KotC - Erian El'ranelen's page

406 posts. Alias of erian_7.

Goblin Squad Member

A companion post to our Verified Traders...

As a public service to those traveling in the southern lands, Keeper's Pass maintains a list of known bandits and ne'er-do-wells* in the region. If you are heading home from gathering, going up the Pass for trade, or just travelling through the area and happen to see these folks, you're best bet is to run away. On the other hand, for those valiant defenders of the common folk that are looking to do some protecting, you might instead run toward them...

As a note, the Keepers of the Circle acknowledge and concur with the 6 River Freedoms, and most particularly in this case that "You have what you hold." We live in a dangerous realm. Act accordingly. Travel in groups if you are concerned for personal safety. The Keepers are happy to assist any traveling to, from, or through our lands and Keeper's Pass offers guard services upon request.

Known Bandits and Ne'er-do-wells

*Do please read the IMPORTANT NOTE regarding Player vs. Character distinctions. I consider all of the folks friends, as Players. If you have a problem with an actual Player's actions or communication, that type of issue must be dealt with in a different manner.

This list is maintained solely by Keeper's Pass as a service to our settlement members and those visiting the area. The Keepers want you to be off the list and back in good standing with us so that all begin to see the better path of non-aggression. Those believing their names are erroneously added may post here or PM me at any time for correction.

Those rightfully on the list after having engaged in non-consensual conflict within Keeper territory or against Keeper's Pass members and friends in other territories may bring offers of reconciliation here at any time, or to a member of the Ring of Gold. The Ring of Gold is hospitable to all, even enemies, and our ultimate goal is always to minimize aggression by maintaining positive relationships. There is no elaborate system of judgement--most conflict ultimately is between individuals and must be resolved by those individuals.

We do not believe in eternal sentences--all things can be made right, and both parties must do the hard work necessary at a personal level to achieve reconciliation. Offered reparations are taken to the Keeper's Pass Settlement Council, where I will ask if there are any that still believe the aggressor should remain on the list. If a grievance still remains, the aggrieved party must meet with the aggressor and determine what steps will lead to reconciliation--both are responsible for coming to a reasonable solution. The Ring of Gold actually also exists to serve as mediators and we're happy to serve in this role. Both parties may also involve any they wish for support.

Those that are removed from our list, however, and then are rightfully added back for a new aggression will find the task of making amends much harder. It is the exact same process, but you will find many more unwilling to accommodate easy repair of the relationship. Our eagerness for grace and reconciliation will not stand abuse by those looking to take advantage for their own amusement or benefit.

Goblin Squad Member

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I wanted to post a notice for folks looking for me in the last week or computer died and we also had some medical issues with our daughter so I've been less available for PFO matters. I'm hoping to be back on to my usual pace in the next day or so...

Goblin Squad Member

A companion post to our Verified Traders...

As a public service to those traveling in the southern lands, Keeper's Pass maintains a list of known bandits and ne'er-do-wells* in the region. If you are heading home from gathering, going up the Pass for trade, or just travelling through the area and happen to see these folks, you're best bet is to run away. On the other hand, for those valiant defenders of the common folk that are looking to do some protecting, you might instead run toward them...

As a note, the Keepers of the Circle acknowledge and concur with the 6 River Freedoms, and most particularly in this case that "You have what you hold." We live in a dangerous realm. Act accordingly. Travel in groups if you are concerned for personal safety. The Keepers are happy to assist any traveling to, from, or through our lands and Keeper's Pass offers guard services upon request.

Known Bandits and Ne'er-do-wells

*Do please read the IMPORTANT NOTE regarding Player vs. Character distinctions. I consider all of the folks friends, as Players. If you have a problem with an actual Player's actions or communication, that type of issue must be dealt with in a different manner.

Goblin Squad Member

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What's the most important thing to a merchant? It's not, in fact, his coin purse, but rather his reputation! Sellers need to know a merchant is trustworthy in order to do business, and the same goes for individuals. To that end, Keeper's Pass maintains a posting of any trader verified by Keeper's Pass as reliable for trading. Better to know your buyer/seller than to be ganked out in the wilderness after the transaction! And of course, that means we'll have a Blacklist for said villains...

Keeper's Pass - Verified Trader's Post

Want to make it on the board? Set up a trade with Keeper's Pass, or have a member you've traded with verify your credentials to me!

Goblin Squad Member

A general warning to all (especially new players). The EEv4 release has generated far more mob spawns than intended. It is extremely dangerous to walk around in many areas. You will die. A lot. Unless you are going out to hunt mobs, especially in groups, be extremely careful in your movements.

The developers are aware of the issue. No reported time frame for resolution as yet.

Goblin Squad Member

Directly adjacent to Keeper's Pass there are hexes noted with escalation icons on the mini-map (Bandit Raids--one directly north was at 16.4% last night; directly northeast was at 9.9%). However, on entering those hexes there are no events noted in the upper right corner to decrease the escalations and there are also no escalation markers on the mini-map. Are these real escalations, or a bug?

Goblin Squad Member

There are fragments of conversations on Knowledge skills in EE spread around the forum, but I wanted to get a dedicated thread for it to cover basics. I'll dig through and copy things here later (unless someone beats me to it) but at present I'm hoping for two answers:

(1) Are Knowledge skills actively increasing treasure dropped by monsters right now?

(2) Do my ranks in Knowledge help everyone in my party, or just me?

I'm playing a "bard" (enchantment spells, with maxed out Knowledge) and see the Knowledge as a major benefit of my character so others don't have to invest the XP. But I don't want to be out there false advertising...


Goblin Squad Member

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Copying over from the Wildstar conversation to not continually sidetrack that one...

My hope is at present the achievements are the bare minimum GW can work in for the MVP. If "land the killing blow" remains the major gate for achievements in areas like Subterfuge, that will most certainly be a grind for me. Why? Because I want to make a character that is not primarily focused on killing stuff--an aristocrat/bard. I want to be the support in the background, the voice rallying my comrades, the scout that brings back information, etc. If I've got to land the killing blow to increase my Arcane and Subterfuge skills/feats, that basically means my concept is in the tank. I may as well sit in town as a Seneschal and forget the rest.

I'm not insisting GW put in alternate achievement routes as MVP, but please, please give us some insight into the long term plans for such. Let us know this is coming at some point. Because without it, PFO will indeed just be a grind by a different name. I signed up for the KS specifically for Highlight #1 - No Grinding when it said "don't train any faster by farming mobs or spamming your abilities than you do exploring the world, role playing with your friends, or even being offline." It does note requiring achievements, and I'm good with that concept, but when the achievement is "farming mobs" it pretty much invalidates the whole concept. I want to explore the world and RP with my friends, and I want that to be as relevant as killing stuff.

