Varisian Barbarian

Ask a Shoanti's page

308 posts. Alias of Michael Kortes (Contributor).


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Feros wrote:
So the countdown clocks of Osirion are the basis of this adventure? Very cool; that plot hook from The Pact Stone Pyramid was just begging to be expanded on.

OMG! Is it really the countdown clocks?! So stoked! Love the 10-year angle especially!

Super blog Mark! So funny with perfect flow! The writing was even better than the minis.

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Way to go Uri! I am thrilled to learn your longstanding gaming exploits are being memorialized in web comic form.

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One more post to add love for the Rope Trick mini.

I remember abusing that life saving spell as early as 2nd edition. Back when it occurred to our table that you could cast the various monster summoning spells from inside the extra-dimensional space and then unload them en mass. Not at all sure if that really worked, but I'm not sure exactly how much of anything worked in 2E, except that we had lots of fun.

Rope Trick? Rope Awesome!

(... And now an awesome mini.)

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Another solution I've seen where the character art depicts an inappropriately attired PC, but the player wants something more practical, is to spring for the cost of the glamered armor quality. Suddenly you've got your platemail or what have you but it now looks exactly like your character sketch. The cost makes it impractical at low levels, but with the flat cost, at higher levels, it's workable.

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Blackfingers wrote:

Also, I know it's a bit early to talk about now, but will Starfinder AP's have fiction?

How cool would it be if Eando Kline were placed in stasis and revived in Starfinder, appearing in a module or something. Perhaps as a pregen or an NPC.

I mean there is such a spell, right?

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An end of an era! Thank you for honoring it with this cool blog post instead of silently sweeping it away. I too remember Eric Mona's first overview article and didn't fully appreciate at the time how significantly it would impact our game for years to come.

For some of us, Eando Kline is our Han Solo. I don't collect minis, but I had to get the Eando Kline mini. He stays in his fancy package.

Also "Hand of the Handless", the story mentioned in the blog, brought us trolls-that-read-portents-in-their-regenerating-guts. Even today that still stands up as one of the most twisted awesome things in all of Pathfinder.

...And over the years it's become a pretty big field of twisted awesome.

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Each past life profile is a secret backstory - a description of your PC's former life, how they died, and what mysteries are left unresolved. All of this begins unknown to the PC, something they gradually uncover as the game progresses, if they explore the clues provided by the profile (or the GM).

Each profile has multiple specific crunch elements too. As the PC uncovers details about their former life, aspects of it manifest, granting bonus abilities - and occasionally drawbacks - trace echoes reverberating from the past.

Each profile has suggestions for campaign plotlines and how they might resolve - though we all know no storyline survives contact with the players... which is one of the things which makes this game great.


So glad this is happening.

Run by the Master of Monsters himself, Adam Daigle. And now with none other than Robert Brookes too! That is terrific news.

I feel like one of the contestants should be tweeting the results in real time for those of us eagerly waiting news. #GreenBlood or some such thing, but I expect people will be too busy placing bets.

Roll out those monsters!

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Player: "Eric the Cleric checks the bushes for hidden orcs."

GM: (rolls behind screen) "You see nothing."


The player does not know if (a) there are no orcs in the bushes; or (b) the GM rolled poorly.

Alternatively, if the player makes the die roll and he rolls low, he's pretty much in the same situation. But if the player rolls high, the player is in a markedly different situation - he now knows with a flexible degree of certainty that there's actually no orcs in the bushes. That player will either control their character differently, or be forced to police themselves.

Advantage of off-screen rolls: the player is in the same position as their character. They no longer have to do the mental gymnastics of divorcing what they know from their character in order to avoid the universal infraction of metagaming.

While it is certainly true that responsible and experienced players can do this, in my view you can remove the pressure and enhance the roleplaying experience, by shifting Perception checks off-screen. It is particularly useful for novice players who struggle with the concept of metagaming or veterans with a competitive spirit.

I recognize though that you have to balance this against the countervailing factor: Players just outright plain love rolling dice. I know I do. Where possible, you want them to do it. It's how we have fun.

Open rolled Sense Motive checks are another example which really pit the player against their character unnecessarily. It is 'unfun' pretending your PC does not suspect an NPC when in fact you as the player do.

I actually didn't particularly like the art - which is heresy because it's WAR! (Is there a hellknight that suppresses that particular form of heresy?)

However, by the time I finished reading the backstory, I came to understand and then rather appreciate the art. The Order of the Rack was a really gutsy choice for a PC Hellknight.

