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Worldscape Workbook—Under the Moons of Mars

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Issue #3 of Pathfinder Worldscape, Dynamite's blockbuster all-star sword & sorcery supergroup crossover, hits newsstands TODAY, so I figured now would be a perfect time to peel back the curtain a bit and let you know about some of the decisions that went into the Pathfinder RPG rules appendix found in the back of the issue.

This month's appendix is a bit of a doozy because the issue's story features the first appearance of one of the major stars of the series, John Carter of Mars! The great Virginian steps onto our pages to join the likes of his green Martian ally Tars Tarkas, the she-devil Red Sonja, Frank Frazetta's jungle hero Thun'da, and more (to say nothing of Pathfinder stalwarts Valeros, Kyra, Merisiel, and Seoni).

Of all Worldscape's superstars, John Carter's star shines the brightest in the firmament of fantasy literature. Carter first appeared way back in February, 1912, in a serialized story entitled "Under the Moons of Mars," by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The story appeared as a novel entitled A Princess of Mars, in 1917, and it's been in print ever since.

Carter helped to define the "formula" for adventure story heroes (especially in a science fictional setting). He and Burroughs's Barsoom (Mars) also launched an entire sub-genre of fiction that arguably includes stories like Star Wars, but absolutely 1000% includes stories like James Cameron's Avatar, which borrows heavily from the tropes established in "Under the Moons of Mars."

Like many of the sub-genres we're touching on in Pathfinder Worldscape (including mainline "sword & sorcery" and especially jungle adventure stories), the heroes of "sword & planet" stories present an interesting challenge for the Pathfinder RPG, because none of them ever wears a scrap of armor. Indeed, John Carter's world probably reveals more flesh on a regular basis than even the Tarzan stories and their various knock-offs, which star a guy wearing a loincloth.

So, as I did with the sword-devil archetype in Pathfinder Worldscape #1 (which covered Red Sonja, so to speak), this month's appendix presents a brand new archetype called the warlord that allows players to run around in their briefs and kick just as much ass as John Carter did without a massive sacrifice to their Armor Class. From my perspective, it really stinks when the rules don't allow you to play a concept you want to try out, or even worse punish you for it. This archetype (and really all of the rules presented over Worldscape's six issues) creates new space for players to play heroes like Red Sonja, John Carter, or Tarzan without getting hit multiple times every round. The Pathfinder rules don't really handle characters wearing no armor and going toe-to-toe with monsters and fully armored enemies.

At least not until this series, that is. If I accomplish nothing else from writing all of the stories and appendices for this series, I hope that Pathfinder Worldscape develops a reputation as the Catcher in the Rye of no-armor martial archetypes.

The warlord is a fighter archetype, a particularly challenging breed of archetype because, unlike so many other classes, the fighter doesn't have a ton of class features to "swap out" as most other classes do. That's partially by design. When we sat down to create the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook, we thought it very important to include at least one class that was easy to understand and easy to play. The fighter has traditionally played that role, so we carried that forward into the final Pathfinder rules. This was, of course, a year or two before we came up with the idea for archetypes, so only after their introduction in the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player's Guide did we realize that this might turn out to be a bit of a problem.

That's the reason that you don't see as many fighter archetypes as you see for other classes. There just isn't as much design room to make interesting options.

The class isn't without ANY options, of course, but things are a bit more challenging. I knew this going in, but I didn't really care. John Carter is obviously a fighter. One of his books is called A Fighting Man of Mars, for Pete's sake. So I had to make him a fighter archetype, design space or not!

First off, I modified the fighter's usual class skills to include Barsoomian staples Acrobatics and Knowledge (nobility), which replace Swim (not super useful on a desert planet) and Knowledge (dungeoneering). Fair trade, in my book.

Barsoom doesn't offer the same sort of weapon options we have here on Earth, so I significantly tailored the class's proficiency list to include only weapons that appear in the John Carter comics and novels, including the radium pistol and rifle included in the RPG appendix for Pathfinder Worldscape #2. This helps to keep warlord characters "on model" and representative of the way they appear in the source material, which is the overall goal of these adaptations.

The most important power the warlord has is likely Evasive Dueling, which allows a warlord to add a +1 dodge bonus to his AC in lieu of one of the MANY bonus feats fighters get throughout their careers. This means that the player gets to decide how important AC is to his warlord, and doesn't deny him the opportunity to drop some bonus feats into his weapons or other combat abilities. He can always come back for some more Armor Class when he really needs it.

