Posts Tagged ‘ A to Z ’

A to Z Reflections

Well, the Powers That Be tell me I need to reflect on the A to Z blogging challenge. So, here goes.

Those few of you that keep track of what I write know that I had a heart attack back in October 2011. That really took the wind of my sails. My almost-vanity publishing of material for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game came to a screeching halt, and inertia set in. My body may have needed rest, but my mind, my aspirations, my life did not.

“A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it,” G. K. Chesterton observed. I needed to go against the stream of just getting by that I’d fallen into. My family and friends helped. My students helped. But all the help in the world isn’t much good if one doesn’t accept it and act accordingly.

So, I said to myself, “Self, people keep telling you to do something. So, let’s try to write something nearly everyday for a month.”

And I did, and most of the time I found it rather easy to do, which makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often. There were a few blogposts that gave me trouble, but overall I enjoyed the challenge. I like writing. I like sharing my ideas, and I like imagining that at least a few dozen people enjoy me doing so.

I hesitate to say that the A to Z challenge was therapeutic, but it did help remind me that I’m not dead yet. I may have taken a beating, but I’m not beaten.

And I’ve even taken up a new challenge: a 45-day exercise and diet program that my son Giant Boy and I are now one-fifth of the way through. While I doubt I’ll ever run a five-minute mile or knock out 70 push-ups in two minutes again, I’m going to get into better shape, and I’m taking Giant Boy along with me for the ride.

Another quote to close with, this one from William Ernest Henley: “Under the bludgeonings of chance / My head is bloody, but unbowed.”

May 10th, 2012  in RPG 2 Comments »

Z Is for Zahia

And here I am, finishing up the A to Z blogging challenge. Huzzah! Since I’ve been doing an NPC a week, that seemed like a good way to wrap things up. The other NPCs (Gröd the Gorilla, Sultan Nagendra, and the Thriller) were all leader monsters, conquerors of sorts who seek to expand their ability to control and destroy. Zahia, however, wants to be left alone to play with her pets.

Zahia is a half-fiend mermaid, the child of an aquatic fiend and an extremely unfortunate mermaid. Under normal circumstances, the progeny of such a union would never permitted to be born, but the fiend kept its victim captive until its unholy offspring was delivered. It then fed Zahia’s mother to her as its first post-natal meal. Zahia’s father then transported her to a remote ocean chasm and abandoned her to fend for herself.

Fend she did, surviving by hunting and scavenging, roaming through the chasm alone. One fateful evening while she was stargazing among the waves, she spotted a passing ship. Curious, Zahia followed the vessel, catching her first glimpses of surface dwellers. The ship led her to a harbor and port, and the monstrous mermaid hid herself in some sea caves. Quite by accident, she was discovered by a witch, who taught Zahia to contact otherworldly powers that could teach her arcane arts. Zahia was a capable student with an affinity for wild things. When she learned all she could from the local witch, Zahia killed her and ate her, as befits a mother figure.

Zahia swam to a bigger harbor with a larger port near more extensive sea caves. She fortified her sea caves with devious traps and schools of predatory fish. She discovered the routes used by smugglers to enter the city’s substructures so that she can move about, watching what she regards as the amusing antics of the surface dwellers. Often, when a stray surface dweller catches her fancy, she takes him or her back to her watery lair. Zahia’s victims seldom live long, but that’s satisfactory for the mermaid. She enjoys playing with the drowned corpses almost as much as she enjoys her torturous games with them while they live. When the bodies are too decayed for play, Zahia eats them, sharing the remains with her fishy guards.

All of this happens without the knowledge of almost everyone in the city. It isn’t uncommon for people to disappear in a big city, especially one so near to the lures of a life at sea. A few smugglers have seen Zahia flying slowly through the tunnels beneath the city, and then cower and hide until she passes. A few drunken sailors think they may have seen a mermaid slipping through the dark harbor waters at night, but who believes the tales of besotted salt dogs?

