The release of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign is getting ever closer. Whether it's kingdom-building or leading an army, starting a business or crafting magic items, Ultimate Campaign is for all of the adventures that take place outside of the dungeon. The pages of the newest Pathfinder Roleplaying Game hardcover provide all kinds of useful information for your campaign, but many fantastic illustrations are contained within! Check some of them out!
Ultimate Campaign Art Preview!
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The release of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign is getting ever closer. Whether it's kingdom-building or leading an army, starting a business or crafting magic items, Ultimate Campaign is for all of the adventures that take place outside of the dungeon. The pages of the newest Pathfinder Roleplaying Game hardcover provide all kinds of useful information for your campaign, but many fantastic illustrations are contained within! Check some of them out!
Being a ruler has many responsibilities, but also many rewards.
Eidolons and other companion creatures are more fun when treated as a separate character rather than an obedient stat block.
Retraining rules allow you to replace a feat, change an ability score increase, or improve your hit points.
The quest to find a missing family member is a driving force for many heroes.
The section on marriage talks about how a spouse (or any relationship) can be an ally or an adversary.
Illustrations by Sam Burley, Eric Belisle, Lydia Schuchmann, and Maichol Quinto
Kingdom-building rules allow PCs to control their own country—or be the power behind the throne.
Followers, apprentices, and similar companions can be positive or negative plot hooks for a PC.
A character's lineage is a chain of characters linking a PC to the history of the campaign setting.
Illustrations by Denman Rooke, Jim Nelson, and Grafit Studio
Queen of Thorns Sample Chapter Scavenger Hunt!Wednesday, October 31, 2012 ... It's Halloween, and in the spirit of going door-to-door looking for treats, we've decided to do something a little unusual for the release of the new Pathfinder Tales novel Queen of Thorns. Instead of offering a single sample chapter, we've spread the first four chapters across four prominent fantasy and gaming websites, giving you a free sneak preview of the first 70 pages of the book! Here to talk a little bit...
Queen of Thorns Sample Chapter Scavenger Hunt!
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
It's Halloween, and in the spirit of going door-to-door looking for treats, we've decided to do something a little unusual for the release of the new Pathfinder Tales novel Queen of Thorns. Instead of offering a single sample chapter, we've spread the first four chapters across four prominent fantasy and gaming websites, giving you a free sneak preview of the first 70 pages of the book! Here to talk a little bit about the project is the author himself, Dave Gross:
To give people a taste of the Pathfinder Tales novel line, Paizo's fiction editor solicits short prequels for the web fiction page. These stories allow us authors to show a glimpse of what happens to our heroes between books. I appreciate the opportunity to go darker or funnier or just a little different from the novels while showcasing the same protagonists.
I love them.
Paizo also posts chapter excerpts from the novels, often from the middle of the book, with glorious full-color artwork.
I hate them.
Well, I love that Paizo is showing off beautiful art and a sample chapter, but why is it never Chapter One? That drives me crazy! I wrote the chapters in order, damn it, and I think the first one is a pretty good introduction to the story. Why can't that be the excerpt?
So I complain, as anyone who's read my editor's blog knows all too well. And he responds with perfectly reasonable-sounding explanations like, "We wanted to show off some action, because we like your fight scenes." (That's a dirty trick, the appeasa-flatter.) Or maybe he'll say, "We loved this character and wanted an excuse to commission a painting of her." (I loved her too, so I'm thwarted.)
But, damn it! I still want everyone to read Chapter One (and Two and Three) before Chapter Four. And so I keep complaining, and my editor keeps posting lists of things authors should never say to editors, and so it goes.
But something different happened this time. I don't know, maybe my editor was just tired, or maybe the stars were right. I suspect the enlistment of publicity impresario Jaym Gates might have been a factor. The result is that you can follow the links from blackgate.com to flamesrising.com to sfsignal.com and finally to paizo.com (below) to read Chapters One, Two, Three, and Four of Queen of Thorns.
If you like what you read, I hope you'll buy a copy of the book. And if you like that, I hope you'll tell everyone you know to buy one, too.
In the meantime, let's thank our hosts at all the participating websites, as well as Jaym Gates and my long-suffering editor, James Sutter, for making this happen.
I promise not to complain for the rest of the week.
About This Chapter
After Prince of Wolves and Master of Devils, in which the boys spend much of their time on separate journeys, for Queen of Thorns I wanted a plot closer to a classical quest fantasy with a group of heroes. You know, like a Fellowship or a Ring of Companions or something like that. So in Chapter Four, Count Jeggare assembles a party that leaves Radovan wishing he'd stayed in Rivendell. I mean, Iadara.
Jokes aside, Kyonin is only superficially similar to Middle-earth. In addition to the fey creatures infesting the woods and the horde of demons threatening from the south, the Fierani Forest is full of half-forgotten archaeological sites, some concealing arcane or cosmological mysteries. What could be more exciting to a Pathfinder like Count Jeggare? Although, as things turn out, the expedition into the Fierani Forest might reveal as many secrets of Radovan's infernal heritage as of Varian's long-absent father.
Chapter Four: The Fierani Forest
Somebody was making a hell of a racket, and not just in my nightmare. I'd been having a lot of those lately. I shook off the terrors, sat up, and rubbed sand out of my eyes.
Desna smiled. Nobody was getting murdered outside of dreamland. Arnisant just had Fumblewhatsit backed up against the campfire.
"Call off your animal! Great glens and gardens, he'll eat me in one bite!" The gnome wasn't tall enough to hold the skillet out of reach. He protected it with his body, but the hound's big jaws shook his confidence.
"Arni, get over here!"
The dog bounded and sat beside me, a long rope of drool running from his jaws.
The gnome scowled at Arni and set the skillet back on the fire. Fat black sausages sizzled in the pan.
"You all right, Fim?"
"Fimbulthicket," he winced as he pressed a hand to hip. "And I'm fine, thanks for asking. Dodging a hungry dog is nothing new, I'm sorry to say."
"Where's the boss?"
The gnome tilted his head in the direction of the brook. His baggy eyes told me the boss had kept him up late, as he had our last couple of nights in Omesta, quizzing him about his old man. It didn't help that we'd slept this last night in the forest just outside the elf and gnome city. The boss said it was supposed to get us prepared for the upcoming journey.
It was going to take a lot more than one night's camping to toughen up the gnome, who winced every time he moved. He probably hadn't spent a night out of a soft bed since he'd last seen Variel. That was around the time the boss was born, and I still had trouble thinking of him as working on a hundred years old.
I didn't mind sleeping on the ground so much as the fiends tearing through my dreams. I couldn't blame it on last night's supper, which had been pretty plain fare after all the rich elven goodies back in Iadara. No, I had a pretty good idea where my nightmares came from. They didn't come from the things I'd eaten. They came from the things I'd done.
As I pulled on my boots, the back of my neck itched. I looked around, saw nothing. Listening, I heard the sizzling meat on the fire, the water from the brook, and birdsong from the trees, but nothing out of order. Still, it felt like somebody was watching me.
I shook out my blanket and made a cloud of gray dog hair. No wonder I'd dreamed about wrestling a demon-bear. Whenever I slept near the boss, Arni waited for him to fall asleep before moving from the foot of his bunk to steal my covers, the big mooch.
The starknife rested behind the pack. I'd carried it with me ever since we'd left Ustalav. Even all the time I tramped through Tian Xia in a devil's body, I kept it near. A few times I'd had to use it to kill, but that's not why Azra gave it to me. Despite swearing to Bishop Senir that I'd never go back to Ustalav, I wondered sometimes whether Azra was waiting for me to return her knife and seal the offer she'd made me.
It was a stupid thing to think about. I wrapped the starknife in my blanket and stuffed them both into my pack.
I fetched my jacket off the tree where I'd hung it. It looked no worse for the dunking I'd taken back in Iadara. Most of my scrapes and bruises had healed, too. While the night I spent with Kemeili was fun, I was glad it was behind me. There'd been a time I'd have felt different. Maybe the problem was I'd spent a year stuck in a body nobody could love. Or maybe I'd had my fill of rough stuff for one lifetime.
My spurs slid into their elbow slots as I shrugged on the jacket. I rolled my shoulders to feel the slack hidden under the overlapping strips of red leather. It was the best jacket I'd ever had, and I liked feeling my tools close to hand. If I slapped my arms just so, razor-sharp blades filled my fingers. Even in a tight spot, it was easy to slip a rake or probe out of a hidden pocket.
I snagged a couple sausages from the skillet, juggling them as the fat dripped down my fingers. It was time I learned to be more careful around hot things.
Arnisant followed me out of camp. When I paused, he sat at my side and gave me a pitiful look.
I broke a sausage in half and held it up. "You stay off my bed. Got it?"
The Arnisant Falls started flowing. Before he could drown in his own puddle of drool, I dropped the sausage. He made it disappear and looked to me for more. I finished mine before I let him have the other half of his. Otherwise he'd harry me all the way to the brook.
We found the boss in the middle of the stream. He stood on a stone, his pose telling me he was halfway through the Thirty-Six Forms he'd learned from the masters of Dragon Temple. I'd learned the same exercises from a less reputable source. No surprise, the boss still practiced the Forms, and I had to admit he was a lot better at them than I was. Still, I made better use of them up close and personal.
I hopped onto a nearby stone and joined him. Usually we didn't go for more than a minute before he started pointing out my mistakes. This time he didn't say a word. We just let our bodies flow through the motions.
We finished and began again. As we Gathered the Sun and did Crane Steps Forth, I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. The elf ranger Caladrel crouched on a branch overhanging the brook. He watched until we finished the second routine.
The boss looked at Caladrel. An unspoken message passed between them, and the elf dropped as light as a leaf to the ground. He set aside his bow and quiver, slipped the long elven curveblade off his back. Facing us, he imitated our movements as we did it all again.
By the time we reached Tip the Leaf, I knew he was one hell of a quick learner.
"Immaculate," the boss said when we were done. "Have you studied?"
Caladrel shook his head. "I practiced Willow-Oak calisthenics while training for the rangers. Your exercise seems to have a similar purpose."
They collected their weapons, and Arni and I followed them back to the campsite. Caladrel and the boss were the same height, a good five inches taller than me. As they locked step, the boss fell into the ranger's rolling gait. As long as I'd known him, he was a natural mimic, even when he wasn't trying.
It was good to see the boss in his long coat with the riffle scrolls slung around his chest. The Shadowless Sword hanging from his hip should have looked all wrong with his Chelish clothes, but somehow its black-and-gold lacquered scabbard seemed to fit in just perfect. When he drew the blade, it moved as swiftly as his Chelish rapier ever had. Swifter, even. He said that's how it got its name, because it moved too fast for the sun to throw a shadow behind it.
The one difference I noticed in the count lately was that he'd lost that little bit of gray in his hair. I couldn't tell whether he was using dye or magic, but it was only a matter of time before I caught him at it. He was getting old, even for a half-elf, but he hid it pretty good.
"Prince Amarandlon sent me to aid in your search," said Caladrel. He saw the boss's eyes narrow, same as me. "He explained that the expedition is under your command. I welcome the opportunity to learn from you."
The boss nodded, but he was preening on the inside. He likes having his toes kissed. I guess that can't be helped, when you're born into the richest family in the richest country in the world. "The prince's message said I should expect two others."
"Maybe Faunra?" I'd hoped to find that doe-eyed ranger in Omesta while the boss and Fimbulthicket planned our excursion, but the gnomes told me she'd flown back to Iadara. I made up for my disappointment by catching up on the sleep I'd lost with Kemeili.
The boss gave me a look, but Caladrel smiled. He was turning out to be a regular guy, despite the toe-kissing.
"I'm afraid not," said the elf. "I'm here for the rangers. The others will represent other concerns. Doubtless one will be the queen's creature."
The boss's eyebrow rose a bit. Otherwise he masked his suspicion pretty good.
"That reminds me," Caladrel said, rummaging in his pack. "I bring a gift from Prince Amarandlon."
"Your master has been most generous to me," said the boss.
"Actually, the gift is for your associate."
