And I'm back! Xanesha was sadly not as deadly as I had kind of hoped, but that doesn't mean the party went unscathed!
After a hard-fought battle with the scarecrow, ending with the golem taking off for the sea, and a harrowing climb up the stairs (the bell hit all four PCs, nearly killing half of them), they dispatched the faceless stalkers with ease, but still gave Xanesha plenty of time to buff.
They entered the loft, and after many failed will saves to notice the nature of Xanesha's illusions, wasted their round attacking air, and their first sight of Xanesha was when she had her spear thoroughly impaled in the sorcerer's chest (rolled a crit, really good damage, but I forgot to add in sneak attack and power attack), leaving their new party member at exactly 1 HP as we broke for the week.
When we returned, we had recruited a pair of
They managed to revive the sorcerer and barbarian before either died, but there was nothing that could be done for MJ or the ranger's companion. And, with both the Scarecrow and Xanesha still out there, it's almost certain they haven't seen the last of them.
I made a Nikola Tesla inspired Wizard for a Kingmaker on the boards, but wasn't selected. Translating the real-life person to a character was kind of entertaining, though.
Other than that? Not really. At least, not beyond vague inspiration. Also, it depends on how you define 'historical.' I have a gestalt Fighter//Wizard in a Aleyssos game based on Athena, which is going pretty good, despite it being an unusual game in general.
My first true death! I feel like a full-grown GM now.
Yes, I will confess: I do like science-ing everything (I'm a Physics major), and while I do like the mystery of how exactly magic works, I'm trying to piece together why it works the way it does as to add a little extra bit of fun for my players if they piece together some of the secrets of the underlying world.
(I'm also working on building a rational homebrew setting, so this is partially for that)
Greetings, deities and adventurers alike! Have you ever wondered what Magic really is? Yes, of course it's magic, but that's hardly a satisfying answer.We want to figure out some sort of actual rules for why magic is the way it is, and what that means!
So, just to get it out of the way: this is a bit of a work in progress. There's areas that need refinement, other areas I still want to work on, but this is just about the basics of understanding what Magic is and why it works. In addition, because I'm trying to synthesize the general 'concept' of magic as a whole, taking into account numerous sources (primarily Pathfinder, but also more generic fantasy magic), it may not work perfectly for any given example, but that's fine. My main goal is to get a good baseline, that can be refined in time. So, what are qualities of magic that need to be explained? Let's define our parameters.
1- Magic is a thing that exists and can affect the actual, physical world.
There's more as well, but those 6 points will be a good place to start our fundamentals. So, here's my hypothesis:
Magic is a other-propagating wave, originating from other planes of existence, that those who can use Magic can manipulate to affect the physical world.
Magic, like all waves, though, requires a medium to propagate through, and unlike light, it is not truly self-propagating. Instead, it propagates through other waves of magic. (Confused? Welcome to any high-level physics) Basically, Magic, in order to affect something, travels perpendicular to other waves of Magic, each allowing the other to continue moving. Think of it like a woven piece of cloth, with each thread supporting and being supported by those around it.
Therefore, in areas with large amounts of ambient Magic, spells can move quicker and be more powerful. Areas with no ambient Magic, for whatever reason, cannot have magic introduced to them without a concerted and very careful effort, because there is nothing for the magic to propagate through. Perhaps ambient Magic waves can be specifically attuned to allow for the propagation of some magic but not others, or you can use a spell to counter or disrupt another spell, by affecting the Magic that it's traveling through. Spells that last longer include waves automatically travelling perpendicular to each other, allowing them to exist longer by utilizing itself in the maintenance of the Magic's structure.
So, that covers what Magic is, but that's only half the picture. Where does it come from? Well, my hypothesis is that it originates from an alternate plane of existence. You know how in Doctor Strange, it's explained that magic is just energy drawn from other realms of existence? Basically that.
