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To join in all the gift giving going on today, here's a belated present for the season. Happy holidays from all of us here at Paizo Publishing!
Meet the Iconics: Balazar
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
To join in all the gift giving going on today, here's a belated present for the season. Happy holidays from all of us here at Paizo Publishing!
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
The final decade of the Age of Enthronement brought hope and innovation to the people of the Inner Sea region. In the north, Chelish explorers from Korvosa founded the city of Magnimar. In the east, Taldor and Qadira reached an uneasy peace after centuries of antagonism and open warfare. In the treacherous Mana Wastes of the south, refugees fleeing persecution in Nex settled the Duchy of Alkenstar as a beacon of light and progress in a sea of magic-warped madness. And not far away, in Nex's capital city of Quantium, the Arclords adopted an orphaned gnome child named Balazar into their most prestigious school of magical instruction.
Diligent students of the scribbles and writings of the long-lost archmage who founded that nation, the Arclords deciphered codes and texts from the margins of newly discovered spellbooks and concluded that "children of the First World" would play an important role in the magical administration of the departed wizard's kingdom. In the years before the death of Aroden, prophecy was a much more valuable currency in the lands of the Inner Sea, and in 4601 the tradition-obsessed Arclords scoured the gnome communities infesting their beloved cities for young gnomes to press into service. To prevent their great works from falling victim to what they considered a chaotic and untrustworthy race of childlike anarchists, the wizards culled only the youngest (and thus in their minds least corrupt) gnome children from their parents, imprisoning or destroying families with the temerity to go against the marginalia of the wizard who had founded the nation and declared the city open to creatures of all races so long ago. To the Arclords, any gnome resistance was a revolt against the ideals of the nation itself, akin to treason.
By 4606, the human god Aroden was dead, the power of prophecy was broken, and the Arclords' eugenics experiment was veering toward abject failure. As the gnome orphan brood developed into maturity in the decades that followed, they brought chaos and catastrophe to Quantium's magical academies. And at the center of that chaos stood Balazar: an impulsive youth with a temper to equal the bright red ferocity of his prodigious mustache, a burning match on a bed of tinder.
In the early years of his instruction, Balazar revealed almost no magical acumen whatsoever, preferring to spend his days conducting merry pranks on his fellow students and instructors instead of absorbing himself in the meticulous study of the Arclords' curriculum. When one such prank resulted in the transmutation of an instructor's tower into a living being of elemental stone (thanks in part to a mysterious glowing rock pilfered from the school's vaults), Balazar and three gnome associates found themselves expelled from the academy, exiled from Quantium, and sent on the first wagon train to Ecanus, the sprawling southern city whose world-famous fleshforges churned out a legion of horrors to bolster Nex's armies and terrorize its squalid countryside.
The Ecanus assignment was intended exclusively as punishment, but the city's masters welcomed the gnomes with open arms, eager that their unconventional attitudes, boundless creativity, and unpredictable obsessions might aid them in conquering one of the most enduring mysteries of the monumental fleshforges. For deep within the dungeons below the military complex, in a room designed by the Archmage Nex himself, lay an extraplanar rift known as the Void Chasm, a shaft of sheer sides and cloying, multicolored mists that had driven insane all who had previously gazed within it.
One by one, Balazar's gnome associates gazed within the abyss, and one by one they lost their tenuous grip on reality. Balazar watched in horror as the color drained from their hair and skin, as if the whole of their life from birth to bleaching transpired within the span of a few moments. When the emotional strain grew too great and the gnomes cried out in anguish, the pitiless fleshforge instructors pushed them into the trench, where their howls soon faded beneath the swirling mists. If the gnomes could not discover the purpose of the Void Chasm, the administrators reasoned, perhaps a sacrifice to the unknown powers below would do the trick.
As he stood on the precipice of the Void, Balazar wondered if perhaps he should have studied more diligently in the relative comfort of Quantium's academies. Reluctantly, he cast his gaze into the miasma and felt the weird energies of the Chasm worming their way into his mind. Worse, he heard whispering voices in the mists, calling out to him and begging him to step over the edge. At first he thought the voices to be those of his lost fellow gnomes, and called back to them one by one even as the color drained from his hair and he felt his mind slipping away. But the voices were not those of his friends. They belonged to… something else.
It took all of Balazar's limited concentration to sift the many voices from each other. Some were angry, demanding to be left alone. Others beckoned with honeyed words of sweet oblivion. But one voice among the tumult spoke softly and plainly. "I will help you," it said in reassuring tones. "Give me form and allow me to leave this prison, and you and I will become as one."
