Advanced Race Guide Preview: Kill it With Fire!—Fire Bomber (Alchemist)
... Advanced Race Guide Preview: Kill it With Fire! Tuesday, May 1, 2012 Everyone knows goblins have an unnatural love of fire. They love to see it flicker and burn to the sounds of their enemies' screams. While goblin adventurers, in an effort to get along with other more squeamish races, may control their pyromaniac urgings, others learn to harness that power and focus it into devastating force. ... Of course, since the goblin section of the Advanced Race Guide has plenty of options for...
Advanced Race Guide Preview: Kill it With Fire!
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Everyone knows goblins have an unnatural love of fire. They love to see it flicker and burn to the sounds of their enemies' screams. While goblin adventurers, in an effort to get along with other more squeamish races, may control their pyromaniac urgings, others learn to harness that power and focus it into devastating force.
Of course, since the goblin section of the Advanced Race Guide has plenty of options for fiery destruction, an alchemist archetype focusing on fire seemed like a good fit, so this week we present you with the fire bomber. As you'll notice from this archetype, there are many more options for goblin mayhem in this book, from a host of feats to some new discoveries, but you will just have to wait until the book comes out to check those out.
Fire Bomber (Alchemist)
Fire bombers are exceptionally good at using bombs to burn creatures and blow things up, but are not quite as good at creating other types of bombs or extracts. A fire bomber has the following class features.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A fire bomber treats torches as a simple weapon.
Illustration by Andrew Hou
Fire Bombardier (Su or Ex): At 1st level, when a fire bomber throws a bomb that deals fire damage, all creatures in the splash radius take an additional point of damage per die of fire damage dealt. Fire bombers only add their Intelligence bonus to damage from bombs or alchemical substances that deal fire damage. This otherwise works like the alchemist's bomb and throw anything abilities. This ability alters bomb and throw anything.
Bonus Feats: A fire bomber can select the Burn! Burn! Burn!, Fire Tamer, or Flame Heart feat in place of a discovery.
Fiery Cocktail (Su): At 4th level, whenever a fire bomber uses a discovery that deals damage other than fire damage, he can split the damage dice evenly between the bomb's primary damage type and 1d6 points of fire damage; when there is an odd number of damage dice, the odd die of damage comes from the primary damage type. For example, an 8th-level fire bomber could throw a concussive bomb that deals 2d6 points of fire damage and 3d4 points of sonic damage. Additional effects from the bomb still apply, but the save DC for admixture bombs is reduced by 2. This replaces the alchemist's 4th-level discovery.
Fire Body (Ex): At 8th level, a fire bomber adds elemental body I to his extract list as a 3rd-level extract. Elemental body extracts prepared using fire body are limited to fire elementals only. This ability replaces poison resistance +6.
Improved Fire Body (Ex): At 10th level, fire bombers add elemental body II to their spell list as a 4th-level extract. Elemental body extracts prepared using improved fire body are limited to fire elementals only. This ability replaces poison immunity.
Greater Fire Body (Ex): At 14th level, fire bombers add elemental body IV to their spell list as a 5th-level extract. Elemental body extracts prepared using greater fire body are limited to fire elementals only. This ability replaces persistent mutagen.
Discoveries: The following discoveries complement the fire bomber archetype: fire brand, rocket bomb (see sidebar); explosive bombs, fast bombs, inferno bomb, precise bombs (Advanced Player's Guide); breath weapon bomb, explosive missile, immolation bomb (Ultimate Combat); bottled ooze, confusion bomb, strafe bomb (Ultimate Magic).
... Gen Con Pathfinder Cosplay Contest Voting! Friday, August 12th, 2011It’s that time again! Though I failed in my sacred duty to announce the Annual Gen Con Pathfinder Cosplay Contest well ahead of time, we still had a number of unbelievably strong contenders this year, and it would be a shame not to crown one of them as the winner—a title which, in addition to bragging rights, confers $50 in paizo.com store credit. So let’s get voting! ... Here’s how it works: Presented below are the...
Gen Con Pathfinder Cosplay Contest Voting!
Friday, August 12th, 2011
It’s that time again! Though I failed in my sacred duty to announce the Annual Gen Con Pathfinder Cosplay Contest well ahead of time, we still had a number of unbelievably strong contenders this year, and it would be a shame not to crown one of them as the winner—a title which, in addition to bragging rights, confers $50 in paizo.com store credit. So let’s get voting!
Here’s how it works: Presented below are the photographs (and names, where possible) of this year’s contestants. In the comments thread for this blog, you can pick the ONE winner who you think has the most awesome Pathfinder-related costume and shout out your vote. You have until next Thursday at noon to get in your choices, after which we’ll announce the winner.
Your options are:
Jessica as a Gray Maiden
Leslie as Seoni
Jean-Marc as a paladin of Sarenrae and Luc as a paladin of Iomedae
Eric as our Iconic Alchemist
Bonnie as our Iconic Witch (and Corey as kilted barbarian)
Nani as a Harrower
Natalie (with the metal plates), Nicole the alchemist, Amy the ranger, Megan the pregnant sorcerer, Mike the cleric.
Two Pieces of Tarnished Silver—Chapter Four: Across the Plain of Pools
Two Pieces of Tarnished Silverby Erik Mona ... Chapter Four: Across the Plain of Pools Korm woke from fitful dreams at the touch of Aebos's massive hand upon his shoulder, shaking him gently. It's been four hours, the cyclops said softly. It's your turn to stand watch. A good thing, too. I just caught myself dozing off. ... Korm rubbed sleep from his eyes and surveyed his surroundings. Across the small expanse of flat ledge on which they'd camped the alchemist Epostian Creeg lay upon his fine...
Two Pieces of Tarnished Silver
by Erik Mona
Chapter Four: Across the Plain of Pools
Korm woke from fitful dreams at the touch of Aebos's massive hand upon his shoulder, shaking him gently. "It's been four hours," the cyclops said softly. "It's your turn to stand watch. A good thing, too. I just caught myself dozing off."
Korm rubbed sleep from his eyes and surveyed his surroundings. Across the small expanse of flat ledge on which they'd camped the alchemist Epostian Creeg lay upon his fine bedroll, snoring softly. Beyond Creeg the mountain fell away into an inky darkness that filled the goblet of the valley, pierced only by the distant glow of the burning building at the center of Juval's realm. Everything here looked exactly as it had when Korm had finally fallen asleep, and if not for his friend's testimony he would have sworn less than an hour had passed. He certainly didn't feel well rested.
As Korm roused himself, Aebos sat beside him and unfurled his sleeping pad. He looked to the roiling skies. "I've seen a swarm of shadowy avian creatures pass overhead three times since you and Creeg went to sleep. I couldn't tell if they were the same creatures or different flocks. As you scan the mountain for danger, don't forget to look up."
Korm nodded, casting a casual glance to the sky. Far above, the clouds roiled without sound, but he saw no sign of the creatures. In a way, he almost looked forward to encountering them. If Aebos's bird-things had been circling for a meal, he'd find out soon enough. And that, in a way, brought comfort. He knew how to fight. That was the same no matter the circumstances. A sword in the hand brought a sense of certainty and control, if nothing else. If he could maintain control, they would stay alive. Deal with the demon. Get back to the ship and the safety of land.
If he did it right, they'd also be rich.
"I'll watch out for your birds, but my biggest concern is facing off against the demon with Creeg at our side," Korm said quietly, his eyes on the sleeping form of the alchemist on the other side of their camp. "If Iranez thought he could have handled Juval alone, she would have sent him alone. She could even put dozens of guards at his back, and yet she didn't trust him to get the job done. You saw how puffed up and angry he got at breakfast. He's going to say something that'll get us killed, I can feel it."
"He is an exceptional cook," Aebos offered.
"Perhaps the lady tires of his food, and has sent him here to get rid of him?"
Aebos chuckled. "Too elaborate. Surely she could just have him thrown overboard. It's Iranez I'm worried about. When this is all over, and we return with the treasure, who's to say that she'll simply let us accompany her back to Quantium? She could just as easily have us killed."
Korm pursed his lips and exhaled a slow blast of air, as if deflating. "That's tomorrow," he said. "In order to solve tomorrow's problem, we've got to make it through today."
Aebos smiled. He pulled his woolen covers over his shoulders, closed his heavy eyelid, and lay still. He began to snore before Korm had finished belting on his sword.
Korm circled the camp with soft steps, casting his eyes into the darkness in search of lurking danger. Finding nothing, he heaved himself upon the boulder near Epostian Creeg and did his best to let his mind wander while at the same time keeping a vigilant eye on the mountain—and the sky. His thoughts turned to the chilling tales he'd heard of demons from pilgrims riding the rivers of his youth, fleeing the crusade lands of the north where a rift in reality allowed the fiends access to the world. They spoke of vile appetites and perverse cruelties. Demons were beings of ineffable evil. They thrived on the sight of their enemies' blood. And the greatest of demons were legendary beings in their own right. The sages spoke of them in the same breaths that conjured ancient dragons.
And now they were about to go face to face with one of them. He trusted Aebos, of course. He knew his sagacious companion would let him do the talking, and wouldn't say anything to unduly arouse the demon's ire. And if things did go to shit, he knew Aebos could back him up in the ensuing battle. Creeg, on the other hand, was a risk on both counts. Given his ego, he seemed almost pathologically destined to say something upsetting, and the man had thus far proven dangerous to absolutely nothing beyond lobsters and unborn aubekan chicks. A look at the slight form of the alchemist sleeping below him confirmed that Creeg offered no physical advantages to their chance of success. Korm chuckled at the enormous rucksack next to Creeg. He'd have to pull something awfully impressive out of that bag of his to prove his worth, Korm thought.
But why wait to find out what it would be? Korm eased himself off the rock and stepped softly to the bag. With the precision of a master tomb robber disabling a trap, the swordsman gently lifted the bulky satchel, flinching at every tiny clink from the glass bottles and containers within. Creeg didn't seem to notice, and slept on.
