The Seventh Execution—Chapter One: The Watcher Watched
The Seventh Executionby Amber E. Scott ... Chapter One: The Watcher WatchedHer or me. It was her or me. ... After the execution, after too many sleepless nights, afraid to face the waiting nightmares, I had to put the matter behind me. ... It was her or me, I declared, then made myself believe it. If I stopped, though, if I ceased whispering my mantra under my breath when I was alone, if I left off repeating it in my mind until I nodded off at night, the horror of the day returned. It seeped...
The Seventh Execution
by Amber E. Scott
Chapter One: The Watcher Watched
Her or me. It was her or me.
After the execution, after too many sleepless nights, afraid to face the waiting nightmares, I had to put the matter behind me.
"It was her or me," I declared, then made myself believe it. If I stopped, though, if I ceased whispering my mantra under my breath when I was alone, if I left off repeating it in my mind until I nodded off at night, the horror of the day returned. It seeped into my thoughts in sudden and startling ways. Firelight glinting on a kitchen knife recalled Razor Jenni's blade. Wagon wheels rumbling on the cobblestone street brought back the murmuring crowd. Raw meat on the cutting block, waiting for dinner—
Her or me.
I had worked hard all day. Now that night had come I found that sleep would not visit. I lay motionless on my cot, eyes fixed on the ceiling, listening to the house settle around me. This used to be my favorite time of day, when I could rest my body and free my mind, letting my fancies take me to lands free from toil and fear. Now my fancies took me to very different places. I distracted myself by running through the list of chores for the next day: stop the wood-cart when it came around and purchase two bundles on account, put a roast in at noon so that it would be ready for dinner, take the curtains down in the library and wash and press them, clean the windows while the curtains hung on the line. I hated windows more than any other chore. While a stepstool and creative leveraging allowed me to do human-sized tasks in every other area of the master's house, windows required a ladder and endless climbing up and down.
I'd lifted a pot full of soup earlier that day and aggravated an old strain in my back. My head pounded like the drums before an execution. I sat up. The moonlight coming through the gabled window illuminated the old boxes and trunks piled in the room. Most halfling servants have to be content with half-rooms under stairs, attached sheds half the height of the rest of the house, or even cupboards. To sleep in an attic, even one with a close and slanted ceiling and mice that ran over me in the middle of the night, was luxury.
I rose from my cot and stretched, trying to ease my aches. The floorboards felt cool under the curls of hair covering my feet. I padded to the window and leaned on the sill.
The quiet streets of Edme stretched away, disappearing into a maze of stone walls and peaked roofs. I often stood here, looking for furtive movements or cloaked figures, any signs that Cheliax worked to invade our free nation with their bound devils and sorcery. My father had served my master's father and remembered the start of the Red Revolution and the oppression that came before it. When others were in earshot, he would tell me stories of Chelish dominance and the nobles' excesses, a time when halflings were downtrodden "slips" and not respected servants. When we were alone, he cautioned me that those without use to the nation were the first fingered as traitors.
"As long as you keep finding spies and turncoats for the master, you'll never find yourself in Razor Jenni's arms."
"In Galt, it's best to never be noticed at all. Fortunately, halflings are good at that."
There are always traitors in Galt. I had become an expert at spotting them by the darkness in their eyes and the rhythm of their gait. My master traveled to Isarn once a month to serve on the Revolutionary Council, and he used my eyes to improve his standing there. Together we had sent six traitors and Chelish sympathizers to their final rest. Six that I am certain were guilty.
And one that I am not.
My mind threatened to sprint down those familiar paths once more. I focused instead on the dark street below, watching for unusual activity. The moon was out, just past half full and waxing. My eyes quickly adjusted to the little light. Edme's resources grew leaner with each passing season, and more than one citizen crept out at night to rifle through abandoned houses. My perch allowed me to watch for such activity, and my experience helped me separate desperate looters from dedicated traitors.
I stayed at the window until I started shivering. I stretched, and was ready to return to my cot when movement in the street below caught my eye.
I stopped in mid-stretch, holding myself still. A human figure crouched in the alley across the street, wrapped in a dark cloak and hood. I couldn't see the figure's face, but his height and manner of dress suggested it was a man. I watched, waiting to see what business the fellow had so late. He pressed against the wall of the alley, motionless save for small movements of his head as he surveyed the street. The man's focus was not on the street itself, but only the building opposite him. The building in whose attic I stood, watching him in return.
He was spying on my master's house.
He must have seen me, I thought, before recalling how difficult it is to see inside an upper-story window from the ground, especially when the person at the window stands only head and shoulders above the sill.
The watcher looked up just as I stepped back. I hesitated, wondering whether he had seen me after all, fighting the temptation to step forward again and make sure I had gone unnoticed. No, no time for that. I grabbed my cloak from its peg near the door and hurried down the stairs.
My sleeping clothes are almost identical to my working ones: a thin shirt and brown linen trousers. My cloak, though, is dark blue-gray, purposefully dyed to help me blend into the night. I threw the cloak over my shoulders and pulled it tight in front. I don't wear shoes. I let myself out the back door not more than two minutes after I had first spotted the watcher.
Halfling senses are sharper than human ones. We can't see any better in the dark, but we're attuned to details. Especially here in Galt, where we live so close to death, halflings must remain alert.
I crept along the side of the manor until the mouth of the alley opposite me came into view. It stood empty. I could hear footsteps, though, muffled and growing fainter. I dashed across the street, my feet almost noiseless against the cobblestones.
I had to work to catch up. Even at top speed I moved slower than humans did. My biggest advantage was that the watcher didn't seem to know the city well, while I could navigate the streets with my eyes closed. The moon vanished behind clouds twice, and the tall buildings around me cut off much of the light. Several times I had to slow down lest I trip in the dark or splash through a puddle. My heart beat a little faster every time I had to slow. The watcher's footsteps grew fainter. If I didn't make up the distance quickly, I was going to lose him.
