Attack the Stat Block

Friday, May 18, 2018

In Monday's monster blog, Mark told you about some of the changes we made to monsters to make them more engaging and easy to run. So how did we turn all that into something you can use? Well, we put a lot of thought into making a new monster stat block that would be more concise, while remaining flexible enough that we can still keep a similar level of complexity for some of our most powerful and iconic monsters.

But let's start small. Well... big, but also small. You'll see.

So Now There's Ogres, Okay?

Oh no... what's that smell? It's like a gym bag ate roadkill!

Ogre Creature 3

Chaotic, Evil, Giant, Humanoid, Large

Perception +5, darkvision

Languages Giant

Skills +1; Acrobatics +4, Athletics +9

Str +5, Dex -1, Con +2, Int -2, Wis +0, Cha -2

Items hide armor, 6 javelins, ogre hook


AC 16, TAC 14; Fort +8, Ref +3, Will +5

HP 60


Speed 25 feet

[[A]] Melee ogre hook +10 (deadly 1d10, reach 10 feet, trip), Damage 1d10+7 piercing

[[A]] Ranged javelin +8 (thrown 30 feet), Damage 1d6+7

Ah, of course. It's an ogre! This is an example of one of the simplest stat blocks in the playtest. Ogres are big bruisers, and they don't have a whole lot of special actions to use. They play a role as big challenges for low-level groups and in groups as minions for higher-level threats, so having them be simple makes plenty of sense for how they're used in the game. You might notice that this stat block is shorter than a Pathfinder First Edition stat block. We think this will give us more room for other text in our bestiaries and adventures. Some elements went away because of rules simplifications, while other pieces of information, like organization and environment, will appear in the monster's text instead of in the stat block.

We don’t have art of ogres or redcaps yet, but check out this illustration by Wayne Reynolds of a bugbear!

Quick reminder: the [[A]] symbol is code for "action," and it will have a special icon in the actual Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook and other products. You'll also see an [[R]] later to represent a reaction.

You can see how a stat block leads off with the creature's name and level, followed by its traits. These traits include its alignment and size. The top section of the stat block continues with the first stats you'll typically use, since you'll be determining whether the PCs and monsters can see one another (requiring you to use Perception), or the party might start out with an interaction (meaning you'll use the monster's languages and skills). The skills entry first lists a number you can use (in addition to the relevant ability modifier) for any skills the monster doesn't have listed, followed by a list of all the skills the monster has a different modifier for. So if you needed to roll an Acrobatics check for the ogre, you'll roll 1d20 and add 4, which is much better than its base modifier plus its Dex modifier (a total of +0).

You'll also notice the monster gives just its ability score modifiers instead of scores. This lets you make calculations more quickly, and since monsters don't increase their scores the same way PCs do, listing those is unnecessary. Monsters with items also list those up top.

There's a line to show where the monster's defenses start. Our ogre's pretty straightforward, with just ACs, saves, and Hit Points.

The next line separates the statistics and actions the monster can use on its turn. Here, that's Speed and the ogre's Strikes: an ogre hook and javelins! Even though the ogre doesn't have any special actions, it does have some special options due to its ogre hook. In parentheses, you can see the ogre hook's traits: deadly 1d10 (making it deal 1d10 more damage on a critical hit—ow!), a reach of 10 feet (letting the ogre attack past the first space), and trip (which lets the ogre trip using its hook instead of its body). Just as in Pathfinder First Edition, the reach comes from the ogre's size—the hook itself isn't long enough to increase reach.

So you can see the stat block is organized so that you're looking at the middle section when it's not the monster's turn, and at the bottom section on its turn. We think that will make it easier to use at the table, but we'd love to hear your feedback as you run these monsters during the playtest!

Blood and Boots

So how about a stat block that has a bit more going on? Here's a redcap: the nasty, brutal little fey with oversized scythes. This is a moderately complex monster. We won't be showing you any liches or pit fiends today, but the redcap will demonstrate how we present a few special abilities.

Redcap Creature 5

Evil, Fey, Small

Perception +10, low-light vision

Languages Aklo, Common, Giant, Sylvan

Skills +5; Acrobatics +13, Athletics +13, Deception +13, Intimidation +11, Nature +11, Stealth +13

Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4, Int +3, Wis +1, Cha +2

Items red cap, expert Medium scythe, iron boots

Red Cap (arcane, necromancy) A redcap's shapeless woolen hat is dyed with the blood of its victims. If the redcap loses its cap, it no longer benefits from fast healing and takes a -4 conditional penalty to its damage rolls. It can create a new cap in 10 minutes, but that cap doesn't grant its powers until the redcap has turned it red with Blood Soak. A cap has no benefit for creatures other than redcaps.


AC 20, TAC 19; Fort +8, Ref +11, Will +9

HP 55, fast healing 10; Weaknesses cold iron 5, irreligious

Irreligious (emotion, fear, mental) If a redcap sees a creature brandish a holy symbol of a good deity or use one for the Material Casting of a divine spell, the redcap must attempt a DC 17 Will save. On a failure, the redcap is frightened 4 and fleeing for 1 round; on a success, it's frightened 2; on a critical success, it's unaffected. To brandish a holy symbol, a creature must Interact to brandish it for 1 round (similar to Raising a Shield). Once a redcap has to attempt a save against a brandished holy symbol, it is bolstered against brandished holy symbols for the next 10 minutes.


Speed 50 feet

[[A]] Melee scythe +13 (deadly 1d10, trip), Damage 2d10+4 slashing
boot +13 (agile, versatile B), Damage 2d4+8 piercing

[[A]] Blood Soak (manipulate) The redcap dips its cap in the blood of a slain foe. The foe must have died in the last minute, and the redcap must have helped kill it. The redcap gains a +4 conditional bonus on damage rolls for 1 minute.

[[R]] Deadly Cleave

Trigger The redcap drops a creature to 0 Hit Points with a scythe Strike.