For whatever reason, within those who can use magic, there is a portal to another realm of existence (let's call it a Slip), and that Slip is where Magical energy comes from. When Magic is used, the user draws energy from their Slip and shapes it, sending out shockwaves in the surrounding Magical energy, directed towards a specific purpose. Once it reaches its goal, the Magic coalesces and, depending on the exact pattern of magic, affects some sort of physical change on the world. Or, alternatively, opens up a new Slip, allowing energy, matter, or both, to travel between realities.
What do you all think of my hypothesis? Does it fit what is typically seen in fiction/RPGs? Do you like it? Does it make sense? What further insights do you have for the nature of Magic? If this proves popular enough, I'll keep doing posts like this, on the nature of Magic. I have ideas for the origins of Slips (including why I chose that name), breakdowns of different schools of Magic (along with analysis of other casting traditions), the origin of Magic from other realities, the nature of magical items, and lots more. Let me know what you'd be interested in hearing about.
Dang. I need to step up my spell game, it would seem. Here I was, putting different magical abilities not as an array. It’s kind of an interesting way of expression not really possible with Pathfinder, and one with an intentionally glaring weakness. When you’re a master of transmutation, how easy would it be to rely solely on your magic for everything?
Okay, I present:
Speaking as a die-hard P1e advocate, who has fundamental problems with the design directions the Paizo team takes with the new edition....
Dang, 2e looks sleek. Everything fits so nicely within the framework, and the system has the most solid foundation I've ever seen. Everything is smooth, methodical, and is plain quality. And I can see that just by looking at the AoN listings.
As with everything, it would just be a GM tool, I'd imagine. If there's a similar campaign you've run in the past, just swap out a few proper nouns in the flavor, and you're good to go, I'd imagine.
Personally, I love seeing the impact that the characters have, for good or for bad, so I really hope that there's at least some mention of what kinds of ripple effects the campaign has on the world, and how some of the interested parties might react. Also, I do like the 'what if the villain wins' explanations, as either way, you get a ton of new ideas for potential future campaigns.
The idea of including new backgrounds (even just 1 or 2) based on the campaign is absolutely brilliant, and is now something I'm really hoping actually comes up (speaking, admittedly, as someone who will be sticking with 1e for a while). That would be a stunning way to really bring the world into a cohesive whole. (Do various backgrounds have Rarities? I haven't been keeping up with that.)
In a similar vein to new backgrounds based on the AP, having new Capstones (or just class feats) might be really cool as well, based on the major themes of the campaign. So, for example, there might be a special level 20 Wizard feat for Return of the Runelords, or Paladin for Wrath of the Righteous. Or even a lower level ability. Basically, something that GMs could use to say, "So, thanks to all this ancient Thassilonian research you uncovered, as a level 20 ability, you have the option to take this instead." Or, even better, "Thanks to your successful defeat of the Ironfang Legion, their military techniques have become more widespread- in any future campaign in the area, this is a new level 5 Fighter feat that you can select."
Basically, showing how the PCs have made an impact is awesome. Giving that impact some mechanical significance in the current or future campaigns is beyond amazing.
Even with Con damage, just saying, where a blood extraction deals a point, that's still several hundred castings/day. I'd be more interested in finding out where you get licorice root for Haste, which is native to the Mediterranean on Earth, than devil's blood, which is easily gathered by one wizard Binding and bleeding a Lemure to death (which yields 100,000 drops of devil blood).
But I digress. You are free to rule however you like for your game. I just like calculating weird stuff.
Imps have fast healing. Their body magically replenishes any blood loss at a pretty decent rate, so all it would take is a single morally-compromised wizard in an area to flood the market with imp blood such that a drop is basically nothing.
