Dylan's RPG and Nerdery Blog

Geek life and custom content for Pathfinder and Savage Worlds

Well darn.

I didn’t make it into the RPG Superstar Top 32. Always next year.

Congratulations to those that did!

RPG Superstar Top 32 to be announced today!

Paizo will be announcing the Top 32 (the first cut) from their annual RPG Superstar contest today. I have an entry that I thought was pretty good, so I’m waiting with some nerves jangling. A new Wayfinder should come out soon with my second article in it, so I feel like I’m starting to dip my toes into the freelancing thing – getting chosen for RPG Superstar would help that quite a bit, I think. Here’s to hoping!

Learning Warmachine

I picked up a new game a few months ago – Warmachine, by Privateer Press. Normally I’m not one for wargames, but a friend of mine was pretty excited about it, so I thought I’d try it, and I had a good time. I’ve been picking things up here and there for it for a while, and have now started to amass a reasonable little force, though it’s not really playing to the strengths of my faction very well.

I’m playing a faction called Khador, themed around the Russian military with a bit of Hammer horror thrown in. So far I’ve just been playing with Kommander Sorscha, their starting warcaster (the leaders of the game, spellcaster-generals), but I’ve picked up a few more (Karchev and the first two versions of Vlad Tepeczi). I played in my first tournament last night at Tabletop Games in Overland Park. Had a pretty good time, and went 2-1 (won against a Trollkin and Cryx player, and lost against a Legion of Everblight player). There’s a league starting that will have players at both Hometown Games in Lawrence and Tabletop in Kansas City, so I’d be able to get some games in with some regularity, which would be nice.

Painting is different – I’m finding that I enjoy the assembly and modification process more than I enjoy the painting. Still, I’m trying to do something a little different with my models – they look more like winter stormtroopers than the normal “red and bronze” color of the faction. I’ll post some pictures when I have some more things painted up.

Extra Life and One-Shot Thoughts

The Extra Life fundraiser was last weekend, and I participated through a local group called Table Talk Games. Had a pretty decent time, though I didn’t end up playing as many new games as I expected to while we were there. I played…

  • Pandemic, twice. Didn’t survive either attempt, though we did get fairly close on the second one – we had two diseases cured, then hit a triple-outbreak that wiped us out. That’s a very difficult game, but V wanted to keep playing until we won. She got frustrated enough that we stopped after the second game, though.
  • Tsuro, which was a fun little game, though I’m not sure how well it would hold up to a lot of repeat plays. You try and navigate a series of tiles placed on the board without getting forced off the playing area. It’s quite a neat little game, but I doubt I’ll ever buy it.
  • Family Business, a Guillotine-like elimination game where you control a crime organization. I didn’t like it as much as V did – I much prefer Guillotine.
  • Cargo Noir, another crime game where you try and build up a crime family through purchasing resources around the world and building a fleet of ships to enact your will. It’s a flawed little game, or at least it was explained to us poorly. The order of play seems kind of off, making it difficult to keep track of who’s turn it’s supposed to be.
  • Last Night on Earth, a zombie apocalypse game where some players control zombies and some control heroes trying to escape. I was a zombie player. We were supposed to invade a manor house, but they managed to hold us off.

I also ran a Pathfinder one-shot that took several hours. Had a decent time with it – I think the pre-generated characters I put together can work pretty well for a variety of games, depending on what kind of stuff I want to throw against the PCs – in this case, the big bad was a goblin alchemist who was transforming creatures into monsters. I can see running a variety of games based on the same premise and setting.

I tried to do some of the things that I’d have liked to see in other one-shots I’ve played in.

For one thing, I kept the character sheets simple. Pathfinder is a complicated game, but I tried to keep things relatively easy. I was helped with this by a friend who does the organization for our Wednesday game, and also does character sheets for the game she runs with her kids. She’s got a simplified Pathfinder sheet that looks a lot less intimidating than the more complicated ones that we grown-ups use.

Second thing I did was give everyone a name card. I didn’t give the pregens names, just a description. The name card had that description – say, “Half Orc Ranger”, and then a blank for the PC’s name and the player’s name. This makes it easier for everybody at the table.

