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The councilors complete their enlightenment and become gods. Unfortunately, this also binds them by the same laws that limit real gods; they cannot directly interfere with the mortal world. They can grant power to worshippers and intercede in special circumstances, but are otherwise barred from the world.
This leaves a huge power vacuum and the structure of the utopia falls apart as those maintaining it can no longer do so directly. Their underlings are probably the first to become their priests and rush about in a panic to try to stabilise the failing nation.
Other nations take this opportunity to invade without fear of the nigh-omnipotent leaders. Chaos everywhere!
Maybe even horrific things the councilors had sealed, become unsealed as their power leaves the material plane.
It doesn't just go bad in one way. It goes bad in every way. The nation was so utterly reliant on their perfect leaders that they are helpless without them.
I write gods as sometimes even more fallible than mortals. They have a much bigger scope on which to screw up. Think of them as extremely powerful but distant wizards, with no more omniscience than you would expect from a master spellcaster.
This, of course, means there are lots of interesting things for the mortals to deal with! Enter the adventurers. It's far less fun if the gods make everything perfect all the time.
Pondering 'pets' for the various schools of magic. It might be neat. They would be optional, costing extra XP. Not every mage would have one.
Nature gets animal companion, probably the only one that's actually of any real power in combat.
Arcane could get a homonculus. Mostly because I want to reprise a fun NPC of mine that is a knitted doll homonculus called 'Mittens'. As the domain of thought, Arcane gets the most intelligent companion.
I'm not sure about the rest.
Death could get a traditional familiar, maybe, in line with its theme as 'pact magic'? Its unique feature could be a 'share spells' or even 'arc node' like spell conduit ability.
Got any ideas for Holy and Chaos?
I love superhero games, and would recommend Mutants & Masterminds 2nd edition over 1st or 3rd edition.
1st is a putative system that clearly shows what they wanted to make but didn't work out well mechanically.
2nd is the completion of that system and mechanically sound, if easily unbalanced. Experienced players can squeeze a stunning amount out of a limited pool of points.
3rd is balance taken too far, where dizzying arrays of potential combinations were reduced down into a much more confining set of options.
You can do far more things in Mutants and Masterminds than you can in GURPS. I have played in several fantasy games from high fantasy to grimdark, a lot of superhero games and science fiction games. For a while I ran an X-Com-ish game using the system. It is ridiculously customisable. You can make any character, provided you have the points and levels to pay for it.
It falls down in a few areas, such as being incredibly easy to break and the rules even say it relies on GM fiat to rule out broken characters. And there's no good way to handle loot, as characters cannot increase their power except by gaining levels. Loot cannot raise key statistics above the level-limited caps (and unless you're doing something strange, said statistics always tend to be at maximum for your level).
I wouldn't do a ki pool. The key to the Cipher is that it has a very small reserve to spend from and replenishes it quickly by hitting things in combat. To do otherwise would be... not a Cipher. That's what sets them apart from the other classes in Pillar of Eternity (most use a spells per day system).
If you mean reduce it to something like 1 point of Focus replenished per hit, yeah, that's probably doable (along with proportionally cheaper powers and a lower max Focus).
I have finished the game and learned more about Ciphers outside of combat. A redo of the class would definitely involve more of the 'soul detective' skillset.
(Based on my Archmage campaign setting, but this scenario should be generic enough for anyone.)
You are delving deep beneath the earth, overcoming many challenges and come across a large, ornate chamber of furnished stone. In the centre stands a large crystal, its surface shimmering with fleeting glimpses of impossible worlds.
You see five apparitions, each in turn offering a boon if you do as they ask, and a curse if you do otherwise:
The first is a woman wreathed in a dappled green glow, wearing a plain dress that seems formed of leaf-litter. At her feet you see mushrooms growing on a carpet of bones. "I am Yldrienne, God of Renewal. This crystal is very dear to me, and if you should take it to my temple I will grant you endless health. If you do not, you will suffer poxes and maladies until the end of your days."
The second is a man adorned in rich robes and jewelry, lit by a harsh white light that reveals a hoard of coins at his feet. "I am Malevi, God of Wealth. This crystal is extremely valuable, and my temple will pay you handsomely for it. You shall never want for anything. Do not, and your debts shall be large and your pockets empty."