The boss masked his disappointment pretty bad.
Caladrel pulled out a dirt-colored cloth and handed it to me. It was light as a handkerchief, but I let it fall open and saw it was a full cloak with a hood.
"Thanks," I said, trying to sound polite. "But it's not really my style."
"Your red leathers stand out against the forest," said Caladrel. "With scouts from the Witchbole venturing ever closer, stealth is our first line of defense."
"It's kind of warm to wear a cloak, don't you think?"
"Try it on."
The boss gave me the look, so I threw the cloak over my shoulders. The hem fell just above the top of my boots, covering up my red jacket and pants. It wasn't too warm after all.
"Much better," said Caladrel. "Now you aren't visible from a mile away."
"Thanks." Maybe it'd get caught in a briar patch. Maybe a breeze would blow it into a ravine. I revised my wish list for Lady Luck.
Back at the camp, the gnome with the goofy name rolled his eyes when he saw we'd brought company for breakfast. When the boss told him to expect two more, he shuffled over to his pack and dug out more sausages. Grumbling as he rubbed his wrists, he said, "I hope they bring more provisions."
"It would appear one has," said Caladrel.
A tall figure came out of the forest. Mirror-bright armor glinted out from beneath a hooded elven cloak like mine. The warrior's backpack was twice the size of mine, and it came with a barn door of a shield and a rafter of a sword.
The newcomer dropped the pack. Pulling back the hood, she revealed herself as the Forlorn woman who'd slugged me at the queen's party.
"Desna weeps." Sometimes I forget and say it out loud.
Caladrel coughed. "Count Jeggare, allow me to introduce Oparal, paladin of Iomedae."
"Your Excellency." She made a stiff Chelish bow.
Oparal can certainly handle herself in a fight.
The boss barely nodded, reminding her of the pecking order. With a sly smile, he said, "I believe you are already acquainted with my bodyguard, Radovan."
The black pupils of her steel-colored eyes slid toward me. Her nostrils flared. Her expression was almost comical except for the fact that my jaw still ached. Otherwise, I would have tipped her a wink to show I wasn't scared.
I wasn't. Not much, anyway.
"Hungry?" asked the gnome.
"Yes," said Oparal. "Our owl only just arrived."
At a nod from the boss, Oparal went to sit beside the fire. I made the "let's talk" sign. Caladrel caught the hint and joined the others at the fire while the boss and I strolled out of earshot.
"You sure this is a good idea? I mean, seriously—a paladin?"
"We could wish for no better ally if we encounter demons in the forest."
"We don't need one of these holy avengers. They make me nervous. You don't like them either. Besides, we've handled fiends before."
"I never said I don't like paladins. As for demons, you and I have only ever faced one or two at a time, usually with the Egorian Watch only a shout away."
"You're forgetting Iron Mountain."
"I forget nothing," he said. "Those were devils. And you were on their side."
He had to remind me of that. "I couldn't help it."
"All I am saying is that the circumstances are different."
"You weren't the one that ogress clobbered."
"I was not the one who offended her."
"Thanks for the sympathy."
The boss looked past me. That sly smile found its way back onto his face. "Perhaps our last companion will be more to your liking."
I turned to see her approach. Under an elven cloak she wore black-and-yellow leathers—wasp colors. A coiled whip hung at her back, pushing up her cloak like the bustle of a ball gown.
Kemeili planted a fist on her hip and smiled at me. "You didn't think I'd let you get away that easily, did you?"
∗ ∗ ∗
Caladrel paused and raised a hand. He lowered it, palm-down. We all crouched low. Even Arnisant lay down without needing to be told. Clever boy.
Whatever the ranger spotted, I was glad to set down my overstuffed pack. The boss kept his books in his satchel, but I was the one hauling around the rest, including his tent. At least he had all his little scrolls and widgets in his coat and bandolier.
Caladrel beckoned the boss forward. I went with him.
We peered through some bushes at a mob of demons ambling through the forest. They wore the bodies of elves, some of them in scraps of ranger leathers, but there was no mistaking them for real elves. They jiggled with every step, glutted with something wriggling inside them. I counted seventeen of the damned things.
"Vermleks," whispered Caladrel.
"I will lead the attack," said Oparal, who'd joined us without an invitation. She shrugged off her pack and set her shield on an arm as thick as mine. Traced in gold on the shield's face was the image of a winged, eagle-headed woman.
"No," said the boss. "There are too many for us simply to rush in."
"The count is right," said Caladrel.
"But we are less than half a day from Omesta," said Kemeili, who I hadn't even heard creep up on us. "They have never come so close before."
"They have, and more often than you might think," said Caladrel. "But we are charged with protecting the queen's guest. You take your duty seriously, don't you, Oparal?"
"I—" Oparal looked at the boss and me. "I do."
"Then wait. With your permission, Count Jeggare ...?"
The boss gave him the nod, and Caladrel drew an arrow from his quiver. I could have sworn the fletching moved itself into his fingers, like the container was handing it to him. He nocked the arrow. On its tip was a lump that looked like a plant bulb.
The boss whispered to Oparal. "Caladrel knows the forest. We will follow his lead."
"Of course, Excellency."
"In the field, call me Varian."
I didn't like having a cloak on me, even if it didn't make me too hot. I dropped it on the ground. As an afterthought, I shrugged off my jacket, too. Oparal looked at me like I was stupid. Maybe she was right, but I didn't want demon gore all over my new leathers.
Caladrel popped up and back down so quick that I noticed the sound of his bow only after I realized he was moving. The demons heard it, and some of them looked back in our direction. A few stared so hard I felt like they were looking straight at me. I moved real quiet-like, and their elven eyes followed me.
Past the demons, the arrow hit the ground with a squelching sound. That got the attention of all the demons. Wailing, they rushed toward the arrow, shoving each other to reach it first.
"The scent drives them mad," Caladrel whispered. He pointed through the brush at a pair of demons ripping hunks of meat off each other. Caladrel nodded up toward the forest canopy. "It also attracts help."
At first it looked like cones were dropping from the high branches, but there were no pines around. The "cones" were fist-sized wasps.
"Well done, Caladrel," said Kemeili.
The demons noticed nothing but what was between them and the scent. The wasps swarmed over them. For a few moments, the demons didn't seem to notice. Then one began screaming and slapping at its elven body. Its head swelled and darkened. An instant later, it burst open like a rotten melon. A liver-colored worm's head burst out through its gaping neck, squealing as it squirmed free of its wasp-stung body.
"Now?" Oparal had her hand on her sword.
"Let them weary themselves," said Caladrel.
An impatient growl rumbled in Oparal's chest. She sounded like Arnisant when he spied a cat. She was spoiling for a fight.
Six or seven of the demons raised their stolen hands above their heads, gurgling unholy prayers. The air around them congealed. The wasps fell to the ground while the demons crushed the insects in a frenzy of slaps and stomps.
"Now," said the boss.
By the time I realized Caladrel had stood, he'd unleashed three or four arrows. One jutted from the chest of a vermlek, blood spurting through its hollow shaft.
Oparal charged the demons. Her sword struck quick as lightning and blazed twice as bright. Two demons came up behind her, black energy surrounding their hands as they reached for her. The boss riffled a scroll, and two gray bolts of magic struck each vermlek in the face. They howled and clutched their eyes as Oparal whipped her sword around and opened their bellies. Bloody worms as thick as my arm poured out of the wounds. Below each thick head, the worms split into four long tails, the tails further tipped with nests of countless tiny tentacles. The abandoned elf bodies slumped to the ground.
The boss tucked his expended scroll back into his bandolier. I stayed close in case one of the worms went for him. Arni did the same, barking as a worm shot quick as a snake past Oparal. The hound jumped in front of the boss, but the demon didn't go for the count.
It raised a dripping tail and pointed straight at me. In the squealing tongue of demons, it called out to its wormy buddies. Their heads swiveled in my direction. They rushed me.
I tensed, deciding whether to stand or dodge.
With a crack, Kemeili's whip caught the first vermlek by one of its wormy tails. The demon struggled to get free, but the curved flaps of the whip held it tight. Kemeili pulled it off course, giving me all the room I needed.
I planted the big knife a couple of feet below the worm's five-jawed mouth. Dark blood sprayed up as I pulled out the blade, but the demon barely grunted at the wound. Maybe that's not where it kept its heart.
Or maybe vermleks don't need hearts.
It rammed its head against my ribs, knocking the breath out of me. Arnisant's jaws caught the worm just below its head. The hound shook once, twice, and the third time tore away a mass of ruined flesh and six inches of bloody windpipe.
Turns out vermleks do need windpipes.
We left it flopping on the ground and turned to stop the next one coming toward me. None even came close.
Caladrel and the boss each put down another one with their swords. The ranger's big two-hander moved so fast that all I could see was its red blur. It hummed as it moved, louder when it touched a demon. In the instant it was out of its sheath, the boss's Shadowless Sword was damned near invisible. It looked as if everywhere he pointed his hand, some magic power tore wounds in the demons' flesh.
Oparal cut the legs out from under two vermleks trying to break away. As the worms escaped their host bodies, she chopped them into pieces.
Kemeili twisted the handle of her whip. Three long, wicked barbs grew from its tip. She lashed a vermlek across the belly, revealing the worm inside. With another stroke, she tore it out of its shelter. I filled it with darts from my jacket sleeves. It flopped a few times and lay still.
It was over before I'd worked up a good lather. I thought about how the vermleks had looked at me, then I began to sweat.
Oparal looked at me herself, eyes narrowing. The white light of her sword began fading. She raised it up and chopped the head off another demon.
Caladrel joined her in the beheadings. The closer his sword came to the vermleks, the more it glowed like blood on a lantern pane. As the demons died, so did the glow.
The boss had been right. It was good to have a couple demon slayers with us. I only hoped they didn't mistake me for one of the bad guys.
Kemeili wiped the gore off her whip while the gnome looked us over for injuries. A gnome-sized whirlwind floated just above the grass behind him, but it hadn't left his side during the battle. He didn't find any wounds on us. "Not even a scratch!"
Good thing, I thought as I fetched my jacket. Otherwise I'd have felt pretty silly setting aside what little armor I had. I promised myself not to do that again, even if it meant getting a little slime on my leathers.
"Don't sound so disappointed," Kemeili said to the gnome. "Or maybe next time just help us fight them."
He waved away her complaint. "I've seen scum like these a dozen times before. I knew you could handle them. They're boring."
The boss knelt to examine the dead demons. I counted time in my head until he broke out his sketchbook. Fourteen seconds—a new record.
Kemeili shot me a silent question. What is he doing?
I could have told her that the boss is a student of everything, but the truth is he likes weird stuff best. For instance, he calls himself a botanist—a fancy word for "gardener"—but the plants he likes most are the freaks like those whispering lilies he used to give his Pathfinder agents. They could plant one wherever they were, talk into the flower, and their words would come through lily's twin in the boss's greenhouse.
I could have told her that, but I didn't want to lead her on. If she'd finagled her way into the group because she couldn't get enough of me, well, who could blame her? On the other hand, it was way too convenient. If the queen had sent Oparal, that left the temple to send Kemeili. And while the Calistrians were bunches of fun with their temple baths and prostitutes, guile and revenge weren't high on my list of good times.
Kemeili waited for an answer until I shrugged and turned away, pretending to concentrate on cleaning the gore off my knife. Once the boss decided we had to bury the elven bodies and burn their demon hosts, I kept busy enough to avoid her for the rest of the afternoon.
After we finished, we hustled east until the boss called a halt at dusk.
It was about time, I figured, since I was carrying twice as much gear as anybody except the paladin, and I'd decided she was half giant.
Actually, she didn't look half bad. I liked how the sunlight made her black hair shine almost blue, but she never cracked a smile, especially when she saw me looking back at her.
The gnome dropped his pack. It hit the ground with a heavy thump. I grabbed the strap and hefted it. It was almost too much to lift in one hand.
"Hey, Thick. How do you haul so much?"
"Fimbulthicket," he corrected me, but then he smiled. He'd shaken off his morning grump, but he still winced as if every move brought out a bad ache in his bones. "I imbued myself with the might of an ant."