Female advanced half-fiend merfolk white hair witch 11
CR 15; XP 51,200
NE Medium outsider (aquatic, native)
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +2

AC 27, touch 19, flat-footed 20 (+2 deflection, +6 Dex, +1 dodge, +8 natural)
hp 107 (11d6+66)
Fort +13, Ref +13, Will +10
DR 10/magic; Immune poison; Resist acid 10, cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10; SR 25

Speed 5 ft., fly 10 ft. (good), swim 50 ft.
Melee 2 claws +11 (1d4+3), bite +11 (1d6+3), or
Melee hair +12 (1d6+7 plus grapple)
Reach (with hair) 15 ft.
Special Attacks cunning trigger, white hair
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 11th, concentration +17)
3/day- darkness, poison (Fort 20)
1/day- blasphemy (Will partial 23), contagion (Fort 19), desecrate, unholy blight (Will partial 20)
Spells Prepared (CL 11th, concentration +18)
6th- greater heroism, slay living (Fort partial 23)
5th- cure critical wounds, teleport, wreath of blades (Ref half 22)
4th- summon nature’s ally IV, spite (vampiric touch), threefold aspect
3rd- countless eyes, dispel magic, eruptive postules (Fort partial 20), ray of exhaustion (Fort partial 20), spit venom (Fort partial 20), vampiric touch (already cast)
2nd- cure moderate wounds, feast of ashes (Fort 19), glitterdust (Will 19), haunting mists (Will partial 19), pernicious poison (x2)
1st- bungle (Will 18), fumbletongue (Will 18), frostbite, infernal healing, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement
0th- detect magic, guidance, read magic, resistance

Str 16, Dex 23, Con 22, Int 25, Wis 14, Cha 22
Base Atk +5; CMB +8 (+14 grapple with hair); CMD 24 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Combat Expertise (-2 attacks/+2 dodge), Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Natural Attack (hair), Improved Trip, Weapon Finesse
Skills Craft (traps) +21, Fly +24, Handle Animal +17, Intimidate +20, Knowledge (arcana) +21, Knowledge (history) +21, Knowledge (nature) +21, Knowledge (the planes) +21, Spellcraft +21, Swim +22; Racial Modifiers +4 Fly, +8 Swim
Languages Aboleth, Abyssal, Aklo, Aquan, Common, Draconic, Elven, Sahuagin, Sylvan
SQ amphibious, witch’s familiar (king crab), witch’s patron (animals)

Cunning Trigger (Ex): Zahia can use a swift action to set off any trap within 30 feet that she constructed.

White Hair (Su): Zahia has the ability to use her hair as a weapon. Whenever the hair strikes a foe, the witch can attempt to grapple that foe with her hair as a swift action without provoking an attack of opportunity. When Zahia grapples a foe in this way, she does not gain the grappled condition. The hair cannot be sundered or attacked as a separate creature. In addition, Zahia’s hair has the following abilities:

Constrict (Ex): When Zahia’s hair successfully grapples an opponent, it can begin constricting her victim as a swift action, dealing damage equal to that of its attack.

Trip (Ex): When Zahia successfully strikes a foe with her hair, she can attempt a combat maneuver check to trip the creature as a swift action.

Pull (Ex): When Zahia successfully strikes a foe with her hair, she can attempt a combat maneuver check to pull the creature 5 feet closer to her as a swift action.

Strangle (Ex): When Zahia’s hair is grappling with an opponent, that creature is considered strangled, and cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components.

cauldron of the dead, cloak of resistance +4, ring of invisibility, ring of protection +2, staff of dread (50 charges), wand of vision of hell (50 charges), plus 92,350 gp for traps in her lair, other equipment, et cetera

Staff of Dread
Aura moderate necromancy; CL 8th
Slot none; Price 18,400 gp; Weight 5 lbs.

Description: This twisted, dark gray staff allows use of the following spells:

* cause fear (1 charge)
* qualm (1 charge)
* cackling skull (1 charge)
* fear (2 charges)

Construction Requirements: Craft Staff, cackling skull, cause fear, fear, qualm; Cost 9,200 gp

April 30th, 2012  in RPG 2 Comments »

Y Is for Yo-Yo Magus

Yes, that’s right. Y is for yo-yo fighting. First, I enlist the aid of yo-yo fighting spokesman, Andy Lau:

As you can plainly see, a yo-yo is superior weapon in many respects. It has reach. It can be used to disarm and trip. One can perform a variety of amusing tricks with it. (See the Yo-Yo Man in action here.) With all that in mind, here’re stats for the martial yo-yo:

Martial Yo-Yo

The martial yo-yo is a light exotic melee weapon. The martial yo-yo consists of an axle that connects to two beveled metal disks. A length of martial twine loops around the axle. A martial yo-yo is wielded by holding the free end of the martial twine and allowing the force of a throw to spin the connected disks. This causes the martial twine to unwind, allowing the martial yo-yo’s spin to wind itself back to the wielder’s hand.