We've had some expansion in this area, diversifying Divine achievements for instance to now include killing escalation mobs, but that Cleric still can't get Divine achievements for Healing, or buffing, or using Knowledge: Religion, etc. Adding more stuff to kill doesn't fix the problem. I know the devs have hinted at more options--I'll be placated by a simple "yes, in the future you'll get achievements by doing stuff other than killing."

Tying alternate achievements to escalations is not the complete answer, unless every escalation has non-combat solutions relevant to characters. If the achievement is "burn a holy book" let me, for example, sneak into their camp and steal it (so the Rogue gets some glory). When the escalation quests basically result in "go kill this bunch of stuff, oh and it'll drop this widget you need" it's the same as mob farming.

For this topic, I'd really like to see some brainstorming on ideas for possible Achievements across all character concepts.

Goblin Squad Member

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As the current Guardian of Gold for the Keepers of the Circle and Principal Mediator for the Ring of Gold I would like to extend an open invitation to all players interested in the paths of diplomacy, barter, trade, commerce, and mediation. We are open, of course, to any seeking to join the Keepers directly, and in that case I would also point you to our primary discussion for a broader view of the Circle. Beyond recruiting for the Ring of Gold, however, I wish for all players and groups to understand how we function so that we may develop mutually beneficial relations.

While the Keepers as a whole focus on a mutual pact of non-aggression, each of our eight Rings focuses on particular interests and pursuits. As stated in the Ring of Gold Sub-Charter:

The individual rights of all sentient beings are sacred to the Keepers of the Circle. Fundamentally, contracts show respect for those rights. Keepers of Gold are those who engage in mercantile transactions on behalf of the Keepers as well as those who represent the diplomatic arm of the Circle. Keepers of Gold are known for strictly adhering to their contracts, for providing information to the Circle, and for maintaining positive relations with other groups and nations.

The Ring of Gold is divided into three major interests, with a Chief Merchant supervising mercantile matters, a Chief Representative directing diplomatic efforts, and a Chief Financier overseeing the financial and banking needs of the Circle. These officers, plus the Principal Mediator, work to support all Ring members and further the interests of the Circle. We believe in a "light touch" to management and seek to avoid cumbersome bureaucracies and "unfun" work when possible.

The rest of the Ring is made up of Keepers (general members) and Wardens (senior members) holding one or more positions, which include:

  • Ambassadors - officially recognized representatives of the Circle to other groups.
  • Bankers - officially recognized representatives of the Circle that run banks and coordinate other individual investments.
  • Consuls - officially recognized representatives of the Circle that live in another area and provide diplomatic/trade support.
  • Mediators - officially recognized representatives of the Circle empowered to provide impartial conflict resolution and contract negotiation services.
  • Envoy-Venturers - members of the Circle that routinely travel on trade and/or diplomatic missions.
  • Mongers - members of the Circle that maintain shops with inventory for sale.

By organizing in this way, the Ring allows individuals to pursue specific interests with a clear line of support, and also ensures that external players and groups seeking to work with us clearly understand how we operate. There should never be a time when someone is confused or "tricked" regarding who represents the Keepers.

The Ring of Gold hopes to one day maintain consulates and shops in all friendly settlements. We will work diligently to build trust in our fairness in business, impartiality in mediation, and diligence in diplomacy. If you or your organization has not already reached out to us, please feel free to do so at our Chancery. We are open to formal trade and diplomatic negotiations, discussions about settlement support (whether living in our settlement or hosting us in yours), and simply contacts to maintain friendly relations. And of course, if the above sounds like exactly what you are looking for in a guild, we welcome any and all applicants that support the overall goals of the Keepers.

Goblin Squad Member

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First off, this is not a thread about alignment philosophy, what is/is not Evil, etc. There's already a big thread for that...

I'm specifically interested in the actual game mechanics for tracking alignment actions.

Will these be on some sort of sliding scale, such that a character's slider starts (for example) at Neutral and slides back and forth on the axes of Good/Evil and Law/Chaos?

Will the mechanics be some sort of balanced scale, such that a character's balance starts (for example) at Neutral and acts add "weight" to Good/Evil and Law/Chaos sides?

I personally favor the latter, as I think it would afford more play opportunities while providing the same functionality as the slider. It means that Good and Evil acts have meaningful, lasting impacts on a character. It means that the character that kicks puppies all day one day doesn't erase that from ever mattering by planting flowers and trees the next day (and such a character might actually get more weight in the Chaos side from acting erratic).

For example, a Good fighter could be okay with having a few Evil items on his scale since he's got tons of Good. Mechanically the character still shows up as Good. But someone striving for a pure record (yes, I'm thinking of Paladins) would not want any Evil on the scale at all. Such a character would, when Evil acts occur, actually seek out some form of atonement whether it be from the spell of the same name, a quest, etc. This opens up options for play and I see that as a good thing.

Anyway, I'm interested in other folks' thoughts, any dev insight, etc. Do please try to keep to mechanics, as discussions on the "what is Evil" topic will just drag the original purpose of the thread into flaming ruin.

For the older scenarios where we are to use one of the original five missions as stand-ins for the new factions, is the GM authorized to modify the faction mission in order to better align with a new faction? I am specifically wondering about the Silver Crusade, as some of the Andoran missions present situations that are counter to the Lawful Good nature of this new faction. As an example:

The Shadow Gambit:
The Andoran mission requires the character to kill the target by whatever means necessary. Is it permissible to alter the mission so that a Silver Crusade character can instead turn the target over to the Duskwardens for trial?

We had some friction at our last game as one Andoran wanted to kill a captured foe (the other Andoran was against this but wouldn't intervene) and the Silver Crusade character disagreed. The other two characters (both Osirion) disagreed with the killing as well. I believe simply tweaking the missions will allow everyone to continue having a good time without character, and eventually player, conflict. Otherwise the merciless nature of the Andoran missions versus the Silver Crusade is going to cause no end of conflict, I think, for these older scenarios.

Note that I don't aim to turn this into another alignment debate--there's already been plenty of discussion for that in the General PFS forum...I just want to know if this is within a GM's ability for PFS, perhaps as part of the Creative Solutions option.

I couldn't figure out the best place to stick this, but the 3PP content seemed like the closest...

I wanted to share something with you that the folks over at DriveThru RPG are doing. Working with numerous publishers (including folks supporting PRPG such as 4 Winds Fantasy, Otherworld Creations, and Purple Duck Games) they have put together a bundle of products to raise money for Pakistan Flood Relief, specifically working with the group Doctors Without Borders. Some folks may not care about the relief effort, and just go snag $725 of PDFs for $25. That's a good deal anywhere. For the rest, I can tell you from direct experience working in "3rd World" countries that water-based catastrophes like this are a terrible, terrible thing. The immediacy of need in Pakistan is great, and the problems will linger for years to come. Thanks, DTRPG, for getting something like this together!