"Proportionately, they are far more powerful than we gnomes. Even stronger than you humans."
He called me human, so I liked him a little better, despite his stupid name. "So you cast a spell?"
"You got to teach the boss that one." I touched my own aching back. It'd be worth one of his riffle scrolls to lighten my load.
The gnome shook his head. "It's not some arcane formula, but rather my connection to the Green that lends me power."
"I get it. You're more like a cleric than a wizard. But the boss is a clever guy. Maybe he could figure out a way to do with his scrolls what you do with your Green."
"Perhaps." The gnome shrugged, then brightened. "If he did, it would certainly be the first time that I ever heard of such a thing."
The boss doled out chores, and no one seemed to mind his giving orders. Caladrel made a fire as Kemeili skinned the hares he'd shot while he scouted ahead during our hike. She was good with a knife, as I knew better than most.
"Hey, boss. I could use a little help with that thing over there."
He glanced at Kemeili and back at me. We walked off far enough that I figured the elves wouldn't overhear us.
"I'm starting to think it's a bad idea to take Kemeili with us."
"She is an official representative of the temple of Calistria," he said. "You realize they are the most influential sect in Kyonin?"
"Yeah, yeah." He'd given me the long lesson before we'd arrived, and I could list the names of all the elf gods. I liked that they worshiped Lady Luck, same as me and the boss, but their favorite was Calistria, the Savored Sting. "I'm just saying I don't think she's here for the right reason. Even if she was, she's going to be a distraction."
"She is important not only to the success of our mission but to the continued goodwill of her temple, the court, and the queen herself."
"Just keep her happy," he said. "That should not be too onerous. Or have you lost your touch with the ladies?"
"Lost my—? Hey, now. You know that's not a problem."
"I hear quite a few wild boasts, but when we face a situation that requires a certain subtle—"
"Fine, I'll keep her happy."
"Excellent," he said, turning to go back to the others. He paused and added, "Just not near camp. Show some discretion."
The boss and Oparal went off to fetch water, talking as they went. I had his tent set up and his gear stowed inside by the time they returned with filled canteens and waterskins.
I stretched out Arnisant's supper by giving him a little at a time rather than throwing him a whole hare. By the time it was gone, he didn't even give me the starving dog routine. He just settled down at the boss's feet.
"What other varieties of fiend might we face?" the boss asked Caladrel.
"The list is endless," said Caladrel. "The vermlek are the least of them. I have fought over a dozen kinds, but many others lurk in Tanglebriar or await summons from the Abyss."
"This is why I returned to Kyonin," said Oparal. "To wipe this filth from our land."
Caladrel raised his leather tankard in salute. "May you touch the Brightness."
"A laudable goal," said the boss. "But I would be as glad to avoid them as to slaughter them. Our mission is to find Variel Morgethai."
"We are all here to help you find your father, Varian," said Kemeili. He usually told people to call him by his given name 'in the field,' as he put it. Still, I didn't like the way she said it. Maybe he would have to be the one to keep her happy. That thought was more annoying than I'd expected it to be.
"Are we certain he still lives?" said Oparal. "No one has seen him for almost a century."
"I would know if he had died," said the gnome. He rubbed his knuckles. "I would feel it."
The boss shot him a curious look. It was a weird thing to say. From the way everyone else looked away, I wasn't the only one who thought so.
The gnome picked up on it too. "I would feel it in the Green. Variel has always been a strong presence in the land."
Everybody nodded as if that explained everything, but it still killed the conversation.
Caladrel and Oparal discussed the best ways to kill demons. Lightning and poison were useless. Fire, frost, and acid weren't so good either, but that mattered more to the boss, who had to pick the right spells to write in his riffle scrolls. Since I'd had the big knife whammied in Goka, I was all set to slice off a hunk of demon.
As we banked the fire and got ready to sleep, I caught another of those looks from Kemeili. It was weird how she could look like a girl one moment—complete with a baby-doll voice that shouldn't have done it for me but, to be honest, kind of did—and then turn her head in the firelight to become all woman.
Well, maybe part tiger, too.
Sleep is what I wanted, and Kemeili looked like she had more than cuddles on her mind. I rolled up the elven cloak and shook out my jacket, trying to make it clear that I was ready for sleep.
"What's that?" said Oparal. She sat on a fallen log beside the fire, her big sword across her knees. "That image on your jacket."
I held it up, showing off the phoenix on the back. "Phoenix. Big flaming bird. They got them over in Tian Xia."
"Did you see one?"
"Yeah. Once. Kind of."
Oparal tilted her head to the side, obviously not buying my story.
"I had this jacket made to remind me of all the fights I had in Tian Xia. That's a land on the other side of the—"
"I know what Tian Xia is."
"Well, long story short, I got into a few tussles over there. Each of these pictures is kind of my souvenir."
"Trophies of your kills?"
I didn't like her tone. It didn't matter to me what god she wore on her shield. She had no business judging me. Still, I wasn't about to back down just because she wore shiny armor. "I didn't kill them all," I said. "Just the ones who got in my face with their righteous attitudes."
"That's no phoenix." She held up her shield to show off the bird-woman—which now that I looked closer, did bear some suspicious similarities to the symbol on my jacket. Not the same, but close enough to make me wonder what the artist had known. "It was someone bearing the symbol of my order, wasn't it?"
"Nah," I said. "It was a whole other country. Different gods and everything."
Oparal reached into a belt pouch and brought out a little jar. She opened it and dipped in a finger before drawing a little sun on her brow, across her lips, and on the armor over her heart. "Tell me again who you killed," she said. "I will know if you lie."
"That's enough," said the boss.
"So you know what he did?" said Oparal.
He didn't know, because I hadn't told him. The moment he hesitated to answer, Oparal knew it too.
"There were two of them," I said. "Well, one woman in two bodies. I think one of them was a paladin. I wasn't looking for a fight, but they were. This phoenix on my jacket, that's what was left of them afterward."
Oparal's eyes widened. No doubt she was surprised I'd told the truth.
"Like I said, I wasn't the one looking for a fight."
"You killed a paladin!" She dropped her jar of holy balm and drew her sword an inch from its sheath. It lit up the trees around us.
"Put that away," said Caladrel. "They can see that light in Razmiran."
When Oparal didn't move, the boss snapped, "Sheathe your weapon, or return to Iadara and tell the queen we have no use for you."
Oparal shoved the blade back into place, but her eyes never left my face. I folded the jacket so nobody else could see the phoenix or any of the other figures carved into its leather. Eventually I turned away from Oparal and walked out of camp, half-hoping the boss or Arni would follow. But they didn't.
I found a cozy spot just within range of the fire's light and sat down. What pissed me off about Oparal wasn't that she'd made me admit what I did. I didn't give a good damn what she thought. I just didn't like thinking about the people I'd killed. Most of them had it coming—killers themselves, or worse. Others came looking to kill me, and I shouldn't have felt a bit bad about killing them first.
But this phoenix paladin, when she'd found me, she thought she'd found a devil. A monster, not a man. I tried telling her otherwise, but she wouldn't listen. So I could say I hadn't killed her. She'd killed herself.
But that was a lie, and I knew it. The truth was that I beat her before I killed her. I could have walked away. Well, run away. But I could have got away—that was the point. I could have got away and left her there alive.
But that's not what I did.
Shoving the jacket under my head for a pillow, I lay down alone. When sleep finally caught up with me, it brought me nightmares about the people who hadn't had it coming.
Pathfinder Battles Preview: Taking Another Look Friday, December 16, 2011The official release date for Heroes & Monsters is now only a few weeks away, and by this point I’ve revealed every miniature in the set in one form or another. Later today our friends at WizKids will be bringing over first-run outputs of the approved sculpts for the next set, Rise of the Runelords, so my mind is already on the next amazing set. But those previews will have to wait until next month, as I want to take one...
Pathfinder Battles Preview: Taking Another Look
Friday, December 16, 2011
The official release date for Heroes & Monsters is now only a few weeks away, and by this point I’ve revealed every miniature in the set in one form or another. Later today our friends at WizKids will be bringing over first-run outputs of the approved sculpts for the next set, Rise of the Runelords, so my mind is already on the next amazing set. But those previews will have to wait until next month, as I want to take one more pass through Heroes & Monsters to show off some of the final versions of minis you’ve only previously seen as computer models or unpainted practical sculpts.
First up we have the uncommon Dire Rat, one of the earliest miniatures we revealed for the set. Your comments (and our own impressions) said that the computer-generated 3D sculpt of the rat looked too “clean,” so I asked WizKids to add a layer of filth over the whole guy to really sell the idea that he just stepped out of a sewer. I’d say they nailed it. Gross!
Speaking of early reveals, next up we have the rare Lich, previously seen only as a computer sculpt. The final production-run miniature shown below reveals nice metallic effects on the shoulder pads and chestplate, while WizKids’ talented paint operations have added a cool speckled highlight effect on what originally appeared to be a flat black cloak. This guy really looks like a badass, and I love the way the detail at the hem of his cloak gives the whole thing a sense of texture. I can’t wait to put this guy on the table and see my players run for cover.
Next up we have the common Lizardfolk Champion. This is your first look at this guy in color, and honestly, I’m not sure our camera is up to the challenge of showing off how good the Champion looks, especially for a “common” figure. I count eight different colors, from his black toenails to the touch of blue at the top of his crest. The Lizardfolk’s curved tail and weapon pose give it a great sense of three-dimensionality. We call him a Champion, but at the common rarity, he makes a great troop-builder figure for a Lizardfolk squad. More Lizardfolk will certainly follow (with plenty of variety within the types), but this guy gets us off to a good start.
Speaking of amazing commons, the Orc Warrior is one of my absolute favorite figures in the set. Not only is he an amazing likeness to the illustration in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, but he’s got more detail and a better paint job than most prepainted orcs that preceded him (although I also really like the Orc Brute from this set). There will DEFINITELY be more orcs in the future, and we’ll be careful to match the skin tones, size, and general “look” to make sure all of them work well together.
Lastly we have the only iconic character in Heroes & Monsters, the rare paladin Seelah. Although the way this photo frames her face makes her seem like a bit of a Popeye look, the mini looks really nice in hand. The metallic silver and gold of her armor really pops, and I love the design WizKids pulled off at the hem of her skirt. There will, of course, be more iconic characters to come, with Rise of the Runelords getting two, bringing the total (including the four in Beginner Box Heroes) to 7. Only 14 to go before we’ve covered them all!
That’s it for this week! WizKids is bringing a pile of new minis over later today, and I can’t wait to start planning preview blogs for the next set! Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about Heroes & Monsters, and I’ll do my best to help out!
These things are almost in your hands! I can’t wait to hear what you think of them once you get to see them for yourselves!
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.
... Ultimate Combat Preview #1 Tuesday, July 19, 2011Time slips by so quickly during the summer months that it seems like a new rulebook is just around the corner. As it turns out, Ultimate Combat is due to release in just a few weeks. From now until Gen Con, we will be showing off some of the exciting new options for characters and GMs alike that hide inside this blood-drenched tome. ... To kick things off, I can think of no better way than to take a look at the classes chapter of Ultimate...
Ultimate Combat Preview #1
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Time slips by so quickly during the summer months that it seems like a new rulebook is just around the corner. As it turns out, Ultimate Combat is due to release in just a few weeks. From now until Gen Con, we will be showing off some of the exciting new options for characters and GMs alike that hide inside this blood-drenched tome.
To kick things off, I can think of no better way than to take a look at the classes chapter of Ultimate Combat. This book features one brand-new class, the gunslinger, as well as two alternate classes, the ninja and the samurai. In addition, all of the classes that focus on melee or ranged combat get a host of new archetypes in this book. Take a look a this list.