Effect The redcap makes another scythe Strike against a different creature, using the same multiple attack penalty as the scythe Strike that triggered this reaction. This counts toward its multiple attack penalty.

[[A]] Stomp The redcap Strides up to half its Speed and makes a boot Strike at any point during that movement. If the boot Strike hits a prone creature, it deals an extra 2d6 persistent bleed damage.

You can see here that the redcap has an ability to represent its blood-soaked hat, and that appears in the top section because it affects all of its statistics. You'll also notice the weakness to cold iron that comes from being a fey creature. One of the nice things about the new system of building monsters is that we can just give monsters the statistics we want them to have instead of sometimes building them in strange ways to get their statistics to be good. For instance, in Pathfinder First Edition, a fey might have had far more Hit Dice than expected to get its statistics high enough, which led to odd results from abilities that counted Hit Dice. Now, the redcap gets statistics that are suitable for its level and how it's used.

You can see the Irreligious ability is an example of a special ability that will come up when it's not the monster's turn. A redcap can be scared off by symbols of divinity!

In the bottom section, you see two special actions and a reaction. The reaction appears down here because the trigger is most likely to occur during the recap's own turn. You'll also see how some of the basic actions of the game end up being used in other actions. For instance, Stomp tells you that the redcap uses Stride and Strike. An ability like this lets you know any ways in which these actions operate differently than using them normally.

Spell It Out

How about just one more example for today? Let's look at how innate spells work. These are much like spell-like abilities from Pathfinder First Edition, but they function more like spells than they used to. The only difference between these and other spells is that the number of times the monster can cast them is based on the monster itself rather than on a spellcasting class. Innate spell entries look much like prepared spells, with a couple extra categories of usability. Here are some we stole from the efreeti:

Innate Arcane Spells DC 22, attack +17; Constant detect magic; 5th illusory object; 4th gaseous form, invisibility (×2); At Will plane shift (7th, to Elemental Planes, Astral Plane, or Material Plane only); Cantrips produce flame (4th)

The spell DC is listed right there, along with the attack bonus for touch attacks since the efreeti has produce flame. Illusory object is presented the same way a prepared 5th-level spell would be, as are gaseous form and the two spell slots of invisibility. Anything that doesn't come in a level entry is cast at its lowest level unless a level appears in parentheses. You can see that happening with the produce flame cantrip, which the efreeti casts as a 4th-level spell. Its detect magic is level 1, but that's a constant ability that functions all the time for the efreeti. The other special way a creature can use innate spells is with at-will spells. These are spells the monster can cast as many times as it wants even though they aren't normally cantrips. The efreeti can cast plane shift any number of times, but the parentheses tell you that it's the 7th-level version and that it can go only to certain planes.

What do you think of this take on monster presentation? Do you think it'll be easy to use these stat blocks in your game?

Logan Bonner
Designer

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Tags: Pathfinder Playtest Wayne Reynolds
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Let me try rewriting that Redcap to make a little more sense to me.

.
.
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REDCAP // CREATURE 5
Small Fey (Evil)
Perception +10, low-light vision
Skills +5; Acrobatics +12, Athletics +12, Deception +12, Intimidation +10, Nature +10, Stealth +12
Languages Aklo, Common, Giant, Sylvan
Str +4, Dex +4, Con +4, Int +3, Wis +1, Cha +2
-----
Items red cap, expert Medium scythe, iron boots
Red Cap (arcane, necromancy) A redcap's shapeless woolen hat is dyed with the blood of its victims. If the redcap loses its cap, it no longer benefits from fast healing and takes a -4 conditional penalty to its damage rolls. It can create a new cap in 10 minutes, but that cap doesn't grant its powers until the redcap has turned it red with Blood Soak. A cap has no benefit for creatures other than redcaps.
-----
AC 20 (10 +5 lvl +4 Dex +1 size), TAC 19
Fort +8, Ref +11, Will +9
HP 55, fast healing 10; Weaknesses cold iron 5, theophobia
Theophobia (emotion, fear, mental) If a redcap sees a creature brandish a holy symbol of a good deity or use one for the Material Casting of a divine spell, the redcap must attempt a DC 17 Will save. On a failure, the redcap is frightened 4 and fleeing for 1 round; on a success, it's frightened 2; on a critical success, it's unaffected. (To brandish a holy symbol, a creature must Interact to brandish it for 1 round similar to Raising a Shield.) Once a redcap has attempted a save against a brandished holy symbol, its Theophobia does not apply for 10 minutes.
-----
Speed 50 feet
Melee scythe +13, 2d10+4 S (deadly 1d10, trip)
Deadly Cleave
Trigger The redcap drops a creature to 0 Hit Points with a scythe Strike.
Effect The redcap makes another scythe Strike against a different creature, using the same modifier as the scythe Strike that triggered this reaction. This counts toward its multiple attack penalty.
Melee boot +13, 2d4+8 B or P (agile)
Stomp The redcap Strides up to half its Speed and makes a boot Strike at any point during that movement. If the boot Strike hits a prone creature, it deals an extra 2d6 persistent bleed damage.
Blood Soak (manipulate) The redcap dips its cap in the blood of a slain foe. The foe must have died in the last minute, and the redcap must have helped kill it. The redcap gains a +4 conditional bonus on damage rolls for 1 minute.

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I kept their order of divisions: out of combat / need to know as players act / need to know when monster acts.

