Tag Archive For "Random Thoughts"

One Page Dungeon Contest 2014

I’m always interested in amateur game design competitions, and the One Page Dungeon Contest is one of my favourites. Submissions are now open for the 2014 iteration of the event so I thought I’d give it a mention on the ol’ blog.

What’s it all about? Participants create a complete role-playing-game dungeon within the space of a single sheet of 8.5×11 paper. The general idea is to make the adventure compatible with any game system; so the best approach is to speak in generalities rather than specific rules. For example, explaining an encounter as “three rugged warriors wielding sharp blades” is better than “1d3 fourth level fighters wielding +2 long swords.”

Down Among the Dead Men

There are a few other rules and restrictions, but something to take note of is that all submissions are put under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. I am a huge fan of Creative Commons licenses for RPG materials (as can be clearly seen), so having dozens of mini-adventures made available to the public seems like a pretty awesome idea in my books.

This year’s deadline is April 30, so if you’re interested in participating then get cracking! I have already started on my adventure, tentatively titled: Escape From Redstone. It’s based on an outline I made for a Labyrinth Lord proposal waaaaay back in the day, and I thought now was as good a time as ever to revive it.

Nonchalant Thuggery: How to Fix the Pathfinder Rogue

Pathfinder Rogue

There’s a general consensus on the Paizo message boards that the two classes with the most problems are the monk and the rogue. While the monk has received a lot of love through the addition of various archetypes and combat style feats, the rogue has been been left out in the cold.

Part of this has to do with a dilution of the rogue’s role in a group. Why play a rogue, many ask, when I could play an vivisectionist, lore master, archaeologist, or urban ranger? Paizo has been extremely bad at keeping what makes a rogue unique – a wide skill pool, sneak attack dice, and trap finding – unique to the rogue.

Power creep has also seemed to skim over the class in many regards. Rogues still rely on sneak attack to remain competitive in combat, and there hasn’t been much done to make flanking or surprising foes any easier.

Arguably, the addition of tieflings (with their prime attribute bonuses and darkness powers) to organized play has been the biggest boon. But what class hasn’t benefited from that one?

I’d like to propose a few measures to make the rogue a more competitive class. Unlike my post on feat taxes, these measures will be additions to the core class, not revisions. This means no existing feature will be tweaked and that everything in this post could potentially be added in a future splatbook.

Here goes!

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Variant Sneak Attack

Clerics received a small boon in Ultimate Magic in the form of variant channeling. Variant channeling halves the amount of damage a cleric heals or harms with their channel energy ability, but grants a beneficial secondary effect.

Given that channel energy and sneak attack operate off of the same ubiquitous d6 mechanic, variant sneak attacks seem like a natural move. Many rogues would be eager to sacrifice damage for greater party utility, and the number of options are limitless.

Examples

Courageous Sneak Attack
When you successfully deal sneak attack damage, all allies within 30 feet of you gain a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls for one round. This bonus increases by +1 at level 5 and every 4 levels after.

Cunning Sneak Attack
When you successfully deal sneak attack damage, you may attempt one free trip, steal, or dirty trick combat maneuver on the same opponent with a +1 bonus. This extra combat maneuver can only be attempted once a round. This bonus increase by +1 at level 3 and every 2 levels after.

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Better Rogue Talents

Whenever a discussion on rogue talents is stirred, I inevitably make the following comparison.

Alchemists, witches, and oracles generally swap a good portion of their feats for bonus class features – discoveries, hexes, and mysteries respectively. Rogues tend to do the opposite, swapping as many rogue talents for feats as possible.

Frankly, many rogue talents are weak, poorly thought out, or terminally situational. Rogues need talents that help them deal with their most common issues – lack of combat options, the fickle nature of two-weapon fighting, and the decay of their group role.

Examples

Two Weapon Focus
Whenever you make an attack with both a main hand weapon and an off-hand weapon in a single round, you gain +1 to hit with each weapon. This bonus does not stack with Weapon Focus.

Quick Strike
Req: Two Weapon Focus
Whenever you make an attack with a main hand weapon as a standard action, you may make a second attack with an off-hand weapon at your full BAB.

Powerful Sneak Attack
You can choose to take a –1 penalty on all melee attack rolls per sneak attack die you possess to roll d8s instead of d6s on your sneak attack damage. The damage dice increase to d10s if you are making an attack with a two-handed weapon, a one handed weapon using two hands, or a primary natural weapon that adds 1-1/2 times your strength modifier on damage rolls.

Efficient Sniper
The time required for you to reload any type of crossbow is reduced to a free action, regardless of the type of crossbow used. You can fire a crossbow as many times in a full attack action as you could if you were using a bow.

Precision Sniper
You gain a circumstance bonus equal to your number of sneak attack dice to confirm critical hits with any type of crossbow. This talent does not stack with Critical Focus.

Staggering Bolt
Whenever you confirm a critical hit with any type of crossbow, you may choose to stagger your opponent for a single round.

Skill Monkey
A rogue that selects this talent gains Skill Focus as a bonus feat, although it must be applied to one of his class skills. This rogue talent can be taken multiple times.