Korm returned to the boulder and began rummaging through the rucksack. He withdrew a slim leather case hinged at one end and fastened at the other with a simple clasp. This he opened, revealing a medical kit with three crude metal syringes and a length of leather cord. Small loops of material built into the case's interior held several ampoules filled with colored liquid. The kit and its contents looked shabby and well used.
Korm next removed a small, cylindrical glass jar from the bag, raising his eyebrows as he recognized Creeg's ubiquitous golden spice within. Although he could not deny that the flakes added to the flavor of the meals they seasoned, they also brought a monotony to each dish that was starting to tire him. That said, Aebos loved the stuff, and would surely suffer from a scheme that deprived him of it forever. The perfect solution seemed obvious.
Korm placed the jar of golden flakes into his beltpouch. This way he could use it to get back into Aebos's good graces a month from now after Korm inevitably got them into trouble again.
It was an investment.
Aside from cooking supplies, some dried meats, and numerous tubes of alchemical liquids Korm couldn't hope to identify, Creeg's bag contained several samples of narcotic drugs that shed troubling light upon the needle kit Korm had found earlier. These items included a folded rectangle of butcher paper smeared with pesh paste and a pouch of qat leaves, as well as more than a dozen hallucinogenic yellowcap mushrooms.
His search complete, Korm decided nothing in Creeg's bag suggested a coming betrayal or unknown danger—just a lot of drugs that cast further doubt upon the alchemist's character.
Korm pocketed four of the mushroom caps for himself, put the rest of Creeg's possessions back in the bag, and waited for the dark skies to turn a lighter shade of gray.
∗ ∗ ∗
Korm finally reached the foot of the mountain to find Aebos and Epostian Creeg stopped short before him, marveling at a huge body stretched out upon the dusty ground. The stark white of its immense bones contrasted with the red dirt of the valley floor, reminding Korm of a sun-bleached skeleton of an ancient warrior revealed by the shifting sands of a desert. Clumps of flesh still clinging to the frame here and there and the jumble of indistinct organic matter within its chest suggested this warrior was more recent than ancient, however, and an army made up of creatures this tall could easily crush nations under its heels. The behemoth's skull looked in many ways human, but was larger than that of an elephant. From the top of its head to the soles of its feet must have been twenty-five feet or more.
"What in the Hell is that supposed to be?" Korm asked.
"Could it have fallen?" asked Epostian Creeg.
"Creeg hardly inspires confidence."
Aebos approached the skeleton for a closer observation, his posture displaying little of the caution that ran up and down Korm's spine. "The bones would have been crushed," Aebos said. "And they would have been jumbled and chaotic. This creature looks as though it fell straight on its back, as if it laid down willingly and died. The arms are out straight at the shoulder. No one lands like that and stays that way."
Korm turned from the creature to survey the route from which they had come. The last hour had been a careful hand-over-hand descent down a jagged cleft in the mountain wall. The cliffs stretched for miles on either side. No doubt the route they had chosen was the only viable path from the portal above down to the valley. That meant the giant's corpse had been staged for all who trod the path from the Relentless's portal. It was meant as a message, and its author must have been Juval.
"I think the demon killed it," Korm said. "But what was it, and what was it doing here?"
Creeg scoffed. "The ship is ancient, and any number of creatures may have found their way into Juval's realm, only to be killed. It's possible this fellow has been here for centuries. It is also possible that the giant is simply a figment conjured by Juval to scare us back up the mountain. We should pay it no mind and carry on."
And so they did.
∗ ∗ ∗
Later, the trio came upon the first of the violet pools that spread across the valley like angry, bubbling sores. The alchemist marveled at the pool's viscid liquid, which melted a wooden testing prod like a candle but did no damage to his bare hand. When Creeg knelt to gather some of the material for his own collection, Korm even thought he saw the alchemist take a sip from his slime-soaked sample jar.
They saw little sign of life as they traversed the plain toward the burning building at the heart of Juval's realm. Three times they heard a loud splash from one of the pools they had just passed, but upon turning discovered only ripples widening from the water's edge. After a few hours of marching, the pools thinned out and finally disappeared at the verge of a sickly forest of diseased trees glistening with gangrene and pus.
Korm and Aebos kept their distance from the hideous growths, but Epostian Creeg stepped right up to their trunks, cutting away sections of their scabrous flesh with a thin knife to collect samples for later study. The trail of his blade seeped with greasy black sap that smelled worse than it looked. Here and there in the forest, Korm thought he could hear footsteps in the undergrowth keeping pace with their march, but he never managed to catch sight of his observer.
On one such occasion, looking off the rough trail into the woods, Korm found himself staring into the eyes of a massive bull.
The vacant stare, twisted mouth, and extended yellow tongue told Korm the creature was dead even before his mind registered what he was seeing. It almost came as an afterthought that the bovine head sat detached from its body, balanced in a clump of viscera upon a gore-soaked tree stump at eye level, facing the path through the woods. A tree just beyond the grisly stump was the scene of an even greater atrocity. There the body of a muscular human man hung upside down from a long nail driven through both ankles. The splattered red stain smearing the tree from the man's jagged, headless neck gave the appearance of a can of paint tipped over end, with the thickest sludge still slowly oozing to the ground.
The head and the body had once been a matched pair.
"So I guess this guy is another of Juval's figments?" Korm asked.
"It is possible," Creeg said without enthusiasm.
∗ ∗ ∗
Finally the three reached the low stone walls ringing the garden at the center of the valley. Here the dusty ground and clumps of scrub grass gave way to wide, broken paving stones partially claimed by creeping vines. Raised platforms, dry and weed-choked fountains, and the remnants of mosaic paths hinted at the garden this once had been, an impression strengthened by the many statues arrayed around the area.
From a low rise at the center of the garden, the burning manor cast a flickering glow on the sculpted figures. Most of them looked in the house's direction as if transfixed by the awe of the sight. Korm could hardly blame them.
The entire frame of the stately three-story structure remained visible through the furious flames, but only the first was more than a vague outline. The front door stood as yet unmarred by fire, as if beckoning potential rescuers to burst through in search of survivors. Had they been in a city, even this far away, Korm might have attempted it. But here, in the demon's realm, he doubted very seriously that whatever lurked within would welcome him as its hero.
Their answers, and Juval itself, probably awaited them inside. But there was no sense in rushing into things. If Juval had known the moment they had arrived, as Creeg had suggested last night, the element of surprise had long since been lost.
And besides. They had not come to fight, but to negotiate.
The trio cautiously advanced into the garden, passing several of its statues on their way to Juval's lair. Some of the figures wore primitive, tribal garb. Others were attired as pirates, and others dressed in outdated military uniforms. Most had been sculpted in a moment of terror, their hands splayed out before them as if fending off danger, each face a rictus of fear. Closer to the garden's center, a trio of humanoid statues seemed to slink up a low stair toward the house. Time had worn away their crude features, but what remained gave Korm the impression of sharks. While inspecting the extremely realistic trident clutched by one of the creatures, Korm's peripheral vision caught a ceremonial altar at the top of the low stairs.
A small organic form lay motionless upon the altar. Korm, Aebos, and Epostian Creeg approached closer to discover the body of a goat-horned satyr prostrate upon the pedestal. A jagged line marred its bearded neck, and the flaked pool of blood that had gathered under it suggested that the body had been here a week or more.
The three of them stood with their backs to the garden, considering the slain satyr, when the clip-clop of hooves tapped from the flagstones at the foot of the low stair behind them. They turned just in time to see the form of a powerful centaur step from behind a massive stone plinth. Unlike the ashen statues that surrounded it, the creature's healthy tone and muscular physique exuded life and spirit, as did its bushy red beard and shock of wild hair.
The centaur's eyes burned with a bright crimson fire, and Korm knew that he looked upon Juval itself.
"Epostian Creeg," it said in a hollow voice accompanied by a disembodied chorus. "I expected you months ago. The decade has long since passed, and a fitting tribute is long overdue. Tell me, what treasure have you brought in the name of Iranez of the Orb?"
The alchemist stepped forward and gave a courteous bow. "A cyclops, regal Juval!" he shouted. "I bring you the form of the cyclops Aebos, to do with as you wish!".
Coming Next Week: The thrilling conclusion of Erik Mona's "Two Pieces of Tarnished Silver."
Erik Mona is the Publisher of Paizo Publishing and one of the primary architects of the Pathfinder campaign setting, as well as the former Editor-in-Chief of Dungeon and Dragon magazines. His previous game books have won numerous awards, and include the Pathfinder Campaign Setting Gazetteer, The Inner Sea World Guide, Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, "The Whispering Cairn" in Dungeon #124 (which kicked off the Age of Worms Adventure Path), and Pathfinder Adventure Path #19: Howl of the Carrion King, among many others. To find out more about Erik, visit his Facebook page.
... Magic Archetypes Tuesday, April 12, 2011For the next month or so, every Tuesday we are going to be digging into some of the new rules and options you will find in Ultimate Magic, which is due to release in May. This week, we'll take a look at some of the new archetypes that take up a full 32 pages of this 256 page tome. ... One of the first things you will notice about this book is that the new classes from the Advanced Player's Guide receive archetypes in this book (except the cavalier,...
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
For the next month or so, every Tuesday we are going to be digging into some of the new rules and options you will find in Ultimate Magic, which is due to release in May. This week, we'll take a look at some of the new archetypes that take up a full 32 pages of this 256 page tome.
One of the first things you will notice about this book is that the new classes from the Advanced Player's Guide receive archetypes in this book (except the cavalier, who does not use magic). Here is an example of a new alchemist archetype, the vivisectionist.
A vivisectionist studies bodies to better understand their function. Unlike a chirurgeon, a vivisectionist's goals are not related to healing, but rather to experimentation and knowledge that most people would consider evil. A vivisectionist has the following class features. Sneak Attack: At 1st level, a vivisectionist gains the sneak attack ability as a rogue of the same level. If a character already has sneak attack from another class, the levels from the classes that grant sneak attack stack to determine the effective rogue level for the sneak attack's extra damage dice (so an alchemist 1/rogue 1 has a +1d6 sneak attack like a 2nd-level rogue, an alchemist 2/rogue 1 has a +2d6 sneak attack like a 3rd-level rogue, and so on). This ability replaces bomb. Torturer's Eye: At 2nd level, a vivisectionist adds deathwatch to his formula book as a 1st-level extract. Cruel Anatomist: At 3rd level, a vivisectionist may use his Knowledge (nature) skill bonus in place of his Heal skill bonus. Torturous Transformation: At 7th level, a vivisectionist adds anthropomorphic animal to his formula book as a 2nd-level extract. When he uses this extract, he injects it into an animal as part of a 2-hour surgical procedure. By using multiple doses of this extract as part of the surgery, he multiplies the duration by the number of extracts used.