Third thing was an index-card sized synopsis of the character and their background, along with a complexity rating. It included:

  1. Race and Class
  2. Good At: A brief synopsis of what the PC is good at.
  3. Complexity: Ranked from one to five, telling the prospective player how hard that PC would be to play. The big fighter-types (fighter and ranger) got 1 star, while the casters (like the magus and the witch) were up a lot higher on the scale.
  4. Background: A brief paragraph or so on who the PC is and what their role is in the adventure.

Here’s a link to all the material I prepared for the one-shot.
Anybody else have any thoughts about how to run one-shots at conventions or game days? What do you try and do to make things easier for your players? For yourself?

Dominion is awesome!

I played my first two games of Dominion last night, and already plan on picking it up. It’s a fantastic game so far – looks like it has a lot of depth to it, and a number of expansions. I see now why I’ve been hearing about it for quite some time.

KantCon 2012

Went to KantCon this Saturday with my girlfriend and a gamer friend of ours, and thought I’d mention how it went.

I made the mistake of not preregistering for anything, since I didn’t think we’d be able to make it. My mistake – I didn’t realize Vernie would have time to go, so I hadn’t really made much in the way of plans for it. I hopped on ConPlanner and signed up for some events the night before. I thought the site was just a pain in the rear to use, but it turns out it was supposed to be down, and I had accidentally figured out a back door into the beta software (oops). So the events that we had signed up for online (a pair of Savage Worlds games – one a pulp Africa game set in the 1920s, and the other a Scooby Doo Cthulhu game set on a ghost ship) were both full when we got there.

The staff at KantCon was very helpful about finding us another game, and the three of us signed up for two games on Saturday – a zombie horror game set during the Civil War using the AEther system, and a fantasy dungeon crawl using the Ingenium system.

I was not impressed with the AEther system (I disliked it enough that I’m not going to look for the ae symbol) or that game of it. For one thing, there were no pregenerated characters for a con game in which we played a unit of Union soldiers. We had to make characters for a game that only one of the other players had ever played, and even that was just once earlier in the day. Pregens for such a group would be EASY – the different roles are right there, just slap together a half-dozen or so pregens and you’re good to go. The game started with each of us rolling percentiles to see if our characters were ambidextrous or had an eidetic memory – that should have been a sign right there.

The system itself didn’t impress me that much – it’s a percentile-based, roll-high system, where you add effectively your stat modifier and skill for everything you do. Percentile math is unnecessary, in my opinion. The detail of random numbers ranging from 1 to 100 just doesn’t add anything, and the way the game worked the actual skill didn’t mean much – you got a much higher modifier from the basic stat used.

Additionally, it was frustratingly lethal for a convention game. The first enemy contact we had incapacitated one of our squadmates, and she was effectively useless for the rest of game – she could just limp along for the rest of the session, rolling everything at a huge penalty. I can see the appeal of lethality for a con game, but it should be FUN about it, not just “there was a trap in what you were obviously supposed to investigate, now you’re out of the session”. The system uses d10s for all damage, and the average character has 3-5 hit points. I wasn’t told that negative hit points wasn’t unconscious, so I said I was out at one point when apparently I was just at -10% to everything and wounded – apparently the system doesn’t have a “knocked out but alive” rule unless you spend a luck point to survive something that should have killed you.

The other players in the game were okay. We had a young girl who had fun playing a soldier and laughed at my bad Kentucky accent and profanity, a guy who did a good job but wasn’t super memorable, and a guy who whispered a lot and wanted to be off by himself doing the sneaky thing. We decided early on that Stealthy Guy was going to be the lieutenant (since had had actually played the system before) and it was kind of funny to realize that our lieutenant abandoned us almost immediately to sneak off and investigate this creepy house by himself. He was either eaten by zombies or burned down when I made a moonshine Molotov cocktail and burned the place to the ground, but either way he didn’t make it.

After that game, we went off to get ice cream at a place Jarrod knew about in Overland Park (Glace Artisan Ice Cream, it was tasty). We had a nice cathartic bitch session about the previous game, and then headed back to try our luck again.

