Tag Archive For "Yavmir: Russian Folklore Campaign Setting"

Pathfinder Organized Play: New Races, 2014

pathfinder_society

So, there was a pretty big announcement on the Paizo blog a few weeks ago regarding the upcoming season, and some significant changes to available races. Of course, like everything else on the Paizo blog, it got buried quickly by new blog posts and one hundred lines of semi-related discussion. To help get the information out, I’ve summarized the major changes (coming into effect August 14) below:

Players may no longer make Tiefling or Aasimar characters.

Players may now make Nagaji, Kitsune, and Wayang characters.

 

These are pretty huge developments! Aasimar and Tieflings have been mainstays in the Toronto gaming scene, and I imagine their presence will be missed. But I’m not here to debate the merit of these new adjustments. Instead, I’m going to give a quick rundown of exactly what these new races are and what they are going to look like when they hit the gaming table.

Nagaji (AKA, Snake People)

Nagaji

Stat Line: +2 Strength, +2 Charisma, -2 Intelligence
Notable Abilities: Natural Armour, Low-Light Vision, Resistance to Poison/Mind-Affecting Abilities, Hypnotic Gaze
Likely Roles: Paladin, Samurai, Oracle, Druid (Naga Aspirant)

Advanced Race Guide Blurb
The nagaji are a race of ophidian humanoids with scaled skin that mimics the dramatic appearance of true nagas. Like serpents, they have forked tongues and lidless eyes, giving them an unblinking gaze that most other races find unnerving. Their physical forms are otherwise humanlike, raising wary speculation about their origins. It is widely believed that true nagas created them as a servitor race, through crossbreeding, magic, or both, and indeed nagaji revere nagas as living gods. Nagaji often inspire awe and fear among other humanoids, as much for their mysterious ancestry as for their talent for both swords and sorcery.

Bred in the ancient past by nagas seeking a servitor race that combined the loyalty of a slave with the versatility of the human form, the nagaji have long since developed into a vibrant and proud race.

Mike’s Notes
Essentially, nagaji are lizard men with a bit of an eastern vibe to them. They probably won’t see too much use beyond a tanking role, as their inherent traits are not especially versatile or powerful, but the Naga Aspirant Druid archetype does offer some intriguing options.

Kitsune (AKA, Fox People)

kitsune-oracle-color_Ryan-Rhodes

Stat Line: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Strength
Notable Abilities: Change Shape, Low-Light Vision, Kitsune Magic (Dancing Lights), Natural Weapons
Likely Roles: Rogue, Bard, Sorcerer, Oracle

Advanced Race Guide Blurb
Kitsune, or fox folk, are vulpine shapeshifters known for their love of both trickery and art. Kitsune possess two forms: that of an attractive human of slender build with salient eyes, and their true form of an anthropomorphic fox. Despite an irrepressible penchant for deception, kitsune prize loyalty and make true companions. They delight in the arts, particularly riddles and storytelling, and settle in ancestral clans, taking their wisdom from both the living and spirits.

Quick-witted and nimble, kitsune make excellent bards and rogues. It is not uncommon for one to pursue sorcery, while those few born with white fur and pale eyes usually become oracles.

Mike’s Notes
I’ve actually seen a lot of kitsune builds already in Toronto due to some racial boons that were tossed around last year. Although the strength dump is a bit killer, kitsune have a great stat-line for nimble characters and have a variety of fun racial traits. Their feat line can grant some intriguing novelty abilities too, such as the capability to turn into a fox or grow additional, magical tails.

Wayang (AKA, Gollum)

PZO1121-Wayang

Stat Line: +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Wisdom.
Notable Abilities: Small Size, Darkvision, Shadow Magic (Ghost Sound, Pass Without Trace, Ventriloquism), Stealth Bonuses
Likely Roles: Rogue, Alchemist, Magus, Ranger, Wizard, Witch, Bard

Advanced Race Guide Blurb
The wayangs are a race of small supernatural humanoids who trace their ancestry to the Plane of Shadows. They are extremely gaunt, with pixielike stature and skin the color of deep shadow. Deeply spiritual, they follow a philosophy known as “The Dissolution,” which teaches that in passing they may again merge into the shadow. They readily express their beliefs through ritual scarification and skin bleaching, marking their bodies with raised white dots in ornate spirals and geometric patterns. Shy and elusive, they live in small, interdependent tribes. Wayangs rarely associate with outsiders.

