As we gear-up for the release of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign, we thought we'd share these new free, downloadable wallpapers featuring the epic cover art by Wayne Reynolds. 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. Pre-order your copy today!
Illustrations by Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here.
Ultimate Campaign Wallpaper!
Thursday, March 7, 2013
As we gear-up for the release of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Campaign, we thought we'd share these new free, downloadable wallpapers featuring the epic cover art by Wayne Reynolds. 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. Pre-order your copy today!
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: NPC Codex is a first for Paizo—a 320-page Bestiary-style book full of NPC stat blocks instead of monsters. We’ve asked designer/developer Sean K Reynolds to answer some questions about this latest release for the Pathfinder RPG, and why NPC Codex is a must for your Pathfinder game.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here.
NPC Codex Q&A
Thursday, November 22, 2012
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: NPC Codex is a first for Paizo—a 320-page Bestiary-style book full of NPC stat blocks instead of monsters. We’ve asked designer/developer Sean K Reynolds to answer some questions about this latest release for the Pathfinder RPG, and why NPC Codex is a must for your Pathfinder game.
Why should I get NPC Codex?
The NPC Codex can save you time. If you're a GM, prepping stat blocks for a game takes a lot of work, and NPC Codex has full stat blocks for over 300 NPCs. That's 20 of each of the core character classes (cleric, fighter, and so on), 4 of each of the prestige classes, and 10 of each of the NPC classes (adept, commoner, and so on), all ready to drop into your game with no prep required. Appendix 1 has 45 animal companion stat blocks for various companions at different druid levels. Appendix 2 has 7 pages of themed encounter groups (such as "barbarian warband" and "pirate crew") at low, medium, and high levels, telling you exactly which NPC stat blocks you should use to build that encounter.
If you're a player, you can use those NPC stat blocks for cohorts or followers. If you're playing a druid or a ranger, you can use the animal companion stat blocks from Appendix 2 for your animal companion. If you need a character for a pick-up game, NPC Codex includes three stat blocks for each of Paizo's iconic characters (at level 1, 7, and 13).
The Core Rulebook gives you many options, and we wanted to demonstrate that you can use those options to create hundreds of unique, interesting characters. By just using the Core Rulebook, NPC Codex allows players who don't own any other books to get full use out of it, and players who do use the APG and so on are still able to swap in feats, spells, and items from those other books. We are looking forward to the opportunity to publish a similar book using the APG character classes, archetypes from Ultimate Magic, and so on.
Are these NPCs generic, or are they unique characters?
There is a mix of both. Each NPC is presented with a generic role, such as "fire cleric." As each page has a stat block, full-body illustration, and tactics for the character, some NPCs (especially spellcasters with long stat blocks) only have a few lines left for personal information. Whenever there was room, we gave the NPC a specific name, background, goals, and suggestions for using the NPC in a combat encounter and roleplaying encounter. For example, after the "fire cleric" stat block is information about Aleksion Coric, who uses the flame of truth to burn away impurity and rebellion.
Of course, if you just need a stat block and not a character concept, you can replace that descriptive text with something more appropriate to your campaign.
How easily can I fit these NPCs into my game?
We wanted to give you many standard options for each character class, but also to give you some unusual characters that may have a unique role in your campaign. In general, every other character for each of the base classes is a typical representative of that class. For example, the 1st-level wizard is a typical adventuring mage and the 3rd-level wizard is a mercenary universalist, but the 2nd-level wizard is a street magician enchanter and the 4th-level wizard is a diviner working as a private investigator. By giving you a "normal" member of that class at every other level, at most you're only one CR away from what you need for an encounter.
Chapter 3 presents characters of levels 1–10 for each of the five NPC classes. If you need a stat block for a simple beggar, pig farmer, shopkeeper, sailor, carpenter, guard, squire, or similar non-adventuring characters, this chapter has it covered.
Are the stat blocks customizable?
Completely! If you want the dwarf mountaineer (ranger 7) to use a battleaxe instead of a warhammer, just swap the weapon and keep playing. If you want the sylvan protector (druid 3) to have an animal companion instead of the Air domain, grab an animal companion stat block from Appendix 2 and you're good to go. If you're willing to do a little more leg work, you can even change the NPC's race or add an archetype. The purpose of NPC Codex is to give you complete stat blocks you can use right out of the book, but if you like to tinker, go for it.
Is there new art?
Of course! Just like the Bestiary, every page of NPCs has a full-body illustration from Paizo artist favorites such as Chris Seaman, Tyler Walpole, Scott Purdy, and Roberto Pitturu.
Meet the Iconics: Imrijka Thursday, October 11, 2012 ... Wails regularly echo through the eastern wing of Gravecharge, Pharasma's cathedral in the university city of Lepidstadt. Yet such aren't the breathless screams of the dead that so often ring through the corners of Ustalav, but rather the cries of life. Since its construction, Gravecharge has maintained a clean and well-supervised hospice for sick and orphaned youths. Just as the goddess Pharasma concerns herself with the transition of...
Meet the Iconics: Imrijka
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Wails regularly echo through the eastern wing of Gravecharge, Pharasma's cathedral in the university city of Lepidstadt. Yet such aren't the breathless screams of the dead that so often ring through the corners of Ustalav, but rather the cries of life. Since its construction, Gravecharge has maintained a clean and well-supervised hospice for sick and orphaned youths. Just as the goddess Pharasma concerns herself with the transition of life to death, so does she cherish even the most tragic lives.
Imrijka came to Gravecharge in the arms of a city watchman, wrapped in a tattered uniform and held at arm's length. The guard claimed his patrol had found "the thing" during their dawn patrol to the Spiral Cromlech, a Kellid ruin overlooking the city that was notorious for ill fortune and mysterious disappearances—but never for mysterious appearances. Hearing a babe bawling amid the moon-bleached standing stones, the guards bold enough to investigate momentarily took her for some stray fiend-child and almost slew her amid the eerie ruins. Identifying her as a half-orc infant did little to stay the hands of those ready to mete out death, but the argument that matters of life and death should be left to Pharasma sheathed the blades of those not truly eager to spill a child's blood—regardless of the color of her skin.
Dubbed Imrijka after Gravecharge's first high priestess, Imrijka Castavelik, the pistachio-skinned girl was cleaned, clothed, and given a place among the cathedral's other orphans. At first she terrified those youths, being larger, stronger, and more vicious in her biting than some children double her age. But only for a time. The priestesses of Pharasma explained the mysteries of their goddess's will and the vastness and variety of her creations, teaching the children that they were blessed to have such a unique new sister. For a time, behind the cathedral's walls, that was even the truth.
Illstruation by Wayne Reynolds
When she was old enough to understand and be understood, Imrijka reported to the offices of Jarlos Teym, Gravecharge's high exorcist, for the first time. He asked her a great deal about her life, how she felt about her studies, the clergy, the other children, and if there was anything he could do to make things more comfortable for her. A shy girl, Imrijka declined. Subsequent discussions bent toward the future, Imrijka's dreams, her prayers, and her vision for a long life. Finally, though, after months of building a rapport with the girl, Teym asked about her past. But for Imrijka, life began with the cathedral, priestesses, and other orphans. Teym pressed, insisting on answers, even verifying them with magic. After one particularly intense interview, a confused Imrijka finally started asking her own questions: Why did it matter? Why did Teym care? Couldn't what she might be outweigh what she might have been?
Deeming her mature enough to know, Teym explained his tenacity: someone had come to adopt Imrijka. Thrice. Every Kuthona for the past 3 years. First came a man dressed like a count's footman, articulate and with more questions than answers. He left after raising the clergy's suspicions with his too-pointed inquiries about Imrijka. A year later he returned, this time with a human woman of vulpine beauty who claimed to be Imrijka's mother—though her apparent age made that only the barest possibility. It was Teym's own suspicions and skill at discerning lies that kept the strangers from Imrijka, and the unusual pair left with wordless detachment. Finally, only a few months past—days before Teym's first meeting with Imrijka—the two strangers returned, led by a man dressed in white and silver. The bold newcomer spoke as one used to being obeyed and demanded Imrijka be handed over to him. Teym personally denied him, insisting to know what right he had to the girl. A father's right, the man persisted. The high exorcist ordered them out of the cathedral in that instant, but before they obeyed the man in white smiled. "She's not like us," he said, eyes glimmering. "Excellent."
Despite Teym's explanation, Imrijka understood only that her parents had come for her and that the high exorcist had sent them away. She held back both questions and tears, nodding blankly until Teym excused her. But she didn't return to her room. Rather, she exited through the front doors of Gravecharge and out onto the snowy streets—where someone waited.
A man in white sat upon the icy benches of the nearby circle, slowly feeding bits of shredded meat to the crows. Seeing Imrijka enter the plaza through the flurry of sound-deadening snow, he rose and walked toward her. Wary, she approached. In his gloved hand appeared a strange token, a disk etched with barbaric symbols and a figure impaled upon a spear. She reached for it.
A merciless iron arrow shattered the man's hand, sending the strange icon spiraling into the snow. Teym stood across the circle, another arrow nocked in his bent hawthorn bow. Around him whipped the black-edged crimson of Pharasma's inquisitors, woven flames that engulfed any flakes the whirling wind blew against them. "Back, girl," he commanded in a voice Imrijka had never heard him use.
The man in white might have been carved of ice. He had never flinched. Though the icon was knocked away, a tangle of disjoined fingers and bloodless flesh-ribbons remained outstretched toward Imrijka. Her small tusks clattered against her teeth, but she didn't scream.
"Another time, dear," the man whispered, just for her. Then the snow whirled around him. For a moment he seemed to be one with the cold, a blizzard-born prince. Then he was gone, leaving Imrijka cold and frightened—but not alone. High Exorcist Teym's cloak around her was heavy, and warm, and smelled strongly of tobacco and dust—what Imrijka imagined a grandfather should smell like. It didn't smell anything like the man in white.
Until Imrijka reached maturity and was fully able to defend herself, she rarely left Gravecharge Cathedral. When finally she did, it was in the crimson and black of an initiate inquisitor of Pharasma's faith. Even after the retirement of High Exorcist Teym, she continued to serve the church and the man she'd adopted as her grandfather, assisting him in his more scholarly pursuits as a consultant on religious antiquities at the University of Lepidstadt. She's traveled much of Ustalav and beyond—guarded an expedition to the boney towers of Kalexcourt, spent a night in the haunted hotel known as House Beumhal, been shouted off the porch of retired monster hunter Ailson Kinder (but not before getting her copy of Hunter's Moon signed), and had numerous other adventures. She regularly returns to Gravecharge, where several of her childhood companions have grown into positions within the church's sphere of influence—including Brel Vhalsik, an argumentative Kellid theologian with whom she shares a complicated relationship. But increasingly her interests and Teym's research send her beyond Ustalav's borders, where she treads with her goddess's blessing, bringing judgment to all who would violate the laws of life and death. In her travels she's faced significant prejudice, but tales of Pharasma's "monster monster-hunter" and Imrijka's ever-present arsenal convince most bigots to keep their fool mouths firmly shut. Through it all, she's never seen the man in white again—at least, not with total confidence, as there have been far too many shadows and half-recognized faces to be sure. She recovered his strange gift on that snowy day and wears the disk openly, hoping that someone someday might recognize it and lead her to some hint of where she came from and who she was. But for now, the future holds far greater promises for Imrijka, and she strides into it boldly, confident in her faith, where she's going, and who she is.
... Advanced Race Guide is Away! Tuesday, March 13, 2012Last week we sent the Advanced Race Guide to the printer. In the very near future we’ll be sharing some previews of this book, which is chock-full of new options for characters of all playable races. Until then, we thought we would whet your appetite by showing off this books amazing cover, painted by the lovely and talented Wayne Reynolds. ... And now, just for fun, if you were writing a caption for this cover, what would it be? You get...
Advanced Race Guide is Away!
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Last week we sent the Advanced Race Guide to the printer. In the very near future we’ll be sharing some previews of this book, which is chock-full of new options for characters of all playable races. Until then, we thought we would whet your appetite by showing off this books amazing cover, painted by the lovely and talented Wayne Reynolds.
And now, just for fun, if you were writing a caption for this cover, what would it be? You get extra points for fun, creativity, and humor... as well as good taste.
... Illustrations by Eva Widermann and Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here. Dragon Empires Gazetteer Wallpaper! Thursday, December 22, 2011Check out this great wallpaper for the Dragon Empires Gazetteer, courtesy of two of the nicest and most talented artists in the business—Wayne Reynolds and Eva Widermann! ... James L. Sutter ... Fiction Editor ...
Illustrations by Eva Widermann and Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here.
Dragon Empires Gazetteer Wallpaper!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Check out this great wallpaper for the Dragon Empires Gazetteer, courtesy of two of the nicest and most talented artists in the business—Wayne Reynolds and Eva Widermann!
... Illustrations by Eric Belisle and Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here. Monsters Are Coming! Thursday, December 1, 2011The time draws nigh for Bestiary 3, so while you sharpen your blade and prepare your spells in advance of the monstrous onslaught, here's a little something to keep your mind on your task. ... Christopher Carey ... Editor ...
Illustrations by Eric Belisle and Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here.
Monsters Are Coming!
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The time draws nigh for Bestiary 3, so while you sharpen your blade and prepare your spells in advance of the monstrous onslaught, here's a little something to keep your mind on your task.
... Meet the Iconics: Feiya Thursday, October 27, 2011 ... Illustration by Wayne ReynoldsBorn in a small village north of Trollheim in the Linnorm Kingdoms, the child who would come to be known as Feiya was the daughter of two Tian merchants from Minkai who had come over the crown of the world to Avistan to start a new life. Travelers by nature, they spent the short northern summers making slow loops through Hagreach and the Thanelands, facilitating trade. What few memories Feiya has of that...
Meet the Iconics: Feiya
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Born in a small village north of Trollheim in the Linnorm Kingdoms, the child who would come to be known as Feiya was the daughter of two Tian merchants from Minkai who had come over the crown of the world to Avistan to start a new life. Travelers by nature, they spent the short northern summers making slow loops through Hagreach and the Thanelands, facilitating trade. What few memories Feiya has of that life are happy ones: the jostling of wagons, the smell of campfires, and wandering alone through fields and forests, marveling as the wildness closed around her.
That happiness came to a sudden halt on the fateful day that brought her to the attention of a recently sundered coven of witches who dwelled on the border with Irrisen. Led by a particularly cruel green hag named Nysima, the coven had lost its youngest member to a squad of Blackravens from Trollheim and was still reeling from its sudden loss of power. They witnessed the child as she skipped away from the caravan stop, following a family of deer deep into the woods, and immediately set upon her.
There’s no telling what cruelties the witches would have visited upon the girl had they not suffered their recent loss. As it was, another, no less horrific, fate awaited young Feiya. The two crones seized the child and whisked her away to the east, their mad cackling drowning out the young girl’s terrified screams. By the time they reached their snow- and thatch-covered huts, they had given the child a new name and were already envisioning the return of their lost powers.
The next twelve years were a blur of pain, terror, and misery as Feiya endured the crones’ sadistic attempts to teach her their dark craft. Alternating between tutelage and torture, the witches frequently let their cruel natures impede their instruction. For while the young girl showed unmistakable promise and aptitude, she also possessed a defiance that only the harshest of punishments could suppress. On numerous occasions, Feiya tried to escape her imprisonment, only to be tracked down and captured after no more than a few hours. The retributions for these failed attempts have scarred her body and mind in ways that no magic can ever heal.
One brisk autumn day, after being beaten for failing to properly brew a batch of poisonous blue whinnis, Feiya was sent off to gather herbs. While harvesting more whinnis root, she spied a fox watching her from atop a large rime-covered rock. Unlike the region’s typical arctic specimens, this creature had a striking red and orange coloration that stood in stark contrast to the endless snow. There was something about the way the creature watched her that beckoned to Feiya. She approached carefully, and was astonished by his calm and focus. As she neared, the fox trotted a small distance away, turned, and gave her a look that was clearly an invitation to follow. This process was repeated again and again, and before she knew it, Feiya was following the fox on another escape attempt.
By sundown, the two witches had realized Feiya’s intentions. Furious, they set off in pursuit, confident that, as with all previous instances, their hunt would be brief. This time, however, Feiya had guidance. The fox led her along trails never before seen by human nor hag, staying always just ahead and out of reach. When she needed nourishment, the fox led her to game and fresh water. When she needed rest, it stood vigil while she slept. In this manner, Feiya was able to elude capture for more than two weeks.
One particularly cold evening, however, Feiya’s luck ran out. With her pursuers hot on her trail and the fox nowhere to be seen, she found herself trapped in a river valley surrounded on three sides by impassable mountains. Feiya could sense the witches closing in, could hear their promises of pain on the chilling wind. She took shelter in a shallow cave behind the waterfall that fed the river, a curious little grotto whose far wall was emblazoned with a crude carving of a butterfly. Like an animal run to ground, Feiya steeled herself for the coming confrontation. She had come too far this time to surrender without a fight. She determined then and there that her days of living under someone else’s yoke were over. She would have her freedom, either in this life or the next.
It was at that moment that the fox reappeared. Only now, there was something different in the way he approached her. He had always shown a preternatural intelligence, but as Feiya stared into his eyes, she saw a consciousness and a determination that would have frightened her had she not come to trust the animal so implicitly. As she watched him, Feiya was startled by a sudden and overwhelming flurry of sensations invading her mind. She sank, dazed, to the cave floor as the feelings slowly crystallized into coherence. Less a voice than a series of emotions, the promise it offered was unmistakable. Feiya said nothing, but her acceptance was as clear as it was quick.
What followed will forever haunt Feiya’s dreams. Raspy promises of pain and suffering rose above the din of the waterfall as the witches drew near to cave mouth. Feiya could see the outlines of their hunched bodies just beyond the blanket of cascading water, but before she could act, another sound arose. It started as a low rumble, then quickly gained volume, drowning out both hags and water and sending tremors through the cave floor. Then the valley erupted with the screeching and roaring of what could only have been a forest’s worth of wild animals, punctured occasionally by the shrill curse of a hag.
Long minutes passed as Feiya stood, too frightened to move. Then, as gradually as it began, the noise subsided until all that remained was the crash of the waterfall. Feiya crouched down behind a rocky outcropping, afraid to leave the shelter of the cave. As the minutes turned into hours, exhaustion claimed her, and, despite her anxiety, she succumbed to a fitful sleep.
When dawn finally arrived, Feiya stepped out from the cave, not quite sure what she was expecting to see. A fresh blanket of snow had covered the land, hiding any clues she might have found concerning the events of the previous night. Yet the feeling of relief was palpable. The fox crept up and paused at her side. She was finally free.
Feiya never discusses the events of that night, nor the particulars of the strange pact she entered into. She may one day try to track down the parents she barely remembers, but for now she is content to roam the world, relishing her freedom, seeking new experiences, and developing her newfound power. Though she desperately desires the company of others, formative years spent away from civilized society have left Feiya lacking in social graces, and her awkwardness often leads to unfortunate misunderstandings. Nevertheless, her inherent good nature tends to win out, and her occasional flares of temper are countered by her steadfast loyalty to her friends. Feiya relishes travel, and having identified the butterfly carving in the waterfall cave as the found-mark of a Desnan priest, she gladly embraces that faith, hoping that her wanderings may cast more light on who she really is—and what entity fosters her magical abilities.
... More Jade Regent Romances Thursday, September 29, 2011The relationship and romance rules presented in the Jade Regent Player’s Guide have proven to be a popular addition to the Jade Regent Adventure Path—so much so that people have been clamoring for relationship rules for other characters in the Adventure Path beyond the four main NPCs presented in Pathfinder #49. ... Although you can always come up with your own romance and relationship statistics for any NPC in any adventure,...
More Jade Regent Romances
Thursday, September 29, 2011
The relationship and romance rules presented in the Jade Regent Player’s Guide have proven to be a popular addition to the Jade Regent Adventure Path—so much so that people have been clamoring for relationship rules for other characters in the Adventure Path beyond the four main NPCs presented in Pathfinder #49.
Although you can always come up with your own romance and relationship statistics for any NPC in any adventure, we’ve taken two characters from Pathfinder Adventure Path #49: The Brinewall Legacy and Pathfinder Adventure Path #50: Night of Frozen Shadows—Kelda Oxgutter and Ulf Gormundr—and are presenting their official relationship info here. As usual, relationships with these characters can be either friendly or competitive, and can lead to gaining an NPC’s devotion, or their enmity. See pages 13–15 of the Jade Regent Player’s Guide for a full explanation of these rules and their use in the Jade Regent Adventure Path.
Although Kelda is scheduled to take her leave of the PCs once they reach Kalsgard, if they work hard at building relationships with her, she may stay on indefinitely.
Preferred Gifts: armor, shields, or weapons, fine furs, epic sagas of heroism and battle Hated Insults: questioning her prowess in battle, joking about her capture, sexist comments Devotion Boon: Kelda’s fast footwork and speed in battle has inspired you to quickness in combat as well. Once per game session, you may gain a 5-foot enhancement bonus to your speed as a swift action, regardless of the distance between you and Kelda. Once activated, this bonus persists for a number of rounds equal to your Relationship Score with Kelda divided by 10 (rounded down). Enmity Boon: Kelda can be close-lipped and somewhat stiff, but you have to admit that she is strong-willed, and held up surprisingly well in captivity. You’re determined to prove that you’re just as stubborn as she is, and gain a +4 bonus on saving throws against fear and enchantment effects. Romance Score: 36
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Ulf is strictly professional, and usually avoids relationships with his employers, but it is possible that Ulf might warm to someone who truly puts time and effort into building a friendship with the surly and notoriously difficult Ulfen guide.
Preferred Gifts: scrimshaw artworks, strong liquor, survival gear Hated Insults: abuse of authority, questioning his guidance or his survival skills, racist comments about the Varki or about half-breeds in general Devotion Boon: Ulf’s devotion to his friends, even in the face of overwhelming adversity, is truly an inspiration. You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls and weapon damage rolls against an opponent that has just successfully attacked one of your allies in combat. This bonus lasts for 1 round after the opponent’s attack. Enmity Boon: It’s easy to push Ulf’s buttons and make him mad, and there’s nothing that angers him more than someone who doesn’t follow his advice on surviving in harsh environments. Of course, to know what not to do, you’ve had to listen attentively to his lectures, and have picked up more than a few pointers as a result. Choose one terrain type from the list of ranger favored terrains. You gain a +2 bonus on initiative checks and Perception, Stealth, and Survival checks when you are in that terrain, regardless of the distance between you and Ulf. Romance Score: 42
... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here. Jade Regent Wallpaper! Thursday, August 25, 2011With The Brinewall Legacy, Wayne Reynolds makes his triumphant return to the cover of Pathfinder Adventure Path, perfectly capturing Ameiko Kaijitsu's charming swagger and personality as Sandpoint's least-likely aristocrat. What better way to celebrate than with a commemorative wallpaper! ... Christopher Carey ... Editor ...
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here.
Jade Regent Wallpaper!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
With The Brinewall Legacy, Wayne Reynolds makes his triumphant return to the cover of Pathfinder Adventure Path, perfectly capturing Ameiko Kaijitsu's charming swagger and personality as Sandpoint's least-likely aristocrat. What better way to celebrate than with a commemorative wallpaper!
... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here. Ready for Combat! Thursday, August 18, 2011With Ultimate Combat fighting its way into eager hands, it's time to adorn your desktops with some appropriate wallpaper, featuring the ever-awesome art of Wayne Reynolds. ... Christopher Carey ... Editor ...
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here.
Ready for Combat!
Thursday, August 18, 2011
With Ultimate Combat fighting its way into eager hands, it's time to adorn your desktops with some appropriate wallpaper, featuring the ever-awesome art of Wayne Reynolds.
... Gen Con Pathfinder Society Recap Monday, August 15, 2011It's been over a week since Gen Con wrapped up, and a little less than that since we returned to business as usual here at Paizo HQ. But even though we're back in the swing of deadlines and such, the rush of Pathfinder Society at Gen Con still has me feeling high! ... Over the course of four days and ten slots, we seated over 3,000 excited Pathfinders, many of whom played their first Pathfinder Society scenario during the convention....
Gen Con Pathfinder Society Recap
Monday, August 15, 2011
It's been over a week since Gen Con wrapped up, and a little less than that since we returned to business as usual here at Paizo HQ. But even though we're back in the swing of deadlines and such, the rush of Pathfinder Society at Gen Con still has me feeling high!
Over the course of four days and ten slots, we seated over 3,000 excited Pathfinders, many of whom played their first Pathfinder Society scenario during the convention. And though we sold out almost every event months before the show, I'm proud to say that nearly everyone who wanted to get into a game with generic tickets was able to do so. We only had to turn people away in two of the ten slots!
Our Friday night special, Blood Under Absalom, was a smashing success, and we were able to get everyone who wanted to play a seat, pulling in extra tables from the hall to ensure that no one was left out. The result was 51 tables (out of a sold-out 45) of Pathfinders of all levels running through the same adventure, GMed by none other than the incomparable Tim Hitchcock.
In addition to the rewards all players get for surviving a Pathfinder Society Scenario, we had additional prizes that players and GMs could try to win by unlocking the Pathfinder Society treasure chest. Inside were signed copies of hardcover rulebooks, free map packs and flip mats, Pathfinder Tales novels, and even exclusive Pathfinder Society boons. Some players walked away with Chronicle sheets granting them access to non-core races like aasimar, tiefling, tengu, and dhampir, and everyone who played a scenario or delve got a Gen Con exclusive boon granting them weapon proficiency with one Eastern weapon from Ultimate Combat. For those Pathfinder Society players and GMs who couldn't make it to the show, we'll be trying similar promotions at regional conventions and game stores in the coming months, spearheaded by our invaluable Venture-Captains, so keep an eye out for your chance to get some exclusive Pathfinder Society Chronicles in your area.
Thanks to everyone who spent valuable time and money ensuring Gen Con 2011 was the most successful Pathfinder Society convention to date. Without all our Venture-Captains, HQ volunteers, and over 50 GMs per slot, thousands of gamers would have missed out on the launch of the Year of the Ruby Phoenix and hours of fun exploring Golarion! Keep an eye on this blog in the coming months for early information about our plans of next Gen Con, including how you can volunteer to help make Gen Con 2012 an even bigger success!
P.S. Check out this awesome Wayne Reynolds art from the first two Jade Regent adventure path volumes. See, Shalelu's hair is blond!
... Meet the Iconics: Reiko August 4, 2011Reiko is the iconic character for the ninja class from Ultimate Combat. To read the story for Hayato, the iconic samurai, or Lirianne, the iconic gunslinger—both classes also featured in Ultimate Combat—click here and here. ... Situated on the western coast of Minkai, Reiko’s home town of White Wave was a quiet fishing village, little more than a collection of shacks and cabins clinging to a steep cliff face overlooking the harbor. Crushed...
Meet the Iconics: Reiko
August 4, 2011
Reiko is the iconic character for the ninja class from Ultimate Combat. To read the story for Hayato, the iconic samurai, or Lirianne, the iconic gunslinger—both classes also featured in Ultimate Combat—click here and here.
Situated on the western coast of Minkai, Reiko’s home town of White Wave was a quiet fishing village, little more than a collection of shacks and cabins clinging to a steep cliff face overlooking the harbor. Crushed under oppressive humidity in the summer, the air thick with clouds of stinging flies and gnats, and subject to dangerous storms in the winter, White Wave had little to offer any lord, and thus little was demanded of it.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
All that changed when Reiko was twelve. Due to bureaucratic disputes and shifting borders between noble fiefdoms, White Wave fell under the control of a new lord—Entobe Hisashi—and this one had grand plans for the holding. The sea cliffs would be the perfect place for a new shrine, a series of shining towers that would please the gods and bring favor upon the Entobe family for generations. An ambitious project, it would take many hands to complete. And Lord Entobe knew precisely where to find them.
When Reiko thinks of her childhood, she no longer remembers searching through tide pools, or climbing high up the dangerous cliff walls to the sounds of her mother’s laughter and her father’s anxious scolding. Instead, she remembers the smell and taste of rock dust in her mouth, her fingernails smashed and bleeding from hauling rocks. She remembers the long hours of toil in the cruelly hot sun, carrying water for the townsfolk forced to cut stone in the quarry, their fishing dories left to rot in the harbor. Yet most of all, she remembers the faces of her parents growing steadily leaner as they made her take their rations of rice and soup.