With the hands of the fleshforge administrators on his shoulders, about to give the final push that would send him into nothingness, Balazar tried to imagine what the voice would look like. He dreamed of a creature with a vast serpentine body, with grasping talons and horrifying scales. And, perhaps because he had not eaten that day and was growing hungry, he imagined the voice speaking through the beak of a monstrous chicken. And then, just as he felt the muscles of his captors tense for the final push, the creature he had imagined emerged from the Void Chasm fully formed and fully real, screaming a hideous avian cry and weaving through the air with serpentine grace. Its claws tore at the necks of the administrators, its hideous beak making a mess of their unbelieving eyes. And all along, in reassuring tones only he could hear, it spoke to him. "Do not be afraid, little one," it said. "We were meant to be together."
Somehow, Balazar and the avian entity that called itself Padrig managed to win their way free of the fleshforges, of Ecanus, and even of Nex. As he fled up the eastern coast of Garund on a succession of merchant and smuggler vessels, Balazar and Padrig grew closer and closer to one another. Padrig explained that he was a bodiless being known as an eidolon, and that only Balazar could give him structure and form due to the affinity of their minds and souls. As the gnome made his way from Nex to Katapesh to Absalom, Balazar grew more and more adept at shifting Padrig's form to add more legs, terrible wings, or other features fitting the dangers and situations at hand. When things got too dangerous to be seen with a magical creature or when discretion was more important than protection, Balazar dismissed Padrig to some extraplanar hidey-hole, only to call him once again to his side when needed.
Although a great deal of the young Balazar's mischievous spirit remains, the horror of the Void Chasm remains with him to this day. Other gnomes often confuse his stark white hair for a symptom of the insidious bleaching that threatens all gnomekind, but through his constant and relentless travels Balazar remains as engaged and full of life as any of his healthy gnome brethren. When other gnomes inquire about his "condition" with the best of intentions, Balazar sometimes flies into an impatient fit of grumpiness, chastising his would-be helpers and instructing them to mind their own business.
Privacy is very, very important to Balazar, for the Nexian wizards he betrayed have not forgotten his singular mastery of the Void Chasm. Agents of the Arclords of Nex dog his travels at every stop, pushing him further and further away with each season. Balazar knows that each new stop—however temporary—will provide him with ample opportunity to learn new things and meet new people, to master the magical craft that always eluded him in Nex, and to do honor to the friends and colleagues he left behind. Despite occasional moments of maudlin reflection on all he has lost, Balazar takes comfort in his enduring friendship with the eidolon he recued from oblivion so long ago. As long as he travels with Padrig, he knows he will never be alone.
... Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #2 Thursday, July 8, 2010The start of Gen Con 2010 is four weeks away, which means in just one month, the Advanced Player's Guide will be hitting game stores and subscriber mailboxes. In anticipation of this mighty sourcebook, I am taking you on a guided tour, touching on some of the highlights each week until release. Last week we took at look at the races chapter and the new alternate favored class bonuses. This week we are diving into Chapter...
Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #2
Thursday, July 8, 2010
The start of Gen Con 2010 is four weeks away, which means in just one month, the Advanced Player's Guide will be hitting game stores and subscriber mailboxes. In anticipation of this mighty sourcebook, I am taking you on a guided tour, touching on some of the highlights each week until release. Last week we took at look at the races chapter and the new alternate favored class bonuses. This week we are diving into Chapter 2: Classes by looking at the six new base classes.
If you were not a part of the playtest of these classes, might I suggest that you grab the playtest document, which is still available here at paizo.com. Now go read up on the all of the new classes. Don't worry, I'll wait. All finished, good. I am going to walk through each of the classes and spend a bit of time talking about what changes you can expect to find in the book.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Alchemist: Using all sorts of alchemical formulas, bombs, and mutagens, this class is focused on using strange concoctions to enhance the alchemist and damage his foes. Most of the changes to this class center around new discoveries that were added. Discoveries allow the alchemist to enhance his bombs and mutagens, but we added discoveries that allow him to use his bombs to dispel magic or to work better with poison, such as this new discovery.
Concentrate Poison: The alchemist can combine two doses of the same poison to increase their effects. This requires two doses of the poison and 1 minute of concentration. When completed, the alchemist has one dose of poison. The poison's frequency is extended by 50% and the save DC increases by +2.
Cavalier: This mounted warrior is skilled at directing allies around the battlefield and granting bonuses to his teammates. Each is dedicated to a specific order that grants abilities specific to his focus. Most of the changes from the playtest version of the cavalier are relatively small or designed to clarify an existing ability. For example, we clarified how large the cavalier's banner must be and how it must be displayed to grant its bonus to the cavalier's allies.
