few divine spellcasters ever bother to go adventuring. This creates a huge problem for the outlanders, for while powerful magics can be cast in the city; outside they are left defenseless to creatures that cast spells. It is due to the loyalty of the people that they work together to end these threats.

None of the “popular” races are enemies with each other, but some like or dislike each other more than the others, and of course, there are always those who are hated even by their own kind. Humans, who call themselves the Bishine, are the most dominant spell-casters and merchants, and they rule their six provinces from the capital, Vromel. Conflicts between the provinces are outlawed, but flare-ups sometimes occur for lucrative property (especially mines and the rune forests) between local Lords. Officially, all owe fealty and their taxes to the Prince of the City – but most leaders do not attempt to force taxes on any province except for Pron – the Prime. Four other confederate nations exist on the Bish peninsula; all are organized along racial lines. While all of them are considered allied nations, each of them (non-officially at least) realize that Vromel rules and go out of their way not to antagonize the military masters of the realm. While not this patriarchy currently ruling some human empires have invaded the smaller nations to eliminate a perceived threat.

For all their "unity" there is a great deal of threats to Bishollo. While dire animals are the worst known to the commoner there are far greater secrets known to the royal hunters and knights. The bleaklands, the northern-most region, has for thousands of years been covered gray-black stone is emerging from the bowels of the earth, which destroys all plant-life. The Bish have lived their entire history near the aside this barren land, as it acted just as much as a protector as a threat. Recently, the bleaklands have begun to expand, and many strange chaotic beasts capable of performing terrible spells or brute acts of force are appearing. It has taken the army some time to determine what they have known now, and the theocracy knows nothing of the approaching danger. While some of the citizens are aware of what is happening, few consider it a threat as the Knights and the Codex have long protected them, and most feel confidently that they will continue to do so.



Animals: Boars, Shard-Birds, Shard-Bullettes, Kazurn hounds,
Steeds: Horses, Hederaks, Griffons
Races: Human, Jivine Elf, Ubine Dwarves, Tenderfeet (Halflings), Gnoll, Quillian, Kinzarri (Phaeton), Ogre, and Lizardith
Known Threats: Shard-beasts, Prisms, Cult of the Vine, Curse of the Gorgon, Gobbers, Kenku, Hand of the Shadows

Ubine: The Bish Dwarves reside in the south, throughout the Thunderlands and the Therrik Mantle. They are a rich race with connections to many other races and groups in the peninsula. They have a healthy mercantile tradition, and readily use the cat-kin and Oromian merchants that come to them for trade. In times past, the dwarves were more ready to take to the caravan, but this has steadily decreased over the last hundred years.

The noble families Shield, Stone & Barrel speak and vote as a single voice, and this block is one of the first the Imperial League attempt to sway in military matters. They usually double the numbers required by the Treaty for the Border Patrols. The Ubine does not elect non-Ubine to the speaker position, however, other clans can beseech this dominant clan, and is tradition for the Ubine to respect the requests by the other dwarves.

Jivine: These elves are perhaps the longest continuing inhabitants of the Bish peninsula, as their monuments from the past dot the landscape. However, out of all the major races, they are rarely seen out of the Jesh, their forest homeland in the northwest. While some sages claim that their numbers have dropped in the last hundred years, the elves do not divulge the truth. They show their loyalty to the Senatas in the means dictated by the Treaty, but they steadfastly refuse to allow anyone inside the forest. Bish Elves are wild elves, which have ranger, rogue and sorcerer as their preferred classes. Their Vilne emeralds are considered the best spell-gems in the world, and they sell them to their allies. They do not send representatives to the Senatas, Their high noble families are called Root, Fey and Vine.