Mike’s Notes
Probably the most interesting race of the lot, wayang can do a lot of different things. A small race with no strength penalty! A feat that lets you move full speed while using stealth! A favoured class option that allows Bards to learn Sorcerer/Wizard spells! No wonder I listed so many “likely roles” above! I expect to see a lot of these guys popping up at tables, especially as rogues and prepared casters.

Outclassed: Hybrid & Specialist Classes

Classes. The backbone of many a role-playing game. Whether you are a brave warrior or an ingenious spellcaster, your class is what defines the things you can or cannot due throughout the course of the game.

I’ve always been fascinated with class systems – probably due to my obsessions with PathfinderFinal Fantasy Tactics, and Baldur’s Gate – and as a result I often toy with the game design aspects of class design. One of my favourite exercises is to imagine how game classes relate to each other, and what factors dictate a player character’s lot in life.

For part two of my sure-to-be-sporadically-updated series Outclassed (part one can be found here), I have designed a branching class tree based on the concepts of hybrid and specialist classes. This sort of system is heavily based on the class trees found in Seiken Densetsu 3, where players are forced to make branching choices when progressing through classes. It also takes cues from Final Fantasy Tactics, where characters must start in a beginner role and master multiple, intermediate classes before moving to specialist options. Players start in the middle of the octagonal grid, then work outwards as they level-up.

hybridclasses

The Squire, Apprentice, Acolyte, and Thief are all beginner (first tier) classes. Players in these roles are learning their trade, and draw from a very limited pool of abilities and equipment. These classes allow players some time to feel out what they like to do in battle, giving them some basic options before forcing a commitment to a specific play-style.

The Barbarian, Fighter, Rogue, and Archer are all intermediate (second tier) martial classes. Although all these classes rely on physical feats, they all focus in on radically different skill-sets.

  1. Barbarian: Light Armour, Closing Speed, Rage.
  2. Fighter: Weapon & Armour Mastery, Combat Maneuvers, Teamwork.
  3. Rogue: Deception, Flanking, Climbing Walls, Stealing.
  4. Archer: Ranged Damage, Trick Shots, Mobility.

The Wizard, Sorcerer, Priest, and Druid are all intermediate (second tier) magical classes. They all wield magic, but their powers are drawn from different sources and manifest themselves in different ways.

  1. Wizard: Arcane Magic, Abjuration, Transmutation, Enchantments.
  2. Sorcerer: Elemental Magic (Fire, Water, Earth, Wind).
  3. Priest: Holy Magic, Healing, Buffing, Turning Undead.
  4. Druid: Nature Magic, Battlefield Control, Animal Calling.

The Warlord, Shaman, Assassin, and Summoner are all advanced (third tier) specialist classes. Requiring progression through two classes of the same type – Druid and Cleric, for example – these roles emphasize reaching the apex of skill in a particular field. Combining two classes also creates emergent abilities, that wouldn’t be available to those in the intermediate tier.

  1. Warlord: Complete Weapon/Armour Mastery, Strategy and Tactics, Mounted Combat.
  2. Shaman: Primal & Wild Magic, Supernatural Abilities, Portents and Omens.
  3. Assassin: Finesse Weapons, Pressure Points, Poison, Stealth, Sniping.
  4. Summoner: Monster Summoning, Invocation, Conjuration.

The Paladin, Ranger, Bard, and Magus are all advanced (third tier) hybrid classes. Requiring progression through a martial class and a magical class – Fighter and Priest, for example – these roles are more versatile and adaptable than specialists. Although possessing some new abilities, hybrid classes tend to combine prior skills to create more powerful incarnations of them.