  • I fixed the type listing to be more natural and familiar. In the case of the Ogre, if I were doing him it would be Large Giant Humanoid (Chaotic, Evil).
  • I adjusted skills per Mark's correction in comments, and moved them above the less needed / useful Languages to be directly under Perception. Since sometimes non-Perception skills are used for initiative in PF2, this also makes more sense.
  • I broke items into their own division so ability scores are easier to find. This also makes it a little more clear that Red Cap is a magic item and not a trait of the creature.
  • I expanded the AC, since of all numbers in the statblock THIS is the number we most need explained for when things modify it.
  • I put the saves on a new line, per expanded AC being longer. This also just makes them easier to find generally.
  • I renamed Irreligious to a more accurate word, Theophobia, based on the context of the flaw causing fear in the redcap rather than indifference or hostility. I also cleaned up the formatting.
  • I cleaned up the formatting on the weapons.
  • I gave the secondary weapon its own proper action designation. If you meant it to be both a scythe and boot attack with a single action, you would have / should have said so more clearly. If you meant it to represent a ② two-action sequence, you also would have / should have said so.
  • I moved Deadly Cleave under the only attack that can trigger it, and cleaned up the wording, and also made the subheadings italics so they don't look like new actions.
  • Stomp is now directly under the attack it interacts with.
  • I moved the miscellaneous action that is least likely to be used, Bload Soak, to the bottom of the list.

.

This reads better to me. But going over this, I have a few more questions/comments:

  • I'm going to just assume all skills listed are at least Trained, otherwise they wouldn't be listed. But are they really all just Trained? If one of them is Expert or Master, like that high Deception, that should also be tagged with a superscript E or M. Even if none of either of the demonstrated monsters have any skills at Expert or higher, this convention should be adopted for any monsters that do have skills at Expert or higher... or for all skills if certain Untrained skills like the grapple-affecting Acrobatics and Athletics are always listed.
  • I have no idea why Touch AC is (only?) 2 lower for the Ogre, while only 1 lower for the Redcap.
  • Why don't the saving throws line up? Reflex is higher than Fortitude despite the scores being the same; Will is also higher than Fortitude despite the score being lower. If some of the saves are Untrained, Expert, Master or Legendary, this should be indicated with a superscript U, E, M or L for when it's inevitably applicable.
  • Why is the DC the Redcap has to save against to avoid fear a set number, 17, instead of being based on the level and charisma of its opponent, the priest? Also even if it stays static, this means the redcap only has to roll an 8 or higher to pass; were you really just trying to make it only go off one-third of the time?
  • The scythe is Expert, the boots are not. Why do the boots have the same attack bonus as the scythe? They should be +12 if the scythe is +13.
  • Speaking of attack bonus, should they actually be lowered by 1? The skills were 1 too high, and the attacks having the same number makes me think they are probably 1 too high as well.
  • If the AC is also 1 too high, because it was originally calculated in error as a 6th level creature without any of the numbers being fixed, then that would mean no size modifiers. And that would make me a very sad rat. :(
  • Fourth verse same as the first, are the saves also +1 too high?
  • Unless there are already universal rules for removing a piece of headgear and putting it back on as a free action, which seems to contradict your earlier change grip rules, then the Blood Soak ability should have a ② or ③ as its action type instead of ①. And if you don't go with my suggestion of just using numbers for text readers to indicate number of actions, then you need to actively spell out how many actions it takes in the ability's text.
  • With those levels of ability scores, why isn't it an adventurer? :3


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He was implying that their would be no spell-like Abilities I do believe.


Ectar wrote:
I think I'm always going to hate it if monster creation and advancement is significantly different from PC creation and advancement.

Can you expand upon why, Ectar - especially when Paizo have said you can build NPCs the same way you build PCs?


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
He was implying that their would be no spell-like Abilities I do believe.

Indeed - it appears that Innate spells are the same as Spell Point spells are the same as Prepared spells. If you can counter one, you can counter all - assuming Counter-Spell is a thing in PF2E, of course.


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Vidmaster7 wrote:
He was implying that their would be no spell-like Abilities I do believe.

Yes, a spell is a spell is a spell, regardless of its source/fuel (innate, spell points, slots).


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
I am not sure that any of the ogre's stats are directly related to ability scores at all. For example, the gap between Acrobatics and Athletics for the ogre does not match the gap between Dex and Str at all.
the gap actually could make sense. A Master level of Acrobatics and Expert Level of Athletics would result in exactly the skills shown.

Hmm... So you’re saying the +9 Athletics is derived from Strength plus Expert Proficiency (Level +1). 5+3+1=9. And Acrobatics is Dex plus Master Proficiency (Level +2): -1+3+2=4. That checks out. And presumably the +1 to all other skills is just Untrained Proficiency (Level -2); 3-2=1. But if that’s the case, the stat block is baking Strength and Dexterity on to its calculation of Athletics and Acronatics, while the modifier for all other skills would need to be applied on top of the appropriate Ability mod... that’s... a little unintuitive. The fact that you add the “all other skills” bonus on top of the appropriate ability mod could lead someone to assume they are likewise supposed to add the Athletics bonus on top of their strength mod, causing them to mistakenly double their strength bonus to Athletics. Alternatively, it could lead them to assume since they just add the Athletics modifier and don’t add Strength mod on Athletics checks that they should likewise not add an ability mod to other skill checks.

Dark Archive

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Pretty please can we get an updated set of condition cards to coincide with the launch of the new rules?

The condition cards (including the funny illustrations!) are some of the most useful reference tools I ever bought.

With the changes to conditions, everyone is going to ask: “What is a Frightened 4 again?” Best answer: Here’s a reference card. And ooh, look at the funny Goblin/Kobold/Whatever cowering in fear.


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I did indeed miss the equipment line, my bad for not looking carefully.

Now how do I add 5 levels of Barbarian to the Ogre or 3 levels of Sorcerer to the Redcap?

Can I actually add class levels to monsters or are we stuck with that class graft system from Starfinder and Unchained?

Also how do I make a Major NPCs out of an Ogre? I mean it's fine if I can use the PC rules to make an evil human BBEG but how dose this apply to Monsters that don't list a playable Ancestry?


How I'd do it is: add the levels onto the monster in an additive function and then determine its CR. So 5 levels of fighter will affect different monsters differently in terms of calculating CR.