For many months, the people toiled. Lord Entobe’s enforcers brooked no laziness—as they deemed it when the old or young keeled over from exhaustion—and punishments were severe. The village’s tiny graveyard filled quickly, and soon bodies began to wash up on the shore as townsfolk too exhausted to dig graves cast their deceased loved ones into the sea.
And then, seemingly overnight, the gods turned against the project. Shortly after dusk one night, three of the five tower foundations collapsed, killing one of the crueler taskmasters. Though it meant months more work, the people secretly took joy in the irony, and that joy sustained them as they began to clear away rubble and rebuild. Yet strange things kept happening to the necessary supplies. Tools were broken. Timbers rotted. Stone turned brittle, and rope frayed and snapped. Guards died in mysterious ways, always seemingly accidental. The fury and fear of the overseers and the architects was a wonder to behold, and the common folk secretly toasted whatever kami were responsible.
Only one house did not share in the amusement. Though they said nothing to her, Reiko could tell that her parents were tense, and the arguments that came through her walls after they thought she was asleep ran late into the night. And then one painfully hot summer evening, unable to sleep despite her exhaustion, Reiko left her room and found a black-clad figure crawling through a second-story window.
Before Reiko could scream, the figure was at her side, hand covering her mouth. And then the tight-fitting black cowl was removed, and Reiko was looking into the solemn eyes of her mother.
After that night, many things changed. Reiko learned that her mother was no shepherd girl from the inland fields, as she had always been told, but had instead grown up in the mountains as part of a clan of ninja, a deadly but honorable band of assassins and spies with a history going back hundreds of years. On the run after an ill-fated ambush, she hid out in the tiny village and fell in love with a simple fisherman—Reiko’s father. Despite her husband’s concern and disapproval, Reiko’s mother began to teach their daughter some of the secrets of the clan. Though she flatly refused to take Reiko on any of the solitary raids with which she plagued Entobe’s people, the two spent many hours together in the darkness, climbing the cliffs of White Wave, practicing with the swords her mother kept hidden in their rafters, and moving silently across rooftops and ship rigging. Reiko proved a capable student, and at last there was something to look forward to after days of backbreaking labor.
And then Reiko’s mother went too far. Caught in the act of sabotaging a stone-hauling cart, she killed several of the overseers before escaping back to their home. Immediately she hid her gear in the midden and put an end to her and Reiko’s midnight activities. But it was too late.
Furious, Lord Entobe himself came to the site, arriving in a grand procession of warriors, spellcasters—and investigators. The afternoon after his arrival, he halted construction and ordered the townsfolk to assemble. Reiko and her mother—both assigned to the task of serving tea to the guards for the day—stood at the back of the crowd, watching Entobe take the makeshift stage that had been erected in his honor.
Addressing the crowd, Entobe announced that the person behind the attacks had been discovered, and that the treachery in their midst would be ending. Then he held up a familiar object—the black mask belonging to Reiko’s mother, still damp and stained from the trash heap.
That was when the guards parted ranks to reveal Reiko’s father, bound at wrists and ankles. There was no mistaking the gash across his throat, nor the red stain trailing down his shirt.
Reiko shrieked and rushed forward, but her mother caught her shoulder and spun her around. Their eyes met.
“Run, little spider,” her mother said. Then a hidden blade dropped from her sleeve into her hand, and she leapt for the mob of guards on the stage.
Reiko ran. Using all the skills her mother had taught her, she slipped out of the village and away down the cliffs, evading Entobe’s guards and dogs. For days she ran along the sea’s edge, keeping to the stones at low tide to leave no prints or scent trails, until she was sure that she was far from Entobe’s holdings. Then she turned east, into the mountains, in search of her mother’s clan.
In the end, she found them—yet not in the way she expected. For Entobe had also uncovered her mother’s clan allegiance, and in a fit of pique had hired them to hunt down any remaining members of her family. One again, Reiko found herself on the run. And this time she didn’t stop until she was far, far to the west, on the shores of a strange land called Avistan.
Today, Reiko is a grown woman. Cool and aloof, quick with a cutting remark or withering glare, she’s nevertheless managed to get along for nearly ten years in a land where Minkai itself is a legend, and ninja are little more than exotic fairy tales. Though she’s studied with the most capable thieves and assassins in the region, Reiko has yet to find the carefully codified engagements of honor and subtlety that her mother spoke of, and grows tired of Avistan’s seemingly endless collection of brute highwaymen and lowbrow killers. Still, the lack of corrupt lords like Entobe in places like Andoran—her new nation of choice—is a small comfort, and she’s heard whispers that a secret branch of the Eagle Knights may be exactly what she’s looking for. Regardless of whether such rumors pan out, and despite a decade on foreign soil, Reiko still views her time around the Inner Sea as a training exercise. Someday soon, she’ll retrace her steps back to Minkai. And when she does, both the Entobe family and her mother’s traitorous clan will finally learn the magnitude of their mistake.
Meet the Iconics: Lirianne Thursday, July 28th, 2011Lirianne is the iconic character for the gunslinger class from Ultimate Combat. To read the story for Hayato, the iconic samurai—another class featured in Ultimate Combat—click here. ... Shieldmarshal Dahmok's greatest failing was teaching his middle daughter to read. After the loss of their mother, a lively but capricious elven explorer who viewed ten years and three children as a fling, he had hoped to rear homebody children....
Meet the Iconics: Lirianne
Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Lirianne is the iconic character for the gunslinger class from Ultimate Combat. To read the story for Hayato, the iconic samurai—another class featured in Ultimate Combat—click here.
Shieldmarshal Dahmok's greatest failing was teaching his middle daughter to read. After the loss of their mother, a lively but capricious elven explorer who viewed ten years and three children as a "fling," he had hoped to rear homebody children. Even with their halfblood status stretching the years he spent with his treasured children, the old marshal shuddered at the knowledge that one was already slipping away.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
While older Suzeressa took to the practical household arts and younger Milliceene pursued a love of natural sciences, middle-born Lirianne lost herself for hours at a time in tales of shining knights, devious fairies, and mighty dragons—all subjects absent from her homeland of Alkenstar. Raised among bricks, smoke, and bureaucracy, the young half-elf dreamed of the life of adventure and fantasy promised by the collection of fairy tales left by her absent mother and her own ever-growing library of penny dreadfuls. Naturally, she aspired to follow in her father's footsteps and become a shieldmarshal, protecting Alkenstar from the hostile giants and hideous mutations of the Mana Wastes. Preferring to keep his little girl safe at home, Dahmok calmly explained she could never become a shieldmarshal, running with the first excuse he could come up with—that her beloved long hair would become entangled in firearm mechanisms. To his surprise, he awoke the next morning to discover Lirianne grinning like a fool, with her long tresses roughly chopped, eagerly packed and ready to follow him to work.
For twenty years, the little half-elf pushed herself to meet ever more insane requirements laid down by her aging father. Schoolmates nicknamed her "the Phantom" as she vanished often to practice her quick draw or memorize technical volumes. Tutors and governesses thought her adle-brained as she sat staring, redrawing engineer's schematics in her mind rather than follow her lessons. Even before she was old enough to entertain her first romance, she had mastered the construction and firing of a rifle, and could reckon complex trajectories by eye alone.
An old man and long since retired by the time his daughter reached womanhood, Dahmok could no longer forbid her entry into the shieldmarshals. But the old patriot's influence lived on in his successors, and to honor his service they assigned Lirianne to a quiet domestic position, safeguarding farming settlements along the secure Alkenstar-Martel road. Ten years of her life passed rounding up drunks and mediating water rights, eating away at her passion for adventure in ways her father's disapproval never could. Her childhood dreams eventually forgotten, Lirianne's steely eyes dulled with the tarnish of a thousand mundane details.
It was kismet when a storm of wild magic blew off the Spellscar Desert, past Alkenstar, and into her jurisdiction. The rampant arcane energy, fallout from centuries of wizard warfare, warped space and time around it. The magical swells lashed out, reshaping hillsides, boiling sand into glass, and calling forth bizarre creatures from the dawn of history. The only marshal at hand, Lirianne leapt into service. As townsfolk huddled in their cellars and buildings crumbled into twisted forms of misbegotten wood and bone, a bolt of green lightning lashed out, striking the half-elf even as she confronted the storm's abominations.
Lirianne awoke soaking and half-drowned on distant shores. The bizarre country was flush with thick forests and green hills—plant life like she'd never seen. Wandering inland, she soon encountered a lumber caravan beset by malicious fey. In a heartbeat, a childhood's worth of stories welled up inside her, and she rushed into battle with a passion long since forgotten. The grateful caravan loaded her with all the supplies and information she could manage, confirming that her inexplicable odyssey had deposited her cleanly in the midst of those same shining knights, devious fairies, and mighty dragons who had occupied so much of her youth.
Now a wanderer in the strange land of Avistan, Lirianne struggles to balance her resurgence of childhood wonder and adult dedication to justice, all while confronting her long-ignored elven blood. While thoughts of family and the familiar industrial life of Alkenstar occasionally tug at her roaming heart, sights remain unseen and people remain unsaved, and Lirianne will be damned if she'll fail in either.
Relief! Thursday, May 19, 2011We’re all still reeling from the big push to get our Gen Con releases out the door, but you know what never gets old? Signing books. ... You may remember that a while back we put up a bunch of autographed books (including the gold-foil Special Edition copies seen here) as an auction to try to raise money for tsunami relief efforts in Japan. Well, it turns out that the Paizo community members found it in their hearts to give most generously, and now we’re holding...
Thursday, May 19, 2011
We’re all still reeling from the big push to get our Gen Con releases out the door, but you know what never gets old? Signing books.
You may remember that a while back we put up a bunch of autographed books (including the gold-foil Special Edition copies seen here) as an auction to try to raise money for tsunami relief efforts in Japan. Well, it turns out that the Paizo community members found it in their hearts to give most generously, and now we’re holding up our end of the bargain. Mr. Wayne Reynolds himself—on loan from England—was in here earlier this week signing copies, and as you can see, we’re busily collecting signatures from everyone else here at Paizo. (Pictured here is only the first wave of signatures from the editorial pit. By the time the rest of the company is done with it, it’ll be a game of its own just trying to figure out who’s who....)
... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Adventure Begins Here! Wednesday, May 11, 2011The first RPG product I ever purchased came in a red box, with a fighter laying the smack down on a red dragon. I was 12 and I've never stopped gaming since. I suspect that this fall some young whippersnappers will see this Beginner Box, pick it up, and begin their own journey into this great hobby of ours. With this amazing art from Wayne Reynolds, how can they not? And what can you do to make their journey...
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Adventure Begins Here!
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The first RPG product I ever purchased came in a red box, with a fighter laying the smack down on a red dragon. I was 12 and I've never stopped gaming since. I suspect that this fall some young whippersnappers will see this Beginner Box, pick it up, and begin their own journey into this great hobby of ours. With this amazing art from Wayne Reynolds, how can they not? And what can you do to make their journey easier?
Magus Preview Tuesday, April 26, 2011 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Every Tuesday until the book's release, we are going to be digging into some of the new rules and options you will find in Ultimate Magic. After a bit of a mix up last week, this week we are going to take a look at the new base class, the magus, and the archetypes slated to appear in this book. ... From its first appearance as part of the playtest of this book, the magus has gone through a number of iterations. The...
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Every Tuesday until the book's release, we are going to be digging into some of the new rules and options you will find in Ultimate Magic. After a bit of a mix up last week, this week we are going to take a look at the new base class, the magus, and the archetypes slated to appear in this book.
From its first appearance as part of the playtest of this book, the magus has gone through a number of iterations. The second playtest version of the class is, in fact, quite a bit similar to the final version of the class, with a number of clarifications made to make things work a bit more smoothly. Take a look at the revised spell strike ability, for example.
Spellstrike (Su): At 2nd level, whenever a magus casts a spell with a range of "touch" from the magus spell list, he can deliver the spell through any weapon he is wielding as part of a melee attack. Instead of the free melee touch attack normally allowed to deliver the spell, a magus can make one free melee attack with his weapon (at his highest base attack bonus) as part of casting this spell. If successful, this melee attack deals its normal damage as well as the effects of the spell. If the magus makes this attack in concert with spell combat, this melee attack takes all the penalties accrued by spell combat melee attacks. This attack uses the weapon's critical range (20, 19–20, or 18–20 and modified by the keen weapon property or similar effects), but the spell effect only deals x2 damage on a successful critical hit, while the weapon damage uses its own critical modifier.
As you can see, we clarified how the attack worked, and how critical hits were handled when using this ability. In addition, we replaced the pool spell abilities with ones that are a bit more in line with the flavor of the class. Take a look at these.
Spell Recall (Su): At 4th level, the magus learns to use his arcane pool to recall spells he has already cast. With a swift action he can recall any single magus spell that he has already prepared and cast that day by expending a number of points from his arcane pool equal to the spell's level (minimum 1). The spell is prepared again, just as if it had not been cast. Improved Spell Recall (Su): At 11th level, the magus's ability to recall spells using his arcane pool becomes more efficient. Whenever he recalls a spell with spell recall, he expends a number of points from his arcane pool equal to 1/2 the spell's level (minimum 1). Furthermore, instead of recalling a used spell, as a swift action the magus can prepare a spell of the same level that he has in his spellbook. He does so by expending a number of points from his arcane pool equal to the spell's level (minimum 1). The magus cannot apply metamagic feats to a spell prepared in this way. The magus does not need to reference his spellbook to prepare a spell in this way.
So, that is a taste of the sorts of changes you can expect to see with the base class itself, but how about those archetypes? Here is a list of all the magus archetypes in the book, with a short description of each.
Magus Archetypes Bladebound: A magus with this archtype is bound to a special sword, called a black blade, that gains powers, and over time, sentience. Hexcrafter: Using the powers of a witch, this magus can use hexes and can curse his enemies. Spellblade: Capable of creating a light blade of pure force, the spellblade can wield two weapons and still cast his spells. Staff Magus: Skilled at using the quarterstaff, these powerful magi can eventually treat any magic staff as a deadly weapon.
That wraps up our preview for this week. Come back next week when we will examine some of the ways this book will help you master magic.
... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds. Wallpaper design by Crystal Frasier. Widescreen version here. ... Ultimate Power! Friday, April 8, 2011Itty bitty living space? Nah, not with Ultimate Magic in your bag! This 256-page tome is the latest hardcover release for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and will be shipping to distributors in just a few weeks. Until you can hold the book in your hands, let this great wallpaper of the iconic magus Seltyiel by the always amazing Wayne Reynolds adorn your...
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds. Wallpaper design by Crystal Frasier. Widescreen version here.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Itty bitty living space? Nah, not with Ultimate Magic in your bag! This 256-page tome is the latest hardcover release for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and will be shipping to distributors in just a few weeks. Until you can hold the book in your hands, let this great wallpaper of the iconic magus Seltyiel by the always amazing Wayne Reynolds adorn your desktop.
Special Charity Event Ends Today! Thursday, April 7, 2011 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds I'd like to take a moment to remind folks about the Japan Quake and Tsunami Relief Auction we started last week. For those of you that don't remember, last Thursday we announced that Paizo would be auctioning off the Wayne Reynolds original painting of Nakayama Hayato, the iconic samurai found in Ultimate Combat, our 256-page hardcover release for Gen Con 2011 and three copies each of a special...
Special Charity Event Ends Today!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
I'd like to take a moment to remind folks about the Japan Quake and Tsunami Relief Auction we started last week. For those of you that don't remember, last Thursday we announced that Paizo would be auctioning off the Wayne Reynolds original painting of Nakayama Hayato, the iconic samurai found in Ultimate Combat, our 256-page hardcover release for Gen Con 2011 and three copies each of a special edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook and Pathfinder RPG Bestiary. There are only a few hours left in these auctions so please visit the Paizo eBay storefront before 10 a.m. PDT to take part in this special charity event!
Paizo Annouces Japan Relief Auction Thursday March 31, 2011Yesterday we published on the blog the official Meet the Iconics for Nakayama Hayato, the iconic samurai from the city of Oda in distant Minkai. The son of the chief falconer and his wife, Hayato—whose name means falcon—quickly proved just as proficient with the dangerous birds as his father, emulating their proud and fierce natures. In time, Hayato grew to become a powerful warrior, rising to the position of head samurai...
Paizo Annouces Japan Relief Auction
Thursday March 31, 2011
Yesterday we published on the blog the official "Meet the Iconics" for Nakayama Hayato, the iconic samurai from the city of Oda in distant Minkai. The son of the chief falconer and his wife, Hayato—whose name means "falcon"—quickly proved just as proficient with the dangerous birds as his father, emulating their proud and fierce natures. In time, Hayato grew to become a powerful warrior, rising to the position of head samurai of the Nakayama holdings. When his master's son died in a drunken duel at the age of twenty, Lord Nakayama began to look more and more to Hayato as a son, even allowing him to take the family name. Hayato no longer lives in Minkai but now makes his home in the Inner Sea region, upholding the samurai code he has sworn.
In yesterday's blog post we announced that, in partnership with Wayne Reynolds, Paizo would auction the original painting of Hayato, along with staff-signed Special Edition copies of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and Pathfinder RPG Bestiary. These special edition copies of the rulebooks are limited to fewer than 100 copies each, and available only to Paizo staff members. But now, you can own a copy, too! With gilt pages and gold foil cover lettering, and signed by the entire Paizo staff and cover artist Wayne Reynolds, this collectible first printing merits a special place on your gaming bookshelf. All proceeds from the auctions will be donated to the Red Cross Society, an organization with extraordinary disaster response capabilities. It has mobilized eleven teams to heavily damaged communities in Japan to provide assessments and first aid and to supply emotional support and relief.
"All of us at Paizo have been devastated by the recent events in Japan, and when Wayne Reynolds contacted me with the idea to auction his original Pathfinder art, I knew this was a tangible way Paizo could help those impacted by the destruction," said CEO Lisa Stevens. "We're hoping to harness the power of our fans in an effort of goodwill to help those in need."
Hayato will appear in August 2011's Ultimate Combat, a 256-page hardcover reference that reveals the martial secrets of the Pathfinder RPG rules like never before. Hayato represents the samurai class, a warrior with more honor, dedication, and resolve than any other. Trained from an early age in the art of war and sworn to the service of a lord, the samurai holds a position of power and respect. In him, the common folk see honor and sacrifice. He is an honorable warrior, dedicated to the realm and the leaders that guide it.
Meet the Iconics: Hayato Wednesday, March 30th, 2011Honor is strength. It is a maxim that Nakayama Hayato has known since birth, and one whose barbs he still feels deep in his flesh. Yet Hayato also knows a deeper truth: that just as a sword must bend to avoid breaking, so too must honor. And the more rigid the steel, the easier it shatters. ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds Hayato was born a retainer on the estate of Lord Nakayama Hitoshi, just a few days' ride from the great city of Oda in...
Meet the Iconics: Hayato
Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Honor is strength. It is a maxim that Nakayama Hayato has known since birth, and one whose barbs he still feels deep in his flesh. Yet Hayato also knows a deeper truth: that just as a sword must bend to avoid breaking, so too must honor. And the more rigid the steel, the easier it shatters.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Hayato was born a retainer on the estate of Lord Nakayama Hitoshi, just a few days' ride from the great city of Oda in Minkai. The son of the chief falconer and his wife, Hayato—whose name means "falcon"—quickly proved just as proficient with the dangerous birds as his father, emulating their proud and fierce natures.
It was while accompanying his father on one of Lord Nakayama's hawking outings that he first came to the lord's attention. At eight years old, Hayato was assigned the honor of being the personal attendant to the lord's son, Masao, assisting the privileged child with his falcon. All went well until the noble son, still new to the sport, mishandled his bird and nearly lost an eye for his trouble. The furious lordling prepared to kill the falcon then and there, but Hayato interceded, explaining the boy's error. Enraged even further, Masao began beating Hayato, drawing the attention of the rest of the hunting party. Though Hayato bowed low and accepted the savage blows of his master, he neither cried out nor begged for mercy. When Masao finally tired, Lord Nakayama himself addressed the bloody servant child, asking him why he had been so bold as to correct his superior. Without faltering, Hayato bowed to the lord and said simply, "Because it was the truth."
From that point on, Lord Nakayama took the young Hayato under his wing, frequently assigning him duties within the manor house, engaging him as a companion for his son, and seeing to his education in matters both martial and intellectual. In time, Hayato grew to become a powerful warrior, rising to the position of head samurai of the Nakayama holdings. When Masao died in a drunken duel at the age of twenty, thus depriving Lord Nakayama of an official heir, the bereaved lord began to look more and more to Hayato as a son, even allowing him to take the family name.
Yet Masao's death was only the beginning of the Nakayama family's misfortune. It was shortly after this episode that the Nakayama estate was visited by Kaneka Yoshiro, a traveling lord and government official with a position high in the Imperial Court. With considerably more prestige and official sway than Nakayama, Kaneka was received with full honors—yet it quickly became apparent that the guest was interested in more than just hospitality. Within a few days, Kaneka's cunning insults, lewd advances toward Nakayama's wife, and barely concealed challenges to Nakayama himself left Hayato's lord with no choice. Honor forbade him from allowing the slights to stand unanswered, yet challenging a governmental superior was as good as a death sentence.
In the end, honor won out, just as Kaneka knew it would. Nakayama challenged Kaneka to a duel, and was quickly slain by the talented swordsman. In recompense for the "insult" Kaneka had suffered, the Imperial Court allotted all the Nakayama holdings to Kaneka. Nakayama's widow, faced with the prospect of a dishonored existence among peasants, had no choice but to accept Kaneka's proposal of marriage if she wanted to retain her position.
Though the Nakayama samurai were bound by direct order of the court to honor their new arrangement—and plied with substantial gifts by their new master—Hayato saw the theft for what it was. Several nights later, having watched Kaneka's celebrating guards drink themselves into unconsciousness, Hayato crept into his former master's bedchamber and confronted the usurper even as he lay sleeping with his new wife. Though Kaneka screamed for his retainers, in the end it became clear that his only option was to fight. Taking up the sword that Hayato tossed onto the bed, Kaneka did everything he could to kill the samurai quickly, yet Hayato would not be denied his revenge. At last, bleeding from several terrible wounds, Hayato succeeded in getting past the noble's guard, ending his short-lived dominion over the Nakayama estate in a fine spray of blood.
As Kaneka fell to the floor, pink froth spilling from his lips, Hayato dropped his sword and knelt beside it. Knowing that to attack any lord in this manner—let alone the man the government considered his rightful master—would bring sure execution, he drew his tanto and prepared to die with his honor intact.
A hand on his shoulder stayed his blade. When Hayato looked up, he beheld Lady Nakayama—now Lady Kaneka—in her dressing gown, its yellow silk stained with the blood of her most recent husband. With tears in her eyes, she thanked Hayato for avenging Lord Nakayama and returning the estate to her control. Yet with her next breath, she condemned him forever. Taking his hand in her own—an undreamed-of show of affection and familiarity—the noblewoman forbade Hayato from taking his own life. Instead, she snuck him out of the manor and into a carriage bound for Oda, with only a string of coins, his armor, and a command to live as best he could. When the morning sun rose, it found Hayato on a caravan traveling north, bound for the icy reaches of the Crown of the World and from there on to the mysterious lands of the Inner Sea.
Now in his mid-thirties, Hayato is a hard man who keeps to himself. Though he has long since learned to speak Taldane, he remains terse by nature, feeling that everyone in his new home speaks too much but says too little. He operates as a fearless and talented mercenary—or ronin, as he terms it—for those whose cause seem righteous, yet refuses to bow to anyone regardless of status, saying only that he has had his fill of masters. Hayato is loyal to those few friends who can get past his stone-faced demeanor, yet remains secretly tortured by his conflicting senses of honor. To continue living as a masterless samurai—let alone one who has committed a great crime—is shameful, yet to deny Lady Nakayama's command would be equally shameful. With no clear answer, Hayato has temporarily shelved the problem. Yet deep in his heart, he harbors a secret hope: that perhaps one day he might raise an army of champions and take it back over the Crown of the World, rooting out the corrupt politicians of his homeland and restoring the honor of himself, his adopted family, and the samurai code he was born to uphold.
NOTE: Artist Wayne Reynolds and Paizo Publishing will be auctioning off the original art for Hayato, with all auction proceeds being donated to the Red Cross to help Japan recover from the earthquake and tsunami—check this blog tomorrow for details on how you can help!
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.
... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Design Tuesdays Tuesday, January 4, 20112011 is here at last, and with the start of the new year, we've got a new program that we are happy to unveil. Every Tuesday, you are going to see a blog from one of the members of the design team (that being Sean K Reynolds, Stephen Radney MacFarland, or myself), looking into the mechanics of the game and giving you tips, tricks, and tools to make your game run smoothly and easily. ... I am hoping to use these...
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
2011 is here at last, and with the start of the new year, we've got a new program that we are happy to unveil. Every Tuesday, you are going to see a blog from one of the members of the design team (that being Sean K Reynolds, Stephen Radney MacFarland, or myself), looking into the mechanics of the game and giving you tips, tricks, and tools to make your game run smoothly and easily.
I am hoping to use these blogs to present new and interesting rules and ideas to use at the game table, perhaps even a few serials, where we explore a concept or idea more deeply. For example, we might run a series of blogs that explore intelligent magic items and how they can be used in your game, giving you a host of samples, and presenting a few new abilities. Or, we might spend a few weeks looking at the rules for afflictions, and adding a couple of new curses, diseases, and poisons to use in your game. Now, I have a list of ideas for what we might use to fill up this space, but here at the outset, I thought it might be useful to ask you, the reader, what you want to see appear in this space. I'll leave the campaign-specific material and preview for the other days of the week—this space will be used exclusively to look at the rules of the game.
I want to hear what you want to see. Check out this thread on our messageboards and add your thoughts to the growing discussion. See you next week.
... Illustrations by Eric Belisle and Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here. ... Release the Hordes! December 31, 2010It’s the last day of 2010, and once again the Paizo offices are closed, this time in honor of the new year. It’s been an amazing 2010 here at Paizo, and we managed to cap it with a great new hardcover book. Bestiary 2 has begun to arrive in stores and in hands around the world, making it easy to surprise your players with new monsters during your games this weekend. Bestiary...
Illustrations by Eric Belisle and Wayne Reynolds. Widescreen version here.
Release the Hordes!
December 31, 2010
It’s the last day of 2010, and once again the Paizo offices are closed, this time in honor of the new year. It’s been an amazing 2010 here at Paizo, and we managed to cap it with a great new hardcover book. Bestiary 2 has begun to arrive in stores and in hands around the world, making it easy to surprise your players with new monsters during your games this weekend. Bestiary 2 is full of some great adversaries for you to defeat, and the poster we recently released will help you keep track of which ones have met their demise at the hands of your players. In honor of both the new year and the release of Bestiary 2, here’s another great wallpaper from our art team!
... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Ultimate Magic Tuesday, October 5, 2010With Bestiary 2 down, it's time to start working on the next massive hardcover: Ultimate Magic. Check back at this spot soon for details on the second part of the Ultimate Magic playtest. ... Wes Schneider ... Managing Editor ...
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
With Bestiary 2 down, it's time to start working on the next massive hardcover: Ultimate Magic. Check back at this spot soon for details on the second part of the Ultimate Magic playtest.
... Ultimate Magic Playtest Monday, September 20, 2010 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Welcome to the playtest of the Ultimate Magic, a new sourcebook for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, due to be released early next year. ... The playtest begins with a look at the Magus, a brand-new base class that blends the powers of a wizard with the martial prowess of a fighter. You can find this class as a free PDF in your downloads up at the top of this page or at this link. Once you have...
Ultimate Magic Playtest
Monday, September 20, 2010
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Welcome to the playtest of the Ultimate Magic, a new sourcebook for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, due to be released early next year.
The playtest begins with a look at the Magus, a brand-new base class that blends the powers of a wizard with the martial prowess of a fighter. You can find this class as a free PDF in your downloads up at the top of this page or at this link. Once you have downloaded the class and used it in your game, check out the messageboards, where you will find a pair of boards dedicated to this playtest.
This playtest cycle will last two weeks, until Monday, October 4th, and it will be followed shortly thereafter by another cycle containing the Words of Power alternate spellcasting system.
