Posts Tagged ‘ Pathfinder RPG ’

Ooh, That Smell!

Several weeks ago, I read a thread on the Paizo messageboards about the scent extraordinary ability. It was started by a poster confused by the assertion that scent isn’t some sort of automatic enemy detection power that operates in a 30-foot radius. The confusion increased when other posters observed that scent is a natural sense, and that natural senses operate according to the Perception skill.

First, let’s take the rules for scent, which are found in at least three different places in the reference document, and consolidate them into one set of rules:

The scent special quality allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell. Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

A creature with the scent ability can detect opponents by sense of smell, generally within 30 feet. If the opponent is upwind, the range is 60 feet. If it is downwind, the range is 15 feet. Strong scents, such as smoke or rotting garbage, can be detected at twice the ranges noted above. Overpowering scents, such as skunk musk or troglodyte stench, can be detected at three times these ranges.

When a creature detects a scent, the exact location of the source is not revealed—only its presence somewhere within range. The creature can take a move action to note the direction of the scent. When the creature is within 5 feet of the source, it pinpoints the source’s location.

A creature with the Survival skill and the scent ability can follow tracks by smell, making a Survival check to find or follow a track. A creature with the scent ability can attempt to follow tracks using Survival untrained. The typical DC for a fresh trail is 10. The DC increases or decreases depending on how strong the quarry’s odor is, the number of creatures, and the age of the trail. For each hour that the trail is cold, the DC increases by 2. The ability otherwise follows the rules for the Survival skill in regards to tracking. Creatures tracking by scent ignore the effects of surface conditions and poor visibility.

Creatures with the scent ability can identify familiar odors just as humans do familiar sights.

Water, particularly running water, ruins a trail for air-breathing creatures. Water-breathing creatures that have the scent ability, however, can use it in the water easily.

False, powerful odors can easily mask other scents. The presence of such an odor completely spoils the ability to properly detect or identify creatures, and the base Survival DC to track becomes 20 rather than 10.

Creatures with the scent special quality have a +8 bonus on Perception checks made to detect a scent.

As the Perception skill notes (emphasis added), “Perception covers all five senses, including sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.” The skill’s text further clarifies that “Perception is also used to notice fine details in the environment. The DC to notice such details varies depending upon distance, the environment, and how noticeable the detail is.” Thereafter in the rules follows a table with several guidelines. Let’s take those guidelines, and tweak them where necessary to apply to the scent extraordinary ability.

Table: Scent Perception Guidelines
Detail: Perception DC

Notice the stench of rotting garbage: -10
Detect the smell of smoke: 0
Determine if food is spoiled: 5
Identify a common smell: 10*
Detect a creature: 15
Identify an uncommon smell: 20*

Perception Modifiers: DC Modifier
Distance to the source, object, or creature: +1/10 feet
Through a closed door: +5
Through a wall: +10/foot of thickness
Favorable conditions (note 1): -2
Unfavorable conditions (note 1): +2
Terrible conditions (note 2): +5
Creature making the check is distracted: +5
Creature making the check is asleep: +10
Creature or object is odorless: +20

* This assumes the creature making the check has encountered the scent before. Otherwise, the GM is justified in requiring an appropriate Knowledge check.

Note 1: Favorable or unfavorable conditions include wind direction and the amount of background “noise” from competing odors. For example, if the sensing creature is downwind from the target, the favorable condition modifier would apply. If the sensing creature were in a perfumery, the unfavorable condition modifier might apply.

Note 2: Terrible conditions are like unfavorable conditions, but moreso. For example, an overpowering stench covering the area would apply the terrible conditions modifier.

Perception also notes that “the most common [Perception check] is an opposed check versus an opponent’s Stealth check to notice the opponent and avoid being surprised.” This, however, doesn’t seem appropriate when dealing with scent. Stealth’s description at least heavily implies it is limited to avoiding detection via sight and hearing. This prompts a question: How does a creature actively avoid detection by another creature using the scent extraordinary ability? Two skills seem most applicable: Knowledge and Survival. Let’s start with the latter.

Survival deals with “surviving in the wild”. It seems reasonable that this includes the knowing what needs to be done to avoid detection via scent. In most situations, avoiding scent detection is covered under the “hunting and foraging” application of Survival. A survivalist can be more proactive. Given appropriate equipment and 1 minute, the survivalist can make a Survival check. The result is treated as the base DC for scent-based Perception checks. These preparations fade at a rate of -2 DC per hour under normal conditions, but the survivalist can always reapply his scent countermeasures (making a new Survival check to set a new scent-based Perception check DC).

