Update: Creative Content Production

I haven’t been blogging much this month.  I have had my writing energy go in other directions.  I have revved up and continued my “Thelsikar’s Ambition” Pathfinder campaign.  I am continuing to type and write in my private journals.  I have begun cutting and archiving the entries in my computer journal file because Word 2007 can’t handle files over 1000 words long.  Just yesterday I organized, added to and consolidated my fiction files on the hard drive of my current computer.  According to the Properties tab, I have 1.16 Megs of text files in the My Fiction folder.  That’s about half of what I had on my hard drive before the Russian Virus hard drive meltdown of 2006.  Last month I found a cache of old printouts from before the meltdown, so I have begun sorting and filing them into a binder with pockets.  My plan is to manually type them into Word and save them to my current hard drive.

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Pathfinder Character Conversion: Catalena

The following stat block is of a character which was originally a street shaman from ShadowRun named Chameleon.  I changed some basic facts about her and cleaned up her backstory.  It was for mature audiences and I don’t write that kind of language on this blog.

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Catalena CR 3
XP 800
Female human (Varisian) sorcerer 4
CN Medium humanoid (human)
Init +5; Senses Perception +4
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Defense
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AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
hp 25 (4d6+12)
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +5
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Offense
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Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger +1 (1d4-1/19-20)
Ranged darkwood light crossbow +4 (1d8/19-20)
Bloodline Spell-Like Abilities (CL 4th; concentration +8)
7/day—laughing touch
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 4th; concentration +8)
2nd (4/day)— flaming sphere (DC 16)
1st (7/day)— entangle (DC 15), mage armor , magic missile , summon monster I
0 (at will)— acid splash , detect magic , disrupt undead , light, prestidigitation, read magic
Bloodline Fey
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Statistics
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Str 9, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 18
Base Atk +2; CMB +1; CMD 12
Feats Combat Casting, Eschew Materials, Improved Initiative, Toughness
Skills Bluff +10, Diplomacy +5, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (nature) +5, Perception +4, Spellcraft +7, Use
Magic Device +10
Languages Common, Halfling, Varisian
SQ woodland stride
Combat Gear potion of cure light wounds (3), potion of cure moderate wounds (2), silver crossbow bolts
(50), wand of magic missile , alchemist’s fire; Other Gear crossbow bolts (20), dagger, darkwood light
crossbow, cloak of resistance +1 , backpack, belt pouch, belt pouch, belt pouch, belt pouch, entertainer’s
outfit, flint and steel, sunrod, trail rations (4), waterskin, donkey, bedroll, bit and bridle, feed (per day),
feed (per day), pack saddle, 485 gp, 5 sp, 5 cp
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Special Abilities
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Combat Casting +4 to Concentration checks to cast while on the defensive.
Eschew Materials Cast spells without materials, if component cost is 1 gp or less.
Laughing Touch (7/day) (Sp) As a standard action, if melee touch hits, foe can take only move actions
for 1 rd.
Woodland Stride (Ex) Move through undergrowth at normal speed.
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A Varisian wandering kid. She is a magically-active tomboy. She looks like a pint-sized version of Seoni, with a little more clothes and no tattoos.

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Review: The Four Horsemen Present Young Character Options

I am doing this review at the suggestion of BJ Hensley.  Ms. Hensley is the designer of Young Character Options and it was a recent conversation I had with her via Facebook which suggested to me that I ought to do reviews on this blog.

Young Character Options is a fifteen page PDF.  One page is the cover, one page is the credits and one page is the OGL.  That leaves twelve pages of content.

The first bit of content which stood out for me was a sidebar on page five entitled “Young Characters”.  The sly references to young characters in popular fiction had me laughing out loud, which is a rare event for me when reading Pathfinder content.

The introduction includes advice on how to integrate young characters into your fantasy setting, making the point of talking it over with your players about whether or not young characters would be appropriate in your campaign.  The introduction continues with a description of how each of the core Pathfinder races raises children.

The next major section is “life paths”, concepts for how a young character could possess abilities beyond their years, starting with “Old Souls” and ending with the “Orphan-Rogue”, aka “Street Rat”.

The next section is a one-page listing of Young Character Traits, including advice on dumping the Ultimate Campaign rules for young characters in favor of the guidelines presented in this supplement.

The next two pages present Young Character Feats, or how to model the abilities of an exceptional child adventurer.