So grab the Magus and use him in your game today. We are looking forward to seeing your feedback and comments concerning this new class. See you on the boards.
Meet the Iconics: Damiel Tuesday, August 3, 2010Flayleaf may ease your mind. Pesh may invigorate your humors. Yet as any sage and scholar can tell you, knowledge is the most addictive drug. And once the quest for learning has its hooks into you—once your eyes have been opened—there’s no tearing free. ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds Damiel Morgethai was born, as so many elves are, in the nation of Kyonin. One of innumerable scions of the prestigious Morgethai family, he grew up...
Meet the Iconics: Damiel
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Flayleaf may ease your mind. Pesh may invigorate your humors. Yet as any sage and scholar can tell you, knowledge is the most addictive drug. And once the quest for learning has its hooks into you—once your eyes have been opened—there’s no tearing free.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Damiel Morgethai was born, as so many elves are, in the nation of Kyonin. One of innumerable scions of the prestigious Morgethai family, he grew up in the picturesque town of Riverspire, where the southwestern border of Kyonin’s great forest gives way to fertile, rolling plains. When finally old enough to pursue a trade, the exceedingly precocious young elf was loaded up with what funds his family could spare and packed off to the shining capital of Iadara, to study alchemy under several of the art’s great masters. And it was here that the trouble started.
Damiel took to alchemy immediately, reveling in the idea of transmutation—the changing of one thing into another, by means chemical or arcane. “Alchemy,” he was fond of proclaiming to his friends, “is pure magic, even when it isn’t.” Within a few short years, the brilliant and studious Damiel had learned enough from his instructors that they set him loose to pursue his own studies, becoming advisors and respected colleagues rather than true masters.
Yet he had learned more than just strange formulae in Iadara. As cheerful and innocent as it seemed on the surface, Damiel’s obsession with what he called “the Change” went beyond the simple curatives of an apothecary, beyond even the magical and explosive concoctions of those alchemists trained for battle. In his eternal quest to understand his theories better, Damiel gave himself literally to his studies, and began to use his concoctions on his own flesh, striving to unlock the full potential of his body. What emerged from those long, sleepless nights was someone new. Someone dangerous.
Officially, Damiel’s banishment from Kyonin was the result of plagiarizing another alchemist’s discoveries, or perhaps siring an illegitimate son with an embarrassed noble. The documents don’t speak of the way his former friends noticed the change in his eyes, which became increasingly wild as lack of sleep and increasing amounts of “invigorating aether” took their toll. They don’t note the sudden rash of crimes in the districts he frequented, daring thefts and capricious arson. And they certainly don’t mention the young woman found in the alley behind his apartment, her face burned near away in an ultimately successful attempt to hide her identity—and the identity of her killer. In truth, the later would be difficult to decipher anyway, as even the killer himself might have trouble recognizing the monster that would take a girl’s life simply for seeing something she shouldn’t.
For Damiel was no longer the man that he once was. In his thirst for ever-greater secrets, he had unlocked enormous potential—strange tinctures that quickened his movements to a blur, or twisted his constitution to survive any poison or malady. Yet while he gained ever-increasing control over the vagaries of his flesh, these discoveries took their toll on his mind. He fell deep into addiction, deeper than even the aether he was so fond of could match. He would lose himself to the Change, only to wake from a maddened stupor and find that he’d done terrible things. And worse, that he no longer cared.
Exiled from his homeland, Damiel wandered for many years, slowly learning to control and live with his addictions. Gone were the blackouts, the uncontrolled and senseless violence. In their place grew a hard and haunted-eyed young man, handsome save for his wild look and the puckered scars along his veins. Seeking to peddle his secret knowledge, he traveled to Daggermark in the River Kingdoms, joining up with that city’s Poisoners’ Guild. For a time, his unique concoctions made him a minor celebrity in certain circles. But as the months passed, Damiel’s control over his base nature slipped, and the old lust for the beautiful chaos of unconscious (and unconscionable) action took over, loosing the beast of the Change to walk the streets. In the end, the Poisoners’ Guild took terminal offense to Damiel’s “exploits,” and though the elf argued hard that his deviant handiwork—being unpaid—was none of the guild’s concern, he was forced to go his own way once again.
Today, Damiel has grown further, into a man of two minds. The first—the greatest remaining shadow of the Damiel Morgethai That Was—truly repents for the arbitrary and senseless suffering he’s caused, and attempts to keep his darker urges in check. The second is that man brought forth by the Change, the mad and capricious soul that holds all other creatures in contempt, and exists only to feel the heat of the explosion on his face or see the shifting colors of poisoned flesh. This latter comes forth primarily in combat, where Damiel’s potions push his body faster than it has any right to move, flitting through the fray to fling corrosive ash or nick warriors so delicately with his poisoned injection-blade that many don’t know they’ve been cut until they find themselves unable to breathe. Though Damiel no longer gives his vile tendencies full rein, and carries himself well in social situations, most who look into those bagged and bloodshot eyes quickly understand the truth of his nature: unbalanced, unstable, unpredictable—and totally indispensable in a fight, which is why he still manages to fall in with other adventurers from time to time. And as he continues to mature, some of them even survive his companionship.
... Chaos Unleashed! Friday, July 30, 2010 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Before the spoilers start rolling at Gen Con next week, behold the cover to your Bestiary 2! ... Tune in Monday to see if we can top this incredible cover. ... Wes Schneider ... Managing Editor ...
Friday, July 30, 2010
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Before the spoilers start rolling at Gen Con next week, behold the cover to your Bestiary 2!
Tune in Monday to see if we can top this incredible cover.
Meet the Iconics: Alain Friday, July 23, 2010Deference and respect are the privileges of noble birth. Few know this better than the man who calls himself Alain, yet equally well does he know that such things are not always freely given where they are due. And in those cases, it's the burden of the nobly born to correct the error, and to take by force that which is their right. ... Alain was born in Taldor with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, son of a wealthy but relatively minor...
Meet the Iconics: Alain
Friday, July 23, 2010
Deference and respect are the privileges of noble birth. Few know this better than the man who calls himself Alain, yet equally well does he know that such things are not always freely given where they are due. And in those cases, it's the burden of the nobly born to correct the error, and to take by force that which is their right.
Alain was born in Taldor with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, son of a wealthy but relatively minor noble house. As a boy, he showed remarkable affinity for both physical activities—especially the martial pursuits—and the ins and outs of courtly etiquette and intrigue. Though both traits made him the quite popular with the peerage—especially the young ladies of the court, necessitating more than one woman being shuffled off to a nunnery on a nine-month "vacation"—Alain's wealth and natural abilities also gave him an excessively healthy sense of self-importance, sometimes getting him into trouble that would have crippled a man of lower station. By the time Alain's father realized that the cane-scarred whipping boy might not be the most effective means of corralling his youngest son, Alain was already near grown, and thoroughly convinced of his own competence in all things.
Though Alain regularly dismissed such noble studies as literature and linguistics—"If the elves want to speak, let them learn a man's language"—he could never get enough of bards' tales of battle and bloodshed, often keeping the minstrels at his favorite taverns playing late into the night. Excel as he might at the joust or the ritualized combat of the nobility, he longed for the primal exultation of war, where his mastery over his fellow men would not just be avowed or lauded, but proved undeniably by the blood on his sword, as clear as the red-dripping talons of an eagle. He had the nobility of society. Now he wanted the nobility of nature.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Unfortunately for Alain, any serious clash of arms lay far beyond the borders of his father's expansive holdings, and neither his father nor his two elder brothers showed the slightest desire to sustain a blood feud with another house. All three men attempted to turn Alain to knighthood, a socially safe and proper outlet for his bloodlust, yet the idea of serving as a squire for any length of time—of letting someone else give him orders!—was unthinkable to young Alain. At last, when he could stand it no longer, the young scion gathered what funds and personal affects he could carry and declared himself a sellsword, setting off for the "crimson poetry of the fray."
True warfare has little in common with heroic ballads, and few who see its raw and naked face come back unchanged. Certainly this was true for Alain. Yet where some men learn wisdom in the wrack, at last understanding the price of a life and the senseless ease with which it's taken, Alain learned something else. In the clash of spears and the screams of horses, the man who had been a trumped-up merchant's son became an elemental force of destruction, cutting down swaths of men who were never his enemies, but merely his opponents. Though he became rich in his own right off of the heavy purses his patrons heaped upon him, Alain cared only for what the rewards represented: that here was a man whose worth was proven, in fire and iron.
Today, Alain wanders as he wills, taking commissions when they suit his fancy and embarking on his own expeditions when they don't. Thanks to his prowess on the battlefield, warriors are often drawn to fight at his side, and to Alain's secret surprise he's developed quite a knack for leading them, issuing gruff and decisive commands. These companions are almost always cohorts rather than friends—though Alain does a fine job of managing his troops and urging them on to ever-greater feats, long experience has taught him that soldiers are a short-lived lot, and hence he sheds few tears when it's time to pay the butcher's bill.
As much as his life revolves around the battlefield, Alain still retains the social graces that made him so popular (for better or worse) in the courts of his upbringing. If greeting another warrior or potential client, he may introduce himself as simply Alain, comporting himself with a calculated aloofness designed to increase others' opinions of his abilities. Where an attractive lady is concerned, however, his rough edges immediately smooth, and many are the highborn women who've fallen prey to the "rogue knight" calling himself Alain Germande, Third Son of House Germande, Bearer of the Shielding Spear—and any other honorifics that strike his fancy.
In truth, whether leading soldiers in a suicidal charge or booting serving girls out of his bed in the morning, Alain cares little about the people around him. More than money, love, or lust, Alain cares about his reputation, and strives with every encounter to increase his own legend, whether as scoundrel or saint. Perhaps the only creature he truly values is his horse, Donahan. Exceedingly well trained, and having accompanied Alain for longer than any of his human compatriots, Donahan represents everything Alain looks for in a partner: absolute loyalty, absolute trust—and absolute obedience.
... 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.
Meet the Iconics: Valeros Wednesday, June 30, 2010Over the last few years, we've made a habit of writing up introductions to our iconic characters, offering insight into who they are, where they come from, and their motives for adventuring. Just last week we presented our oracle, Alahazra, as the first of the new iconics from the base classes in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide. Yet as we did so, we realized that we'd forgotten someone very important: our iconic fighter, Valeros!...
Meet the Iconics: Valeros
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Over the last few years, we've made a habit of writing up introductions to our iconic characters, offering insight into who they are, where they come from, and their motives for adventuring. Just last week we presented our oracle, Alahazra, as the first of the new iconics from the base classes in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide. Yet as we did so, we realized that we'd forgotten someone very important: our iconic fighter, Valeros! Whereas the other characters all got elaborate write-ups, poor Valeros was first into the fray (as always) and got barely a paragraph before we went on to ramble about the new RPG. And if there's anything Valeros hates, it's being ignored. So now, at long last, Pathfinder's first fighting man gets his due.
Valeros was born on a quiet farm in Andoran, where he grew up listening to the tales of traveling merchants soldiers and dreaming of adventure and exploration. Though this longing only increased as he grew older, so too did the demands of helping his aging parents run the farm, and slowly but surely the mounting responsibilities of agricultural life quashed any possibility of travel or seeing the world. Finally, just a month before a marriage of convenience to a local farmer's daughter could lock him into place (but not before he'd sampled a few of the joys of married life), Valeros came to the realization that the door to a storybook life of adventure was at last closing for good. Seized by a sudden, desperate need for a larger life than cattle and corn, Valeros packed quietly and left in the middle of the night with no more than a change of clothes, some pilfered food, and an old axe handle to discourage any ruffians who might seek to divest him of either. It was to become a theme that would follow him for the rest of his life.
In the years since, Valeros has come a long way from the wide-eyed young man who sought only the joy of exploration (and maybe a pretty, worldly girl or three to regale with his stories). Life on the road, it seems, is much harder than the bards' tales, and adult Valeros has the scars to prove it. Discovering himself to be a deft hand with a sword, Valeros quickly fell in with the rough-and-tumble mercenary crowd, there learning the dirtier, grittier facts of warfare. Though none could deny his prowess with a blade (or better yet, two), Valeros's association with various mercenary groups never seemed to last for long. There was his time as a guard for the Aspis Consortium, which ended when certain shipments kept coming in light under Valeros's watch (never mind that the exploited locals were dying for lack of grain, and only needed a little to make it through the winter). Then there was the stint as a freelance bounty hunter, during which Valeros discovered that it's a lot easier to hunt down escaped murderers than it is to haul in a young woman on the run from a loveless marriage. And of course, there was the infamous incident with the Band of the Mauler, to which Valeros will only say that he was positive their leader had been crushed under that cave-in, or else he never would have touched the man's wife.
In the end, after acting as hired muscle for dozens of different employers, Valeros finally realized that the only way to keep from getting blamed for things which weren't his fault—not really—was to go into business for himself as an adventurer, traveling with those who properly appreciated him and letting those who didn't fall by the wayside. And if some of those companions happen to be pretty women, such as a certain Varisian sorcerer or elven rogue, all the better.
While admittedly not the best at following orders, Valeros is an extremely talented two-blade fighter, easily earning his keep in any group through the tenacity and absolute fearlessness—some might say thoughtlessness—with which he flings himself into combat. Despite his reputation as a bruiser and scofflaw, Valeros has picked up a fair bit of education here and there during his travels, and can even read (something his "respectable" parents never learned to do). A worshiper of Cayden Cailean—the only god who properly understands the need for freedom in the common man's existence—Valeros takes an easy-come, easy-go approach to life, wealth, and relationships. Though a fan of fine weapons and creature comforts, the only object he's never without is the tankard on his belt (for you never know when someone might offer you a drink). Noble at heart, and fiercely loyal to those few who manage the considerable feat of establishing themselves in his affections, Valeros nevertheless hides such sentiments under a jaded and crass demeanor, frequently observing that there's nothing better than "an evening of hard drinking and soft company."
Meet the Iconics: Alahazra Wednesday, June 23, 2010Only those who refuse to see truth are truly blind. Such is the verdict of Alahazra, bride of the sun and prophet of the burning sands. Alahazra was born in a small Rahadoumi town east of Manaket, one of the many way stations on the caravan route known as the Path of Salt, which leads from Azir all the way to distant Sothis and takes its name from the waves of the Inner Sea and the dried tears of the slave chains that march along it. The...
Meet the Iconics: Alahazra
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Only those who refuse to see truth are truly blind. Such is the verdict of Alahazra, bride of the sun and prophet of the burning sands.
Alahazra was born in a small Rahadoumi town east of Manaket, one of the many way stations on the caravan route known as the Path of Salt, which leads from Azir all the way to distant Sothis and takes its name from the waves of the Inner Sea and the dried tears of the slave chains that march along it. The daughter of a wealthy and widowed wainwright, Alahazra wanted for nothing, growing up with the best tutors money could buy, all the time being groomed for a potentially lucrative marriage, or perhaps even induction into the Occularium, Manaket's prestigious wizard's college.
All of that changed on the morning when sixteen-year-old Alahazra woke to find herself suddenly and inexplicably blind, her eyes clouded by a white mist that gave her only vague outlines of her surroundings. Beside himself with grief, her father called in the best healers to be found in the godless land, only to discover that the situation was worse than he could have imagined. For when the bards with the healing touch reached out to the fevered child, they were suddenly cast back by a blast of flames that burned the girl's sickbed but left her magically unharmed. Yet even this might have been bearable, had the fleeing bards not revealed the rest of their discovery: that the girl's flames bore no hint of sorcery or arcana. Though Alahazra's staunchly atheist father could scarcely believe it, his proper Rahadoumi household harbored a burgeoning cleric.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Confronted by her enraged father and frightened by the new abilities that she felt burning inside her skin, Alahazra protested her innocence loud and long, but to no avail. Sickened by what he saw as a betrayal of both his trust and his national pride, Alahazra's father did his daughter a final kindness and cast her out with no more than the clothes on her back, instructing her to run before the Pure Legion arrived to take her into custody—and let her gods be her new family, for she no longer had one in Rahadoum.
Blind, weak, and weeping with frustration and rage, Alahazra stumbled southeast into the desert, seeking what meager shade and water the badlands had to offer. For days she wandered, seeking only to put distance between herself and any pursuers who might still seek revenge for her presumed heresy, until at last she collapsed in the lee of a dune, dehydrated and dying.
It was there, staring up through milky cataracts at the burning ball of the sun and letting the wind slowly bury her in the hot sand of the dunes, that Alahazra had her first revelation. Behind those ruined eyes, a vision of debilitating color suddenly exploded. In it, Alahazra saw herself not as she was, but as she one day would be—strong, proud, and fierce. In that moment, Alahazra understood that she was more than just a girl. She was a force of the desert—a voice of sun, sand, and flame—and she would bring its truth to the people, whether they were ready for it or not. Baking slowly in the hot coals of the great Garundi desert, Alahazra came to know herself, and in doing so first harnessed the magical flames that had been building inside her.
With the aid of her newfound abilities, Alahazra moved steadily east, crossing into Thuvia and following the Path of Salt until she finally came to rest in Osirion. There she roamed as she willed through the great cities and barren plains, offering wisdom and healing to the righteous and cleansing fire to the wicked. In time, her notoriety grew, offering her passage into higher social circles, and it's whispered that she made consorts and admirers of several powerful men, possibly even entering the court of the Ruby Prince. Alahazra herself, however, speaks little of her past. For her, only the future is a concern, and her duty is to defend it as best she can, with a clarity of vision that disdains sight.
Now a grown woman, and still attractive enough to turn the heads of slaves and rich men alike, Alahazra is kind but distant, often letting conversation drop in favor of taking in the sounds and smells of her environment. When she does speak, in her low, throaty voice, her words have the weight of command. Alahazra has little patience for fools (most notably those who let money or pride blind them to truth and justice), yet also has a soft spot for orphans, and in her own stern way often sees herself as the mother to her adventuring companions. Though she maintains that she has never worshiped a god—the cornerstone of her bitterness toward both her father and her homeland—she has come to respect a wide variety of deities, whom she refers to as "powerful and strategic allies." And while her detractors might call her cold, in battle Alahazra's burning rage—especially toward injustice and intolerance—still comes roiling out in a wall of divine flame.
... Making the Scene Tuesday, March 9, 2010One of the neat peripheral elements of the GameMastery Guide—aside from 300+ pages of hardcore GM focused tools and rules—are new chapter openers. You know, the big pictures with the little stories next to them that start every section of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Those. Our own Fiction Editor James Sutter is tackling these, and there's something really cool about finally getting a bit of a story to go along with some of the...
Making the Scene
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
One of the neat peripheral elements of the GameMastery Guide—aside from 300+ pages of hardcore GM focused tools and rules—are new chapter openers. You know, the big pictures with the little stories next to them that start every section of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Those. Our own Fiction Editor James Sutter is tackling these, and there's something really cool about finally getting a bit of a story to go along with some of the coolest scenes in the Pathfinder cosmology. For example, here's Chapter 6's opener, along with its companion, the cover to The Great Beyond.
"Sing the songs with us, O bastard prince!" The keketar's voice was high, euphoric. Several of the words formed shapes in the air, one turning to a centipede that writhed as it drifted away.
"Join us in the dance and we will remake you/make you so beautiful. We will sing the stars from the sky/sea."
"I'll pass," Seltyiel grunted. Beneath them, the islet was already crumbling. It wouldn't last another minute under the keketar's influence.
The hell with it. He'd only get one shot anyway. Summoning the last of his magic, Seltyiel leapt backward, out into empty space..."
And expect 8 more just like this in the upcoming GameMastery Guide!
... Trollin' on the River Friday, February 19, 2010We've had the cover for Pathfinder Adventure Path #32: Rivers Run Red (written by our own Rob McCreary) up for sometime now, but it bears another mention, as this cover sees the climax of a long and interesting evolution. It's little surprise that we were only three months into the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path—and Pathfinder's life in general—when it came time to order art for our first troll. How to handle this got a...
Trollin' on the River
Friday, February 19, 2010
We've had the cover for Pathfinder Adventure Path #32: "Rivers Run Red" (written by our own Rob McCreary) up for sometime now, but it bears another mention, as this cover sees the climax of a long and interesting evolution. It's little surprise that we were only three months into the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path—and Pathfinder's life in general—when it came time to order art for our first troll. How to handle this got a little tricky, though, as it's important to us that our creatures walk the line between familiarity and distinctiveness when it comes to earlier incarnations of the game. What we ended up with was the gnarled, lanky, long-nosed fellow from "The Hook Mountain Massacre". Neat! And totally a cool piece of art. But definitely nothing ground breaking.
Illustration by JZConcepts
Several months later, against all odds, we found ourselves ordering a cover for a Bestiary. Attempting to follow in the tradition of the "a whole bunch of monsters about to getcha!" covers from classic gaming bestiaries, we wanted a swarm of little monsters, one or two medium monsters, and a big monster. Creature ideas went around and around, then sketches did their circles, and what we ended up with was goblins, a maralith, and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT! OMG, that's a TROLL! Awesome! You don't get an incredible Wayne Reynolds cover and then say, "That looks amazing, but could we get this guy to look a little ganglier." This was our new look for the troll.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Flash forward a few more months and we're ordering Kingmaker covers. So we want a cool bandit and a sexy fey and a barbarian dude and a—hey, how 'bout a troll boss! Okay, that'd be cool. And thanks to Vincent Dutrait, here he is.
Illustration by Vincent Dutrait
So our trolls have come a long way over the course of the past few years, but without a doubt, things are settled now. And if that nasty claw-claw-bite wasn't enough to send your PCs running for their alchemist fire, just wait for "Rivers Run Red" to see all the nasty tricks Chief Hargulka has in store for the Stolen Lands.
Looking back, trolls actually had it pretty easy. You should have seen the backstage identity crisis the ogre had before its debut. But that's a story for another day…
... Advanced Player's Guide Playtest, Round 3! Monday, December 14, 2009 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide is well underway, with the release of the final two classes slated to appear in the book, due out in August. In this round, we are looking at the alchemist and the inquisitor. The alchemist is all about using potions and arcane alchemy to increase your abilities. This works a bit like...
Advanced Player's Guide Playtest, Round 3!
Monday, December 14, 2009
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide is well underway, with the release of the final two classes slated to appear in the book, due out in August. In this round, we are looking at the alchemist and the inquisitor. The alchemist is all about using potions and arcane alchemy to increase your abilities. This works a bit like spellcasting, but offers some interesting advantages. In addition, the alchemist is quite skilled at lobbing bombs that burn, freeze, and electrify foes (among a host of other possibilities). The inquisitor works as a monster hunter for the faith, rooting out its enemies, no matter where they hide. The inquisitor is a master of adaptation, moving her abilities around to better fight her foes. This is your chance to take a look at these classes before they hit shelves in August. You can download the free PDF containing both of these classes here.
Over the past month, we have released the other four classes due to appear in the book, including the cavalier, the oracle, the summoner, and the witch. While we are focusing on the alchemist and the inquistor for the next two weeks, the playtest itself will remain open until the end of January 2010. Time permitting, we hope to release some updates to some of the classes in mid January.
As with the Core Rulebook playtest last year, there are a number of forums set up for playtest feedback and commentary. The first is a general forum, for discussing larger issues and announcements. Following this is a trio of forums for discussing each round of the playtest. Discussion on the alchemist and the inquisitor should go in the round 2 forum.
The playtest has been a huge success up to this point. I have been receiving a mountain of play reports and comments on the classes and I want to encourage folks to continue working with these classes. As with the previous rounds, actual play reports are more useful to the process than untested observations. So, give these last two classes a try. Make a whole party of characters using only these six classes or have the PCs face off against them as villains. When you are done, post up the results. I look forward to seeing them.
... Advanced Player's Guide Playtest, Round 2! Monday, November 30, 2009 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide continues today with the launch of two more classes slated to appear in the book, due out in August. Round 2 focuses on the summoner and the witch. The summoner is an arcane caster that forms a close bond with a powerful outsider, known as an eidolon. The eidolon works a lot like an animal...
Advanced Player's Guide Playtest, Round 2!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide continues today with the launch of two more classes slated to appear in the book, due out in August. Round 2 focuses on the summoner and the witch. The summoner is an arcane caster that forms a close bond with a powerful outsider, known as an eidolon. The eidolon works a lot like an animal companion, but its form and abilities are decided by the summoner and they can change as the summoner goes up in level. The witch is a class that utilizes a wide variety of spells from both the arcane and divine spell lists. She draws her power from a mysterious force, which she communes with through her familiar. To top it off, she has a wide variety of hex powers to draw on, that both help her allies and hinder foes. This is your chance to take a look at these classes before they hit shelves in August. You can download the free PDF containing both of these classes here.
Two weeks ago, we released the cavalier and the oracle, and the playtest for those classes is well underway. In two weeks, we will release the final two classes set to appear in the book. While we are focusing on the classes as they release, the playtest itself will remain open until the end of January 2010.
Just like the Core Rulebook playtest last year, there are a number of forums waiting for your feedback and comments. The first is a general forum, for discussing larger issues and announcements. Following this is a pair of forums for discussing each round of the playtest. Discussion on the summoner and the witch should go in the round 2 forum.
Feedback on the first round has been immensely helpful, but I want to stress the usefulness of actual playtest feedback. Observations and general concerns are useful, but we are getting the most information from players who have actually given the classes a try. So take the summoner and the witch out for a spin and let us know what you think.
... Welcome to the Playtest Friday, November 13, 2009 ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... Illustration by Wayne Reynolds ... The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide begins today with the launch of two of the six new base classes set to appear in the book. The cavalier is a martial character. Like his name would suggest, he is at home fighting from horseback, but he is by no means crippled when his mount cannot be used. The cavalier gains a number of bonus abilities tied...
Welcome to the Playtest
Friday, November 13, 2009
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
The playtest of the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide begins today with the launch of two of the six new base classes set to appear in the book. The cavalier is a martial character. Like his name would suggest, he is at home fighting from horseback, but he is by no means crippled when his mount cannot be used. The cavalier gains a number of bonus abilities tied to his order, the oaths that he swears, and the challenges he makes. Next up in this playtest is the oracle. This spontaneous divine caster draws her power from the gods that support her focus, granting her special revelations as she goes up in level. This is your chance to take a look at these classes before they hit shelves in August. You can download the free PDF containing both of these classes here.
In the coming weeks, we will be releasing the other four classes, two each week. During these periods, we will be focusing discussion on the most recent classes, but the playtest itself will remain open until the end of January 2010. The release dates are as follows.
Just like the Core Rulebook playtest last year, there are a pair of forums waiting for your feedback and comments. The first is a general forum, for discussing larger issues and announcements. The second forum is specifically for cavalier and oracle feedback. We will add an additional forum every two weeks as the new classes are released.
I want to take a moment to discuss what we are looking for out of this playtest. Since these are new classes, actual playtesting is of great importance. While comments and observations are still valuable, we need playtesters to actually use these classes in play and provide reports of their experiences. This sort of feedback will really help us ensure that these classes become a balanced and fun part of the game.
... The Playtest is Coming! Monday, November 9, 2009It is almost here! The playtest of the six new base classes set to appear in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide will begin on Friday, November 13th. These classes will be presented as free PDF's that you can download starting Friday morning. Every two weeks we will release two of the classes, until all six have been playtested. ... Each pair of classes will be spotlighted for two weeks, but feedback will be accepted through the end...
The Playtest is Coming!
Monday, November 9, 2009
It is almost here! The playtest of the six new base classes set to appear in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide will begin on Friday, November 13th. These classes will be presented as free PDF's that you can download starting Friday morning. Every two weeks we will release two of the classes, until all six have been playtested.
Each pair of classes will be spotlighted for two weeks, but feedback will be accepted through the end of January 2010. Special messageboards will be posted to paizo.com to allow playtesters to submit feedback, ask questions, and talk to other participants. The schedule of the playtest is as follows.
Getting involved is easy. Simply download the files and use them in your games. Create characters and villains using the new classes and give them a try. Then, come back here to post feedback and your play experiences in the playtest messageboards. If you are looking for more opportunities to play, these playtest classes will be available for use in Pathfinder Society events. Look for rules allowing these classes in an upcoming update to the Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play.
The playtest of the core rules was a fantastic success and I look forward to working with the community to make the Advanced Player's Guide playtest just as successful.