Some math: a blood drive will take about a 1/2 liter of blood from a human, which heals with a couple day's rest- say that's 1 HP of blood (not exact, obviously, but it's an estimation). Imps, as Tiny creatures, let's say have 1/16th the blood of a human, so 1 HP of blood for them is about 30 mL of blood. That might not sound like a lot, but they can give twice that much every six seconds with an efficient setup, and a 'drop' is .05 mL, meaning that every six seconds an imp is being bled by its master, it provides enough blood for 1200 castings of Infernal Healing (2 HP/round, its fast healing amount). Even accounting for a lot of variance in how much blood loss amounts to 1 HP, how much blood an imp has, and so on, even a minute of bleeding would be plenty, distributed along the normal channels for spell components.
The closest that you can get is something like Secret Page- a 1st level spell that lets you perfectly memorize up to one page/INT bonus, and Psychic Asylum is a 5th-level spell that gives you eidetic memory regarding anything you've seen in the last week/level for a 15-minute task that only takes a swift action in real-world time. That's about as close as you can get.
I mean, the rules for creating magic items do say
Magic Item Creation wrote:
Most of the time, they [item prerequisites] take the form of spells that must be known by the item’s creator (although access through another magic item or spellcaster is allowed).
Basically, so long as you have access to the spell, be it because your cleric friend is casting it for you, or you have this feat, you can make the item no problem.
I'm not sure about putting it in your spellbook, since that explicitly requires you expending a prepared spell. However, you could scribe a scroll, as that only requires the spell to be cast (you could co-scribe a scroll with a cleric, for example) then copy the scroll into your spellbook. Basically, if before you could do something if someone else was casting the spell alongside you, you can do it.
That is, admittedly, also a possibility (well, at least for Urgathoa. Zyphys is explicitly stated as being the first truly meaningless death), but not one that significantly affects the rest of the situations leading up to it. They still would have had to have been one of the first to do so, and maintains the high improbability of coming from Golarion.
Not exactly, though. Here's a few possible ways that it could still work (none of which entirely violate canon):
Golarion has had humans for untold ages. Like, billions of years ago. We know that 50 million years ago, it had dinosaurs and the like dominating, but we don't know exactly when humans first came about. They could well have been living then, as well, and had been for millions of years. Perhaps the unlikliest of the bunch, but it's possible.
Golarion is the oldest planet in the universe, but due to a unique set of conditions, it's traveling at a speed close to the speed of light, thus time on it is much slower relative to the bulk of the universe, thanks to relativity, and so the time it has felt since the universe started is much lower than elsewhere. This one gets muggy because Outer Sphere stuff and Earth-time equivalence, but whatever. This is a setting with teleportation and time travel.
Sentient life is actually a really, really new thing. Like the cosmos is ancient, but the gods only finally got around to making sentient life in the last few million years, and Golarion was the starting place.
Or maybe, the universe is relatively young, and the gods just dropped a ton of evidence for an old universe to disguise just how stinking long it took them to put down Rovagug.
It's also not impossible that Golarion is the first mortal world, though. Rovagug was imprisoned there, after all, and the planet is clearly experiencing development slower than Earth, not to mention that, given the nature of Golarion as a clearly created cosmos (rather than natural), the multiverse is likely far younger than the estimated lifespan of our own universe. In that way, it's quite possible that Golarion did indeed host the first life (and thus death), making their gods cosmological-scale entities.
It's awesome, and probably my favorite feat for quite some time (Magic Trick is a close second, though). It adds so much variety to the sorts of spells you have access to, allows you to craft all the scrolls you could want, and cuts down on the 'backpack of scrolls' imagery that doesn't always fit with the kind of caster you want to play. It's also extremely good for spontaneous casters, allowing you to play them without losing out as much on spell variety. Lastly, it makes a prestige class actually worth taking!
I'd even argue that it's not overpowered, as the feat taxes, while not totally out of line for what a full caster might reasonably get anyway, still do demand a decent amount of investment, for a prestige class that doesn't advance your class abilities, and even a 1-level dip cuts you off from the level 20 capstones introduced (if your game ever gets that high, anyway). Plus, it's 1/day/feat spent, which is enough to cover your bases, but not so much as to further enable Schrodinger's wizards.