Illustration by Mauricio Herrera
Alchemist: This section presents the beastmorph and ragechemist archetypes. Barbarian: This section includes the armored hulk, scarred rager, sea reaver, titan mauler, true primitive, urban barbarian, and wild rager. Bard: This section includes the archaeologist, daredevil, and dervish dancer. Cavalier: This section includes the beast rider, emissary, gendarme, honor guard, luring cavalier, musketeer, standard bearer, and strategist. Cleric: This section includes the crusader, divine strategist, evangelist, and merciful healer. Druid: This section includes the ape shaman, bat shaman, and boar shaman, as well as the world walker. Fighter: This section includes the armor master, brawler, cad, dragoon, gladiator, tactician, thunderstriker, tower shield specialist, unarmed fighter, and unbreakable. Gunslinger: This section includes the gun tank, musket master, mysterious stranger, and pistolero. Inquisitor: This section includes the iconoclast, spellbreaker, and witch hunter. Magus: This section includes the kensai, myrmidarch, skirnir, and soul forger. Monk: This section includes the flowing monk, maneuver master, martial artist, master of many styles, sensei, sohei, and tetori. Paladin: This section includes the divine hunter, empyreal knight, holy gun, holy tactician, knight of the sepulcher, and sacred shield. Ranger: This section includes the battle scout, deep walker, falconer, trophy hunter, warden, and wild stalker. Rogue: This section includes new rogue talents, plus the bandit, chameleon, charlatan, driver, knife master, pirate, roof runner, sanctified rogue, and survivalist. Wizard: This section includes the arcane bomber, siege mage, and spellslinger.
Of course, some of these classes get other new rules as well, such as rage powers, rogue talents, and the like. Some of these archetypes can make for some versatile and powerful characters. I myself am playing with one of these archetypes in a campaign being run by our illustrious publisher, Erik Mona. Take a look at the Maneuver Master.
Maneuver Master (Archetype)
The maneuver master specializes in more complicated moves than simple damage-dealing strikes. Bonus Feat: In addition to normal monk bonus feats, a maneuver master may select any Improved combat maneuver feat (such as Improved Overrun) as a bonus feat. At 6th level and above, he may select any Greater combat maneuver feat (such as Greater Grapple) as a bonus feat. At 10th level and above, he may select any maneuver Strike feat (such as Tripping Strike) as a bonus feat. Flurry of Maneuvers (Ex): At 1st level, as part of a full-attack action, a maneuver master can make one additional combat maneuver, regardless of whether the maneuver normally replaces a melee attack or requires a standard action. The maneuver master uses his monk level in place of his base attack bonus to determine his CMB for the bonus maneuvers, though all combat maneuver checks suffer a –2 penalty when using a flurry. At 8th level, a maneuver master may attempt a second additional combat maneuver, with an additional –3 penalty on combat maneuver checks. At 15th level, a maneuver master may attempt a third additional combat maneuver, with an additional –7 penalty on combat maneuver checks. This ability replaces flurry of blows. Maneuver Defense (Ex): At 3rd level, if a maneuver master has an Improved combat maneuver feat, any creature attempting that maneuver against the maneuver master provokes an attack of opportunity, even if it would not normally do so. This ability replaces still mind. Reliable Maneuver (Ex): At 4th level, as a swift action, a maneuver master may spend 1 point from his ki pool before attempting a combat maneuver. He can roll his combat maneuver check for that maneuver twice and use the better result. This ability replaces slow fall. Meditative Maneuver (Ex): At 5th level, as a swift action, a maneuver master can add his Wisdom modifier on any combat maneuver check he makes before the beginning of his next turn. He must choose which combat maneuver check to grant the bonus to before making the combat maneuver check. This ability replaces purity of body. Sweeping Maneuver (Ex): At 11th level, a maneuver master can make two combat maneuvers as a standard action, as long as neither maneuver requires the maneuver master to move. He may perform two identical maneuvers against two adjacent enemies, or he may perform two different combat maneuvers against the same target. This ability replaces diamond body. Whirlwind Maneuver (Ex): At 15th level, once per day as a full-round action, a maneuver master can attempt a single combat maneuver against every opponent he threatens, as long as the combat maneuver does not require movement. He makes a single combat maneuver check, and it applies to all targets. This ability replaces quivering palm.
After the first session, I can tell you that this archetype has been a blast to play. We will be looking at some of the fun toys for the monk in more detail next week, but let me close out with one last list of class-filled fun. Here is the revised and expanded list of fighter weapon groups. Weapons marked with one asterisk (*) can be found in the Advanced Player's Guide, while those with two asterisks (**) are from Ultimate Combat. Enjoy and see you all next week.
Axes: bardiche*, battleaxe, dwarven waraxe, greataxe, handaxe, heavy pick, hooked axe**, knuckle axe**, light pick, mattock**, orc double axe, pata**, and throwing axe Blades, Heavy: bastard sword, chakram*, double chicken saber**, double walking stick katana**, elven curve blade, falcata*, falchion, greatsword, great terbutje**, katana**, khopesh*, longsword, nine-ring broadsword**, nodachi**, scimitar, scythe, seven-branched sword**, shotel**, temple sword*, terbutje**, and two-bladed sword Blades, Light: bayonet*, butterfly sword**, dagger, gladius**, kama, kerambit**, kukri, pata**, quadrens**, rapier, short sword, sica**, sickle, starknife, swordbreaker dagger*, sword cane*, and wakizashi** Bows: composite longbow, composite shortbow, longbow, and shortbow Close: bayonet*, brass knuckles*, cestus**, dan bong**, emei piercer**, fighting fan**, gauntlet, heavy shield, iron brush**, light shield, madu**, mere club**, punching dagger, sap, scizore**, spiked armor, spiked gauntlet, spiked shield, tekko-kagi**, tonfa**, unarmed strike, wooden stake*, and wushu dart** Crossbows: double crossbow*, hand crossbow, heavy crossbow, heavy repeating crossbow, light crossbow, light repeating crossbow, and tube arrow shooter** Double: dire flail, dwarven urgrosh, gnome hooked hammer, orc double axe, quarterstaff, and two-bladed sword Firearms: all one-handed**, two-handed**, and siege firearms** Flails: chain spear*, dire flail, double chained kama**, flail, flying blade**, heavy flail, kusarigama**, kyoketsu shoge**, meteor hammer**, morningstar, nine-section whip**, nunchaku, sansetsukon**, scorpion whip**, spiked chain, urumi**, and whip Hammers: aklys**, battle aspergillum*, club, greatclub, heavy mace, light hammer, light mace, mere club**, taiaha**, tetsubo**, wahaika**, and warhammer Monk: bo staff**, brass knuckles**, butterfly sword**, cestus*, dan bong**, double chained kama**, double chicken saber**, emei piercer**, fighting fan**, jutte**, kama, kusarigama**, kyoketsu shoge**, lungshuan tamo**, monk's spade**, nine-ring broadsword**, nine-section whip**, nunchaku, quarterstaff, rope dart**, sai, sansetsukon**, seven-branched sword**, shang gou**, shuriken, siangham, tiger fork**, tonfa**, tri-point double-edged sword**, unarmed strike, urumi**, wushu dart** Natural: unarmed strike and all natural weapons, such as bite, claw, gore, tail, and wing Polearms: bardiche*, bec de corbin*, bill*, glaive, glaive-guisarme*, guisarme, halberd, hooked lance**, lucerne hammer*, mancatcher*, monk's spade**, naginata**, nodachi**, ranseur, rohomphaia**,tepoztopili**, and tiger fork** Spears: amentum**, boar spear*, javelin, harpoon**, lance, longspear, pilum*, shortspear, sibat**, spear, tiger fork**, and trident Thrown: aklys**, amentum**, atlatl**, blowgun, bolas, boomerang*, chakram*, club, dagger, dart, halfling sling staff, harpoon**, javelin, lasso*, kestros**, light hammer, net, poisoned sand tube**, rope dart**, shortspear, shuriken, sling, spear, starknife, throwing axe, throwing shield**, trident, and wushu dart** Siege Engines: all siege engines**
... Illustration by Craig J Spearing ... Editors at Work Thursday, May 12, 2011While we soldier on through our biggest deadlines of the year, please enjoy this piece of art from Pathfinder Adventure Path #47: Ashes at Dawn. Dude looks like I feel. ... Wes Schneider ... Managing Editor ...
... Illustration by Dave Rapoza. Wallpaper design by Crystal Frasier. Widescreen version here. ... Invasion of the Body Stitchers! Friday, April 15, 2011Burghers of Paizo, rejoice! The Beast of Lepidstadt has been captured! Next week we'll begin shipping the second installment of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path, and the Trial of the Beast will begin. The Punishing Man rises in the square outside the courthouse! The logs have been stacked against his flanks and the oil has seeped into his...
Illustration by Dave Rapoza. Wallpaper design by Crystal Frasier. Widescreen version here.
Invasion of the Body Stitchers!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Burghers of Paizo, rejoice! The Beast of Lepidstadt has been captured! Next week we'll begin shipping the second installment of the Carrion Crown Adventure Path, and the Trial of the Beast will begin. The Punishing Man rises in the square outside the courthouse! The logs have been stacked against his flanks and the oil has seeped into his veins. The Punishing Man waits to take his passenger to the depths of Hell! And soon, he shall have his feast. Until then though, enjoy this wallpaper!
Marketing and Organized Play Manager/Town Crier
... Illustration by Kieran Yanner ... Hazardous Terrain Tuesday, March 8, 2011In last week's Design Tuesday blog, I delved into the importance of terrain to push your encounter design to the next level, and provided you with some design philosophy to ponder when designing your own terrain. This week, I'm back with some concrete examples. ... The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes combatants are able to use their movement abilities with little or no hindrance. Sure, there are walls, doors,...
Illustration by Kieran Yanner
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
In last week's Design Tuesday blog, I delved into the importance of terrain to push your encounter design to the next level, and provided you with some design philosophy to ponder when designing your own terrain. This week, I'm back with some concrete examples.
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game assumes combatants are able to use their movement abilities with little or no hindrance. Sure, there are walls, doors, and difficult terrain to navigate, or maybe some obscuring effects to grant a little concealment, but for the most part PCs and monsters have free reign to move about the rooms and corridors of the dungeon as they wish. The following types of terrain are all exceptions to this norm. While some act as difficult terrain, they present further hazards while navigating the battlefield.
One thing to keep in mind about all of these new terrain types is that they typically work best as smaller, tactically placed patches. You may be tempted to fill an entire battlefield with one of these new terrains, but doing this should be the exception rather than the rule. They all work best when they give characters a choice between freedom and danger. When properly placed, they can reward the use of combat maneuvers and spells that grant increased mobility to allies or restrict or force the movement of enemies, and may limit the opportunities to make charge attacks without stymieing that tactic outright.
You may notice that these new terrain types are very similar to the hazards presented on pages 244–245 of the Pathfinder RPG GameMastery Guide. So what is the difference between these terrains and hazards? These hazardous terrains involve slightly more choice on the part of combatant than hazards do. Most, if not all, have effects when a character chooses to move into or is forced into them, and those effects should be relatively easy to determine before the combatant enters them, either by way of their physical characteristic or an easy Knowledge check (DC 10) of the appropriate type.
Anchor Stone: This strange stone has a debilitating gravitational effect on those who do not traverse over it quickly. Each time a creature starts its turn on an area of anchor stone, it must succeed at a DC 12 Fortitude saving throw. Any creature that fails can only take a 5-foot step on its turn. Any creature that succeeds at the saving throw must move at half speed on its turn.
To take the effects of anchor stone, a creature must be standing on or touching the stone. Anchor stone has no effect on those who fly over it or otherwise do not have physical contact with the stone.
Some areas of anchor stone are more powerful than others, having a DC of 15, 20, or even higher.
Choke Spores: This type of fungus thrives in subterranean caves and other damp and lightless areas. The first time a creature starts its turn within an area containing choke spores, the poison of the fungus is released, inflicting those within that space with the following poison.
Choke Spore Poison
Type poison, inhaled; Save Fortitude DC 14
Frequency 1/round for 1d4 rounds
Effect 1 Dex and 1 Wis damage; Cure 1 save
Once an area of choke spores releases its poison, that area becomes dormant for 1 day. With a single standard action, a creature can use fire (from a torch, a flaming magical weapon, or a similar implement) to destroy all the choke spore balls within all 5-foot-squares adjacent to the creature. Acid, cold, and fire damage from area effect spells automatically destroy patches of choke spores within the spells' effect areas.