... GameMastery Guide Cover! Monday, October 5, 2009 I may have mentioned this before, but the main villain of Pathfinder’s first Adventure Path, Karzoug, was no stranger to tormenting PCs. He was one of my homebrew campaign’s major recurring characters—a powerful wizard who served as the true menace behind the throne of an evil warlord. In my homebrew, Karzoug wielded a scythe and had already made the transition to lich and wasn’t as concerned with greed, but he was very much still the...
GameMastery Guide Cover!
Monday, October 5, 2009
I may have mentioned this before, but the main villain of Pathfinder’s first Adventure Path, Karzoug, was no stranger to tormenting PCs. He was one of my homebrew campaign’s major recurring characters—a powerful wizard who served as the true menace behind the throne of an evil warlord. In my homebrew, Karzoug wielded a scythe and had already made the transition to lich and wasn’t as concerned with greed, but he was very much still the campaign’s poster child for “evil wizard.” He eventually met his end when a pair of heroes, the barbarian Verik and the wizard Zefram, confronted Karzoug in, of all places, Baba Yaga’s dancing hut. Karzoug was trying to claim the hut’s legendary power source for his own evil purposes, and while this certainly annoyed Baba Yaga, she wasn’t about to give the PCs uncontested access to her magical fortress. And so these two high-level PCs snuck through the depths of the dancing hut filled with fear about breaking or even touching anything, avoiding every single encounter and trap through an uncharacteristic caution that, in the end, served them quite well. I’d intended them to finally reach Karzoug and have the final battle with the evil wizard after the PCs had depleted much of their resources dealing with the natives of Baba Yaga’s hut, and when they reached Karzoug with much of those resources untapped, I figured they deserved the advantage. Turns out, they needed that advantage anyway. Even in the 1st edition of the game, Karzoug was a menace.
And so, when it came to deciding on a villain to inflict upon Golarion, it was with quite a bit of pride and nostalgia that I resurrected old Karzoug. He’d changed specializations (necromancer to transmuter) and weapons (scythe to glaive) and got a promotion (from the power behind the throne to the guy who sits on the throne), but in a lot of other ways he remained the same. Of course, getting Wayne Reynolds to illustrate him was one of the more surreal moments of my gaming career... and now, seeing him on the cover of our upcoming GameMastery Guide, that sense of surreal pride has returned. Wayne Reynolds has done a fantastic job making Karzoug epitomize the role of "super-powerful wizard." Take a moment to look through all of his stuff! Caged imp, pet blue dragon, throne manacles for prisoners, spellbooks casually stacked to the side, crazy crystal ball with some sort of apparatus wrapped around it, a throne that can probably see—and that doesn’t even touch all of his fancy magical equipment he’s got ready to ruin the next PC to step his way!
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #13 Wednesday, August 5th, 2009The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release in a little over a week, on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. Since we’re done looking at the core classes, this week we’re exploring the heights of power with Seltyiel, the iconic eldritch knight. ... Seltyiel ... Male half-elf wizard 5/fighter 5/eldritch knight 10 ......
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #13
Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook is set to release in a little over a week, on August 13th, 2009, and in anticipation, we are releasing a preview of the game each week until the game hits store shelves. Since we’re done looking at the core classes, this week we’re exploring the heights of power with Seltyiel, the iconic eldritch knight.
Male half-elf wizard 5/fighter 5/eldritch knight 10
LE Medium humanoid (elf) Init +9; Senses low-light vision; Perception +21 DEFENSE AC 25, touch 19, flat-footed 20 (+6 armor, +4 deflection, +5 Dex) hp 174 (15d10+5d6+70) Fort +18, Ref +17, Will +12; +2 vs. enchantments, +1 vs. fear OFFENSE Speed 30 ft. Melee+2 keen axiomatic shocking burst longsword +24/+19/+14/+9 (1d8+7/17–20) Ranged ray +22 (by spell) Special Attacks force missile (9/day), intense spells +2 damage Spells Prepared (CL 15th)
7th—grasping hand, prismatic spray (DC 23), spell turning
6th—chain lightning (2, DC 22), disintegrate (DC 22), form of the dragon I, greater dispel magic
5th—cone of cold (2, DC 21), polymorph, teleport, wall of force
4th—dimension door, ice storm, stoneskin, wall of fire (2), wall of ice
3rd—dispel magic (2), fireball (4, DC 19), fly (2), haste (2)
2nd—invisibility (2), mirror image, scorching ray (3), see invisibility
1st—magic missile (3), shield (2), true strike (2)
0 (at will)—detect magic, mage hand, mending, ray of frost, read magic
Prohibited Schools: enchantment, necromancy STATISTICS Str 14, Dex 20, Con 16, Int 23, Wis 8, Cha 10 Base Atk +17; CMB +19; CMD 38 Feats Arcane Armor Training, Critical Focus, Critical Mastery, Disruptive, Empower Spell, Greater Weapon Focus (longsword), Improved Initiative, Improved Vital Strike, Lightning Reflexes, Penetrating Strike (longsword), Power Attack, Scribe Scroll, Skill Focus (Diplomacy), Spellbreaker, Staggering Critical, Tiring Critical, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (longsword), Weapon Specialization (longsword) Skills Diplomacy +26, Fly +28, Intimidate +23, Knowledge (arcana) +29, Knowledge (planes) +29, Perception +21, Spellcraft +29, Stealth +25 SQ arcane bond (bat), armor training +1, bravery +1, diverse training, elf blood, spell critical, weapon training (heavy blades +1) Combat Gearcube of force, potion of cure serious wounds (4), quicken metamagic rod, rod of cancellation, scroll of limited wish (2), staff of evocation, wand of lightning bolt (CL 10, 50 charges); Other Gear+2 keen axiomatic shocking burst longsword, +4 etherealness leather armor, belt of physical perfection +2, boots of teleportation, cloak of resistance +5, hand of glory, headband of vast intelligence +6, orange prism ioun stone, pearl of power (two spells), ring of protection +4, ring of regeneration, ring of wizardry (III), vibrant purple ioun stone (dimension door, shield)
Starting off, the eldritch knight prestige class works much as it did in 3.5, but we’ve added a few abilities to spice things up. The class provides Seltyiel with a fast base attack progression and nine levels of spellcasting (bringing his total caster level up to 14th, although the orange prism ioun stone puts his caster level at 15th). The class also grants three bonus feats, at 1st, 5th, and 9th. With these he can select any of the combat feats that he qualifies for (same as a fighter). In addition, starting at 1st level, Seltyiel gained diverse training, which adds his eldritch knight levels to both his fighter levels and his arcane spellcasting class’s levels for the purposes of qualifying for feats. This allows him to take feats that would normally be reserved for 15th-level fighters and wizards (but more on that later). Finally, upon gaining his 10th level in eldritch knight, Seltyiel gained the spell critical feature. Whenever Seltyiel scores a critical hit, he can cast any spell as a swift action without increasing the spell’s level. The spell does not provoke an attack of opportunity and must include the target of the critical hit as one of the spell’s targets or put him within the area of the effect. Its bad enough to be hit with a critical, but to add a cone of cold on top of it can truly be devastating.
Although quite capable in melee combat, Seltyiel has a wide variety of powerful spells at his disposal as well. Grasping hand can grapple foes with a +26 bonus on its combat maneuver check. Form of the dragon I allows him to take on the shape of a Medium dragon of any color, gaining its attacks, breath weapon, and a host of resistances and other abilities. Polymorph mimics a host of other spells that allow him to change shape, allowing him to become an animal, humanoid, or even an elemental. Although not incredibly powerful for a 20th-level character, four fireball spells are nothing to overlook.
Beyond spells, Seltyiel has a vast number of feats which increase his combat prowess. Many of these feats are for fighters only, but Seltyiel qualifies thanks to his diverse training class feature. Arcane Armor Training allows Seltyiel to spend a swift action to reduce his armor spell failure chance by 10%, which eliminates it altogether in his case. Critical Mastery is a fighter-only feat that allows Seltyiel to apply the effects of two critical feats to a successful critical hit. In his case, that means that anyone who is struck with a critical hit is both staggered (can only take a standard action each round) and fatigued, thanks to Staggering Critical and Tiring Critical. This is, of course, in addition to the 1d10 electricity damage from the sword and a free spell (thanks to spell critical). Seltyiel also possesses the Disruptive feat (another fighter-only feat), which makes it harder for spellcasters to cast on the defensive while he is adjacent (+4 to the DC). To top it off, he has Spellbreaker (fighters only, once again), which allows him to take an attack of opportunity against foes that fail on their check to cast defensively. Finally, Seltyiel has the Penetrating Strike fighter-only feat. This feat allows him to ignore 5 points of damage reduction with every attack made with his longsword (except for DR/—). Greater Penetrating Strike ignores 10 points of DR (and 5 points of DR/—), but Seltyiel couldn’t quite qualify for this feat, which requires you to be a 16th-level fighter.
I should also spend a moment talking about Seltyiel’s specialization. Being an evoker, he gains intense spells at 1st level, granting him a bonus on damage spells equal to 1/2 his wizard level (in this case, only 2 because the levels of eldritch knight don’t count). He also gains force missile, which acts like a magic missile that he can fire one at a time, up to 9 times per day, adding his bonus from intense spells to each missile. Seltyiel is also a half-elf, which comes with a +2 bonus to one ability score of his choice, the Skill Focus feat for free, and the ability to pick two favored classes (in this case, fighter and wizard).
Finally, lets take a look at Seltyiel’s potent magic items. At this level, Seltyiel has around 880,000 gp of magic items, but much of that is spent on a number of particularly expensive items. Both his armor and his sword take up nearly a quarter of his total value, but items like the quicken metamagic rod, staff of evocation, and ring of wizardry (III) eat up a fair amount as well. Of note is his ring of regeneration which now restores 1 hit point per round and makes him immune to bleed damage. It’s certainly useful, allowing it to regain all of his hit points in just over 17 minutes, but costs 90,000 gp.
There’s only one more preview left before the release of the Core Rulebook! Accordingly, next week on the day before the game releases, we’re going to take a look at the most important rule in the game...
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #12 Wednesday, July 29, 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 delving the depths of power with Ezren, the iconic wizard. ... Ezren ... Male human wizard 10 ... NG Medium humanoid (human) ... Init +3; Senses Perception +12 ... Defense ... AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor,...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #12
Wednesday, July 29, 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 delving the depths of power with Ezren, the iconic wizard.
Male human wizard 10
NG Medium humanoid (human) Init +3; Senses Perception +12 Defense AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +2 deflection, –1 Dex) hp 57 (10d6+20) Fort +8, Ref +4, Will +11 Offense Speed 30 ft. Melee club +5 (1d6) Special Attacks hand of the apprentice (9/day, +11 ranged), metamagic mastery (2/day) Spells Prepared (CL 10th)
5th—cone of cold (DC 21), teleport, wall of force
4th—dimension door, enervation, ice storm, stoneskin
3rd—dispel magic, fireball (DC 19), fly, haste
2nd—bull's strength, invisibility, mirror image, scorching ray (2), web (DC 18)
1st—alarm, magic missile (3), ray of enfeeblement, shield
0—detect magic, light, mage hand, read magic Statistics Str 11, Dex 9, Con 12, Int 22, Wis 15, Cha 9 Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 21 Feats Arcane Strike, Combat Casting, Defensive Combat Training, Empower Spell, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Scribe Scroll, Silent Spell Skills Appraise +19, Fly +12, Knowledge (arcana) +19, Knowledge (engineering) +19, Knowledge (geography) +19, Knowledge (history) +19, Knowledge (planes) +19, Perception +12, Spellcraft +19 Languages Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Halfling, Orc SQ arcane bond (cane), cantrips Combat Gearpotion of cure serious wounds, scroll of dispel magic, wand of magic missile (CL 9th, 50 charges); Other Gearring of protection +2, cloak of resistance +2, bracers of armor +4, cane (treat as a club), bead of force, blessed book, headband of vast intelligence +2 (Perception), pearl of power (3rd level)
Here we are, growing ever closer to the release of the game with Ezren rounding out the preview of the 11 core classes. As one of my favorite classes, I save the wizard for last. When we first started working on the class, back in the Alpha version of the game, the initial thought was to treat arcane school specialization like cleric domains in some regards, with the school granting limited power to add some real flavor and depth to an otherwise straightforward class. This left us with a balance issue, though, and that was what to do with the universalist wizard (the wizard without a specialty). We couldn't just remove him, as he is an iconic part of the game (literally, Ezren is a universalist) and we couldn't just give him the same powers as the specialists (as we did in the Beta playtest), so we had to search for a middle ground.
In the final version of the game, wizards with an arcane school receive bonus spells, much as they did in 3.5, but universalists do not. That said, the universalist school does grant a pair of powers. The first is the ever-popular hand of the apprentice. This power has undergone some significant redesign since the Beta, where it was arguably a bit too good (and quite confusing). The new power reads as follows.
Hand of the Apprentice (Su): You cause your melee weapon to fly from your grasp and strike a foe before instantly returning to you. As a standard action, you can make a single attack using a melee weapon at a range of 30 feet. This attack is treated as a ranged attack with a thrown weapon, except that you add your Intelligence modifier on the attack roll instead of your Dexterity modifier (damage still relies on Strength). This ability cannot be used to perform a combat maneuver. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
This new ability works off the ranged attack rules, making it simpler to use and adjudicate than the previous system, which was full of odd rules exceptions. The second ability also caused a bit of trouble in the Beta playtest. Metamagic mastery now allows the wizard to add a metamagic feat to a spell without increasing the spell level, but it does come with some restrictions. First, it can only be used 1/day at 8th level and one additional time per day for every two levels beyond 8th. Adding a feat to a spell that would increase the spell's level by more than 1 uses up an additional use of the ability for each level beyond one (i.e., if you Empower a fireball, it would use up two uses of this ability). Finally, you cannot add a metamagic feat to a spell using this ability if that feat would have made the spell higher level than a level of spell that you are capable of casting.
I do want to take a moment to talk about some of the other arcane schools before moving on to spells themselves. Many of the schools got a bit of a revamp, most due to playtester feedback. Take the necromancy school for example. The core power of this school now allows a necromancer to control or turn undead (as per the feats) a number of times per day, meaning that a necromancer does not necessarily have to be evil (the white necromancy option). We also changed the way that wizards with an arcane school interact with their prohibited schools. They can now learn and cast these spells just like any other wizard; however, when they prepare them, spells from a wizard's prohibited school take up two slots instead of one. For example, a 6th-level wizard with three 3rd-level spell spots could use two of them to prepare a dispel magic spell, even if abjuration was one of his prohibited schools.
Moving on, let's take a look at some of Ezren's spells. There have been some modifications to a wide variety of spells and effects to make them a bit more balanced with one another. Take teleport, for example. In 3.5 you could use scry to view a location and then use teleport to get there quickly. While this was fun for the players, it could very easily ruin a plot or bypass large bits of the adventure. While we did not want to completely eliminate this option, we have made it a bit harder. Now when you use scry to view a location, it only counts as "viewed once" for the purposes of teleport, making it quite a bit more risky to cast (25% chance of something going wrong).
Wall of force has seen some changes as well (as have all of the spells that create force bubbles or other effects). These force walls now have a hardness of 30 and 20 hit points per caster level. While this means that they are almost impossible to break down, they can no longer be used to hold back the tarrasque or a lava flow, which was asking for a bit much out of a 5th-level spell. This also means that if a wall of force cuts off half the party, they have a chance to destroy it without having to resort to a disintegrate (which still instantly destroys the wall).
Fly, and other spells like it, now grants a built-in bonus to Fly skill checks, to help compensate for characters without any ranks in the skill. They will not be doing loops around dragons anytime soon, but they at least try to pull a 45-degree turn at full speed in an emergency. Web has seen some changes as well. This spell now works as a grapple, with those that fail their saves being caught by the sticky strands. Those that make it can move with a combat maneuver or escape artist check (DC = to the DC of the spell). Characters moving through the webs that fail their checks are grappled in the first square that they enter, whereas those that make it can move through the difficult terrain. The spell is still good and useful to control the battlefield, but it is no longer the combat-ender that it once was. Ray of enfeeblement was sort of in the same boat, as a spell that was a bit too good for its level. To balance it out a bit, the spell now allows a Fort save to reduce the Strength penalty by half. Other spells on Ezren's list have seen some shifts as well, such as ice storm and dispel magic (both of which we covered in the Seoni preview).
You might have noticed that Ezren does not have a familiar. Instead, he chose to bond with his cane, using the arcane bond class feature (which allows you to get a familiar if you want). This ability allows him to cast any one spell that he knows and is capable of casting, once per day without having the spell prepared. He can also enchant his cane as if he had the feats required, so long as he is of the minimum level to get the feat (such as 11th level for a staff using Craft Staff, or 7th level using Forge Ring). Such power does not come without a price though, as Ezren must make concentration checks to cast any spell if he does not have his cane in hand.
Before I close things out on this preview, I wanted to point out a bit about Ezren's feats. Ezren has Combat Casting, which means that he has a total of +20 on his concentration checks, which means that he can defensively cast his 5th-level spells by rolling a 5 or higher on his checks. Ezren's Arcane Strike feat allows him to spend a swift action to add a +3 bonus to damage with his cane for 1 round, which he can combine with the hand of the apprentice ability to give it a bit of power. You might also notice that Ezren has a rather high Combat Maneuver Defense (or CMD). This is because of the Defensive Combat Training feat, which allows him to treat his character level as his base attack bonus when calculating his CMD, making this feat handy for wizards and sorcerers.
There are only two more previews left to go before the release of the Core Rulebook. Since we are done with the core classes, next week we are going to take a look at Seltyiel, our iconic eldritch knight!
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #11 Wednesday, July 22, 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 sneaking around with Merisiel, the iconic rogue. ... Merisiel ... Female elf rogue 6 ... CN Medium humanoid (elf) ... Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +12 ... DEFENSE ... AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+5...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #11
Wednesday, July 22, 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 sneaking around with Merisiel, the iconic rogue.
Female elf rogue 6
CN Medium humanoid (elf) Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +12 DEFENSE AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +4 Dex, +1 dodge) hp 42 (6d8+12) Fort +4, Ref +10, Will +4; +2 vs. enchantments Defensive Abilities evasion, trap sense +2, uncanny dodge OFFENSE Speed 30 ft. Melee+1 rapier +9 (1d6+2/18–20) Ranged dagger +8 (1d4/19–20) Special Attacks sneak attack +3d6, surprise attack STATISTICS Str 12, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 10 Base Atk +4; CMB +5; CMD 20 Feats Dodge, Mobility, Nimble Moves, Weapon Finesse Skills Acrobatics +13, Climb +10, Disable Device +18, Knowledge (local) +9, Perception +12, Sleight of Hand +13, Stealth +13, Swim +10 Languages Common, Elven SQ finesse rogue, trapfinding +3, trap spotter Combat Geardust of tracelessness, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of invisibility (2); Other Gear+2 studded leather, cloak of resistance +1, +1 rapier, daggers (8), handy haversack, masterwork thieves tools, ring of feather falling, rope of climbing
Hey, have you seen Merisiel around here anywhere? I am waiting for her to get here so that I can properly preview her and her awesome rogue talents, but she must be running late. Just like an elf, always running late. I know they live for hundreds of years, but my poor human life is short and I would like to spend it on things other than waiting for her to show up. Ow... my kidney!
So, now that Merisiel is finally here and I am shy one kidney, it is time to look at the rogue. Not much changed between the Beta version of the rules and the final game, but for those who are not familiar, let me walk you through the major differences.
The big change for rogues in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game is the addition of rogue talents. These work like the special abilities that rogues gained at higher levels in 3.5, but now they are scaled and a rogue gets her first one at 2nd. Every 2 levels beyond 2nd, she can select an additional talent, and upon reaching 10th level, she can begin selecting advanced talents (which includes all of the special abilities from 3.5). Rogue talents are a mixed bag of abilities that allow a rogue to become a little better at one facet of rogue life. Merisiel here has three talents: finesse rogue, surprise attack, and trap spotter. The first gives her Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat, making it a common choice for 2nd level rogues. Surprise attack causes all of Merisiel's opponents to be treated as flat-footed to her attacks during a surprise round, even if they have already acted. Finally, trap spotter gives Merisiel a Perception check to notice a trap the moment she moves to within 10 feet of it.
Other rogue talents add to a rogue's sneak attack, such as slow reactions that causes an opponent hit by a rogue's sneak attack to lose the ability to make attacks of opportunity for 1 round. There are a number of rogue talents that affect movement, allowing a rogue to move faster while balancing or sneaking. There are even a pair of talents that allow rogues to cast a limited number of simple spells to aid them in their shadowy deeds.
Aside from rogue talents, there have been a few other modifications and additions to the rogue. The biggest of these are the changes to sneak attack. This iconic ability now functions on a wider variety of creatures, such as undead and constructs. Now that all characters can locate and disarm mechanical traps regardless of the DC, the trapfinding ability now grants a bonus on Perception checks to notice traps and Disable Device checks equal to half the rogue's level. It also grants rogues the ability to disarm magic traps. Finally, up at 20th level, the rogue gains the master strike class feature, which allows her to kill, paralyze, or put targets to sleep with a successful sneak attack.
Aside from her class features, there are a few other interesting rules bits presented here. Dodge now grants a +1 dodge bonus to AC (and CMD) against all targets. Never again will you need to remember to designate a single foe. Mobility works much as before, but Nimble Moves is a new feat. This allows Merisiel to ignore 5 feet of difficult terrain each round while moving. It might not seem like much but it does allow her to take a 5-foot-step into such terrain or move through it during a charge, both of which might be vital depending on the circumstances.
Well, that is all for this week. Wait a minute, that was a bit short. Since I seem to have a bit of extra space this week, I guess I will take a look at some of the other rules that a rogue must contend with on a daily basis. Of course, I am talking about traps and poisons.
While traps work much in the same way that they always have, the trap rules have been adjusted to scale all the way up to CR 20. This was accomplished by adding in some modifiers for traps that target multiple creatures or last for more than 1 round. For example, the chamber of blades trap, presented below, that deals damage to everyone within a large chamber and lasts for 1d4 rounds. On average, this trap is going to last for 2 rounds and everyone in the room is going to be attacked twice at a +20 bonus for 3d8+3 on each hit. While this is not a huge amount of damage for 10th level characters, it can add up really quick. On average, PCs are going to take 32 points of damage before this trap has run it course (or double that if a 4 is rolled for the duration).
Chamber of Blades Trap (CR 10) Type mechanical; Perception DC 25; Disable Device DC 20 EFFECTS Trigger location; Duration 1d4 rounds; Reset repair Effect Atk +20 melee (3d8+3); multiple targets (all targets in a 20-foot-square chamber)
Poisons, on the other hand, have seen some revisions. After PCs hit about 7th level in 3.5, poison becomes almost an irrelevant threat. Once heroes feast becomes an option, it is completely pointless, which is a shame. In the Pathfinder RPG, poisons are a threat again at every level. The immunity gained from heroes feast has been changed to a bonus against poison saves (the same has happened to its immunity to fear) and neutralize poison now requires a caster level check versus the DC of the poison to remove it. Add that in with some advanced poisons and you have a threat that the PCs must now consider when taking on some of the more iconic monsters in the game.
In addition, the mechanics behind poison have changed. Most now deal damage every round until they have run their course (this is called the frequency), but the amount of damage per round has been decreased a bit to compensate. Each poison has a cure line as well, which tells you how many saves you need to make to be free of the poison before the frequency has run out. If you have been poisoned multiple times by the same source, you no longer need to make multiple saves. Instead, the duration of the poison increases by 50% of the original duration and the DC of the save increases by +2. So, if you were poisoned three times by a wyvern, the frequency would become 1/round for 12 rounds and the DC would increase to 21. This system really opens up the poison rules (and curses and diseases which work under similar rules), allowing you to concoct all manner of vile ways to die. Here are a few sample poisons from the Core Rulebook to get your ideas flowing.
Belladonna Type poison, ingested; Save Fortitude DC 14 Onset 10 minutes; Frequency 1/minute for 6 minutes Effect 1d2 Str damage, target can attempt one save to cure a lycanthropy affliction contracted in the past hour; Cure 1 save
Insanity Mist Type poison, inhaled; Save Fortitude DC 15 Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds Effect 1d3 Wis damage; Cure 1 save
King's Sleep Type poison, ingested; Save Fortitude DC 19 Onset 1 day; Frequency 1/day (unlike others, this poison continues until cured) Effect 1 Con drain; Cure 2 consecutive saves
Tears of Death Type poison, contact; Save Fortitude DC 22 Onset 1 minute; Frequency 1/minute for 6 minutes Effect 1d6 Con damage and paralyzed for 1 minute; Cure none (This poison continues until the end of its frequency, regardless of the number of saving throws made)
Wyvern Poison Type poison, injury; Save Fortitude DC 17 Frequency 1/round for 6 rounds Effect 1d4 Con damage; Cure 2 consecutive saves
There are only three more previews left to go before the release of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. Of course, if you want a bit more, check out Kobold Quarterly #10, which contains another preview written by yours truly and a look at the revised shadowdancer prestige class. Next week, we will round out our look at the base classes by taking a look at Ezren, the iconic wizard.
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #10 Wednesday, July 15, 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 getting angry with Amiri, the iconic barbarian. ... Amiri ... Female human barbarian 17 ... CN Medium humanoid (human) ... Init +2; Senses Perception +21 ... DEFENSE ... AC 26, touch 14, flat-footed 24 (+9 armor, +4...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #10
Wednesday, July 15, 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 getting angry with Amiri, the iconic barbarian.
Female human barbarian 17
CN Medium humanoid (human) Init +2; Senses Perception +21 DEFENSE AC 26, touch 14, flat-footed 24 (+9 armor, +4 deflection, +2 Dex, +3 natural, –2 rage) hp 252 (17d12+136) Fort +19, Ref +10, Will +14; +4 vs. enchantment Defensive Abilities improved uncanny dodge, indomitable will, trap sense +5; DR 4/— OFFENSE Speed 40 ft. Melee+4 frost keen adamantine greatsword +31/+26/+21/+16 (2d6+19/17–20 plus 1d6 cold) Ranged+2 frost composite longbow +21/+16/+11/+6 (1d8+9/x3 plus 1d6 cold) Special Attacks greater rage (41 rounds/day), rage powers (fearless rage, increased damage reduction, intimidating glare, knockback, powerful blow +5, renewed vigor [4d8+6], superstition +6, terrifying howl [DC 27]) BASE STATISTICS AC 28, touch 16, flat-footed 26 (+9 armor, +4 deflection, +2 Dex, +3 natural) hp 201 (17d12+85) Fort +16, Will +11 Melee+4 frost keen adamantine greatsword +28/+23/+18/+13 (2d6+14/17–20 plus 1d6 cold) CMB +24; CMD 40 Skills Climb +27 STATISTICS Str 24 (30), Dex 14, Con 16 (22), Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8 Base Atk +17; CMB +27; CMD 41 Feats Bleeding Critical, Blind-Fight, Critical Focus, Greater Vital Strike, Improved Iron Will, Improved Vital Strike, Iron Will, Power Attack, Toughness, Vital Strike Skills Acrobatics +22, Climb +30, Intimidate +19, Perception +21, Survival +21 SQ tireless rage Combat Gearpotion of cure serious wounds (6), potion of haste (2); Other Gearring of protection +4, amulet of natural armor +3, cloak of resistance +3, +4 frost keen adamantine greatsword, +2 frost composite longbow (Str +7), +5 moderate fortification hide armor, bag of holding (type II), belt of giant strength +6, cube of force, ring of freedom of movement, scarab of protection, winged boots
Don't make Amiri angry, you won't like her when she's angry. Of all of our iconics, none is more focused on dishing out pain than the barbarian. Although her stat block shows her damage while raging, it does not include Power Attack, which would give her a –5 on attack rolls, but increase her damage to 2d6+34. If she were to score a critical hit, while using Greater Vital Strike and Power Attack, her damage would jump to 10d6+68 and her victim would take 2d6 points of bleed damage each round thereafter. Enough with the math though, lets get in to some of the specifics of the barbarian.
To start off, let's take a look at rage. In the Beta version of the Pathfinder RPG rules, barbarians received a pool of rage points that they could spend on rounds of rage and to activate various rage powers. We have simplified this for the final, making it so that the barbarian now only needs to track the total number of rounds of rage per day. This starts at 4 + her Constitution modifier and increases by 2 for every level beyond 1st, meaning that even a 1st-level barbarian can rage more than once per day, so long as they are short rages. She also spends only 1 round of rage per round, regardless of the type of rage she is using (this is a change from the Beta).
