RPG Design – Feat Friday: Deathless

DeathlessDeathless
You can become so tough that it’s difficult to knit your flesh back together.
Prerequisite: Endurance, Diehard, Unstoppable*
Benefit: When you are below 0 hp, you can choose to gain DR 5/- until you have 1 hp or more again. However, if you use this feat, you cannot be healed by any cure spells or effects while you have the benefit.

*a Gamingmage feat.

Notes

A kiss/curse mechanic that can turn you into a monster. Great for parties without a healer, or warriors who need to fight on their own.

Enjoy!

-Max Porter-Zasada

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RPG Design – Theme Thursday: Flexibility and Failure

Battle FlexibilityTheme Thursday: Flexibility and Failure

Part of the genius of the Pathfinder RPG and D&D lies in the class system, providing instant fun and a role for players. However, that same genius can also be the game’s downfall.

Players tend to think of their role in the party first, and that’s perfectly reasonable; it’s better and easier, as well as more fun, to play a particular role. Specialization and focus make a party more powerful. However, the moment a player decides not to try something out of their comfort zone, whether because they’re dealing with monsters that resist their attacks or a social situation with high skill checks, that player has failed to be flexible.

Because anything can happen in a pen-and-paper game, a player needs to be up for anything. There will be all kinds of different encounters, and you have to keep in mind that just because your character doesn’t specialize in something, you shouldn’t ignore or avoid it.

Don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is good.

Even if things don’t go your way, any story will be much more interesting (and amusing) if the characters fail occasionally. That’s the nature of storytelling; that’s how we know that the challenges are real. And everyone having more fun should always be your goal as a player, not just getting more powerful. If you design your character to do just one thing really really well, that’s fine unless you stand around doing nothing in every other situation. There are a vast number of ingredients in the stew that makes a good roleplaying game; being flexible and willing to fail really spices things up.

-Max Porter Zasada

RPG Design – Weapon Wednesday: Sawback Scimitar

Sawback Scimitar by Anthony Rosbottom 2003Sawback Scimitar

Exotic one-handed weapon. 55 gp. 4 lbs. 1d6 slashing damage, critical 18-20 x2.  Special: performance, see text

The vicious sawback scimitar is forged with a serrated edge. When you make a full attack with this weapon and score a critical on the first attack, you can sacrifice your remaining attacks in the round to draw the blade back in a sawing motion, horrifically wounding the victim. Every attack you sacrificed increases the critical multiplier by one.

The fighting pits are where the hardest-hearted warriors are born. The deadliest gladiators of the arena invented the sawback scimitar to combine a weapon that demands notice with the bloodiest kills possible. 

Notes:

This weapon involves a tradeoff that can really help against enemies with damage reduction. Great for a bloody-minded character who wants to make his critical hits really spectacular. Enjoy!

-Max Porter Zasada

RPG Design – Tuesday Tweak: Player-Controlled Dice

lucky-dice by Iron MittenTuesday Tweak: Player-Controlled Dice

The conventional wisdom is to have the GM roll dice in secret for the monsters and NPCs, and even keep some player rolls behind the screen. Rolling dice is fun, but for the GM it quickly becomes a chore, simply generating random numbers to plug into a system. The GM is already running a story, characters, and monster actions, all of which has to change suddenly and unexpectedly in response to the players’ actions. All of this takes time, slowing down gameplay and hindering fun.

The solution: Have players roll all the dice! They can roll against each other for monsters and NPCs, and keep track of these random numbers while the GM tracks other things.

Now, with this tweak, you’re going to lose a lot of potential excitement that comes with the secrecy and mystery of dice behind the screen. But be honest with yourself: when was the last time that was actually exciting, and not just annoyingly random?

I suggest having a separate set of dice called “fate dice” to differentiate and keep things cool, but whenever you have rolls in the open it really helps the players feel that the GM is honestly doing their best.

Let me know how this tweak works out for you!