Terminology

Annash: Gardens that temporarily arise; harvest is magically enhanced, similar to potions
Battery: places, usually caves, where Iron-hearted are located until called upon to serve in battle
Bish: The subcontinent; anything from here is Bishollo
Bleaklands: Dead lands, they border to the outside world and are home to many evil creatures
Blessing: Ability to cast a spell or a wish granted by the surge when at the Codex
Circle: Druidic cult that attempts to create nature sanctuaries and protect animals
Code: The list of laws and traditions that knights follow
Codex: Mile high obelisk located in Vromel
Cult of the Vine: Cults that cause wild drunken orgies that sometimes cause great destruction.
Curse: Lycanthropy, it is punishable by death; sometimes known as Curse of the Moon
Dral: Good aligned, black-skinned elves, tremendously respected by the Bish
Fentorrik: An Iron-Hearted warrior that once commanded an army that destroyed Vromel
Ferric: Iron Mines in the eastern province well infested with gobbers
Gray: Creatures that come from the bleaklands
Gromwell: Legendary canyon homeland of the gnomes.
Hands: Members of the faithful
Handmaidens: Term for priestesses of Quanna
Hunters: Rangers given permission by the crown to hunt in the preserves
Iron Hearted: War forged, created for war. Hundreds sleep ready to be awakened for service.
Jesh: The “Sleeping Forest” of the Jivine elves in the north
Knights: Well-respected cavaliers that serve various groups, some take the Paladin prestige class
Legion: Elite warriors that continually patrol the bleak borderlands
Mandorrian: War-like nation across the eastern sea, that often act as mercenaries
Muse: a fey being that inhabits the body for a brief time for an artistic performance. “Calling for a muse” is a dangerous thing, as the results are unpredictable at best.
Oasis of Thought: Scattered monasteries that promote unarmed combat
Order: The nomenclature of the noble families that rule Bish, Order of the Green, Order of the Feather, etc
Oromians: Bearded merchants across the eastern sea that also control jammers (flying ships)
Patriarch: Leader of the council of churches; only the Prince holds more political power
Rage: A drug that causes bloodthirsty madness
Red Haired: Spellcaster or more specifically a sorcerer
Rez’l: Titanspawn, a powerful lich hundreds of years ago that seized control of the iron forged
Rowena: Evil Goddess of the cold & undead, colloquially known as the Ice Bitch
Rune Forests: Forests that contain magically enhanced wood used to create ceremonial tokens
Scarlet: Knights that directly serve the Prince of Vromel
Senatas: The ruling body, where the noble families meet to rule
Shadowy Hand: Group of cultists that kill good aligned clerics and paladins
Shard Mage: Outcasts sorcerers who travel to the bleaklands to gain power at a tremendous cost
Silver Claws: Group of good aligned gnolls that help to protect roadside shrines
Standing Knight: Knights who help protect the nation from wizards and outsiders
Surge: Magical energy, sometimes known as mana or the frequency
Thunderlands: Volcanic territory controlled by the Ubine Dwarves
Titan: heretics that actively attempt to destroy obelisks and kill anyone that serves the gods
Titanspawn: created creatures that serve the Titans, or, mortal followers of the Titans
Teeth or Tooth: Slang for rouges and thieves.
Treaty: The agreement that forged Vromel as the capital, it sees each province and neighbouring nation pay tax as well as provide soldiers to help keep the border peace
Trueborn: Creatures born without a hint of stain or impurity. These can transform individuals (race, class, belief or alignment) during rare or important events
Vilne: Emerald spell-stones
Vromel: The capital city near the center of the nation

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

My Simple Item Creation Feats

While I love magic thingies, I really don't like the official rules in any of the 3.x / Pathfinder books. These pare it down and make it simpler and easier for players while avoiding the bloat that happens.  None of these require experience points or wealth, just some knowledge and the time to create simple items that will help them.

Create Holy Symbol
You can create a holy symbol of your faith in the most available substance available nearby.
Prerequisite: 1st level cleric, ranger, druid or paladin
Benefit: After 1 hour of prayer of holy grounds an appropriate holy symbol of your devotion is created. If not on holy ground, you need 6 hours of prayer.

Create Holy Sand or Holy Water
You create holy sand or holy water.
Prerequisite: 1st level cleric, ranger, druid or paladin
Benefit: You can create three pinches of holy sand or ½ pint of holy water after 2 hours of prayer on holy ground. If not on holy ground, you need 6 hours of prayer.
(Holy Sand permanently buries the dead to prevent them from arising as undead. Most creatures killed by undead are buried this way to prevent them from returning.)

Imbue Spell-Gem
Pre-Requisite: gem of sufficient power; +2 levels higher than required power
You can imbue one gem with one or more spells depending upon the power level of the item. It the gem can hold only one spell, anyone who crushes or smashes the gem may activate it; spell-casters can release a spell from a gem without destroying the gem by making a concentration or level check. If the spellcaster fails in their check, the gem is ruined for future embedding but the spell is cast. If they are successful in their spell check, the spell is cast and the gem can be re-used.
A 3rd level spell-caster can create a spell-gem holding a first level spell. It will last for ten days before the spell and gem are lost. It takes three hours per spell level, to create an item; no more than 18 consecutive hours per day may be used for item creation. There is no xp cost to create these items.
(Note: While normally a one-use item, it is also something that non-spellcasters can utilize. Can also be used if the person is falling or they cannot speak, They need just to grasp the gem and squeeze to release the spell magic.)

Craft Talisman
Pre-Requisite: Item of quality; +3 levels of higher than required power
Create a temporary item that can hold one charge per level of spell-caster, and will last for five days per level of the spell-caster. Thus a 6th level spell-caster can create a wand that holds a magic missile spell with six charges, which can last up to 30 days. Spell-casters need 4 hours per level of spell to be imbued. There is no xp cost to create these items.

Craft Rune
Pre-Requisite: Knowledge (Arcane Lore) Spellcraft level+7
Create a rune on an item (usually a weapon, shield or armor) which can be used 1/day. A spellcaster can have no more than their level in inscribed runes, regardless of where the runes are or who holds them. There is no xp cost to create these items.