The watcher's footsteps doubled back. The remains of an old lecture hall loomed before me. It had burned down at the start of the revolution. Sooty timbers leaned drunkenly toward each other. Puddles of rainwater glimmered between piles of broken glass and charred rubble. I held my breath and listened. The scent of old fire stung my nose. The watcher was south of me, circling around the building. I tucked the hem of my cloak into my waistband and climbed into the ruins.
I scrambled up one of the leaning timbers. The wood, soaked with countless rains, was rotten and soft as a carpet. The timber collided with one of its fellows at a crazy angle. I leaped from one to the other. My feet slid on the sodden wood, and I windmilled my arms to keep balance. When I'd righted myself I paused, listening. The watcher was still moving.
The timber shifted a little as I ran down its length. A mess of fallen boards crossed the center of the room. I clung to the timber and slid over the edge. Carefully I dropped down onto the boards. Mud and broken glass lay thick around them. I hastened across, my breathing coming quick and ragged as I picked each careful step.
One of the boards slid out from under me. I hopped to another, hoping it would hold. The planks clattered. I froze and listened.
The watcher stopped. I bent my knees and huddled as close as I could to the ground, envisioning the fastest way out of the building and back home.
Then the watcher started up again. I gave him as much lead as I dared before continuing across the ruin. I reached the other side just as he approached. I breathed a little more easily. Now I could keep up with him for certain. I concealed myself behind a pile of rubbish and waited for him to pass.
At the same time, I heard more footsteps from the other end of the street. Quiet boots, low voices, a sharp laugh. Looters. Most criminals in Edme were driven by desperation, but lately more sordid individuals had come to the city. They were violent men who followed rumors of abandoned treasure-vaults. I hesitated in the shadows. Before I could decide what to do next, the watcher darted straight for my hiding place.
As I had guessed, he was a human man. The moonlight robbed his form of color, but it seemed his skin was a light brown shade similar to my own, and his hair and eyes were both dark. He pressed against the wall and slid down to conceal himself behind the refuse pile I was using. I held my breath and, for a wild moment, thought he might not notice me.
Then the watcher looked down and saw me crouched next to him. His eyes widened.
The sounds of the looters grew louder. I put my finger to my lips and shook my head.
The watcher nodded and kept silent. The looters came abreast of us, three of them dressed in dark clothes with weapons held openly in hand. They carried empty packs strapped to their backs, waiting no doubt to be filled with artifacts of pre-Revolution Galt. The watcher held still next to me, so tense I could almost hear his muscles hum. After a dreadful minute, the looters passed by into the darkness.
The watcher let out his breath in a sigh and straightened. He was short for a human, less than twice my height. "I appreciate your silence," he whispered.
"I've no wish to run afoul of that type," I replied. "You take a risk being out so late."
"As do you." He looked me over. "You've been following me, haven't you?"
I clenched my hands. The man had good ears to have heard me, and I had lost any element of surprise. I readied myself to run, but risked a direct question first. "You were watching the Mirford estate. I want to know why."
The watcher smiled. He crouched down to put himself at eye level with me.
"I was looking for you."
Coming Next Week: Moral quandaries and dark magic in Chapter Two of "The Seventh Execution."
The Ironroot Deceptionby Robin D. Laws ... Chapter Two: The HoleOn massive, clawed legs, the forest-beast bounds toward the elves and their captives. Its beady eyes, shielded by rootlike extrusions, seem to lock onto Gad. It stops to snort and paw the ground. ... Gad can't help but wonder: why him? ... It can't be that he's the only human present. There are two in the press-gang now. ... Then he understands: he's bruised and limping from the thrashing Ethundel gave him. He reads as the...
The Ironroot Deception
by Robin D. Laws
Chapter Two: The Hole
On massive, clawed legs, the forest-beast bounds toward the elves and their captives. Its beady eyes, shielded by rootlike extrusions, seem to lock onto Gad. It stops to snort and paw the ground.
Gad can't help but wonder: why him?
It can't be that he's the only human present. There are two in the press-gang now.
Then he understands: he's bruised and limping from the thrashing Ethundel gave him. He reads as the weakest prey.
Dualal's lesser subordinates pose for flight. Ethundel preempts them, sweeping his sword from the imposing scabbard mounted on his back. "For you, milady!" he bellows. Meadow-grass churning beneath his boots, he runs for the forest-beast. It shifts its attention to the shouting warrior. It charges. Ethundel stands ready to pivot when it reaches him, but misjudges its speed. It butts him full-on. His wiry body flies into the air. He lands with a thud. The creature, spraying leafy sputum, rears to crush him beneath elephantine feet.
Ethundel rolls, seizes the hilt of his dropped sword, and stabs up into the beast's scaly belly. Gouts of pulpy blood gush from the wound. The elf reaches to withdraw his stuck blade. The creature bucks away before he can grasp it. Ethundel pulls out a dagger.
Finally shocked from their daze, his comrades rush with drawn longswords to join him.
Dualal remains in place. She reaches for the spiraled wand strapped to her back. Green energy swirls up the spirals to collect around its globular tip. With a snap of her wrist, Dualal lobs the gathered energy into the air. It arcs onto the creature's back.
The beast freezes in mid-leap. Its position insupportable, it thumps over on its side. Dualal calmly ambles over to it.
The elves have left Gad and the second prisoner on their own.
"Let's go," the young man says.
Gad shakes his head. "They'll catch up," he says, words muffled by the gag.
The creature isn't breathing. The wand's magic has stilled even its involuntary reactions. Dualal, impassive, watches it suffocate. Even in death it remains rigid.
"She wouldn't use that on us, would she?" the prisoner asks.
Gad points to his mouth, as if to say, I can't answer, I'm wearing a gag.
∗ ∗ ∗
For several hours Ethundel leads the party deeper into the wildwood. Signs of corruption grow ever more frequent. The ground cover becomes a slick fungal mass. Blackened spores swell the surfaces of rocks and boulders. Bloated insects the color of corpse-flesh hang like bats from withered branches.