At 9th level, a vivisectionist adds awaken and baleful polymorph to his formula book as 3rd-level extracts. When he uses the awaken and baleful polymorph extract, he injects it into the target (not a plant) as part of a 24-hour surgical procedure. He can make anthropomorphic animal permanent on a creature by spending 7,500 gp.
At 15th level, a vivisectionist adds regenerate to his formula book as a 5th-level extract. Bleeding Attack: A vivisectionist may select the bleeding attack rogue talent in place of a discovery. Crippling Strike: At 10th level or later, a vivisectionist may select the crippling strike rogue talent in place of a discovery. Discoveries: The following discoveries complement the vivisectionist archetype: alchemical simulacrum*, concentrate poison, doppelganger simulacrum*, feral mutagen, parasitic twin*, plague bomb*, poison bomb, preserve organs*, sticky bomb, tentacle*, tumor familiar*, vestigial arm*, and wings*.
Of course, the classes from the Core Rulebook receive a number of new archetypes as well. Take a look at the Undead Lord archetype for the cleric.
Illustration by Eric Belisle
Undead Lord (Archetype)
An undead lord is a cleric focused on using necromancy to control undead. Her flock is the walking dead and her choir the keening spirits of the damned. This unliving congregation is the manifestation of her unceasing love affair with death.
A cleric cannot take the undead lord archetype unless her deity's portfolio includes the Death domain or a similar domain that promotes undeath. An undead lord has the following class features. Death Magic: An undead lord must select the Death domain (and the Undead subdomain from the Advanced Player's Guide, if available in the campaign). She does not gain a second domain. In all other respects, this works like and replaces the standard cleric's domain ability.
Corpse Companion (Su): With a ritual requiring 8 hours, an undead lord can animate a single skeleton or zombie whose Hit Dice do not exceed her cleric level. This corpse companion automatically follows her commands and does not need to be controlled by her. She cannot have more than one corpse companion at a time. It does not count against the number of Hit Dice of undead controlled by other methods. She can use this ability to create a variant skeleton such as a bloody or burning skeleton, but its Hit Dice cannot exceed half her cleric level. She can dismiss her companion as a standard action, which destroys it. Bonus Feats: All undead lords gain Command Undead as a bonus feat. In addition, at 10th level, she may select one of the following as a bonus feat: Channel Smite, Extra Channel, Improved Channel, Quick Channel, Skeleton Summoner*, Undead Master*. Unlife Healer (Su): At 8th level, the undead lord's spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities used to heal undead heal an extra 50% damage. At 16th level, these effects automatically heal the maximum possible damage for the effect + the extra 50%. This does not stack with abilities or feats such as Empower Spell or Maximize Spell.
Well, that about wraps up this week. Next week, we will take a look at the magus. Before I go, here is one last bit to get you excited for this book. A complete list of all the archtypes found in Ultimate Magic (except for those sneaky magus archetypes, I'll save those for next week). Each one of these classes has other rules bits associated with them as well, but we will talk about those in a future blog. Enjoy.
Class Archetypes Alchemist: The chirurgeon, clone master, internal alchemist, mindchemist, preservationist, psychonaut, reanimator, and vivisectionist archetypes. Bard: The animal speaker, celebrity, demagogue, dirge bard, geisha, songhealer, and sound striker archetypes. Cleric: The cloistered cleric, separatist, theologian, and undead lord cleric archetypes. Druid: The dragon shaman, menhir savant, mooncaller, pack lord, reincarnated druid, saurian shaman, shark shaman, and storm druid archetypes. Inquisitor: The exorcist, heretic, infiltrator, preacher, and sin eater archetypes. Monk: The high-fantasy qinggong monk archetype. Oracle: The dual-cursed oracle, enlightened philosopher, planar oracle, possessed oracle, seer, and stargazer archetypes. Paladin: This section presents the oathbound paladin archetype. Ranger: The magic trap using trapper archetype. Sorcerer: The crossblooded and wildblooded archetypes. Summoner: The broodmaster, evolutionist, master summoner, and synthesist archetypes. Witch: The beast-bonded, gravewalker, hedge witch, and sea witch archetypes. Wizard: The metal elementalist and wood elementalist wizard schools and the scrollmaster wizard archetype.
... Illustration by Christopher Burdett ... Golarion Day: Death to the Iconics! Thursday, February 24, 2010So we have this book coming out soon called Undead Revisited. A 64-page book that's sort of a spiritual sequel to Classic Horrors Revisited, I suppose, in that it's got ten six-page articles that explore all sorts of scary monsters. But whereas Classic Horrors Revisited focused on frights that come from myth and legend, Undead Revisited focuses more on undead who were mostly created...
Illustration by Christopher Burdett
Golarion Day: Death to the Iconics!
Thursday, February 24, 2010
So we have this book coming out soon called Undead Revisited. A 64-page book that's sort of a spiritual sequel to Classic Horrors Revisited, I suppose, in that it's got ten six-page articles that explore all sorts of scary monsters. But whereas Classic Horrors Revisited focused on frights that come from myth and legend, Undead Revisited focuses more on undead who were mostly created whole cloth for the game. A few in here, like the wight, are certainly from mythology, but most of the undead in this book are things like bodaks, devourers, graveknights, nightshades, and raveners—creatures made up for the game and only very loosely (if at all) inspired by overall stories featuring undead and threats from beyond the grave.
Anyway, when I was ordering art for the book, I decided to have a little fun. Each chapter opens with a half-page illustration, so why not show these horrible undead doing what they were born to do—kill player characters? So for each chapter opener, you get to see some violent undead monster killing off one of our iconics—pictured here, the iconic alchemist Damiel meets his end at the shadowy hands of a shadow.
Of course, there's only ten chapters, and when you count the three most recent additions to the party (the samurai, the ninja, and the gunslinger), we've got over double that in iconics. That DOES mean that only ten of the iconics get offed in this book. So make sure to check out Undead Revisited when it comes out to discover if YOUR favorite iconic bit the dust!
Iconic Love Monday, February 14, 2011For some of us, Valentine's Day is just another day. We go to work, come home, maybe hang out with our significant others a bit or send the kids off to the sitter for a rare night out. For other people, however, Valentine's Day carries more significance, and flat-out demands acknowledgement. They see it as an excuse to truly cut loose, to go all-out with the romance and treat it like a real holiday. ... And then, apparently, there's a third type of person:...
Monday, February 14, 2011
For some of us, Valentine's Day is just another day. We go to work, come home, maybe hang out with our significant others a bit or send the kids off to the sitter for a rare night out. For other people, however, Valentine's Day carries more significance, and flat-out demands acknowledgement. They see it as an excuse to truly cut loose, to go all-out with the romance and treat it like a real holiday.
And then, apparently, there's a third type of person: the type for whom Valentine's Day means a chance to go totally insane. Such appears to be the case with Pathfinder Tales author Kevin Andrew Murphy. How else can you explain the fact that he chose the occasion to, without any prompting or warning, write us an entire heroic crown of sonnets immortalizing the iconic characters' backgrounds in prose. (For those of you who've forgotten your 400-level literature classes, a "heroic crown of sonnets" is a specialized form of poetry in which you have 14 sonnets, each linked by their first and last lines, plus a fifteenth which is made up exclusively of the previous sonnets' linking lines, in order. Needless to say, it's incredibly difficult to do well.)
I'd say more, but I'm still processing the whole thing, so I think it's better to just post the sonnets in their entirety. Happy Valentine's Day!
The Fifteen Loves of Golarion
A Heroic Crown of Sonnets for Valentine's Day 2011
by Kevin Andrew Murphy
1. Alain, the Cavalier, "For Love of Glory" I am the one who lives to tell the tale.
The victor is the braggart of his fame,
The first to know the glory of his name
But not the last. The bards now all regale
The common folk with ballads of my deeds,
The battles won by force of my prowess,
The ransomed kings who've bowed to my duress,
And Donahan, the noblest of steeds.
Sometimes I think he is my only friend.
The men I ride with? Those I can replace.
The maids I bed? Each just a pretty face.
Yet Donahan is mine till journey's end.
If he falls first, then part of me is dead.
I've said the words that needed to be said.
2. Alahazra, the Oracle, "For Love of Truth" I've said the words that needed to be said,
For Truth is blind, and I am blind in truth.
My clouded eyes see little but forsooth
My inner eye sees clearly. I have read
The fates of men with but the barest glance.
I know the future as I know the past,
Which seeds will sprout and which of them will last,
For Destiny leaves nothing up to Chance.
It was not Chance that burned me with its fire.
The simoom's breath is but the Wind of Fate
That claimed me with its Flame. I now relate
The Fate of Love, if that is your desire:
All present loves become in days ahead
Mementos kept in memory of the dead.
3. Seelah, the Paladin, "For Love of Those Now Gone" Mementos kept in memory of the dead,
Reminders of what nothing can restore.
The wingéd helm that dead Acemi wore
Now hides my face and my unworthy head.
I feel its weight: part guilt, part gift, part theft.
Part love. She saw and yet forgave her thief,
The child who stole her helm. Ergo, my grief.
Acemi is still dead and I am left.
I have no words to say in my defense.
I know my deeds. I must have faith in grace
So now I wear her helm and take her place.
What Iomedae learned: Inheritance,
A gift of trust from those you must not fail
Now silent in the realm beyond the pale.
4. Harsk, the Ranger, "For Love of Solitude" Now silent in the realm beyond the pale,
My brother lies–and those who took his life.
I ended theirs with crossbow quarrel and knife.
The giants dead, now I alone prevail.