I see we're well past the trope of PCs witnessing their relatives die and seeking vengeance. Now they're killing their relatives and calling it justice. Another engaging bio - well done Mr. McCreary.

You guys are 2 for 2 on these.

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Lazzero's a dick! Objective achieved.

A great iconic write up. It almost has a plausibility, with the effects of bullying gradually snowballing into something terrible.

Who wrote this backstory? Mr. Moreland?

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A Brookes scenario. Looking forward to this one!

Sorry, that was uncalled for. A bad habit.

Just so I don't thread derail, here are a few of the basic portal tricks a portalist can master, in case others such as Luthorne are interested:

- boomerang portal
- double portal hop
- elemental blast portal
- retaliatory portal
- stealth portal
- transposition portal
- immediate portal

And here are some of the arch portal choice available at higher levels:

- contingent portal
- ghost portal
- matador portal
- karmic portal
- rapid portal strike
- redirecting portal

and then there's the portal storm...

Excited for the new line - thanks for the scoop Greg!

@sepik121 - I'm biased, but the portalist has added a new "dimension" of tactical fun to our table. Those little buggers seem to get everywhere. No BBEG hiding behind his minions is safe.

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Congrats Liz!!

Liz's role in this community's history cannot be understated. She was also one the directing minds behind the weeknight Pathfinder Chat as well.

P.S. Awesome Illo.

P.P.S. And congrats to Chris as well!

A salute to the Order of the Amber Die!

(Great stuff!)

Mike Bramnik wrote:
Awesome news, and great photo caption :)

Yeah! That might be the caption of the year.

(Er and maybe of 2014 too - this year's still kinda young)

Welcome back! looking forward to it.

mcv wrote:
Opening Volley (UC): This has got to be the ultimate switch-hitter feat. Your ranged attack gives you a bonus on your next melee attack. No idea who would use this other than a switch-hitter. Of course you're only going to get this bonus once in most combats. Unless you've got a back up ranged weapon.

Opening Volley is a really cool and flavorful feat concept, which to my mind doesn’t quite work out in practice.

The feat provides:

Whenever you deal damage with a ranged attack, you gain a +4 circumstance bonus on the next melee attack roll you make against the opponent. This attack must occur before the end of your next turn.

Sounds cool! But consider the myriad of very common circumstances when you won’t be able to pull it off:

1. Your initial ranged attack misses the foe.

2. Your initial ranged attack kills the foe.

3. Someone else in your party kills the opponent off before you can make that melee attack.

4. You can’t reach the foe to strike with a melee attack before the end of your next turn.

5. You can’t reach the foe without drawing an attack of opportunity and you’re not prepared to risk it (the route is not clear or perhaps you are based by another foe in the intervening period).

I do think this feat concept was on the right track, but I’d like to see it re-worked so that it has more practical use before I'd select it over another available option. Perhaps conferring the melee attack bonus whether the ranged attack hits or not, or have the bonus last longer removing the “end of next turn” requirement. Those suggestions might cause the feat to become overpowered rather quickly though.

As an aside, one of the reasons I dig this feat is it's one of the few combat feats that has no prerequisites. I don’t know why, but I always find that cool. That should happen more often.

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It's back again!

Adam and Brandon rule!

Starts the chanting crescendo frenzy:

"Green Blood..."
"Black Rock..."
"Green Blood,"
"Black Rock,"
"Green Blood,"
"Black Rock,"
"Green Blood,"
"Black Rock,"
"Green Blood!!!"
"Black Rock!!!"

Aldarionn wrote:

Our party is:

Those Guys!

Those guys look like they're going to be a lot of fun! Nice job all around.

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Our group has passed on the much cooler names “The Canopic Jar Heads” and “The Sarcopha-Guys” and has tentatively gone with “Millennia”.

Their membership includes:

1. The Enigmatic “Mister Sra”

“Mister Sra” is a sentient hive-minded swarm of scarab beetles. The beetles are capable of combining together to disguise themselves as the enigmatic “Mister Sra”, a figure whose non-existent face is hidden behind a cloak and dark bandages. Meeester Sra is very tight-lipped about his own agenda, but it involves anxiously exploring the ruins of Wati. He’s searching for something…

NG Coalescent 1 (a playable swarm race with racial class levels from “It Came From the Stars”, a 3rd party source book from Zombie Sky Press). He might also later mix in levels of cleric of Khepri.