Inquisitor: Rooting out enemies of the faith, wherever they might hide, the inquisitor uses the powers of her faith to ruthlessly destroy her foes. One of her signature abilities is to declare judgment on one of her foes, granting her bonuses when fighting that enemy. The playtest version of this ability improved as the combat progressed. While this was a fun mechanic, it was ultimately rather unwieldy in play and was replaced with a simpler system. Now, whenever the inquisitor uses her judgment ability, she selects the type and gains a bonus based on her level. For example, take a look at this judgment of purity.
Purity: The inquisitor is protected from the vile taint of her foes, gaining a +1 sacred bonus on all saving throws. This bonus increases by +1 for every five inquisitor levels she possesses. At 10th level, the bonus is doubled against curses, diseases, and poisons.
Oracle: The oracle draws her power from the gods, but not one in particular. Her power is derived from her belief in a chosen mystery, which guides her and grants her additional powers. There were two big changes to the oracle from the playtest version. First, the bonus spells granted by the oracle's mystery are now granted a level sooner than before (the first arrives at 2nd level instead of 3rd). The second is the addition of the Life mystery, with powers like the following.
Enhanced Cures (Su): Whenever you cast a cure spell, the maximum number of hit points healed is based on your oracle level, not the limit based on the spell. For example, an 11th-level oracle of life with this revelation may cast cure light wounds to heal 1d8+11 hit points.
Summoner: The summoner is bonded to a special outsider, known as an eidolon, that gains powers and abilities as the summoner gains levels. His spells and class features all support this powerful, ever-changing ally. Most of the changes to this class were relatively small in nature, but the big one was a change to how often the summoner can call his eidolon. He can now summon the ally as often as he likes (provided it has not been banished due to damage recently), but he cannot use his summon monster ability at the same time. This allows him to keep the flexibility needed with the summoned creatures, but prevents him from overrunning the battlefield with too many creatures.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Witch: The witch is an arcane spellcaster with an extensive spell list of spells drawn from both the wizard and cleric spell lists. She also gains powerful hexes that she can use to augment herself or harm her enemies. The biggest change made to the witch involves her familiar, the creature that helps her to understand magic and serves as an envoy of the witch's mysterious patron. Now the bonus spells granted by a witch's familiar are no longer tied to the type of familiar, giving the witch a lot more flexibility in concept and theme. We also made a number of changes to the witch's hexes, including making flight a basic hex that does not grant true flight until 5th level, and added a few others here and there to round out the witch concept. For example, what witch would be caught without a cauldron.
Cauldron: The witch receives Brew Potion as a bonus feat and a +4 insight bonus on Craft (alchemy) skill checks.
Well, that just about rounds up our look at the six new base classes in the Advanced Player's Guide. Next week, we will continue exploring the mighty classes chapter (which is about 1/3 of the book) by taking a closer look at all of the options available to the core classes from the Core Rulebook.
... Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest, Bonus Round! Tuesday, February 2, 2010Although the playtest of the six base classes set to appear in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide was scheduled to be over yesterday, we have decided to extend it by two weeks to give you a chance to review and playtest the changes from the previous three rounds. We took all of your feedback and ideas and implemented a number of changes to the classes, combining them into one handy reference PDF. You can find...
Advanced Player’s Guide Playtest, Bonus Round!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Although the playtest of the six base classes set to appear in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide was scheduled to be over yesterday, we have decided to extend it by two weeks to give you a chance to review and playtest the changes from the previous three rounds. We took all of your feedback and ideas and implemented a number of changes to the classes, combining them into one handy reference PDF. You can find the PDF right here.
You have two weeks to playtest and comment on these revisions in the Final Playtest messageboard forum. Make sure to post your feedback on in the correct forum, because we might miss it if you place it in one of the older forums. On February 15th, all of the forums will be closed.
As with previous playtests, this process has been a huge benefit to the development of these classes. I hope that you have enjoyed participating in the process. Look for previews of the final book to start appearing in June, ramping up to the final release in August.
... Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide Classes Thursday, August 20, 2009Now that Gen Con is over, it is time to look into the future of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Over the next year, we have a number of fantastic products in store for you, but the one that has me the most excited is the Advanced Player's Guide. We gave a few hints about this hefty 320-page tome at Gen Con during the Pathfinder RPG Q&A seminar, but I wanted to take a moment to bring the news to you directly. ......
Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide Classes
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Now that Gen Con is over, it is time to look into the future of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Over the next year, we have a number of fantastic products in store for you, but the one that has me the most excited is the Advanced Player's Guide. We gave a few hints about this hefty 320-page tome at Gen Con during the Pathfinder RPG Q&A seminar, but I wanted to take a moment to bring the news to you directly.