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John Lynch 106 wrote:


Thebazilly wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
If an ogre switches weapons just use the stats for ogre hook and pretend it's a different weapon. That way the different weapon doesn't change the CR of the ogre.
If the game actually ends up recommending this, I will riot.
Make sure to playtest them as written so that your opinions are given the same weight as those who like the changes (does mean a less enjoyable playtest experience, but hopefully it will come with the reward of a better game).

I mean we'll have to see what is written first yes but I can't see how switching from Ogre Hook to something else would change the numbers enough to switch the CR.

Maybe if it was Magic based. Hey do Monsters have Resonance to power their Magic Gear?

Dark Archive

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Also: two comments about the RedCap example stat block:

First, I cannot figure out if the one melee action gives both the scythe and boot attacks, or if each is a separate melee option costing one action. It’s also not clear why the stomp action is listed separately from the other actions.

Second, the special irreligious weakness would be easier to adjudicate if we break out the most important bits that the GM needs to reference:

Irreligious (emotion, fear, mental) If a redcap sees a creature brandish a holy symbol of a good deity or use one for the Material Casting of a divine spell, the redcap must attempt a Save. To brandish a holy symbol, a creature must Interact to brandish it for 1 round (similar to Raising a Shield). Once a redcap has to attempt a save against a brandished holy symbol, it is bolstered against brandished holy symbols for the next 10 minutes.
Save Will DC 17 F: frightened 4 and fleeing for 1 round; S: frightened 2; CS: unaffected.

It’s the same number of lines of text, but now the GM can get the relevant information at a glance. As a GM preparing to run a scenario with a red cap, I will remember that it has “a fear of holy symbols”, but in game what I need to know is “what’s the save and how many rounds is he frightened”?

I would actually like to have it broken out this way for most abilities that depend on saves to inflict a variety of conditions.

Liberty's Edge

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JoelF847 wrote:
It comes down to wanting a stat block that covers 99% of the time, while this stat block covers 85% of the time. Why do I need to know the ogre's carrying capacity? Most of the time I don't, but what about if the PCs charm it, or talk to it and make it an ally? And then ask it to carry or lift stuff cause it's strong?

Doing basic math to determine it has a 20 is not that hard.

JoelF847 wrote:
What if the ogre drops his ogre hook to pick up a longspear? If the reach is built into it's ogre hook line of the stat block, it's unclear if it has reach with any other weapon, to know how a reach weapon interacts with that.

I'm betting Reach and how it works is covered under the Size rules (ie: the rules for the 'Large' tag). And an Ogre Hook is an actual weapon used by non-ogres and likely found in the corebook's weapon chart. Figuring out what happens when you replace it is pretty easy.

It's certainly not meaningfully more difficult than looking up the stuff you need to change weapon in PF1.

JoelF847 wrote:
What happens when I cast bulls strength on the ogre (assuming it actually increased Str) or some effect which interacts with the actual ability score.

Such effects appear to not exist.

JoelF847 wrote:
Even if standard effects don't anymore, what about oddball rules for encounters where you have something like a sphere of annihilation which can be mentally controlled and moves 10' per point of Int?

Again, figuring stats based on modifiers is all of 5 seconds work at most.

JoelF847 wrote:
Sure they're all corner cases, but in aggregate they cover a decent amount of situations.

They really don't. Replacing a weapon means you need to look up two weapons. Some things require you to know how Ability Mods work.

Neither of those seem super punitive or difficult.

JoelF847 wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
If an ogre switches weapons just use the stats for ogre hook and pretend it's a different weapon. That way the different weapon doesn't change the CR of the ogre.
That makes no sense at all to me. It's the kind of simplification I definitely don't want in my Pathfinder game. I'd rather play a game designed to be much simpler in the first place then.

It makes no sense to me either, and is not the actual rule in Starfinder or, by all the evidence, the rule in PF2 either. The assumption it is strikes me as weird.

Thebazilly wrote:
John Lynch 106 wrote:
If an ogre switches weapons just use the stats for ogre hook and pretend it's a different weapon. That way the different weapon doesn't change the CR of the ogre.
If the game actually ends up recommending this, I will riot.

I probably would to, but they aren't gonna do that, so don't worry about it too much.

Charlaquin wrote:
Hmm... So you’re saying the +9 Athletics is derived from Strength plus Expert Proficiency (Level +1). 5+3+1=9. And Acrobatics is Dex plus Master Proficiency (Level +2): -1+3+2=4. That checks out. And presumably the +1 to all other skills is just Untrained Proficiency (Level -2); 3-2=1. But if that’s the case,

The Blog explicitly states that this is exactly what's going on in terms of mods (the way of getting there is totally hypothetical).

Charlaquin wrote:
the stat block is baking Strength and Dexterity on to its calculation of Athletics and Acronatics, while the modifier for all other skills would need to be applied on top of the appropriate Ability mod... that’s... a little unintuitive.

It's only counterintuitive for a moment until you get used to it, IMO. I've seen two stat blocks and it's already clear to me. Some people might take longer, but not by a whole lot.

Charlaquin wrote:
The fact that you add the “all other skills” bonus on top of the appropriate ability mod could lead someone to assume they are likewise supposed to add the Athletics bonus on top of their strength mod, causing them to mistakenly double their strength bonus to Athletics. Alternatively, it could lead them to assume since they just add the Athletics modifier and don’t add Strength mod on Athletics checks that they should likewise not add an ability mod to other skill checks.

It could if they don't actually read the description of how stat blocks work. That's easy for us seeing them in a Blog. It's hard to miss in an actual Bestiary book, and basically impossible for new players to miss.

Liberty's Edge

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John Lynch 106 wrote:
How I'd do it is: add the levels onto the monster in an additive function and then determine its CR. So 5 levels of fighter will affect different monsters differently in terms of calculating CR.

You probably just straight out add them. And all will give +Level to a bunch of stuff, so I'd actually bet on them all adding about the right amount of power as well.