And of course, the link:

DWB Pakistan Flood Relief

And so it happens. I need more space, I need more $, And I haven't cracked a cover on any of my 3.5 books since Pathfinder rolled out in strength. I have a large collection--almost everything WotC ever published for the "core" or generic D&D setting, plus mosts of the Forgotten Realms and Eberron books.

Any folks here have advice on the best means of turning these into cash? I'm not looking to gouge anyone, just get a fair market value and sell as many as I can to as few people as possible for logistical reasons.

Barring any other options, I suppose I'll go the eBay route.

Thanks for any assistance/thoughts!

For my last LoF session the group was finishing up the monastery, so I decided to put a little extra effort into the map...

Spoilerized for the players that care.

The Pics and Discussion:
I had already redrawn the map in Photoshop (I can send the BMP to interested parties, but note that it's nearly 100 MB at full resolution). I created some floor and wall textures that seemed adequately temple-like for the structure, then threw in some crack overlays I created a long time ago for a more aged look. I wanted any interactive bits of the environment to be "real" so I didn't put the pews and such on the map. Using some eucaboard I had left over from a project, I formed the balconies and drew a grid for movement. I broke the appropriate edges, and the eucaboard did a great job at looking appropriately ragged. A few more strips made the rafters. For the marble pews, I took some 3/4" drywall and cut it into appropriate lengths. I hung a piece of cardboard over the edge of the balcony for a ladder. For the pugwampi nest, I used 2 sheets of cardboard to form a top and bottom, then papered it with shreds of construction paper (if I'd had the time, I would have worked up some carpets, runners, etc. but this worked in a pinch). Finally, right before the game I remembered the skull chandelier (not shows) and so used a paper-clip and formed some tissue paper into a big enough to hold my pugwampi fig (a kobold spearman).

Now, for the battle itself it should be noted that I started the players at 4th level. As such, I bumped this encounter up to being 8 chupacabras on the ground, 10 normal pugwampis running around on the rafters, 2 "champion" pugs protecting the king, and the ling himself (who gained wings). For all the pugs, I swapped out the one-shot shatter ability for permanent improved invisibility. The battle lasted roughly 3-4 hours!

Top View
Down the Stairs
Side Shot
Other Side, with "Nest"

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Hi all, I wanted to let everyone know I've posted a major update to my Excel-based character sheet. Version 0.8 (I'm still beta testing...) now features two files, one for portrait and one for landscape. Both feature all OGC feats and traits released by Paizo to date (many/most fully automated), plus content from 4 Winds Fantasy Games, Alluria Publishing, Super Genius Games, and the Legends of the Shining Jewel. It also includes the 6 beta classes from the Advanced Player's Guide (including eidolon evolution automation). I've been focused for this version on getting things formatted to serve well as both a printed and on-screen sheet. For the latter, the sheet starts my efforts toward automating common game options and settings real-time to help out in actual game play. For instance, you can dynamically set attacks to use Power Attack, fighting defensively, etc. You can also set conditions like Sickened or Blind and the effects flow to proper game stats. This is setting up for the focus of my next major release--automating spell effects and magic items. You can see a small sample of this in the current sheet, but it's limited to standard Neck slot magic items and the effects for haste, enlarge person, and reduce person.

You can always find the latest version of my sheet in my profile, and I also submit it to the Pathfinder Database and HeroForge for general distribution.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please head down to the Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew sub-forum and join in on the thread erian_7's Excel-based Character Sheet.


Well, last year was tight, and so my RPG budget was whittled down to just my Paizo subscriptions mostly. However, between the Making Work Pay Credit (look into this when you are doing your taxes in the US!), Home Energy Credits (yay for installing energy efficient windows and insulation in the old house!), and a Child Tax Credit (yay for a new baby we weren't expecting at the start of 2009!), our 2009 tax returns are looking nice. I'd like to spread that love back around to some 3rd Party Publishers that are doing there best to support Paizo, Pathfinder, and Open Gaming.

A few opening notes--I had materials already from some publishers that contributed OGC to my Excel-based character sheet work (thanks to Alluria Publishing, Super Genius Games/OtherWorld Creations, and 4 Winds Fantasy!). Since I already know the quality of these folks' work and they support OGC, I'm picking up their other materials--all the Remarkable Races, all of 4WF's stuff, and the Genius Guide to... for their classes (they've got too much stuff out to buy it all right now since I want to spread the love--unless you guys convince me otherwise!). I'm also picking up The Great City PRPG material, as I've heard really good stuff on that one.

So, tell me what I should buy and why. And for all the 3PP folks, thanks for the work you do, especially the support for OGC and making the game available to the masses! Note that I'm open to publishers themselves coming in with their own perspectives--I appreciate creative folks that are passionate about their work!

Has anything been released to fix the Pathfinder Chronicler prestige class ability entries for Bardic Music (slight fix--it should refer to the Bardic Performance class ability rather than Bardic Music) and Epic Tales (states it uses 2 daily uses of bardic music, but said class ability now functions on a rounds/day mechanic)? If nothing has been released, I was thinking a good fix might be to have the Epic Tales ability "consume" 6 rounds of bardic performance use per day that are not available until the epic is read.

I posted an open invite in my erian_7's Excel-Based Character Sheet discussion and support thread, but realized I'd probably help out more folks if I posted here as well...

My spreadsheet is intended as a free, small resource for those that love Pathfinder RPG--in addition to serving as a character sheet, it has handy tables for feats, traits, class abilities, etc. It will always remain such, and I have already committed to having all Open Game Content released by Paizo included (since I subscribe to everything).

After a request was made in the discussion thread to add support for the Legend of the Shining Jewel material, I realized I should really support any 3rd party publishers that are also supporting Paizo and Pathfinder. As such, the LSJ folks and I have started the work to incorporate all of their OGC into the spreadsheet as well. I will gladly do the same for any 3PP folks upon request. While I don't have any 3PP material on hand (my limited budget is dedicated to Paizo at this time), I will readily accept any OGC for integration. Any interested parties can jump into the discussion thread to let me know, or else email me at the below. Thanks, both for your time in reading this and for supporting Pathfinder!

erian dot 7 at gmail dot com

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As there's been some interest in the Excel file I use for a character sheet, I wanted to start a single thread for discussing issues, requests, etc. I'm starting from the baseline version listed below:

Pathfinder RPG Character Sheet v.0.5

I have several goals for this character sheet that drive my development efforts:

  • File Size - I don't want a huge file that is a bear to email and/or performs slowly.
  • Customization - I use house rules all the time, sometimes changing mid-game if a new concept looks good. I want a Core rules baseline, but also flexibility to change things as needed without too much work.
  • Print Friendly - The end result must produce a functional, easy-on-the-eye sheet.
  • Electronic Friendly - I want automation that will allow me to apply temporary ability changes, status effects, etc. as I use the sheets live in-game.
  • Legal - All material must be covered under the Open Game License as Open Game Content and/or be covered by the Paizo Community Use Policy.
  • I'm sure there's more, but it's late and I've got to be at work in less than 8 hours...