Rage powers were added to the barbarian early on in the design. These powers can only be used while raging and allow the barbarian to perform fantastic feats of Strength, make more powerful attacks, and terrify those around her. Since these no long consume rage points, most have been reworked to be used only once per rage or once per day. Rage powers are gained at 2nd level and the barbarian gains an additional power for every two levels beyond that. Let's take a closer look at Amiri's specific powers.
Fearless Rage: With this power, which cannot be selected until 12th level, Amiri is immune to shaken and frightened condition while raging. Increased Damage Reduction: While raging, Amiri's DR increases to 5/—. Intimidating Glare: With this power, Amiri can attempt to Initimidate one adjacent foe as a move action, causing them to become shaken for 1d4 rounds +1 round for every 5 points by which her check exceeds the DC. Knockback: Once per round, Amiri can use this power make a bull rush attempt against a foe in place of a melee attack. If successful, the target takes damage equal to her Strength modifier and is moved back without Amiri needing to follow. Powerful Blow: Once per rage, Amiri can use this power as a swift action to add +5 to one melee damage roll. This bonus scales as she gains levels. Renewed Vigor: Once per day, while raging, Amiri can use this power to heal herself. It starts at only 1d8 + her Constitution modifier, but scales as she gains level. Amiri must be 4th level before taking this power. Superstition: This new rage power gives a barbarian a morale bonus on all saves against spells, supernatural abilities, and spell-like abilities while raging. While valuable, it comes with the drawback. While raging, Amiri cannot be the willing target of any spell and must attempt to resist all spells, even those case by allies. Terrifying Howl: Amiri had to take Intimidating Glare before she could select this 8th-level rage power. As a standard action, Amiri can unleash a blood-curdling war cry that causes all shaken enemies within 30 feet to make a Will save or become panicked for 1d4+1 rounds. Once a foe has made a save, successful or not, they are immune to this power for 24 hours.
These powers are designed to give the barbarian a few more options in combat besides running up and murdering folks (although there are plenty that do that too). During the Beta, there were a few rage powers that did not really fit the theme (such as the one that did elemental damage), but these have been trimmed in favor of abilities that are all exceptional abilities. You might see some supernatural rage powers in later books, but they will be tied to specific themes.
Beyond the changes to rage and the addition of rage powers, not much else has changed with the barbarian. She still gets greater and mighty rage at high levels, damage reduction, uncanny dodge, and trap sense. We added Acrobatics and Knowledge (nature) to her list of class skills. The other changes of note here are in her feats. Critical Focus and Bleeding Critical give her a +4 bonus on attack rolls made to confirm critical hits and anyone who takes a critical hit also gains 2d6 points of bleed (damage that recurs each round until healed). Iron Will works as before, but Improved Iron Will lets Amiri reroll one Will Save made each day, after the first roll is made but before the results are revealed. Toughness grants +1 hit point per level, with a minimum of +3 hit points (so +3 until you reach 4th level, at which point it becomes +4). Finally, there is Power Attack, which grants a +2 bonus on damage for a –1 penalty on attack rolls. When your base attack bonus reaches +4, and for every 4 beyond +4, the bonus to damage increases by +2 and the penalty increase by –1. Wielding a two-handed weapon increases the damage by 50%, whereas off-hand weapons get only half the damage bonus. Just thought I would let that cat out of the bag, since there has been quite a bit of speculation as to the exact formula.
There are only four more previews before the release of the Core Rulebook! If I can find her, next week we will take a look at Merisiel, the iconic rogue.
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #9 Wednesday, July 8, 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 cracking some heads with Sajan, the iconic monk. ... Sajan ... Male human monk 8 ... LN Medium humanoid (human) ... Init +3; Senses Perception +3 ... DEFENSE ... AC 23, touch 21, flat-footed 19 (+2 armor, +1 deflection, +3...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #9
Wednesday, July 8, 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 cracking some heads with Sajan, the iconic monk.
Male human monk 8
LN Medium humanoid (human) Init +3; Senses Perception +3 DEFENSE AC 23, touch 21, flat-footed 19 (+2 armor, +1 deflection, +3 Dex, +1 dodge, +3 monk, +3 Wis) hp 63 (8d8+24) Fort +8, Ref +9, Will +9; +2 against enchantment Defensive Abilties evasion, slow fall 40 ft.; Immune disease OFFENSE Speed 50 ft. Melee flurry of blows +9/+9/+4/+4 (2d6+2 plus 1d6 fire) or mwk shortsword +9/+4 (1d6+2/19–20) Ranged shuriken +9/+4 (1d2+2) Special Attacks stunning fist (8/day, stun, fatigue, or sicken, DC 17) STATISTICS Str 14, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8 Base Atk +6; CMB +10; CMD 29 Feats Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Extra Ki, Greater Disarm, Improved Disarm, Improved Unarmed Strike, Scorpion Style, Stand Still, Stunning Fist, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike) Skills Acrobatics +14 (+30 jump), Climb +13, Sense Motive +14, Stealth +14, Swim +13 Languages Common SQ fast movement, high jump, ki pool (9 points), maneuver training, purity of body, still mind, wholeness of body Combat Gearoil of greater magic fang (+3), potion of cure serious wounds (2); Other Gear mwk shortsword, shuriken (20), ring of protection +1, light fortification bracers of armor +2, flaming amulet of mighty fists, headband of inspiring wisdom +2, monk's robe
Everybody was kung fu fighting! Those cats were fast as lightning! Ahem. You will excuse my outburst of the Carl Douglas classic. This week we are taking a look at Sajan, the iconic monk. During the playtest there was a lot of debate on what to do with the monk, and everyone seemed to have their own idea on how to fix the class. From the beta to the final, we made a lot of tweaks to improve the class, from speeding up some progressions (such as the monk AC bonus) to adding more bonus feats (including the number granted and the selection available), but we also made a few large changes.
Let's start by taking a look at the monk's primary mode of attack: flurry of blows. This system is revised from the 3.5 version to work using mechanics similar to the Two-Weapon Fighting feats, but the new monk goes one step further and uses its monk level as its base attack bonus whenever it uses flurry of blows. At 8th level, this means that Sajan has one additional attack and all of those attacks are at a +1 over his 3.5 counterpart. If we look at 20th level, Sajan would have 2 extra attacks and those attacks are at a +3 over the 3.5 statistics. Of course, Sajan can still use special monk weapons for these attacks as well.
In addition, all monks now receive the Stunning Fist feat for free, allowing them to stun opponents for 1 round with a hit. As a monk gains levels, he can decide to apply different effects, some of which last considerably longer. At 8th level, Sajan can make his opponents fatigued (which lasts until they rest) or sickened for 1 minute. At 12th level, Sajan could instead stagger his foes for 1d6+1 rounds (making it so they can only take a move or a standard action each turn). At 16th level he can permanently blind or deafen his enemies and at 20th level, he can paralyze them for 1d6+1 rounds. These abilities are separate from the monk's quivering palm attack, which functions much as before, except that now monks can use quivering palm once per day (as opposed to once per week).
Monks are also skilled at performing and defending against combat maneuvers (such as grapple, bull rush, and trip). They use their monk level as their base attack bonus when calculating their Combat Maneuver Bonus. They also add their Wisdom and monk AC bonus to their Combat Maneuver Defense, making them truly skilled at resisting attempts made against them.
To add to the monk's offensive and defensive abilities, they now gain access to a pool of ki points that can be spent for temporary bonuses. At 4th level, Sajan gained the ability to spend 1 point as a swift action to make an additional attack as part of a flurry of blows (at his highest bonus), increase his speed by +20 ft. for 1 round, or to grant himself a +4 dodge bonus to his AC. At 5th level, he gained the high jump ability, which grants him a bonus equal to his class level on all Acrobatics checks made to jump, but it also allows him to spend a ki point for a +20 bonus to a single check. At 7th level, Sajan gained the ability to heal himself by spending 2 ki points. At higher levels, he can use this pool to dimension door or to become ethereal. The number of points in his pool goes up with his level as well, granting him 1 point per two levels, plus his Wisdom modifier (and 2 from the Extra Ki feat). As long as he has at least 1 ki point in his pool, all of his attacks are treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. At 10th level, they are treated as lawful and at 16th level, they are treated as adamantine.
Finally, we made one additional change, although subtle, to boost the power of the monk. The amulet of mighty fists can now be used to grant melee special weapon qualities to the monk's unarmed strikes (flaming in this case). We also repriced the item to make it a bit more attractive for our kung fu masters (this one only costs 5,000 gp to add flaming to all his natural attacks, but the higher level version received a discount as well). A similar change was made to bracers of armor, allowing them to grant special armor qualities, such as light fortification.
Sajan also has a few feats to make him more versatile in combat. Improved Disarm and Greater Disarm give him a +14 bonus total on disarm combat maneuvers and any weapons he disarms are knocked up to 15 feet away from the wielder. Stand Still forces those that attempt to move past Sajan to stop if he strikes them with an attack of opportunity (of which he gets 4 per round due to Combat Reflexes). Combined with Scorpion Style, which allows Sajan to make a single attack that reduces the target's speed to 5 feet for 3 rounds, he can really stop a foe from moving past him and then prevent that foe from moving away later.
Eight classes down and three to go, which means that we are only five weeks from the release of the Core Rulebook! Next week I will rant and rage about the powers of Amiri, the iconic barbarian.
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #8 Wednesday, July 1, 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 Lini, the iconic druid, and her snow leopard animal companion, Droogami. ... Lini ... Female gnome druid 8 ... N Small humanoid (gnome) ... Init +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +15 ... DEFENSE ......
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #8
Wednesday, July 1, 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 Lini, the iconic druid, and her snow leopard animal companion, Droogami.
Female gnome druid 8
N Small humanoid (gnome) Init +5; Senses low-light vision; Perception +15 DEFENSE AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 17 (+4 armor, +2 deflection, +1 Dex, +1 size) hp 71 (8d8+32) Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +10; +2 vs. illusion Defensive Abilities defensive training OFFENSE Speed 20 ft. Melee mwk sickle +7 (1d4–1) Ranged+1 sling +9 (1d3+1) Special Attacks wild shape 4/day Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th):
1/day—dancing lights, ghost sound, prestidigitation, speak with animals Druid Spells Prepared (CL 8th):
4th—cure serious wounds, flame strike (DC 18), freedom of movement
3rd—call lightning (DC 17), dominate animal (DC 17), greater magic fang, poison (DC 17)
2nd—barkskin, bull's strength, flame blade, lesser restoration
1st—cure light wounds (2), entangle (DC 15), longstrider, obscuring mist
0—create water, detect magic, know direction, stabilize STATISTICS Str 8, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 8, Wis 18, Cha 16 Base Atk +6; CMB +4; CMD 17 Feats Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Natural Spell, Weapon Focus (claw) Skills Acrobatics +8, Fly +10, Handle Animal +10, Knowledge (nature) +8, Perception +15, Survival +13 Languages Common, Gnome SQ nature bond (snow leopard animal companion), nature sense, resist nature's lure, trackless step, wild empathy +11, woodland stride Combat Gearwand of cure light wounds; Other Gear mwk sickle, +1 sling, +2 leather armor, amulet of mighty fists +1, boots of elvenkind, druid vestments, elemental gem (air), headband of inspired wisdom +2, ring of protection +2
Male snow leopard
N Medium animal Init +6; Senses low-light vision, scent; Perception +8 DEFENSE AC 22, touch 17, flat-footed 15 (+6 Dex, +1 dodge, +5 natural) hp 45 (7d8+14) Fort +7, Ref +11, Will +3; +4 vs. enchantment Defensive Abilities evasion OFFENSE Speed 50 ft. Melee bite +9 (1d6+4 plus trip), 2 claws +9 (1d3+4) STATISTICS Str 18, Dex 22, Con 15, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6 Base Atk +5; CMB +9; CMD 26 Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Stealthy Skills Acrobatics +10, Climb +9, Perception +8, Stealth +13 SQ devotion, link, share spells, sprint
So a druid and her animal companion walk into the forest. Wait, I did that bit last week. The druid is one of those classes that is tough to nail down. The rules for the druid involve a number of different subsystems, including animal companions and the rules for changing shape. Not surprisingly, of all the parts of a druid, these two received the biggest overhaul.
Let's start off by taking a look at wild shape. The old rules were a bit disjointed, giving you additional uses almost sporadically as you gained levels, while granting different types and sizes along the way. The new system grants you the ability to wild shape one level earlier (4th, instead of 5th) and gives you an additional usage every two levels after that (Lini is wearing druid vestments which gives her an additional use). Just like before, you can maintain a form for one hour per Druid level. Unlike the old system, which gave you the exact stats of the animal, the new system is based off a number of spells that grant a specific list of ability score bonuses. These spells also grant some of the powers of your new form, depending on the spells level (just as they did in the Beta playtest version of the rules). For example, at 8th level, Lini can turn into any animal from size Diminutive to Huge, a Small or Medium elemental creature, or a Small or Medium plant creature. If she were to change her shape into a Large dire tiger, her Strength would jump to 12 and her Dex would drop to 10. She would also gain a +4 natural armor bonus, a speed of 40 feet, and the tiger's claw and bite attacks, as well as its ability to pounce, rake, and grab. The big change here is that these alterations to her statistics are now size bonuses, meaning that she can take advantage of spells like bull’s strength and magic items to enhance her ability scores (magic items that continuously function continue to do so while in wild shape, such as her amulet of mighty fists). Add in bull's strength and Lini the dire tiger could make two claw attacks at +10, dealing 2d4+4 each, and one bite attack at +9, dealing 2d6+3 with the opportunity to grapple anyone she hits. So while this ability allows Lini to become a respectable melee threat, it does not allow her to ignore her physical stats during creation if she wants to be good at combat.
The Beta playtest rules for animal companions were very similar to their 3.5 counterparts, which caused a number of issues. If you wanted to be a druid with a bear animal companion, you had to wait until 4th level, and once you got past 7th level, you really needed to trade in your loyal bear for a bigger, better bear companion. We wanted druids to be able to form a meaningful bond with their companion from first level, regardless of type, and to keep that companion up through the higher levels of play. During the playtest, we posted up some alternate rules for animal companions, which have made it into the final game with a few alterations. Druids still have the option of taking a cleric domain in place of animal companion, but those that choose a friend will be pleasantly surprised. Companions are now based on a straightforward progression, gaining Hit Dice and other abilities as the druid gains levels. Each animal type is a sort of template that is applied to the base statistics shared by all animal companions. These templates define the companions' ability scores, attacks, defenses, movement types, and special abilities. At 4th or 7th level (depending upon the power of the companion), many animal companions gain a large set of increases, usually based on size (although druids who want a smaller pet now have the option of keeping it the same size). Droogami, for example, started out with the following block of information.
Cat, Small (Cheetah Leopard) Starting Statistics: Size Small; Speed 50 ft.; AC +1 natural armor; Attack bite (1d4 plus trip), 2 claws (1d2); Ability Scores Str 12, Dex 21, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6; Special Qualities low-light vision, scent. 4th-Level Advancement: Size Medium; Attack bite (1d6 plus trip), 2 claws (1d3); Ability Scores Str +4, Dex –2, Con +2; Special Qualities sprint.
Droogami's other statistics are derived from a simple chart that tells you the number of Hit Dice, skill points, feats, natural armor bonuses, and Strength and Dexterity bonuses. Droogami also receives an ability score boost that can be placed anywhere (Dexterity in this case). All of this is on top of the old druid animal companion abilities, such as share spells and evasion.
Aside from these big changes, there have been a number of smaller alterations to the some of the rules used in Lini's stat block. Resist nature's lure, for example, now also applies to any effect that targets plants or wood, such as entangle and warp wood. The spell poison now works with the new poison rules (in this case, dealing 1d3 Con damage per round for 6 rounds, or until a save is made). Entangle has been clarified a bit, giving the entangled condition to those that fail their save, while those that make it can move through the area, which is considered difficult terrain. Of course, the spell still requires tall grass, weeds, or bushes. Since Hide and Move Silently were combined into Stealth, the boots of elvenkind and cloak of elvenkind became a bit redundant. To alleviate this, the boots now grant a +5 bonus on Acrobatics checks.
I should also take a brief moment to talk about the Fly skill (which has been controversial from the start). This skill helps to adjudicate actions in the air, which were previously an all-or-nothing affair based on your maneuverability. Now, just like walking, swimming, or climbing, there is a set list of maneuvers you can perform without a skill check, and some, more difficult flying maneuvers (such as hovering or turning 180 degrees) that require a check. While this is a bit more complicated, it is far more dynamic, allowing for sky chases, dramatic crashes, and my personal favorite, attempting to force a dragon to land by shooting him down. This skill bonus is modified by both your size and your maneuverability, which means that even large Hit Dice creatures, such as dragons, do not necessarily receive high scores, while smaller creatures, such as bats, are quite skilled.
Alright, we are out of the forest now, and over half way done. Come back next week for a lesson on inner peace and busting heads with Sajan, the iconic monk.
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #7 Wednesday, June 24, 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 Lem, the iconic bard. ... Lem ... Male halfling bard 8 ... CG Small humanoid (halfling) ... Init +4; Senses Perception +12 ... DEFENSE ... AC 21, touch 17, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +4 Dex,...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #7
Wednesday, June 24, 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 Lem, the iconic bard.
Male halfling bard 8
CG Small humanoid (halfling) Init +4; Senses Perception +12 DEFENSE AC 21, touch 17, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +4 Dex, +1 dodge, +1 size) hp 55 (8d8+16) Fort +6, Ref +12, Will +7; +4 vs. bardic performance, sonic, and language dependent effects, +2 vs. fear OFFENSE Speed 20 ft. Melee+1 short sword +7/+2 (1d4–1/19–20) Ranged+1 thundering sling +12/+7 (1d3) Special Attacks bardic performance (28 rounds/day), countersong, distraction, dirge of doom, fascinate (DC 18), inspire competence +3, inspire courage +2, suggestion (DC 18) Spells Known (CL 8th):
3rd (3/day)—charm monster (DC 17), cure serious wounds, haste
2nd (5/day)—blur, glitterdust (DC 16), minor image (DC 16), sound burst (DC 16)
1st (5/day)—charm person (DC 15), cure light wounds, disguise self, hideous laughter (DC 15), lesser confusion (DC 15)
0 (at will)—detect magic, ghost sound (DC 14), know direction, light, read magic, summon instrument STATISTICS Str 8, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 18 Base Atk +6; CMB +4; CMD 20 Feats Combat Casting, Dodge, Extra Performance, Mobility Skills Acrobatics +17, Escape Artist +15, Knowledge (local) +16, Perception +12, Perform (comedy) +15, Perform (wind instruments) +19, Stealth +19, Use Magic Device +15 SQ bardic knowledge (+4), lore master (1/day), versatile performance (comedy, wind instruments), well-versed Languages Common, Elven, Halfling Combat Gearlesser metamagic rod of extend, wand of cure moderate wounds (CL 3rd, 50 charges); Other Gear+1 shortsword, +1 thundering sling, 20 sling bullets, +2 leather armor, belt of incredible dexterity +2, cloak of resistance +1, mwk flute, ring of protection +1, wind fan
So, a bard, a fighter, a rogue, a cleric, and a wizard walk into a dungeon. The fighter says, "If only someone could give me a bonus to hit and damage against those ogres." The rogue says, "If only someone could give me a bonus to my Disable Device checks to help me disarm this trap." The cleric says, "If only someone could counter the song of the harpy that is luring me to my doom." The wizard says, "If only someone could fascinate these orcs so that I could get away from them." Finally the bard says, "Sorry guys, but I am built using 3.5 and all out of bardic performance for the day. Who wants a ghost sound?"
Don't let this situation happen to you. The Pathfinder bard has a revised mechanic for his Bardic Performance, limiting him to a total number of rounds per day, meaning that he does not have to save his few uses for inspire courage. Bards start out with a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + their Charisma modifier and gain an additional 2 rounds per day for every level beyond first. Lem here also has the Extra Performance feat which grants him an additional 6 rounds per day.
The beta version of the bard also had two paths for his bardic performance, allowing him to gain different abilities depending upon the type of Perform skill he possessed. While it was fun to come up with new abilities, the split caused many to worry that for a bard to reach his full potential, he would have to invest twice the number of ranks into Perform. In the final game, we solidified it back into one progression, but kept many of the new abilities, such as Dirge of Doom that causes all foes within 30 feet to become shaken as long as the bard continues his performance. In addition, the progression for some of the other performance types has been enhanced. Inspire courage increases to +2 at 5th level and continues to increase by +1 for every 6 levels after 5th. Inspire competence also increases by +1 for every 4 levels after 3rd.
We have also made starting and maintaining a bardic performance a bit easier. At 1st level, starting a bardic performance is a standard action, but this changes to a move action at 7th level and a swift action at 13th. Regardless of the action needed to start a performance, maintaining a performance is a free action, meaning that the bard can keep up a performance and still cast spells, move, and make attacks.
Moving on from bardic performance, the bard has received a number of other upgrades as well. Bards no longer have any alignment restrictions and they have d8 hit dice. Their spell progression has been enhanced a bit to remove the "0" listings from their chart, meaning that they get a spell without having to have a Charisma high enough to grant a bonus spell of that level. Bardic Knowledge now grants a bonus to all Knowledge skills equal to 1/2 the bard's level (minimum +1) and allows the bard to make any Knowledge skill check without having ranks in it. Well-versed grants a flat +4 bonus on saves against other bardic performances, as well as sonic and language-based spell effects. Lore master is granted at 5th level and it allows the bard to take 10 on any Knowledge skill check. In addition, once per day he can take 20 on a Knowledge skill check. As he gains levels, he can use this secondary ability multiple times per day as well.
One other class feature was added to the bard that allows him to really maximize his skill points. During the playtest there were a number of concerns about the Perform skill, being that it was required to gain access to specific bardic performance abilities but did little else beyond the roleplaying uses. To solve this we introduced a new bard class feature called versatile performance. This ability is gained at 2nd level and it allows the bard to substitute his Perform bonus for the bonus of two other skills, depending on the type of Perform. For example, Lem has versatile performance for both comedy and wind instruments. This allows him to substitute his bonus in Perform (comedy) for his bonus Bluff and Intimidate. It also allows him to substitute his bonus in Perform (wind instruments) for his bonus in Diplomacy and Handle Animal. With this ability he can use these skills even if he would normally have to be trained. As he gains levels, Lem can add new types of Perform to his list, allowing him to make even more substitutions (such as Perform [dance] for Acrobatics and Fly).
There have been a few changes to the spells on Lem's list as well. Glitterdust, for example, now allows a save each round to negate the blindness (although the creatures affected by it still remain visible for the duration). Hideous laughter now grants an additional save after the first round of laughing to negate the effect. If this second save fails, the target laughs for the entire duration, which remains 1 round per level. Lesser confusion, and by extension, confusion, have been simplified a bit to make them easier to adjudicate. Both of these spells cause the subject to gain the confused condition, which causes them to roll d% each round to determine their actions on the following table.
01–25 Act Normally
26–50 Do nothing but babble incoherently
51–75 Deal 1d8 points of damage + Str modifier to self with item in hand
76–100 Attack nearest creature
At higher levels the bard gains a few new performance types, allowing him to frighten or even kill his foes (in Lem's case, probably by telling a really bad joke). The bard also gains a performance type that allows him to cast mass cure serous wounds by performing for 4 consecutive rounds. The bard also gains the jack-of-all-trades ability at 10th level which allows him to try any skill untrained and at higher levels allows him to treat all skills like class skills and to take 10 on any skill check.
Well, that is the end of the bard's tale. Tune in next week for a journey into the wild with Lini, the iconic druid.
... 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.
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #5 Wednesday, June 10, 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 Kyra, the iconic cleric. ... Kyra ... Female human cleric of Sarenrae 8 ... NG Medium humanoid (human) ... Init +3; Senses Perception +5 ... Aura good ... DEFENSE ... AC 19, touch 9, flat-footed 19 (+8...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #5
Wednesday, June 10, 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 Kyra, the iconic cleric.
Female human cleric of Sarenrae 8
NG Medium humanoid (human) Init +3; Senses Perception +5 Aura good DEFENSE AC 19, touch 9, flat-footed 19 (+8 armor, –1 Dex, +2 natural) hp 55 (8d8+16) Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +13 Resist fire 10 OFFENSE Speed 20 ft. Melee+1 flaming scimitar +9/+4 (1d6+3 plus 1d6 fire/18-20) Special Attacks channel positive energy (4d6, 4d6+8 vs. undead, DC 17, 4/day), fire bolt (+5 ranged touch, 1d6+4 fire, 8/day), nimbus of light (8 rounds/day) Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 8th):
4th—death ward, divine power, fire shield*, holy smite
3rd—dispel magic, fireball*, prayer, remove curse, searing light
2nd—bull's strength, heat metal*, silence, spiritual weapon (2)
1st—bless, burning hands*, divine favor (2), protection from evil (2), shield of faith
0 (at will)—detect magic, light, read magic, stabilize
* Domain spell; Domains Fire, Sun STATISTICS Str 14, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 20, Cha 12 Base Atk +6; CMB +8; CMD 17 Feats Improved Channel, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Selective Channeling, Turn Undead Skills Diplomacy +12, Heal +16, Knowledge (religion) +11, Spellcraft +11 Languages Common SQ sun's blessing Combat Gearwand of cure light wounds (50 charges), pearl of power (2nd level), scroll of flame strike; Other Gear+1 flaming scimitar, +2 chainmail, amulet of natural armor +2, cloak of resistance +2, headband of inspired wisdom +2
Kyra is a relatively straightforward cleric, worshiping Sarenrae, the fiery goddess of the sun. While much about the cleric is unchanged, there are a number of notable alterations.
First off is a change to how domains work. In the Beta version of the rules, the domains lost their bonus spells and gained a host of special abilities that were gained when the cleric reached certain levels. For the final version of the game, we went back to bonus spells, but we altered the spell lists a bit (you might notice fireball in her 3rd-level list of spells prepared). In addition, we kept some of the special abilities, replacing many of the granted powers. Kyra receives fire bolt and sun's blessing at 1st level. Fire bolt allows her to shoot rays of fire a limited number of times per day. The sun's blessing power adds to Kyra's channel energy ability and prevents undead from adding their turn resistance to their saves to resist her channeled energy (but more on how this works in a bit). At 6th level, the fire domain grants Kyra fire resistance (that increases as she gains levels). At 8th level she gains the nimbus of light ability from the sun domain. This powerful ability allows her to shed light like daylight for a number of rounds per day equal to her cleric level. This dispels any darkness effect and deals damage to undead in the area at the beginning of Kyra's turn (1 point per cleric level per round). The light spells themselves got a bit of an overhaul. There are now four levels of illumination: darkness, dim light, normal light, and bright light. Spells like light shed normal light in a set radius and increase the light level by one step in a set area beyond that. Spells like darkness reduce the light level in a set radius. Deeper darkness can actually make an area so dark that not even darkvision can penetrate it.
In addition to the changes to domains, the turn undead rules have been revised as well. Now called channel energy, this ability releases a wave of positive or negative energy in a 30-foot radius. When Kyra uses this ability she much choose to heal living creatures or to harm undead creatures (in the Beta rules, she could do both simultaneously). If she chooses to heal, all living creatures in the area are healed the listed amount (4d6 in this case). If she chooses to harm undead, all undead in the area take the listed damage (4d6+8 in this case, due to her sun's blessing domain ability), but they receive a save for half damage. Evil clerics can use this power in reverse, to harm living creatures or heal undead creatures. Kyra also has a few feats to enhance her channel energy ability. Improved Channel adds +2 to the DC to resist the channel and Selective Channel allows Kyra to exclude a number of targets in her area equal to her Charisma modifier. The big change here though is the Turn Undead feat. This feat allows Kyra to spend one use of her Channel Energy ability to force undead to flee from her unless they make their save. This version does not deal damage, but it can turn the tide in a battle.