My kin who dwell below with bended backs
To toil at the forge or in the mines,
Or worshiping our gods at dwarven shrines,
Have my regard, and yet my brother's axe
Is all I bear away from whence I hail.
A hunter's life is love of solitude.
A Spartan camp, a pot of tea fresh-brewed
Will keep him more alert than mugs of ale.
My quarry's tracks are runes left for the sage.
I know the letters written on this page.
5. Ezren, the Wizard, "For Love of Scholarship" I know the letters written on this page,
My father charged with some impiety
Against our god, some awful blasphemy
Too dire for words, and nothing can assuage
The gossips' tongues, for rumor needs no proof.
And Abadar? The merchant god cares not
Who prospers or who fails nor what is bought.
The Golden One stays in his Vault, aloof.
I spent my youth to clear my father's name,
In quest to save the business that he built,
But in the end I only proved his guilt.
Now scholarship's the only love I claim.
Yet law for arcane law can be exchanged.
Old orders sometimes must be rearranged.
6. Sajan, the Monk, "For Love of a Sister" "Old orders sometimes must be rearranged."
So said the monks when taking twin from twin.
My sister Sajni's gone. I should begin
Describing how we came to be estranged.
We were conceived. Our lives were intertwined
Like threads of web and woof strung on a loom,
So were our limbs locked in our mother's womb.
Though born as two, we're more when we're combined.
We trained with temple swords and so time passed
Till at twelve years we each were sent away
And battle woes lost her to Jalmeray.
I left, deserting all I knew, my caste,
To seek my sister. Far too far I've ranged.
I've changed some facts which never should be changed.
7. Damiel, the Alchemist, "For Love of Change" I've changed some facts which never should be changed
And yet that is the goal of alchemy:
Quicksilver shifting, mutability.
The philosophic art just seems deranged
To those too dull to grasp aetheric heights
Or dream of fixing one's perfected form,
Not living with the dull and banal norm.
You reach out when the stars are in your sights,
Yet what you grasp may be the fulgent dark
For nightmares ride as well between the stars.
Like Shelyn's smile can hide Zon-Kuthon's scars,
The bright quicksilver sea conceals a shark,
And from the left the villain steps onstage
To let men feel the battle fury's rage.
8. Amiri, the Barbarian, "For Love of Oneself" To let men feel the battle fury's rage,
The Six Bears tribesmen donned the skins of bears
They'd taken from our totems in their lairs.
Each boy was sent to do it at an age.
We girls were told to sit inside and spin,
Awaiting a barbarian's return.
This never was a name that women earn.
I brought a she-bear's hide back to my kin.
The time came that a warband of my clan
All dared me to bring back a giant's blade.
When I returned, they mocked me as a maid.
The blood rage came. I slew them to a man.
That bastard blade I bear with me. Beware
To taste the kiss of malice and despair.
9. Seltyiel, the Magus, "For Lack of Love" To taste the kiss of malice and despair,
One needn't know the touch of love or hope–
At very least, not of an equal scope–
And pain is seldom more than one can bear,
And when it is? Well, there is always death.
My mother died the moment I was born.
My sister's cries, those spared my life that morn.
I often think she should have saved her breath.
Sioria, oh how could you divine
The babe you saved would still be here alive
Or on a feast of wormwood one could thrive.
I'll kill your father once I first kill mine.
Foul Lairsaph was a fool to teach his spawn
To walk the road with weapons sheathed or drawn....
10. Valeros, the Fighter, "For Love of Adventure" To walk the road with weapons sheathed or drawn
Is how a sellsword passes most his days.
That much at least is truthful in bards' lays.
The rest? Well yes, there is a need for brawn–
The same goes for an ox that pulls a plow–
But when your sword-arm makes some villain yield,
That's better than some plowshare in a field.
At least it's more exciting anyhow.
One day I may retire to a farm,
Grow beans and beets or brew a bit of beer,
But now I love my freedom and I hear
A distant village sounding the alarm.
If there's adventure calling, I'll be gone
To greet the hope that rises with the dawn.
11. Kyra, the Cleric, "For Love of Hope" To greet the hope that rises with the dawn,
The Crown of Our Beloved Sarenrae
Who cast the Beast below to Asmodae,
Is how a priestess prays for I'm Her pawn.
Whate'er the Dawnflower wishes I will do.
When bandits burned my village and Her shrine,
That's when I saw the face of the divine.
Through streaming tears the sun shone and I knew
The Everlight had filled me with Her power
To heal the sick and ailing with Her light
And cleanse those past redemption of their blight
By scimitar, like Dawn's Eternal Flower.
One day I'll join my goddess in the air
To live a life of joy and forswear care.
12. Merisiel, the Rogue, "For Love of Freedom" To live a life of joy and forswear care
Is what I always felt the world should be.
See something that you like? Then take it. Free!
If you don't like your lot, then folk should share.
They call it thievery, who gives a fig?
My knives can teach their tongues to be polite,
And while some think I could be more contrite
It's not like they're not working the same gig.
This knife I got from some Azlanti queen.
This one? From Galt. Belonged to some coquette
And these? From Geb. But most I just forget.
I only care if I can keep them keen.
You make life up like some bard's folderol.
I sing the songs that rise up from my soul.
13. Seoni, the Sorcerer, "For Love of Magic" I sing the songs that rise up from my soul
And write the runes appearing in my dreams.
The ones I walk with talk about my "schemes,"
If schemes they are, or just an unknown goal.
I'd like to say I like just who I am,
Yet who can say just who they are? Not I.
Or what I am, or how I am, or why.
That statement just might be my epigram.
I only know when spells wish to be wrought,
The way they say that love pulls at the heart.
Just so I feel the call of arcane art.
It springs to mind like any other thought.
I'd work alone, but I lack that control
For love and friendship are what make one whole.
14. Lini, the Druid, "For Love of a True Companion" "For love and friendship are what make one whole."
So spake the norn who whispered in the wood.
She vanished but her fey advice is good
And with it I can talk to mouse or mole.
The purest love is love you get from beasts.
My friend Droogami taught me this is true.
It's something though that I already knew.
I never bought the nonsense from the priests
About the love of gods as the most pure.
Who can believe a love you never see?
My love is for the leopard next to me
And she for me and that's what shall endure.
She's great and strong where I am small and frail.
I am the one who lives to tell the tale.
15. Lem, the Bard, "For Love of Happy Endings" I am the one who lives to tell the tale.
I've said the words that needed to be said,
Mementos kept in memory of the dead
Now silent in the realm beyond the pale.
I know the letters written on this page.
Old orders sometimes must be rearranged.
I've changed some facts which never should be changed
To let men feel the battle fury's rage,
To taste the kiss of malice and despair,
To walk the road with weapons sheathed or drawn,
To greet the hope that rises with the dawn,
To live a life of joy and forswear care.
I sing the songs that rise up from my soul
For love and friendship are what make one whole.
The Secret of the Rose and Glove—Chapter One: The Roses of Dabril
The Secret of the Rose and Gloveby Kevin Andrew Murphy ... Chapter One: The Roses of Dabril It was spring like the day he had left, the Season of the Green Dragon, the aerial drake who embodied the sanguine humor and led his retinue of floral fey in a gay procession. Hyacinths and narcissi dotted the meadows where they had passed, the blossoms' soft perfume filling the cool air, and then a breeze came up from the river, bringing with it an indescribable fragrance, something Norret Gantier had...
The Secret of the Rose and Glove
by Kevin Andrew Murphy
Chapter One: The Roses of Dabril
It was spring like the day he had left, the Season of the Green Dragon, the aerial drake who embodied the sanguine humor and led his retinue of floral fey in a gay procession. Hyacinths and narcissi dotted the meadows where they had passed, the blossoms' soft perfume filling the cool air, and then a breeze came up from the river, bringing with it an indescribable fragrance, something Norret Gantier had taken for granted all the days of his boyhood and had only smelled traces of since, on musty scent bottles and moldering boudoirs from before the Red Revolution: the wonderful bouquet of the rose fields of Dabril.
He took a moment to breathe it all in, closing both eyes even though only the right still functioned, the left hidden beneath a patch. The wars had also cost him an ear, an arm and a leg. They were still there, after a fashion, as was he, a mixture of pain and numbness, courtesy of a concussive grenade. His grenade? Another's? Did it matter? No. At the end of the day, all that mattered was that a half-blind, half-deaf lame alchemist was as good as dead and so, to save the Red Grenadiers of Galt the expense of a funeral and a bereavement purse, it was judged cheaper to simply send him home with a few trinkets of gilded tin, some snippets of ribbon, and a pretty piece of paper.
He had had to pay for the crutch himself.
"Every soldier leaves a part of himself behind on the battlefield. Sometimes several."
The road meandered down to the village at the river's bend. Across the water to the west lay Kyonin, its meadows bright with elven starlilies, while to the north the bogs and fens of the Sellen's many tributaries were held by the River Kingdoms.
Norret limped down the dusty lane, past the ancient rows of roses which still bore the names of noblewomen and beauties of ages past: Lady Gemerel, a pretty pink cabbage rose, simple but sweet and a once great favorite at court; Viscountess Vavarin, a ruby damask temptress, rich with intoxicating musk; and Duchess Devore, an unassuming apothecary rose of great strength and subtlety that he smelled before he saw. A light blush tinted the arsenic-pale petals like a touch of rouge across a noblewoman's cheeks and led to a drop of blood at her center like the infamous moue of Anais Devore's carmine lips. Tales were told of her pomading them with everything from love philters to the water of death, but as with everything from before the Revolution, Norret was certain the legends were half fabrications and half wishful thinking. Poisoning her aged husband, the legendarily cruel Duke Arjan who had taxed Dabril into penury redecorating his ancestral home to suit his wife's extravagant taste? Conspiring to become the royal mistress? Seducing the Chelish ambassador, conceiving his love child, and then aborting the devilspawn abomination with a solution of pennyroyal and alkanet?