Clustering firs give way to an expanse strewn with vine-choked logs. These thin out as the group trudges into a vast circle of dead vegetation. Diffuse smoke rises from a fire ahead. Temporary shelters, fastidiously constructed from scrap wood, huddle on the edge of a pit. On its lip, elven archers—Gad counts three of them and assumes there will be more—stand with exaggerated ease. Their weapons point down into the hole.
Ethundel seizes Gad by the back of the neck and shoves him onward. He hisses into Gad's ear, his breath hot and vaguely sweet. "Here's where you learn humility, churl."
The pit has been quarried from an earthy soil thick with chunks of shattered limestone. Ethundel manhandles Gad toward its edge. A treacherous ramp composed of loose gravel leads down into the pit. Ethundel means to steer Gad short of it, to heave him directly into the hole. It's a fifteen, maybe twenty-foot drop.
"Good Ethundel!" Dualal warns. Ethundel snarls, changes course, and jostles Gad onto the ramp. The prisoner stumbles, recovers, and slides down to its floor level without twisting an ankle. He contemplates the connection between the elf leader and her chief bullyboy. Not lovers, he decides: It's the wrong kind of heat. It smacks more of an unbidden, unexamined mother-son pull. Perhaps between a mother who has never had a son and a son who has never known his mother. Gad stores the theory for later use.
He surveys his new surroundings. Dried meal coats the side of an empty gruel-pot. Heaps of dirt and gravel periodically shed their pebbles. Planks of fresh-cut deadwood cover a deeper hole in the pit's center.
A dozen prisoners sit in exhausted stupor on hard-packed dirt. Shackles bind their ankles. They are pale, undernourished, water-starved. Eleven humans, three of them women, and a female halfling. Gad gives himself a plausible interval, and checks to see that none of his captors are looking, before seating himself next to the latter.
It hurts to see her in this state. Under chosen circumstances, Vitta would be impeccably turned out. No matter how deep the dungeon, she'd be powdered and rouged, her clothing spotless, her hair piled and secured by an intricate copper lattice. Grime coats her forehead. Her usually plump cheeks have sunk.
"You all right?" he asks.
She stares ahead, speaking without moving her lips. "Remind me again why I got volunteered to get caught first."
"Your expertise in matters subterranean. Your mastery of traps, engineering, hazards..."
"An annoyingly correct answer."
"They've been putting you to work?"
"Also remind me, once this rip is over, to never lift another rock." She steals a sideways glance. "You got kicked around some, too."
"Got to sell the gaffle."
"It's a shame to see Vitta in such a state, but she's the only halfling for the job."
"Speaking of which," she says. She lifts a flat, chalky stone. Beneath it lies a torn rag tied into a bundle. Vitta pats it, eliciting the telltale sound of cut gems rubbing up against each other. "Rubies. Found them down in the works. Behind a locked panel no one else saw."
"Dualal naturally insists that all swag is turned over to her, to disperse as she deems fit."
"Naturally. You've got that look."
"That look that says we're not going to get to keep these." Vitta replaces the stone.
"We're here for the big steal."
"This little steal could feed a village for a year."
"Not that you'd use it for that."
His expression kept safely flat, Gad laughs.
"Bad tidings," Vitta says, shifting her eye-line to guide Gad's gaze.
Ethundel has taken aside one of the humans. Unlike the others, this man wears no shackles. He towers above the elf warrior, outweighing him by fifty pounds of muscle. He's all jaw and naked cranium, framing a pinched and narrow face. The elf speaks into his cauliflowered ear. He nods obediently.
"That's Stokh," says Vitta.
"Let me guess. Jailhouse stooge."
"There's always one," says Vitta.
"Ethundel has taken a dislike to me."
"Looks like I'll have to watch my back."
"So nothing new, then."
Stokh breaks from Ethundel. He attempts to be subtle as he assesses Gad.
"Better break for a while."
Vitta hobbles away from him. Half an hour later, when the elven guards are inattentive, they drift back together.
"Want the breakdown on the complex?"
"Sure," says Gad.
"Two thousand years old, give or take. Definitely elven. Not purpose-built, but a reuse of an existing structure. The room forms are organic. Shaped as if the roots of a gigantic tree withdrew to somewhere else, leaving behind a hollow. It's all wood and earth, eternally suspended in a state between dead plank and living plant."
"What did they use it for? The elves who built it, or grew it, or whatever?"
"Originally? Vaults. Probably a treasury and armory. Quite a full one, judging by the size of the place. There's royal crests everywhere."
"Am I an expert on the heraldry of second-millennium backwoods elven royalty? You should have brought Calliard."
"He's not to be found. And yes, I also hate small-team rips. But there's a limit to the number of captures we could believably fake."
"I'm complaining, not re-airing the plan," says Vitta. "At any rate, the complex. Maybe sometime after it was first excavated, it became a shelter for noncombatants in a time of war."
"Something has to be going badly, for elves to live belowground."
"That's understatement for you. And then its last use: Like we thought, a prison. To keep something in, and to prevent any bunch of later fools from letting it out. Once they had it sealed in, they laid in a gaggle of impressive traps and filled the whole thing up with rocks and dirt."
"You figure they got the plants to do that for them, too?"
"No, they did it by hand. Whatever's in there, they truly wanted it to stay."
"And you reckon it did?"
"If it got out, it was through tons of tightly packed debris, not to mention some very impressive traps."
"So preferably, we steer well clear of it."
"Preferably," says Vitta.
∗ ∗ ∗
In the morning they are roused with sword-butts. Elven guards kick them until they stand. They remove the prisoners' shackles, clanking them into a heap. The longer-held captives know what to do: they pull the boards from the hole within the hole.
"Down you go," the amber-headed elf commands.
The prisoners form a queue. One by one they descend into a shaft, climbing with the aid of precarious spikes thrust into stone and root.
"We want to be near the front," Vitta tells Gad.
He edges in, with Vitta right behind him. The others are happy to give him his berth. The forward part of the job is evidently the hardest and most hazardous.