Brew Draught
Pre-Requisite: Knowledge (Lore) +4
Usually called druid potions these are herbal potions and do not require spell-casting capacity. Brewers must gather & distill the correct herbs. It takes three days of brewing per level of spell to brew a draught. No more than one draught may be brewed per kettle or drum. Draughts last no more than five days before they go inert.There is no xp cost to create these items.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Guardians: Monk Prestige Class Also caled Game Knights or Dream Monks

Guardians: Also Game Knights or Dream Monks.
 
Description
The Guardians are members of a secretive cabal that play deadly games in astral and other-worldly arenas. While seemingly frivolous, their duty is sacred and incredibly important as evil and incredibly violent creatures are released into the mortal planes when the Guardians lose in the arenas. They usually disguise themselves when not in the arena, as they are threatened by infernals on a daily basis.

Responsibilities
Their primary duty is to win the arena competitions to either summon or dismiss planar creatures that attempt entry to the mortal planes. The secondary duty performed by many older guardians are to scour the mortal planes looking for new members. They often travel to some of the worst places imaginable, but always in the quest to find the best of the best.

Requirements: Unarmed Combat, Feat: Inner Peace
Oath: Loyalty to the Guardians
Alignment: Any non-evil

Class Skills: Balance, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, Heal, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (arcana, planes, religion), Listen, Move Silently, Perform, Profession, Ride, Sense Motive, Spot, Survival Swim and Tumble.

Skill Points: 4 + Int modifier
Hit Points: 1d10 / level

Weapons & Armor: Do not add or lose any weapon or armor proficiencies, however, most guardians prefer not to wear amor.

Class Benefits
Level BAB FOR REF WIL Special
1st +1 +2 +2 +2 Mind-Link
2nd +2 +3 +3 +3 Mind-Trick, Focus
3rd +3 +3 +3 +3 Focus
4th +4 +4 +4 +4 Mind-Touch, Focus
5th +5 +4 +4 +4 Craft Brilliant Weapon
6th +6 / +1 +5 +5 +5 Focus
7th +7 /+2 +5 +5 +5 Foresight, Focus
8th +8 / +3 +6 +6 +6 Planar Mind-Link
9th +9 / +4 +6 +6 +6 Focus
10th +10 / +5 +7 +7 +7 Focus, Enhance Brilliant Weapon
Class Focus: Advance in special features of their original class. (fighters gain additional combat feats, monks gain unarmed attacks, AC bonus & unarmoured speed bonus, spellcasters gain new spells.) If they had more than one class before they joined, they chose one class to advance in.

Mind-Link: Share a mental pathway between either all mind-linked creatures within 300 feet or with any one creature that they concentrate on. It is a standard action to create the pathway.

Mind-Trick: While using their mind-link gain a +5 on their bluff, diplomacy & intimidate checks.

Mind-Touch: Telekinesis. DC based on weight.

Craft Brilliant Weapon: After a week of effort, a guardian can craft a single melee weapon with a brilliant blade. A monk can utilize this weapon while attacking using flury of blows. They can turn their weapon's briliance power on and off as a free action. They can have only one active personal Brilliant Weapon at a time.
They can utilize the property on this weapon 1/level + 1/ either wisdom or charisma bonus.

Foresight: Pre-cognition of danger to self or others. Gain +10 on initiative checks if losing the initiative would put themselves or their allies in an imminent lethal situation.

Planar Mind-Link: As mind-link except no distance limitation on the same plane. Only one creature per round may be communicated with. Must have already “met” them personally or via normal mindlink for this to work, although their name is not required.

Enhance Brilliant Weapon: Capable of adding enhanced abilities to their personal brilliant weapon.

Required Feat: Inner Peace. This feat enables the character to go into a state of total concentration, enabling them to replace either a will or fortitude check, or any skill check that requires physical movement with a concentration check. This feat requires one full round of concentration and another full round to perform the action. They can perform this action 1 / monk or spellcasting level. For purposes of this feat, guardian levels are considered the same as monk levels.

Design Note: This prestige class is based on the Guardians from the TV show Reboot and the Jedi from the Star Wars movies.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Cat Sphinx

A common inhabitant of the desert buildings in my fantasy lands. They are ever vigilant to the cause of protecting the home, but still exhibit other cat-like traits.

Cat Sphinx

CR 2
NG Small Animal
Init +4; Perception + 5

DEFENSE
AC 18, touch 16, flat-footed 14 (+2 size, +4 dexterity, +2 natural)
hp 18 (3d8+6)
Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +2 **

OFFENSE
Speed 30 ft.
Melee Claws +5 / +5 (1d3)

TACTICS

Morale 11

STATISTICS
Str 5 Dex 19 Con 14 Int 9 Wis 13 Cha 12
Base Atk +1; CMB 2 CMD 13
Feats: Double attack, Weapon Finesse
Skills Perception +15, Acrobatics +5, Survival +5

ECOLOGY
Environment: Phastian Desert
Organization: Solitary or mated pair
Treasure: None

SPECIAL ABILITIES
Special ability: Scent
Spells: Detect Poison, Purify Food, Excite or Fear (2/day); Cast as 5th level Druid.