-Max Porter Zasada

RPG Design – Magic Item Monday: Gimlet of Irresistible Mental Penetration

Magic item by Carlos celurian JorreblancaGimlet of Irresistible Mental Penetration

Aura Strong Abjuration; CL 17

Slot – ; Price 40,000 gp Weight 1 lb

 This gimlet is made of iron and gold, fashioned with a snakelike visage. Mind-affecting spells or abilities cast by the wielder of the gimlet negate half the targets’ resistance bonuses to Will saves.  

Construction Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, mind blank, antimagic fieldCost 20,000 gp

An ancient cult sought to gain control over the mind of the king and his nobles with their dark rites, but were foiled time and again by the mind shielding magic of the royal wizard. After much praying and sacrificing, the forces of darkness taught the head priest how to create an item that could pierce the veils of magic. However, it had taken so long that the king’s paladins finally found the den of iniquity and destroyed the cult, taking their magic items for the royal college. 

Notes:

This item is very difficult to balance, because you don’t know how much resistance the target is going to have. It might be easier to just give the caster a bonus, but that just didn’t seem as fun. 

Enjoy,

–Max Porter-Zasada

RPG Design – Sunday Spell: Binding of Arach

Binding of ArachBinding of Arach

School conjuration; Level magus 4, sorcerer/wizard 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft. per 2 levels)
Components V, S, M (spider web)
Target creature
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving throw: reflex negates, see text; Spell Resistance: no

This spell creates masses of sticky strands that bind a creature’s arms and legs to a solid surface, holding them in place. The target creature must make two Reflex saves, one for its legs and another for its arms, or the nearest equivalent. If either save fails and there is a solid surface adjacent to that part of their body, the creature becomes entangled. If the Reflex save for its arms fails, the creature  cannot cast spells with a somatic component and cannot use its arms for any task. If the save for its legs fails, the creature is held in that space and cannot move. The creature can take a full-round action to make a Strength or Escape Artist check against the DC of this spell to break free of the strands holding either its legs or arms. Otherwise, the strands function like webs from the web spell. Creatures without anything resembling legs or arms are immune to this spell.

Deep within a dark forest there dwells the wizard Arach, a mad loner. They say he is a sworn hermit, spending his days and nights in the study of strange texts and stranger magic. Spiders lurk about his decrepit castle, and the trees for miles around are shrouded in the grey webbing of their kind, as they wait and plot and decide when they will turn on Arach and devour him. Once, so they say, a brave sorceress ventured into the forest to seek knowledge. She emerged days later covered in webs, but bearing a scroll with the Binding of Arach inscribed on it. She gibbered for weeks of poisons and creeping, crawling, darting things in the shrouded woods, but when she came to her senses she was able to teach the powerful spell to her students. 

Notes

I like spells that come in a series, and web is one of the coolest and most evocative spells in the caster’s arsenal. Let me know here if you use the binding of Arach spell in your game!

– Max Porter-Zasada

RPG Design – Feat Friday: Punching Dagger Feats

Annah_-_Character_PortraitSo I was thinking about how there’s all these weapons that are rarely used but are really cool, and wondering how to design a reason to use them. I was pretty happy with the Spear Feats post a while back, and I wanted to expand on that idea with the punching dagger. This weapon is neat, and has a really satisfying feel to it, but won’t really stand out much as it lacks a lot of the versatility of the dagger and only stands out with a x3 critical.

I hope you enjoy these feats for punching dagger mastery!

Stabbing Uppercut (combat)
You know a trick to shove your dagger under an opponent’s defenses.
Prerequisites: Power Attack, proficiency with punching daggers, BaB +3
Benefit: A number of times per day equal to 3 + your Dexterity modifier, you can make an opponent flat-footed against your attack with a punching dagger.

Throw Your Weight Into It (combat)
You are skilled at putting your whole body behind your blade.
Prerequisites: Stabbing Uppercut, BaB +6
Benefit: A number of times per day equal to 3 + your Dexterity modifier, you can throw your weight into an attack with a punching dagger. You are considered to be wielding it with both hands for the purposes of damage bonuses from Strength and Power Attack. You can’t use this feat with an off-hand weapon.

In the deep jungle, the undergrowth is too thick for standard weapons, and the lizardfolk developed punching daggers to compensate.

Enjoy,

-Max Porter Zasada