  1. Paladin: Auras, Combat Healing, Immunity to Status Effects, Smiting.
  2. Ranger: Animal Companions, Monster Lore, Tracking, Geomancy.
  3. Bard: Illusions, Inspiring Allies, Exotic Weapons, Magical Item Lore.
  4. Magus: Spell Combat, Elemental Strikes, Self-buffing.

Most of these classes are probably familiar to you if you’ve played a fantasy RPG before, and my goal certainly wasn’t to re-invent the wheel. I simply wanted to organize some archetypes (and some variations on them) in a compelling manner. I hope you all found this little thought exercise engaging, and I’ll bust out another edition of Outclassed when I’m short on content.

Outclassed: Classes by Alignment

Sorry for the delay in updates lately! Unearthed and Yavmir are still in motion, but I haven’t had time to post proper project updates up on the blog. To tide you all over until the next bulletin, here is a bit of a game design post that I’ve had in the works for a while. Enjoy!

Classes. The backbone of many a role-playing game. Whether you are a brave warrior or an ingenious spellcaster, your class is what defines the things you can or cannot due throughout the course of the game.

I’ve always been fascinated with class systems – probably due to my obsessions with Pathfinder, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Baldur’s Gate – and as a result I often toy with the game design aspects of class design. One of my favourite exercises is to imagine how game classes relate to each other, and what factors dictate a player character’s lot in life.

For part one of my sure-to-be-sporadically-updated series Outclassed, I have designed a simple class tree based around the idea of alignment. My inspiration for this particular design came from the casual disregard that many players have for their alignment in the d20 roleplaying system. This chart aims to tie alignment and class more closely together, and to give players another way to think about the type of character they are building. The classes are roughly approximated from the Pathfinder RPG.

alignmentclasses

 Classes are divided in two ways: function and alignment. Function is a pretty straight-forward way of sorting classes by what they do. Two martial roles (heavy and light) and two magical roles (divine and arcane) cover the basis of most fantasy archetypes, and are represented on the horizontal and vertical axis. The white, gray, and black circles represent alignment – think OSR alignment, with no good or evil – which is what we’re more interested in at the moment.

Lawful Classes (the white circle) are perhaps the easiest to understand and parse through. They all follow a set of rules to increase their skill and power, and often work within the framework of a well-regulated institution. Paladins and Clerics are the most obvious example of this, being extensions of an organized religion. Wizards follow the somewhat more ambiguous rules of magic, learning from tomes and trying to bend reality through the use of carefully designed spells. Monks are law incarnate, abiding by stringent physical training to perfect their bodies and obtain mastery over the martial arts. Some core values of lawful classes are: honour, obedience, and reliability.

Chaotic Classes (the black circle) are not necessarily outsiders, but seem to work outside the normal rules of society. Oracles and Sorcerers are the antithesis of Clerics and Wizards, obtaining their powers through chance or heritage, free of the normal restrictions of institutionalized training. Rogues are free spirits, picking up skills and techniques as they travel, and pretty much acting on whatever whims that strike their fancy. Barbarians are the epitome of chaos, using an intense physical rage to boost their abilities regardless of the possibility of recklessness and self-harm. Some core values of chaotic classes are: freedom, adaptability, and flexibility.

Neutral Classes (the grey circle) can be a bit harder to peg down than the other classes. They strike a balance between law and chaos, and often push in either direction depending on their personal aims. Druids and Rangers may ally themselves with various causes in order to further their own goals of protecting nature and preserving a natural balance. Fighters – mercenary by nature – may find themselves traveling across the world and working for different factions in search of wealth and fame. Summoners are perhaps the most eccentric of the lot, consorting with creatures from various planes of existence to increase their knowledge and power. Some core values of neutral classes are: balance, self-worth, and impartiality.

That’s all for this edition of Outclassed! I have another post in the vault, so I’ll bust it out next time I’m short on content.