Stokh sees him and pushes his way into the line, too. The wretched captives seem surprised. Gad guesses that he doesn't generally take point.
The shaft takes them twenty feet down, where it meets a narrow tunnel. Metal buckets line the passage.
Stokh shoulders Gad into the rocky wall. He presses, pinning him there. "You're not going to cause trouble here."
"Why do you care?" Gad demands.
Stokh stinks of brandy, a provision not granted the other prisoners. "We're nearly there. Then the elves let us go. Safe. Don't you ruin it."
Before Gad can reply, Stokh storms down to the head of the procession.
Ethundel is up ahead.
Gad strides up behind Stokh. He waits. Then speaks: "Hey, bald-head. What liberties do you allow the elves, in trade for that brandywine?"
At first Stokh is too shocked to move. He recovers, turns, and swings a knobby fist. Gad ducks. He pushes into the bigger man. Stokh grabs him and shoves, pushing Gad into Ethundel. The elf withdraws, stiffening in revulsion.
"Cease this now, louse-ridden scum!"
Gad slips past to catch up with Vitta.
Stokh's outraged breathing fills the passageway.
The tunnel jogs to bypass a formation of hard quartz. Vitta grabs Gad by the back of the tunic. He stops short before brushing a section of quartz slathered in a wet, gluey substance. Above it juts a copper spout, now stuffed with rags. A man's corpse, mummified by the glue, adheres to the rock.
"Glue trap," says Vitta.
"I can see that," says Gad.
The passageway abruptly ends. Its rough terminal wall grants room for four laborers to have at it with pick-axes. Vitta takes an axe for herself, and hands another to Gad.
"Welcome to the hole," she says.
They dig, freeing stones, releasing cascades of dry soil. Other prisoners scurry up to gather the debris into buckets. They send it brigading down the passageway, each bucket passed from hand to hand.
They toil until they're dizzy and ready to drop. Their captors dole out miserly portions of water and gruel. When workers waver, the swordpoints come out.
By the time they're allowed to stumble from the excavation, night has fallen. Gad staggers to the wall of the outer pit and collapses. Sleep takes him immediately.
When he awakens, it is with Stokh's steely fingers around his windpipe.
Coming Next Week: Death and politics in Chapter Three of "The Ironroot Deception"!
Robin D. Laws is the author of the Pathfinder Tales novel The Worldwound Gambit—also starring Gad—and six other novels, as well as various short stories, web serials, and comic books, plus a long list of roleplaying game products. His novels include Pierced Heart, The Rough and the Smooth, and the Angelika Fleischer series for the Black Library. Robin created the classic RPG Feng Shui and such recent titles as Mutant City Blues, Skulduggery, and the newly redesigned HeroQuest 2. His previous fiction for the Pathfinder campaign setting includes "Plague of Light" in the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path. Those interested in learning more about Robin are advised to check out his blog.
... Feat of Magic Tuesday, May 10, 2011Due to hit subscribers and store shelves in just a few days, we are continuing our look into Ultimate Magic. This week we are diving into the feats chapter, with a bonus look at spells. ... At 20 pages long, the feats chapter is by no means huge, but it does feature a little something for just about every spellcaster in the game, with a few options for nonspellcasters thrown in for good measure. While a number of these feats are here to complement one of...
Feat of Magic
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Due to hit subscribers and store shelves in just a few days, we are continuing our look into Ultimate Magic. This week we are diving into the feats chapter, with a bonus look at spells.
At 20 pages long, the feats chapter is by no means huge, but it does feature a little something for just about every spellcaster in the game, with a few options for nonspellcasters thrown in for good measure. While a number of these feats are here to complement one of the new archetypes, some fill out some holes left by the APG. For example, Extra Evolution gives the summoner more points to use when building his eidolon. Looking through the feat lists, though, I am drawn to the feats that allow characters to explore the game in new and interesting ways. Take a look at this one.
You are descended from a long line of sorcerers, and some portion of their power flows in your veins. Prerequisites: Cha 13, Skill Focus with the class skill of bloodline selected for this feat (see below), character level 3rd. Benefit: Select one sorcerer bloodline. You must have Skill focus in the class skill that bloodline grants to a sorcerer at 1st level (for example, Heal for the celestial bloodline). This bloodline cannot be a bloodline you already have. You gain the first-level bloodline power for the selected bloodline. For purposes of using that power, treat your sorcerer level as equal to your character level – 2, even if you have levels in sorcerer. You do not gain any of the other bloodline abilities.
Bloodlines—they're not just for sorcerers anymore.
Moving on, this book has a number of metamagic feats, as well, for every spellcaster to play with. While a number of these add effects to spells that deal a specific kind of energy damage, my personal favorite (due to some recent frustrating encounters) has to be this one.
Piercing Spell (Metamagic)
Your studies have helped you develop methods to overcome spell resistance. Benefit: When you cast a piercing spell against a target with spell resistance, it treats the spell resistance of the target as 5 lower than its actual SR. A piercing spell uses up a spell slot one level higher than the spell's actual level.
Not surprisingly, this book also includes a sizable number of new spells for every spellcaster in the game. There are new symbol spells, new spells for the polymorph subschool (undead anatomy has been long awaited), and plenty of unique spells for some of the newer spellcasting classes (like witch and inquisitor). In addition, there are a lot spells designed specifically to add a bit of interesting flavor to the spellcaster's arsenal. Looking to flesh out your evil bard? Take a look at this spell.
Illustration by Tyler Walpole
Haunting Choir School necromancy [mind-affecting, pain]; Level bard 3 Casting Time 1 standard action Components V, S Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels) Area 30-ft.-radius emanation Duration concentration + 2 rounds Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
You create a spectral choir and conduct its tortured, ghostly moans, deluding listeners into believing they are suffering the torments of the dead. The transparent singers occupy a 10-foot cube, but they are intangible and do not interfere with creatures in any physical way, nor can they be attacked. Creatures within 30 feet of the choir experience wracking pain that causes them to take a –2 penalty on attack rolls, skill checks, and ability checks. Individuals who exit the area of effect take these penalties for an additional 2 rounds before the delusion wears off.