This version of the sheet complies with the above fairly well (and the Legal bit perfectly, to the best of my knowledge). It is currently built such that the character generation happens as you fill out the sheet, i.e. when you select a Race, then the Size modifier, save bonuses, etc. appear.

The Class and Feat areas are not very automated--for classes only the BAB, hp, saves, and skill points are covered and there is no Feat automation at this time. These two areas are my primary focus for the next major upgrade (for the curious, Spells and Equipment are my targets after that).

Each tab is Locked, but not password protected. This is so you don't have to worry about accidentally erasing a formula, but can Unlock the tab if you want to change things around. Some fields have formulas but are not locked--these are generally ones where I expect a manual override may be necessary.

The Front and Back tabs are the main sheets, with the Character Info tab thrown in for extra space needs (no automation on it at all). Thanks to GamerGirrl I also have a Spells tab that has some automation.

The Table tab contains the "guts" of the sheet that drive a lot of the automation. You'll see some grey fields on that tab that allow you to add custom races, classes, and skills. You can of course unlock the tab and add all you want, but these fields make it easy to do so without breaking anything.

The Feats tab contains every OGC feat from the Pathfinder RPG and all Pathfinder material. It's got an autofilter that you can use to browse feats, even if you don't want to use the sheet. Note that chunks are missing right now--I need Summary benefits for the non-Core feats and full Benefits for the Core feats, for instance. This tabe will be the source for my Feat automation.

The Traits tab is like Feats...but with traits.

Alternate Class Features is just that--the alternative rules offered up in the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting. No automation as yet, but I'll integrate this into the Class automation.

Community Use Material is the tab for Golarion and Pathfinder IP material that is not actually OGC, but used under the Community Use Policy. Right now, it's just languages. I see future use here for things like nation and deity names, etc. I don't plan on building out a lot beyond that, but wanted a separate section for this type of material. Note that some IP is also found on the Feats and Traits tabs, as they might, for instance, use the name Andoran or refer to the god Irori.

Okay, that's the basics. Questions, comments, and criticism welcome (as is help for anyone interested in data entry, feat summarization, etc.).

Thanks, and most of all, good gaming!

I noticed in the sidebar for New Statistics on page 6 it states:

"A creature’s CMD is equal to 10 + Str modifier + Dex modifier + special size modifier (same as CMB) + miscellaneous AC bonuses (such as circumstance, cover, dodge, and deflection)."

Shouldn't BAB be in the mix somewhere?

I've got the overall map for the first level nailed down, I think (preview updated). I've also got a few close up shots of the level for a better look at the detail. I know the trapdoor in the module is open already, but I thought building in an overlay so I can display it as open or closed might be useful.

As a general note, I suppose this could be a bit spoiler-ish for players, so view only at pains of your DM's wrath!

Refuge of Nethys Trapdoor Closed
Refuge of Nethys Trapdoor Open

On a side note, if anyone knows of some nice falcon-headed statues for this room, I'd be greatly appreciative!

This is the AP I'll likely run after we wrap up Savage Tide and it got me to thinking...the sha'ir must be a character option! The flavor of the class blends perfectly with the genie-focused adventures. I'll have to dig up Dragon 315 and re-read the conversion therein, then compare it to PFRPG.

Anyone else thought of revitalizing this class for LoF?

As I'm betting this question comes up this weekend when I talk about the PFS material at our local meet-up, I figured I'd poll the folks here for some thoughts...

It seems odd that no character of evil alignment is allowed, yet one of the five primary factions (Cheliax) is Lawful Evil. I understand the logical/mechanical reasoning for no evil characters--they can be highly disruptive to group dynamics--but the inclusion of Cheliax as a faction seems to create dissonance with this goal. The nation's overt goal is to enslave or destroy all others through the use of fiendish powers, after all. I'm sure questioning players will bring this up (whether to cast doubts on why Cheliax is a faction, to push for playing as evil as possible, or some other reason).

Anyone else considered this? Anyone ran into such questions from players as yet?

Thought I'd post a bit about the maps I'll be using for my PFS games (and spoiler free but spoiler-ized just in case)...

First up, Scenario 1 - Silent Tide

With Act 1 not having a map, I had to whip together my own. Unfortunately given the use restrictions on Google Maps derivative material I can't post it, but for any interested I'll say a shot of some terrain from Valparaiso, Chile laid on top of the cliff's at Gibraltar works great. If I end up using this as a first-step toward some freelance Photoshop/Dundjinni work I'll be sure to share.

For Act 2, the existing map is rather nice--lots of opportunity for environmental interaction. If you enlarge the image to 20"x26.083" it will print in nice 1" = 5' format.

No maps really needed for Act 3.

For Act 4, enlarge the image to 26.792"x35" to print in 1" = 5' format. As with Act 2, this one has some really interesting opportunities for interaction. The only criticism I'd have, and it's not really even that bad, is the "dead space at the top and bottom of the map is unnecessary from what I can tell. Crop to 26.792"x26.792" and you'll not really lose anything while saving on some ink.

For Act 5, enlarge the image to 25.5"x33.278" to print in 1" = 5' format. This one is the weakest of the three in depicting the overall environment for interaction--the outside areas are pretty nice and I'll leave them as-is, but for the interior I'll probably be doing some enhancements.

I've been thinking on a hp variant for my Pathfinder games and wanted to post my initial thoughts for feedback. I was considering the whole "I'm fine down to 1 hp, not so great just -1 hp later, and dying just -2 hp later." I'd like something more realistic, but at the same time most variant systems either over-complicate combat or make combat too deadly for my tastes. I don't want to go fiddling with every monster stat block to fit into a new system, either.

So then I thought, why not just get rid of the negative hp bit and replace that number with the character's Constitution score. Any damage you take up to your max hp is then not real damage, just wearing you down. Damage that would force you under 0 hp instead drops you to 0 hp (but doesn't do "real" damage yet). Further damage becomes Con damage (not drain).

At half Con you're Disabled (take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can you take full-round actions). You can take move actions without further injuring yourself, but if you perform any standard action (or any other strenuous action) you take 1 point of damage)

When you hit 0 Con you're Dying (Fort save, with -5 penalty from having a 0 Con, vs. DC 15, failure means you die, success means you're still dying and save next turn, success by 10 or more means your Stable). A critical becomes important in this system in that if the critical also results in dropping your hp to 0, the remaining damage is immediately applied as Con damage (this ties into a Called Shots system of feats I use also, which would bypass hp like this as well). A critical or Called Shot that drops hp to 0 and Con to 0 in one hit makes the character immediately enter the Dying state. And this ties back around to the thing that first got me thinking about this--save-or-die spells drop the character into a Dying state as well on a failed save. Yes, I like save-or-die effects and refuse to give them up...