Okay, got Aoife basically wrapped up (other than gear/spellbook, which always takes me so long). While all her consious memories are fairly uneventful leaning on the boring/happy side, I made sure to throw in a bit of trauma in the forgotten areas for you, GM, to the point where, with what she does have vague hints of her memory, she might well be happier not knowing how she went from a sheltered bookworm to a scarred swordswoman.
(Note for future me: spreadsheet is fully updated as of this post)
The GM in Yellow wrote:
I mean, one of the campaign traits literally gives a bonus to skill checks made as part of Rituals, so I would kind of hope that they play at least a bit of a role in the AP.
By 'extra rituals' I just mean ones that Paizo has published, but don't appear in the AP. So, stuff like Avoidance Ward and the like (it took an annoyingly long time to find an example of a ritual that's actually reasonable. SO MANY of them have such an absurdly short time of effect.)
Also, I figure going Bladebound on the Magus side will just compound the character concept. "Now my bloody sword talks? Is the entire multiverse insane?"
Okay.... I think I have it (that's probably the fifth time I've typed this, but this time, I think it's for real). It's something uniquely Strange Aeons, and something that I could never really pull off outside of a Gestalt game. However... It does rely extensively on Rituals. I figure it's a pretty safe bet that they'll be a decent part of the AP, but I just wanted to confirm- and also ask if using extra ones are also possible?
Anyway, as I mentioned, I wanted to try and build a Ritualist. The way I was thinking about doing that is... probably the most convoluted build I've ever attempted. Basically, Wizard 7/Loremaster 1/Ritualist X, crossed with Kensai Magus. The wizard part is to get all the prerequisites needed, along with getting enough skills to actually make Rituals possible. The Loremaster part because I can, so why not? Also, the new Secret of Magical Discipline feat is awesome, and I really want to make a character capable of using it.
The Magus part is just in case it all blows up in my face, I'll at least have a single functional class.
Flavor-wise, I'm thinking a human woman whose lack of memory is absolutely infuriating to her, because she has absolutely no idea what's going on, where she is, or when in ******* Nethys' name she learned how to swing a sword. Or why she curses with Nethys' name now.
I'm pretty sure Batman is just a 20th level Vigilante with both the Stalker and Avenger specialization and all of the class talents.
I feel like, for fairness sake, any DC hero needs to be Tristalt to fully work out (a few could be Gestalt, which is also where a lot of Marvel lands). For Batman, I’d put him as Stalker Vigilante//Brawler//Investigator.
Rereading my giant wall of text, I'm mentally kicking myself at how many typos I left in there (and there's a few places where you can see previous drafts of the party leaking through- I refer to the warpriest as an Inquisitor, for example), but thanks! I'm glad you like it. Overall, I built it pretty similar to how I would build an optimum party, but trying to create sort-of mirrors for the villains, with moderate success. I did my best to avoid ever having a complete mirror, but hopefully it's fairly reflective of the party itself.
Okay, so, seven characters.
*casts Wall of Text*
That's a lot, needless to say. However, it also coincides quite nicely with the seven main combat roles: Blaster, Tank/Defender, Healer, Controller, Striker, Support, and Scout/ranged.
So, a bit more breakdown:
The Paladin is the ultimate warrior, wading into melee with a really big sword and dealing massive damage, all the while soaking up offensive spells like there's no tomorrow. Also a prime candidate for all the shut-down spells casters love, like Silence, while they absorb massive amounts of damage. With Advanced Armor/Weapon training, they also get absolutely absurd bonuses to both offense and defense, with the Fighter not so much plugging the few holes the Paladin does have as amplifying combat potential to nightmare levels. What damage they do take can be quickly healed on a swift action, using feats like Fey Foundling to ensure the HP bar never dips down too low.