It was possible, certainly. Every alchemist favored a different starting point, or "first matter," for use in his or her formulations. Some, particularly dwarves like Powdermaster Davin, preferred mineral compounds, such as arsenic and antimony. Others went the bloody route of animal tinctures, from as common as doe's heartblood to as rare as the teeth of winter wolves. Still others like Citizen Cedrine, former confectioner to a disappeared lord, favored vegetative matter, and could in one moment concoct an aniseed comfit to soothe a wounded soldier and in the next use a violet pastille to blow off an enemy's head. If Anais Devore had used herbs in her alchemical dabblings, she would hardly be the first.
Poisons were not Norret's strong suit, let alone selective banes that could slay one creature while leaving another unscathed, but like tansy and rue, pennyroyal and alkanet were classic abortifacients, and catalyzed by the royal art...?
Norret bit his tongue mentally. In Galt, such thoughts could get you killed. Alchemy was still welcome after the Revolution, its bombs having played a rather large part, but solely as the philosopher's craft. Royal water, the acid that dissolved gold, was now euphemistically termed "the blood of the green lion," and even pennyroyal was too monarchist. A careful speaker referred to the herb as flea mint.
Nor did it do to remind folk that the acme of the alchemist's quest, the great work, allowed the seeker to perfect himself and thereby bring about many wonders, one of them being the philosopher's stone, an artifact which could transmute base metal to gold or resurrect the dead. With the so-called "Revenant Princes" in the River Kingdoms currently resurrecting every noble corpse that might support their mad plan to retake their former Galtan holdings, such an artifact was about the last thing the Revolutionary Council wanted to exist.
Yet as for the roses, keeping the old names was less seditious than it might seem: Like the beauties for which they were named, the roses of Dabril all lost their heads. Snip, Lady Gemerel! Snap, Viscountess Vavarin! Here's a basket to catch you!
Of course, the metaphor broke down in the case of Duchess Devore. Unlike the flower bearing her name, the crafty duchess had evaded the Gray Gardeners and their Final Blades.
Madame Devore—duchess no longer—was still a person of interest forty years hence. Norret shook his head. That was twice as many years as he himself had been alive, and the broadsides were still using a woodblock that had been ten years out of date when the Red Revolution began. Unless Anais Devore, born Anais Peperelle, had achieved the pinnacle of the metaphorical mountain of the alchemists and elected to taste the elixir of eternal youth, she was unlikely to resemble the coy coquette in her wanted poster. Norret had better things to do with his shattered life than accuse random beldames of being Dabril's former duchess.
Tattered bunting straggled over the city gates: blue for fidelity, white for virtue, red for the blood of patriots—and everyone else, for that matter. Below the dusty blue, dirty gray, and faded rose madder lay another rose, this one carved in bas relief, held by a stone glove, the combined signs of the Perfumers and Glovers Guilds, together the arms of Dabril.
When the Revolution came, there had been an unfortunate dilemma: The Revolutionary Council demanded that all noble crests and related imagery be destroyed, whereas Shelyn, goddess of beauty and Dabril's patron, forbade the destruction of any beautiful thing unless it were replaced by even greater loveliness. Accordingly the crown that had once surmounted the town's shield had been chiseled out, replaced with a liberty cap that everyone agreed was far prettier. Publicly. Privately, Norret thought the shapeless pit resembled a puckered wound.
He adjusted his own cap, the same style that the twisted forest gnomes sometimes dyed with the blood of their victims. Norret had achieved the proper red via an admixture of sulfur and mercury, creating vermilion, also known as cinnabar—a formula taught by Powdermaster Davin. The answer to the seditious question of why the Revolution had adopted a style of hat most popular among bloodthirsty and toadstool-addled fey was taught by painful experience: If you were going to be lobbing bombs, it paid to wear a high hat with a curved point and no projecting brim.
A tricorne, on the other hand, was a hat almost perfectly designed to catch bombs.
Norret was a casualty of poor uniform design. He limped along painfully with his crutch. Oh well. Everyone was a casualty of something, and the fool who had thought he was giving the grenadiers nice new hats had made a date with Madame Margaery, the Final Blade of Isarn.
Norret had left Dabril at thirteen, conscripted with no protest from his parents lest they appear unpatriotic. He'd left no bride behind to widow, and if he could have left orphans, the earliest would have been at a farm west of Edme a couple years later. But Dabril still had her roses, and nothing could compare to their scent, except maybe the scent of a woman, his nose to her neck in the morning after making love, both still grateful to still be alive.
It would be a while before he enjoyed that again.
Grisettes and dollymops were still willing, of course, but not for what little coin he had left, and the ones in Dabril looked even older and more haggard than he remembered them. Well, all save for one who had always looked that way. "Rhodel, isn't it?"
The woman looked, then after a moment exclaimed, "Young Norret, hardly recognized ye! Ye sound like a citizen a' Isarn. Ye lost yer Dabrilaise!"
"Along with a few other things," he admitted wryly, touching his gloved hand to his patched eye.
"Eh, time be not kind ta any of us." She smiled up at him, showing the remnants of three teeth just below an unpatched sore. Once, vain noblewomen and foppish men had covered such blemishes with artfully cut bits of black taffeta, but since the Revolution, such beauty marks were considered unpatriotic in Dabril, and bards now extolled the fresh, unpainted Galtan beauty such as Rhodel displayed. In theory.
At least patches were still allowed for soldiers' eyes.
The old dollymop's lashes fluttered like tattered butterflies. "Always knew ye'd end up taller than yer da." Her scabbed lips drew over her gums then and she looked about warily.
Norret knew the look. "When?"
"Five years last autumn," she said softly. "Sent to Woodsedge t'meet Jaine."
She left off the "Bloody" that usually described the guillotine that still awaited Darl Jubannich, former poet of the Revolution. "Best I don't know." Norret sighed. "My mother?"
"Married t'Baker Gentz." The old slattern looked him up appraisingly. "Know I'm not what ye're lookin' fer nowabouts, but ye were a fine lookin' boy and ye're still half a fine lookin' man, 'n' comfort is comfort...."
"I'm down to my last copper."
"I'm a patriot." She gave a rotten-toothed grin. "Soldiers get one free. Always have."
"I'm not a soldier anymore."
"Eh, my rules. Vet'rans count too, 'n' honest men more so. My bed's open whene'er ye want, fer mem'ry's sake if naught else."
It was a kindness, and another that she didn't press. She just laid a gentle hand on his arm. "Let me show ye ta yer ma's...."
Norret scarcely recognized the woman who opened the door. She was smaller than he remembered, and fatter, and had one fussing baby held in one arm and another peering out from behind her skirts. Norret would have knelt down if he still could, if his legs and the crutch would allow it, but he looked at his mother's face to see if she still recognized him. She did, but what he could see even more clearly was that she recognized that he was not the bereavement purse her new family could have used.
Norret barely remembered the grenade that burst, robbing him of half his hearing, half his sight, and the use of a whole body. He knew he would never remember all of that conversation with his mother, either, but it cost him half his heart.
He remembered some. Raw fragments: His younger brother, Orlin, dead. A fever six summers past. His only sister, Kerril? Married to a charcoal burner somewhere. Three years since anyone had seen either.
When he asked of Ceron, his older brother, his mother pronounced a single syllable: "Jaine." Then she shut the door.
Norret was not told his half-siblings' names or even number.
He somehow found his way to the village cemetery. The gravedigger eventually decided Norret was not some shambling ghoul or other undead staggering around dazed in the noonday sun and at last took pity on him.
The gravemarker had fallen over, eaten by worms at the base, but once righted, the name was still legible: Orlin Gantier. Crude scratches were twined around, meant to represent the blooms of Shelyn, the Eternal Rose, guardian of the innocent.
Norret could not mourn Ceron or his father, their bodies burnt to ash and cast to the four winds, their souls trapped in Jaine's bloody steel, but at least Orlin's soul was free and his body here. The grave of a child was something even the poorest necromancer would not bother with, and so its desecration had been relegated to the lowliest fiend, Neglect.
Norret tended the grave as best he could. He trimmed the grass with his belt knife, heaved himself back up with his crutch, and gathered Shelyn's wild roses from the graveyard fence, fashioning a garland. The thorns pricked his fingers, but at least his left hand could not feel pain. He made what prayers he could and watered the grave with his tears.
It was near nightfall when the gravedigger fetched him, offering to show him the way to the Liberty Hostel, the place the village council had set aside for the homeless and itinerant. Norret had slept by roadsides and in battlefield trenches and would have slept by his brother's grave, but one did not question the decrees of any authority in Galt if one valued one's life.
Even so, when he saw the building, he could not help but let out a dark laugh. Cayden Cailean, God of Accidents and Ale, had played his finest jest. The hostel was none other than the former duchess's chateau.
Norret turned and asked bluntly, "Is it still haunted?"
The gravedigger's pale face told Norret that yes indeed, it still was, but he was a man who buried corpses for a living. "I'll accompany ye as far as the front hall."
The carriage porch, where nobles would have once alit, lay shadowed save for the moonlight illuminating the statue of the old ducal arms. Its inverse shimmered in the chateau's reflecting pool. Melzec, the fife and tabor player of Norret's old company, had taught him that, in blazon, the language of heraldry, the arms of the late Duke of Dabril were properly termed vert, a cockatrice in his majesty displayed and inverted tergant regardant or issuant a fountain and transfixed by a unicorn incensant argent. Or, more prosaically: a green field with a crowned golden cockatrice flying out of a pool, only to get stabbed in the back by an angry white unicorn.
Of course, the cockatrice was not actual gold but alchemically gilded bronze, was informally known as Coco, and had long ago been removed along with the alchemically silvered steel horn to become the mascot of Dabril's tavern, known variously as the Transfixed Chanticleer, the Goosed Goose, or the Chicken-on-a-Stick. The unicorn horn—properly termed an alicorn and exceedingly useful for healing physics—was lovingly polished, as were Coco's gilded bat wings and serpent's tail, usually while singing "The Tale of the Cockerel," a bawdy and increasingly improbable Dabrilaise song Norret had learned as a boy. He'd taught all his fellow soldiers, singing of how Coco's father was a cockerel who, after a night of debauchery with a cross-dressing peacock (likely the Mother of Monsters disguised), laid an egg that he hid in a dunghill. It was there adopted by the lady toad Crapaudine, who fancied herself royalty as she was crowned with a diamond periapt of the same name, an actual magic gem commonly referred to as toadstone, and a natural mithridate. The toad queen's monstrous son then hatched bearing a crown of his own—though unless the singers were exceptionally drunk, this was changed to "liberty cap," which neither rhymed nor scanned—and every All Kings Day there was a contest among the village women to celebrate Galt's glorious independence by knitting a new cap to cover the crown worn by Coco's gilded effigy.