2. Eshep the Ibis , Mummified Warrior

Eshep was once betrothed to an Osirion nobleman of high standing, millennia ago. But tragedy struck and she instead swore vengeance against the Forgotten Pharaoh after his minions had her new family executed over an imagined slight. In a fit of despair she called upon the sacred Ibis bird to grant her the power to take her revenge. But after Hakotep I suddenly died on his own accord before she could take action and there was nothing left for her to do but commit ritual suicide in grief. Now that Hakotep is flirting with ‘re-birth’ millennium later, Eshep is suddenly back to take care of business. She’s sort of a female version of ‘Crow’, but more mummy wrap than goth.

LN female human Mummy 1 (a home brew Pathfinderized and powered-up version of the PC class from 3.5’s “Libris Mortis”). The player plans to mix in barbarian levels (invulnerable rager).

3. Hanjet the Embalmer

Hanjet is a student of mummification who laments the declining art of his people. He’s fascinated by anything ancient or ancestral. His necromantic bolster ability has a half-decent synergy with Eshep, at least until he can start animating his own undead servitors to make the GM's life difficult.

LN male human Osirian, necromancer 1, with undead focus school.

4. Septhys, Worshipper of Black Cats

The enchanting and unpredictable Septhys cannot be trusted, yet the party must depend on her. As the party cleric, Septhys is stiffed with the unfortunate task of trying to figure out how to handle the healing for the party’s mummy (negative energy only) and swarm (channels only) and has had to burn her first two feats on dual channeling and selective channeling. The party promises to make it up to her.

CN female human Osirian cleric of Bastet 1 (animal and charm domains)

There you have it: a "cat", a "bird", a "beetle" and an embalmer. What could go wrong?

Windspirit wrote:

Really good work on this module.

I especially like the focus on roleplay, the reasearch rules (brilliant) and the race.

Yes, the research rules in this volume were a great idea. They add much more tension.

Well done Mr. Pett!

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It's kinda a toss up for me as to what's cooler here - a story with Jasilia and Ojan in it or the chance for fiction by Chris Carey!

Loved this:

"She would never forgive herself if she got him killed."


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I am very happy to be digging into Jim Grove’s “The Half-Dead City”.

One thing that has just jumped out at me is the footnote to “Twilight of the Phoenix”, the adventure proposal from 2008, which was from the final round of the original RPG Superstar competition.

Anybody else remember the camel chase, the collapsing tower of glass? Or the eclipse event?

That brings back great memories. If you happen to be an Osirion junkie who came into Pathfinder post-08, I would look it up. It might be among the ‘awesomest’ of adventures to remain in concept form and you can already see its formative influence in "Mummy's Mask".

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I never go anywhere near Osirion without my trusted copy of Sekmekh Binwari's Most Reputable and Honest Truthful Guide.

(That was awesome)

P.S. Many folks just don't appreciate how good an ab workout summoning actually is.

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I appreciate the Player's Guide has some marketing value, but seriously, this is an insanely nice guide for free. I would add this to my downloads even if I wasn't going to run this campaign.

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Very much looking forward to this volume and the kick-off of this series. Jim Groves will be exceptional as always.

I especially look forward to an adventuring party (preferably all-Shoanti) making sure the Half-Dead city stays only half-dead.

Green Blood on a Black Rock, now franchising. Sounds awesome!

Adam Daigle, Brandon Hodge and some of the veteran players are probably the people you most want to tap. But as to one point. . .

Lord Snow wrote:
4) Why was the ruling made that monsters keep their injuries from round to round? not only does this sort of rule out any monster with fast healing (it would have a significant advantage of healing fully after each fight while others don't), it also ensures that the further you go into the tournament, the shorter and more luck intensive matches are going to get. For example, in the linked tournament report, the finals was described as unexciting due to low HP pools on the combatants. Is there a reason I'm missing why the monsters don't just heal entirely from match to match?

I don't know if this quirk is still in the tournament, but at one time every monster healed a specific amount between rounds - and it wasn't a lot. When your monster took a big hit, you felt it.

There were indeed fast healing monsters, in particular the troll. The troll was a lot lower CR than the average beastie in the competition, but its ability to start every round at full hit points was supposed to compensate, maybe even making it a potential tournament favourite. ("Outwit, outlast, outplay. . .")

This was complicated by strategic considerations. There were also monsters in the draft such as a juvenile black dragon (acid breath) and a fire elemental. They were likely to perform quite well against a troll and a bad bracket match up would spell an early exit.

This made for some interesting considerations. When you picked your monster, you had to pay attention to how much it healed inbetween rounds. This was written on every monster's card.

So yes, this could easily be run with full healing inbetween each round - I think that would be cleaner and I agree it would lead to longer battles in later rounds. But it would also change the way you evaluate your creature choices. A high hp, low AC beast who gets to heal up for free might becomes more valuable than a low hp high AC monster for example. Hard to say.