There have also been a number of changes to cleric spells. Many of these were made to balance the cleric with some of the other classes or to otherwise simplify a confusing spell. Death ward, for example, no longer grants blanket immunity to death effects. Instead it grants bonuses to resist such affects and gives you a save even if one is not normally allowed. It also removes the penalties from negative levels while it lasts. Divine Power was significantly altered to prevent the cleric from becoming a better melee fighter than the fighter with just a spell or two. Now the spell grants a bonus to attacks and damage rolls, temporary hit points, and an additional attack whenever the cleric makes a full attack (just like haste). While it is still a good spell, it is no longer overpowering. Remove curse also deserves a bit of inspection. This spell (and those like it that remove ailments) is no longer automatic. When casting one of these spells, Kyra must succeed at a caster level check to remove the condition (using the ailment's DC). The goal here was to add some bite back into curses, diseases, and poisons, which have been a trivial concern past 5th level.
Last, but not least, it is time to talk about casting on the defensive. The Concentration skill was removed from the game in one of the early versions and there have been a number of systems proposed to replace it. In the final game, whenever a spellcaster is called upon to make such a check, he adds his caster level and whatever ability score is used to determine his spell DCs. To avoid confusion, we kept the old name, calling it a concentration check. This really is the simplest solution that avoids a skill tax on all spellcasters and does not favor one class over another (due to the variable ability score modifier that is added). When casting on the defensive, the DC is equal to 15 + double the spell's level. This makes it a little harder to cast on the defensive than it was, but that works to help balance out the spellcasters a bit (especially when you consider new feats that allow enemies to move with you if you attempt to 5-foot step away to cast a spell).
That is about all there is to show here on Kyra. Next week we are laying our hands on the mighty and powerful Seelah, the iconic paladin.
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #4 Wednesday, June 3, 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 Harsk, the iconic ranger. ... Harsk ... Male dwarf ranger 11 ... LN Medium humanoid ... Init +5 (+9 underground, +7 mountain); Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +17 ... DEFENSE ... AC 24, touch 15,...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #4
Wednesday, June 3, 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 Harsk, the iconic ranger.
Male dwarf ranger 11
LN Medium humanoid Init +5 (+9 underground, +7 mountain); Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +17 DEFENSE AC 24, touch 15, flat-footed 19; (+6 armor, +5 Dex, +3 natural) hp 109 (11d10+44) Fort +10, Ref +12, Will +8; (+2 vs. poison, spells, and spell-like abilities) Defensive Abilities defensive training (+4 AC vs. giants), evasion OFFENSE Spd 20 ft. Melee+2 greataxe +15/+10/+5 (1d12+5/x3) Ranged+1 axiomatic shock light crossbow +15/+15/+10/+5 (1d8+1 plus 1d6 electricity/17–20) Special Attacks favored enemy (humanoid [giant] +6, undead +2, dragon +2), favored terrain (underground +4, mountain +2), hunter's bond (companions), quarry Spells Prepared (CL 8th)
3rd—cure moderate wounds, summon nature's ally III
2nd—barkskin (already cast), bear's endurance
1st—longstrider, resist energy, speak with animals STATISTICS Str 14, Dex 20, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 6 Base Atk +11; CMB +13; CMD 28 (32 vs. bull rush and trip) Feats Deadly Aim, Endurance, Improved Critical (light crossbow), Improved Precise Shot, Iron Will, Pinpoint Targeting, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Reload, Rapid Shot Skills Climb +16, Heal +17, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +14, Perception +17, Stealth +24, Survival +17 (+22 following tracks) Languages Common, Dwarven SQ swift tracker, track +5, wild empathy +9, woodland stride Combat Gearwand of cure moderate wounds (50 charges); Other Gear+3 studded leather armor, +2 greataxe, +1 axiomatic shock light crossbow, 40 bolts, 20 silver bolts, 20 cold iron bolts, 5 adamantine bolts, belt of incredible dexterity +4, headband of inspired wisdom +2, cloak of elvenkind
Let me tell you a little story.
For months now, stories were spreading about brutal attacks made against merchant caravans making their way through the Mindspin Mountains. While not uncommon during this time of year, the savagery of the attacks and the reports of a giant man, bedecked with ice, caught Harsk's attention. Not a week later, Harsk was high up the mountains, casting about for a trail. He had already encountered a pair of slaughtered caravans, when he found one that was recently attacked. Fresh boot prints in the snow confirmed his suspicions. It was a frost giant. For two days he followed the trail without fault, leading deeper into the mountains before ending at the mouth of a deep, dark cave. Sneaking inside, the wily dwarf quickly found his prey, sorting through a vast pile of ill-gotten loot. The giant had no idea that death had come for him as Harsk took aim with his trusted crossbow.
This is the sort of situation a ranger like Harsk dreams of. Having caught the giant in a cave, he has immense bonuses against the behemoth. Using his favored terrain bonuses, Harsk received a +2 on all Survival skill checks when tracking the giant through the mountains. In the caves (which count as underground), this bonus increases to a +4. It also applies to his initiative (giving him a great chance at going first), Perception, and Stealth checks. His favored enemy bonuses against giants of +6 applies to Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive, and Survival checks made against the giant, but more importantly, it applies to his attack and damage rolls. Added up, these bonuses give him a +32 bonus on Survival checks to track the giant in the caves (+30 in the mountains) and a +28 to avoid being spotted as he sneaks up to within 30 feet for the attack.
Assuming Harsk gets the drop on the giant, he can use Pinpoint Targeting during the surprise round to ensure he gets a hit. This feat allows him to make a single attack as a standard action that ignores armor, natural armor, and shield bonuses to AC (which drops the giant's AC down to 8). If he wins initiative, he can then take a full attack against the giant. Using Deadly Aim (which allows him to take a –3 penalty on attack rolls to gain a +6 bonus on damage rolls, just like Power Attack but for ranged weapons), his bonus on these attacks comes out to +19/+19/+14/+9 with each attack dealing 1d8+14 plus 1d6 electricity and 2d6 from the axiomatic quality. If Harsk hits with all 4 attacks (and the surprise attack, which deals a little less damage), his average damage is around 138 points of damage, which is just enough to put the giant in his grave.
If Harsk really wanted to ensure success, he would denote the giant as his quarry before combat begins. This ability is gained at 11th level and it allows a ranger to select a creature that matches one of his favored enemy types as his quarry, granting him a +2 bonus on attack rolls and automatically confirming all critical hits against the target. He can also take 10 on Survival checks to track his quarry while moving at full speed without penalty. Although Harsk can have no more than one quarry at a time, he can select a new quarry 1 hour after his previous quarry is slain.
Now, this is not exactly a fair fight, as Harsk is built to kill giants in caves, but rangers are built to excel in specific circumstances. Against other enemies or in other environments, they are still capable combatants, but they really shine when hunting their favored enemies or while adventuring in their favored terrain.
Harsk also possesses the hunter's bond class feature, which allows him to grant any allies within 30 feet half of his favored enemy bonus against one foe as a move action. Once given, this bonus lasts for 3 rounds. He could have taken an animal companion instead, but we will discuss those in more detail during the druid preview. For now, remember that if Harsk were to take an animal companion, his effective druid level would be 8th (not 5th, as it was in 3.5).
In addition, Harsk has a few spells to aid him in his struggles. He now casts spells with a caster level equal to his ranger level –3 (instead of half his ranger level). His progression has also been improved a bit, giving him a few extra spells. Of special note is summon nature's ally III, which allows him to summon a boar, a wolverine, or even 1d3 Small earth elementals. Take a look at the following lists for more examples (some might even say this was a sneak peak at the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary).
Aurochs (herd animal)
Harsk has a few other abilities as well. Swift tracker allows Harsk to move his normal speed while using Survival to track and reduces the penalty to –10 while moving at twice his normal speed. Track now grants a bonus on Survival checks made to follow tracks equal to 1/2 his ranger level. This change was made because everyone can track now using Survival, making the ability redundant. At higher levels, Harsk would gain additional favored enemies and terrains, additional combat style feats (additional archery feats in Harsk's case), improved evasion, camouflage, hide in plain sight, and at 20th level, the master hunter ability. This ability allows him to kill his favored enemies with a single bolt, assuming they fail their saves. He can also use this ability to deal nonlethal damage equal to the target's hit point total, allowing him to bring his prey back alive.
That covers the ranger. Come back next week and enter the domains of Kyra, the iconic cleric.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #3 Wednesday, May 27, 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 Seoni, the iconic sorcerer. ... Seoni ... Female human sorcerer 10 ... Init +2; Senses Perception +11 ... Defense ... AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 20; (+4 armor, +2 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 shield) ......
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #3
Wednesday, May 27, 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 Seoni, the iconic sorcerer.
Female human sorcerer 10 Init +2; Senses Perception +11 Defense AC 23, touch 15, flat-footed 20; (+4 armor, +2 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 shield) hp 57 (10d6+20) Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +12 DR 10/adamantine Offense Spd 30 ft. Meleestaff of fire +4 (1d6–1) Ranged ray +7 (by spell) Special Attacks metamagic adept (2/day) Spells Known (CL 10th)
5th (4/day)—cone of cold (DC 22)
4th (6/day, 5 remaining)—dimension door, ice storm, stoneskin, wall of fire
3rd (7/day)—dispel magic, fly, haste, lightning bolt (DC 20)
2nd (7/day, 6 remaining)—invisibility, mirror image, resist energy, scorching ray, web (DC 17)
1st (8/day, 7 remaining)—burning hands (DC 18), enlarge person, identify, mage armor, magic missile, shield
0 (at will)—acid splash, arcane mark, daze (DC 15), detect magic, light, mage hand, prestidigitation, ray of frost, read magic StatisticsStr 8, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 20 Base Atk +5; CMB +4; CMD 19 Feats Alertness (from familiar), Dodge, Eschew Materials, Extend Spell, Greater Spell Focus (evocation), Quicken Spell, Spell Focus (evocation), Spell Penetration, Still Spell Skills Bluff +14, Climb +2, Fly +11 (+16 using fly), Knowledge (local) +9, Perception +11, Spellcraft +9 Languages Common SQ arcane bloodline, arcane bond (familiar, lizard), bloodline arcana (+1 DC to metamagic spells) Combat Gearlesser metamagic rod of empower, potion of cure serious wounds (2), scroll of greater dispel magic, scroll of wall of force; Other Gearcloak of resistance +2, headband of mental prowess +2 (Wis and Cha), ring of feather falling, ring of protection +2, slippers of spider climbing, staff of fire
Starting off, Seoni has a few precast spells, whose effects are already calculated in as part of her stat block, including an extended shield, mage armor, and stoneskin. She could increase these protections with haste, mirror image, and resist energy if given a few rounds to prepare.
As a sorcerer, Seoni can choose from one of ten different bloodlines. We chose the arcane bloodline, which is the default bloodline for existing 3.5 sorcerers as it is the only bloodline that grants a familiar. All bloodlines grant a number of bonuses as the sorcerer gains levels, such as additional spells known (Seoni receives identify at 3rd level, invisibility at 5th level, dispel magic at 7th level, and dimension door at 9th level), a bonus class skill (Seoni receives a free Knowledge skill of her choice), and a number of special bloodline powers (which we will talk about in a bit). New to the final version of the game is bloodline arcana. Each bloodline now grants a special bonus to a specific group of spells. In Seoni's case, any time she casts a metamagic version of a spell that increases the level by at least 1, the DC of that spell increases by +1 (total, not per level increased). This means that if Seoni casts a still lightning bolt the DC to halve the damage is increased to 21. Other bloodlines grant similar abilities. For example, the destined bloodline grants the sorcerer a luck bonus on saving throws for 1 round whenever she casts a spell with a range of personal.
In addition to the arcane bond ability (which allows Seoni to have a familiar), the arcane bloodline grants two additional abilities. The first is metamagic adept, which allows her to cast metamagic spells without increasing their casting time. At her current level, she can use this ability twice per day. It should be noted that quicken spell has been changed to allow sorcerers to use it without increasing the casting time, meaning that Seoni can save her metamagic adept ability for extended and still spells. The second ability is new arcana, which grants Seoni an additional spell known (she chose stoneskin).
If we were to continue to advance Seoni, she would receive a school power at 15th level, which would grant her a +2 bonus to the DC of all spells from one school of magic. At 20th level, she would undergo an arcane apotheosis, which would allow her to cast any metamagic spell without increasing the casting time and allow her to burn spell slots to power magic items that expend charges.
Moving on, we get to Seoni's spell list. There have been a few changes to some of these spells, mostly to make them simpler to use, but in some cases to increase their power a bit. Ice storm, for example, deals the same amount of damage, but now also includes an effect that makes the area difficult terrain and imposes a penalty on Perception checks.
Of all the spells in the game, none has the power to bring things screeching to a halt faster than dispel magic. Not only did this spell take a while to adjudicate, it also forced the target to recalculate a host of statistics if the spell was particularly successful. Now dispel magic requires only a single caster check, and the result is applied to all the spells active on the target. It dispels the spell with the highest caster level that it can affect. While this reduces its power a bit (although it no longer has the +10 limit to the check), it makes the spell a whole lot easier to use. Greater dispel magic still allows you to strip off multiple spells, but it too only requires a single check. It dispels one spell per four caster levels, taking out the spells with the highest caster level that it can effect. I should note that you can still use either one of these spells to target a specific spell to end that effect, allowing you to try and knock out the enemy's fly or stoneskin when it really counts.
Mirror image has also received a bit of a facelift, making it simpler to use. Take a look.
Mirror Image School illusion (figment); Level bard 2, sorcerer/wizard 2 Casting Time 1 standard action Components V, S Range personal Target you Duration 1 min./level
This spell creates a number of illusory doubles of you that inhabit your square. These doubles make it difficult for enemies to precisely locate and attack you.
When mirror image is cast, 1d4 images plus one image per three caster levels (maximum eight images total) are created. These images remain in your space and move with you, mimicking your movements, sounds, and actions exactly. Whenever you are attacked or are the target of a spell that requires an attack roll, there is a possibility that the attack targets one of your images instead. If the attack is a hit, roll randomly to see whether the selected target is real or a figment. If it is a figment, the figment is destroyed. If the attack misses by 5 or less, one of your figments is destroyed by the near miss. Area spells affect you normally and do not destroy any of your figments. Spells and effects that do not require an attack roll affect you normally and do not destroy any of your figments. Spells that require a touch attack are harmlessly discharged if used to destroy a figment.
An attacker must be able to see the figments to be fooled. If you are invisible or the attacker is blind, the spell has no effect (although the normal miss chances still apply).
I also want to take a moment to talk about Seoni's staff of fire. Like the previous rules for staves, Seoni can cast all the spells in the staff using her caster level (10th) instead of the staff's, which is only 8th. She can also use her Charisma modifier and feat bonuses when calculating the save DCs. Staves in the new rules contain a total of 10 charges, but they can be recharged. Once per day, Seoni can expend a 4th level spell slot (the highest level spell contained in the staff of fire) to add 1 charge to the staff. Most of the staves have been rebuilt to work within these new rules.
That is about all for this week. Next week Harsk comes stomping on to the stage as we take a look at the iconic ranger. I hear he has favored terrain (the internet), so we better watch out!
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #2 Wednesday, May 20, 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 Valeros, the iconic fighter. ... Valeros ... Male human fighter 14 ... NG Medium humanoid ... Init +5; Senses Perception +13 ... DEFENSE ... AC 28, touch 17, flat-footed 23; (+10 armor, +2 deflection, +5...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #2
Wednesday, May 20, 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 Valeros, the iconic fighter.
Male human fighter 14
NG Medium humanoid Init +5; Senses Perception +13 DEFENSE AC 28, touch 17, flat-footed 23; (+10 armor, +2 deflection, +5 Dex, +1 shield) hp 137 (14d10+56) Fort +12, Ref +9, Will +3 (+7 against fear) Resist fire 10 OFFENSE Spd 30 ft. Melee+3 keen longsword +23/+18/+13 (1d8+13/17–20), +2 frost shortsword +20/+15/+10 (1d6+7 plus 1d6 cold/19–20) Ranged+1 flaming composite shortbow +20/+15/+10 (1d6+4 plus 1d6 fire/x3) STATISTICS Str 16, Dex 20, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 10 Base Atk +14; CMB +17; CMD 34 Feats Combat Expertise, Double Slice, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Greater Weapon Focus (longsword), Greater Weapon Specialization (longsword), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Vital Strike, Power Attack, Toughness, Two-Weapon Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Rend, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus (longsword, shortsword), Weapon Specialization (longsword) Skills Climb +20, Intimidate +17, Perception +13, Ride +22, Swim +20 Languages Common, Halfling SQ armor training +3, bravery +4, weapon training (heavy blades +3, light blades +2, close +1) Combat Gearnecklace of fireballs (type V), potion of cure serious wounds (3), potion of fly, potion of heroism, rod of flame extinguishing; Other Gearbag of holding (type II), +4 fire resistant light fortification breastplate, +1 flaming composite shortbow (+3 Str), +2 frost short sword, belt of physical perfection +2, boots of levitation, +3 keen longsword, periapt of wound closure, ring of protection +2, ring of the ram
First off, the new Valeros is designed to dish out the hurt, but his AC is a bit low for a character of his level. He can fix this in combat by using Combat Expertise, which at his level gives him a +4 dodge bonus to his AC (which also adds to his Combat Maneuver Defense, but more on that later) but taking a –4 penalty on attack rolls for 1 round. He can also used Power Attack to add +8 damage on attacks made with his longsword and +4 damage on attacks made with his shortsword by taking an additional –4 penalty on attack rolls. He would probably not want to use both at the same time, but he can mix it up as dictated by the situation. If he manages to hit one target with both his longsword and shortsword in the same round, he deals an additional 1d10+4 points of damage thanks to Two-Weapon Rend.
All of this assumes that Valeros begins his turn adjacent to an enemy. If not, he can charge up and make a single attack with his longsword using both Power Attack and Improved Vital Strike. This devastating attack is made at a +23 bonus and it deals 3d8+21. Note that Valeros can move 30 feet during this charge, despite wearing a breastplate. This is due to his armor training, which allows him to move at full speed while wearing such armor.
You might notice a new statistic in Valeros' stat block. CMD, which stands for Combat Maneuver Defense. This statistic is the DC for anyone else to perform a combat maneuver, such as bull rush, disarm, or grapple, against Valeros. This statistic is derived from his CMB +10 plus a number of other modifiers (Dexterity and deflection bonuses in this case). Note that Valeros adds his weapon training bonuses to his CMD whenever anyone tries to disarm or sunder weapons from those groups (he also adds these bonuses to combat maneuver checks made using weapons from those groups).
Lastly, Valeros has some fun magic items at his disposal. You can never go wrong with a necklace of fireballs (type V), especially when you are wearing fire resistant armor. The periapt of wound closure protects him from bleed damage, which is a bit more common with some of the new higher-level feats (Bleeding Critical comes to mind). Lastly, the ring of the ram is a great toy for a fighter like Valeros to control the battlefield a bit. Using just 1 charge allows him to make a bull rush combat maneuver at a +17 bonus, which should be enough to push smaller monsters around.
That's about all for this week. There are a few other tidbits hidden in the stat block for the math savvy, but I will leave those for the messageboards to puzzle out. Next week, in part 3 of our 14-week preview, we're going to take a close look at Seoni, the iconic sorcerer. And by close, I mean very close, close enough to examine her blood.
... The Great Beyond Friday, February 13, 2009In The Great Beyond, A Guide to the Multiverse, we get an in-depth tour of what lies beyond the borders of life and death, of reality and entropy, and of good and evil in Golarion. Here, Wayne Reynolds's incredible cover shows us not only a view of the Maelstrom (the chaotic neutral outer plane) but also one of its indigenous menaces—a protean. A CR 17 keketar protean, to be precise. Here's hoping poor Seltyiel's ready to handle some...
The Great Beyond
Friday, February 13, 2009
In The Great Beyond, A Guide to the Multiverse, we get an in-depth tour of what lies beyond the borders of life and death, of reality and entropy, and of good and evil in Golarion. Here, Wayne Reynolds's incredible cover shows us not only a view of the Maelstrom (the chaotic neutral outer plane) but also one of its indigenous menaces—a protean. A CR 17 keketar protean, to be precise. Here's hoping poor Seltyiel's ready to handle some quickened confusions, a lawful weapon, and a good fortitude save to resist all those transmutations when the monster invariably claws him up. And for Desna's sake, Seltyiel... don't try to teleport when that keketar's that close to you!
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Cover! Behold! ... Tuesday, February 3, 2009As quite a few of you have already seen, we've got a cover image for the upcoming Pathfinder Roleplaying Game! If you haven't, check it out! Wayne Reynolds, as per usual, shows us exactly what roleplaying is all about: magic, swords, and hungry dragons! Mark it on your calendars: 8/13/2009, it's the date your new campaign begins. ... F. Wesley Schneider ... Pathfinder Managing Editor ...
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Cover! Behold!
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
As quite a few of you have already seen, we've got a cover image for the upcoming Pathfinder Roleplaying Game! If you haven't, check it out! Wayne Reynolds, as per usual, shows us exactly what roleplaying is all about: magic, swords, and hungry dragons! Mark it on your calendars: 8/13/2009, it's the date your new campaign begins.
... Illustrations by Jesper Ejsing Illustration by ... Wayne Reynolds ... Pathfinder iPhone Wallpapers Friday, January 30, 2009Several of us at Paizo have iPhones, but some of us flaunt that fact a bit more than others. Take Managing Art Director James Davis, for example—since he got his iPhone, we very rarely see him without at least one earbud stuck in an ear, and he heads back to show me some (admittedly cool) new app he found once a week on average. ... Of course, the good news is...
Illustrations by Jesper Ejsing
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Pathfinder iPhone Wallpapers
Friday, January 30, 2009
Several of us at Paizo have iPhones, but some of us flaunt that fact a bit more than others. Take Managing Art Director James Davis, for example—since he got his iPhone, we very rarely see him without at least one earbud stuck in an ear, and he heads back to show me some (admittedly cool) new app he found once a week on average.
Of course, the good news is that his iPhone obsession sometimes results in cool stuff we can share. Such as these three Pathfinder iPhone wallpapers! Check 'em out!
... The Mean Streets of Absalom Wednesday, October 15, 2008 When in Absalom, be mindful of the myriad gangs of thieves, thugs, cutpurses, criminals, knee-breakers, and other ne're-do-wells. And should you be among this legion of lawbreakers, best to make sure your marks don't command the infinite powers of the multiverse (or an endless supply of throwing daggers). In either case things aren't going to end well for someone as we see in another incredible Wayne Reynolds cover for our upcoming...
The Mean Streets of Absalom
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
When in Absalom, be mindful of the myriad gangs of thieves, thugs, cutpurses, criminals, knee-breakers, and other ne're-do-wells. And should you be among this legion of lawbreakers, best to make sure your marks don't command the infinite powers of the multiverse (or an endless supply of throwing daggers). In either case things aren't going to end well for someone as we see in another incredible Wayne Reynolds cover for our upcoming Pathfinder Chronicles tome Guide to Absalom.
... D is for Darklands Friday, August 8, 2008Just a few weeks after handing over the incredible new cover for Gods & Magic, Wayne Reynolds turned around and dropped our jaws again, this time with the new cover for the next book in the Pathfinder Chronicles line, Into the Darklands. As always, Dr. Reynolds's images speak for themselves: a dark elf casting dark magic in the Darklands. What more could you ask for? Into the Darklands releases this December. F. Wesley Schneider ... Pathfinder...
D is for Darklands
Friday, August 8, 2008
Just a few weeks after handing over the incredible new cover for Gods & Magic, Wayne Reynolds turned around and dropped our jaws again, this time with the new cover for the next book in the Pathfinder Chronicles line, Into the Darklands. As always, Dr. Reynolds's images speak for themselves: a dark elf casting dark magic in the Darklands. What more could you ask for? Into the Darklands releases this December.
... When Gods Wage War! Friday, July 25, 2008In the past year we've had some incredible covers. We've seen rampaging monsters, unbelievable lands, deadly villains, valiant heroes, and awesome dragons, all illustrated by some of the best fantasy artists in the biz. It's hard to compare to amazing pieces like Wayne Reynolds' cover to the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, Steven Prescott's work on the Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer, John Gravato's cover to Guide to Darkmoon Vale, or...
When Gods Wage War!
Friday, July 25, 2008
In the past year we've had some incredible covers. We've seen rampaging monsters, unbelievable lands, deadly villains, valiant heroes, and awesome dragons, all illustrated by some of the best fantasy artists in the biz. It's hard to compare to amazing pieces like Wayne Reynolds' cover to the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, Steven Prescott's work on the Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer, John Gravato's cover to Guide to Darkmoon Vale, or Andrew Hou's Classic Monsters Revisited, but that doesn't mean our favorite artists aren't going to try to blow even these awesome pieces away. Case in point, Wayne Reynolds' cover to October's Gods and Magic, where firey-winged Sarenrae, goddess of the sun, takes some divine vengeance on Rovagug, god of destruction. I won't crowd the piece with any more of my ugly words, but for a face-to-face look at Golarion's 20 core gods and even a few newcomers check out Gods and Magic, coming soon!
Meet The Iconics: Seltyiel Monday, May 26, 2008Born from a dead mother amid screams and disgrace, this sickly half-elf would never have survived had he fallen into his stepfather's waiting arms. In a cruel trick of fate, his half-sister's tears stole the infant Seltyiel's chance for a mercifully short life. ... The bastard son of the duped Lady Phiaura Bhrostra and the brigand-sorcerer Lairsaph—the so-called Feign Prince of Cheliax's Whisperwood—Seltyiel was never meant to...
Meet The Iconics: Seltyiel
Monday, May 26, 2008
Born from a dead mother amid screams and disgrace, this sickly half-elf would never have survived had he fallen into his stepfather's waiting arms. In a cruel trick of fate, his half-sister's tears stole the infant Seltyiel's chance for a mercifully short life.
The bastard son of the duped Lady Phiaura Bhrostra and the brigand-sorcerer Lairsaph—the so-called Feign Prince of Cheliax's Whisperwood—Seltyiel was never meant to survive. Through guile and illusion, the half-elf was conceived as a living disgrace to the sonless Bhrostra family—stern, martial-minded traditionalists who had long hunted the woodland bandits. The tragedy of his wife's death in childbirth, compounded by the dashed promise of a male heir, nearly drove Lord Ghran Bhrostra mad, and only his daughter's sobs stayed the lord's blade. For the next 12 years, a continuing river of tears ensured the young bastard's life.
Raised by his sister Sioria, young Seltyiel lived a humiliating fiction. In words, he was Lirt, an adopted waif who lived in the light of the Bhrostras' boundless charity. In the truths whispered from servant to mocking lord, though, he was living proof of Lord Bhrostra's failure as a husband, a lord, and a man. Keenly aware of his family's disgrace, Lord Bhrostra frequently reminded his wife's son of his loathing with beatings and broken bones.
Two weeks before Seltyiel's 13th birthday, with the bedridden youth already nursing a thrice-broken arm, a drunk and enraged Lord Bhrostra rampaged into the bastard's attic room. The boy could scarcely fight against the burly lord and took a fierce beating before reflexively lashing out. Catching the unsuspecting lord below the waist, the boy's blow sent Lord Bhrostra stumbling backward and tumbling down the steep attic stairs. Seltyiel stared down at his stepfather's unconscious body in terror. Without a word to his sister, the bloodied and crippled half-elf fled into the Whisperwood that night.
For days, the boy wandered the forest, soaked by rain, slashed by vipervines, chased by a boar, and pushed to the brink of starvation. As his continued merciless fortune would have it, though, three scowling brigands found the youth. Terrified, Seltyiel repeated the name he'd heard Lord Bhrostra curse a thousand times over: Lairsaph. Bemused, the scoundrels dragged the boy to his father.
Lairsaph laughed for nearly an hour after discovering that Lord Bhrostra had actually raised his whelp, and in cruel amusement welcomed his son into his camp. The Feign Prince gave the boy the name Seltyiel—a corruption of the elven word for malicious humor—and turned his mind to finding a use for the youth. In the weeks following his son's arrival, the sorcerer made several cruel attempts to coax forth some evidence of the boy's inborn arcane ability. Despite his efforts, though, it swiftly became apparent that his son possessed none of the brigand lord's sorcerous blood. Disgusted, Lairsaph dismissed Seltyiel, relinquishing him to the ranks of his craven, sycophantic followers.