Interesting that the "Innate Arcane Spells" specifically tags "Arcane" (unlike SLAs).


Cirithiel wrote:

Second, the special irreligious weakness would be easier to adjudicate if we break out the most important bits that the GM needs to reference:

Irreligious (emotion, fear, mental) If a redcap sees a creature brandish a holy symbol of a good deity or use one for the Material Casting of a divine spell, the redcap must attempt a Save. To brandish a holy symbol, a creature must Interact to brandish it for 1 round (similar to Raising a Shield). Once a redcap has to attempt a save against a brandished holy symbol, it is bolstered against brandished holy symbols for the next 10 minutes.
Save Will DC 17 F: frightened 4 and fleeing for 1 round; S: frightened 2; CS: unaffected.

I would actually like to have it broken out this way for most abilities that depend on saves to inflict a variety of conditions.

Nice, I worry about the 4 tiers of success system slowing things down, could be a lot to track, but I like this.


Voss wrote:
'irreligious' is just flat out the wrong word for what you're trying to say. No one indifferent to religion is going to be scared of holy symbols.

I tend to agree with this on a general level. I feel that "blasphemous" or "irreverent" are better terms for this.


Heretical?


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I have good and bad things to say about the new stat-block but I will reserve my comment until we have seen an NPC stat-block. For example:

What would the important Ogre chieftain (you know, the one with 5 levels of Barbarian) stat-block look like?

Or the Adventure Path VIP NPC which is fully stated out in the section between the adventure and the back matter.


Cirithiel wrote:

Pretty please can we get an updated set of condition cards to coincide with the launch of the new rules?

The condition cards (including the funny illustrations!) are some of the most useful reference tools I ever bought.

With the changes to conditions, everyone is going to ask: “What is a Frightened 4 again?” Best answer: Here’s a reference card. And ooh, look at the funny Goblin/Kobold/Whatever cowering in fear.

Back up a second - there are PF1E condition reference cards? Why have I never heard of these?

Nice reformatting job on "Irreligious" too, btw (though I agree with those who thinks the name isn't the best choice).


Enderrin wrote:
What would the important Ogre chieftain (you know, the one with 5 levels of Barbarian) stat-block look like?

Almost certainly like any other 5th level barbarian.

Enderrin wrote:
Or the Adventure Path VIP NPC which is fully stated out in the section between the adventure and the back matter.

I hold out some hope we might get a proper NPC statblock in that case.


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Ectar wrote:
I think I'm always going to hate it if monster creation and advancement is significantly different from PC creation and advancement.

????

I don't understand this line of thinking at all. The entire gaming world is filled with things that are nothing like the PCs: think of dragons, elementals, fiends, oozes, wraiths, the list goes on and on and on...

How are you supposed to capture the other-ness (the 'fantasy' if you will) of those things if you are limited to constructing them like PCs?

The original game was called Dungeons and Dragons. To me, complaining that the dragons aren't built like PCs makes as much sense as complaining that the dungeon isn't built like a PC.

(Complain that the ECOSYSTEM of the dungeon is screwy, however, and I will join you on the barricades, comrade. We all have our pet peeves, I suppose.)


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I’m curious about the “monsters using the same rules as PCs” gripe too. How do you notice? In a typical battle there aren’t going to be enough attacks to tell if the monster has a +15 to hit or a +12 (or whatever). Even more so with skill checks (which will often only happen once in an encounter/interaction).

I can understand the objection when a monster is given some ability that players can’t learn. That seems pretty infrequent, though and the objection I hear raised seems to be more general than that. How does it impact on play at your table if the algorithm for spitting out a monster’s stats is different from that which generates PCs?


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Steve Geddes wrote:

I can understand the objection when a monster is given some ability that players can’t learn.

Even that seems ridiculous to me.

Player: Why can't I summon the flames of hell to enshroud my being?

GM: Well he is a Devil Prince formed from a multitude of rended souls reforged through the black flames of the Pit.

Player: Wait, are monsters built by different rules?


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Let me try rewriting that Redcap to make a little more sense to me...

The way Paizo formatted it was already good, the way it's formatted here is even better. I wish I could favorite this post twice.


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Mark Seifter wrote:

It's two sides of a coin:

In PF1, you had a system for building monsters that wasn't much like building PCs but sort of looked close enough in some ways to seem parallel if you didn't look closely enough, and it generated results that were drastically different than what PCs were actually like (PF1 monsters, as levels increased, tended to have vastly more HP than all but the most unusually Con-heavy PCs and way lower DCs, for instance, to name just a few low-hanging fruit).

In PF2, the monster system does not attempt to appear similar to how a player builds a character on the surface of how it's done, but in exchange, you actually get results that are much more parallel to the statistics of PCs than the PF1 monsters ever were (Jason alludes to this in the first sentence of his post). You don't have a creature ostensibly at the same CR as a PC's level but with twice as many HD as the PC has levels (which then led to double the skill ranks, double the feats, and so on).

So in PF2, monsters may not be built in the same way a PC builds a character (and they weren't really in PF1 either), but they share more similarities with the PCs in terms of their actual values than before.

A lot of this seems like it could be solved by decoupling HD from other things, and maybe resizing them instead of sticking with the 3rd ed die sizes by type. But there's also the point that in my mind, all those extra hit-points are a feature not a bug. Maybe I just tend to be around big, powerful groups (we normally have 5 players, but some are very fond of animal companions, cohorts and the like), but a lot of the big bad's get killed fast. First round isn't too unusual.

I can understand opening up the stat block so things are less rigidly defined, but at the very least weapons and armor should be swapable on the fly, not baked into the creature's stats.


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Malk_Content wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

I can understand the objection when a monster is given some ability that players can’t learn.

Even that seems ridiculous to me.

We all have different things that bug us in the grounds of verisimilitude. I can understand those who feel “abilities-via-fiat” breaks their immersion. What I don’t understand is how it would have any impact on the game if the NPC and PC sausage-makers were fundamentally different.