And a final thought, with hp now being more "hero points" than "hit points" most monsters won't have them, so damage is applied straight to Con (making a "mooks" or "ensign" type of monster that's easier to take down as with the Savage Worlds or 4e systems). The important bad guys will have hp just like the characters. And I'm thinking on a feat that would allow Charisma modifier to grant bonus hp rather than Con--this would reflect a person that perseveres through luck or force of personality versus the guy that's just really tough. In fact, I thought about making this the default state, actually, or perhaps an option chosen at character creation.

Any feedback is welcome!

I was playing around with Photoshop to create a header for a handout on the PFS Factions (specifically Andoran) and got to would also work well, after some tweaks, as the center tile for an iGoogle theme. I don't have time to fiddle with the XML bits required in creating a theme, but if someone's interested in that piece I can provide the graphic work.

As a side item to this, I wanted to confirm with the Paizo folks that creating/posting such themes wouldn't be a conflict of some sort. I figure it would be some good free marketing for Pathfinder, but I definitely wouldn't want to step on toes regarding use of the art, logos, etc.

Here's the sample I worked up for the Andoran faction...


I'll be presenting on Pathfinder RPG and the Pathfinder Society at the September meeting of the Birmingham Area Dungeons and Dragons Meetup and wanted to check in on what, if any, promotional material is available for distribution. For instance, I'll have all my purchased Pathfinder products on-hand for perusal (like the Beta rules, Campaign setting, APs, etc.) but I'd also like to have copies of the Pathfinder Society Organized Play Guide available for folks to take home. Is there any particular issue with this approach? Also, any other promotional material available?

Assuming there's interest, I'll likely run some Pathfinder adventure afterward as well (a PFS perhaps).


Oh, and of course anyone in the area of Birmingham, AL is welcome to join us!

The save-or-die effects in the game seem like a particular issue of importance in overall design. It was obviously an item of concern for 4e, and that system takes an approach of basically eliminating these in the game. As Pathfinder RPG is aiming for backward compatibility with 3.5, I don't believe this is an option for the redesign. As such, I thought it might be a good idea to (1) get the designers' thoughts on this issue and (2) get the community focused on this particular issue, as it will filter into discussions about spells, monsters, class abilities, etc.

This topic came to mind for me in discussing my concern with archery down in the Combat and Magic forum. There, I am arguing for a Called Shot mechanic or some such that would basically allow non-caster classes to get similar save-or-effect options as casters, as I support keeping save-or-die effects in the game. I would keep these on par level-wise with the spells, likely making the effect harder to accomplish (different DC, perhaps) since it can be used at-will all day. I definitely do not support the approach of making these limited-use mechanically, as it just doesn't make any sense since they're not magical effects in any way.

To alleviate concern for the "un-fun" aspect of save-or-die, I got to thinking about how Savage Worlds addresses this situation. In that system, it is possible to perform a Called Shot to the target's head and "get the drop" on him if the target is unaware of the attack. This is almost assuredly a one-shot kill in Savage Worlds for most opponents. "Wild Cards" (what they call PCs) however have the option of using Bennies to alleviate some Wounds incurred by an attack. So a Wild Card has a shot at coming out of such an attack not-quite-dead, though still likely very hurt. I offer this up as a compromise solution for Pathfinder RPG to address concerns with save-or-die. This could be some alternate use of Action Points, perhaps. Or a Perk from some sort of Flaws/Advantages system. Both of these would be optional for use, offering those that want to minimize save-or-die effects such an opportunity while allowing those that want to leave things as-is to simply ignore the option.

I only just thought of this today, and haven't fully formed the thought, but figured I'd get it out there as a conversation starter.



I have never liked the ranged combat rules in d20. The focus on reduction of HP and lack of called shots basically means an archer has to fill an opponent with a dozen arrows to kill him. In reality, an archer or any user of a ranged weapon generally tries for as few shots as possible for a kill, preferably one. I know, it's a game, I'm not going for a full simulation of reality. But I would like to see options that can make a hunter actually able to kill an elk in one shot. Iron Heroes has some good options for this with their Archer class that could perhaps be analyzed for use as feats.

I guess beyond the ranged combat arena, I'm also a fan of Called Shots in general. For the iterative attack discussion, if a Fighter had the option to target an opponent's head for a killing blow, they'd have less need to hit them six times in a round. I guess it's this option that I really liked in implementation from systems like Iron Heroes and the Bo9S.

The more I worked through the Thoughts from another system – Suzerain thread, the more I realized I was basically writing up a review of Suzerain. As such, I’ve decided to compile that info into one cohesive format, add in some other review thoughts on this RPG, and post it around for folks to consider. I'm still working this up (only into Section Two of the PDF thus far) but figured I'd post what I have so far.

So then, a review of Suzerain follows...

Suzerain: A Universe in Gaming, by Talisman Studios

On a foray away from my D&D roots, which started back in the old days of the Red Box edition but have of late grown deeply into d20, I came across a little gem of a game called Suzerain. This is actually the second edition of Suzerain, with the first edition apparently being a limited print run from several years back by Miles M. Kantir (who played a big part in the second edition—he’s noted in the credits page ‘Original Words’ with ‘Final Words’ by Zach Welhouse). The second edition is a 52-page PDF document currently, though Talisman is looking into print-on-demand and other options for a print run. I picked my copy up for $7.50 directly from the shop at the Talisman site.

When I first opened this book, the first thing that grabbed me was the artwork. Talisman has an “art shop” heart in many ways, with some very talented artists working for them, so this came as no surprise. Aaron Acevedo and Jason Engle (both having with credits across the RPG industry, from Wizards of the Coast to White Wolf to Pinnacle) are noted for Art & Design. Every page of this document may as well have been hand-painted. Due to the nature of the Suzerain universe (more on that later) the portraits and scenes range from wild west to fantasy to sci-fi. The pages that don’t have these wonderful pieces are still adorned with custom tea-stain textures and other flourishes. This does lead to one possible complaint about Suzerain—if you’re running on a lower-end PC this volume and quality of art will definitely have a performance impact. Printing the pages out can also be both challenging and ink-intensive. Thankfully, Talisman includes a print-friendly PDF (1.82 MB vs. 42.1 MB) along with the purchase, though due to the graphics-heavy nature of the parent document, the printer-friendly version has some odd-looking layout issues. Getting this version to look proper would require an entire reformatting of the document, likely affecting page count and such, so I can see why they left this as-is.

Speaking of layout, and switching back to the fully-detailed version, I liked both the flow and presentation of the text in the PDF. They went with a fairly standard 2-column approach for most pages, with very readable font selections and sizes. The only places where the layout became an issue for me was in the last section, Feats, where 75 detailed feat blocks are squeezed a bit tightly on nine and a half pages. Once I got used to reading the blocks it wasn’t too much of an issue, but the font size drops from about 12 points down to what I’d guess is about an 8 or 9. Perhaps a compromise about midway between the normal font and this smaller one would have been better, though it would likely have bumped the page count up by several pages.