The third appears as a woman of vivacious curves, dressed flatteringly yet covers her face with a silver mask. A blue mist rises about her, forming brief shapes that hint at terrible unknowns. "I am Lyriasha, God of Knowledge. The crystal holds countless secrets, and should you grant it to my temple, I will bestow vast knowledge and wisdom upon you. Keep it from me, and you will be dogged by ignorance and conspiracy until paranoia destroys you."
The fourth is a strangely dressed woman, like a harlequin in countless colours yet the bloody red seems to stand out more than any other. Spikes of bone and horn surround her, twisted and horrific despite the intricate artworks that cover every surface. "I am Shelas, God of Passion. Give unto me this thing of old desires, and I shall grant you inspiration, confidence and joy. You shall master skills with ease and be the envy of nations. Do not, and you will fumble and fail, plagued with doubt and misfortune."
A while passes before the fifth appears. The whole of the room darkens and her shroud seems to engulf existence. Death stands before you, dressed in black. Her pale face hides behind a funeral veil, and you swear that if you focus you instead see a grisly skull. "I am Mevyann, God of Death. This crystal is a fragment of a world's doom. Destroy it and I shall grant you a swift end, free from these petty curses. If you choose to offer it to another or take it for yourself, I leave you to their whims.
The last vision vanishes, leaving you in the room with the crystal. What do you do?
(if you can make some good Knowledge (religion) checks, you might get some hints!)
I was going okay without any patches, being pretty careful to avoid the major bugs.
Now my party (including main character) has permanent debuffs.
Also I wish it had a 'notify me when a character is idle in combat' toggle. There are notifiers for damn near every other possible event in combat.
Blunderbuss with extra DR penetration plus the Penetrating Shot modal talent = Carnage. :D
I dunno. Their place as potential PCs isn't so important.
On to something else! Have I talked about Prime Shards before? Maybe. I'm too tired to check. Oh well, here goes:
A Prime Shard is a cubic crystalline structure, varying in size, although the smallest viable shard is about six inches long; smaller shards are valuable only for their extreme rarity. The most distinctive feature of a Prime Shard is that its surface is reflective, like a mirror, and yet does not represent its surroundings. Instead, it seems to reflect unknown worlds, often beyond description. While it is commonly believed that Prime Shards are the shattered remnants of the Prime and that they reflect the old world, this has not been proven nor corroborated by the gods.
Zerrid, a Myrdanar scholar of the magical sciences, was the first to discover the potent properties of the Prime Shards. She was extraordinarily lucky to get her hands on two Shards. Her contemporaries rarely had the opportunity to see a single Shard in their lifetimes. At the time, they were regarded as little more than curiosities.
She performed countless tests both alchemical and arcane to delve into the nature of the Shards, and with two of them in her possession she was able to learn far more than any had before. While inert individually, a pair of Shards could be used as a magical relay. Spells channeled into the larger Shard could be directed to emerge from its smaller counterpart.
During these experiments, Zerrid also unlocked the power of Shard binding and thus became the first Archmage. The Shards allowed her to expand the range of her spells to extraordinary degrees, albeit at the cost of vast amounts of mana crystals.
When her research was presented to the Houses of Zer Terall, the hunt for more Shards began in earnest. Many were already kept as heirlooms of wealthy families and were confiscated before the secret of their true value spread too far.
The War of Towers
This surge in magical development prompted the Myrdanar to return to the surface and engage in war against the Syldanar. It was the first war of the Archmages. The Myrdanar had the initial advantage, able to cast spells of grand scale upon the battlefields. However, the tremendous amounts of mana crystals required to fuel these vast sorceries put a strain on Zer Terall's alchemists.
It was named the 'War of Towers' for the construction of many tall platforms from which Archmagi would rain down destruction on their enemies. Often, once positions were fortified, Archmage towers were expanded and improved to serve as permanent places from which magical dominion could be exerted.
In a move of overconfidence, the Myrdanar deployed an archmage for every shard they had. Several were under-prepared for the war, having previously been mere magical researchers, and were caught unaware by Syldanar spies. Thus, the secret of the Archmage fell into Syldanar hands.
As the war progressed, fighting began to revolve more around the control and capture of towers, both to capture Shards and the archmages that held them, and to extend the range of their own magical support. Archmages could not be trained fast enough to replace losses, and such powerful masters of magic became increasingly reluctant to take part in the war.