Ingenium was, on the whole, a much better experience. The system was dead simple – roll a d10, add your stat modifier plus maybe a +1 from a talent, and that’s your roll. Exploding die on the d10, so you could get pretty high totals. We had a good selection of pregens (though oddly no spellcaster, and the GM said that somebody had taken the rogue-type pregen home, so we just had warrior-types and social-types). I played an agility-focused catfolk warrior, Vernie played a gargoyle warrior who was more toughness-based, and Jarrod played a human merchant with social skills. We had two other players who were new to gaming, and they did a good job (another catfolk warrior and a human bard, as I recall). The table was a 50-50 split on gender, too, which was unusual for a con game. I actually noticed that there were more women than I expected to see at the gaming convention; it was rare for a table to not have at least two women.

The plot was pretty simple – there’s a new cult in town and people are disappearing. We went off into the woods toward their lair, ambushed some cultists, and stole their gear. The first combat was amazingly quick – the game gives you multiple actions each turn, so we dropped three people in just a moment.

The rest of the dungeon crawly portion was pretty slow. That encounter with the cultists was the only thing that happened for a while – we walked through an abandoned dungeon for most of the session. There was a puzzle that would have been vastly improved by a handout. If there’s a riddle that hinges on a visual cue, LET US SEE IT. At least DRAW the darned thing so we know what’s going on, and give us a copy of the little poem so we can figure it out without you having to read it over and over. We actually just went around it because none of us could figure out what was supposed to be going on, but as soon as we got a visual, it was obvious. (The puzzle lowered a bridge to cross a chasm, we eventually just called for cultists from the next room and the social guy got them to lower it, since he was disguised as a cultist).

In the end, we got to the cult’s central chamber where they were trying to summon DemonBadGod. There were apparently over a hundred cultists, along with a pair of priests and some monster-thing tied to an altar. We didn’t see any indication of what to do at this point, which was kind of frustrating. I didn’t know the system well enough to know if were were supposed to just slaughter the cultists or if that would be suicide. Turns out that’s what we were supposed to do, essentially, so we spent some time figuring that out that was mostly just wasted. When we eventually just said “Screw it!” and attacked the cult leaders with ranged weapons, the cultists… didn’t do anything. I found that odd – the fight was just with the two cult leaders, the high priest and the guy with the sacrificial knife. Both were pretty much pushovers – none of our PCs even got hurt appreciably the entire game except me, and that was because I was screwing around with a trapped pedestal to figure out the puzzle earlier.

Still, the game was much more fun than the Civil War zombie game. Vernie liked the system for fantasy games much better than Pathfinder. I thought it was okay, but nothing special – all our characters seemed a little too similar for my tastes, but that might have been a lack of variety in the pregens. I picked up the core Ingenium PDF yesterday, since it was cheap. I’ll look it over sometime.

The table of contents for Wayfinder #7 was just released, and my article’s in it! Yay!

Artificer

This was another class conversion I did, an artificer based on the one from Eberron, but significantly modified. I like the Pathfinder class design method of choosing powers from a menu, and getting most class abilities that way. This class reflects that design principle.

Pathfinderized Artificer

Commander

I wrote this base class up a while ago, when I was first getting into Pathfinder, because I like the marshal/warlord role of a fighting leader. The cavalier has elements of this, but I wanted something more focused.

Commander Base Class

As a preview, here are a handful of feats associated with the class.

Commander of the Dead
Prerequisites: Command pool ability, Command Undead or undead type
Your grasp of tactics reaches beyond the grave.
Benefit: All allied undead, even mindless ones, can gain the benefit of your commander class abilities. While an undead is benefiting from a tactic of yours, it gains channel resistance equal to your command bonus. If it already possesses channel resistance, it is increased by your command bonus.
Normal: Since tactics and commands are mind-affecting abilities and the bonuses from tactics are usually morale bonuses, creatures of the undead type do not gain any benefit from them.

 

Commanding Rage
Prerequisites: Command pool ability, rage
Your rage inspires those around you, and you retain your leadership skills in the throes of fury.
Benefit: You can use your commander class abilities while in rage. While raging, your command bonus is treated as one higher for any effects that boost attack or damage rolls.