Having covered some of the basics of the document, I also wanted to touch on one other thing before getting into some of the details of each chapter—writing style. The overall feel I got from reading this document was like having a good conversation about roleplaying with a well-spoken, passionate, and funny friend. The text not only does away with any formal or bookish speech, but actively engages the reader by presenting the mechanics of the system conversationally, with examples woven throughout to help understand the concepts. Some of the side-humor even made me laugh out loud. I found this approach made it much easier for me to “get” the system, despite it being very different from the standard d20. Also unlike many products I’ve come across in the d20 market, the editing for Suzerain is excellent. In the entire document, I only recall finding two errors—the first is, actually, part of the team’s humor, as you’ll find in the credits an entry for 'Editgin: Genevra Harker.' I suppose some folks might not get it, but I found it pretty darn funny. The other was in a sentence on page 47, where it states "Here are three examples of negative feats: [u]and[/u] extreme physical one, a regular social one, and a serious mental one." I reported this to Talisman and got a response within 6 minutes! The next day, the author replied with this as well, "It's worth mentioning that each of our books is a living document that gets a 'change log'. We compile changes that need to be made and when we have enough, we issue a new version. If you've bought that book in the past, you're automatically entitled to the new version for free - all part of the service! Helping us catch typos means we're delivering a better version next time round." I definitely like that approach and level of support for providing quality products to customers.

So, with all that said, on to the actual content…

Section One: Suzerain
The first section of the PDF deals with Suzerain itself, both as a setting and a rule set. They start out by inviting folks to send in comments, questions, and such. I can tell you from visiting the Talisman forums that these folks are serious—they actively interact with folks on a daily basis and are very quick to respond to comments or criticism (which they take very well). The Suzerain setting is described as being both our own reality/planet as well as numerous other worlds and realms of existence, all tied together by a Pulse that provides both life and, when properly understood/harnessed, magic. The gods of our legends are one example of beings that have mastered this Pulse in their own way. This multi-verse spanning setting is presented as also integrated into the rules—you can run a game of pure fantasy, gritty pulp-noir, space opera, and pirates of the high seas all with not only the same rules, but the same characters. So, a generic system for multiple settings and genres…that’s obviously been done before, sometimes well and sometimes not so well. For Suzerain, I think they’ve got it right…

Section Two: Characters
This section covers character creation, discussing both the mechanics as well as some suggestions for character conceptualization, team formations, etc. One important note about Suzeain—this PDF covers what they consider as Standard characters, those that may be a cut above the rest of the world, but are still grounded in “reality” (though that may be a reality different from ours). Future supplements will cover Hero, Demigod, and even God characters. I have seen some complaints that the PDF is not quite complete, and should have included the full advancement path. For me, considering both the price and the quality of the material I’m okay with this piece-meal approach. It also allows those that only want a system to run real-world games in to pay one low price and be done…though I suspect such folks would eventually get the bug to see what else Suzerain can do.

The character creation process starts with discussing the game with the Director (I’m sure I will forever call such folks the DM…) and with other players to work out background details, personality, etc. This is a big plus for me, not so much because it’s anything new but because it tells me they come at character creation from the same perspective as I do—build a concept, then wrap the mechanics around that.

The process then moves on to discuss Karma—the basic unit for building a character, assigning feats, and gaining future benefits. It equates in many ways to a combination of character points from a point-based system plus experience points. However, in addition to building up abilities and gaining or improving feats, Karma can be actively used in the game to do things like negate damage before it occurs, influence an action check, pay for a power that normally would require Pulse, and even barter with the director about changing events in the story. In this way, Karma also serves as a replacement for Action Points, Hero Points, Fate, and other such game-altering options from other systems. Finally, a character's total Karma determines when that character becomes eligible for Hero and higher status, opening up entirely new feat and game options.

For Abilities, Suzerain uses three categories which each have three separate but thematically similar (both across and within the categories) entries—the first entry represents power, the second finesse, and the third resilience for that category. It looks like a pretty slick system that gives a unified, balanced mechanic for describing the basics of a character. Physical abilities are constitution, strength, and dexterity. Mental abilities are willpower, intelligence, and wits. And finally Social/Spiritual abilities are spirit, presence, and charm. Characters may assign a bonus, from +1 to +3, to any of these nine abilities for a certain cost in Karma. They may also assign penalties, down to -3, to gain Karma. After character creation, Karma can be used to boost these up to as high as +5, but anything higher than that is restricted to Heroes…

One part of the system that I found particularly interesting is Suzerain's approach to "health," a unified health system derived from the three separate attributes of constitution (physical health), willpower (mental health), and spirit (spiritual or social health). Physical health measures what would be HP, wounds, or vitality in other systems; how much damage you can take before going down. The innovation (for me) comes in having mental and spiritual health as well. Using the same mechanics as for combat, then, Suzerain can mirror horror/insanity, torture/interrogation and such through "damage" to a characters mental health. This can be temporary (called stun for all three) or "permanent" and represents wearing down the character's mental faculties over time (or I suppose in one big burst if one had an actual Mental attack form as from a spell or psionics). On the Social/Spiritual side, health damage could represent impacts from diplomatic maneuvering, trying to gain influence with an organization, etc., with damage resulting in the character losing face or becoming to flustered to interact properly. I can see it also easily represents spiritual decay when being influenced/tainted by "evil" or some other metaphysical force.

In all this, the damage is far smaller than the d20 HP system and ties directly to the associated attribute, so a character might start out with 3-6 physical health and "only" progress up to 15 by the time he hits Demigod status. In this system, it's much more important for characters to never take damage if possible (Dodge or Parry/Block for Physical, for instance, are very important—I‘ll discuss those below) as they don't have the level of abstraction associated with something like HP in the d20 system.

A final derived trait is the character's Pulse, influenced by constitution, willpower, and spirit (you can see that these three are pretty important from both a health and Pulse perspective). The section talks about calculating pulse as well as recovering it and even taking spiritual stun damage, but there are no rules for actually using Pulse—those are in the supplements I mentioned earlier. This lack of anything related to using Pulse is definitely a hole in the system if you want to use just this one PDF, but I’m betting going into enough detail to suit those looking for Pulse powers would have doubled the size of the PDF.

More to come...

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I have found some aspects of non-d20 systems to be quite refreshing in implementation, concept, etc. I figured I'd start a thread to discuss this system, Suzerain, and offer perhaps a few suggestions that might drive Pathfinder into new RPG ground rather than being simply an upgrade to 3.5.