And in case he needs more AC (which he will, because he's not even proficient in armor and a lot of his powers don't work when he's wearing it), I also created a power called Battle Bravado, which (at 3rd level) allows the warlord to add his Charisma bonus to his AC when unarmored and unencumbered, so long as he is not wearing armor or carrying a Medium or heavier load. This power even comes with a few more dodge bonuses spread out over the full 20 levels.

He also gets some weapon type-specific modifications to Weapon Training, and by the time he hits 19th level, he unlocks DR/5, the benefit of a life spent surviving against impossible odds in a hostile world.

So there you have it, a broad overview of the warlord archetype from Pathfinder Worldscape #3! You can order your copy from paizo.com right now, or you can pick up a copy in person at your game store.

To make sure you never miss an issue of Pathfinder Worldscape, consider setting up an ongoing Pathfinder Comics subscription today.

I'll be back in two weeks with a look at John Carter himself. Until then, keep rolling 20s!

Happy holidays to you all!

Erik Mona
Publisher

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Dynamite Entertainment Licensed Products Pathfinder Comics Pathfinder Worldscape

Interesting! Although, I must point out something. "That's the reason that you don't see as many fighter archetypes as you see for other classes" is wrong. It has the third largest archetype list in paizo products with 56, only to be outdone by the druid with 58, and the rogue with 60. Either way happy holidays Erik!

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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I wondered if maybe someone would call my bluff on that one. Thanks for doing the math! I sit corrected!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm loving Worldscape so far, and #3 is the best yet. Can't wait for the next one.

That 2 page spread (page 6 on comixology, not sure about print) is fantastic.

Thanks for the inspired work.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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That makes me really happy to hear! Thanks, Ultimatepunch! I'm really enjoying working on the series. Getting to write tales featuring these characters (including ours!) is a huge privilege and responsibility.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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The next one is totally insane, btw. A departure in some ways from the previous three issues, and the point at which the series pivots toward an endgame. I hope you enjoy it! :)

Grand Lodge

I thought the comics may have peaked with Jim Zub, but I was wrong! I am loving this series, and the character options are the gravy to my mashed potatoes! Thanks Erik.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Thanks, Captain! I really appreciate the compliment!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Got my Issue #2 with my latest batch of subscriptions, and not having a scrap of buyer's remorse. Very interested in seeing what rolls out next, and enjoying my ride as a subscriber.

Scarab Sages

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

"From my perspective, it really stinks when the rules don't allow you to play a concept you want to try out, or even worse punish you for it."

Could this be an argument for lifting the Int prerequisite on Combat Expertise, and all its many successor feats? Or removing it as a feat tax entirely?

Either for specific archetypes (such as Carter's and Sonja's), or (fingers crossed) across the board?
The ability to adopt a cautious stance against a worthy opponent, or press furiously through or horde of lesser foes (and to drive them before you, and hear the lamentation of their women), is the very essence of the acrobatic, unarmoured warrior style pioneered by Burroughs and Howard.

But the Combat Expertise feat always been a roadblock on the route to such dynamic combat, and a reason most Fighters Can't Have Nice Things.

Yet I'm sure I'm not alone in having martial-arts using friends, or knowing club bouncers or security guards who can relieve a troublemaker of their weapon and plant them on the floor, yet have no academic qualifications to speak of.

Will no-one think of the low-to-averagely intelligent, but dextrous and danger-savvy combatants?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

When I saw that big yellow thing hanging in the tree, and then saw the smaller things inside the big yellow thing, I went, "No way. I can't believe they went there." The level of grit is a tad higher than what we usually see in Pathfinder Comics, but then again, it's to be expected when Golarion meets Barsoom meets Earth.

Seriously cool art. Just wow. And I am really, really hoping the Nex angle is further explored as the series goes on.

I'm really hoping you guys come up with a hardcover for all these races and archetypes down the road, and more importantly, and Adventure Path set in that Golarion nexus of worlds...

I'm stoked!

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

Snorter wrote:

"From my perspective, it really stinks when the rules don't allow you to play a concept you want to try out, or even worse punish you for it."

Could this be an argument for lifting the Int prerequisite on Combat Expertise, and all its many successor feats? Or removing it as a feat tax entirely?

Either for specific archetypes (such as Carter's and Sonja's), or (fingers crossed) across the board?
The ability to adopt a cautious stance against a worthy opponent, or press furiously through or horde of lesser foes (and to drive them before you, and hear the lamentation of their women), is the very essence of the acrobatic, unarmoured warrior style pioneered by Burroughs and Howard.