Knowledge skills can also give a survivalist an advantage in that the survivalist can tailor his scent to be more undetectable to a specific type of creature (such as animals or magical beasts). This requires the survivalist to have at least 1 rank in the applicable Knowledge skill, such as Knowledge (nature) for animals or Knowledge (arcana) for magical beasts. The survivalist must make a DC 15 Knowledge check. If successful, he adds +2 to his Survival check to mask his scent, +1 more for every 5 points over 15 he scores.

Now, let’s put all of this together.

Rob, a ranger, and his wolf animal companion Tejas explore a complex of caves and tunnels. The GM knows Rob and Tejas are nearing a cave in which several troglodytes have recently fought and killed an intruding ogre. The trogs pick over the ogre’s corpse while Rob and Tejas approach.

Tejas has the scent extraordinary quality. In this section of the caves, the trogs are downwind of Rob and Tejas as cooler surface air flows down into the warmer caverns. Downwind sets a scent range of 15 feet, but this is tripled to 45 feet due to the trogs’ stench.

The GM rules the base DC is -10 since the trogs’ stench is at least as noxious as rotting garbage. The air currents are not favorable to Tejas, increasing the DC to -8. At 45 feet, the closest range that Tejas can detect the trogs, a further +4 modifier is applied to the DC, yielding a final DC of -4, which is child’s play for the wolf’s keen nose. At a range of 45 feet, Tejas detects the trogs and growls a warning to Rob. At this time, Tejas only knows the scent is within range. If Tejas takes a move action, he can determine the direction of the scent.

Unfortunately for Rob and Tejas, they are also being stalked. A doppelganger has picked up their trail and follows at a range of about 90 feet. The doppleganger is upwind of Tejas, but it doesn’t have a particularly strong odor. Thus, the doppelganger is out of Tejas’s scent range of 60 feet (30 feet doubled for the target being upwind).

As Rob and Tejas approach the trogs, they slow down to move stealthily. The doppelganger is not immediately aware of this, but by the time it’s within 60 feet of Tejas, the adventurer and his wolf are also fairly close to the trogs.

The base DC to detect a creature is 15. A -2 modifier for favorable conditions applies since the doppelganger is upwind, but a +5 modifier for terrible conditions also applies due to the pervasive trog-stink. A range of 60 feet imposes a further +6 modifier, yielding an initial 24 DC. Tejas can probably make this Perception check. If he doesn’t and the doppelganger waits until Rob and Tejas fight the trogs, a further +5 DC modifier for being distracted might be applicable.

Let’s say the doppelganger has ranks in Knowledge (nature) and Survival. It takes time to mask its scent before tracking Rob and Tejas. It gets a 25 on its Survival check and a 20 on its Knowledge (nature) check. This latter check grants a +3 bonus to the Survival check result. In this scenario, instead of a base scent Perception DC of 15, Tejas confronts a base DC of 28, not including modifiers for conditions, range, et cetera. Suddenly, Tejas’s ability to warn Rob of the doppelganger’s presence doesn’t look so promising.

These rules helps define scent’s limitations while at the same time leaving creatures with the scent extraordinary ability an impressive level of awareness of their environment. Allowing Knowledge and Survival to work as scent countermeasures adds new tactical options that reward investment in these skills not only for PCs but also for NPCs and monsters.

August 3rd, 2012  in Man-Day Adventures, RPG 1 Comment »

Peanuts Not Included

Today I bring you another archetype, this one for barbarians.


The jotunkin are barbarians whose bloodlines contain a trace of giant. When these barbarians rage, their giantish heritage manifests itself in greater size and strength.

Jotunrage (Su): A jotunkin can call upon supernatural sources of strength and ferocity, granting him greater size and prowess. Starting at 1st level, a jotunkin can jotunrage for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + his Constitution modifier. At each level after 1st, he can jotunrage for 2 additional rounds. Temporary increases to Constitution, such as those gained from rage and spells like bear’s endurance, do not increase the total number of rounds that a jotunkin can jotunrage per day. A jotunkin can enter jotunrage as a free action. The total number of rounds of jotunrage per day is renewed after resting for 8 hours, although these hours do not need to be consecutive.