With the ratio of Shards to archmages increasing, their strategies changed. While the towers remained important, armies began carrying smaller Shards on tall banners, allowing their supporting archmages to strike from afar without being in range of an opposing archmage's spells. The focus of the war returned to armies, forces of elites carrying and guarding a Shard in the middle of a larger force of regulars.
My brain has run out of think. I may work more on the War of Towers later, if people are interested. Poke holes in the strategy and tactics if you like. I appreciate opportunities to tune up the story.
I have run into actual mind-reading by ciphers, even though the player character doesn't have this option.
Also! I think Obsidian plans a level 13-20 expansion, as the wizard grimoires list up to 10th (!) level spells but have no slots for them (max 6th level spells at level 12). It might be better to just write the cipher as a 1-12 class and fill in the rest later.
I don't think it's having the listed effect, either. Hooray for Obsidian's notorious reputation for bugs.
Also, I ran into Kurren. He describes the Ciphers as 'soul detectives'. That seems like a neat angle to fill out the rest, especially since PoE does not grant the classes any non-combat abilities.
According to Kurren, they can see where souls have been recently, who has held an item, tracking and so forth. I'd be tempted to give them an ability that works like scent except for anything that has a soul or animating essence (so it does include undead, but not robots or traps).
Cipher is my first, too. Once I get there and learn about that stuff, I can incorporate it into the dead levels of this class.
Also, I think there are some more bugs in the Cipher: I took the talent that increases your Soul Whip damage by x1.2. Instead, it increased my multiplier to 2.4. I was expecting 1.4 (20% + 20%) or 1.44 (1.2 x 1.2).
I got burned out on both the game and Chucklefish's poor behaviour as developers.
I did try again recently (recent stable, not nightly), and played for a bit. I made a small house, dug a little, and said 'screw this' and quit.
Maybe I'm just jaded due to my excitement for the game so long ago and subsequent hideous disappointment and the long drag of terrible awfulness that came thereafter.
I wrote it in quite a hurry, so I probably made a stupid pile of mistakes. Also, maximum focus is shown in the class chart. Focus cost is 5 + 5x power level (the same as in PoE). I stretched the max Focus pool over 20 levels. Since 12 doesn't stretch to 20 very accurately, it's probably worth redoing.
Also, I think having higher max focus is a talent. If you're getting higher than your starting focus without that, it might be a bug.
Edit: I just looked again and yes, you're right. I accidentally the 6th level powers column up one row.
Let's call the current metamagic mechanic 'tall'. You use a higher level spell slot when you add a metamagic feat to a spell.
What do people think of the following?
Wide: To cast a spell with a metamagic feat, you must expend X spell slots of the same level where X is the feat's spell level modifier. For a caster that prepares spells, that spell requires that many extra slots to prepare.
Long: To cast a spell with a metamagic feat, you must spend X consecutive multiples of the spell's casting time (minimum full-action) concentrating, immediately before the action spent to cast the spell, where X is the feat's spell level modifier. You must pass any concentration checks to ignore distractions or damage during this additional time or the spell fails.
Yes, that does mean a long quickened fireball takes four full-round actions then a swift action. Oh well.
Maybe these could even be combined! Is that terrible? It might be!
A tall-empowered wide-maximised fireball takes a standard action to cast and costs three 5th level spell slots to cast.
I really like how this class works in Pillars of Eternity, and its mechanics are similar enough to Pathfinder's that I thought I'd have a go at converting it. PoE spans only 12 levels, so the Cipher looks a bit stretched when expanded to 20. An alternative route would be to add more abilities after 12th instead of spreading out the existing ones (as I have done here).
I promise no balance, only the result of rare and short-lived excitement on my part.
Also I haven't finished converting the higher level powers and haven't written a capstone yet. It's kind of sparse. Contribute!
For those not familiar with what's going on here:
The Cipher is a hybrid combat/caster character that uses Powers that cost Focus. The Focus pool is extremely limited, at most levels not even being large enough to cast two highest level Powers in a row.
The Cipher can replenish Focus in combat by hitting enemies with weapon attacks. While below maximum Focus, each attack deals some extra damage and that extra damage is also added to the Focus pool.