But the Combat Expertise feat always been a roadblock on the route to such dynamic combat, and a reason most Fighters Can't Have Nice Things.

Yet I'm sure I'm not alone in having martial-arts using friends, or knowing club bouncers or security guards who can relieve a troublemaker of their weapon and plant them on the floor, yet have no academic qualifications to speak of.

Will no-one think of the low-to-averagely intelligent, but dextrous and danger-savvy combatants?

Lots of interesting points, here. Not sure we can ret-con this at this stage in the game, but thanks for pointing it out. I think that is a bit of a silly requirement, personally. That said, if you don't give classes any reasons to put points in non-prime stats, they probably never will.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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All of the rules content will be included in Dynamite's hardcover collection when it releases next year. That said, I kind of expect them to show up somewhere else, too.

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

Lots of interesting points, here. Not sure we can ret-con this at this stage in the game, but thanks for pointing it out. I think that is a bit of a silly requirement, personally. That said, if you don't give classes any reasons to put points in non-prime stats, they probably never will.

Unchained Fighter could get free Combat Stamina and free Combat Expertise feats at 1st, and the option to swap out any of its armor feats for any other combat feat (in decreasing order from heavy, tower, medium, shields, light - that's a total of 5 feats!).

That should help level the playing field. Slap to that the 'no armor' archetype Erik just came out with, and you'd have a seriously fearsome fighter methinks... (yes, I understand a wizard can still mess your day, but such an 'unchained fighter' could also mess up a wizard's day with proper planning...)

Sovereign Court

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

All of the rules content will be included in Dynamite's hardcover collection when it releases next year. That said, I kind of expect them to show up somewhere else, too.

Please, do go on! :)

Addendum: I've been rather fascinated by Golarion's existence vis-à-vis 1922 Earth's Rasputin and other mentions here and there... so anything that builds on that interaction between worlds (AP please) would be awesome. Interplanetary Teleport: does it work across different galaxies? Earth 1922 Catholics: how do they get judged by Pharasma? Thank you! :)

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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The Worldscape is outside of time, in its own way, so it's not a requirement that the Reign of Winter timeline parallels hold true.

Thun'da is from the 1940s. Tarzan is from the 1910s. Red Sonja and Kulan Gath are from the Hyborean Age, some time between the period when "the oceans drank Atlantis" and the beginning of recorded history.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

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That's not to say it wouldn't be fun to tie those things in. Were we doing a "Worldscape 2" series, I might be tempted to use Rasputin as the arch-villain, depending on what other properties we get to play with.

There was a brief, shining moment when it looked like the Flash Gordon characters were going to be a part of this, and the arch villain was going to be Ming the Merciless.

I'd still love to do that version of the series one day! :)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Erik Mona wrote:

That's not to say it wouldn't be fun to tie those things in. Were we doing a "Worldscape 2" series, I might be tempted to use Rasputin as the arch-villain, depending on what other properties we get to play with.

There was a brief, shining moment when it looked like the Flash Gordon characters were going to be a part of this, and the arch villain was going to be Ming the Merciless.

I'd still love to do that version of the series one day! :)

Wouldn't you need Starfinder to fully detail Flash Gordon?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

The Worldscape is outside of time, in its own way, so it's not a requirement that the Reign of Winter timeline parallels hold true.

Thun'da is from the 1940s. Tarzan is from the 1910s. Red Sonja and Kulan Gath are from the Hyborean Age, some time between the period when "the oceans drank Atlantis" and the beginning of recorded history.

Evidence of Shyka's followers at play, I'm sure! ;)

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Oh, and let me correct my dates. AFAIK, from various posts by James Jacobs:

Real world year (i.e. printing year i.e. NOW) 2016 AD = Golarion Year 4716 AR = Fictitious Earth Year 1921 AD
(events of "Rasputin Must Die!" were published in 2013 therefore set in 4713 AR = 1918 AD)

Also:

Gulthor wrote:
Well, Reign of Winter was released in 2013, meaning that it's set in 4713. In that AP, we discover that the year on Earth is 1918.
Strange Aeons is being released 2016-2017, or 4716-4717, meaning that the year on Earth is 1921-1922.
In 1921, the Nameless City was released - considered to be the first story in the Cthulhu mythos. In 1922, the Necronimicon was discovered/unearthed as part of the Cthulhu mythos.
I'm hoping that I'm giving the design team enough credit, here, but I expect the events in Strange Aeons to tie-in with the events that occur within the Cthulhu mythos timeline based on the date they've established in Reign of Winter.