While in jotunrage, a barbarian increases in size by one size category. He gains a +4 size bonus to Strength and Constitution, a -2 size penalty to Dexterity (to a minimum of 1), and a -1 penalty on attack rolls and AC due to its increased size. He also gains a +2 natural armor bonus. The increase to Constitution grants the jotunkin 2 hit points per Hit Dice, but these disappear when the rage ends and are not lost first like temporary hit points. While in rage, a jotunkin cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate, and Ride) or any ability that requires patience or concentration.

A jotunkin whose size increases to Large has a space of 10 feet and a natural reach of 10 feet. If insufficient room is available for the growth, the jotunkin attains the maximum possible size and may make a Strength check (using his increased Strength) to burst any enclosures in the process. If he fails, he is constrained without harm by the materials enclosing him.

All equipment worn or carried by the jotunkin is similarly enlarged by the jotunrage. Melee weapons affected deal more damage (see Table: Medium/Large Weapon Damage). Other magical properties are not affected by this ability. Any enlarged item that leaves a jotunkin’s possession (including a projectile or thrown weapon) instantly returns to its normal size. This means that thrown and projectile weapons deal their normal damage. Magical properties of enlarged items are not increased by this ability.

A jotunkin can end his jotunrage as a free action and is fatigued after rage for a number of rounds equal to 2 times the number of rounds spent in the jotunrage. A jotunkin cannot enter a new rage while fatigued or exhausted but can otherwise enter rage multiple times during a single encounter or combat. If a jotunkin falls unconscious, his jotunrage immediately ends, placing him in peril of death.

Jotunrage does not stack with magical effects that increase size.

This ability replaces rage.

Fear’s Friend (Ex): At 3rd level, a jotunkin gains a +1 competence bonus to Intimidate checks. These bonuses increase by +1 every three jotunkin levels thereafter (6th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 18th level). The jotunkin also receives an insight bonus to saves against fear effects equal to one-half the competence bonus to Intimidate checks (drop fractions).

This ability replaces trap sense.

Greater Jotunrage (Su): At 11th level, when a jotunkin enters jotunrage, his size bonus to Strength increases to +6 and his natural armor bonus increases to +3.

This ability replaces greater rage.

Jotunrage Form (Su): At 14th level, when a jotunkin enters jotunrage, he may choose to assume the form of a frost giant, fire giant, hill giant, or stone giant. Once he assumes his new form, he gains the following abilities (instead of those normally granted by jotunrage): +6 size bonus to Strength, -2 size penalty to Dexterity, +4 size bonus to Constitution, +4 natural armor bonus, low-light vision, rock catching, and rock throwing (range 60 feet, 2d6 damage). If the giant has immunity or resistance to any elements, the jotunkin gains resistance 20 to those elements. If the giant has vulnerability to an element, the jotunkin gains that vulnerability.

Every round in jotunrage form counts as 2 rounds against the jotunkin’s total number of rounds per day for jotunrage. In all other respects, jotunrage form is the same as jotunrage.

This ability replaces indomitable will.

Mighty Jotunrage (Su): At 20th level, when a jotunkin enters jotunrage or jotunrage form, his size bonuses to Strength and Constitution increase by a further +2, and his natural armor bonus increases by a further +1.

This ability replaces mighty rage.

N.B. The 17th-level ability tireless rage applies to jotunrage but not to jotunrage form.

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June 9th, 2012  in RPG, Spes Magna News 1 Comment »

The Dragon Warrior

If you’re not clear on which dragon types correspond to which energy types, check out the sorcerer’s draconic bloodline.

Dragon Warrior

The dragon warrior’s dedication to ancient practices rooted in martial dragon cults grants him a small portion of draconic power. When a character gains a level as a dragon warrior, he must select one of the chromatic or metallic dragon types. This choice cannot be changed, and it determines the dragon warrior’s resistance and the energy damage inflicted by his dragon bite (see below).

Draconic Resistance (Ex): At 2nd level, a dragon warrior gets a +2 bonus to Reflex saves against attacks that inflict damage of the same energy type of the warrior’s chosen dragon. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels beyond 2nd, to a maximum of +5 at 14th level. Every four levels beyond 14th, the dragon warrior gains 5 points of resistance to the appropriate energy type (maximum 10 points of resistance).

This feature replaces bravery.

