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 Matt Dixon. Widescreen version here. ... Happy Holidays! December 24, 2010None of us are in the office today, we're hither and yon, fording rivers and traveling through woods, celebrating the holiday weekend with family and friends. However, we hope you enjoy this week's wallpaper and that you have a wonderful holiday, eat as much great food as you can, and have the chance to decorate your home with the finest crystals available. ... From all of us, to all of you, may you...
Illustration by Matt Dixon. Widescreen version here.
December 24, 2010
None of us are in the office today, we're hither and yon, fording rivers and traveling through woods, celebrating the holiday weekend with family and friends. However, we hope you enjoy this week's wallpaper and that you have a wonderful holiday, eat as much great food as you can, and have the chance to decorate your home with the finest crystals available.
From all of us, to all of you, may you have a joyous crystalhue!
... Meet the Castaways! Monday, July 12, 2010With the first adventure in the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path, the PCs are shipwrecked on the notorious island of Smuggler's Shiv. But fortunately for the fragile 1st-level characters, they won't be alone against cannibals in the jungle, ghosts in the surf, dimorphodons in the sky, eurypterids in the tide pools, and mysterious bat-winged night monsters. Because they aren't the only ones lucky enough to be stranded on Smuggler's Shiv. ... Presented...
Meet the Castaways!
Monday, July 12, 2010
With the first adventure in the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path, the PCs are shipwrecked on the notorious island of Smuggler's Shiv. But fortunately for the fragile 1st-level characters, they won't be alone against cannibals in the jungle, ghosts in the surf, dimorphodons in the sky, eurypterids in the tide pools, and mysterious bat-winged night monsters. Because they aren't the only ones lucky enough to be stranded on Smuggler's Shiv.
Presented here are five other castaways whom the players will be getting to know quite well during the course of their stay on Smuggler's Shiv. A couple of you out there will probably recognize these characters, since they're the ones I had you play at PaizoCon during the Serpent's Skull preview game I ran. In the actual adventure, though, these five are NPCs, complete with their own secrets and emotional baggage and talents. Keeping these NPCs from killing each other and working together to survive is a key part of the adventure—and each has a fun little boon to grant the PCs if they become good friends. These five will continue to play roles in the campaign as the Adventure Path unfolds, and how the PCs interact with Aerys, Gelik, Ishirou, Jask, and Sasha can ultimately mean the difference between success or failure!
... Illustration by Alex Aparin ... Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #1 Thursday, July 1, 2010The start of Gen Con 2010 is five weeks away, which means that the Advanced Player's Guide will be hitting game stores and subscriber mailboxes in just over one month. To celebrate the release of this impressive tome, we are going to be previewing parts of it every week until its release. Last week we recapped the information from the PaizoCon APG Preview Banquet. This week we are going to...
Illustration by Alex Aparin
Pathfinder Advanced Player's Guide Preview #1
Thursday, July 1, 2010
The start of Gen Con 2010 is five weeks away, which means that the Advanced Player's Guide will be hitting game stores and subscriber mailboxes in just over one month. To celebrate the release of this impressive tome, we are going to be previewing parts of it every week until its release. Last week we recapped the information from the PaizoCon APG Preview Banquet. This week we are going to dig into some details with an extensive look at the races chapter.
As I mentioned last week, each of the seven core races receives a two-page spread of information. Each spread starts out with information about adventurers of that race, taking on each of the 17 classes available (that includes the six new classes found in the APG). This is followed up by alternate racial traits that allow characters to portray members of the race that are a little different than the rest, but still well within the theme of the race. To take one of these alternate racial traits, a character has to give up one or more existing racial traits. For example, take a look at this dwarven racial trait.
Stonesinger: Some dwarves' affinity with the earth grants them greater powers. Dwarves with this racial trait are treated as one level higher when casting spells with the earth descriptor or using granted powers of the Earth domain, the bloodline powers of the earth elemental bloodline, and revelations of the oracle's stone mystery. This racial trait replaces the stonecunning racial trait.
Or how about this Half-Orc racial trait.