Phastian or sphinx cats have long been bred by multiple inhabitants of the desert to be house companions and protectors. Their role is much like a watch dog kept in a house or temple, to both keep it free from vermin and to carefully watch and alert their owners when trouble appears. They appear as an small androsphinx with the traditional head ware to show their status.

It is important for the inhabitants of a building to understand these sphinxes are not owned or controlled as these animals are smart enough to disobey if mistreated. They serve a role and as such they desire certain amenities as restitution for their services, which if they are not provided will make them abandon their post. While not exactly rare, cat sphinxes are highly prized and few phastian households would abandon or cause grief to their beloved house protectors.

Cat Spinxes are incredibly long lived some noted to have lived more than 300 years and none have ever been seen to have died a natural death. At a certain point, a cat sphinx will abandon their house to enter the desert sands and never be seen again. There are some that believe these elder sphinxes emerge as larger sphinxes, or reincarnate as a humanoid, while others believe their final form is a cat statue, found at many desert oasis. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Wooren - Heavily Furred, Strong Armed, Noble Savage

Last, at least for now, of my Star Wars bastardization for my planned game; Wooren are rip-offs of Wookies. These are tree climbing, bow using hippies that want to be left alone but will get involved in a greater cause if the shared threat is significant enough.

Wooren

Wooren                              CR 3
NG Monstrous humanoid (Jungle & Desert)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.

DEFENSE

AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10
hp 19 (3d8+3)
Fort +3, Ref +2, Will +1

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee: Bow +3 (1d8+3) or Fists +6 (1d4+3)
Rage: Gain +4 Strength & Constitution for 1d4+1 rounds otherwise as per Barbarian's 1st level Rage.

STATISTICS

Str 17 Dex 10 Con 12 Int 9 Wis 13 Cha 8
Base Atk +3; CMB +6; CMD 16
Feats Skill Power Attack, Improved Unarmed Strike (Combat)
Minor Skills: Acrobatics, Disable Device, Knowledge (Nature, Local), Perception +2
Major Skills:Climb & Intimidate +5
Feat Choices: Point Blank Shot, Far Shot, Precise Shot (Range Feats always With Crossbow), Cleave, Imp Bull Rush, Extra Rage, Overrun, Imp Sunder, Weapon Specialization
Languages Wooren plus one of Elven, Dwarven or Common

ECOLOGY
Environment: Desert or Jungle
Organization: Scouting Party (3-6), War Party (10-30)
Treasure Half

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Wooren gain these advanced abilities in replacement of class levels. They may stop advancing in these and gain a class level at any time, but once they do they are unable to gain new racial levels.

Advancement as Fighter for Saving Throws, and BAB
4 HD +4 in skills; Gain 1 Feat; +1 in Natural AC; Advance Unarmed Dmg (+d4)
5 HD +2 to Any Ability Score; +4 in skills; Jump +5; Advance Unarmed Dmg (+d6)
6 HD Gain 1 Feat; +4 in skills; +1 in Natural AC, Gain 5 ft base movement
7 HD +2 to Any Ability Score; +4 in skills; Advance Unarmed Dmg (+d8)
8 HD +1 in Natural AC; +4 in skills; Gain 1 Feat; Jump +5; Track
9 HD +2 to Any Ability Score; +4 in skills; Gain 1 Feat, Advance Unarmed Dmg (+d10)
10 HD +1 in Natural AC; +4 in skills; Gain 1 Feat; Gain 5 ft base movement
11 HD +2 to Any Ability Score; +4 in skills; Advance Unarmed Dmg (+2d6); ; Jump +5
12 HD +4 / +4 to any two ability Scores; +8 in skills, +3 in Natural AC; Gain 1 Feat

Wooren are large, hairy ferocious humanoids that reside in the jungles that fringe much of Phastian desert. They are legendary for both their ferocity to enemies and their softer side for smaller creatures. For a long time they were thought of as legendary figures on the edges of Phastian civilization, but around 800 years ago they were first captured and enslaved as an a manual labour force in the building of Pyramid cities. However, subsequent rulers released them, as their rage and strength meant they were incredibly difficult to control them.

They are an eternal force in the Wooren jungles. While many times they are dismissed as mindless, savages this has been proven wrong for those who come to know them. They reject the trappings of modern, magical ways. Though their society is a wild one, Wooren never come to blows with each other or their allies. They accept that even the best intended allies will not always agree with each other, as sometimes one must walk away and keep their honour intact.

It has long rumoured that wooren are non-magical, but this is not exactly true, they reject arcane traditions but they have a small druidic one in their tribes that is ready to aid their tribe.They maintain a balanced equilibrium with the land and their fellow forest inhabitants. They usually reside in tree huts, high above the jungle floors. While they do not care to control territory, they do maintain excellent patrols to ensure they are never enslaved or surprised again.