Draconic Prowess (Ex): At 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th levels, a dragon warrior rolls 1d12 for his Hit Die instead of 1d10 to determine hit points. The dragon warrior also gains other abilities, as explained below:

At 3rd and 15th levels, the dragon warrior gains a +1 increase to natural armor bonus.

At 7th level, he gains a bonus feat from the following list: Blind-Fight, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Power Attack, or Toughness.

At 11th level as a free action, a dragon warrior can gain a bite attack. This is a primary natural attack that deals 1d6 points of damage (1d4 if the dragon warrior is Small), plus 1-1/2 times the dragon warrior’s Strength modifier. He can use his dragon bite for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + his Constitution modifier. These rounds need not be consecutive.

At 19th level, the dragon warrior’s bite attack deals an additional 1d6 points of damage of his energy type on a successful hit.

This feature replaces armor training 1-4 and armor mastery.

June 7th, 2012  in RPG No Comments »

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May 30th, 2012  in RPG, Spes Magna News 1 Comment »

“If You Have Telekinesis, Raise My Hand.”

Telekinetic Monk Archetype

The telekinetic monk combines martial arts with psychokinetic power. He can launch flurries of telekinetic blows at range and develops an array of psionic and psi-like abilities as he gains experience.

Skills: A telekinetic monk gains Autohypnosis and Knowledge (psionics) as class skills.

Psionic: At 1st level, a telekinetic monk gains the Wild Talent feat as a bonus feat. If monk already has levels in a psionic class, he instead gains the Psionic Talent feat.

This ability replaces the monk’s 1st-level bonus feat choice.

Bonus Feats: At 2nd level, and every 4 levels thereafter, a telekinetic monk may select a bonus feat. These feats must be taken from the following lists. A telekinetic monk replaces the normal monk bonus feats with the following: Autonomous*, Deflect Arrows, Mental Leap*, Psionic Body*, Psionic Fist*, Psionic Meditation*, and Up the Walls*

At 6th level, the following feats are added to the list: Aligned Attack*, Focused Sunder*, Ghost Attack*, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Return Shot*, and Unavoidable Strike*

A monk need not have any of the prerequisites normally required for these feats to select them. Feats marked with an asterisk are found among these psionic feats.

Telekinetic Flurry (Su): Starting at 1st level, a monk can make a telekinetic flurry as a full-attack action. A telekinetic flurry does not use weapons. Instead, the telekinetic monk punishes his foes with mental force. When doing so he may make one additional ranged attack out to a maximum range of 25 feet plus 5 feet per 2 telekinetic monk levels (with no range increment).

These attacks inflict lethal or nonlethal damage, as the telekinetic monk wishes. All attacks suffer a -2 penalty on attack rolls. For the purpose of these attacks, the monk’s base attack bonus from his monk class levels is equal to his monk level. For all other purposes, such as qualifying for a feat or a prestige class, the monk uses his normal base attack bonus.

Telekinetic flurry attacks inflict the monk’s normal unarmed strike damage, but damage is not modified by Strength.

At 8th level, the telekinetic monk may substitute disarm, sunder, and trip combat maneuvers for ranged attacks as part of a telekinetic flurry. The telekinetic monk’s Combat Maneuver Bonus for purposes of these attacks is adjusted by Charisma modifier instead of Strength. Since these combat maneuvers occur at range, the telekinetic monk does not provoke attacks of opportunity for using the maneuver. The penalty to the monk’s telekinetic flurry attack rolls decreases to -1.

At 15th level, the penalty to the monk’s telekinetic flurry attack rolls decreases to -0.

This ability replaces flurry of blows.

Psychokinesis (Psi): As a telekinetic monk gains levels, his psychokinetic powers improve. He can manifest the following powers as psi-like abilities at the indicated levels.

1st Level: far hand. This ability replaces stunning fist.
3rd level: concussion blast. This ability replaces maneuver training.
5th Level: telekinetic force. This ability replaces high jump.
7th Level: telekinetic maneuver. This ability replaces wholeness of body.

A telekinetic monk uses a psi-like ability as a standard action. The psi-like ability manifests at the telekinetic monk’s class level as if he had spent a number of power points equal to his class level. The DC of a saving throw (if applicable) against a creature’s psi-like ability is 10 + the level of the power + the telekinetic monk’s Charisma modifier. Each manifestation of one of these psi-like abilities costs the telekinetic monk 1 ki point.

May 28th, 2012  in RPG 2 Comments »