Fey Mist: This strange swirling mist of purple and green gas and motes of light dazzles those who stray within it. Fey mist provides concealment. Furthermore, a living, non-fey creature that starts its turn within the mist must make a DC 12 Will saving throw or become confused for 1 round. Those that make their saving throws are dazzled for 1 round instead. This is an enchantment effect.
Some areas of fey mist are more powerful than others, and have and require a DC 15, DC 20, or even DC 25 Will saving throw to avoid its confusion.
Flame: A house is on fire and that flame rages in large areas, a hellish landscape burns around you, or a large bonfire rages in a clearing where a coven of witches chant evil incantations. While the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook has rules for forest fires, sometimes you may want to have a section of an encounter area that just burns.
When a creature starts its turn with its space fully within an area of flame, it takes 1d6 points of fire damage, and if the creature is wearing metal armor, it is affected as if by a heat metal spell. A creature that starts its turn with its space only partially within an area of flame must succeed at a DC 12 Reflex saving throw or take the damage and the heat metal effect if it is wearing metal armor. A creature that moves through areas of flame must make a DC 12 Reflex saving throw or take 1d6 points of fire damage, but avoids the heat metal effect. This save is made the first time a creature moves into flame with a move action or when it is affected by something that pushes or otherwise forces the creature into an area of flame.
Supernatural or powerful flames can have higher DCs. A raging fire can have a DC of 15 or the fires of Hell can have a DC of 20, 25, or 30 depending on the power of the flames.
Areas of flame often create smoke, the effects of which can be found on page 444 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.
Haunted Ground: These areas of accursed ground are often the sites of horrid crimes or intense and bloody battles. The intense fear of those who lost their lives lingers and saturates the area. This fear affects living creatures that stray within these areas. A living creature that starts its turn in an area of haunted ground must succeed at a DC 15 Will saving throw or become shaken for 1d4 rounds. If the creature is already shaken, it becomes frightened for the same duration instead. Frightened creatures become panicked for the same duration instead. Creatures that are immune to fear effects are immune to haunted ground.
Razor Rubble: Either rubble made of sharp stone, or laced with small sharp blades, this terrain functions like difficult terrain (see Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook193), but each square a creature enters deals 1 point of damage to that creature. A creature moving at half speed, or that succeeds at a DC 15 Acrobatics check as a free action when first moving into an area of razor rubble can avoid the damaging affects for the round but not the difficult terrain effect.
Slick Ice: A frozen lake, a sheen of thick ice on a dungeon or cavern floor, or some other cold and slick surface, slick ice can be hard to traverse, but can also increase the speed of creatures that are agile or foolhardy enough to utilize its surface's lack of friction.
A creature traversing slick ice at more than half speed is required to make a DC 15 Acrobatic check at the start of the movement. Failure causes the creature to fall prone at the start of the movement. Running or charging on slick ice increases the DC by 5, with the same effect on a failed skill check. A creature that succeeds at this check by 5 or more can increase its move across the ice by 10 feet, but is considered flat-footed until the start of its next turn. Creatures (like those with enough levels of barbarian or rogue) that can't be caught flat-footed at the start of combat are immune to this flat-footed effect as well.
Tentacle Mold: This strange vermillion fungus clings to the moist walls, floors, and even ceilings of dungeons and caverns. When a living creature is in or near a patch of this fungus, acidic pseudopods lash out, with sickening effect.
When a living creature starts it turn in an area of or in a square next to (if it clings to the walls or the ceiling) of tentacle mold, it must make a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw; on a failed saving throw the creature takes 1 acid damage and is sickened for 1 round. Though the effect is like a poison, this is not actually a poison effect; the strange chemistry of this kind of mold makes it more alchemical in nature.
... Golarion Day: Inner Sea World Guide Preview Thursday, March 3, 2010OMG! GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WEEK? THE INNER SEA WORLD GUIDE DOES! ... Seems like I've been working on this book for a year. Oh, wait. That's pretty much correct. Feels good that it's finally about to hit store shelves and reach subscribers. In the meantime... as proof that it exists... here are five screen shots I just took of five pages from the book, to whet appetites and let folks know just how awesome looking this...
Seems like I've been working on this book for a year. Oh, wait. That's pretty much correct. Feels good that it's finally about to hit store shelves and reach subscribers. In the meantime... as proof that it exists... here are five screen shots I just took of five pages from the book, to whet appetites and let folks know just how awesome looking this book is going to be.
... Illustration by Sara Forlenza. Wallpaper design by Crystal Frasier. Widescreen version here. ... Paizo Is Divine Friday, February 18, 2011It's been a divine week here at Paizo. On Wednesday we talked a little about Faiths of Purity, a book that discusses in depth the good-aligned gods and the role of religion and faith on Golarion. In that post we spoiled the code that paladins of Shelyn live by, which you can read about by clicking here. ... Yesterday, James Jacobs gave us the subdomains...
Illustration by Sara Forlenza. Wallpaper design by Crystal Frasier. Widescreen version here.
Paizo Is Divine
Friday, February 18, 2011
It's been a divine week here at Paizo. On Wednesday we talked a little about Faiths of Purity, a book that discusses in depth the good-aligned gods and the role of religion and faith on Golarion. In that post we spoiled the code that paladins of Shelyn live by, which you can read about by clicking here.
Yesterday, James Jacobs gave us the subdomains for all of the deities mentioned by name in The Inner Sea World Guide that didn't in turn get a write-up in the Advanced Player's Guide That post built on the one from the week before, where he gave us Pharasma-friendly versions of the Death domain and the attached Souls subdomain. He also gave us the Dark Tapestry, Stars, Dragon, and Saurian subdomains, which fall under the Void and Scalykind domains, both of which can be found in The Inner Sea World Guide.
All of that is a roundabout way of presenting this week's wallpaper, a great piece depicting a paladin of Shelyn. Enjoy!
You Gotta Have Faith! Wednesday, February 16, 2011In the next month or so the next book in our Pathfinder Player Companion line will be released. Faiths of Purity isn't a book about the gods. It's not even just about their clerics. It's really a book about the vast masses of the faithful, the worshipers of the gods of absolute good and their place on Golarion. It's about the living religion, and how that religion ties into the everyday lives of its followers. More importantly, it outlines the...
You Gotta Have Faith!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
In the next month or so the next book in our Pathfinder Player Companion line will be released. Faiths of Purity isn't a book about the gods. It's not even just about their clerics. It's really a book about the vast masses of the faithful, the worshipers of the gods of absolute good and their place on Golarion. It's about the living religion, and how that religion ties into the everyday lives of its followers. More importantly, it outlines the role of adventurers in the faith, and why an adventurer might choose a particular god—not merely because the god's alignment matches, or because the best spells come from his domains, but because your philosophies match. Most importantly, it's about how your story can encompass faith, and how a myriad of different heroic characters can battle evil and live in the light of the gods.
This is an awesome book that focuses on the seven major good-aligned gods, provides an outline of the god in question, and summarizes the deity's domains and interests, and why that god might be a good fit for your character. In addition to new feats, spells, and write-ups on different organizations officially sanctioned by the various churches, Faiths of Purity also discusses the various codes paladins of the different good gods live by. As a teaser, here's the code that paladins of Shelyn (yes, she has paladins) follow:
Illustration by Sara Forlenza
Paladins of Shelyn are peaceable promoters of art and beauty. They see the ugliness in evil, even when cloaked in the form of beauty, and their job is to prevent the weak and foolish from being seduced by false promises. Their tenets include:
I am peaceful. I come first with a rose. I act to prevent conflict before it blossoms.
I never strike first, unless it is the only way to protect the innocent.
I accept surrender if my opponent can be redeemed—and I never assume that they cannot be. All things that live love beauty, and I will show beauty's answer to them.
I will never destroy a work of art, nor allow one to come to harm unless greater art arises from its loss. I will only sacrifice art if doing so allows me to save a life, for untold beauty can arise from an awakened soul.
I see beauty in others. As a rough stone hides a diamond, a drab face may hide the heart of a saint.
I lead by example, not with my blade. Where my blade passes, a life is cut short, and the world's potential for beauty is lessened.
I live my life as art. I will choose an art and perfect it. When I have mastered it, I will choose another. The works I leave behind make life richer for those who follow.
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.
Golarion Day — SPOILER: There Are Vampires in Ustalav
... Illustration by Alex Aparin ... Golarion Day — SPOILER: There Are Vampires in Ustalav Thursday, January 27, 2010So, we're back in busy mode this week, which means that I don't have a big pile of words to share with you today. But part of what made this week busy was shipping the upcoming Rule of Fear off to the printer. Which has a cover. And the art on that cover is pretty cool, wouldn't you say? ... James Jacobs ... Creative Director ...
Illustration by Alex Aparin
Golarion Day — SPOILER: There Are Vampires in Ustalav
Thursday, January 27, 2010
So, we're back in busy mode this week, which means that I don't have a big pile of words to share with you today. But part of what made this week busy was shipping the upcoming Rule of Fear off to the printer. Which has a cover. And the art on that cover is pretty cool, wouldn't you say?
... Illustration by Craig J Spearing ... Out of this World! Thursday, December 23, 2010The Inner Sea World Guide, our revised, reorganized, and expanded look at the world of Golarion, is off to the printer! While it won't be back and ready to share in all its hardbound glory until sometime in March, we've done the heavy lifting and put together a beaut of a book we think is going to blow away both those visiting Golarion for the first time and all of you who practically live there. But for...
Illustration by Craig J Spearing
Out of this World!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Inner Sea World Guide, our revised, reorganized, and expanded look at the world of Golarion, is off to the printer! While it won't be back and ready to share in all its hardbound glory until sometime in March, we've done the heavy lifting and put together a beaut of a book we think is going to blow away both those visiting Golarion for the first time and all of you who practically live there. But for those who think they know what to expect out of our refreshed and 100% Pathfinder RPG infused World Guide, now seems like a great chance to give away five things about the The Inner Sea World Guide that you probably didn't know.
1. Shoanti. They're in the races rundown in Chapter 1: Races, right along with Chelaxians, Kellids, Tians, and all the rest.
2. The Darklands. They get their own four-page write-up now, right along with all the other countries and regions in Chapter 2: The Inner Sea.
3. Languages. A TON of them, listed, detailed, and divided into Modern Human Languages, Ancient Languages, and Other Languages, in Chapter 4: Life.
4. Guns. The Pathfinder RPG's first stab at rules for firearms shows up in Chapter 6: Adventuring, along with a ton of Golarion-specific gear.
5. Monsters. All of Chapter 7: Monsters is dedicated to investigating some of the deadliest denizens of Golarion, along with 9 complete write-ups for some of the Inner Sea's most notorious beasties.
If you knew all that already, well, then check out the new art for the Worldwound by Craig Spearing! I know you haven't seen that before!
... Illustration by Scott Purdy ... Cold Slither Monday, November 29th, 2010It’s been a long, frosty weekend and we’re still a little lethargic, but lets start things back off right. Check out what’s coming around the corner in the final installment of the Serpent Skull Adventure Path with Pathfinder Adventure Path #42: “Sanctum of the Serpent God.” F. Wesley Schneider ... Managing Editor ...
Certaintyby Liane Merciel ... Chapter Three: JusticeThe first of the Burner's prisoners was a pregnant woman, though I would have thought her long past her childbearing years. She wasn't a day under fifty, and might easily have been ten years older. ... Those years were heavy on her, and the short, dirty shift she wore did nothing to conceal them. Her shoulders were soft and spotted brown; her legs were puffed and lumpy as badly kneaded dough. The weight of a lifetime's grief dragged down her...
by Liane Merciel
Chapter Three: Justice
The first of the Burner's prisoners was a pregnant woman, though I would have thought her long past her childbearing years. She wasn't a day under fifty, and might easily have been ten years older.