After kissing his mother goodbye and subsequently turning her to stone, the song went, Coco flew off to seek a bride, only to instead find Patapouf, a bumbling unicorn looking for a pure-hearted virgin's lap in which to lay his horn, but who instead sticks it up Coco's bung. After a verse about the alicorn itself and how it sprung from another wondrous jewel, the legendary carbuncle—not the enigmatic lizard which wears a ruby in its forehead like one of the fabled houris of Katapesh, but a blood red cabochon on the unicorn's brow akin to the bud of a stag's antler—Crapaudine's dungheap somehow becomes a well. The petrified Patapouf then falls in, the screeching Coco still buggered on his horn, all of which explained why to this day the waters of the village still reeked like the bad egg while possessing the alicorn's healthful purity.
Less romantically, a sulfur spring flowed beneath the chateau, feeding the baths and fountains, and as every alchemist knew, the mineral possessed properties both baleful and beneficent without additional assistance from dead monsters and lost jewels.
Bereft of his horn, the statue of Patapouf looked like an angry white marble horse with a goatee, but instead of a gem, the hole in his head held a single wilting red rose. Norret grinned wryly. There was a village superstition that if a pure-hearted virgin waded across the pool and brought a replacement for his lost carbuncle, the unicorn would grant a wish.
Then again, it was also said that Patapouf did this about as well as he'd slain the cockatrice. Norret sighed and shook his head; he could not complain. After all, he had lived to return to Dabril and seen his family again. Half a wish was better than some of his comrades' fates.
He touched his cap in respect to the statue, then looked to the frightened gravedigger.
The great doors to the Liberty Hostel were unlocked and opened easily. Once there would have once been beeswax tapers, if not flambeaux ensorcelled with cold flame, but now the foyer was lit by a single rushlight unable to produce more than shadows and greasy smoke.
That said, even a crippled alchemist was not without his resources. Norret took a snuff mull out of his bandolier, uncapped the little horn, and sprinkled a pinch of one of Powdermaster Davin's formulations onto the tallow-soaked rush. The stench of sulfur did nothing to improve the smell of rancid mutton fat, but the luminosity increased a hundredfold, the dip burning with the brilliant blue-white radiance of a magnesium torch.
Cracked and blotched mirrors sprang alight, still able to catch the illumination and send it back, and chandeliers hanging askew and missing half their crystals multiplied it further, spawning rainbows. The humble rushlight shone brighter than day and illumed the life-size fresco of a woman, a black patch in the shape of a crescent moon by her left eye, one in the shape of the sun on her right cheek. Her overskirt was beribboned with a thousand ivory rosettes, a single garnet bead studded into the center of each, and on her left hand she wore an ornate, lace-cuffed green glove with a diamond cabochon set in the back, its fingers holding a single white rose with a red heart surrounded by rays like the sun. Around her waist she wore a golden chatelaine from which depended all the accoutrements of the alchemist's trade—phials and vinaigrettes, ampoules and flaskets, snuffboxes and comfit cases, touchstone, quizzing glass, bodkin, powder horn, miniature mortar and pestle, patch box, cricket cage, a pair of gilded scissors in the shape of a stork, and more. Above, her elaborate coiffure had been ridiculously covered by a crude liberty cap, and her opposite hand, instead of being open in a gesture of welcome, now awkwardly held the banner of the Revolution.
One mindful of his words would say that this was an image of Liberty leading Her people, but anyone with half a sense of history would know that this was Anais Devore, the Dowager Duchess of Dabril, in the full flower of her youth. There was no mistaking that arsenic-powdered face, those dainty painted lips or their artful pout.
Then they spoke:
Who stands before I do not care.
My secret's gold awaits my heir.
Norret would have listened more except his shock and amazement were interrupted by the shrieks of the gravedigger, who ran from the hall as if Urgathoa and all her ghoulish minions were after him.
He looked back, only to see Duchess Devore's mouth once again forming its infamous moue, looking coquettishly down at him as if they both shared a secret.
Coming Next Week: Blasts from the past and a grisly celebration of Galtan independence in the second installment of "The Secret of the Rose and Glove."
Kevin Andrew Murphy is the author of numerous stories, poems, and novels, as well as a writer for Wild Cards, George R. R. Martin's shared-world anthology line, with his next contribution coming in 2011 with Fort Freak. His most recent short stories include "Tea for Hecate" in the upcoming anthology Fangs for the Mammaries and "The Fifth River Freedom," the fourth chapter of Prodigal Sons in the Kingmaker Pathfinder's Journal. For more information, visit his website.
Vote on the Costume Contest! Thursday, August 12, 2010We’re back from Gen Con, and in addition to the usual scramble to meet deadlines and recovery from horrifying illnesses contracted by shaking hands with approximately ten bajillion people, that means it’s time for everyone to vote on the contestants in the Third Annual Gen Con Pathfinder Cosplay Contest! ... We had an extraordinary number of contestants this year, and all of them did bang-up jobs! Yet only one can be the official winner of...
Vote on the Costume Contest!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
We’re back from Gen Con, and in addition to the usual scramble to meet deadlines and recovery from horrifying illnesses contracted by shaking hands with approximately ten bajillion people, that means it’s time for everyone to vote on the contestants in the Third Annual Gen Con Pathfinder Cosplay Contest!
We had an extraordinary number of contestants this year, and all of them did bang-up jobs! Yet only one can be the official winner of the grand prize (both a pile of Paizo store credit and bragging rights), which is where you come in. At the bottom of this blog, you’ll see a link for comments. Sound off and place your vote for the best costume in that thread. You have until the end of the weekend to make your selection. On Monday morning, we’ll tally all the votes, and announce the official winner in a blog post next week.
Ready? Here are this year’s fine contestants, in no particular order:
Lora as Feiya, the iconic witch.
Jason as Damiel, the iconic alchemist.
2009 contest champion Kelly as Harsk, the iconic ranger. (Maybe he’s a little tall for a dwarf, but how can you say no to a hand-made crossbow and his adorable animal companion, Biter?)
Blake as Nethys.
David as a paladin of Iomedae.
Corienne as a Tien monk.
2008 contest champion Tiffany as the Harrower from the campaign setting hardcover. (You can’t see her wayfinder here, but it came with its own ioun stone!)
Noel as Trifaccia from Pathfinder Adventure Path #12. Look out, he's got a whip!
Honorable Mention: Jodi as Amiri, the iconic barbarian, who despite her amazing costume has removed herself from the running, on account of already being Sean Reynolds' girlfriend (and isn't that prize enough?).
... One Last Hoorah Tuesday, August 10, 2010Crystal: Oh, hey... I just figured out what smells so good. I think I'm in Wes' office.... but, there's a flying car parked outside! ... Sara Marie: Please be careful! This is getting dangerous; they'll be back from Gen Con any minute now! Porcupine. ... Crystal: I think when we got separated, I went to the future... This must be where Sarah got those covers from! Hedgehog. ... Sara Marie: I'm getting kinda nervous about this... but if it's the...
One Last Hoorah
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Crystal: Oh, hey... I just figured out what smells so good. I think I'm in Wes' office.... but, there's a flying car parked outside!
Sara Marie: Please be careful! This is getting dangerous; they'll be back from Gen Con any minute now! Porcupine.
Crystal: I think when we got separated, I went to the future... This must be where Sarah got those covers from! Hedgehog.
Sara Marie: I'm getting kinda nervous about this... but if it's the future maybe you'll be safe...
Crystal: Don't you see, Sara? If leaking some bits of art makes us famous, then what happens if I leak entire future supplements! We'll be IMMORTAL! Hedgehog.
Sara Marie: If you think immortality is safe...
Crystal: Now, let's see.... "Classic Game Designers Revisited," "Flumphs of Golarion," "Adventure Path 12: Samurai Cowboys Ride Again".... Oh!
Sara Marie: Are you all right?
Crystal: More than just all right!... I think I just found the Bestiary 2! The whole thing, complete and bound!
Sara Marie: No way!
Crystal: We'll leak this and then the fans will... the fans will.... Uh oh...
Sara Marie: Crystal?...CRYSTAL!
Crystal: There's tripwires, Sara!
Sara Marie: Get out!
Sara Marie: GET OUT!!! (Carefully!)
Crystal: They're even on me!
Sara Marie: OK. Don't. Move.
Crystal: Oh, well played, Mr. Schneider. Well pl-
Sara Marie: Crystal? Hedgehog?
Sara Marie: do you read me
Sara Marie: Hedgehog!? Porcupine?! DO YOU READ ME?!!!
Sara Marie: HEEEEDGEHOG!!!!
* * *
I apologize that we could not bring you the entire Bestiary II, however, I feel it is my duty as a fellow fan and adventurer to bring you one last piece of artwork, another Misfit Monster, snatched off of James Sutter's desk as I ran fleeing from the dungeon that is the Editorial Pit and Development offices.
Meet the Iconics: Damiel Tuesday, August 3, 2010Flayleaf may ease your mind. Pesh may invigorate your humors. Yet as any sage and scholar can tell you, knowledge is the most addictive drug. And once the quest for learning has its hooks into you—once your eyes have been opened—there’s no tearing free. ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds Damiel Morgethai was born, as so many elves are, in the nation of Kyonin. One of innumerable scions of the prestigious Morgethai family, he grew up...
Meet the Iconics: Damiel
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Flayleaf may ease your mind. Pesh may invigorate your humors. Yet as any sage and scholar can tell you, knowledge is the most addictive drug. And once the quest for learning has its hooks into you—once your eyes have been opened—there’s no tearing free.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Damiel Morgethai was born, as so many elves are, in the nation of Kyonin. One of innumerable scions of the prestigious Morgethai family, he grew up in the picturesque town of Riverspire, where the southwestern border of Kyonin’s great forest gives way to fertile, rolling plains. When finally old enough to pursue a trade, the exceedingly precocious young elf was loaded up with what funds his family could spare and packed off to the shining capital of Iadara, to study alchemy under several of the art’s great masters. And it was here that the trouble started.