I was about to wrap up the blog right there, but then I remember seeing this spell. I will end with this festive magic. Next week, we will wrap up our previews with one last look at the words of power alternative spellcasting system. Enjoy.
Snapdragon Fireworks School transmutation [fire, light]; Level bard 2, sorcerer/wizard 1 Casting Time 1 standard action Components S, V, M (a bundle of sulfur wrapped in cloth) Range long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level) Effect dragon-shaped fireworks Duration 1 round/level Saving Throw Reflex negates; Spell Resistance yes
A favorite display at halfling midsummer festivals, this spell lets you create fireworks in the shape of tiny dragons. Once per round, as a move action, you may designate a target 5-foot-square within range and launch a pyrotechnic in that direction. The pyrotechnic takes a zigzag path from you to that square, always missing creatures and objects in its path, and detonates in that square with a bang and a colorful burst of fire and light. Creatures in the target square take 1d4 points of fire damage and are dazzled for 1 round (Reflex half, a successful save negates the dazzled condition). Normally when this spell is used as part of a festival, the chosen target is high in the sky to increase visibility and protect observers.
Stop flyting, you two! Friday, March 18, 2011 ... As you may recall, last month Pathfinder fiction author Kevin Andrew Murphy temporarily lost his mind and wrote us a full heroic crown of sonnets featuring 15 of our iconic characters, then sent it to us as a Valentine's Day present. We posted it on the blog, and folks seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps too much. ... Never one to back away from a challenge, Kevin has now written another poem dealing with the Pathfinder iconics and posted it on the...
Stop flyting, you two!
Friday, March 18, 2011
As you may recall, last month Pathfinder fiction author Kevin Andrew Murphy temporarily lost his mind and wrote us a full heroic crown of sonnets featuring 15 of our iconic characters, then sent it to us as a Valentine's Day present. We posted it on the blog, and folks seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps too much.
Never one to back away from a challenge, Kevin has now written another poem dealing with the Pathfinder iconics and posted it on the messageboards, this time in honor of St. Patrick's Day. The poem—made up of linked limericks—is of a tradition known as "flyting," a very old practice in which two parties exchange over-the-top and often lewd insults in verse. (Think of it as a medieval rap battle.) In this case, the two competitors are Alain and Lem—apparently, nobody told the cavalier that it's unwise to take on a bard in an insult contest.
While things get a bit bawdier than we can post on the blog, those who don't mind a little crudity in their poetry may want to head over to the thread and read it for themselves. Having such a thriving fan fiction community is always fun and flattering, but this... well, this is definitely a new sort of animal!
Kudos to Kevin, and let us all hope they continue to offer internet access in his padded cell....
... Manipulating Terrain Tuesday, March 15, 2011For the last installment of the Design Tuesday blog on terrain, we are going to look at a relatively new type of terrain—terrain that you can actively manipulate. This kind of terrain can grant a creature a variety of effects, from an attack, to cover, to a special or enhanced mode of movement. ... Some of the examples of this type of terrain will look familiar. Much of it can already be found within existing encounters. Where this is the...
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
For the last installment of the Design Tuesday blog on terrain, we are going to look at a relatively new type of terrain—terrain that you can actively manipulate. This kind of terrain can grant a creature a variety of effects, from an attack, to cover, to a special or enhanced mode of movement.
Some of the examples of this type of terrain will look familiar. Much of it can already be found within existing encounters. Where this is the case, it is up to you, the GM, to decide whether or not you wish to allow the special terrain effects described below.
Other samples of this type of terrain are new. Some, like the blink crystal, grant magical effects, and can add a sense of mystery and danger, as well as the possibility for strange tactics on the part of the PCs and their opponents.
Like the hazardous terrain presented last week, these new terrain types straddle the line between terrain and new dangers. Based on how much of this terrain you plan to use, you may want to consider adjusting the CR of encounters that use these more active forms of terrain, especially if their use grants one side of the combat more advantage than their foes.
Alchemical Devices: This terrain is actually a broad class of similarly acting terrains. They can be as simple as a workbench cluttered with beakers filled with roiling concoctions, or as complex as a distiller or even stranger alchemical machines. Manipulating such devices requires a standard action and any number of skill checks. Toppling a table requires a Strength check. Making a distiller shoot a gout of highly-pressurized alchemical gas may require a Disable Device check, a Craft (alchemy) check, or even a Strength check, if the PCs are using a strategic application of brute force. Interacting with more complex machinery usually requires a Disable Device check, though a higher DC Craft (alchemy) or Knowledge (arcana) check may do in a pinch.
Whatever the type of alchemical device, the basic rules for its manipulation are as follows. A successful check made as a standard action creates a 15-foot cone (or alternatively a 20-foot line) of damaging energy, controlled by the creature that successfully manipulated the device. It deals damage to creatures within the area of effect. A Reflex or a Fortitude DC halves the damage. Often alchemical devices create an area of acid, but the destructive energy could be cold, electrical, fire, or in rare cases even sonic or force damage, depending on the nature of the device.
To add more flavor and danger to specific alchemical devices, you can layer on additional conditions and effects. You could add bleed damage (which works well for acid or even fire damage devices), have creatures knocked prone on a failed saving throw (for sonic or force damage devices), or have a failed saving throw entangle creatures for 1d4 rounds (for cold damage devices) or even daze creatures for 1 round (for electrical damage devices).
The following are some suggestions for baseline effects of alchemical devices based on the base CR of the encounter.
Simple Alchemical Device (CR 1–5): Activating—DC 14 check; Effect—DC 12 Reflex saving throw for 2d6 acid, fire, or electrical damage, or a DC 12 Fortitude saving throw if the device deals cold, sonic, or force damage.
Complicated Alchemical Device (CR 6–10): Activating—DC 17 check; Effect—DC 15 Reflex saving throw for 3d6 acid, fire, or electrical damage, or a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw if the device deals cold, sonic, or force damage.