For the next decade, Seltyiel scraped out a life among the thieves of the Whisperwood. Pale, morose, and slight of frame, he suffered endless abuses at the hands of his father's gang, and as Lairsaph and his men grew rich off brigandry and violent raids, the half-elf performed menial tasks and scavenged from scraps. Gradually, though, as the boy grew into a young man, he cultivated a quiet intellect and began collecting the objects his father and his men discarded—typically the letters, ledgers, and books of the merchants they preyed upon. Slowly he taught himself to read, first Taldane, then other languages. As he neared his 20th birthday, he made his greatest discovery amid a treasure-stripped caravan wagon: a tattered tome, a book of simple magic. Seltyiel became obsessed. For years, the bastard read the tome over and over, learning its runes, memorizing its symbols, and gaining some measure of control over the cantrips within.
In the half-elf's 23rd year, Lairsaph and his men made a daring robbery, stealing a fully-loaded taxwagon headed back to Egorian from the Majestrix's eastern holdings. Although cunning, the brigand lord was unprepared for the infernal queen's swift reprisal and the skill of her hunters. A half-legion of Chelish soldiers led by an Order of the Rack Hellknight tracked Lairsaph to his hidden camp and turned an evening's debauchery into a night of fire and blood. The swift attack scattered the Feign Prince's men, making them easy pickings for the merciless soldiers. In a blur of shouts and slashing blades, Seltyiel found himself fleeing—to his shock—at his father's side. Through the night, war hounds and the tenacious Hellknight pursued the father and son. Lairsaph exhausted every spell he could conjure attempting to stymie the ironclad hunter, but still the infernal knight came. Finally, knowing his capture would mean a lengthy torture followed by a dramatic execution, Lairsaph turned to his son, drew him close, and, with the butt of his spear, shattered Seltyiel's kneecap.
Knowing only that the criminals of the Whisperwood were led by an elf, the Magistrix's men drug Seltyiel back to Egorian in chains. For weeks, the half-elf suffered constant tortures and arcane assaults to his mind. Gradually, though, his captors accepted that he was not the brigand lord Lairsaph, but merely the Feign Prince's dupe. Dismissed as just another bandit, he was thrown into a dank Chelish dungeon and, for nearly 5 years, left to rot.
During Seltyiel's imprisonment, the whispers came. Seemingly drifting from the darkness in the depths of his reeking cell, they were a cool balm to the fires of his angry wounds and smoldering hatred. They reminded him of his fear, his violent youth, his loathing, and betrayal. They also told him much: tales of magic more ancient than the gods, paths to lost treasures with feckless guardians, and the names of beings who could teach him secrets unknown to men. For long years he listened, and his soul turned to steel. If he was to ever have anything, he would have to take it himself. He would have riches and influence like Lord Bhrosta. He would have respect and fear like Lairsaph. He would have revenge.
In 4707, Seltyiel was released. Cold and determined, he walked from Egorian to Westcrown, murdering two thieves met along the way with arcane fire. Using their twice-stolen coin he bought passage on a ship with no clue as to its destination. He would kill his fathers, he would have revenge—but first, he would have power.
Seltyiel debuts as a pregenerated character in volume 13 of Pathfinder.
... It's a Hardcover! Friday, May 16, 2008This Gen Con, something pretty exciting is coming to Golarion—a hardcover book! I'm talking, of course, about the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting. Wayne Reynolds gives us the first look at one of the campaign setting's big bad guys, the infamous lich known as the Whispering Tyrant as he takes offense at Valeros, Seoni, and Merisiel's intrusion upon his personal time. Here's hoping those heroes have built up enough experience points to be...
It's a Hardcover!
Friday, May 16, 2008
This Gen Con, something pretty exciting is coming to Golarion—a hardcover book! I'm talking, of course, about the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting. Wayne Reynolds gives us the first look at one of the campaign setting's big bad guys, the infamous lich known as the Whispering Tyrant as he takes offense at Valeros, Seoni, and Merisiel's intrusion upon his personal time. Here's hoping those heroes have built up enough experience points to be epic level—otherwise, what are they doing messing around with the Whispering Tyrant in the first place?
... Meet the Iconics: Lini Monday, April 14, 2008In her many explorations and journeys, Lini encountered numerous large animal predators, with whom she seemed to possess a certain affinity. More than once, Lini's traveling companions or enclave came under threat from some great bear or razor-clawed cat, but with a series of soothing noises and precise motions Lini always tamed the beast and sent it on its way. ... Lini's success at calming animals came to an end one day when a snow leopard...
Meet the Iconics: Lini
Monday, April 14, 2008
In her many explorations and journeys, Lini encountered numerous large animal predators, with whom she seemed to possess a certain affinity. More than once, Lini's traveling companions or enclave came under threat from some great bear or razor-clawed cat, but with a series of soothing noises and precise motions Lini always tamed the beast and sent it on its way.
Lini's success at calming animals came to an end one day when a snow leopard bound out of the trees and pinned her to the ground before she could react. Her friends scattered, leaving Lini alone to face the beast. Although fascinated by the cat's power and speed, and appreciative of its beauty, Lini trembled under its massive paw and tears leaked from her eyes. She knew she faced her doom, and she found it cruelly ironic how death came to claim her.
Yet the leopard did not strike.
"Your friends have abandoned you," a calm feminine voice intoned out of Lini's sight. "Despite the times you saved them, they left you to die." Although Lini could not see the woman, Lini knew of the Norn of the forest and suspected she was one of them.
"Please help me," Lini whispered, her chest struggling to rise under the great cat's crushing paw.
"You do not need my help, little one. You need hers."
Lini looked at the snow leopard, deep into its eyes. She saw neither hunger or malice. Still struggling just to breathe, Lini stared into the great cat's eyes and asked, "Will you help me?"
Inexplicably, the snow leopard lifted its paw from Lini's chest. A coughing fit then overcame the small gnome, and when she finally recovered she looked around her. The snow leopard was gone and Lini saw no sign of the Norn. She looked around frantically, suddenly alone and scared. A small gnome in a large world.
"Come back," Lini cried. "Don't go! Please don't go. Don't leave me alone." She sank to her knees, tears afresh on her face, until she heard the sound of approaching footsteps.
The snow leopard had returned. With the delicateness of a mother tending to her cubs, the great cat licked gently at Lini's face, whisking away her tears. Lini threw her arms around the leopard's neck. "You are my friend, aren't you? I will call you Droogami. That is what we call good friends."
Lini looked down then and picked up a stick from the forest floor before clambering up the cat's side to perch on its back.
"Let us go, then, Droogami. We have no need for this place."
In the years since her departure from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Lini has collected more than a dozen sticks—one from each forest or wood she visits. In her resting time after long days of travel, she sits at Droogami's side and peels the bark from the sticks, smoothing and polishing them incessantly.
Lini debuts as a pregenerated character in volume 13 of Pathfinder.
... Meet the Iconics: Amiri Monday, March 31, 2008 There are a million ways to die in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. The natives of this brutal land are the nomadic Kellids, and they have made the best of this primal world. Amiri is one of these barbarians. Although she was blessed with a combination of independence and brawn, Amiri's childhood remained one of constant challenge. To the people of her tribe, the Six Bears, brawn and bravery were not ideal characteristics for a woman to have....
Meet the Iconics: Amiri
Monday, March 31, 2008
There are a million ways to die in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. The natives of this brutal land are the nomadic Kellids, and they have made the best of this primal world. Amiri is one of these barbarians. Although she was blessed with a combination of independence and brawn, Amiri's childhood remained one of constant challenge. To the people of her tribe, the Six Bears, brawn and bravery were not ideal characteristics for a woman to have. To the Six Bears, a woman's role was simple—raise children, tend to the sick, and forge bonds with other tribes. Women were resources. When a tribe wished to form an alliance, they would send gifts of meat, furs, treasure, and daughters. Amiri didn't see herself as livestock, and every chance she got, she tried to one-up her brothers and cousins. When a hunter went out and caught a caribou for the tribe, she would go out and catch two. When a party of orc raiders stumbled into their hunting grounds and a tribal hero killed four, she took it upon herself to kill six. Her constant sense of competition made her few friends—her brothers were both intimidated by her ferocity and enthralled by her beauty, while her sisters knew that each time she went against tradition, they would all be punished.
When Amiri finally came of age, her reputation had spread beyond the Six Bears. The other tribes took to calling her the "Soft Chieftain" of the Six Bears, a name that humiliated her almost as much as it did her kin, inferring that they were weak for allowing one of their women to grow so independent and strong. None of the other tribes wanted any part of her—her continued presence among the Six Bears caused much strife between once friendly tribes, and so the elders determined that there was but one choice—Amiri had to die. The only problem was the commonly held belief that murder of one's kin was the greatest taboo and the surest path to Hell.
The opportunity to be rid of their troublesome sister rose soon enough, when word came of a tribe of frost giants who had been sighted in the nearby mountains. The elders organized a warband to scout the mountains and to drive back the giants, and they made sure that Amiri was included in the band. Shocked but proud to have finally been chosen, Amiri didn't notice how the elders smiled at her eagerness to be on her way. The elders knew that Amiri's sense of competition would swiftly get her in over her head, and in secret tasked the rest of the hunters to goad her into just such a situation.
The warband headed up into the Kodar foothills, and it wasn't long before they found evidence of giants. One morning, the leader of the band rushed into camp, waving a dagger the size of a man's arm over his head. The warrior claimed to have single-handedly slain a giant and to have taken his dagger, and the others in the band congratulated him on his skill and bravery. Amiri took the bait, and announced that she would return by sundown with an even greater weapon. She could have no way of knowing that the dagger was part of the deception—that the warband had brought it with them as a prop to incite her into a foolish plan.
What the warband themselves didn't anticipate was that Amiri would find a frost giant. After wandering the mountains, she came to an immense body at the foot of a cliff—the giant had fallen to his death weeks before, and at his side lay his immense bastard sword. Although Amiri knew that she had not killed the giant, she also knew that all she needed was his sword as proof—certainly her kin wouldn't think to dispute her claim with such a grand trophy. Yet when she returned to the place she had left her kin, she found the camp empty. Concerned, worried that they had fallen victim to the region's dangers, she tracked them, catching up with the warband halfway back to the tribal camp. As she approached the camp, though, she realized something was amiss—they were talking of her, and they were laughing.
Creeping unseen to the edge of the camp, she realized that she had been duped. She heard her kin mocking her ways, of how she had fallen for their ruse, and how even now she was likely cooking in a giant's stewpot. That they seemed grateful and so at ease with her death was not what enraged Amiri. It was the proof that her own people thought of her as a fool that did it. Eyes blazing, Amiri stepped into the camp and held her new sword out, proclaiming that even now she had bested them. The other warriors, shocked to see her alive, quickly fell back to laughter, pointing out that she could hardly wield such an ungainly weapon. Her fury growing, Amiri hefted the weapon and tried to adopt a menacing pose, but the weapon's size threw her off balance and she toppled over, much to the other barbarian's growing amusement.
It was enough. With a roar, Amiri leapt back to her feet. Her rage filled her body, clouded her vision, stole over her soul. Two of the barbarians had been decapitated by her immense sword before they realized that death had come. The battle was swift and brutal, with Amiri not noticing the blows that landed on her, simply stepping from one traitor to the next and cutting them down.
When her rage finally subsided, Amiri realized what she had done. She knew that the hunters had certainly deserved their fates, but they were still kin. That her reasons for murdering them were, to her, valid didn't change the ties of blood. She knew that she had cut those ties, and so she turned her back on the remains, trusting that they would be discovered by another hunting party soon enough. As she headed west into the lands of Irrisen and the unknown reaches beyond, her heart was for the first time free—no longer was her future tied to traditions that would constrain her. She has come to value her oversized sword, and even though she can only truly wield it properly when her blood rage takes her, it has become as much a part of her as her fierce independence or her fiery heart. She no longer sees herself as a member of the Six Bears, but never speaks of the circumstances that forced her to flee her homeland. Some things are better left unsaid.
... Meet the Iconics: Sajan Monday, March 3rd, 2008Birthed to parents of the padaprajna caste of warriors in beautiful Vudra, Sajan Gadadvara and his twin sister Sajni learned to hold a temple sword before they could walk. Strict padaprajna discipline forged a tight bond between the twins, who spent even their infrequent times of rest together, practicing the latest martial techniques taught to them. On their twelfth birthday, the twins were forcefully separated: Sajan went to live with the...
Meet the Iconics: Sajan
Monday, March 3rd, 2008
Birthed to parents of the padaprajna caste of warriors in beautiful Vudra, Sajan Gadadvara and his twin sister Sajni learned to hold a temple sword before they could walk. Strict padaprajna discipline forged a tight bond between the twins, who spent even their infrequent times of rest together, practicing the latest martial techniques taught to them. On their twelfth birthday, the twins were forcefully separated: Sajan went to live with the fighting men of the ghana padaprajna, while Sajni joined the battling women of the sastra padaprajna. Despite their separation, the twins continued to meet when they could, sparring and joking as they had in their childhoods.
As the insightful narrative of the Vigrahin Patitraka states, "A warrior's life is to war." Thus it was that Sajan's lord embroiled himself in a conflict with a neighbor. Most of the army fielded by Sajan's lord consisted of conscripts wielding tools of their trades, while the valuable padaprajna watched the battle in reserve. The warriors deduced quickly that they stood on the losing side, but they were duty-bound to fight to the death when instructed. Instead, their lord stole from them the glory of battle-death when he sued for peace after his conscripts fled the field. As part of his surrender, the lord gave over half of his sastra padapranja—including young Sajni.
Distraught, Sajan returned to his barracks in tears (for which he received severe beatings from his own father), and vowed that night to be reunited with his sister. Several weeks passed before he found his opportunity for escape. He fled into the countryside and slipped stealthily into the city of Sumadhadra, through whose gates Sajan watched his sister pass. After several days of clumsily seeking information on his sister, he finally discovered that all the traded sastra padapranja were loaded onto ships bound for distant Jalmeray.
Sajan quickly hired himself as a guard aboard a ship bound for the far-away island, and several months later he found himself on its heavily guarded docks. Within a week, Sajan uncovered the fates of most of the sastra padapranja, who worked as guards and courtiers for the island's thakur. Sajni was not among them. More weeks passed before Sajan learned that his sister had, like him, signed on as a guard aboard a trading ship—hers bound for a place called Absalom.
The desperate young padapranja gained passage to Absalom and, upon arrival, stared in wonder at its size and splendor. It seemed to him that the strange western barbarians he found himself among were incapable of a place so grand. By the time he found his bearings and rejoined his search, however, he found himself without leads, for the sheer size that so impressed him also made finding his sister nearly impossible.
Sajan knows he cannot return to Vudra, for the padapranja there would execute him as a deserter. He cares not for his home country, however, and continues to seek out any clue that might point him toward his sister.
... Meet the Iconics: Lem Tuesday, January 22, 2008 Although Lem was raised in the lap of luxury, his childhood was anything but comfortable. He had the unfortunate luck to be born into slavery, to a mother indentured to one of Cheliax's countless noble families. Lem was sold a half dozen times to different nobles before he reached the age of two. Such is the fate of most of Cheliax's halflings (often called slips by that nation's citizens). Halflings are much valued as slaves in Cheliax...
Meet the Iconics: Lem
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Although Lem was raised in the lap of luxury, his childhood was anything but comfortable. He had the unfortunate luck to be born into slavery, to a mother indentured to one of Cheliax's countless noble families. Lem was sold a half dozen times to different nobles before he reached the age of two. Such is the fate of most of Cheliax's halflings (often called "slips" by that nation's citizens). Halflings are much valued as slaves in Cheliax since they take up less room and since their inborn optimism ironically stunts escape urges. Halflings born into slavery in Cheliax are prone to think of their lot in life as "lucky." They are fond of saying, "At least we aren't living in the gutter or starving!"
Nevertheless, halflings who rankle at the concept of enslavement do appear. Halflings like Lem. Growing up a slave in the devil-haunted empire of Cheliax exposed Lem to a shocking range of decadence and debauchery. He learned from a young age how to say what his superiors wanted to hear, and as he grew older, these skills often secured him less onerous jobs. While his kin toiled in basement washrooms or tended hellhound stables, Lem was taught to play the flute so he could entertain at family gatherings. Yet Lem was not blind to the discomfort of his brothers and sisters, and when he learned that a dozen of his kin were to be sacrificed to a devil as an offering to seal a new trade contract, Lem knew the time to act had come. Taking advantage of his increased mobility in the manor, it was a relatively simple trick to light a few fires in secret corners and then ensure that all of his halfling kin were safe in the slave's quarters. The manor burnt quickly, but Lem was shocked to see his kin rush back to the manor in a hopeless attempt to aid in extinguishing the flames. As the place burnt to the ground, and the halflings bemoaned their fate and the loss of their shelter, Lem slipped away into the night, bitter and distraught over this unexpected turn of events.
Lem left Cheliax by stowing away on a merchant vessel and never looked back. He rarely speaks of his childhood today, but one can see its effects in his high disdain for law and order, and his intolerance for cruelty. Always quick to side with the underdog, Lem has learned that his most powerful traits are his optimism and sense of humor—virtues that almost make up for his small stature and impulsive nature. Lem's reasons for traveling with his current companions vary upon the day and his mood, but he certainly values their strengths—and the never-ending supply of comedy material their antics provide him.
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.
Oh no! Otyugh! Monday, December 10, 2007Wayne Reynolds continues his streak of brilliant artwork for Pathfinder—this background for the cover of Pathfinder #7, the first installment in the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, shows us that there are much worse things than alligators living in the sewers.... I particularly love the little details, like the inn's sign or the Hellknight about to take the monster out singlehandedly before the iconics get the chance. Click on the image to...
Oh no! Otyugh!
Monday, December 10, 2007
Wayne Reynolds continues his streak of brilliant artwork for Pathfinder—this background for the cover of Pathfinder #7, the first installment in the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, shows us that there are much worse things than alligators living in the sewers.... I particularly love the little details, like the inn's sign or the Hellknight about to take the monster out singlehandedly before the iconics get the chance. Click on the image to download a larger version.
... Meet the Iconics: Harsk Tuesday, November 20, 2007Not all dwarves are meant for the mines. As a young dwarf, Harsk spent every spare moment outdoors under the wide skies of southeastern Varisia, particularly at night beneath the stars, where his keen vision made him a hunter without compare. While generally uninterested in his family's traditional smithing, he still inherited enough of their tinkering ability to construct his own crossbow, a heavy, highly accurate weapon that few others...
Meet the Iconics: Harsk
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Not all dwarves are meant for the mines. As a young dwarf, Harsk spent every spare moment outdoors under the wide skies of southeastern Varisia, particularly at night beneath the stars, where his keen vision made him a hunter without compare. While generally uninterested in his family's traditional smithing, he still inherited enough of their tinkering ability to construct his own crossbow, a heavy, highly accurate weapon that few others are able to wind. Eschewing the company of his fellows, few things made Harsk happier than crouching in a tree stand with his bow, listening to the wind through the forest leaves and waiting for deer or larger prey to wander by.
That all changed twenty years ago, when his elder brother, a fine captain named Sigur, led a dwarven war band from Janderhoff against a small party of giants that had descended from the Mindspin Mountains to raid and pillage. Out of affection, Sigur offered his less-experienced sibling the chance to come and prove himself as Sigur's chief scout and second-in-command. Calm and peaceful by nature, Harsk turned him down, failing to see the honor his brother was doing him until several days after the company had departed. Traveling light and fast, Harsk caught up with his brother quickly—but not quickly enough. Misjudging the size and skill of the raiding party, Sigur led his band into an ambush, where it was slaughtered to the last dwarf.
With his brother's blood still fresh on his hands, Harsk went mad with rage. That night, he stalked through the giants' camp like a vengeful wraith, slaughtering giant after giant with his crossbow before melting back into the forest, only to reappear elsewhere and take another victim. When the last giant was left gurgling in the dust, Harsk took up his brother's axe and slipped off into the trees, vowing to forever be the voice of justice in the wild places, to keep balance and prevent the sacrifices of noble men like his brother.
Harsk, like many of his kind, is gruff and taciturn, but there ends most of his connection to dwarven society. Something of a loner, he prefers to spend his time outdoors, communing with nature, though he occasionally travels alongside others whose goals match his own. Uninterested in the beer and ale that so characterize dwarves in the minds of human society, Harsk instead drinks pot after pot of strong tea to keep his senses sharp. While he never lets his brother's axe out of his sight, he wields it only as a last resort, knowing that his true skills lie in the hunt and striking from darkness.
Downloadable Pathfinder #6 Background Wednesday, November 7, 2007Your desktop icons will never know what hit them. Click the image above to download. ... James Sutter ... Assistant Editor, Pathfinder ...
Downloadable Pathfinder #6 Background
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Your desktop icons will never know what hit them. Click the image above to download.
They're Huge! Monday, November 5, 2007At this point, what more can really be said about Wayne Reynolds? I mean, after one awesome Pathfinder cover, we were excited. After two we were elated. But now here we are at Pathfinder #6, and they just keep getting better. Not only are the giants great, but it's the little things—the architecture of Xin-Shalast behind them, the totally original yet authentic-feeling swords—that really make this piece for me. Plus, if you look closely,...
Monday, November 5, 2007
At this point, what more can really be said about Wayne Reynolds? I mean, after one awesome Pathfinder cover, we were excited. After two we were elated. But now here we are at Pathfinder #6, and they just keep getting better. Not only are the giants great, but it's the little things—the architecture of Xin-Shalast behind them, the totally original yet authentic-feeling swords—that really make this piece for me. Plus, if you look closely, you'll see that our newest iconic, the wizard Ezren, has popped in just in time to get clobbered. Let's hope he survives long enough to get on a few more covers...
Meet the Iconics: Ezren Friday, October 26, 2007 For many adventurers, wanderlust strikes at a young age when minds are impressionable and the urge to escape the doldrums of homelife become too much to resist. In other cases, there's never a choice at all—being raised on the streets leaves few other options available for those who do not wish to become criminals. Rarest are those who come to adventuring late in life.This was Ezren's path to adventure. Born to a successful spice merchant...
Meet the Iconics: Ezren
Friday, October 26, 2007
For many adventurers, wanderlust strikes at a young age when minds are impressionable and the urge to escape the doldrums of homelife become too much to resist. In other cases, there's never a choice at all—being raised on the streets leaves few other options available for those who do not wish to become criminals. Rarest are those who come to adventuring late in life.
This was Ezren's path to adventure. Born to a successful spice merchant in one of Absalom's more affluent districts, Ezren's childhood was pleasantly safe. As the fourth of six siblings, he never knew the responsibility implicit in being the eldest (and therefore the one expected to carry on father's trade) or the freedom of being the youngest. He enjoyed the comforts of a well-to-do family, lived in a neighborhood relatively safe from crime, and seemed poised for a life of mediocrity.
That changed when his father was taken away, charged with heresy by the church of Abadar. The charges were too spurious to stick, and while his father escaped excommunication, the damage had been done—his father's business fell to pieces. Shocked, dismayed, and convinced that his father was innocent, Ezren abandoned his future and spent his adult life trying to repair his father's ruined reputation. So when Ezren finally uncovered irrefutable proof of his father's guilt, and he realized he'd wasted his life on a lie, he turned his evidence over to the church and said goodbye to his home, his family, and his life.
At the age of 42, Ezren is full aware that he's missed his adulthood, yet at the same time he looks forward to discovering the world, and making a difference for a cause that he believes in. His dissatisfaction with family, religion, and government left him precious little to trust but his own intellect—in fighting for his father's redemption, he had become a gifted researcher, scholar, and intellectual. Lacking the spry limbs of youth, the trust in religion, the strong arm of the soldier, or the way with words of the politician, Ezren felt he had but one option open. He traveled to tarnished Oppara, capital of Taldor and one of the oldest cities of the continent of Avistan, hoping to join one of several prestigious schools of wizardry. Yet time and time again, he was turned away due to his age. No wizard seemed to want an apprentice who, in many cases, was older than them. So Ezren was forced to strike out on his own once again.
Over the next decade, as he traveled Avistan, Ezren studied where he could, picking up tricks of the wizard's trade here and there. The combination of arcane study mixed with his worldly first-hand experiences have given him an edge over young wizards fresh out of apprenticeship and eager to make names for themselves. Ezren knows about the many ways the world can trick and betray you, but now he's finally begun to master the art of magic, giving him the tools to fight back.
Ezren is scheduled to make his debut as a pregenerated character in volume 7 of Pathfinder and in GameMastery module U2: Hangman's Noose.
PF5 Cover and Wallpaper! Monday, October 22, 2007Last week you saw Wayne's awesome white dragon fight for the cover of Pathfinder #5. This week, we've brought you the whole thing as a downloadable desktop wallpaper—including the newest iconic! Who is this well-equipped wizard? Only time (and, perhaps, a blog post in the imminent future) will tell.... ... James Sutter ... Assistant Editor, Pathfinder
PF5 Cover and Wallpaper!
Monday, October 22, 2007
Last week you saw Wayne's awesome white dragon fight for the cover of Pathfinder #5. This week, we've brought you the whole thing as a downloadable desktop wallpaper—including the newest iconic! Who is this well-equipped wizard? Only time (and, perhaps, a blog post in the imminent future) will tell....
Wayne Does It Again! Monday, October 15, 2007Wayne Reynolds just delivered the cover painting for Pathfinder #5: Sins of the Saviors, and man, is it a doozy! Looks like Valeros has learned a valuable lesson about what it means to play meat-shield for the party when there's a dragon involved.... Click the image for a larger version. ... James Sutter ... Assistant Editor, Pathfinder ...
Wayne Does It Again!
Monday, October 15, 2007
Wayne Reynolds just delivered the cover painting for Pathfinder #5: Sins of the Saviors, and man, is it a doozy! Looks like Valeros has learned a valuable lesson about what it means to play meat-shield for the party when there's a dragon involved.... Click the image for a larger version.
Pathfinder #4 Cover... and Desktop! Thursday, August 30, 2007In the past, each time we've shown off the cover to a new volume of Pathfinder, we've been immediately deluged with requests for it as a downloadable desktop background, which we inevitably put up a few days later. This time we figured: why wait? After all, there's a long weekend coming up, and we wouldn't want your monitor to have to go without new Wayne Reynolds art for all that time. So here it is: the cover to Pathfinder #4,...
Pathfinder #4 Cover... and Desktop!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
In the past, each time we've shown off the cover to a new volume of Pathfinder, we've been immediately deluged with requests for it as a downloadable desktop background, which we inevitably put up a few days later. This time we figured: why wait? After all, there's a long weekend coming up, and we wouldn't want your monitor to have to go without new Wayne Reynolds art for all that time. So here it is: the cover to Pathfinder #4, featuring everyone's favorite butt-kicking cleric of Sarenrae, Kyra. Looking at the stone giants Wayne's dreamed up for us, it's kind of amazing the heroes ever win, isn't it?
Gen Con Field Report Day Two Friday, August 17, 2007The second day of any four-day convention is typically referred to as the slow day. Retailers and manufacturers complain that nearly every year their business is down, the crowds are down, and Friday is generally a light day. Eager four-day attendees are typically seen swarming the Dealer Hall on Thursday to get the awesome Gen Con exclusives (such as Paizo's alternate Pathfinder #1 cover) and those folks are more inclined to game and rest...
Gen Con Field Report Day Two
Friday, August 17, 2007
The second day of any four-day convention is typically referred to as the "slow day." Retailers and manufacturers complain that nearly every year their business is down, the crowds are down, and Friday is generally a light day. Eager four-day attendees are typically seen swarming the Dealer Hall on Thursday to get the awesome Gen Con exclusives (such as Paizo's alternate Pathfinder #1 cover) and those folks are more inclined to game and rest on Friday. Then the two-day crowd hits with the four-day crowd on Saturday and the show floor turns into a zoo.
Today was slow for us, but we're only able to say so because yesterday was such a huge hit. Pathfinder and GameMastery Modules continue to do very well and I'm pleased to report that our first three Planet Stories novels (The Anubis Murders, City of the Beast, and Black God's Kiss) are selling very well and their positive reception has been exciting to see.