Martial Yo-Yo: cost 10 gp; Damage 1d3 (S), 1d4 (M); critical x2; range –; weight 1 lbs.; type B/S; special disarm, performance, reach, trip

Yo-Yo Magus

The yo-yo magus combines magic with the fine art of yo-yo fighting. Obviously, this makes yo-yo magi the most envied of all magi.

Class Skills: Add Perform (act), Perform (comedy), and Perform (dance) to the magus’s list of class skills.

Yo-Yo Fighter (Ex): At 1st level, a yo-yo magus gains Exotic Weapon Proficiency (martial yo-yo) as a bonus feat. He gains a competence bonus to attack rolls with a martial yo-yo. The competence bonus equals +1 for levels 1st-4th; +2 for 5th-8th; +3 for 9th-12th; +4 for 13th-16th; and +5 for levels 17th and higher.

The yo-yo magus is otherwise proficient with only simple weapons.

Yo-Yo Acrobatics (Ex): At 1st level, as part of a move action either before or after making an attack with a martial yo-yo, a yo-yo magus can make an Acrobatics check with a bonus equal to his magus level.

This feature replaces the ability to cast cantrips. The magus can learn and prepare detect magic and read magic as 1st-level spells.

Yo-Yo Mystic (Su): At 7th level, when a yo-yo magus prepares his magus spells, he can decide to expend 1 or more points from his arcane pool, up to his Intelligence bonus. For each point he expends, he can treat any one spell prepared as if it were affected by one of the following metamagic feats: Disruptive Spell, Elemental Spell, Flaring Spell, Lingering Spell, Rime Spell, or Toppling Spell. In order to gain the effects of the metamagic feat, the yo-yo magus must cast the affected spell via spell combat or spellstrike while wielding a martial yo-yo. The metamagic effect does not adjust the level of the prepared spell.

This ability replaces knowledge pool.

April 28th, 2012  in RPG No Comments »

X Is for X-Ray Vision

One thing that 1E has over some of the later Es is the plethora of visions. There was infravision and ultravision, which survive mutated into darkvision and low-light vision. Some monsters, such as the Fiend Folio‘s nycadaemon had x-ray vision, gamma vision, and indeed a vision for every part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Imagine cosmic ray vision, radio wave vision, and microwave vision. Pretty whacky, huh?

As I mentioned in S Is for Snakes, many snakes are sensitive to the infrared portion of the spectrum, but the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game doesn’t really have rules to simulate such heat sensitivity. And more exotic visions, such as gamma vision? Forget about that!

Or, if forgetting about it isn’t your cup of tea, take a gander at these completely unplaytested and only vaguely scientifically accurate rules:

X-Ray Vision

Some monsters have x-ray vision, although this is a slight misnomer. These monsters don’t so much as just see x-rays the way the human eye “sees” visible light. Instead the monsters’ eyes actually project low levels of x-rays by which they can see through certain materials. Glomming text from the ring of x-ray vision is a good place to start.

X-ray vision gives a creature the ability to see into and through solid matter. Vision range is 20 feet, with the creature seeing as if it were looking at something in normal light even if there is no illumination. X-ray vision can penetrate 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, or up to 3 feet of wood or dirt. Thicker substances or a thin sheet of lead blocks the vision. Among its obvious uses, x-ray vision makes defeating conventional disguises child’s play.

“Nice mask you got there,” said the nycadaemon. “Shame you didn’t line it with lead. Of course, then I’d wonder why you’d wrapped your face with lead, but, hey, no plan’s perfect.”


A creature with infravision sees variations in heat. This sort of vision is especially good at detecting creatures that generate their own body heat, such as most humanoids. (Are lizard folk cold-blooded? What about frost giants?) Detection is even possible through solid matter.