First off, this book is set to release at Gen Con 2010. It will include a host of new options and avenues for characters built using the classes and features in the Core Rulebook. That means you can expect to find new barbarian rage powers, new sorcerer bloodlines, new bardic performance options, and a host of other tricks and tools to modify the 11 core classes. The book will also contain a number of feats, spells, and magic items to expand your game. We are providing all of these in one book so as to avoid spreading out the goodness over a host of tomes, which tends to just make things difficult to find and use. Some of this material will be leaked early through this blog to use right away (and to help us playtest some of the more tricky aspects).
In addition to the expansion of the core classes, this book will also contain six new base classes. They are called base classes because they go from level 1 to level 20, but they are not core classes. Confused? Allow me to explain. We are making an assumption that these new classes will take a role in our world (and possibly yours) that is less common. You will not find them in every adventure, nor will they appear in every product. That means that you can introduce them to your game in a more limited fashion, without having to retcon them into every facet of your campaign.
Of these six classes, I am ready to talk, in a limited fashion, about four of them. I should note that these classes are still being designed and everything you read here is subject to change. That said, we are really excited about the ideas, and hope that you will be too.
When working out some of the initial concepts for these classes, we had two primary criteria that each needed to fill: a conceptual niche and a mechanical niche. This means that each class we come up with needs to include mechanics that we do not currently explore with one of the 11 other classes, as well as its own conceptual space.
The first class I want to look at is the Cavalier. While traditionally, this class has been focused on mounted combat, we have learned that classes such as this suffer terribly by the circumstances of the adventure. As such, the cavalier is going to have some aspects that make it a great mounted combatant, but it will also focus on directing and controlling a battlefield through a system of class features that allow it to enhance allies, unnerve opponents, and challenge foes. Unlike a bard, the cavalier will focus on individuals instead of large numbers, allowing it to have some greater effects. The class will not rely on spells or magic to get the job done, but it will be a bit more skill-focused than some of the other martial classes, especially when it comes to Charisma-based skills.
Next up is the Alchemist. Now, I know what you are thinking. Brewing alchemist fire and crafting tindertwigs is not the stuff of adventurers, and hardly enough to build an entire class around. On that, I would agree, but we are taking this in a slightly different direction. Think of the alchemist a bit more like Dr. Jekyll. He brews up elixirs, mixes up unguents and powders, and crafts all sorts of tricks to use in a fight. While some of these will certainly mimic spells, others might allow him to gain fiendish qualities, breath fire, or even transform into a puddle of living ooze. At higher levels, he will be able to use some of his concoctions on others, granting them some of his strange abilities. This class will work like an arcane caster, in that he will prepare his alchemy for the day and use them as day goes on, as they most likely do not keep for long. There will undoubtedly be a host of new alchemical items in the book for him to tinker with as well.
Next up is the Summoner. I should note that the title for this one is still a bit temporary as it does not quite convey the concepts we are looking for. This class is focused on the creation or summoning of a monster combatant or guardian. Think of it as a sort of arcane animal companion that is a magical beast, outsider, or aberration instead of an animal. While the class will still be able to cast arcane spells, in a bit more of a limited fashion than a sorcerer, it will have a number of abilities to enhance and empower its creation. Some of these will be able to be applied on the fly, while others will happen only when the summoner gains levels. The class will have a list of abilities that can be added to a monster as you gain levels, with more powerful abilities made available to use in your monster's construction at higher levels. To top it off, the class will be a bit variable in theme. You could be a pious summoner, creating a divine champion to guard and protect you, or you could be a foul chirurgeon, creating your monster from the corpses of other dead monsters.
Finally, the last class I want to talk about is the Oracle. This class is a spontaneous divine caster that is not devoted to any one god. Instead it is devoted to a particular concept or domain. The oracle draws his power from all the deities that support that concept, but none of them particularly hold any domain over him. A great example here would be Hercules, who would make a great oracle of strength. The class provides spontaneous divine casting, but the focus provides a host of other abilities and powers. You could expect feats of great might from the oracle of strength, while the oracle of fire is probably going to be able to roast you alive if you anger him. Think of the oracle more as an expert on a single topic and less as a seer of the future and you are close to the theme we are going for. I am really excited about what this class could do and the roleplaying options it presents. I might even have to give my current character a break to play an oracle as soon as the class is ready.
That covers four of the six classes in the book. I am planning on releasing information about the other two next month, at a seminar taking place at Gen Con Australia, in Brisbane. These classes will be put up for public playtest well before the book goes to print, and as soon as the schedule is finalized, you will find it here on this blog. I hope to have some more news on these classes, as well as a few sneak peaks before the playtest, as they develop. Stay tuned.