 

Commanding Hatred
Prerequisites: Command pool ability, favored enemy
You can show your allies how to best defeat your favored enemy.
Benefit: You gain the following additional command ability.
Inspire Hatred (Tactic, 1 Minute)
Choose a favored enemy type you have. Your allies gain half your favored enemy bonus when dealing with creatures of this type while this tactic is in effect.

 

Commanding Presence
Prerequisites: Command pool ability
You gain an additional 3 command points per day.

 

Courageous Command
Prerequisites: Command pool ability, aura of courage
Your tactical acumen bolsters the benefit of your courageous spirit.
Benefit: All allies who are subject to an active tactic of yours gain the benefits of your aura of courage, even if they are outside of the normal area.

 

Extra Command
Prerequisites: Command pool ability
You learn an additional command ability that you qualify for.

 

Heroic Commander
Prerequisites: Command pool ability, hero points optional rule
Your heroic nature inspires your troops and can save them in times of need.
Benefit: You may, as a free action, spend a hero point you possess on behalf of an ally within line of sight who could benefit from your commands. They gain the benefit of the hero point, even if they normally don’t have any.

 

Natural Commander
Prerequisites: Command pool ability, wild empathy
You can command the loyalty of beasts and lead them in battle.
Benefit: When using command pool powers, you may issue commands and tactics to allied creatures of the animal type as if you shared a common language.

 

Summoner Commander
Prerequisites: Command pool ability, ability to cast Summon Monster, Summon Nature’s Ally, or Summon Undead
The creatures you call to your side in battle respond exceptionally well to your leadership abilities.
Benefit: When you cast a Summon spell as a full-round action, you may also start a tactic or issue a command as a free action when the spell completes. Creatures you summon with a Conjuration spell or effect benefit from your commands and tactics as though your command bonus was one point higher.

 

Zealous Command
Prerequisities: Command pool ability, channel energy ability
Your religious zeal leads your allies on even when death is near.
Benefit: You gain the following additional command ability.
Zeal (Tactic, 1 Minute)
Your allies gain the benefit of the Diehard feat while this tactic is in effect. If they share your religious affiliation, they also gain a +1 sacred or profane bonus to AC. The bonus is sacred if you channel positive energy and profane if you channel negative energy.

Alchemical Behemoth

I wrote this up for a contest over on ENWorld called the “What Is It?” contest, where you stat up a Pathfinder monster from a picture provided. Here’s the picture, and what I came up with.

Image

Alchemical Behemoth (CR 12)

A titanic humanoid form thunders toward you, thick green smoke pouring from where it should have a head. A harsh chemical stench makes your eyes water and your lungs burn as it lumbers closer.

XP 19,200
CE Huge Undead
Init -1; Senses all-around vision, cloud sight, darkvision 60′, Perception +19
Aura stench (60 ft, DC 23, 10 rounds)

DEFENSE
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AC 26, touch 9, flat-footed 26 (+2 deflection, -1 Dexterity, +17 natural armor, -2 size)
hp 143 (19d8+57)
Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +11
All-around vision (cannot be flanked), amorphous (immune to critical hits and precision damage), DR 10/slashing and magic; Immune acid, undead traits; Resist electricity 10, fire 10

OFFENSE
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Speed 40 ft.
Melee 2 claws +19 (2d6+20/19-20)*
Ranged corpse bomb +13 ranged touch (1d8+10 plus acid splash and corpse cloud)
Space 15 ft; Reach 15 ft
Special Attacks absorb, breath weapon (acidic vomit, 60 ft cone, 8d6 acid damage, Reflex DC 21 for half, once per day), corpse bomb (every 1d4 rounds), trample (1d8+15, DC 31)

STATISTICS
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Str 35, Dex 8, Con –, Int 6, Wis 10, Cha 14
Base Atk +14 (19 HD); CMB +28, CMD 37
Feats Ability Focus (stench), Bull Rush Strike, Cleave, Crippling Critical, Critical Focus, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Critical (claw), Power Attack* (already included in statistics), Toughness, Weapon Focus (claw)
Skills Intimidate +21, Perception +19