Speaking of The Anubis Murders, Gary Gygax was on hand this afternoon for 90 minutes signing copies of his book and generally anything people asked him to sign. "Keep on the Borderlands" got several Gygax-o-graphs as did the original hardcover Monster Manual, current editions of the core system, badges, convention on-site books—you name it. Someone jokingly asked Gary to sign their baby and he would've done so, graciously, had they not told him it was a joke. He was a nice guy and it was a real honor to meet him. One quick story about his session in the booth today: a guy walked up, looked at his book and said, "Hmm, Anubis Murders, I'm not familiar with your work. I'll have to go look it up." Gary gave him a stern, reproachful look and said, "Try Dungeons & Dragons." Needless to say, the guy looked very sheepish as he fled the scene.
We also had the pleasure of Wayne Reynolds' presence in our booth today, signing copies of the poster included with Dragon #359. He modeled Pathfinder #1 for us, as you'll see below.
The number one question on everyone's mind, of course, was "What does Paizo think of 4th Edition?" We heard this often and our response was the same each time: we're excited to see it, but we know just as much about it as you do. I can report that WotC intends to have an OGL with 4th Edition and that Paizo's eager to learn more, but that does not put us closer to a decision—it only puts us in need of more research and discussion. Rest assured, the moment we make a decision we'll scream it to the four corners of the multiverse.
And now, pictures!
A beholder watches over the crowd as they prepare to hear WotC's 4E announcement.
Eric Boyd says farewell to the final print version of Dragon magazine.
F. Wesley Schneider and Michael Kortes talk about Paizo's products.
Erik Mona, Gary Gygax, and Greg Vaughan.
Amber Scott (Medesha on the messageboards) holding up her very own copy of Paizo's Gen Con exclusive Pathfinder #1.
The following is a picture-by-picture example of the many forms of the martial arts employed by the mighty and unstoppable Nicolas Logue as he GMs the Seven Swords of Sin Dungeon Delve.
Dyn-o-mite. (I recorded five minutes of Nick running the delve. It'll be on YouTube and this blog very soon.)
Tim Hitchcock, Nicolas Logue, and Michael Kortes talking about GameMastery and Pathfinder.
The incredibly talented Wayne Reynolds modeling the covers he sketched and painted.
Jason Bulmahn demos "Stonehenge Roulette," the game he wrote for the Stonehenge Library.
Tomorrow: Larry Elmore stops by to sign the final Dragon cover!
... Pathfinder 3 Cover Wednesday, August 15, 2007We're currently in the middle of working on The Hook Mountain Massacre, the third volume of Pathfinder, but we just couldn't wait to show off the new cover, courtesy of fantasy art superstar Wayne Reynolds. We've already introduced Merisiel, our iconic elven rogue, in a previous blog post, but just take a look at those ogres! With those flat teeth and crazy jaws, something about them just screams Muppet gone wrong. As for how wrong... well,...
Pathfinder 3 Cover
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
We're currently in the middle of working on The Hook Mountain Massacre, the third volume of Pathfinder, but we just couldn't wait to show off the new cover, courtesy of fantasy art superstar Wayne Reynolds. We've already introduced Merisiel, our iconic elven rogue, in a previous blog post, but just take a look at those ogres! With those flat teeth and crazy jaws, something about them just screams "Muppet gone wrong." As for how wrong... well, some of that is still up in the air, but let's just say that readers will no doubt conclude that author Nick Logue should probably be in a straightjacket somewhere. Fortunately for us, however, he was still at large and writing as of this posting....
... Meet the Iconics: Kyra Monday, July 30, 2007The priests of Sarenrae lead double lives. Known to her faithful as the Dawnflower, the Healing Flame, and the Everlight, she teaches temperance and patience in all things. Compassion and peace are her greatest virtues, and if enemies of the faith can be redeemed, they should be. Yet there are those who have no interest in redemption, who glory in slaughter and death. From the remorseless evil of the undead and fiends to the cruelties born in...
Meet the Iconics: Kyra
Monday, July 30, 2007
The priests of Sarenrae lead double lives. Known to her faithful as the Dawnflower, the Healing Flame, and the Everlight, she teaches temperance and patience in all things. Compassion and peace are her greatest virtues, and if enemies of the faith can be redeemed, they should be. Yet there are those who have no interest in redemption, who glory in slaughter and death. From the remorseless evil of the undead and fiends to the cruelties born in the hearts of mortals, Sarenrae's doctrines preach swift justice delivered by the scimitar's edge. To this end, she expects her faithful to be skilled at swordplay, both as a form of martial arts promoting centering of mind and body, and so that when they do enter battle, their foes do not suffer any longer than necessary.
Her priests are often categorized into these two camps—those who favor redemption as a method to defeat the enemy, and those who favor the blade. Kyra is certainly one of the latter. Born in a small farming town to loving parents, Kyra grew up in the shadow of one of the Dawnflower's shrines. She was taken at a young age with the beauty of the shrine's stained glass, and the grace of the three priestesses who practiced swordplay on the nearby hill each dawn as they offered their morning prayers. When bandits attacked her small town, Kyra watched as the priestesses did their best to reason with them—and when that came to naught, to end them before they could do more damage. Unfortunately, the bandits were too strong, and the village burned. Kyra was one of the few survivors, and on the smoking ruins of the shrine she swore her life and sword arm to Sarenrae, swore to protect those who could not protect themselves and to not spare the blade when the time for redemption passes.
Possessed of a fierce will and pride in her faith and skills with the scimitar, Kyra has traveled far since her trial by fire. She lost her family and home that fateful day, yet where another might be consumed by anger and a thirst for revenge, Kyra has found peace in the Everlight, and in the belief that, if she can prevent even one death at evil hands, her own losses will not have been in vain.
... Meet the Iconics: Merisiel Monday, July 23, 2007The elves have a name for elven children unfortunate enough to be born and raised in human society—the Forlorn. In a few rare cases, these foundlings or orphaned elves find loving homes with humans, although the fact that, over the course of their childhood, one-time playmates become their effective guardians and foster parents results in a strangely skewed sense of the self. Most Forlorn aren't as fortunate—they live on the...
Meet the Iconics: Merisiel
Monday, July 23, 2007
The elves have a name for elven children unfortunate enough to be born and raised in human society—the Forlorn. In a few rare cases, these foundlings or orphaned elves find loving homes with humans, although the fact that, over the course of their childhood, one-time playmates become their effective guardians and foster parents results in a strangely skewed sense of the self. Most Forlorn aren't as fortunate—they live on the streets as almost eternal urchins, watching alone as their companions age and move on to greater things.
Merisiel is one of the Forlorn, only now emerging from decades spent as a child of the streets into a young adult ready to make her own way in life. A master at stowing away on ships, she's called dozens of cities home, leaving one for another when her companions outgrew her or she outlived them. Life has been hard for Merisiel, made more so by the fact that she's always found it difficult to master skills that come easily to her companions. Never the sharpest knife in the drawer, as the saying goes, Merisiel has learned to make up for this by carrying at least a dozen of them on her person. When things go wrong with her carefully laid plans (as they almost always seem to do), the knives come out and what needs to be done gets done. To date, Merisiel hasn't met a problem that can't, in one way or another, be solved with daggers.
Merisiel's life experiences have taught her to enjoy things to their fullest as they occur—it's impossible to tell when the good times might end. She's open and expressive with her thoughts and emotions, and while she's always on the move and working on her latest batch of plots for easy money, in the end it comes down to being faster than everyone else—either on her feet, or with her beloved blades.
The New Kids Friday, July 13, 2007 Readers who've had a chance to check out D1: Crown of the Kobold King have doubtless noticed the pre-generated characters at the back. But whereas Valeros and Seoni both had pictures... we didn't have illustrations for our human cleric of Sarenrae, Kyra, or our stabby short-tempered elven rogue, Merisiel. Look for each of these two to get their own Meet the Iconics entries in our blog in a few weeks, but for now, these awesome sketches from Wayne Reynolds...
The New Kids
Friday, July 13, 2007
Readers who've had a chance to check out D1: Crown of the Kobold King have doubtless noticed the pre-generated characters at the back. But whereas Valeros and Seoni both had pictures... we didn't have illustrations for our human cleric of Sarenrae, Kyra, or our stabby short-tempered elven rogue, Merisiel. Look for each of these two to get their own "Meet the Iconics" entries in our blog in a few weeks, but for now, these awesome sketches from Wayne Reynolds give us a great preview of our next two heroes.
Meet the Iconics: Seoni Thursday, May 10, 2007Back by popular demand,...
Meet the Iconics: Seoni Thursday, May 10, 2007Back by popular demand, the second in our line of Wayne-Reynolds-designed iconic characters is the beautiful and mysterious sorceress Seoni. ... Unlike the barbarians-gone-native on the eastern plateau or the colonial Chelliaxian immigrants of the south, Seoni is a native Varisian, a nomadic race whose closest real-world cultural analogue is the Romani. Or at least, she's mostly Varisian—as might be apparent from her otherworldly grace,...
Meet the Iconics: Seoni
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Back by popular demand, the second in our line of Wayne-Reynolds-designed iconic characters is the beautiful and mysterious sorceress Seoni.
Unlike the barbarians-gone-native on the eastern plateau or the colonial Chelliaxian immigrants of the south, Seoni is a native Varisian, a nomadic race whose closest real-world cultural analogue is the Romani. Or at least, she's mostly Varisian—as might be apparent from her otherworldly grace, there's something not quite human in her ancestry. Though she doesn't have any hard facts, Seoni herself has picked up on some of this, and is constantly pushed to search deeper into the mysteries of her heritage by strange dreams that she doesn't understand.
More than just ornamentation, Seoni's runic tattoos play a large role in her personality. Coming from a people where tattoo magic maintains a strong following, hers are simultaneously a manifestation of her power and a tool to aid in her castings. The sheer number adorning her skin, as well as the similar patterns woven into her clothes, are a mark of status among her tribe, though many of the so-called "civilized" residents of Varisia look upon such body modification with distaste.
Despite being a consummate adventurer, Seoni is something of an enigma to her compatriots. Quietly neutral on most matters, bound by codes and mandates that she rarely feels compelled to explain, the sorceress keeps her emotions tightly bottled. Extremely detail oriented—what the more pugnacious members of her party call a "control freak"—Seoni is a careful and meticulous planner, a schemer who frequently finds herself frustrated by the improvised plans of her more impulsive companions. Despite all of this, Seoni has stuck by her comrades through numerous tight spots, a fact that continues to amaze and confuse Valeros, who wonders loudly (although not altogether unappreciatively) about "the witch and her schemes."
As with so many things, however, if Seoni understands her motivations, she's keeping that knowledge to herself.
Meet the Iconics: Valeros Monday, May 7, 2007One of the many lessons...
Meet the Iconics: Valeros Monday, May 7, 2007One of the many lessons we've learned in our tour with Dragon and Dungeon is that people like iconic characters. A lot. It seems like every day a new thread pops up on our messageboards wanting to know more about the ill-fated Abelard the paladin, the tiefling fighter, or James Jacobs's notorious Tyralandi Scrimm. As such, when we sat down to develop the iconics for Pathfinder, we knew going into it that what we came up with needed to be more than...
Meet the Iconics: Valeros
Monday, May 7, 2007
One of the many lessons we've learned in our tour with Dragon and Dungeon is that people like iconic characters. A lot. It seems like every day a new thread pops up on our messageboards wanting to know more about the ill-fated Abelard the paladin, the tiefling fighter, or James Jacobs's notorious Tyralandi Scrimm. As such, when we sat down to develop the iconics for Pathfinder, we knew going into it that what we came up with needed to be more than just easy art reference. These iconics needed to live up their name and represent our world, our ethos, and our whole idea of what gaming is about. Fortunately, with Wayne Reynolds onboard to design the visual elements, we knew that what we received would blow our socks off—which it has.
Along with representing our game world, however, these iconics pull double-duty as pregenerated characters in Pathfinder and the GameMastery Modules. Each adventure will be accompanied by four of our iconics, statted up to the appropriate level and ready for you to sit down and start playing with a minimum of effort.
So without further ado, I'd like to introduce the first of our iconics: Valeros, a male human fighter who will be making his first appearance at second level in D1: Crown of the Kobold King.. While a fan of two-handed fighting using his longsword and shortsword, his true favorite tool is the tankard attached to his belt. Despite the devil-may-care attitude implicit in his pose (and hair), he's actually got a strong moral streak that keeps him neutral good... a quality that he feels is directly responsible for the mass of nicks and scars covering his face and gear.
Pathfinder backgrounds Monday, April 30, 2007And now, by popular...
Pathfinder backgrounds Monday, April 30, 2007And now, by popular request... Pathfinder desktop backgrounds! While a desktop is obviously a totally different size than a book, and certain design elements are still being finalized, these three images are perhaps the best preview to date of what the first three Pathfinder covers (including the alternate cover for volume 1) will actually look like. So while you're waiting for Burnt Offerings to release, why not download one of these and throw it...
Monday, April 30, 2007
And now, by popular request... Pathfinder desktop backgrounds! While a desktop is obviously a totally different size than a book, and certain design elements are still being finalized, these three images are perhaps the best preview to date of what the first three Pathfinder covers (including the alternate cover for volume 1) will actually look like. So while you're waiting for "Burnt Offerings" to release, why not download one of these and throw it up as your wallpaper? After all, as far as we're concerned, everyone could use a little more Wayne Reynolds art in their lives...
Attention To Detail: The Story Behind Pathfinder's...
Attention To Detail: The Story Behind Pathfinder's Supporting Material Saturday, April 21, 2007When coming up with the format for Pathfinder, one of the biggest questions we faced as a team was, Okay, adventure path, check—but what else is going to be in there? While we knew that the adventure that is the heart of each volume would grab people, that only accounts for a bit over half of each book. Something that's hard to grasp until you're actually staring down the...
Attention To Detail: The Story Behind Pathfinder's Supporting Material
Saturday, April 21, 2007
When coming up with the format for Pathfinder, one of the biggest questions we faced as a team was, "Okay, adventure path, check—but what else is going to be in there?" While we knew that the adventure that is the heart of each volume would grab people, that only accounts for a bit over half of each book. Something that's hard to grasp until you're actually staring down the barrel of a pagination is just how massive each one of these books is going to be—without in-text ads to eat up space, almost a hundred pages is a daunting amount of white space. What were we going to put there?
Ideas flowed fast and furious, and many of them quickly crashed and burned. Everything from familiar content like appendices of magic items and reports on current gaming news to outlandish proposals like a miniature Adventure-Path-related comic book in every issue (my own misguided suggestion, and an undertaking only slightly less expensive than putting a man on Mars). In the end, however, we came up with two guiding principles for all "back matter" (as we've taken to calling the supplementary pieces).
1. Everything in an issue of Pathfinder must be actively useful to a DM running the Adventure Path.
2. At least some of it needs to be fun and useful for players as well as DMs.
While one of the nice things about the Pathfinder format is that supplementary pieces have the luxury of being more free-form with their structure, much of the back matter in Pathfinder falls into one of the following general categories.
Cities and Regions: One of the strongest selling points of Pathfinder, in my mind, is that it gives you literally EVERYTHING you need to run a campaign. While we of course encourage people to adapt the Adventure Path to their own homebrew campaign worlds—some of us at the office are doing the same thing—we also think it's important to make the setting itself as compelling as the plot. In Rise of the Runelords alone, we have three extensive city write-ups detailing cities that the PCs will visit in the course of their travels—Sandpoint, Magnimar, and Xin-Shalast. These aren't just town stat blocks—these are massive affairs filled with locations, NPCs, backstory, encounters, and maps of surpassing intricacy and beauty. (You'd think I was exaggerating, but when Wes Schneider brought in the map he'd drawn of the city of Magnimar, site of the second adventure, I would have sworn he'd traced it off of Google Maps... there was simply too much detail. When asked how he managed it, he shrugged and replied, "latent obsessive-compulsive tendencies, I suppose.") In addition, we'll also have a large-scale map of the entire region of Varisia, in which Rise of the Runelords takes place, with write-ups for dozens of locations that simultaneously help flesh out the world and give you instant story starters for additional adventures. (I don't know about you, but I'm always a huge fan of provocative regional maps that give you just enough flavor to get your mind going, then turn you loose.)
Ecological Write-ups: Designing a new setting and working under the OGL means that we have the opportunity to introduce new monsters and re-imagine classic ones. (If you want a taste of where we're headed, scroll down to the last blog post on the goblins in our world.) In Rise of the Runelords, we plan to reveal our vision for stone giants and dragons in depth, taking things beyond a mere MM entry and showing you their society, their beliefs, their insides... in short, everything that makes them tick. Because while a good illustration can make a monster intriguing, it's how they think (and how you play them) that makes them great adversaries.
Gods and Demons: Similar to my feelings on monsters, I think that gods and demons (somewhat interchangeable terms in our world) are the most fun when they have engaging stories. Several times in each Adventure Path, we'll pick one of the gods or demons from our campaign setting and give you an in-depth look at everything about them, from their story and stats to their worshippers and heralds. For the first path, that'll be Desna, Song of the Spheres and patron of gypsies, and Lamashtu, the Goddess of Monstrous Birth.
Additional Encounters: What if your party skipped half the encounters in part of an adventure, or heads off in a direction you hadn't expected? Additional encounters in the region, conveniently tied to the Adventure Path, can help save you a lot of scrambling.
Bestiary: One of the few supplementary sections guaranteed to be in each issue, the Pathfinder bestiary will contain a number of brand-new monsters each month, both actively involved in the adventure and unrelated but thematically tied. For a sneak preview of what sorts of creatures you can expect to see in the first volume, keep watching this blog!
NPCs: It takes more than just a stat block to make a fun NPC, and whenever possible, Pathfinder will present the supporting cast—both heroes and villains—in an expanded format designed to be easily to cut-and-pasted into other adventures.
Pathfinder Journal: One of the other constants in the back matter, the Pathfinder Journal will explore a new aspect of our campaign setting each month and help tie together elements of both Pathfinder and the 32-page GameMastery Modules, helping to increase cohesion and give you even more options for expansion.
Miscellaneous Crunch: Ah, the joy of the miscellaneous category! Here you'll find everything from new spells, rules, and feats tied to sin magic (a magic system tied to the seven deadly sins and utilized by the Runelords) to pieces on how to run and maintain your own keep or castle.
History: I'm sure that by now you're probably getting the general gist of the Pathfinder ideology, but the history of a game world is just as important—and potentially inspiring—as it's geography. A chance for us (not to mention some of the biggest names in the RPG business) to shade in the historical background of our world? Yes, please!
Pre-generated Characters: Never again will you have to worry about players forgetting their character sheets at home. Each volume of Pathfinder will feature pre-generated characters based on Wayne Reynolds's stunning depictions of the Paizo iconics, allowing you and your party to grab the book and jump straight into the adventure with a minimum of prep time.
Whew! Keep in mind that those are only a few of the broad categories you might find in each volume—as I mentioned before, one of the things that excites me most about Pathfinder personally is our freedom to run the pieces that need to be run, regardless of whether or not they fit in with an established section. To build something from the ground up and have the authority to experiment is a glorious thing, and I believe strongly that when an author says, "how detailed should section XXX be?" and we can answer, "as much as it needs to be," everyone wins... especially the reader.
... Cover illustration for volume 1. Click to enlarge. Reinventing...
... Cover illustration for volume 1. Click to enlarge. Reinventing The Wheel Friday, April 20, 2007Originally, the main menace in Burnt Offerings, the first Rise of the Runelords adventure, was going to be a tribe of kobolds, because let's face it—everyone loves kobolds. So much so, in fact, that they ended up being the bad guys for the first GameMastery Module, which hits the shelves two months before Burnt Offerings. Which is cool for Crown of the Kobold King, but left Burnt Offerings...
Cover illustration for volume 1. Click to enlarge.
Reinventing The Wheel
Friday, April 20, 2007
Originally, the main menace in "Burnt Offerings," the first Rise of the Runelords adventure, was going to be a tribe of kobolds, because let's face it—everyone loves kobolds. So much so, in fact, that they ended up being the bad guys for the first GameMastery Module, which hits the shelves two months before "Burnt Offerings." Which is cool for Crown of the Kobold King, but left "Burnt Offerings" without a pint-sized menace.
Enter Wayne Reynolds.
The decision to have Wayne paint the first dozen covers for Pathfinder had the exciting side effect of making Wayne the one to design the look for our goblins. "Make our goblins look almost as cute as they are scary," we told him, and he more than accomplished that goal with a swarm of flat-headed, toothy, red-eyed monsters wielding crazy jagged swords (which Editor-in-Chief James Jacobs immediately named "dog-slicers" because, as you'll see below, goblins hate dogs!). Based entirely on their look, Jacobs—who's also the author of "Burnt Offerings"—was able to come up with all manner of weird goblin affectations (the current staff favorite being the song they sing while marauding). Based on what Wayne did with goblins, we're all understandably excited to see his designs for our stone giants, ogres, and dragons... which you'll of course find sneak previews of right here.
Ten Fun Facts About Goblins
1: Horse Hate: Goblins excel at riding animals, but they don't quite get horses. In fact, their hatred of all things horse is matched only by their fear of horses, who tend to step on goblins who get too close.
2: Dog Hate: Although goblins raise horrible rat-faced doglike creatures to use as mounts (and ride wolves or worgs if they can get them—goblins are quick to explain that wolves are NOT dogs), their hatred of ordinary dogs nearly matches their hatred of horses. The feeling is mutual, so if your dog's barking at the woodpile for no reason, chances are good he smells a frightened goblin hiding in there somewhere.
3: Goblins Raid Junkyards: Garbage pits, gutters, sewers… anywhere there's garbage, you can bet goblins are nearby. They're weirdly adept at crafting weapons and armor from refuse, and are fond of killing people with what they throw away.
4: Goblins Love to Sing: Unfortunately, as catchy as their lyrics can be, goblin songs tend to be a bit too creepy and disturbing to catch on in mainstream society.
5: They're Sneaky: An excited or angry goblin is a noisy, chattering, toothy menace, but even then, they can drop into an unsettling silence in a heartbeat. This, matched with their diminutive size, makes them unnervingly adept at hiding in places you'd never expect… stacks of firewood, rain barrels, under logs, under chicken coops, in ovens, etc.
6: They're A Little Crazy: The fact that goblins think of things like ovens as good hiding places reveals much about their inability to think plans through to the most likely outcome. That, and they tend to be easily distracted, particularly by shiny things and animals smaller than them that might make good eating.
7: They're Voracious: Given enough supplies, a goblin generally takes nearly a dozen meals a day. Most goblin tribes don't have enough supplies to accommodate such ravenous appetites, which is why the little menaces are so prone to going on raids.
8: They Like Fire: Burning things is one of the great goblin pastimes, although they're generally pretty careful about lighting fires in their own lairs, especially since goblins tend to live in large tangled thistle patches and sleep in beds of dried leaves and grass. But give a goblin a torch and someone else's home and you've got trouble.
9: They Get Stuck Easily: Goblins have wiry frames but wide heads, and live in cramped warrens. Sometimes too cramped.
10: Goblins Believe Paintings and Writing Steal Your Soul: The walls of goblin lairs and ruins of towns goblins have raided are littered with pictures of their enemies. They never draw pictures of goblins, though—that's mean. Writing steals words out of your head. You can't get them back.
The Goblin Song
Goblins chew and goblins bite,
Goblins cut and goblins fight,
Stab the dog and cut the horse,
Goblins eat and take by force!
Goblins race and goblins jump,
Goblins slash and goblins bump,
Burn the skin and mash the head,
Goblins here and you be dead!
Chase the baby, catch the pup,
Bonk the head to shut it up!
Bones be cracked, flesh be stewed,
We the goblins—you the food!
... Cover illustration for volume 2. Click to enlarge. What's...
... Cover illustration for volume 2. Click to enlarge. What's Pathfinder All About? Thursday, April 19, 2007By this time, you've probably heard all about Pathfinder, Paizo's brand-new Adventure Path series. (If you haven't, of course, you should drop whatever you're doing and go check out paizo.com/pathfinder.) Yet even now that you know what's going to be in Pathfinder, you're probably wondering what it's all about. The vision behind it. Where its heart's at. And to answer that, we've...
Cover illustration for volume 2. Click to enlarge.
What's Pathfinder All About?
Thursday, April 19, 2007
By this time, you've probably heard all about Pathfinder, Paizo's brand-new Adventure Path series. (If you haven't, of course, you should drop whatever you're doing and go check out paizo.com/pathfinder.) Yet even now that you know what's going to be in Pathfinder, you're probably wondering what it's all about. The vision behind it. Where its heart's at. And to answer that, we've brought in James Jacobs, Pathfinder's Editor-in-Chief. Says James:
"Pathfinder's at once the most exciting and the scariest thing I've worked on here at Paizo. On one hand, it's a chance to dive headfirst into a brand-new world and craft a story from scratch for you to run your players through. And on the other… it's a chance to dive headfirst into a brand-new world and craft a story from scratch for you to run your players through. There's no convoluted canon or established game history to work around and make sure that we've got right, but that also means there's no awesome nostalgia or tradition to build off of. We have to start completely from scratch... right?
"Well, not quite. There are still an awful lot of classic monsters and other material we can use in the SRD. And while we can't really build directly off of established canon, we can certainly draw upon themes from the early days. We can also do the same thing that Gygax, Kuntz, Arneson, and the others did back at the game's dawning—we can draw upon real world myth. So as you read through Pathfinder's first Adventure Path and begin to uncover the sinister conspiracy that has driven the stone giants of the Storval Plateau to war, you might also see a few familiar names and themes from real-world myth popping up now and then, like Lamashtu, Baba Yaga, the seven deadly sins, and even Asmodeus.
Welcome to Varisia!
"The first step to building a new Adventure Path was a doozy, though For Pathfinder, we didn't have the luxury of a pre-existing game world to set our campaign in. Before I could even start writing the first adventure to Rise of the Runelords, I needed a world to set it in.
It all started with Erik Mona building up an enormous T-shaped map over the course of several sheets of graph paper. What he ended up with was several continents; way too much room for a single campaign. So I chose one relatively small (small as in "about the size of California") section of his map and started filling in the blanks. At the same time, the rest of the Pathfinder team—F. Wesley Schneider and James Sutter—and I began to work out the plotline for the inaugural Adventure Path: Rise of the Runelords. To a certain extent, the shape of this new region was dictated by the plot we came up with: we needed a mountain range to rival the Himalayas, a vast cliff face stretching hundreds of miles, and remnants from an ancient empire.
The result is the realm of Varisia.
During the course of Rise of the Runelords, we'll visit six major locations on the map of Varisia, including two cities, two legendary mountains, a fortress of giants, and a lost city. Yet those account for only six dots on a map—at current count, Varisia's got approximately 40 locations (including cities like lawless Riddleport and ruins like sinister Brinewall) and 20 sub-regions (including the inhospitable Mushfens, haunted Ashwood, and the giant-ruled Storval Plateau) waiting to be explored. Some of these might get some exposure in Rise of the Runelords, others will be the focus of GameMastery modules, and some are destined to be the stars of future Pathfinder Adventure Paths. But the point isn't to build just what we need for the next few Paizo releases—there's enough adventure in Varisia to set dozens of campaigns.
"Over the next several days, I'll be revealing more about Varisia, Rise of the Runelords, and other exciting developments on the Pathfinder front here on this blog. Want a taste? Then check out these notes I've jotted down for one of those mysterious locations on the regional map of Varisia—the remote island of Chorak's Rest.
Although the Varisians have no name for this tiny and remote island, the giants of the Gnasher Mountains do. They call the place Chorak's Rest, after the legendary warlord said to be buried in a great tomb there. The giants of the Storval Plateau were not always the barbarians they are today; this much is obvious from even a brief perusal of the texts stored in the History Wing of the Great Library of Magnimar. Yet the giants of Chorak's Rest seem to have retained more of the old ways than their brutish cousins in the Gnashers. Whispers hint that these island giants are the descendants of King Chorak's honor guard, and that they've remained guardians for the past several centuries, preventing approach to the island by giant and human alike. Boats attempting to land on the island are quickly bombarded with boulders and spears, and aerial approaches are shot down with massive ballista bolts carved with strange runes or blasted from the sky by bolts of lightning. Yet for all these defenses, none have approached close enough to determine what, exactly, is behind this prodigious defense. What awaits the lucky (unlucky?) souls who finally manage to reach the island's shores is unknown, but many treasure seekers are sure it would be well worth the trouble.
For daily news breaks, sneak previews, and behind-the-scenes insight into Pathfinder, the GameMastery product line, and other Paizo projects, stay tuned to this blog!