Note that I do not in any way think Pathfinder will adopt this rule set in whole, or even in large part, as that would violate the stated intention of keeping this as compatible as possible with 3.5. But still there may be ideas that provide insight...I do not intend to get into the details of Suzerain to such a degree that it would breach their copyrights and such--if you are truly interested in that level of detail I encourage you to head on over and support them with a purchase.

So, my first offering is related to the way in which Suzerain handles determining level of success for a check. It has always bugged me with D&D that I might roll a really good attack, for instance (say a 20 with confirmed thread, criting and also beating the targets AC of 15 by 5 points) and then have this marvelous attack result in paltry damage due to poor Damage rolls (say a 1 on the initial damage, then a 1 on the crit). Suzerain uses a base result plus incremental increases based on how successful the roll actually was. In the above attack the damage would have been in some way tied to the actual attack result itself, then, and so would be more spectacular. Moving beyond the easy example of attack/damage, this can translate into measuring success in a social challenges (diplomacy, intimidation, etc.), physical challenges (swimming/climbing speed, enduring an environment, etc.), and intellectual challenges (researching a creature, figuring out a lock/puzzle, etc.). This is somewhat in place for things like Jump and Diplomacy, though both of these might need attention in other ways.

Core question, can Pathfinder more closely tie die rolls to actual check results in a meaningful, yet easy to understand/document way?

Benefits of this approach include reducing required dice rolls, increasing satisfaction from exceptional successes, and perhaps allowing for a more dynamic resolution mechanic than set DCs.

Down-sides could include increased "mathiness" (I succeeded by 9, and I get perk X for every 2 points over the minimum needed, so I get 4.5 perks) and possibly more mechanics to keep in mind (Suzerain has separate, though similar, mechanics for every feat/skill in the game).

Just food for thought. More later.

Hi all. It's been a while. First off, I want to apologize for a disappearing act I pulled November of last year. That's the "why I left" of this post. At it's heart, I left because I was breaking down personally, spiritually, and it had a lot to do with this game I love (sometimes too much). Short version, as I don't want to labor on and I'm not looking for a pity-party--my family has struggled with addiction for generations. I have thankfully been able to avoid the substance and alcohol abuse inherent in my family, but I do tend to obsess to a level nearing addiction on certain things. D&D is such a vice, and the major one really for decades now. At times it's just a hobby and I'm really just another dedicated fan. But at other times I take it too far. I realized this was happening in November when it became apparent that my spiritual life, attention to family, and work habits were all seriously suffering due to obsession that was triggered by one key thing--would Paizo go 4e. I know that sounds strange, it even took me some time in the October 2006 time frame to realize it was true. But I poured over forums for hours trying to find every scrap of information I could. When it finally hit me, I struggled for a few days on what to do, how to wean myself back down to a reasonable level of attention to a hobby rather than the destructive addiction. Over time, the struggle became simply not posting, not checking the forums, spending time rebuilding my spiritual and family life. Before I knew it, it had been months. It seemed too long to just pop back in, so I kept from posting, though slowly coming back into at least reading up on discussions. I saw new folks join the Paizo crowd, watched the growing heated debate over edition support, but the desire was no longer there for me to check every fact, browse every forum. I'd just pop into Paizo, browse a few points of interest, then leave.

So, that's the "why I left" and I'm drifting into "where I've been" so I figured I needed a paragraph break...My initial break was from RPGs entirely. I not only stopped posting here, but also on the various PbP forums I was on (another part of my addiction--for those here that were in PbPs with me, my apologies for this as well). During that time, I reflected a lot on what exactly it was about RPGs that I loved so much, and what it was that drove this from a positive hobby to a negative obsession. I discerned several things. In addition to some inherent predilection toward addiction, I also have OCD traits (not the full-blown diagnosis, but enough for folks close to me to notice certain things). This extended into my RPG hobby where I had to have everything in a series--I bought nearly ever WotC product up until 2006, had every DDM from Harbinger on in multiples, etc. The realization I came to was that I needed to break that cycle. I needed to focus my hobby on quality, not quantity, in order to deny that slavish trait. As a marker for this, I sold a large portion of my DDM collection and have ear-marked the money for missions/charity.

To go with the quality focus, I realized I needed to broaden my view beyond d20, like I used to do before 2000. I needed to see what truly inspiring and innovative material was being produced for my hobby and sample that, rather than just buying on brand name. So I checked out True20, Castles and Crusades, etc. All interesting in their own right and I purchased a few products to support obviously good companies. But I realized this was just different flavors of the same concept. Luckily, I had a great conversation with some folks in my local D&D Meet-Up (including Shane Ivey, with Arc Dream Publishing--I'm fortunate enough to live in the same city; check there stuff out) about the higher concepts of role playing, why we game, what we truly like in a game versus what we accept, etc. And they mentioned a little rule set called Savage Worlds. I checked it out--skeptical at first that a $10 print book could really be that great--and found some really nifty things. A greater focus on the story versus the mechanics, interesting uses for skills (the Tricks mechanic), a classless system that allowed very free character creation/development, etc. It wasn't the be-all-end-all of RPGs, but it did inspire some really good stories and support some really good work. I noticed a lot of things that were claimed to be innovations in the new D&D. And they'd been around for years.

Savage Worlds led me to a setting called Shaintar--a work by Sean Patrick Fannon that RPG die-hards will likely recognize. It was a beautiful book, first off. He cared enough about the work to interact on a daily basis with fans and incorporate suggestions. He offered a huge amount of world-info for free to inspire a Creator-User dynamic that he feels really drives good RPG development. He tweaked the Savage World rules just so to mesh perfectly with the setting. Through interaction with the Shaintar forums, I also came to see the same traits in SPF's publisher, Talisman Studios. It took me a while to pick up their flagship product, Suzerain, but I am so glad I did. I again saw innovation, inspiration, and a true love for the game that reminded me why I can be passionate about this hobby. It is an entirely different feel from d20, and D&D in general, stripping characters down to truly just nature (ability scores) and nurture (learned/acquired/racial features), using cards instead of dice, implementing a "slow-mo" real-time system for combat, and implementing a very nice stepping procedure to translate success in something like a melee attack directly into damage (rather than tacking on another randomization that might minimize a previous success). And again as with Shaintar, the book is just gorgeous. Go and buy this system now. Even if you will never play it, it's worth $8.00 to support such a company.

But off my advertisement for Shaintar/Suzerain and back to here, I realized in Shaintar and Talisman/Suzerain what it was about the Paizo/4e issue that first set me off. Paizo is, as a company, very much like SPF and the folks at Talisman. They show genuine concern for their customers, listen, interact, and offer uncompromising quality. It's obvious they love the game. Over the years it became obvious to me that WotC wasn't necessarily such a company. I am not delving into personal, or even corporate, attacks, but their handling of 4e in general bore out my concerns that as a company WotC practiced business in a way I could not support (obfuscating their plans for 4e in a way that borders on outright deception). I have no doubt that there are people at WotC that love the game, but they aren't in the drivers seat in too many ways for me to feel comfortable with them any more. To see Paizo potentially going down that road was the trigger...