Damiel took to alchemy immediately, reveling in the idea of transmutation—the changing of one thing into another, by means chemical or arcane. “Alchemy,” he was fond of proclaiming to his friends, “is pure magic, even when it isn’t.” Within a few short years, the brilliant and studious Damiel had learned enough from his instructors that they set him loose to pursue his own studies, becoming advisors and respected colleagues rather than true masters.
Yet he had learned more than just strange formulae in Iadara. As cheerful and innocent as it seemed on the surface, Damiel’s obsession with what he called “the Change” went beyond the simple curatives of an apothecary, beyond even the magical and explosive concoctions of those alchemists trained for battle. In his eternal quest to understand his theories better, Damiel gave himself literally to his studies, and began to use his concoctions on his own flesh, striving to unlock the full potential of his body. What emerged from those long, sleepless nights was someone new. Someone dangerous.
Officially, Damiel’s banishment from Kyonin was the result of plagiarizing another alchemist’s discoveries, or perhaps siring an illegitimate son with an embarrassed noble. The documents don’t speak of the way his former friends noticed the change in his eyes, which became increasingly wild as lack of sleep and increasing amounts of “invigorating aether” took their toll. They don’t note the sudden rash of crimes in the districts he frequented, daring thefts and capricious arson. And they certainly don’t mention the young woman found in the alley behind his apartment, her face burned near away in an ultimately successful attempt to hide her identity—and the identity of her killer. In truth, the later would be difficult to decipher anyway, as even the killer himself might have trouble recognizing the monster that would take a girl’s life simply for seeing something she shouldn’t.
For Damiel was no longer the man that he once was. In his thirst for ever-greater secrets, he had unlocked enormous potential—strange tinctures that quickened his movements to a blur, or twisted his constitution to survive any poison or malady. Yet while he gained ever-increasing control over the vagaries of his flesh, these discoveries took their toll on his mind. He fell deep into addiction, deeper than even the aether he was so fond of could match. He would lose himself to the Change, only to wake from a maddened stupor and find that he’d done terrible things. And worse, that he no longer cared.
Exiled from his homeland, Damiel wandered for many years, slowly learning to control and live with his addictions. Gone were the blackouts, the uncontrolled and senseless violence. In their place grew a hard and haunted-eyed young man, handsome save for his wild look and the puckered scars along his veins. Seeking to peddle his secret knowledge, he traveled to Daggermark in the River Kingdoms, joining up with that city’s Poisoners’ Guild. For a time, his unique concoctions made him a minor celebrity in certain circles. But as the months passed, Damiel’s control over his base nature slipped, and the old lust for the beautiful chaos of unconscious (and unconscionable) action took over, loosing the beast of the Change to walk the streets. In the end, the Poisoners’ Guild took terminal offense to Damiel’s “exploits,” and though the elf argued hard that his deviant handiwork—being unpaid—was none of the guild’s concern, he was forced to go his own way once again.
Today, Damiel has grown further, into a man of two minds. The first—the greatest remaining shadow of the Damiel Morgethai That Was—truly repents for the arbitrary and senseless suffering he’s caused, and attempts to keep his darker urges in check. The second is that man brought forth by the Change, the mad and capricious soul that holds all other creatures in contempt, and exists only to feel the heat of the explosion on his face or see the shifting colors of poisoned flesh. This latter comes forth primarily in combat, where Damiel’s potions push his body faster than it has any right to move, flitting through the fray to fling corrosive ash or nick warriors so delicately with his poisoned injection-blade that many don’t know they’ve been cut until they find themselves unable to breathe. Though Damiel no longer gives his vile tendencies full rein, and carries himself well in social situations, most who look into those bagged and bloodshot eyes quickly understand the truth of his nature: unbalanced, unstable, unpredictable—and totally indispensable in a fight, which is why he still manages to fall in with other adventurers from time to time. And as he continues to mature, some of them even survive his companionship.
... Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #2 Thursday, July 8, 2010The start of Gen Con 2010 is four weeks away, which means in just one month, the Advanced Player's Guide will be hitting game stores and subscriber mailboxes. In anticipation of this mighty sourcebook, I am taking you on a guided tour, touching on some of the highlights each week until release. Last week we took at look at the races chapter and the new alternate favored class bonuses. This week we are diving into Chapter...
Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #2
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The start of Gen Con 2010 is four weeks away, which means in just one month, the Advanced Player's Guide will be hitting game stores and subscriber mailboxes. In anticipation of this mighty sourcebook, I am taking you on a guided tour, touching on some of the highlights each week until release. Last week we took at look at the races chapter and the new alternate favored class bonuses. This week we are diving into Chapter 2: Classes by looking at the six new base classes.
If you were not a part of the playtest of these classes, might I suggest that you grab the playtest document, which is still available here at paizo.com. Now go read up on the all of the new classes. Don't worry, I'll wait. All finished, good. I am going to walk through each of the classes and spend a bit of time talking about what changes you can expect to find in the book.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Alchemist: Using all sorts of alchemical formulas, bombs, and mutagens, this class is focused on using strange concoctions to enhance the alchemist and damage his foes. Most of the changes to this class center around new discoveries that were added. Discoveries allow the alchemist to enhance his bombs and mutagens, but we added discoveries that allow him to use his bombs to dispel magic or to work better with poison, such as this new discovery.
Concentrate Poison: The alchemist can combine two doses of the same poison to increase their effects. This requires two doses of the poison and 1 minute of concentration. When completed, the alchemist has one dose of poison. The poison's frequency is extended by 50% and the save DC increases by +2.
Cavalier: This mounted warrior is skilled at directing allies around the battlefield and granting bonuses to his teammates. Each is dedicated to a specific order that grants abilities specific to his focus. Most of the changes from the playtest version of the cavalier are relatively small or designed to clarify an existing ability. For example, we clarified how large the cavalier's banner must be and how it must be displayed to grant its bonus to the cavalier's allies.
Inquisitor: Rooting out enemies of the faith, wherever they might hide, the inquisitor uses the powers of her faith to ruthlessly destroy her foes. One of her signature abilities is to declare judgment on one of her foes, granting her bonuses when fighting that enemy. The playtest version of this ability improved as the combat progressed. While this was a fun mechanic, it was ultimately rather unwieldy in play and was replaced with a simpler system. Now, whenever the inquisitor uses her judgment ability, she selects the type and gains a bonus based on her level. For example, take a look at this judgment of purity.
Purity: The inquisitor is protected from the vile taint of her foes, gaining a +1 sacred bonus on all saving throws. This bonus increases by +1 for every five inquisitor levels she possesses. At 10th level, the bonus is doubled against curses, diseases, and poisons.
Oracle: The oracle draws her power from the gods, but not one in particular. Her power is derived from her belief in a chosen mystery, which guides her and grants her additional powers. There were two big changes to the oracle from the playtest version. First, the bonus spells granted by the oracle's mystery are now granted a level sooner than before (the first arrives at 2nd level instead of 3rd). The second is the addition of the Life mystery, with powers like the following.
Enhanced Cures (Su): Whenever you cast a cure spell, the maximum number of hit points healed is based on your oracle level, not the limit based on the spell. For example, an 11th-level oracle of life with this revelation may cast cure light wounds to heal 1d8+11 hit points.
Summoner: The summoner is bonded to a special outsider, known as an eidolon, that gains powers and abilities as the summoner gains levels. His spells and class features all support this powerful, ever-changing ally. Most of the changes to this class were relatively small in nature, but the big one was a change to how often the summoner can call his eidolon. He can now summon the ally as often as he likes (provided it has not been banished due to damage recently), but he cannot use his summon monster ability at the same time. This allows him to keep the flexibility needed with the summoned creatures, but prevents him from overrunning the battlefield with too many creatures.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Witch: The witch is an arcane spellcaster with an extensive spell list of spells drawn from both the wizard and cleric spell lists. She also gains powerful hexes that she can use to augment herself or harm her enemies. The biggest change made to the witch involves her familiar, the creature that helps her to understand magic and serves as an envoy of the witch's mysterious patron. Now the bonus spells granted by a witch's familiar are no longer tied to the type of familiar, giving the witch a lot more flexibility in concept and theme. We also made a number of changes to the witch's hexes, including making flight a basic hex that does not grant true flight until 5th level, and added a few others here and there to round out the witch concept. For example, what witch would be caught without a cauldron.
Cauldron: The witch receives Brew Potion as a bonus feat and a +4 insight bonus on Craft (alchemy) skill checks.
Well, that just about rounds up our look at the six new base classes in the Advanced Player's Guide. Next week, we will continue exploring the mighty classes chapter (which is about 1/3 of the book) by taking a closer look at all of the options available to the core classes from the Core Rulebook.
... Maro's Alchemy Tracking Sheet Thursday, April 15, 2010 ... Alchemy Tracking Sheet ... I'm playing an alchemist in Josh Frost's Tuesday night game. Though I've played many caster characters in my day, including some with item creation feats, the alchemist class is very reliant on consumable items—the mutagens, bombs, extracts, potions, and alchemical items it creates. Inspired by Crystal Frasier's use of our GameMastery Item Cards for her character's scrolls, I started to assemble a...
Maro's Alchemy Tracking Sheet
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Alchemy Tracking Sheet
I'm playing an alchemist in Josh Frost's Tuesday night game. Though I've played many caster characters in my day, including some with item creation feats, the alchemist class is very reliant on consumable items—the mutagens, bombs, extracts, potions, and alchemical items it creates. Inspired by Crystal Frasier's use of our GameMastery Item Cards for her character's scrolls, I started to assemble a collection of potion and alchemical cards for my character, Maro. However, given the number of formulas he knows, plus three mutagens, bombs, and the many alchemical items already in the game (plus more to come with Adventurer's Armory later this month), I ended up with more than 20 cards, and given that on any round I might be using any of them, sorting through them wasn't as efficient as I'd like. So I built a one-page alchemist tracking sheet.