Wooren rarely learn Phastian or other human languages. The only language they sometimes learn is elvish though mostly they learn just enough to get by. They tend to avoid armor, because they like to be able to climb up and down trees quickly, but those who are adventurers may wear any type but tend to chose medium or less heavier armor.


Friday, 29 August 2014

Gammorec - green-skinned, heavy-set, brutish pig-like thugs

My fantasy version of the piggish Gammorean Guard from the Star Wars in a desert environment. These are lazy buggers, but they are too lazy too be too much of a menace, kept around to do the dirty duties that few other creatures dare to do.

Gammorec CR 2
CN Monstrous humanoid (Desert)
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft.

DEFENSE

AC 14, touch 11, flat-footed 13 (+ 1 natural, +3 Studded Leather)
hp 13 (2d8+2)
Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +0

OFFENSE

Speed 30 ft.
Melee: Battle Axe +5 (1d8+3)

STATISTICS

Str 15 Dex 9 Con 13 Int 7 Wis 9 Cha 8
Base Atk +2; CMB +4; CMD 14
Feats Skill Power Attack, Weapon Focus (Axes)
Minor Skills: Handle Animal, Knowledge (Dungeoneering), Profession, Survival +2
Major Skills:Intimidation +5
Feat Choices: Point Blank Shot, Far Shot, Precise Shot (Range Feats always With Throwing Axe), Power Attack, Cleave, Imp Bull Rush, Overrun, Imp Sunder, Weapon Specialization
Languages Dwarven or Common

ECOLOGY
Environment: Desert
Organization: Guarding Group (1-4) or Scouting Party (5-12)
Treasure Half

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Magical Rejection: Gain 10+HD+Bonuses as Magical Resistance (MR). Roll agaisnt this even for positive magical spells or affects such as healing spells. Gammorec cannot lower their resistance.

Advancement as Fighter for Saving Throws, and BAB
3 HD +3 in skills; Gain 1 Feat; +1 in Natural AC
4 HD +2 to Str or Con score; +3 in skills; +1 in MR Bonus
5 HD Gain 1 Feat; +3 in skills; +1 in Natural AC
6 HD +2 to Str or Con score; +3 in skills; Intimidating Presence
7 HD +1 in Natural AC; Gain 1 Feat; +1 in MR Bonus
8 HD +2 to Str or Con score; Gain 1 Feat, Gain Desert Adaption **
9 HD +1 in Natural AC; +3 in skills; Gain 1 Feat; +1 in MR Bonus
10 HD +4 to Str and Con score; +5 in skills, +3 in Natural AC; Gain 1 Feat; +3 in MR Bonus

Intimidating Presence: Gain a bonus to intimidation checks equivalent to their HD if they are either physically taller (medium or smaller) or have higher strength score (more than +3 ranks or higher) to creatures that are 4 HD or fewer.

The Gammorec are heavy-set, green-skinned, brutes that naturally reside in desert areas. While they can scavenge with fair success, they have long utilized brute strength to force their way into uneasy pacts with reluctant allies. In a cosmopolitan fantasy society, few dare turn these creatures away, as you might not like them but your armies could always use extra arms to wield another weapon. One of the primary reasons for being accepted into many societies is their utter lack of magical finesse thus they may make adequate warriors. Under a strong, decisive leaders they can become fair at their duties. Under sloppy or mean ones, they tend to match in tendencies.

Having low morale and quick to flee is matched by their boorish, mean tempered attitudes almost everywhere else. They make poor workers in non-combat fields, as they tend to shirk duties to go drinking or gambling or even to sleep. But if they have a strong leader that is involved with them on a daily basis they can be motivated to be a tolerable military force.


Eighty percent of their population is male. Females enter fertile stages around a half dozen times in their lives; when they give birth to their litters five to ten births are common. Otherwise the females are barely better then slaves, kept as servants and birthing conduits. They have fairly stable relationships with each other, as long as the clan leaders are obviously dominant and successful. Challenge for position is uncommon but happens when failure brings potential hardship to the clan.  

Monday, 25 August 2014

Guessmith - Master of Riddles and Ryhmes

This was from a forum contest on the giantitp website a few years ago.

Guessmiths

Uname looked at the gynosphinx as if she had three heads. The riddle she had rhymed off made no sense to him. If only the bugger had horns instead of the upper body of a woman, he could be justified in striking the beast down. But she had given him a reasonable request to pass into the pyramid, and as much as he would have liked to, he could not bash her head in. This was her duty, just as it was his to find and return the scepter.

Uname left the sphinx and the pyramid for another day. Returning to Lomer, the city on the edge of the desert took most of the gold in his pack. All the time, he repeated the riddle to himself. He hated the desert almost as much as his steed Rashop, but he promised the Lady Monique that he would retrieve the scepter inside the pyramid.