That said, they are also well supported by the Vitalist, who, using Unwilling Participant can rope some of the weaker-willed party members (the gun chemist/spy, perhaps?) into a collective, shunting a lot of the damage the Paladin does take onto one of our villains. The cleric side is mainly there for additional arcane support, but with Selective Channel, could also serve to heal a really impressive amount, by healing everyone in a burst and siphoning all that healing onto whoever needs it. They also load up our Paladin with tons and tons of buff spells before the battle, making them basically invincible but also impossible to ignore.
To further make things harder for our lovely party of villains, we have the Wizard, who, in their Study of time, is able to overcome a bit of their inherent squishiness and many, many weaknesses. Fortunately for them, though, it's their job to just shut down and cripple enemy movements. Some might scoff at gestalting two full casters, but those people probably don't have to deal with something like a dozen 5th-level spells being thrown in their face, all at +2 CL and DC, and with any save-or-dies that fail to do anything functionally having never been cast. Oh, and make sure to go School Savant with the arcanist (there's only a few exploits you really need), and pick up the Teleportation conjuration school to be basically impossible to pin down, while on the Wizard side, sticking with Foresight divination to ensure you go first.
The Kineticist//Rogue is a scary thought. Kineticists are fantastic at single-target damage, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Adding Sneak Attack on top of that (make sure to go with Geokineticist to get earth glide, and ignore any Walls of Stone the Wizard throws out, plus for some awesome sneak attacks) means anyone you hit will very likely be dead soon thereafter. They do have a weak Will save, though, but that's nothing a quick Protection from Evil (of which the wizard can supply all day) won't take care of. Really, though, the rogue is secondary. Just adding any other class that can boost the damage output of a Kineticist even further is just terrifying.
The Bard//Mesmerist is basically the party's bard, but different. This one is much more likely to mix it up in melee, with Painful Stare making it a troublesome day for anyone who tries to interfere with their awesome inspiring speeches, and Bold Stare helping the wizard land their spells even more (Pity the poor character who has to effectively make DC 28 Will save against a SoD spell, only to have it cast once more the next round as well). The various Tricks that the mesmerist can implant only help their allies even more (imagine fighting a hasted, mirror imaged, blessed, enlarged, and more, Paladin), and hurt their enemies as well. Fortunately, their damage buffs don't go completely unnoticed in such a caster-heavy party.
The final member of our party is the Inquisitor. The Mothuni Arsenal Chaplain has some of the highest DPR of any archer, thanks to swift action buffing and weapon training, and if you combine that with the Occultist, who, using Trappings of the Warrior can feign having full BAB, giving you an extra attack and extra accuracy. Plus, they also get a weapon-enhancing power, allowing you to get a bow (between Warrior's Spirit and Legacy Weapon) with some truly legendary magical abilities and making a half-dozen attacks a round, allowing you to just decide what needs to die and then just end it.
In summary? The Sorcerer and Wizard fly around invisibly, turning zombies to dust and separating the team members (or taking them out entirely with implausibly high DCs and a seemingly endless number of spell slots), while the Cleric attempts to hit a few targets with their Vitalist powers, to drain health and/or buffing the Paladin, who moves into melee to take pressure off of the Bard, who is busy crippling the will saves of whoever the wizard is targeting. The two of them keep pressure off the squishier casters while the Kineticist burrows throughout the battlefield, popping out of the ground to annihilate a target before hiding again. All the while, the warpriest is machine-gunning down target after target, slowly building momentum as they get in more and more swift-action buffs until the battle is over.
Okay, a few questions about the party (it's always fun to have villains bring about their own downfall):
What are their team dynamics? Is there an obvious leader? Is there constant infighting?
What sort of tactics to they use when fighting? Do they work like a well-oiled machine, or is it more 'every man for themselves'? What do they do if an encounter turns south? Are they overconfident, or do they approach every encounter as though it could turn deadly?
It's easy to build a totally broken Gestalt build, it's more fun (and more challenging) to build a group that is the perfect foil for your 'heroes' and exploits their weaknesses, forcing them to adapt to survive.
Another question: how lethal should this be? I'm guessing you don't want a total TPK, but do you want potentially one kill? Two? All but one survivor?