Eye for Magic
Req: Minor Magic
A rogue with this talent gains the ability to cast detect magic at will as a spell-like ability, using his rogue level as his caster level. However, he can only use this ability to detect magical traps and abjuration and illusion auras.

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Variant Trapfinding

Not all campaigns have traps. The notion that every party would require a dedicated trapfinder is a relic from the Gygaxian era of improbable mega-dungeons, where every individual floor tile triggered its own unique and deadly mechanism.

Many archetypes already replace trapfinding with another class ability, but I think giving alternatives outside of the archetype system would allow for less rigid customization.

Examples

Shrewd Negotiation
A rogue adds 1/2 her level to Sense Motive skill checks and to Diplomacy, Bluff, and Intimidate skill checks against creatures who have lied to him in the past 24 hours (minimum +1).

Monster Hunting
A rogue adds 1/2 her level to Survival skill checks to follow tracks and to Sense Motive and all Knowledge skill checks against a creature he has tracked in the past 24 hours (minimum +1).

Treasure Hunting
A rogue adds 1/2 her level to Perception skill checks to locate valuables or hidden objects and to his Appraise skill checks (minimum +1). An Appraise skill check that succeeds by 5 or more also allows him to discern if an item is magical.

Mercantilism
A rogue adds 1/2 her level to Diplomacy checks to gather information and to a skill checks in a single Profession or Craft skill of his choice (minimum +1). He may gather information in 1d2 hours rather than 1d4.

Nerd Tour Appendix: Best Prices on Pathfinder in Toronto

Pathfinder

A good question was recently posed on the Ontario Pathfinder forums: where is the cheapest place to buy Pathfinder books in Toronto?

There’s really not a straightforward answer to this one. On a normal day, the prices at most of the major gaming stores downtown are fairly equitable. You might save a dollar here or there, but there’s generally not huge difference.

That being said, there are tips and to tricks to landing the best prices on Pathfinder materials in the city. As a reference for the frugal gamer, I intend to briefly detail the major gaming stores in the city, what goodies they tend to keep in stock, and how prone they are to put them on sale.

The Silver Snail

Where?

Just off of Dundas Square.

What?

The Silver Snail offers a modest collection of Pathfinder books, mainly focusing on adventure paths and very recent splat books. One can generally find most of the core hardcovers there, but items such as the Advanced Race Guide are more scarcely stocked.

When?

The Silver Snail runs impressive sales three or four times a years. During their March break extravaganza a few months back, they boasted a staggering 40% off all roleplaying books. Keep an eye on their website for bulletins.

401 Games

Where?

Currently near Yonge and College, but moving soon.

What?

The fine people at 401 Games likely maintain the largest stock of Pathfinder hardcovers in the city. A gamer looking for a copy of Ultimate Combat or Ultimate Equipment will rarely find themselves in want. Splat books and adventures paths can also be found in abundance.

When?

The store isn’t as prone to major sales as the others on this list, but they do maintain a floating 10% discount on roleplaying books. If you plan on trading in Magic the Gathering cards – a speciality of theirs – you can opt to receive a heap of store credit instead of cash, making it a good opportunity to pick up Pathfinder swag.

The Hairy Tarantula

Where?

Tucked away just south of Yonge and College.

What?

Although the Hairy Tarantula only maintains a modest stock of Pathfinder hardcovers, the store always has a stack of the newest splat books in stock and is likely the best source of flip-mats in the city. Occasionally they tote used editions of hardcovers in their backroom.

When?

The Hairy Tarantula is known for its robust monthly sales, and Pathfinder materials are frequently discounted in the 10% to 30% range. Large sales pop up about as often as they do at the Silver Snail, but rarely receive the same degree of advertisement.

Dueling Grounds

Where?

Floating between Dufferin and Lansdowne stations on Bloor.

What?

Dueling Grounds should be praised for maintaining one of the best-rounded inventories of Pathfinder materials in the city. They carry an ample supply of hardcovers, splat books, and flip-maps, as well as peripheral items such as the player aid decks that are often difficult to find.

When?

There aren’t as many noteworthy sales at Dueling Grounds, but keep an eye out for the occasional clearance event. That being said, the store is the only place in the city to find certain Pathfinder products, so it might be worth paying a few dollars more.

BMV Books, Annex Location

Where?

In the heart of the Annex.

What?

Although not a dedicated peddler of nerd provisions, the third floor of the book chain’s Annex location often carries overstocked copies of older hardcovers.

When?

Whenever they are in. BMV Books offers a steep discount on everything, and Pathfinder books are no exception. Although they may be a little scuffed, the hardcovers often sell for the unbelievable price of $15 dollars each. Naturally they sell out fast, so camping the place out is almost required.

The Wizard’s Cache

Where?

Snuggled next to the Bata Shoe Museum, of all places.

What?

New to the Toronto landscape, the Wizard’s Cache is keen on catering to the city’s large Pathfinder Society scene. Their stock is fairly limited at the moment, but the proprietor is working on filling his shelves with new hardcovers each week.

When?

Any time. If you’re a card-carrying member of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, the fledgling store will provide a universal 10% discount on all Pathfinder materials and dice.