SPECIAL ABILITIES
————————————————————————————————————–

Absorb (Su)
An alchemical behemoth can absorb the bodies and life energy of its foes in order to increase its own power. Any time the alchemical behemoth enters the space of a dead or dying creature of Large size or smaller, the target may be absorbed. Dead creatures are automatically absorbed, while a dying creature gets a Will save (DC 21) to resist absorption. Each corpse absorbed this way functions similarly to a death knell spell. The bonuses from this effect stack, to a maximum of 50 temporary hit points and a +10 enhancement bonus to Strength. These bonuses fade after 10 minutes per HD of the subject creature.

Cloud Sight (Ex)
The senses of an alchemical behemoth are not hindered by fog, mist, smoke, or similar effects.

Corpse Bomb (Su)
As a standard action, the alchemical behemoth can infuse a corpse from its body with alchemical power and throw it at its foes, similar to an alchemist’s bomb. This is a ranged touch attack, with a range increment of 20′. The target struck by a corpse bomb takes 1d8+10 bludgeoning damage from the impact. The target and everyone within 5′ are also sprayed with acid from the bursting corpse, dealing 2d6 damage (Reflex DC 21 half). Additionally, a corpse cloud forms at the point of impact. The alchemical behemoth can throw a corpse bomb every 1d4 rounds.

Corpse Cloud (Su)
A cloud of acidic, choking fumes erupts from the explosion of a corpse bomb, centered on the point of impact. This functions as a stinking cloud, save that everything in the cloud takes 2d6 points of acid damage each round it moves through or remains in the cloud. The Fortitude DC to resist the nausea effect is 21. A corpse cloud dissipates after 1d6+1 rounds.

An alchemical behemoth is a towering figure, about 30′ tall. It is composed of the fused corpses of many creatures, along with a number of powerful alchemical agents. Thick green smoke pours from the hole in its shoulders where most humanoids have a head, and powerful claws of fused bone allow the thing to tear at its prey. It has no discernible face, but sees the world through the eyes of all the corpses that are fused into its flesh.

In battle, an alchemical behemoth will throw a corpse bomb at the largest concentration of foes, and then wade into the cloud, slaughtering anything it can reach. It prefers to fight from inside a corpse cloud, and will drop corpse bombs on targets in melee with it, reveling in the destruction it causes. It prefers to start combat by slaughtering weaker foes and absorbing them with its trample attack, then dealing with any more significant threats.

The first alchemical behemoths were created accidentally, arising from mass graves on battlefields where horrific alchemical weapons were used. Since then, the most powerful of alchemists have learned to create these abominable engines of destruction, unleashing them as weapons of war. They are kept secret in deep, magically-sealed vaults, allowed to indulge their appetite for slaughter only in the most desperate battles. An alchemical behemoth that absorbs enough corpses will slowly grow larger; the creature described is typical. An alchemical behemoth has a basic understanding of one language (typically Common), but cannot speak.

ECOLOGY
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Environment Battlefields or magical wastelands
Organization solitary
Treasure half (acid-resistant treasure on absorbed bodies)

STORY HOOKS
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  • The PCs arrive at a town to find the inhabitants gone and the buildings scarred by acid. A great battle has taken place, and the alchemical behemoth responsible has absorbed someone the PCs care about or need to talk to. Can they catch up with the creature and destroy it before the person is gone forever? Who sent it?
  • The town’s gravedigger has a terrible secret – he is a reanimator, a type of alchemist focusing on the creation of undead. His labors have finally allowed him to create an alchemical behemoth, but he’s lost control of it, and now it shambles toward the town. Apply the young simple template to the alchemical behemoth, as it has not yet absorbed many corpses. Will the alchemist aid the PCs or attempt to save his creation?
  • t is a time of war, and a desperate commander has ordered the release of an alchemical behemoth. It wins them the battle, but they fail to retain control, and now the thing is free. They can’t spare troops from the war effort to stop it – can the PCs prevent it from wreaking more devastation?
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