Toothy: Some half-orcs' vestigial tusks are massive and sharp, granting them a bite attack. This is a primary natural attack that deals 1d4 points of piercing damage. This racial trait replaces the orc ferocity racial trait.
Each replacement racial trait is made to explore one facet of the race's inherent theme. Elves get abilities that tie them to nature, gnomes get abilities that explore their fascinations, half-elves can take abilities that help them live in both worlds, halflings can focus on their sneaky talents, and even humans are not left out. Humans can take racial traits that reflect their upbringing.
In addition to a host of racial traits, each race also receives a number of favored class options. These options are tied to a race's theme in most cases, meaning that races only receive options for classes that are racially common. Possessing one of these options just gives your character an additional choice whenever he gains a level in his favored class (instead of a skill point or a hit point). For example, take a look at this elven wizard favored class option.
Wizard: Select one arcane school power at 1st level that is normally usable a number of times per day equal to 3 + the wizard's Intelligence modifier. The wizard adds +1/2 to the number of uses per day of that arcane school power.
Once an elven wizard takes this power twice, he gains an additional use of that ability. Want more, take a look at this gnome bard favored class option.
Bard: Add 1 to the gnome's total number of bardic performance rounds per day.
Of all the races, only humans have an option for all 17 classes. Here is the human sorcerer favored class option.
Sorcerer: Add one spell known from the sorcerer spell list. This spell must be at least one level below the highest spell level the sorcerer can cast.
Although this chapter is only 18 pages long, in a 336-page book, it is absolutely crammed full of new rules for characters of any race and class, a philosophy we took with the entire rest of the book. Next week, we will delve into the classes chapter, starting off by taking a look at the six new base classes in the book, and I might even go into some detail on the changes made to them after the playtest was over.
... Introducing Rummy-Tum-Tugger! Monday, March 22, 2010Every other Thursday evening, I run my Shadow Under Sandpoint campaign for the editorial folks. I started the game several months ago for three reasons—as a team-building exercise, as a way for we editors to get more familiar with the game we created, and because it sounded fun. Several of the PCs from this campaign appear in the recently released NPC Guide, in fact... but not all of them. ... When Rob McCreary joined the Paizo...
Monday, March 22, 2010
Every other Thursday evening, I run my "Shadow Under Sandpoint" campaign for the editorial folks. I started the game several months ago for three reasons—as a team-building exercise, as a way for we editors to get more familiar with the game we created, and because it sounded fun. Several of the PCs from this campaign appear in the recently released NPC Guide, in fact... but not all of them.
When Rob McCreary joined the Paizo editorial team, I invited him to join the game (which brought our total number of players up to a staggering total of nine!). After a false start with a half-orc (who soon left the party to seek fame and glory as our iconic inquisitor), Rob settled on a gnome summoner inspired by another of our new iconic characters. Yet unlike the iconic summoner, who has some sort of weird chicklizatrice type monster as an eidolon, Rob went for a different critter entirely.
His character is named Balazar, and his eidolon is named Rummy-Tum-Tugger (no relation to a certain similarly named feline superstar). When Rummy-Tum-Tugger first showed up, I asked Rob to describe him, but that didn't really help. It seems that every session, something new comes up and folks have to revise what they think Rummy-Tum-Tugger looks like. "Wait, his teeth shoot ice?" "Huh? He has six limbs?" "He's PURPLE?"
There's only one solution. A contest!
Break out your pencils, pens, paints, and Photoshops, because whoever draws Rob the best and most accurate depiction of Rummy-Tum-Tugger not only gets the satisfaction of helping my poor group of PCs visualize what their newest member actually looks like, but I'll sweeten the deal by sending that person a copy of the NPC Guide, signed by the entire Paizo editorial staff!
To enter, simply email your illustration to me at firstname.lastname@example.org as a .jpg attachment by the end of the month—keep the file small (600 KB or less). Rob will then pick his favorite picture of them all and that'll be the winner, and we'll show it off in a blog post at the start of April.