Using a combination of item card art, public domain art, things I drew myself, and some manipulation with a graphics program, I now have a sheet that shows Maro's three mutagens, his bombs, bottles for his known extracts, and bottles for 12 of the most common alchemical items he may make, buy, or carry. Now when he prepares a Dexterity mutagen (which he calls his "snake potion"), I draw one box by the green mutagen bottle, and mark it off when he drinks it. Each day, I draw a box by his bomb bottle for each of his daily uses and mark them off as he throws them. Boxes go by the alchemical items he has and are likewise marked off. The last section is extracts and potions, which serves a dual purpose as he can create an extract or potion from any formula he knows. If he makes a potion, I draw a box by it and write "P" in it so I remember it's a potion (usable by anyone in the party); if he makes an extract that day, I draw a box with an "E" in it so I know only he can use it.
This tracking sheet also makes it easy if the other PCs need to grab a potion while Maro is unconscious; presumably he's explained which potions are which or labeled them, and any ally trying to find a cure wounds potion on his unconscious body can immediately tell what to look for and if he has any available. It also prevents the ally from trying to drink his extracts (which don't work for anyone but him).
The tracking sheet I use actually has the names of Maro's mutagens ("bear potion," "gorilla potion," and "snake potion") and formulas (cure light wounds, disguise self, enlarge person, expeditious retreat, jump, shield, and true strike) on it. I thought as a generic tool for any alchemist the sheet is more useful without those names so you can customize the list for your alchemist (or potion-brewer) PC, so the version here has blank spaces in those areas. If you want to type your potion names onto the tracking sheet instead of writing them by hand, the font I used is "The Alchemist" by S. John Ross's Cumberland Fontworks (see page 2 of that link). He has some really cool fonts on his site (and some other gaming stuff). The fonts are free for noncommercial use, and he gave permission for Paizo to use the font in this blog post. Thanks, S.J.R.!
... Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest, Bonus Round! Tuesday, February 2, 2010Although the playtest of the six base classes set to appear in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide was scheduled to be over yesterday, we have decided to extend it by two weeks to give you a chance to review and playtest the changes from the previous three rounds. We took all of your feedback and ideas and implemented a number of changes to the classes, combining them into one handy reference PDF. You can find...
Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest, Bonus Round!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Although the playtest of the six base classes set to appear in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide was scheduled to be over yesterday, we have decided to extend it by two weeks to give you a chance to review and playtest the changes from the previous three rounds. We took all of your feedback and ideas and implemented a number of changes to the classes, combining them into one handy reference PDF. You can find the PDF right here.
You have two weeks to playtest and comment on these revisions in the Final Playtest messageboard forum. Make sure to post your feedback on in the correct forum, because we might miss it if you place it in one of the older forums. On February 15th, all of the forums will be closed.
As with previous playtests, this process has been a huge benefit to the development of these classes. I hope that you have enjoyed participating in the process. Look for previews of the final book to start appearing in June, ramping up to the final release in August.
... Advanced Player's Guide Playtest, Round 3! Monday, December 14, 2009 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide is well underway, with the release of the final two classes slated to appear in the book, due out in August. In this round, we are looking at the alchemist and the inquisitor. The alchemist is all about using potions and arcane alchemy to increase your abilities. This works a bit like...
Advanced Player's Guide Playtest, Round 3!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide is well underway, with the release of the final two classes slated to appear in the book, due out in August. In this round, we are looking at the alchemist and the inquisitor. The alchemist is all about using potions and arcane alchemy to increase your abilities. This works a bit like spellcasting, but offers some interesting advantages. In addition, the alchemist is quite skilled at lobbing bombs that burn, freeze, and electrify foes (among a host of other possibilities). The inquisitor works as a monster hunter for the faith, rooting out its enemies, no matter where they hide. The inquisitor is a master of adaptation, moving her abilities around to better fight her foes. This is your chance to take a look at these classes before they hit shelves in August. You can download the free PDF containing both of these classes here.
Over the past month, we have released the other four classes due to appear in the book, including the cavalier, the oracle, the summoner, and the witch. While we are focusing on the alchemist and the inquistor for the next two weeks, the playtest itself will remain open until the end of January 2010. Time permitting, we hope to release some updates to some of the classes in mid January.
As with the Core Rulebook playtest last year, there are a number of forums set up for playtest feedback and commentary. The first is a general forum, for discussing larger issues and announcements. Following this is a trio of forums for discussing each round of the playtest. Discussion on the alchemist and the inquisitor should go in the round 2 forum.
The playtest has been a huge success up to this point. I have been receiving a mountain of play reports and comments on the classes and I want to encourage folks to continue working with these classes. As with the previous rounds, actual play reports are more useful to the process than untested observations. So, give these last two classes a try. Make a whole party of characters using only these six classes or have the PCs face off against them as villains. When you are done, post up the results. I look forward to seeing them.
... Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide Classes Thursday, August 20, 2009Now that Gen Con is over, it is time to look into the future of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Over the next year, we have a number of fantastic products in store for you, but the one that has me the most excited is the Advanced Player's Guide. We gave a few hints about this hefty 320-page tome at Gen Con during the Pathfinder RPG Q&A seminar, but I wanted to take a moment to bring the news to you directly. ......
Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide Classes
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Now that Gen Con is over, it is time to look into the future of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Over the next year, we have a number of fantastic products in store for you, but the one that has me the most excited is the Advanced Player's Guide. We gave a few hints about this hefty 320-page tome at Gen Con during the Pathfinder RPG Q&A seminar, but I wanted to take a moment to bring the news to you directly.
First off, this book is set to release at Gen Con 2010. It will include a host of new options and avenues for characters built using the classes and features in the Core Rulebook. That means you can expect to find new barbarian rage powers, new sorcerer bloodlines, new bardic performance options, and a host of other tricks and tools to modify the 11 core classes. The book will also contain a number of feats, spells, and magic items to expand your game. We are providing all of these in one book so as to avoid spreading out the goodness over a host of tomes, which tends to just make things difficult to find and use. Some of this material will be leaked early through this blog to use right away (and to help us playtest some of the more tricky aspects).
In addition to the expansion of the core classes, this book will also contain six new base classes. They are called base classes because they go from level 1 to level 20, but they are not core classes. Confused? Allow me to explain. We are making an assumption that these new classes will take a role in our world (and possibly yours) that is less common. You will not find them in every adventure, nor will they appear in every product. That means that you can introduce them to your game in a more limited fashion, without having to retcon them into every facet of your campaign.
Of these six classes, I am ready to talk, in a limited fashion, about four of them. I should note that these classes are still being designed and everything you read here is subject to change. That said, we are really excited about the ideas, and hope that you will be too.
When working out some of the initial concepts for these classes, we had two primary criteria that each needed to fill: a conceptual niche and a mechanical niche. This means that each class we come up with needs to include mechanics that we do not currently explore with one of the 11 other classes, as well as its own conceptual space.
The first class I want to look at is the Cavalier. While traditionally, this class has been focused on mounted combat, we have learned that classes such as this suffer terribly by the circumstances of the adventure. As such, the cavalier is going to have some aspects that make it a great mounted combatant, but it will also focus on directing and controlling a battlefield through a system of class features that allow it to enhance allies, unnerve opponents, and challenge foes. Unlike a bard, the cavalier will focus on individuals instead of large numbers, allowing it to have some greater effects. The class will not rely on spells or magic to get the job done, but it will be a bit more skill-focused than some of the other martial classes, especially when it comes to Charisma-based skills.
Next up is the Alchemist. Now, I know what you are thinking. Brewing alchemist fire and crafting tindertwigs is not the stuff of adventurers, and hardly enough to build an entire class around. On that, I would agree, but we are taking this in a slightly different direction. Think of the alchemist a bit more like Dr. Jekyll. He brews up elixirs, mixes up unguents and powders, and crafts all sorts of tricks to use in a fight. While some of these will certainly mimic spells, others might allow him to gain fiendish qualities, breath fire, or even transform into a puddle of living ooze. At higher levels, he will be able to use some of his concoctions on others, granting them some of his strange abilities. This class will work like an arcane caster, in that he will prepare his alchemy for the day and use them as day goes on, as they most likely do not keep for long. There will undoubtedly be a host of new alchemical items in the book for him to tinker with as well.
Next up is the Summoner. I should note that the title for this one is still a bit temporary as it does not quite convey the concepts we are looking for. This class is focused on the creation or summoning of a monster combatant or guardian. Think of it as a sort of arcane animal companion that is a magical beast, outsider, or aberration instead of an animal. While the class will still be able to cast arcane spells, in a bit more of a limited fashion than a sorcerer, it will have a number of abilities to enhance and empower its creation. Some of these will be able to be applied on the fly, while others will happen only when the summoner gains levels. The class will have a list of abilities that can be added to a monster as you gain levels, with more powerful abilities made available to use in your monster's construction at higher levels. To top it off, the class will be a bit variable in theme. You could be a pious summoner, creating a divine champion to guard and protect you, or you could be a foul chirurgeon, creating your monster from the corpses of other dead monsters.
Finally, the last class I want to talk about is the Oracle. This class is a spontaneous divine caster that is not devoted to any one god. Instead it is devoted to a particular concept or domain. The oracle draws his power from all the deities that support that concept, but none of them particularly hold any domain over him. A great example here would be Hercules, who would make a great oracle of strength. The class provides spontaneous divine casting, but the focus provides a host of other abilities and powers. You could expect feats of great might from the oracle of strength, while the oracle of fire is probably going to be able to roast you alive if you anger him. Think of the oracle more as an expert on a single topic and less as a seer of the future and you are close to the theme we are going for. I am really excited about what this class could do and the roleplaying options it presents. I might even have to give my current character a break to play an oracle as soon as the class is ready.
That covers four of the six classes in the book. I am planning on releasing information about the other two next month, at a seminar taking place at Gen Con Australia, in Brisbane. These classes will be put up for public playtest well before the book goes to print, and as soon as the schedule is finalized, you will find it here on this blog. I hope to have some more news on these classes, as well as a few sneak peaks before the playtest, as they develop. Stay tuned.