Asking around, while none of his comrades could give him an answer to the riddle, they did direct him to a small gnomish pub far from the hectic market place. After cleaning himself off, he ventured in. While it was in a gnomish section in town, there were many others here, including dwarves, elves and halflings. All of them sat around with half-empty tankards either rolling the bones, playing cards or hunched over a piece of paper repeating simple riddles to themselves. A harmless lot, Uname thought.

A serving lady came over to ask him what he wanted, "Umm, I need help with a riddle." The entire crowd in the pub seemingly stood still, as two dozen faces turned towards him. A young gnome raised his hand and approached, "Yes, Wastelander, how can we help?"

Uname looked at the gnome strangely, without any apparent weapon or holy symbol, who had seemingly guessed at his little recognized heritage. "How did you...?" Uname's question was left unsaid as the gnome both finished his question and answered it at the same time:

"Heritage, oh that's easy, your hair colour for one. Most desert people don't have red hair, besides your weapons seem to have a slight greenish tinge to them, an often noted side effect from the cold tempering used in the cold wasteland. Geography is one of my many interests."

After a brief introduction Uname learned that Bromsby, this gnome, was one of the guessmiths, a group of riddle and lore masters who gathered here at the Laughing Lass pub to test each other in games of chance and riddles. Explaining his predicament, Bromsby eagerly volunteered to accompany the elderly Wastelander into the desert.

Less than a week later, Bromsby and Uname were back at the pyramid.
“So,” said the large imposing gynosphinx, “I see you are back, and brought a friend.”
Uname nodded.

“I ask thee again: What runs all day, but never walks. Often murmurs, never talks...”
In the middle of the riddle, Bromsby joined with perfect harmony with the sphinx, “Has a bed, but never sleeps. Has a mouth, but never eats?”

Rather than saying a word, the little gnome threw a waterskin up to her, she easily caught it with her claw, and opened it, letting a stream of water flow into her mouth.

“What you need here in the desert; the answer is a river, my lady.”

The gynosphinx roared with laughter, “How right you are little one!”

Seven hours later, as Uname emerged from the pyramid with a scepter in hand as well as newly found cuts and bruises from the undead inside the tomb, he saw the gnome and gynosphinx still in conversation, sharing riddles and laughing at glee in one another in a friendly game of one-up-manship.

Guessmith: Prestige Class

A guessmith is a student of riddles and games of chance. While they have no formal training or organization, their shared love of riddles and guessing games unites them in a loose circle of friends. While some may use these talents for riches, most are intrigued more by the challenge than wealth.

Most who take this class are rogues or bards, but a smattering of others can take this prestige class if they can qualify. Barbarians because of their starting illiteracy are extremely rare.

Hit Dice: d6

Requirements: To qualify to become a guessmith, a character must fulfill all the following criteria: Decipher Script 6 Ranks, Any two Knowledge skills +3
Special: Must be able to read and speak in a minimum of three languages

Class Skills: Appraise, Bluff, Concentration, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Disguise, Escape Artist, Gather Information, Hide, Jump, Knowledge (all), Listen, Move Silently, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Swim and Use Magic Device.

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A guessmith gains no additional proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Special Abilities

Minor Trivia (Ex): A guessmith excels in being able to remember things they have previously read or heard. They add their class level to any one knowledge check, chosen at first level; once chosen this is based on their charisma does not change.

Skill Focus (Limericks) (Ex): Since many riddles are in the form of limericks, a guessmith learns to repeat all kinds of limericks or jokes in an entertaining way.

Friends of the Game (Ex): Because most guessmiths are not motivated purely by wealth, they can easily make friends of other creatures who also enjoy games of chance or riddles, such as gynosphinxes, fey or any other creature the DM designates. On these creatures, a guessmith has a +6 charisma bonus.

Second Guess (Su): Once a day, a guessmith can make a second try at guessing an answer without repercussion, even if a second attempt would normally negatively affect the outcome. This may be in regards to any trained intelligence or charisma based skill check or any type of riddle.

Major Trivia (Ex): Like minor trivia, except they add their class level to any two additional knowledge skills. This does not stack with minor trivia, so there is no benefit in choosing the same knowledge skill twice.

Second Chance (Su): Like Second Guess, except this re-roll applies to any skill check or saving throw. They must use this ability immediately after the failed roll. They can use this ability as many times as their charisma bonus.

Level
BAB
FORT
REF
WILL
Special
Casting Level
1st
+0
+0
+0
+2
Minor Trivia, Skill Focus
+1 Effective level
2nd
+1
+0
+1
+3
Friends of the Game
+1 Effective level
3rd
+1
+1
+1
+4
Second Guess
+1 Effective level
4th
+1
+2
+2
+4
Major Trivia
+1 Effective level
5th
+1
+2
+2
+5
Second Chance
+1 Effective level

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Jawatha - Desert Dwarven wanderers & bandits

Jawas from Star Wars were always a favorite creature of mine. A friend and I had created our own language and made so many jokes about their size, demeanor and cuteness. They were always seen by me as dwarf or gnome-kin when I thought of them in the fantasy gaming genre, so here is the fantasy version.