Those years were heavy on her, and the short, dirty shift she wore did nothing to conceal them. Her shoulders were soft and spotted brown; her legs were puffed and lumpy as badly kneaded dough. The weight of a lifetime's grief dragged down her mouth. I couldn't imagine her as a young woman, or a smiling one.
She hardly looked like a threat, but that only made me warier. Fiends loved to prey on the vulnerable. Children and dotards were easily deceived, and strong men often hesitated before striking such helpless-seeming foes—a fatal mistake against the possessed.
This woman didn't seem possessed, but without Iomedae's magic I couldn't be sure. The Burner regarded her as if she was, or worse. Naked hatred contorted his face; his lips skinned back in an unconscious snarl.
"A fortnight ago," he said, "this woman ran from the village. We found her lying by the wardstone, naked and covered in blood. There was a dead boar with her, painted with sigils in ash. She'd rutted with it and cut its throat, sacrificing to the demon lords so they'd give her a child. A fortnight ago she was a barren widow. Now she's fat with hellspawn. For the sake of us all, you must give her to the flames."
"Do you have a name?" I asked her.
She looked up slowly. The emptiness in her face receded, and a semblance of life returned—but it was a halting, blasted kind of life. I no longer doubted that she'd seen demons; the question now was why.
"Ledsa," she croaked.
"Ledsa. Why were you out by the wardstone?"
"Have you children?"
"Then you cannot understand." Pain gave her voice a ragged edge. "Demons took my Yulin. She was six. They took my husbands, too, one by one over the years, but no man's death ever grieved me like my daughter's. I was old when I had her, and too old to bear another when she died. Too old to do anything but mourn.
"I prayed to Iomedae for a crusader to bring her back. When that failed I prayed to Pharasma to show me that her soul was at peace. The gods wouldn't answer. I knew they didn't care. I knew my daughter was in torment.
"I went to the wardstone." A flash of defiance crossed her face under the disheveled gray hair. "Yes, I went. I heard the demons singing. They crooned to me. They said they had her soul... but they could give it back. Bear a child for them, they said, and it would be my daughter clothed in new flesh. Yulin, alive again."
"She admits her guilt!" the Burner said triumphantly. "Put her to the stake."
"Is that necessary?" Adrun asked. "She has admitted to a grievous wrong, and the fiend-blooded are bent toward evil. But I have known some who rose above their blood, and if this woman acted out of love... might she not be able to guide her own child toward goodness? I'm sure the demons' promises were lies; if they had the power to rebirth a human soul, which I doubt, it would have been as a twisted and broken thing. Still... that only proves she was blinded by love. Can we not show mercy?"
The Burner bristled at Adrun. "You're a traitor to your Queen and cause."
"Speak out of turn again and I'll have you whipped," I said. The Burner subsided, and I turned back to Ledsa. "You wanted a child, and you were too old to bear one, that I understand. But why not take in an orphan?" Kenabres had few children, but many of those had lost their parents to the Worldwound's war. Valas's Gift likely had orphans too. Even if it didn't, Kenabres was only a few days away. A woman determined enough to sacrifice to demons could surely have made that journey for a child.
She recoiled as if I'd suggested taking a serpent to her breast. "Why would I want them?"
A short silence fell. Then Adrun sighed. "Why, indeed."
"Hang her," I told the soldiers. "Burn the body."
"I should have known better than to think someone who would risk all Mendev for her grief could be saved," Adrun murmured after the soldiers had gone. "There was no love left in that woman's heart. Only poison. I'm sorry I asked."
"Never be sorry you asked," I said. "If the gods grant you the luxury of time to make sure, take it. Always take it. The grave is in no hurry."
Adrun looked at me strangely, but before he could say whatever was on his mind, the soldiers returned with the next prisoner.
He was mad. Every prisoner brought in after that was mad; Ledsa was the only one who still had her wits. The others giggled, or warbled nonsense songs, or shrieked at monsters only they could see. The village headman, a gaunt-cheeked and humorless old man, patted and cooed to our boots as if they were kittens. His wife plucked the hairs from her head one by one, put them to her lips, and puffed them at each of us with a cackle of delight.
They were all peaceful, even merry. That surprised me until the Burner explained that the prisoners we saw were only a fraction of those afflicted. He'd already burned the violent ones.
"They had succumbed to demons," he said. "It had to be done."
"There are no easy answers. I know this better than most."
I would have burned him too for that, but I didn't know if he was wrong. None of the afflicted souls could tell us what had befallen them. Adrun and Jelani examined them, and I did the same, but we found no answers. Several were feverish, and some trembled with palsy, but others were cool and steady. The only unifying sign was that all were pained by light. They cringed from the smoky torches indoors; the weak daylight outside made them cover their heads and weep in agony.
"It's the wrong season for accidental poisoning," Adrun said after the last prisoner had been examined. "In spring people might pick devilweed or mitepurse by accident; the plants can be easy to mistake when they're young. But never this late in the year. Anyway, if that were the cause, I'd expect to see people struck down after eating from the same pot. These victims came from all across the village. Some were afflicted in houses where other people were spared."
"I won't say it wasn't demons' work," Jelani said, "but it isn't a spell. There's no enchantment on any of these people."
The mystery was not to be solved that night. I posted a guard to ensure the prisoners didn't hurt themselves or each other, then went out to stand first watch. I walked the walls of Valas's Gift, but other than Jelani, who shared my watch, I saw no one abroad.
The aurora was gone with summer from the Crown of the World, but there was no tranquility in Mendev's night. Past the wardstones, the sky flickered red; lightning stabbed up from the Worldwound into the clouds, as if it meant to attack the heavens as well as us earthbound mortals.
Perhaps it did. I watched it, thinking about human frailty and human folly, until the midnight bell ended my shift. I found no answers in my thoughts.
In the morning, however, we learned the cause.
"It's the grain," Persil told us, red-cheeked from the cold. He'd gone out early to requisition some of the village's wheat for our porridge, hoping to save our own stores for later. While picking through the grain to get rid of loose stones, he saw that several of the kernels were bloated and split, with purplish fungus inside.
He held them out in a trembling palm. "It's gone rotten. Same as the ones I brewed up by accident—the ones that killed all those people back home. I'll never forget it."
"Did those victims show the same symptoms?" Adrun asked.
Persil shrugged uncomfortably. "Might've. I thought they were just silly drunk. Then they started dying, and I got hauled off to the dungeon. Never saw what became of the others."
"There shouldn't be any blight here." Adrun frowned. "Valas's Gift prevents it."
"Maybe not, if the wardstone is failing," I said.
"This village has been blessed since the Second Crusade."
"Blessed or not, its granary has been blighted. Can you purify the grain?"
"Some," Adrun admitted. "I'd have to spend a fortnight to do it all. My prayers are limited, and there's a lot of grain."
"We can't spare you that long." Nor could I leave the granaries to be purified upon our return, since I didn't know if we would return. If we all died out by the Worldwound, the villagers might decide madness was preferable to starvation and eat the rotten grain—or sell it to unsuspecting travelers and use the money to buy themselves safe food. Men, even good men, could easily do such things rather than watch their families starve.
"What about you?" I asked the Burner.
He cast his eyes down uncomfortably. "I have not the privilege of... of magic."
I grunted, unsurprised. There had been a true priest in Valas's Gift, but the other villagers told me that she was among the first victims sent to the Burner's stake. She'd been violently deranged by the poisoned grain, they all agreed, but I wondered whether the Burner hadn't also wanted, in some small corner of his soul, to get rid of the only voice that might have countered his fanaticism. Men's motives were often shaded by such thoughts.
That didn't answer the problem of the grain, though. If neither Adrun nor the Burner could cleanse it, I saw only one solution.
"Burn it," I said. "Adrun, cleanse what you can. We'll fire the rest when we go."
"My lord, are you sure?"
"Yes," I lied.
It was an ugly choice. Valas's Gift was a breadbasket for Kenabres and other settlements, which needed its blessed fertility to make up their own shortfalls. Without it, all those towns would depend entirely on what Queen Galfrey could spare—and, after a hundred years of war with no victory in sight, that wasn't much.
Burning the grain would force the people of Valas's Gift to winter as paupers in Kenabres, where they'd likely be resented for causing the hunger they couldn't help. Still, I saw no better choice. The villagers would have a hard winter, but life by the Worldwound was always hard. They would survive, and in the spring the fields and the blessed font would be waiting for their return.
So I hoped. But I was only human, and fallible. My doubts stayed with me as we marched from the village, a pillar of smoke at our backs.
We traveled without a guide. Past the tree line, northern Mendev was a vast and featureless land, deceptive in its emptiness; a man could easily wander a hundred miles wide of his mark and never realize it until he was dying on the tundra, days from the nearest living person.
But the wardstone of Valas's Gift was its own landmark, and from the moment we left the taiga we could see it stark on the horizon. It slanted slightly; despite the magics that anchored it and its own considerable weight, the constant wind on the tundra had pushed it to one side. In another hundred years, if the war for the Worldwound still wore on, it might topple on its own.
Ten miles from the wardstone, I sent out scouts. Whatever had damaged the wardstone might have left some clues behind, and I wanted to find them before we stumbled blind into danger. Jelani enspelled the scouts to resist the chill, laughing into her scarf as she did.
"I learned this spell for the desert," she said. "Never thought to use it in the cold."
"I don't think any of us ever thought to be here," one of the scouts replied. He shouldered a lighter pack, leaving the bulk of his equipment with us, and trotted off to the west. A moment later, the other split east. The rest of us continued toward the wardstone.
We had scarcely gone two miles before the first scout returned. His eyes were wild with terror above his scarf.
"Come," he said. "I've found something."
Coming Next Week: First steps on the long road to faith in the final chapter of Liane Merciel's "Certainty."
Liane Merciel is the author of The River Kings' Road: A Novel of Ithelas, available now from Gallery. For more information on her writing, visit lianemerciel.com.
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?).
... Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #4 Thursday, July 22, 2010Two weeks and counting until the start of Gen Con 2010 and the release of the Advanced Player's Guide. If you have not already done so, you might want to reserve it with your FLGS or order online now. To help encourage you to pick up this hefty tome, I am giving you a guided tour of the goodies inside. In the past weeks we have looked at some new race and class material. This week we will be jumping around quite a bit,...
Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #4
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Two weeks and counting until the start of Gen Con 2010 and the release of the Advanced Player's Guide. If you have not already done so, you might want to reserve it with your FLGS or order online now. To help encourage you to pick up this hefty tome, I am giving you a guided tour of the goodies inside. In the past weeks we have looked at some new race and class material. This week we will be jumping around quite a bit, looking at feats, gear, spells, and magic items. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's get going.
Starting out with Chapter 3, let's take a look at feats. This 26-page chapter is loaded down with 163 new feats, from combat and metamagic feats, the new teamwork feats that grant large bonuses when you and an ally use them together. But that's not all, not by a long shot. There are a host of feats in this chapter designed to let you add to your existing class features, like Extra Rage Power and Extra Hex. There are also a host of feats based on your race, like this one.
You have an especially strong stomach. Prerequsitites: Con 13; dwarf, half-orc, orc. Benefit: You gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against any effect causing the nauseated or sickened conditions and against all ingested poisons (but not other poisons). In addition, you receive a +2 bonus on Survival skill checks to find food for yourself.
As was mentioned at the preview banquet, a number of the powers of the 3.5 archmage prestige class have found their way into the Pathfinder RPG as feats that most spellcasters can take. Take a look at Minor Spell Expertise.
Minor Spell Expertise
You are able to cast a 1st-level spell as a spell-like ability Prerequsite: Ability to cast 4th-level spells. Benefit: Chose one 1st-level spell that you know. You may cast that spell twice per day as a spell-like ability. The caster level for this spell-like ability is equal to your caster level in that class from whose spell list the spell is taken. The spell-like ability's save DC is Charisma-based. You cannot apply metatmagic feats to this spell.
Moving on from feats, the gear chapter is short, but jam-packed with new tools and tricks to help properly equip your character. From an Lucerne hammer to wooden armor, from an hourglass to rope made from spider silk, there's plenty here for everyone. There are also a lot of tools for each of the new classes, including the portable alchemist's lab and the witch's cauldron. What has me most excited is the wealth of alchemical items in the book. Take a look at this gem.