Advanced Alchemical Device (CR 11–15): Activating—DC 22 check; Effect—DC 20 Reflex saving throw for 4d6 acid, fire, or electrical damage, or a DC 20 Fortitude saving throw if the device deals cold, sonic, or force damage.
Magic-Infused Alchemical Device (CR 16+): Activating—DC 27 check; Effect—DC 25 Reflex saving throw for 4d6 acid, fire, or electrical damage, or a DC 25 Fortitude saving throw if the device deals cold, sonic, or force damage.
Blink Crystal: These strange, cloudy-white crystals glow with a faint purplish radiance. Typically blink crystals are the size of large gemstones, and they are always set in a statue or some similar large and immobile casing. If a blink crystal is removed from its casing, it loses its magic and becomes nothing more than a large piece of common quartz (worth 10 gp). A creature adjacent to a blink crystal can touch it as a free action, which causes the creature to teleport up to 20 feet to an unoccupied space on stable ground within line of sight. Touching a blink crystal as a swift action along with a successful DC 20 Spellcraft or Use Magical Device check can increase the range of the teleport to 40 feet. Failing this check allows the creature to teleport 20 feet.
Bubbling Caldron: A size Large bubbling caldron can be tipped over with a DC 15 Strength check made as a standard action. Doing so releases a 30-foot cone of boiling liquid from the caldron in the direction of the creature’s choosing, and deals 2d6 fire damage to all creatures within the cone’s area. A successful DC 12 Reflex saving throw halves the damage.
The liquid makes the area of the cone slippery (Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook 412) until it dries or dissipates. The cone of liquid affects creatures on the ground only. Flying or levitating creatures can avoid the liquid and its damaging effect.
Chandelier: Successfully leaping onto a chandelier allows a creature to hang from it and use its momentum to increase the power of a jump before the end of the leaping creature’s next turn. A creature is flat-footed while it hangs or balances on chandelier.
Using the momentum of the chandelier grants the leaping creature a +5 circumstance bonus on Acrobatic checks made to jump off the chandelier, and the jump is considered to have a running start for purposes of determining the DC of the check.
Chandeliers have size categories like creatures do. They are typically size Small or larger. A chandelier can easily support a single creature of its own size or smaller.
A creature larger than the chandelier’s size (or two creatures of the same size or smaller than the chandelier) can attempt to hang on it or use it to gain the bonus on Acrobatics checks made to jump, but at the end of the creature’s turn (or the second creature’s turn, if two creatures are using the chandelier for the same effect), the chandelier breaks free from its supports and both the chandelier and any creatures hanging from it fall to the ground. If either a creature two or more size categories larger than the chandelier or three smaller creatures leap on to the chandelier, the chandelier and those hanging on it fall immediately. Creatures take normal damage from the fall plus an additional 1d10 damage from the falling chandelier. At the GM’s discretion, extremely large or heavy chandeliers or chandeliers with sharp protrusions or other dangers can deal additional damage upon a fall.
Furniture: From flipping over a table to using a gong as makeshift shield, a movable piece of furniture can be manipulated to create partial cover for a short period of time. A creature that is adjacent to the piece of movable furniture can attempt a Strength check as a move-equivalent action to gain cover from the item until the start of its next turn.
The DC of the Strength check depends on the size of the furniture. The base is DC 10 for size Small furniture, and the DC increases by 5 for each size category over Small (moving a Medium piece of furniture is DC 15, moving a Large piece of furniture is DC 20, and so on). A creature cannot attempt this manipulation if it is two or more size categories smaller than the piece of movable furniture it wants to manipulate.
Rug: A creature can spend a standard action to attempt to pull a rug out from under creatures standing atop the rug. This requires a DC 15 or higher Strength check, depending on the size of the rug. If successful, each creature standing atop the rug (some of its space must be on atop the rug) must succeed on a DC 12 Reflex saving throw or fall prone. Creatures that cannot be tripped are immune to this effect. Rugs that are larger than a 4-square area require higher Strength checks. The DC increases by 2 for every additional 2 squares of rug area beyond 4 squares.
Iconic Love 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...
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.
... Give the Gift of Gaming Thursday, December 2, 2010Last night marked the first night of Hanukkah, and today is the seventh day of the traditional holiday shopping season. Christmas carols have invaded my car radio on the drive to and from work, and the flood of wishlists from friends and family have my inboxes overflowing. But this past weekend, I saw some of the spirit of the season exhibited in our own community and wanted to remind everyone of the tools paizo.com offers to help you show...
Give the Gift of Gaming
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Last night marked the first night of Hanukkah, and today is the seventh day of the traditional holiday shopping season. Christmas carols have invaded my car radio on the drive to and from work, and the flood of wishlists from friends and family have my inboxes overflowing. But this past weekend, I saw some of the spirit of the season exhibited in our own community and wanted to remind everyone of the tools paizo.com offers to help you show your appreciation for your online friends!
This weekend, one of our generous Pathfinder Society members gave the gift of several scenarios to a fellow board member so that she could review them. Gifting products (either downloads or physical merchandise) was a new feature introduced to paizo.com around this time last year, but anyone can do it! When looking at your shopping cart, before proceeding to checkout, be sure to click the "show gift options during checkout" button to gain the ability to give the contents of the order as a gift to a fellow Paizo customer, either anonymously or with a message.
I know that I, for one, love wishlists, and used to fill my Amazon wishlist up throughout the year to send to family and friends around the holidays and my birthday so they could see alternatives to getting me socks, calling cards, and scratch-off lottery tickets. Paizo offers the same thing, and whether you use one to list products to buy yourself in the future or to list for others, wishlists are a great way to organize your desired products. When someone (either a relative you direct to the site or a random friend from the messageboards) orders something for you from your wishlist, they'll be able to send it directly to the address you specify and it will be removed from the list so you don't get duplicated items. Start your own wishlist by going to the "My Wishlists" tab at the top right of any page on the site. Who knows who out there on the boards wants to share the holiday spirit with you.