The Cipher flows between casting and fighting, as the Focus pool fills and empties. A Cipher with low Focus strikes powerful blows while a Cipher with high Focus uses frightening psychic powers. These two strikingly different styles come together in a single warrior.
Battlefield Role: Damage/Control
I have been playing for a while, and yes, you do really have to keep a constant eye on your party's actions to make sure they aren't just standing around doing nothing. I wish there was a more noticeable indicator to say whether someone's idle in combat.
I've also seen the party auto-attack other party members (usually after a confusion effect). I don't know if there is a de-target button. D:
I want PoE Cipher in Pathfinder. It's really cool and the abilities are wonderfully interactive. :D
The Cipher is a semi-combat class that spends 'Focus' to use psionic abilities, and recovers 1 Focus each time a hit is scored on an enemy. All of the Cipher's powers rely on external souls, and must target an ally or an enemy (never self). They often have different effects on the primary and secondary targets, such as Mind Wave: The primary target's soul erupts, causing them damage, and blasting out a cone of force that knocks down anyone behind them. It seems like all Cipher blast powers will discern between friend and foe, making them good for throwing into giant piles of melee.
Most of the other classes are almost directly comparable to PF classes.
The ones I've had in my party:
Wizard works like Arcanist. You prepare spells in a 'grimoire' and can cast X spells of each level per day. You can change out the prepared spells by swapping them in the grimoire, which has limited slots. Most of their spells seem to be 'blasty', and will do friendly fire. Careful positioning is key.
Chanter is a more interesting Bard. They string together 'verses' that can flow into each other, creating overlapping auras of buffs. After chanting enough verses, they can cast a powerful spell. They have no casting besides this, and tend to be a rather passive class.
Priest is Cleric. They get all their spells known at each level and can cast from them. They get an ability that is almost precisely 'channel energy'. It heals allies and harms undead. That's about it. Lots of heals and buffs, some single-target debuffs. Very little damage. I think each god grants a different combat talent (feat). The priest following me can get bonus accuracy with swords (meh) and arquebuses (awesome).
Fighter is Fighter. I've built one as a tank, with massive defenses and the ability to threaten more enemies. Unlike in PF, you can only make attacks of opportunity against a single target you are engaging in melee, and all others can move freely. A fighter can increase the number they can engage at once. Fighters can also knock down and probably other maneuvers in melee.
Ranger is Ranger. No spells, but has an animal companion and can do special attacks that hobble and bleed enemies, and make enemies take more damage from companion attacks. The pair seem to be about comboing with each other, adding effects that the other can exploit. The companion is also an 'infinite tank', as it does not use the health system and can be healed an unlimited amount per day. The ranger does become super sad (big attack penalties) when the companion is knocked out, though.
Normally, characters can only be healed up to X times their Endurance (hit points) per day, before having to rest. Wizards have a low multiplier, while front line types have a higher multiplier.
One I have heard some cool things about but not played is the Rogue. Melee rogue is apparently worthless. Instead, the ideal rogue gets hold of a blunderbuss as soon as possible and sneak attacks with it. The blunderbuss fires eight pellets, and 'on hit' abilities such as sneak attack apply to every pellet. That's terrifying.
I have a kind of zergish swarm in my Archmage setting, called 'The Hateful Flesh'. It's an infectious shapeshifting disease that was created when, after the gods withdrew Gene-Magic from the dwarves, a bunch of rebel dwarf mages tried to substitute Chaos magic instead.
There's now one fewer dwarven nations.
The idea is that they can hold things with their feet but not perform complex tasks. They're not a technological race, although there's no particular mental barrier against learning. They just don't have thumbs.
Also, hello again and welcome back to the thread! If there's any prior stuff I've mentioned that you'd like to ask about, I encourage you to ask. The more interaction you prompt, the more it helps me to flesh out the world.
Thinking about Harpies.
Harpies are totally the kind of weird hybrid that the Rhayud Rhuz would have made, and could have spread out across the world. But how well would they work as player characters?
Consider a humanoid that has large wings instead of arms, grasping birdfeet, and a feathered tail. Obviously, they're going to be severely limited in what they can do without help, due to the lack of hands and the limited ability of their talons.
What would you do with an adventuring PC that gave up hands for the ability to fly?