Weapon Blanch (adamantine, cold iron, or silver): These alchemical powders have a gritty consistency. When poured on a weapon and placed over a hot flame for a full round, they melt and form a temporary coating on the weapon. The blanching gives the weapon the ability to bypass one kind of material based damage reduction, depending on its type. The blanching remains effective until the weapon makes a successful attack. Each dose of blanching can coat one weapon or up to 10 pieces of ammunition. Only one type of blanch can be used on a weapon at one time, although if the weapon is made of a special material, that material still applies.
Next up is a rather large chapter on spells. Discounting the tables at the beginning, there are 57 pages of spells here, containing spells for characters of every class and every level. This chapter also includes the elemental spell lists for those wizards who wish to focus on elemental schools of magic. Let's take a look at a spell that I am particularly excited to use on my players. It might not be incredibly powerful, but it is a lot of fun.
Enemy Hammer School Transmutation; Level sorcerer/wizard 6 Casting Time 1 standard action Range long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level) Target one creature Duration 1 round/level (D) Saving Throw Fortitude partial; Spell Resistance yes
You grab a creature with telekinesis and use it to batter nearby opponents or objects. You must target a specific creature when casting this spell, and once you select that creature, you cannot switch to another. Each round, as a standard action, you can attempt to hurl the target at any creature or object within 30 feet of it. You must make an attack roll whenever you use the target as a weapon. The attack bonus for this attack is equal to your caster level plus either your Intelligence or Charisma modifier (whichever is higher). If you successfully hit the new target with the creature, both it and the creature take damage based on the creature's size (Fine 1d4, Diminutive 1d6, Tiny 1d8, Small 1d10, Medium 2d6, Large 2d8, Huge 2d10, Gargantuan 3d6, Colossal 3d8). The target creature can make a Fortitude saving throw each time you attempt to use it as a weapon. If it makes its saving throw, it can act normally, but if it fails its save, it loses all action for the round and ends its turn prone in a square adjacent to the target of your attack.
Finally, this book contains a large chapter containing all sorts of magic items, from inexpensive soul soap to the mighty cloud castle of the storm king. Of course, it's not all wonderful. There are a host of new cursed items to inflict upon your PCs, lurking in this book. Take a look at ring of truth.
Ring of Truth Aura moderate enchantment; CL 9th Slot ring; Weight —
Deceptively pleasant looking, a ring of truth bears images of childlike angels and broadly smiling divine creatures holding onto links of a heavy chain. The wearer of this cursed ring is rendered unable to tell a deliberate lie, in either speech or writing. The wearer may simply omit the truth or choose not to communicate, but even then must succeed on a DC 20 Will saving throw to avoid answering a direct question truthfully.
And there you go. The Advanced Player's Guide is just two weeks away now. Next week's preview will be the last before release, so we will wrap up our tour of the book by looking at the new prestige classes and new rules systems hiding in this book.
... More Pathfinder Cosplay Sat, Jun 19, 2010 at 06:37 PM PacificA Cleric of Asmodeus, Paladin of Iomedae, and a Barbarian warrior wait for the APG Preview banquet. ... Ross Byers ... Assistant Software Developer ...
More Pathfinder Cosplay
Sat, Jun 19, 2010 at 06:37 PM Pacific
A Cleric of Asmodeus, Paladin of Iomedae, and a Barbarian warrior wait for the APG Preview banquet.
... Illustration by Jon Hodgson ... From the Diary of Queen Merisiel Friday, February 26, 2010Although I can't quite yet show off the actual rules you'll be using in the Kingmaker Adventure Path quite yet, I can show you how they look in play. Presented below is an excerpt from Merisiel's diary as she oversees the foundation of a brand-new kingdom in the mysterious Stolen Lands. NOTE: Merisiel's probably not the best choice in this group for a nation's ruler, but sometimes that's just how...
Illustration by Jon Hodgson
From the Diary of Queen Merisiel
Friday, February 26, 2010
Although I can't quite yet show off the actual rules you'll be using in the Kingmaker Adventure Path quite yet, I can show you how they look in play. Presented below is an excerpt from Merisiel's diary as she oversees the foundation of a brand-new kingdom in the mysterious Stolen Lands. NOTE: Merisiel's probably not the best choice in this group for a nation's ruler, but sometimes that's just how politics work. As time permits, I'll post a few more diary entries to this blog's messageboard thread so we can all learn from Merisiel's triumphs and failures. Certainly there'll be more triumphs in her future, yes?
1 Pharast: So it looks like I'm in charge. Queen Merisiel. I like the sound of that. Although, as Seelah is so fond of pointing out, I'm technically a baroness until this new nation of mine grows large enough. I'm still gonna be calling myself queen in these pages. Seelah's gonna be the general of my armies (she volunteered!), and I put Lem in charge of keeping an eye on the citizens to make sure they're loyal as the spymaster. And of course Kyra's our high priest. All the other leadership roles, for now, go to some of the other locals we've allied with during the past several months of exploring the Greenbelt. We'll see how they work out, I suppose—none of them seem particularly talented, but hopefully they'll grow into their jobs? And if they don't, I can fire them. I'm the queen, after all. Anyway, we've managed to claim a pretty sizable area around this old ruined castle that bandit lord was using as a hideout. The ruins should work pretty well as a new castle, once it gets patched up. We've started clearing the area around the ruins to serve as a good place to build up a town. I'm thinking of calling it Owlbearton, after that bandit's pet owlbear that nearly bit off Lem's ear, but Seelah says that's a stupid name. I told her that if she comes up with something better we'll call it that, but so far all her ideas suck. Surprise, surprise. So for now, Owlbearton it is! We've even built some roads around the place! It's gonna be a city in no time! Especially now that I've got some deliciously heavy taxes coming into the treasury! Who woulda guessed that taxes could be something to be happy about? So far, those taxes more than paid for the roads and land clearing and stuff. Not the rebuilding of the castle, though. That's expensive, as it works out. And while Lem says that the locals are complaining that all I'm doing is lying around and taking it easy while they pay for my little project, and while Kyra says she only barely managed to talk a group of farmers out of marching up to the castle to tear it down and (their words) "git back what we done paid for from that spendthrift pointy-eared harlot!" I'm not worried. Once they see how excellent this castle looks when it's all done, they'll all forgive me. I'm sure of it!
... Gold Fever! Monday, February 8, 2010As I write this the finishing touches are going in on our newest Pathfinder Module, City of Golden Death, the climactic conclusion to the Price of Immortality campaign arc. Written by our own Events Manager, Joshua J. Frost, the adventure takes the PCs to the notorious Isle of Terror, where they'll face agents of the Living God Razmir, ageless menaces from ancient Thassilon, the undying machinations of the Whispering Tyrant himself, and even greater...
Monday, February 8, 2010
As I write this the finishing touches are going in on our newest Pathfinder Module, City of Golden Death, the climactic conclusion to the Price of Immortality campaign arc. Written by our own Events Manager, Joshua J. Frost, the adventure takes the PCs to the notorious Isle of Terror, where they'll face agents of the Living God Razmir, ageless menaces from ancient Thassilon, the undying machinations of the Whispering Tyrant himself, and even greater perils! Here's a sneak peak of some of the scenes your PCs can expect to face when the module releases in just a few short weeks. Enjoy!
... River Kingdoms of the Fellnight Queen Friday, January 29, 2010It's a busy week here at Paizo, and that means it's time for an art blog! So enjoy this sneak peek at some artwork from the upcoming Pathfinder Module Realm of the Fellnight Queen and Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms! ... Illustration by Andrew Kim ... Illustration by Jorge MaeseIllustration by Andres Espara ... Sean K Reynolds ... Developer, Pathfinder Chronicles and Pathfinder Modules ...
... Andoran, Spirit of Liberty Preview Tuesday, December 22, 2009Andoran, Spirit of Liberty is due to arrive in January, and as the rest of the team is burning the midnight oil to get the next Pathfinder out the door, Wes deputized me to do a blog. Time for some preview art! ... The patron celestial of Andoran is an avoral named Talmandor, and as there aren't avoral stats in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, we put their stats in Andoran—sort of a sneak peek for Bestiary II next year. The...
Andoran, Spirit of Liberty Preview
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Andoran, Spirit of Liberty is due to arrive in January, and as the rest of the team is burning the midnight oil to get the next Pathfinder out the door, Wes deputized me to do a blog. Time for some preview art!
The patron celestial of Andoran is an avoral named Talmandor, and as there aren't avoral stats in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, we put their stats in Andoran—sort of a sneak peek for Bestiary II next year. The next picture shows that halfling paladins are just as badass as human ones—in this case the hero is Jamus Hainard, born to a farming family and inspired by the Eagle Knights to become a champion of freedom. Finally, a piece showing an Andoren general and his troops trying to cross a river.
... Snagged from the Vault: The Bastards of Erebus Friday, June 26, 2009The Preview Purloiners strike again! Featured here in a painting by Kevin Yan are Lem and Seelah, fending off a rabid undead dog and a fiendish tiefling in Pathfinder Adventure Path volume #25: The Bastards of Erebus. Who knew that flutes could be wielded as deadly weapons? ... Vadid and Nahk ... Preview Purloiners ... The city of Westcrown is dying. Since being stripped of its station as the capital of Cheliax, the...
"The city of Westcrown is dying. Since being stripped of its station as the capital of Cheliax, the wealth and prestige of the city has gradually slipped away, leaving the desperate people to fend for themselves in a city beset by criminals, a corrupt nobility, and a shadowy curse. Can the PCs fight back against champions of both the law and the criminal world?"
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #6 Wednesday, June 17, 2009The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. This week, we are taking a look at Seelah, the iconic paladin. ... Seelah ... Female human paladin 13 ... LG Medium humanoid ... Init –1; Perception +1 ... Aura courage (10 ft., +4 fear saves), good, justice (10 ft.), resolve (10...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #6
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. This week, we are taking a look at Seelah, the iconic paladin.
Female human paladin 13
LG Medium humanoid Init –1; Perception +1 Aura courage (10 ft., +4 fear saves), good, justice (10 ft.), resolve (10 ft., +4 charm saves) DEFENSE AC 27, touch 11, flat-footed 27 (+10 armor, +2 deflection, –1 Dex, +6 shield) hp 115 (13d10+39) Fort +14, Ref +7, Will +13 Immune charm spells and effects, disease, fear; Resist cold 10 OFFENSE Speed 20 ft. Melee+3 defending longsword +21/+16/+11 (1d8+7/19–20) Ranged+1 composite longbow +13/+8/+3 (1d8+5/x3) Special Attacks channel positive energy (7d6, DC 20), divine bond (weapon, 3/day, 13 min., +3 bonus), lay on hands (12/day, 6d6), mercy (diseased, nauseated, sickened, paralyzed), smite evil (5/day, +4 to hit, +13 damage) Spell-Like Abilities (CL 13th):
At Will—detect evil Paladin Spells Prepared (CL 10th):
3rd—dispel magic, prayer
2nd—resist energy, shield other, zone of truth (DC 16)
1st—bless weapon, divine favor, lesser restoration, protection from evil STATISTICS Str 19, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 18 Base Atk +13; CMB +17 (+21 to sunder); CMD 28 Feats Critical Focus, Extra Lay on Hands, Greater Sunder, Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Shield Focus, Staggering Critical, Weapon Focus (longsword) Skills Diplomacy +16, Heal +14, Knowledge (religion) +13, Sense Motive +14 SQ divine grace, divine health Combat Gearstaff of healing, winged boots; Other Gear+3 defending longsword, +1 composite longbow (+4 Str), mithral full plate of speed, +3 heavy steel shield, belt of giant strength +2, headband of alluring charisma +2, ring of minor cold resistance, ring of protection +2
Of all the base classes, paladins got some of the largest revisions between the Beta and the final version of the rules. Some of their defenses were increased, but the majority of the changes revolve around smite evil and the addition of the new ability called mercy.