... Illustration by Alex Aparin ... Short and Sweet? Tuesday, October 19th, 2010With Halflings of Golarion headed off to the printer, now seems like the perfect time to show off Alex Aparin’s awesome cover! F. Wesley Schneider ... Managing Editor ...
Illustration by Alex Aparin
Short and Sweet?
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010
With Halflings of Golarion headed off to the printer, now seems like the perfect time to show off Alex Aparin’s awesome cover!
... Illustration by Tyler Walpole ... Paizo Fight Song Tuesday, August 17, 2010If you know anything about me (and I'm not saying you should), you probably know that I'm Paizo's fiction editor as well as one of the developers. What you may not know is that, in addition to working on the campaign setting and making sure authors like Dave Gross are fed and walked regularly, I'm also a musician involved in various extracurricular bands and projects. Usually that doesn't affect my job at Paizo...
Illustration by Tyler Walpole
Paizo Fight Song
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
If you know anything about me (and I'm not saying you should), you probably know that I'm Paizo's fiction editor as well as one of the developers. What you may not know is that, in addition to working on the campaign setting and making sure authors like Dave Gross are fed and walked regularly, I'm also a musician involved in variousextracurricular bands and projects. Usually that doesn't affect my job at Paizo much, save for that one time when Jacobs and I, in the first and only performance of Operation Banjo Thug, ambushed Wes with some impromptu talkin' blues. (An experience from which he's never entirely recovered and which, without witnesses, he can't verify as having actually happened.)
A while back, however, Jacobs and I were sitting around after work talking about what a Paizo theme song would sound like. We decided that it would really need to have two distinct elements: a big industrial section like Nine Inch Nails' "Just Like You Imagined" (300 had just come out), and a classic, Conan-style orchestral piece. And of course, no soundtrack would be complete without an homage to The Omen's big choral theme, which we in the office will forever refer to as "Sawhorse Middle School," for reasons I won't go into here.
The idea never quite left my head, and a few months ago I sat down on a Saturday and decided to do something about it. The resulting track was received with much hilarity at the office—which was really what I was going for—and people ended up liking it so much that they voted to use it as the theme song for Paizo at the ENnies this year.
While it's hard not to be proud of the awards we won—Best Publisher? Best Game? It literally does not get better than that—in my secret heart, my favorite part of Gen Con this year was hearing the fight song blasted over the PA every time someone from Paizo went up to accept an award.
Now that we're home, it occurs to me: why stop there? Hopefully some of you reading this blog would be equally amused by the track. As such, I give you my attempt at a Paizo fight song, "Pathfinder Est Domine."
... Winter 2010 Releases: An Early Look! Thursday, February 18, 2010This week Paizo posted new product descriptions for dozens of products to be released in the third trimester of 2010, including new hardcover books, a revision of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, and a brand new line of Pathfinder novels! ... We've been hard at work on these items for months, and even though you'll have to wait until at least September before they hit your game table, we're thrilled to finally be able to...
Winter 2010 Releases: An Early Look!
Thursday, February 18, 2010
This week Paizo posted new product descriptions for dozens of products to be released in the third trimester of 2010, including new hardcover books, a revision of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, and a brand new line of Pathfinder novels!
We've been hard at work on these items for months, and even though you'll have to wait until at least September before they hit your game table, we're thrilled to finally be able to discuss some of this stuff in public. The suspense has been killing us!
Folks are already discussing some of our new releases on the paizo.com messageboards, but as the commentary has been flying fast and furious over the last couple days, I figured it might be helpful to post a broad overview of our new offerings here on the blog, with direct links to the products in question.
So without further ado, let's plug ourselves into the future-caster time machine and take a journey forward to September through December 2010. Bring your dice and a few character sheets. You're going to need them!
The biggest announcement is a brand new line of Pathfinder novels written by some of the biggest names in fantasy fiction! The first book, Winter Witch, by New York Times best-selling author Elaine Cunningham, explores the tale of a barbarian shield maiden who ventures from Varisia to the winter-locked land of Irrisen to rescue a possessed sister—and the canny young cartographer who follows her into that haunted land. The book formally releases in September, but we'll have copies on hand at this year's Gen Con Game Fair as a special preview. October sees the release of Prince of Wolves, by former Amazing Stories and Dragon editor Dave Gross, which revisits the Pathfinder agent Varian Jeggare and his tiefling assistant Radovan, last seen in the Pathfinder Journal section of the Council of Thieves Adventure Path. Additional novels will follow in 2011 from well-known authors including Paul S. Kemp and other familiar faces. Stay tuned for more info!
Following up on the forthcoming GameMastery Guide
and Advanced Player's Guide, 2010 will see the release of one more hardcover rulebook in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game line: Pathfinder RPG Bestiary 2! Like the first Bestiary, Bestiary 2 will include more than 300 monsters for use with the Pathfinder RPG, including old favorites like the hippogriff and new planar creatures like the aeons and proteans. This book will cover most of the standard monsters from the history of the game that we couldn't fit in the first Bestiary, as well as tons of other great monsters you've never seen before. Each monster will receive a full page or a 2-page spread, using the same format as the original book.
Supplies of the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting hardcover are dwindling faster than we can count, so in September we'll release a revised edition in the form of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting World Guide: The Inner Sea. Fully updated to the Pathfinder RPG rules and with expanded coverage of nearly every nation, the latest version of this book contains a new cover from Wayne Reynolds, an updated map, fixed errata from the first edition, and more than 300 pages packed with tons of information about the lands, peoples, beliefs, and cultures of the world of Golarion. Paizo Creative Director James Jacobs is giving this project his personal finish, making sure our campaign setting book is a solid bedrock of our publishing operation for years to come. We're really pleased with the early development of this book, and think it will be an ideal resource for all Pathfinder players and game masters.