Infravision works just like normal sight in terms of range, complete with appropriate Perception check penalties for distance. Heat signatures can be detected through up to 1/2 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, or up to 1 foot of wood or dirt. Thicker substances block heat signatures, although extreme heat sources may be visible through thicker substances at the GM’s discretion.

A creature with infravision can also track the residual heat of a quarry’s foot steps. The base Survival DC for tracking a heat signature is 10, but it rapidly increases by +2 per minute that has passed since the tracks were made. Certain environmental conditions, such as a forest fire or shifting desert sands, may further increase the DC or even make such tracking impossible, at the GM’s discretion.

Sudden exposure to extreme heat can dazzle a creature relying on infravision. The creature must make a DC 15 Fortitude save to avoid being dazzled for 1 round. If the extreme heat persists, it would be appropriate to have the creature remain dazzled as long as it remains in the area. For example, an infravision using giant snake is tracking its prey, a druid. The druid lures the snake into an ambush zone, and then uses some appropriate fire spell to ignite a bonfire. The snake fails its Fortitude save and becomes dazzled as long as it remains within the full illumination area of the bonfire.

More Exotic Vision Traits

Other types of more exotic vision, such as gamma vision, could work like x-ray vision, only moreso. Odd side effects could also result. Since gamma rays will pass right through a mirror, a creature relying on solely gamma vision couldn’t see a reflection. Would this, perhaps, also impart some sort of resistance or immunity to certain illusions? For that matter, would x-ray vision or infravision do so?

The possibilities boggle the imagination.

April 27th, 2012  in RPG 1 Comment »

W Is for Warp Thief

One of the neatest things Pathfinder has done is to introduce a variety of archetypes as variations on character classes. The gist of archetypes is that you lose some standard class features in exchange for gaining other class features that fit a particular theme. For example, at 1st level, an armored hulk barbarian gains heavy armor proficiency and the indomitable stance extraordinary ability, but loses fast movement.

Now that you’ve got the gist, here’s my contribution to the archetype army:

Warp Thief

Some rogues have the supernatural ability to open small extradimensional portals that connect points in space without transversing the distance between those points. Warp thieves specialize in using these portals in combat.

Class Skills: Substitute Knowledge (the planes) for Knowledge (dungeoneering).

Warp Portals (Su): At 1st level, a warp thief can open two connected extradimensional portals as a standard action. One portal is always adjacent to the warp thief, and it remains so when the warp thief moves. The other portal can be in any chosen square within 30 feet of the warp thief that he has line of sight to, but this other portal is stationary unless the warp thief uses a move-equivalent action to adjust its position by up to 30 feet. With a free action at the start of his turn for the portals’ maintenance each round, the warp thief can keep his warp portals open for up to 3 + Intelligence modifier rounds per day.

As a standard action, the warp thief can reach through the portals to attack with a melee weapon. Alternatively, as a standard action, he may attempt one of these combat maneuver through the portals: dirty trick, disarm, steal, or trip. The second portal’s position is treated as the warp thief’s position to determine flanking, both for the warp thief and for his allies.

If the warp thief moves farther than 30 feet away from his second portal, both portals close immediately. If the warp thief cannot take a free action at the start of his turn to maintain his portals, they close immediately.

This ability replaces the warp thief’s first d6 of sneak attack damage. Consequently, the warp thief’s total sneak attack dice are always 1d6 lower than they otherwise would be.

Warp Step (Su): At 2nd level, a warp thief can step into his adjacent portal and emerge from the other portal, doing so as a move action. Both portals close immediately after the warp thief makes his warp step. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

This ability replaces evasion.

Portal Mastery (Su): At 8th level, a warp thief can open his two connected extradimensional portals as a move-equivalent action. The maximum range for his second portal becomes 45 feet. He also gains the ability to attack normally through his portals with melee weapons, meaning he can make full attacks. The list of combat maneuvers he can perform through the portals does not change, but these maneuvers are performed as per their normal actions, meaning, for example, that a trip can be performed in place of a melee attack rather than as a standard action.

This ability replaces improved uncanny dodge.

April 26th, 2012  in RPG No Comments »