Before we dig into those changes though, lets take a look at some of the other alterations. The first things you might notice are the new auras. These were introduced in alpha stages of the playtest and they have survived to the final game. The aura of justice allows Seelah to spend two uses of her smite evil ability to grant the ability to smite evil to all allies within 10 feet. She must use this ability right away and it lasts for 1 minute, but more on that later. The second aura, the aura of resolve, makes the paladin immune to charm spells and grants a +4 bonus on saves against such spells to all allies within 10 feet. Having a paladin in your party gives you a reason to stick together, even if it does mean that you are a little bit more vulnerable to area of effect spells.
The next change on the roster involves the paladin's saving throws. You might notice that Seelah's Will save is a bit higher than it should be. This is due to the fact that paladins now receive the faster save progression for their Will saves.
The paladin's lay on hands ability has been revamped a bit. The paladin can use this ability a number of times per day equal to half her paladin level plus her Charisma modifier. With each use, she heals 1d6 points of damage per two paladin levels. When she uses this on others, it is a standard action, but she can heal herself using this ability as a swift action. Seelah can also channel positive energy, as a cleric of her level, but she must use up two uses of her lay on hands ability whenever she channels.
In addition to healing damage, using lay on hands also comes with a number of new benefits called mercies. Starting at 3rd level, paladins can select one condition from a specific list (at 3rd level, that list is fatigued, shaken, and sickened, but the list expands the paladin gains levels). Whenever she uses lay on hands, if the target is suffering from that condition, it is instantly removed. As a paladin gains levels, she gains additional mercies, which expands her list of conditions cured though lay on hands. She can even cure diseases, poisons, and curses in this way, although she must make a caster level check to remove them (just as with the spells that remove these afflictions). These mercies allow a paladin to act as a healer in the party, but without stealing the focus from the cleric, who is more focused on larger healing spells and other buffs.
Divine bond allows a paladin to choose from one of two different effects. She can bond with a horse, which acts like an animal companion (using the paladin's level as her effective druid level), or she can bond celestial spirits to her weapon. Seelah has the weapon bond option, which allows her to add +3 to her weapon up to three times per day, with each bonding lasting a number of minutes equal to her paladin level. Instead of adding simple bonuses, however, she can instead transform those bonuses into special weapon qualities of an equal bonus. For example, Seelah could add a +1 enhancement bonus to her +3 defending longsword, making it +4 and she could also add the holy weapon quality. Instead, she could add axiomatic, flaming, flaming burst, keen, or merciful. As she gains in level, other options become available, such as speed or brilliant energy. The really nice part is that she can tailor these bonuses to the current situation, changing them each time she calls a celestial spirit.
Of all the changes, smite evil was perhaps the most contentious on the message boards. Everyone seemed to have an idea of how this iconic ability should work. In the end, it was decided that smite evil really should last until your evil foe is vanquished, making this ability useful even if you miss with your first attack. But we did not stop there, the amount of bonus damage dealt (that is, 1 point per paladin level) doubles if the selected foe is an evil outsider, dragon, or undead. Smite attacks also ignore any damage reduction the target might have. Finally, the paladin is protected from harm gaining a deflection bonus to her AC equal to her Charisma modifier against attacks made by the target. Suffice to say, you do not want to be on the receiving end of a paladin's smite evil.
There have been a few other changes to the paladin as well. Whenever she uses detect evil, she can focus on one target, to the exclusion of all others, to learn if that target is evil in just 1 round. In addition, her spellcasting progression is a little bit faster now (matching the ranger's), it is based off her Charisma modifier, and her effective caster level is her paladin level –3. Most of her spells are pretty straight forward, but there have been some changes to protection from evil that are worth noting here. This spell does not grant immediate immunity to mental control. Instead, it grants a new save at a +2 bonus against the control, but only if the source of the control is an evil creature or object (the other protection spells provide similar saves against their alignments). The spell does still provide immunity to new mental control or possession from evil creatures and objects while it lasts. Its protection from contact by summoned creatures now also only applies to evil creatures (instead of evil and neutral).
Seelah has a number of feats that are worth a closer look. Critical Focus gives her a +4 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls, but the real star is Staggering Critical. Any foe that suffers a critical hit from a creature with Staggering Critical is staggered for 1d4+1 rounds (meaning that can only take a move or a standard action). A Fort save reduces this duration to 1 round (for Seelah, the DC is 23). There are a host of critical feats like this in the book, but you cannot apply more than one to any critical hit (unless you are a fighter with the Critical Mastery feat). These feats are good, but they have relatively high prerequisites. Staggering Critical, for example, requires a base attack bonus of +13, whereas Stunning Critical requires a base attack bonus of +17. Seelah also has Improved Sunder and Greater Sunder, both of which give her a +2 bonus on checks to sunder. Greater Sunder also allows Seelah to apply excess damage from the sunder directly to the creature holding the item. Each combat maneuver has a pair of feats that works like this, granting up to a total of +4 bonus along with another benefit.
That wraps up our look at Seelah. Next week we will get Lem, the iconic bard, in here to play us a tune or two.
How Do I Play a Paladin in Service to Cheliax? Thursday, July 10, 2008Good question! We're hearing this one and others like it on the Pathfinder Society messageboards, so we thought we'd use today's blog to give you a sneak peak at the Chelax section of the Pathfinder Society Player's Guide soon-to-be-released here on paizo.com. All of the base classes will be covered in the final Player's Guide. Below we've included just a few of the classes folks are having a hard time imagining as non-evil...
How Do I Play a Paladin in Service to Cheliax?
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Good question! We're hearing this one and others like it on the Pathfinder Society messageboards, so we thought we'd use today's blog to give you a sneak peak at the Chelax section of the Pathfinder Society Player's Guide soon-to-be-released here on paizo.com. All of the base classes will be covered in the final Player's Guide. Below we've included just a few of the classes folks are having a hard time imagining as non-evil Chelish faction members.
Since House Thrune rose to prominence, reclaiming the past glories of Cheliax and re-establishing their footholds across the world has been their primary goal. Chelish armies amass in the ruthless homeland, and their agents push far and wide seeking to expand the diabolic empire's influence. Chelish culture is widely popular, and their fashions show up in most nations across Avistan and Garund. House Thrune places a high priority on discovering the relics of the past and controlling the revelation and interpretation of historical finds. The noble houses of Cheliax encourage the populace and even their own scions to join the Pathfinder Society and seek treasures of ancient power to bolster the empire.
Barbarians: Cheliax is built on law and order. The empire runs smoothly with the help of its infernal allies, and they tolerate no disruption to the nation's workings. Barbarism does not thrive among the devil-bowing culture of Cheliax. Still, there are blood pits in Westcrown where men become beasts to the deafening roar of the crowd and the hot spray of an enemy's blood. Cheliax's most fierce battle-raging warriors are cultivated from slaves who earn a place in the military only after brutal escapades in the blood pits. Other conscripts in the army of Cheliax are drawn from captured Shoanti of Varisia who sometimes pledge their loyalty to House Thrune and join the Pathfinder Society in the empire's service.
Druids: Cheliax's colonial holdings of old inspired several orders of wardens dedicated to safeguarding the majesty of the natural world. When House Thrune seized control of the crumbling empire, they bent these earthly wonders to their own infernal uses and even today most of the empire's natural resources are ruthlessly hewn and sent to the new capital at Egorian for whatever sinister purposes House Thrune sees fit. A few of the druidic orders of old persisted, doing their best to stem the burning of the land, and convincing the noble houses to slow their voracious ravaging of the landscape, lest the resources run dry. The Black Wardens survived by dedicating themselves to Asmodeus dogma, claiming they grow the trees to stoke the fires of his dark glory. Other orders like the Sisters of Oak maintain their vigil over the landscape with no official ties to the Church of Asmodeus, but doing so sometimes creates friction between their order and the government of Egorian. Still as the country's natural resources wane, the government of Cheliax cannot afford to eradicate these druids, and are forced to form tenuous agreements with them in order to save their nation's landscape from utter destruction.
Monks: Monastic orders abound in Cheliax, most steeped in martial arts once trained in the smoldering depths of the Nine Hells. The coveted martial arts of devil kind are now practiced by the Chelish in secret sects and monasteries all over the empire. Several of these orders are attached to the Chelish legion, and in particular the martial art of Hamatulatsu, learned from barbed devils, is practiced by monks in military service. Other orders include the Sidaal Thram, an order of glaive wielding martial arts masters who wear long bears braided with barbs and blades, as well as the spiked chain wielding Order of the Razored Shackle, who wrap themselves in the kyton's chains and engage in horrifying self mutilation as part of their path to excellence.
Paladins: Paladins are a rare sight in Cheliax. Before House Thrune rose to power, the shining servants of Iomedae and her slain patron Aroden rode throughout Old Cheliax. Some are still there and do the best they can to serve her glory in a nation much overshadowed in darkness. They see it as their divine duty to bring the empire back to a path of temperance, or at least to balance the evils of their homeland. More than a few paladins of Aroden still believe their god will return someday to bring the nation back into the light. These paladins remain to herald his return, and hold on to the burning idea of Old Cheliax, a sprawling empire whose glory was a beacon in a dark and savage world.
Meet the Iconics: Seelah Monday, December 17, 2007Although still viewed by many theologians and traditionalists as a newcomer to the world's faiths, Iomedae the Inheritor seems poised for greatness among the divine. Certainly her numerous orders of paladins have risen swiftly to take on the vaunted role of paragon in many societies. Evangelical in their exuberance to spread word of her wisdom, Iomedae's missionaries were pivotal in the defense during the fabled Siege of Solku. They sacrificed...
Meet the Iconics: Seelah
Monday, December 17, 2007
Although still viewed by many theologians and traditionalists as a newcomer to the world's faiths, Iomedae the Inheritor seems poised for greatness among the divine. Certainly her numerous orders of paladins have risen swiftly to take on the vaunted role of paragon in many societies. Evangelical in their exuberance to spread word of her wisdom, Iomedae's missionaries were pivotal in the defense during the fabled Siege of Solku. They sacrificed their lives saving the town from gnoll slavers, and although none of them survived the siege, their presence lived on. Particularly in the eyes of young Seelah.
Seelah's family came to the walled town of Solku as pilgrims fleeing the atrocities of distant Geb to the distant south. Unfortunately, they traded one peril for another, and within months of their settling in Solku, the gnolls of White Canyon began their infamous pillaging. Seelah's parents were slain in the first of these raids, leaving her orphaned at the age of 14 in a strange town. She did what she must to survive on the city streets, pickpocketing and bullying and even hiring herself out as a mercenary. When a group of Iomedae's knights arrived to defend Solku, Seelah was immediately taken with their beautiful, shining armor, and within an hour she had stolen a particularly fine mithral helm with a golden bird upon its brow. Yet then, something strange happened—Seelah became overwhelmed with guilt at her theft. For days, she agonized over the act, trying (and failing) several times to pawn the helm. During the Battle of Red Hail, Seelah realized that one of the bravest knights, a woman named Acemi with hair in long braids, fought the battle without her helm. This was the woman's undoing—in holding Solku's gates, she took a mortal wound to the skull from a gnoll's flail. The woman's heroism carried the day, but that evening she died of her wound.
Wracked with guilt, Seelah approached Acemi's body as her companions prepared for her pyre. They watched silently as Seelah placed the stolen helm over the dead woman's head, and then climbed onto the pyre aside her to join her in death. The paladins were moved beyond words—they had known from the start that Seelah had stolen the helm, but Acemi had forbidden her brothers and sisters from collecting it, hoping that the helm would bring the desperate orphan enough money to survive for another few months. The knights of Iomedae took Seelah in that night. Although she has come to terms with Acemi's death, Seelah still regrets the theft that ironically brought her into Iomedae's arms. She originally came to Iomedae out of guilt, but in the past several years, that guilt has transformed into a powerful love and faith in the Inheritor.
The young paladin wears her hair in Acemi's style and is trained in the use of the longsword. In so doing, she hopes to carry on the good work that Acemi might have done had she not fallen at the Battle of Red Hail. It's the least she feels she can do to make up for a death that she allowed to happen.