In addition to the revised campaign setting, in late 2010 we'll release the Inner Sea Map Folio, a massive 32-panel map of the Inner Sea region containing all "canonical" locations from every Pathfinder product published to date! This monster is sure to brighten up the gaming room or man-cave of any Pathfinder enthusiast, and its "four poster" format will even allow for easy reference at the game table for those lacking the wall space to do it justice. The Campaign Setting product line will also see a new Classic Monsters-style book in the form of Misfit Monsters Redeemed (and you won't believe what that's about until you read the description, believe me) as well as Lost Cities of Golarion, which explores six adventure locales from throughout the world of Golarion.
PATHFINDER PLAYER COMPANION
We can't let the GMs have all the fun, after all, so we've also planned a couple of sure-fire player's guides for the last third of 2010 that will be must-buys for Pathfinder RPG players. October sees the release of the Inner Sea Primer, a slimmed-down overview of the Pathfinder world designed specifically for players. This book will include tons of new character traits tied to the regions and religions of Golarion, and will provide a perfect "gist" of the setting for those looking to dip a toe in the water without needing to buy a big hardcover book. December sees the release of Halflings of Golarion, which rounds out the player's guides to the standard "demihuman" player character races in the Pathfinder RPG with plenty of details on how to integrate them into Golarion campaigns. Lots of fun equipment and lore in this one for fans of halflings (and everyone else, too)!
Gamers have been asking for a high-level Pathfinder adventure since the very beginning, and now I'm pleased to report that the time has come at last! Shipping in September, The Witchwar Legacy takes 17th-level player characters to the snow-shrouded witch kingdom of Irrisen to thwart a plan by the Ice Queen involving the insidious Baba Yaga herself! If that's not enough, in November we'll release a brand-new 1st-level starter adventure called The Godsmouth Heresy, set in the shadowy city of Kaer Maga, site of June's City of Strangers sourcebook!
Paizo's popular map products keep on coming in the last part of 2010, including the first-ever crossover between the Map Pack and Flip-Mat lines! Everything starts innocently enough in September with the release of Flip-Mat: Forest, but things really get interesting in October, with Map Pack: Shops. This 18-tile map set includes the interiors for several different stores, apothecaries, taverns, and the like, but things become super-special when you combine this pack with November's Flip-Mat: City Streets, which details a mercantile district suitable for use with other city Flip-Mats. The roofed buildings on this Flip-Mat (suitable for rooftop chases) correspond exactly to the interiors presented in Map Pack: Shops, providing a uniquely immersive tabletop experience. And if that's not enough to impress your jaded players, spring December's Map Pack: Ambush Sites on them. They probably deserve it.
GameMastery Cards keep coming as well, this time in the form of new GameMastery Condition Cards, handy reference cards for all of the various conditions in the Pathfinder RPG rules.
PATHFINDER ADVENTURE PATH
And, of course, we haven't forgotten the date that brought us to the big dance in the first place. The last trimester of 2010 will see plenty of action in the Pathfinder Adventure Path line, as the Serpent's Skull Adventure Path takes a jungle trail toward its stunning conclusion! Ruined Azlanti cities, Red Mantis assassins, monkey-men, the Pathfinder Society, ancient serpentfolk, and one very, very angry Gorilla King are all in store in a quartet of adventures by Tim Hitchcock, Kevin Kulp, Greg A. Vaughan, and Graeme Davis! The Serpent's Skull is a return to classic-style adventuring in the Pathfinder tradition, and we can't wait to get you guys into the jungle!
I'm saving our Planet Stories releases for tomorrow's blog, so be sure to tune in then for some of the biggest Planet Stories news we've had yet!
So much is happening here at Paizo these days that it's difficult to remember the uncertainty and horror of the last few years, with major changes to our business, our game system, and our lives. All of us really appreciate the support you have shown us so far, and we look forward to more exciting products in the months and years to come!
... River Kingdoms of the Fellnight Queen Friday, January 29, 2010It's a busy week here at Paizo, and that means it's time for an art blog! So enjoy this sneak peek at some artwork from the upcoming Pathfinder Module Realm of the Fellnight Queen and Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms! ... Illustration by Andrew Kim ... Illustration by Jorge MaeseIllustration by Andres Espara ... Sean K Reynolds ... Developer, Pathfinder Chronicles and Pathfinder Modules ...
... Andoran, Spirit of Liberty Preview Tuesday, December 22, 2009Andoran, Spirit of Liberty is due to arrive in January, and as the rest of the team is burning the midnight oil to get the next Pathfinder out the door, Wes deputized me to do a blog. Time for some preview art! ... The patron celestial of Andoran is an avoral named Talmandor, and as there aren't avoral stats in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, we put their stats in Andoran—sort of a sneak peek for Bestiary II next year. The...
Andoran, Spirit of Liberty Preview
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Andoran, Spirit of Liberty is due to arrive in January, and as the rest of the team is burning the midnight oil to get the next Pathfinder out the door, Wes deputized me to do a blog. Time for some preview art!
The patron celestial of Andoran is an avoral named Talmandor, and as there aren't avoral stats in the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary, we put their stats in Andoran—sort of a sneak peek for Bestiary II next year. The next picture shows that halfling paladins are just as badass as human ones—in this case the hero is Jamus Hainard, born to a farming family and inspired by the Eagle Knights to become a champion of freedom. Finally, a piece showing an Andoren general and his troops trying to cross a river.
... Snagged from the Vault: The Bastards of Erebus Friday, June 26, 2009The Preview Purloiners strike again! Featured here in a painting by Kevin Yan are Lem and Seelah, fending off a rabid undead dog and a fiendish tiefling in Pathfinder Adventure Path volume #25: The Bastards of Erebus. Who knew that flutes could be wielded as deadly weapons? ... Vadid and Nahk ... Preview Purloiners ... The city of Westcrown is dying. Since being stripped of its station as the capital of Cheliax, the...
"The city of Westcrown is dying. Since being stripped of its station as the capital of Cheliax, the wealth and prestige of the city has gradually slipped away, leaving the desperate people to fend for themselves in a city beset by criminals, a corrupt nobility, and a shadowy curse. Can the PCs fight back against champions of both the law and the criminal world?"
... Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Preview #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.
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...
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.