Jawatha

Sand Dwarves (Jawatha) CR 3
CN Small monstrous humanoid (Desert)
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +2

DEFENSE

AC 16, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, + 2 natural, +2 leather)
hp 16 (3d8+3)
Fort +4, Ref +3, Will +1

OFFENSE

Speed 20 ft.
Melee: Dagger +2 (1d4)

STATISTICS

Str 8 Dex 14 Con 13 Int 13 Wis 10 Cha 8
Base Atk +2; CMB +0; CMD 12
Feats Skill Combat Expertise, Imp Trip
Minor Skills: Appraise, Diplomacy, Knowledge (Magic), Knowledge (Desert), Handle Animal, Stealth +2
Major Skills: Disable Device +5, Use Magic Device +5
Languages Dwarven, Elven, Tenderfoot, Any 3 others

ECOLOGY
Environment: Desert
Organization: Scouting Party (1-6), Caravan (100-300)
Treasure Normal

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Stone Immersion: With one round of concentration, a Jawatha can temporarily merge themselves with stone or sand. They cannot travel or walk through the stone, merely step into it. They can perceive their surroundings with 75% reduction in range. They are able to stay in the stone for ten minutes per point of constitution.

Immortality: A Javatha`s spirit upon physical death leaves their body and returns to their spirit crypt, and if family has raised their stone copy, they are reborn. It takes ten days after rebirth for them to have full control and emerge from their stone crypt. There is a 75% + 2% / level chance that any Jawatha will have their stone copy ready. Reduce this by 25% if they had died in the three months previously.


One of the first generations born in the Phastian desert, they are unique because they are considered both mortal AND planar beings. Shorter and thinner than regular dwarves, they cover themselves in heavy robes, usually only their hands and glowing eyes can be seen. They cannot grow beards and no one can ever recall seeing any female Jawatha, they do exist but seem to be at most 20% of the population.

As planar beings, they are technically immortal as they do not die from either starvation or from old age.
They erect stone statues that perfectly imitate one of their kin, when that specific person is killed their spirit is reborn; but if their statue is not ready, their spirit is lost forever. Sometimes, one will awaken though it is not a old spirit, this very infrequent event is treated the same as a birth. 

They do not eat or drink in a traditional manner, they absorb their nutrients via touch, usually during the hour before sunrise or sunset. This is a highly personal act that they rarely share with outsiders. While many stories are told of them swimming in pools of refuse, this is untrue, they merely need to touch the food with any part of their skin, usually the hands or in the company of non-kin with mouths. While they do not starve, when overwhelmed by their surroundings, they go into a comatose state emerging when the environment is safer. 

Wonderful carvers, fighters, singers with a curiosity around magic especially crafted items. For the most part, these dwarves live in caves far from civilization. A smaller number roam the desert in caravans, eternally searching for items to buy and sell.

Advancement as Humanoid for Saving Throws, and BAB
4 HD +2 to any ability score; +3 in skills; +2 to Desert Reaction
5 HD Gain Any 1 Minor Feat; +3 in skills; +1 in Natural AC
6 HD +2 to any ability score; +3 in skills; +2 to Desert Reaction
7 HD +1 in Natural AC; Gain Desert Adaption
8 HD +2 to any ability score; +2 to Desert Reaction
9 HD Gain Any 1 Minor Feat; +3 in skills
10 HD +2 to any ability score; +3 in skills, +1 in Natural AC; Gain Any 1 Major Feat
11 HD Bypass Magical Traps or Locks, +2 to Desert Reaction
12 HD Gain Any 1 Minor Feat; +3 in skills, +1 in Natural AC, Magic Resistance 20 on traps
12 HD +8 in skills; +1 in Natural AC; Gain Any 1 Major Feat **
14 HD +4 to any two ability scores; +3 in Natural AC;

Desert Inhabitants Bonus Reaction: Jawatha's have terrible initial reactions from desert inhabitants, as their fame for scrounging for food, magic or simply their curiosity leave many feeling upset at just the sight of these scavengers. However, as they age and gain experience, they learn how to temper their unseemly ways and to reach out to others. These reaction bonuses are the daily total bonuses from desert creatures that are aware of the Jawatha's. Thus a 10 HD Jawatha can use one +10 reason bonus once a day, or any combination, so two +5 bonues, etc.