James Jacob wrote:
Note that "The Nameless City" is also the story in which the two words "Strange Aeons" first appear.

:)

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

More random notes about Golarion:

1. It exists in the same prime material plane as fictitious 1921 Earth. So far the general idea is that Earth 1921 is amazingly distant from Golarion and perhaps even in a different galaxy.
2. Distant Worlds provides explanations as to why the Plane Shift trick (to the Outer Planes then back to the prime to another planet or galaxy) or Greater Teleport spells do not work when trying to go to another planet, galaxy, etc. within the same Prime. Basically, it's something about the infinity property of planes and kinda the same reason why you never know where you'll arrive when you say, Plane Shift to an Outer Plane. Plane Shifting back to the prime thus usually brings you back to the same point you exited in the first place (i.e. Golarion, if this is your homeworld, as opposed to Earth 1921 or some other planet around the Golarion sun)
3. As of the Second Darkness adventure path, and later reaffirmed via Distant Worlds, the spell "Interplanetary Teleport" is required to access different planets or galaxies within the same Prime. It is a 9th level spell, and the general principle in the Pathfinder game is that you'll never be able to replicate a certain spell or effect with a lower level spell or effect, hence the impossibility of doing the Plane Shift trick or Greater Teleport trick. The only other canon method to go to other planets in the Golarion solar system is via the permanent elf gates located in Kyonin.
4. Certain people have theorized that Greater Teleport has a certain range limit, and that if you can cast it at will, and if you are able to cast it in a vacuum, you could in theory use it to go to distant places (i.e. you look up to the moon, cast it, and appear somewhere in between, in space, cast it again, and again, and again, and again, and then at some point your appear standing on it). This is just fan-made theory at this point and not official Pathfinder lore (i.e. good for home campaigns if you feel like it). My opinion is that it cheapens Interplanetary Teleport and the elf gates.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Also, here's the 3 main classes of starships so far in Golarion: (list not updated for a while now... please find me more starship classes if you can! :) )

Slowest:
Starflight (Su) A mi-go can survive in the void of outer space. It flies through space at incredible speeds. Although exact travel times vary, a trip within a single solar system normally takes 3d20 months, while a trip beyond normally takes 3d20 years (or more, at the GM’s discretion)—provided the mi-go knows the way to its destination.

Average:
Starflight (Ex) An oma can survive in the void of outer space, and soars through vacuum at incredible speed. Although exact travel times vary, a trip between two planets within a solar system should take 3d20 days, while one to another system should take 3d20 weeks (or more, at the GM’s discretion), provided the oma knows the way to its destination.

Fastest:
Starflight (Ex) In outer space, an outer dragon (i.e. lunar, solar, time, void or vortex dragon) can survive in the void and fly at incredible speed. Travel times vary, but a trip within a single solar system should take 3d20 hours, and a trip beyond should take 3d20 days or more if the dragon knows the way to its destination. An outer dragon can carry one rider of one size category smaller than itself, four passengers two sizes smaller, eight passengers three sizes smaller, or 16 passengers four or more sizes smaller. Passengers are protected from the void of outer space.

Scarab Sages

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Don't forget the flumphs!

They're interplanetary travellers, too!

(Feeling protective of the goofy space pancakes, after my tale in WF14...)


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

The Worldscape is outside of time, in its own way, so it's not a requirement that the Reign of Winter timeline parallels hold true.

Thun'da is from the 1940s. Tarzan is from the 1910s. Red Sonja and Kulan Gath are from the Hyborean Age, some time between the period when "the oceans drank Atlantis" and the beginning of recorded history.

Mordred stretches things out a little, too.

Great instalment again, Erik. Each issue feels like fifty pages of action.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:
Erik Mona wrote:

Thun'da is from the 1940s. Tarzan is from the 1910s. Red Sonja and Kulan Gath are from the Hyborean Age, some time between the period when "the oceans drank Atlantis" and the beginning of recorded history.

Mordred stretches things out a little, too.

I'll say it again: Shyka the Many (the Eldest from the First World who can control time or at least manipulate it and exist simultaneously within all time streams?)

Golarion has the luxury of having a reason to make it all work together and consider it canon! (if they want to! :) )

Scarab Sages

Paizo Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There was no blog for issue 4, and issue 5 is about to come out. It has been almost 2 months since we heard from Mr. Mona. I hope everything is OK.

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