I can’t imagine noticing the difference (as opposed to “no, you can’t learn that spell. It’s just a mystery” which also wouldn’t bug me, but I can at least see how it would come up).


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Rikkan wrote:
Quote:
Trigger The redcap drops a creature to 0 Hit Points with a scythe Strike.
Does this mean that if a redcap picks up a different weapon, it can never use its reaction?

That's a good question. As it is, they seem to be assuming weapons are just part of the monster. But since we can't see the math 'under the hood' it's hard to change out. It just gets into arbitrary numbers that have no connection to anything. I personally hate this idea. Sure it might be easy to make new monsters with, but it's harder to modify them. Even something as simple as have them pick up a different weapon or wear a different set of armor. And every ogre having an ogre hook and every redcap a scythe would be, well, stupid. Like their equipment loadout was stamped out with a cookie cutter.

Milo v3 wrote:
I don't really like how just having an alignment now seems to give you them as descriptors. Makes it seem like alignments on creatures are more rigid, and means you'd need to add in an extra special descriptor for each alignment to say "this individual member of the species isn't just evil, the whole species is physically evil".

Yeah, same here. Not only is it a bit harder to find to have to search for each part of the alignment in the line of descriptors, it gets rid of the distinction of something like the fiends, who aren't just evil, they are evil. They're a manifestation of it instead of just having that point of view. And now it's stuck into the descriptors and is another thing you have to search for and yank out if you're changing an individual like a non-evil goblin. And as you said, it seems to imply it's more a part of what the creature is as opposed to a tendency. I thought they were trying to get away from Always Chaotic Evil races, but this seems to help cement them in place. I'd rather just have alignment be stated as it currently is and only put in a descriptor when it's an inherent property of the creature.


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There does seem to be a fair bit of unused space in that black bar. I think I’d put things that everyone has (like alignment and type) there and leave the traits section for “unusual” things.


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The Mad Comrade wrote:

Please, for the love of all of Golarion's deities, do not festoon stat blocks with icons.

I loathe the icons that have crept into the Bestiary stat blocks the past several years - they are more irritation than improvement.

Indeed. I read English, not Hieroglyphics (although I do have a loose translation of "My hovercraft is full of eels." in hieroglyphics. Because what else do you ask a geeky Egyptologist you meet online?). Icons are just another thing to have to memorize, they screw with the blind and partially blind and really just don't add much. Is it that bad to just have a bold uppercase A: for action and R: for reaction? I don't need emojis in my RPGs.


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Lady Melo wrote:
it's THACO and Armor Class have NO direct correlation to its Hit Dice (especially when looking over other monsters)

Point of order: THAC0 is derived from number of HD. For a creature with less than 1 HD, it's 20. For creatures with full HD or better, it's a bit weird. First, if the creature has an odd number of HD, treat it as if it had one more HD. Then, it's 21-HD, so the table effectively goes 20 19 19 17 17 15 15 and so on.

The weirdness comes from the old 1e attack matrix which had "1-2", "3-4", "5-6" and so on across the top, and decreased the to-hit-numbers needed in increments of 2. This applied both to Fighters and monsters, but in 2e Fighters got a plain THAC0 = 21-level while monsters for some reason (backwards compatibility?) kept the old way.

THAC0 was never adjusted, by the way. Strength was mostly assumed to be part of the package for high-HD creatures (the Pit Fiend, for example, was called out as getting +6 to damage for its immense Strength, but no attack bonus). For other creatures, attack bonuses were rare but was always kept separate from THAC0 -- a 7 HD monster wielding a +2 weapon would have THAC0 13 and +2 to attack rolls, not THAC0 11. This, I think, was also a remnant of the old attack matrices, where needed attack rolls above 20 were replaced with "natural 20". In 1e, if that 7 HD monster was fighting something with AC -8, it would need to roll an actual 20 to hit - the +2 weapon wouldn't help it. That rule was gone in 2e, but some effects of it remained.


Cthulhudrew wrote:
Voss wrote:
'irreligious' is just flat out the wrong word for what you're trying to say. No one indifferent to religion is going to be scared of holy symbols.
I tend to agree with this on a general level. I feel that "blasphemous" or "irreverent" are better terms for this.

I agree. Assuming vampires get this too (a fair assumption), calling an antipaladin vampire of Urgathoa "irreligeous" make little sense. I:m not sure that blasphemous or heretical is much better. I think the best option would be anathema, but it is already used for something


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Fuzzypaws re-write does fix alot of issues for me. The over-all approach chosen by Paizo re: grouping and ordering is very similar to how I built custom stat-sheets in P1E (although I kept Skills at end next to Feats), the experience of which informs some of my own critiques in that area. These are some issues that stand out to me:

IMHO Neutral should be expressed as other alignments, even if nothing "targets" Neutral now, it seems strange to assume that will always univerally be the case. Using explicit term True Neutral is also very functional and concise term which benefits game IMHO. If somebody can 'read' alignments, it seems useful to concisely convey the creature's alignment in the statblock, and not really a word count problem to give Neutral equal treatment here.

With statblock only displaying modifiers, I really am re-affirmed in belief that stats should BE modifiers only, not stat scores one-step removed from modifiers. It is just one less thing for newbies to worry about, and lets all game mechanics consolidate around simple metric.

The way sections are categorized seem to be roughly (bottom to top) active actions / attacks, defense / vulnerabilities, sensory / abilities that span attack & defense.

By my reading, Paizo currently assumes ALL abilities other than sensory and defensive ones should be in bottom section along with attack, but IMHO it can be advantageous to break out ones which are NEITHER attack or defense orientated, and locate them in "other" category alongside actions effecting BOTH attacks/defense (and Skills and senses).