Cool beans.

"Always bet on Bulette"

Man! Some of those more panoramic pictures bring back memories!

<raises klar in salute!>

ThatWeirdGeckoGuy wrote:

Hey, thanks for coming to answer my questions!

If I may ask a few more...

1) Would you still limit them to 2 rings?

Yes, there is unfortunately nothing in the description that gets around that limit. If you could afford the expensive hand of glory you could increase it to three. Otherwise just keep trading up for better rings.

In retrospect, I'd like to have seen a feat that lets a PC take an extra ring, a feat which can be taken more than once.

ThatWeirdGeckoGuy wrote:
2) How often do you see them going into humanoid form? Reading the race, it really seems like swarm form will be the form in use 99% of the time, even in combat.

I would have thought the opposite. It's likely problematic to be travelling around town as a swarm. Whereas in combat, I would probably want to take advantage of the swarm's characteristics as soon as possible.

ThatWeirdGeckoGuy wrote:
3) What role in the party do you see one of these characters, if they only take Coalesent levels?

A lot of that depends on which abilities for the swarm is selected - you can go a lot of different ways. In general, coalescents are reliable (auto)damage dealers and de-buffers (distraction). They excel at hitting multiple opponents at a time and are an extreme minion-bane. They also help shape the battlefield, as most opponent try to avoid sharing the same space as the swarm, which gives a bit of battlefield control and great protection to spellcasters behind them. Their damage against single targets is far from the highest though, especially when compared to front-line fighter-types and until the DR and AC get rolling, the defence is not always front-line worthy either.

4) What classes do you see multi-classing well with this racial class?

Non-fighter types, mostly. Cleric is helpful as the more channel energies the better. Any spellcaster is fun, just pay attention to which spells can benefit you and which can't. At low levels, I'd be tempted to just keep grabbing coalescent levels, at least to level 4 or 5.

ThatWeirdGeckoGuy wrote:
Thanks again for taking the time. I'm going for a swarm of the microfauna of a jungle, and trying to figure out party role and placement.

Sounds groovy - I hope its a fun game!

I'd actually love to see some sample coalescent builds. I'll have to post a few of mine some time.

ThatWeirdGeckoGuy wrote:

I have a few questions about Coalescent Characters. When they are in Medium Humanoid form, it loos like a swarm of (Whatever) clumped together.

Where does the voice come from?

That raspy sound you hear is the swarm grinding against itself to simulate a humanoid voicebox. It takes years and advanced coordination to develop the skill, but hivemind is very handy.

Or, if you prefer, I'd go with something that involves 'magic'.

ThatWeirdGeckoGuy wrote:

Is there any reason if my swarm is a mass of 1" tall gorillas, my Medium Humanoid form can not or should not be in the shape of a gorilla? Or my swarm of snakes being a snake-body with a tail and no legs?

Obviously it can't give mechanical boost, but I'm wondering the authors intentions.

If there was no mechanical change resulting in a game effect, I would think most GMs would be fine with it. "RAW" the humanoid form is required to be humanoid.

P.S. A 1" tall gorilla swarm is just awesome.

ThatWeirdGeckoGuy wrote:
How does this race balance out not being able to have, basically, any gear? The concept is AWESOME, and would work great in a low magic setting, but it's restrictions on carrying gear make it appear to be a serious handicap once magical gear comes into play.

You are right - it is a disadvantage, though one that helps to balance the race. Coalescents have some heavy-duty abilities.

A couple of tips to help:

Remember a lot of magic items can be used when it is in humanoid form. Just watch out for "buffs" that target a single creature as they are useless in any form.

Magic rings operate in both humanoid and swarm form - do what you can to trade for magic rings.

That's my two cents.

Lilith wrote:
Green blood! Black rock! Green blood! Black rock!

Green Blood on a Black Rock is coming!?


I am so jealous of those Free Captains who enter. Can't wait to learn what monsters will be put forward in 4713!

[Joins Lilith in high-octane blood sport chant: "Green Blood! Black Rock!. . ."]

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I just wanted to give props for the subtle use of the number 56 in the Adventure Background in this fun mod.

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All money goes to Wayfinder? How surprised am I that Paizo is doing something swell for the fans who do great stuff for Paizo? Not very. Nice synergy guys - or should I say stacking bonus.

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TwilightKnight wrote:
This premise just sounds weird. I can't wait to play it! :-)

I dunno, sounds to me like a bit of a snoozer. [/cymbal crash]

Quiche Lisp wrote:
This new base class looks really interesting ; I remember reading the original version in KQ and liking it.