The supplement wraps up with six pages of Young Character Archetypes.  I have less to say about this because I have never played the classes in Pathfinder for these Archetypes.  On the other hand, three years of study of Pathfinder rules suggests to me there is nothing mechanically out of whack with this section.

All in all, this is a useful and fun supplement for those who want to add exceptional young characters to their campaigns and explore the potential such characters have.  There are no technical flaws in the PDF I downloaded.  The text is written in clear, easy-to-understand language.  The crunch, given my relative inexperience with Pathfinder, does not display any kind of error that I could spot.

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On the Pathfinder Society and Individual Pathfinders

I’ve been reflecting on the Pathfinder Society in the Golarion setting and what I’ve read about individual Pathfinders.

I was initially interested in Pathfinders and the Society when I bought the Core Rulebook and read the description of the Pathfinder Chronicler prestige class.  That turned to disgust when I read Pathfinder Chronicles:  Seeker of Secrets.  The initial concept of the Pathfinder Society was fine with me.  The structures which have grown up around it and the people who have joined it since then put me off, emotionally.  I have no interest in having my Pathfinder game characters interact with a venture-captain, or worse, follow the dictates of the Decemvirate.

Pathfinder characters, from the fiction I have read in the first issue of Wayfinder, are insanely reckless and foolhardy.  The most likely result of a Pathfinder investigation is a thoroughly-dead Pathfinder.

So, that result obtains in my Thelsikar’s Ambition campaign setting.  A Pathfinder who sticks their nose into Thelsikar’s activities in Varisia is going to result in a dead Pathfinder.

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Review Policy and RPG Material Reviews

I’ll try to state my review policy.  My reviews are not fair and balanced.  If I like something, I usually really like it.  If I don’t like something, I really don’t like and will be blunt about why.  If I’m somewhere in-between on a text, I won’t have much to say about it either way.

As for RPG materials, my current collection dates from 1994.  I had a collection from April 1980 through June 1994, but lost it to a personal disaster.  Most of the material in the collection is systems that were in print as of 1994 and onward.  I do have some out of print material, thanks to a FLGS which I’ve been going to for just shy of thirty years.  They have shelf on shelf of out of print books, supplements and whatnot.

So here’s my first RPG review, which is based on the one I posted at the Paizo Web site, for the Pathfinder Core Rulebook:

After years of seeing the Pathfinder rule books on the shelves of my FLGS, I took the plunge in December of 2012. I bought the Core Rulebook and began skimming it immediately. My first discovery was the character creation rules. They were fun! Characters were cool in a way that I hadn’t seen in previous editions of the world’s oldest role-playing game. Within three months, I was up and running my first Pathfinder adventure. That was three years ago and I have no regrets getting involved with the Pathfinder system.

The rule book is thick, but don’t let that deter you.  The core rules are simple and are the focus of the first half of the book is on character creation and development.  The Pathfinder system is about options and this rule book gives you options.  Seven player character races with fresh twists on the approach to the standards from the world’s oldest role-playing game system.  Eleven character classes, with options for everything from martial characters, through divine and arcane casters through strikers (what MMO players call “DPS characters”).   The skill is system is clean and robust enough to support a variety of interactions with the environment, creatures and other characters.  The Feat system allows for a lot of customization for a character.  There is enough variety in the equipment chapter that a player can find nearly any bit of mundane gear they want or need.  The spell description section is a hundred and thirty-three pages long and offers a huge variety of arcane and divine spell choices.  The first chapter which gets a meh response from me is the Prestige classes.  I haven’t had the use for them in three years of refereeing.  I’m still exploring the options in the core classes.  Gamemastering and adventure design are covered in one chapter each, with enough information to get you started.  One caveat about adventure design.  Using the adventure design as written will create outlines which support “dangerous” adventures, just as described on the back of the rule book.  While Pathfinder characters have a fair amount of resiliency, it is not difficult to design an adventure which will challenge, injure and possibly easily kill first level characters.  The chapter on creating NPC’s is robust and offers a detailed, useful system for creating characters with class levels.  The chapter on magic items is a hundred and eleven pages long and includes rules for magic item creation.

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Pathfinder Campaign Arc: Riddles in Port, Pirates and Drow, Part II

Well, another blogger on WordPress liked my post about my second-planned Pathfinder campaign arc, so I thought I’d write a bit more about it than just the outline burp I did the first time.