How skills are treated is ambiguous since most of them are an active action to use, thus could be at bottom. On the other hand, if we use non-Perception skills for Init sometimes it can be useful at the top. Either way it seems convenient if abilities which hinged on / were adjacent to skills were located next to skills.

I don't think a weapon quality is best way express "Versatile B", it is more useful to just list "Slashing/Bludgeoning" as it requires less thinking and looking at different sections. Now, I understand that having 2 damage types can be "costed" as a weapon quality in weapon design process, but that doesn't need to be published and conveyed to the player as explicit weapon quality. Since damage type is already normally expressed category, just put Slashing/Bludgeoning there and leave it at that.

I disagree with Fuzzypaws take on ability adjcency SLIGHTLY, in that I believe Paizo's approach of: Melee X Y Ranged Z should be kept, keeping all basic melee attacks together and likewise with ranged. Other abilities that utilize these attacks with special triggers etc, should be located just after these SECTIONS, but shouldn't break up the Melee / Ranged section itself (although being located between Melee and Ranged sub-sections is fine, I guess). Other active abilities which don't involve melee/ranged attacks at all would then follow, ideally with a line break to help readability that this isn't related to attacks. Spells would be thusly 'broken off' from Melee/Ranged attacks, although Spells themselves (and abilities augmenting them, which would follow like melee/ranged augment abilities follow melee/ranged attacks) should be "broken off"/separated from non-Spell abilities as well.

On the topic of spells/"SLAs", I see this convention being used: "Anything that doesn't come in a level entry is cast at its lowest level unless a level appears in parentheses." with example given being Detect Magic. But IMHO that is less than useful, because not every spell will be as commonly recognized as Detect Magic... so the user may not immediately KNOW the lowest spell level of a spell. Better simply to ALWAYS put the spell level in parentheses IMHO. Relatedly, the question is begged: can the creature cast spells at LOWER than the given level if they wish to? (that may be more a general rule of Inherent Spellcasting than something that needs to be conveyed in statblock)

Shadow Lodge

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Why is the redcaps irreligious only triggered by good holy symbols? If the idea is that redcaps are terrified of religious iconography why then only good?

Perhaps such abilities with levels of save could be presented thus:

Irreligious (emotion, fear, mental) If a redcap sees a creature brandish a holy symbol or use one for the Material Casting of a divine spell, the redcap must attempt a DC 17 Will save.
Critical Failure or Failure frightened 4, flee (1 round)
Success frightened 2
Critical Success No effect.
Once a Redcap has attempted a save it is bolstered against this effect for the next 10 minutes.

Bolstered could or should be different to immune. Perhaps soemth8ng along the lines of “a bolsteed creature treats all saves as one degree higher in sucess; a critical fail becomes a fail, a fail becomes a success and a success or higher is treated as a critical success”

I also think the ability to do its reaction with a scythe only is a good idea, adds tactical choices to the fight. Is it wor5 disarming the little fella to stop this?


Because they're Evil and they assume Good gods to be their mortal enemies.
Although I would agree the ability name could be tweaked...
Holy Fright? might be better starting place, being more specific re: Good Divinity.


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Fuzzypaws wrote:
Barator wrote:
Not a fan of monsters following different setup than the PCs. Miss seeing feats associated with the monsters, Ability Mods versus Ability Scores are not my thing.
They said in discussion in an earlier blog that monsters can still have feats, and if they do those will get summarized like any other ability. But they're not going to fill out monsters with the full number of feats a character of that level would get just to tick the boxes, unless the creature in question is actually built like a full N/PC.

Mandatory feats for monsters or better said for racial hd (vs class hd) has been one of the worst ideas for 3.5. 3.0 had no feats for monsters. I think I mentioned this in two different threads of old.

I am all about monsters following the rules that make sense. The absence of feats can be rationalized as the difference between hd that have a racial source and hd that have a class source.
I have a problem with monsters following abritrary "this is a boss monster and therefore can take an extra turn" rules not with "this monster doesn't follow a 100% the procedure for creating pc's" rules.


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dysartes wrote:
Cirithiel wrote:

Pretty please can we get an updated set of condition cards to coincide with the launch of the new rules?

The condition cards (including the funny illustrations!) are some of the most useful reference tools I ever bought.

With the changes to conditions, everyone is going to ask: “What is a Frightened 4 again?” Best answer: Here’s a reference card. And ooh, look at the funny Goblin/Kobold/Whatever cowering in fear.

Back up a second - there are PF1E condition reference cards? Why have I never heard of these?

Here they are. They've been around for a while. There's a set for Starfinder too, so I suspect a PF2 set will be coming as well. Probably not for the playtest though, because things are liable to change before the final.


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"Bolster" is just not jiving with me. Immune just seems to concisely, precisely convey the concept. Bolster is ANOTHER regular English word which now seems forced into mechanic-specific role which is related to it's normal meaning but not quite identical. I don't even want to think about non-English translation issues. Please re-instate Immune here.

Also, I agree about the "Icon" thing. Just standard character glyphs like circle-R ® and circle-A or symbols like Ʌ or § are much preferrable from my point of view.


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Bolstered might mean something like "auto pass the saving throw" while inmune means "not affected by". That might be important if some creatures have powers that read "mind blast. Do 8d6 damage and stun, save throw for half damage and no stun". In this context, "inmune" and "always pass the save" have different effects.


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MusicAddict wrote:
"It's how it's always been" is a perfectly fine answer sometimes, not all the time, but in this place I feel that it is. The pathfinder/dnd ability scores are iconic, and removing them adds a disconnect between people who have played...

3.0/3.5 is not the only version of DnD. We did not have the ability stats in ADnD.

So in this case it is not a "always have been this way" but a "has been this way for a while". Which might be valid too, but is a different argument


John John wrote:
3.0 had no feats for monsters. I think I mentioned this in two different threads of old.

All monsters have Feats in 3.0, but they gain them at a different rate than PCs.