Minor Feats:
Speak with Stone: as per the spell, twice a day
Stone Teleport Level I: Twice a day during their stone immersion, they can jump from one stone to another as long as it is within 100 feet.
Stone Teleport Level II: Five times a day they can jump from one stone to another within 500 feet
Walk thru Stone: After stone immersion they can walk through stone at ten feet a round. They can stay moving in the stone 1 round per 3 points of constitution. They can do this once a day
Stone Elemental Minor Resistance: 10

Major Feats
*Stone Shape: Able to change stone shape as per spell of the same name three times a day
*Stone Familiar: Create an animal familiar that lasts for 10 minutes. As base animal, except may have one unusual feature: +5 AC, Fly (Speed 30), Attack +2, Dmg +4
*Stone Elemental Resistance 20

Stone Teleport III: Twice a day during a stone immersion they can teleport themselves and allies within twenty feet of them to another stone within 100 miles.(Require ST I & II)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Tuthken - Desert Humanoid Nomads, Scavengers, Raiders and sometimes Reluctant Heroes

This is my take on the Tusken Raiders found in the desert parts of my fantasy world. Not cruel, just hungry and desperate that are well know for their attacking anyone that approaches "their territory." They can make temporary allies, if the other group keeps their word and has something the Tuthken need. In the desert, they are a constant threat, in the pyramids, they maintain a delicate treaty to ensure things are better left undisturbed.

Tuthken CR 2
LN (Tend to LE) Medium monstrous humanoid (Desert)
Init +2; Senses: Darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5

DEFENSE

AC 13, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, +1 natural)
hp 13 (2d8+4)
Fort +6, Ref +2, Will +0

OFFENSE

Speed: 30 ft.
Melee: Gaffe Club +3 (1d6+1)
Group Back Stab: +1d6

STATISTICS

Str 13, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 10, Cha 7
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 15
Feats Skill Power Attack. Combat Expertise
Minor Skills: Acrobatics +2, Climb +2, Ride +2
Major Skills:  Intimidate +5, Perception +5
Languages Phastian (Local Humanoid Language)

ECOLOGY
Environment: Desert
Organization: Patrol (3–6), Hunting Party (11-16)
Treasure: Half

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Grouped Back Stab Attack: A Tuthken if apart of a team of group surrounding a foe in melee combat, can inflict back stabbing bonus of +1d6.  Another Tuthken must succeed on an attack, then if another scores a hit in the same round, treat as a back stab. This can happen only once every round, regardless of how many Tuthken surround or attack their victim. This increases to +2d6 at 6HD and +3d6 at 10HD.

Advancement as Humanoid for Saving Throws, and BAB otherwise as below
3 HD   +2 Str or Con; +6 in skills; +1 Damage Reduction
4 HD Gain Any 1 Minor Feat; +1 in Natural AC
5 HD +2 Dex or Con; +6 in skills; +2 Damage  Reduction
6 HD Gain Desert Adaption; Gain Double Damage with Back Stab
7 HD Gain Any 1 Minor Feat;  +3 Damage  Reduction
8 HD +2 Str or Dex or Con; +1 in Natural AC; Gain Any 1 Major Feat
9 HD +6 in skills; Increase Gaffe Club Threat Range (18-20), +5 Damage Reduction
10 HD Gain Any 1 Minor Feat; Gain Triple Damage with Back Stab
11 HD +6 in skills; Gain Any 1 Major Feat **
12  HD +4 Str & Con; +3 in Natural AC;

Lesser Feats:
Imp Disarm, Natural Armor (+2) Imp Feint, Imp Trip, Improved Initiative, Gaffe Club Proficiency (+2 to hit)

Advanced Feats (Higher than 7 HD)
Imp Natural armor (+2), Critical, Stunning Head-Butt, Greater Combat Adv - Gaffe Club (+4/+2 dmg)

Tuthken are powerful and despotic desert raiders who prey on any other travelers that are smaller in numbers that they believe they can defeat. Similar to humans in appearance, but they cover themselves in grey or sand-colored rags both to conceal themselves and protect themselves from the harsh desert winds. Their body is covered by brutally horrid scars that occasionally erupt in pus if exposed to extreme heat. If they start to suffer, they are helpless for long periods to their infections, it is their hands and faces that continually breakout. For the few who reach higher age and skills, they become immune (Desert Adaption at 6 HD)

They have a strong clan type of organization that welcomes any singular Tuth, but those who join are treated terribly until they prove themselves. Any adult male can be sent out on hunting expeditions that has only one rule - do not come back empty handed. While they use keen tactics to hunt fearsome beasts, they sometimes must rely on raiding towns or caravans to ensure they are not punished or shamed by their clansmen.

They have multiple tactics that they reuse such as rigging a bridge, or stalking a road with pits, they time their attacks when victims will be most disadvantaged. Tuthken are smart enough to scavenge anything that falls into their clutches, often sold again to other raiders, they sometimes make exceptions for weapons or magic. They are often seen trailing caravans, and many experienced desert folk attack these raiders on sight.

When they make contracts they keep their promises. In most instances they are extremely favorable for them. If they believe the other side is not keeping their word, will look for a chance for revenge at an opportune time.

While many stories tell of their dark appetites, fortunately these are mostly jube-tails, told to inspire fear. They attack for profit and slaves are not their preferred spoils; usually they prefer to end fights by letting individuals flee. These nomads never enter the Phastian pyramids scattered throughout the desert except in dangerous times when they have no other option. Their tales tell of horrible monstrosities that if disturbed would bring misery to the world.