I decided to do a pirate-themed arc because one of the other players, the guy who plays Ibin, the Elf Rogue, wanted to play a pirate in Pathfinder.  I checked out the Skull and Shackles Adventure Path, but that had problems.  First of all, there isn’t much fun pirating to start it off.  Second, the first dungeon is designed to kill the player character party outright.  Flooded dungeons mean the Game Master is trying to kill your character.  Not cool.  Second, I checked out the Freeport Companion as an option.  That also had problems.  First of all, there are layout and editing errors.  Second, there are legacy errors from the 3.5 edition of Dungeons & Dragons.  It appears text was cut and pasted into the document from an earlier version of the book.  Third, there are some downright revolting elements to the thematic fluff of the book.

So, that left me looking at the Paizo Pathfinder catalog, looking for something in the Varisia area which had pirates in it.  Riddleport.  Bingo!  A more wretched hive of scum and villainy you will never find in known Varisia.  With pirates, that is.  What goes on in Kaer Maga stays in Kaer Maga.

I’m a bit like Blizzard, when it comes to creating Pathfinder content.  No, I’m not a multi-billion dollar corporation who is obsessed with cows.  😉  I mean, I’m terrible at coming up with completely original material.  I work best when I take elements from a variety of other sources and remix them to come up with something new.

This time, to give the Riddleport arc some oomph, I decided that I would take inspiration from the Pathfinder Adventure Path called Second Darkness.  It’s set in Riddleport, has a serious case of doom and gloom and the threat of a Drow invasion.  Perfect!  My next step is to buy the players’ guide and the actual adventure path PDFs next, so I can pillage them for content to adapt.  I can fit the Players Guide into my PDF budget for next month, so I plan to do so.

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Pathfinder Campaign Arc: Riddles in Port, Pirates and Drow

It’s a bit of a blur, and I think two weekends ago I wrote the outline material for the second campaign arc of my monthly Pathfinder campaign.  I intend to keep running it until the players meet their character goals or get bored with it.  I’m pretty sure that creature Challenge Ratings go up to 30, so it’ll be a while before they are no longer challenged by encounters.  Their current Average Party Level is 6.

Here’s what I have so far:

Second Campaign Arc Title:  “Riddles in Port, Pirates and Drow”

Theme:  Urban and Water Pirate activity and Drow invasion

Outline:  Having done for Thelsikar, the player characters move to Riddleport to become pirates.

 

Plotlines

Pirates clash with the newcomer player characters- Being set up

Drow invade the surface world- Being set up

 

Mysteries

Who are the Drow and where are they coming from?-  Being set up

Who are the rival pirate crews?- Being set up

 

Campaign Elements

 

Important Locations

Riddleport

Varisian Gulf

Roderick’s Cove

Devil’s Elbow

Churlwood

 

Important Organizations

Council of the Overlord and Crime Lords

Order of the Cyphers

Remnants of Thelsikar’s Lamashtu Cult

Glory’s Cult of Nurgal

 

Villains

Rival Pirates

Drow Invaders

Nualia and other survivors of Thelsikar’s Lamashtu Cult

Recurring NPCs

Overlord Gaston Cromarcky of Riddleport

Elias Tammerhawk of the Order of the Cyphers

Jess Gildersleeve, Mayor or Roderick’s Cove

 

Allies

Erevan- Elf Wizard

Carangal- Half-Elf Ranger

Aerodus Baradin- Human Cleric of Abadar based in Magnimar, potential ally

 

 Monsters

Goblins (with class levels), Drow (with class levels), Erinyes,  Giant Octopus, Gorgon, Greater Shadow, Green Dragon (Young, Churlwood), Mhorg, Nabasu (Demon), Ogre Mage (Calphiak Mountains), Stone Giants (Calphiak Mountains), Treant (Churlwood),  Tieflings (with class levels)

Other Population of Riddleport

Aasimar (ether good or evil), Catfolk, Dhampirs, Drow(? Hidden, spies or outcasts), Fetchlings, Goblins, Hobgoblins (outcasts and mercenary companies), Ifrits, Kobolds (survivors, spies from Churlwood), Orcs (outcasts and mercenary companies), Ratfolk, Sylphs, Tengus, Tieflings, Undines, Changelings, Duergar (?), Gillmen, Kitsune(!), Merfolk, Nagaji, Samsarans, Sulis,  Vishkanyas, Driders (potential shock troops of the invasion), Gargoyles, Gathlain (deep in the Churlwood), Trox (bodyguards and thugs), Wyrwood, Wyvarians (from Churlwood).  On average, there are four individuals from each race in the city at any time.

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