So why am I back, and what's this have to do with Pathfinder? I saw Paizo today take a stride I had lost hope that they could or would take. They stepped out to show a love for the game and their customers that, frankly, not many companies would have done. It has inspired me to rejoin the community because you folks truly are my friends, though I've never met any of you, and I know now that I should be looking to you for support rather than running away and hiding in shame for my own issues. I will support Paizo in whatever way I can, so long as they remain true to the game and to those that love the game. I hope that, if they haven't already, some of the fine folks at Paizo will check out what Talisman is doing and see if there is any inspiration for the Pathfinder RPG there. I intend to raise some of the items I really like from both Savage Worlds and Suzerain for consideration in Pathfinder. I don't suspect they'll be going Savage! (though I might work up some conversions) or will start using cards vs. dice, but there are some nuggets in there that could make Pathfinder RPG more than just another d20 knock-off. My home group will be play testing the alpha releases as we round out our Savage Tides campaign. And I'll be talking with the FLGS that hosts our D&D Meet-up tomorrow about supporting Pathfinder Society games. I just bit the final bullet on my subscriptions and added the modules today; I'll probably buy every Gamemastery accessory with my tax returns just to show support (though I better watch myself and that OCD/obsession thing again...)

You guys inspire me. I have missed you. And I'm glad to be back.



I've noticed with the iconics, and indeed all the preview art, that females are figuring much more prominently than males (basically Valeros and Karzoug are it on the male side). I'm hoping we'll see some more representation of males to provide inspiration to players?

We were starting to go off into character creation system customizations on the Better Fighter thread, so I figured I'd make this one to keep from polluting the other thread too much.

For myself, I started down the road of rebuilding d20 into a completely classless system based entirely around skills and feats. For all interested, here's as far as I got. I started trying to put the thing into a wiki format (need to dig around for that link...), but that effort got lost in the process of buying a new house and such.

I ended up scrapping the project after version 0.5 as it was too much work for my players (they don't like to twink rules around like I do) and the long-shot of commercial viability for such an effort seemed pointless. I'd love to keep working on the project with any like-minded folks, see other peoples' systems, talk about ideas/chunks that could be pulled off for general d20 use, etc.

In any case everything is (or should be, if you spot a problem please let me know) fully OGC. I built the system using ideas and material from the d20 SRD, d20 Modern, the Book of Distinctions and Drawbacks, the Book of Distinctions & Drawbacks Modern, Iron Heroes, Legends of Sorcery, and Mythic Earth: Elements of Magic.

And all that said, here's the link to the doc (it's a ZIPped Word DOC):

A d20 Unified Character Ssytem - Code Name d20

With the "Religious Demographics in D&D" thread up in the Gamin/D&D forums growing a bit off-topic from demographics into discussion of actual religious concepts, I've decided to redirect down her for further discussion so as not to bog down that thread.

Some rules restated:

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Now, on to the the aforementioned thread, Sebastian noted the following:

Sebastian wrote:

What if you've never heard of/been exposed to the bible? This is a slightly more academic question in our day and age, but there was a significant period of time in human history (say, 1500 years or so) where an entire hemisphere contained people who lived, grew old, and died without ever having seen the instructions contained in the bible to ensure their place in Heaven. Were they just screwed, and if so, how is that reconcilable with an all-knowing all-loving God? If they were capable of getting into heaven without knowing of the bible, doesn't that imply that there are alternate routes?

I just can't see how the one true path can be contained in a book which was not widely distributed for centuries and centuries.

To this, I mentioned the concept of Natural Law as it applies to Christian belief. This is, notedly, a topic of much debate among Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant alike. One can read up on this through people such as St. Thomas Aquinas and Richard Hooker. So, I figure I'll lay out some basics foundations of the conceot and we'll see where conversation flows from there.

One note, "Natural Law" (a law whose content is set by nature, and that therefore has validity everywhere) in this discussion is distinct from "law of nature" (a scientific generalization based on empirical observations of physical behavior). Natural Law dates back at least to Greek philosophy, with folks like Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. I'll let folks not familiar with Natural Law dig around a bit for more info, as it'd take forever to fully explain it here.

Instead, I'll focus on a particular passage of scripture that is typically the basis for discussion of Natural Law in relation to Christianity. Understand that I do not advocate pulling particular sections of any book out and using them in a vacuum, separate from the rest of the book. This means I make my own decisions on the meaning of a passage of scripture based on other scripture. So, this all said, I will first present the passage in question, for general reading and comment (emphasis mine):

Romans 2:1-16 New American Standard Bible wrote:

Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

and later:

Romans 3:19-4:17 New American Standard Bible wrote:

Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Where then is boasting? It is excluded By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? "ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, "FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS." How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had while uncircumcised.

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation.

For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, (as it is written, "A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.

We'll let that soak in, take any comments/questions, and go from there.

Speaking of those stinky canals, any thought on the impacts of creatures swimming therein? Having an amphibious party member, I'm sure she'll be swimming therein if called for. I'm thinking on a Fort Save to avoid contracting a disease (probably a low DC one like filth fever, mindfire, or the shakes). May give a chance of also picking up blinding sickness).

Visibility will be lower than normal as well...

And I'm betting those devilfish had to be paid extra to swim in this mess!

Specifically, looking for things outside what is printed in Dungeon and Dragon...

I've found several nice pics over at the DAZ3d site:

This is just August and September...

Thought it might be fun to have a thread noting any Mystaran easter eggs folks find in the AP.

Let's note the item and not the location so others canlook for it.

I'll start us off with a fine elven perfume from Alfheim...

In the James Keegan "First time D&D player and Savage Tide." thread, a discussion popped up on the vault puzzle in Part Three: The Vanderboren Vault of There is No Honor. The initial comment was about new players possibly having problems with the puzzle as it relied on knowledge of some D&D monsters to complete.

I hadn't really thought about this as a problem for new players, as I won won't be letting players use OOC knowledge to solve the puzzle anyway. Instead, they'll either need to make Knoweldge checks (set at a flat DC 15 for each check) as appropriate or find someone in Sasserine to provide the needed information. I'll break the XP award into two parts, one for figuring out the needed solution to the puzzle and the other for either actually breaking the code themselves or thinking to consult an expert. If they don't come to the latter
conclusion themselves, Lavinia will suggest it (and the party will not get the XP award). My thought on the expert advice is that with so much exotic stuff flowing through Sasserine, there will be merchants, scholars, adventurers, etc. that can be fairly easily found to answer such questions.

My post here is soliciting thoughts/feedback on this approach, and also looking for how others will deal with the puzzle.

Oh, and for the Cyclops I remembered where my 3.0/3.5 stats are from - Arcana's definitely of the Giant type in Monte's book!