That was a good article. A good choice for an expansion.

Eric Hinkle wrote:
I'd be getting this one just for Castle Everstand. It'll be interesting to see what a castle made (originally) by a draw from the Deck of Many Things looks like!.


Castle Everstand is getting the big treatment?!

That is awesome. Very exciting news.

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I agree. Not only do I not mind the ads, I typically read them all.

It's been said before but back in the pre-internet days of Dragon and Dungeon that was a key way to learn about new products. They're not selling me toasters, they're typically advertising the very types of things I'd be interested in as a KQ reader.

Some of the ad art is really high quality - it's almost like bonus content. Well maybe that's pushing it, but I expect a healthy industry magazine to carry at least some ads for me to peruse.

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Man! Seems like it was just yesterday that those two were teaming up to co-author "Shut In" in Dungeon #128:

"Not all evil spawns in ancient ruins or on fiendish planes. Sometimes all corruption needs to take root is a jealous memory, cultivated bitterness, and a lonely place to bloom. . ."

Still awesome. Congrats to you both!

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It is of course a real coup to have Rich Pett come over to the US, but the return of Steve Greer is also a big deal, in my view. He worked on some of the very earliest Pathfinder modules and it would be great to hear from him on his experiences.

My last bump - just two days to go.

Thanks to the many of you who have helped out!

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With less than a week to go before this expires, I am upping the ante.

If you hit that like button I will:

1. Psychically send you an imaginary klar, personally autographed by the jothka of every major Shoanti tribe.

2. Jump a hell knight and dispense with him in an exotic fashion, while dedicating it to you.

Many thanks,


Magnum opus is an excellent way of describing this - it is awesome that it has been compiled into one volume. Is it really the largest ever?

Hey thanks guys!

I appreciate those extra likes.

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Dear Paizonians,

There is a company that donates a dollar to a charity each time someone hits the “like” button on its charitable facebook page . < ---- that’s the link!

Currently, the featured charity is one that is very near and dear to me: Bond Child and Family Development.

Could you please take a half second and hit that “like” button?

Bond Child and Family Development (AKA Bond Street by us old timers) is a charity that targets two very poor neighbourhoods in Toronto, Canada by focussing on the youngest of children. The crown jewels of the charity is an award winning day care program which is teamed by specialists trained to work with kids with special needs, particularly autism. They also have a park with actual grass in the middle of the concrete jungle and something called a Snoezelin room. The kids are adorably cute and totally worth an electronic click.

Like everywhere these days, money is tight. In fact Bond almost had to close shop recently and so every fundraising drive matters. Over the years I’ve learned that gamers are unusually charitable and typically above the curve on tech savvy. Please prove me right and hit that button. But I’d love it if you could do more – if everyone just alerts one other person to this, we could really set that like button on fire. (DC 22 Will save against chain letter - no need to go crazy!)

Lastly, for the sake of disclosure, I should mention I am well familiar with both Bond as well as the company doing the donating, but those are both good things.

Now in order to satisfy the traditions of a truly off topic posting and to add some Paizo-inspired content, here’s a collection some of my favourite old Paizo threads that I got to play around in over the years (sniff, sniff). This one pertains to one of my favourite gaming sessions during the 3.5 Paizo Dungeon era arising from an old Paizo contest, from a time long before rpg Superstar. This one is about what happens if the Were Cabbages foolishly attempt to conquer True Dungeon. This one is the chronicle of the first Green Blood on a Black Rock tournament, an event which thanks to Adam Daigle and Brandon Hodge has since become a really awesome event. I hope it will continue to rock houses at PaizoCon to come. And of course, as long as I am reminiscing, here is the thread where Ask a Shoanti finally got his start as an advice columnist (thanks Liz!). Where has the time gone?

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This is awesome.

Enjoy your newest adventure.

zylphryx wrote:

So during Paizocon 2009, one of my characters was given the title of Abra Duchess. The form I received did not spell out any specific benefit (full text in the items found section of the form states "This certificate establishes that the character _______ is a full noble of the right and honorable Empire of Taldor, having gained the noble title of Abra Duke.")

Aside from not having to make a bluff check if she needs to "pose" as nobility, is there any benefit whatsoever or is it just flavor?

There is this thread here but it is not official. Approximately three years later, I think the answer is that it is just flavor, but it would be cool if they did have mechanical benefits - some of those guys worked pretty hard for their titles.

That and Taldor does love its titles. Maybe some day!

Very cool log Radu! Sounds like you got yourself a fun group.

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