And now, the details! Rummy-Tum-Tugger is a Medium-sized eidolon. He's got the quadruped base form, and looks vaguely like a purple badger with six legs, each leg tipped with scary sharp claws. His jaws are filled with BIG sharp teeth that are caked with even sharper razor-sharp ice. Oh, he also has a gore attack. Some sort of horns or spikes or something. Did I mention he's purple? He also wears an amulet of mighty fists. And he can talk. And he likes cheese, but since he's lactose intolerant poor Balazar has to constantly watch Rummy-Tum-Tugger's cheese intake.
... 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.
... 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.
... Illustration by Kevin Yan ... Beasts of the Black Blood Monday, December 1, 2008In Pathfinder #18's Descent into Midnight, the heroes travel deep into the Darklands, into the nightmare realm of Orv. There, in an immense cavern known as the Land of Black Blood, the final enemy awaits. This volume of Pathfinder includes a short gazetteer about the Land of Black Blood that details the numerous strange locations therein and several of the region's dangerous denizens, like the aboleth pictured...
Illustration by Kevin Yan
Beasts of the Black Blood
Monday, December 1, 2008
In Pathfinder #18's "Descent into Midnight," the heroes travel deep into the Darklands, into the nightmare realm of Orv. There, in an immense cavern known as the Land of Black Blood, the final enemy awaits. This volume of Pathfinder includes a short gazetteer about the Land of Black Blood that details the numerous strange locations therein and several of the region's dangerous denizens, like the aboleth pictured here.
But there are also less intimidating (but no less creepy) denizens of the Land of Black Blood than monsters ready to challenge a high-level party. Numerous rare and unique creatures make their home here as well, most warped from more common forms by ages of exposure to the vault's strange magics and the deadly black blood.
Ghost Bats: The pale bats native to the Land of Black Blood typically sate themselves upon large insects and other vermin, though in their swarms they have been known to attack larger prey. Possessing transparent wings and no hair—just white flesh—these small hunters sometimes grow to shocking sizes. Ghosts bats have the same stats as normal bats and bat swarms, though the species frequent mutants might grow to the size of dire bats.
Ether Frog: These creatures look like nothing more so than an oversized, four-legged blister with nostrils and a mouth. With an undifferentiated body and head, these ghost-white amphibians hide a single overdeveloped parietal eye beneath their bulbous backs, which grants them darkvision out to 60 feet despite their lack of normal eyes. Most creatures avoid the frogs, knowing of their natural poison—Ingested, Fortitude DC 14, initial and secondary damage 1d4 Dexterity. In all other ways they are simply largish frogs with the same statistics as common toads.
Stirge Hounds: These rare, unnaturally large stirges are often used as tracking animals, capable of following flying creatures through the Darklands. Stirge Hounds have the statistics of a stirge advanced to Small size and 4 Hit Dice. They are very aggressive and prone to hunting in packs or even swarms. Their proboscis is uniformly ivory-colored, while their bodies are usually dark rust-red along the wings fading to black upon the body.
... 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 the animal's beauty, Lini trembled under her 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 her 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 her 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.
The Complete Zogonia Monday, June 4, 2007For quite some time, fans...
The Complete Zogonia Monday, June 4, 2007For quite some time, fans have been asking us where they can find a compilation of all of Tony Moseley's hilarious Zogonia strips from the pages of Dragon, and at long last we're finally able to give you an answer. Zogonia: Slice of Death contains every Zogonia strip ever published in Dragon, plus a few rare strips that ran in Games Quarterly or were judged too risqué for the magazine. As an additional bonus, the book contains an introduction and a...
The Complete Zogonia
Monday, June 4, 2007
For quite some time, fans have been asking us where they can find a compilation of all of Tony Moseley's hilarious Zogonia strips from the pages of Dragon, and at long last we're finally able to give you an answer. Zogonia: Slice of Death contains every Zogonia strip ever published in Dragon, plus a few rare strips that ran in Games Quarterly or were judged too risqué for the magazine. As an additional bonus, the book contains an introduction and a strip-by-strip "commentary track" by the artist himself, plus a large sampling of the Mt. Zogon strips which ran in Dungeon.
Rest assured, if you're a fan of Tony's work, you won't want to miss this book. For sample pages, click here.