Sovereign Court

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Raisse wrote:

For something that takes 2 actions are we going to see a description like:

[[A]][[A]] Skewering Death The dire stirge makes a single strike that targets all targets within a 15 ft. line dealing proboscis damage and causing each target to bleed for 1d8 damage. The dire stirge gains hit points equal to any bleed damage inflicted this way.

Too many brackets! Please simplify the block design to [AA] or something similar {AA} ?

Sovereign Court

Cirithiel wrote:

Also: two comments about the RedCap example stat block:

Save Will DC 17 F: frightened 4 and fleeing for 1 round; S: frightened 2; CS: unaffected.

I would actually like to have it broken out this way for most abilities that depend on saves to inflict a variety of conditions.

This is much clearer at a glance. Since CF and CS are going to be (relatively)rare, can they be set a default and then just overridden by exception e.g. CS = unaffected, CF = 2x failure or whatever. Again a timesaver using a common rule.


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Miranda wrote:
Raisse wrote:

For something that takes 2 actions are we going to see a description like:

[[A]][[A]] Skewering Death The dire stirge makes a single strike that targets all targets within a 15 ft. line dealing proboscis damage and causing each target to bleed for 1d8 damage. The dire stirge gains hit points equal to any bleed damage inflicted this way.

Too many brackets! Please simplify the block design to [AA] or something similar {AA} ?

How about [2A]. Three actions can be [3A]. I'm not sure if there are things that take more than 3 actions, but it could make sense for a multi-round action. And maybe there are ways to get 4 or more actions a round. But this format would allow arbitrarily large number of actions like [30A] for something that would take a minute of undivided attention, and wouldn't require counting icons.

I could see something like this being used for dramatic tension. For example: the McGuffin needs to be activated in an elaborate ritual to stop The Great Badness from occurring to the world, it requires 30 actions by 4 people to do. The players can split their actions between the ritual and fighting off those trying to stop them. This could be a tense fight. Maybe there is a time limit too, so they can't take too much time away from the ritual.


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In practice, it's a minor issue, but aesthetically, the organisation of the spell list made me grit my teeth with frustration. It changes the key three or four times down the length of a five item list!

Why isn't it sorted by level?

7th plane shift (at will, to Elemental Planes, Astral Plane, or Material Plane only); 5th illusory object; 4th gaseous form, invisibility (×2), produce flame (cantrip); 1st detect magic (constant)

Or sorted by use limits?

Slots illusory object (5th); gaseous form (4th), invisibility (4th) (×2); At Will plane shift (7th, to Elemental Planes, Astral Plane, or Material Plane only); produce flame (4th); Constant detect magic (1st)


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^ Agreed, with my preference being primary sort by use limits...
(I don't want to read thru everything to clearly see what I can spam non-stop)
Cantrips plausibly should be under At Will, although their spell level could also indicate Cantrip status, i.e. "produce flame (4th, cantrip)".


Weather Report wrote:
John John wrote:
3.0 had no feats for monsters. I think I mentioned this in two different threads of old.
All monsters have Feats in 3.0, but they gain them at a different rate than PCs.

You are correct, I was wrong, though to my defence I think at the very least in 3.0 certain creature types like animals and beasts didnt have feats at all so I may have remembered this.

In any case again I don't see why racial hd should grant access to feats a Monster should have whatever feats and abilities it makes sense
for it to have.

Silver Crusade

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Malk_Content wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

I can understand the objection when a monster is given some ability that players can’t learn.

Even that seems ridiculous to me.

Player: Why can't I summon the flames of hell to enshroud my being?

GM: Well he is a Devil Prince formed from a multitude of rended souls reforged through the black flames of the Pit.

Player: Wait, are monsters built by different rules?

Monster? Doesn’t bother me. A NPC though?

GM: Well the enemy Rogue’s Strike was a Success so with Sneak Attack and Debilitating Strike this is gonna hurt-

Player: Wait, how are they getting SA? I don’t think I’m flat footed?

GM: Oh, they have an ability that treats anyone not wearing Heavy armor as flat footed.

Player: Oh wow, what level do I have to be before I can get something like that?

GM: Never, it’s a NPC only ability.

Player: ...


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Rysky wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
Steve Geddes wrote:

I can understand the objection when a monster is given some ability that players can’t learn.

Even that seems ridiculous to me.

Player: Why can't I summon the flames of hell to enshroud my being?

GM: Well he is a Devil Prince formed from a multitude of rended souls reforged through the black flames of the Pit.

Player: Wait, are monsters built by different rules?

Monster? Doesn’t bother me. A NPC though?

GM: Well the enemy Rogue’s Strike was a Success so with Sneak Attack and Debilitating Strike this is gonna hurt-

Player: Wait, how are they getting SA? I don’t think I’m flat footed?

GM: Oh, they have an ability that treats anyone not wearing Heavy armor as flat footed.

Player: Oh wow, what level do I have to be before I can get something like that?

GM: Never, it’s a NPC only ability.

Player: ...

1. Not like that didn't happen before. Do I really need to point out all the past examples?

2. You'd hope they were built with class levels.

Silver Crusade

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Steve Geddes wrote:

I’m curious about the “monsters using the same rules as PCs” gripe too. How do you notice? In a typical battle there aren’t going to be enough attacks to tell if the monster has a +15 to hit or a +12 (or whatever). Even more so with skill checks (which will often only happen once in an encounter/interaction).

I can understand the objection when a monster is given some ability that players can’t learn. That seems pretty infrequent, though and the objection I hear raised seems to be more general than that. How does it impact on play at your table if the algorithm for spitting out a monster’s stats is different from that which generates PCs?

While it’s mostly from GM perspective, it goes beyond numbers.

A major NPC in my homebrew is a Lamia Alchemist, that is, a Lamia that has levels of Alchemist that gives her a whole suite of Alchemist based abilities. She’s not a Lamia with the ability to throw a bomb every 1d3 rounds tacked on.

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