Pathfinder: A Pteranodon Shifter

We’ve talked in the past about what is inside the Book of Heroic Races: Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness. A decent chunk of it involves archetypes that require a specific race to play. However, there are quite a few options that can be taken by anyone, even if they are themed for a specific race.

New shifter aspects are a great example of this. Sure all the reptilian-themed options are listed under lizardfolk, but there is no reason why a human or a dwarf cannot take these. So let me show you one of these.

Pteranodon

The aspect of the pteranodon transforms a shifter into a dextrous dervish and a formidable flying combatant as well.
Minor Form: You gain a +1 dodge bonus to AC and a +1 bonus on Initiative checks. At 8th level, these bonuses increase to +2, and at 15th level they increase to +3.
Major Form: Your shape changes to that of a pteranodon. While in this form, you gain a fly speed of 40 feet (clumsy), low-light vision, and a +4 racial bonus on vision-based Perception checks. At 8th level, your fly speed increases to 60 feet (poor), your racial bonus on Perception checks increases to +6, and you gain a primary bite attack (1d8 damage). At 15th level, your fly speed increases to 60 feet (average), and you gain the Improved Natural Attack feat for your bite attacks as well as the Flyby Attack feat.

Download the Book of Heroic Races: Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness today at the JBE Shop for your Pathfinder game. You can also find it at DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

Running an Epic Con Game: Adventure Preparation

If you want to run a game at a convention, you want it to be epic and for people to remember both you and your game. Much of that has to do with what you do before you get to the table as much as what you do during the game. Previously, we talked about how you make pregen characters and set up the character sheets. Today we are looking at preparation for your adventure.

1) Decide What to Show Off

When you are running a game, the most important thing is showing how is this game different. If you are running what would otherwise be a Pathfinder and D&D adventure just in a different system, the gamers leaving the table will think they might as well have been playing one of those games. You need to show them what is different with this game to make them want to give up their regular game and play the game you are running.

Take Traveller for example. Unlike D&D/Pathfinder, the combat and skills are the same system and skills can switch their “attributes” depending on the situation so any introduction convention game should show these off. So firing a gun uses See Dex and the Gun Combat skill. However, if a player wants to perform a ballistics test on the weapon, that would use Intellect or Education. So I would make sure to show off how those skills can switch attributes. If your game lets magic users cast unlimited spells but have to make a roll, make the adventure that requires magical solution.

This does not have to be exclusively about system. Setting is just as important a difference to communicate. If your game makes dragons far more approachable and not be a bag of fire-breathing hit points, show that off in your game. If your setting has a major city made of giant mushrooms and pixies are in charge of construction, show that off. D&D and Pathfinder tend to take themselves seriously so an adventure and setting that was more light-hearted would be a welcome change. Show that off.

And with that we move to our second point.

2) Aim to Use 75% Of the Time

If you have a two-hour time slot, make a 90-minute adventures. Four hours? Make a three-hour adventure? If you run over your time, players are going to be unhappy with you and remember your game in a negative light. Players will be players and will screw around. Good. They should. If they do, that means they are enjoying your game. But that uses time you would otherwise use for your game. Leave time for them for sheer enjoyment. 75% is a good aim. If you finish with an hour to spare, they have extra time to wander the dealer’s hall; they won’t be upset. They will be unhappy if you are cutting into their lunch break or missing the start of their next game. Build in time for that.

My final point involves the adventure itself.

3) Structure a 4 Act Adventure

When you make a four-hour adventure, divide the adventure into four parts:

  1. Character Evaluation / Introduction
  2. The Hook
  3. The Twist
  4. The Finale

Character evaluation begins the moment you and a player get to the table. The players present get to start looking at the character sheets right away and pick what they want to play. Reward the early arrivers with being able to get the character they want.

Introduction is where you tell the players what the adventure is. This is when the wounded guard stumbles into the tavern reporting that the prince is taken before dying. Here is where the players get the mission before the message self destructs. Try to keep this part to no more than half hour.

Second part is the hook. Here is where the players go, “This is fun!” Show off what makes this game fun. The twist is pure plot, where something is revealed or discovered. These two parts should take 30 minutes to an hour in a typical four-hour game.

One of these two sections should be combat. The other should be problem solving. If both of these are problem solving, the players will get tired and worn out. If both are combat, it will be a slog and get to be boring. Making each different keeps them interesting and lively.

The final section is the climax. The finale should be a surprise to you let alone everyone else at the table. Sure you should have an idea of how it goes, but players should be allowed to do whatever they want. If the big bad is guarding a MacGuffin and you figure they are going to fight the big bad in a climatic battle and they instead decide to sneak past and steal it, don’t put unreasonable impediments in their way; let them do it their way. Forcing them to do it your way will make them think their choices have no impact on the game, and it will spoil their fun. Let them do what they want.

If you are looking for an excellent adventure to run for a convention game for Pathfinder or D&D 5e, grab yourself the adventure Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider. Download now at the JonBrazer.com, DriveThruRPG, and the Open Gaming Store.

Pathfinder 1e: Animal Shaman

The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide set out to hybridize a number of the existing classes in the game. Not only the new classes but they added archetypes for the existing classes as well. Paizo gave the fighter a mutagen, allowing the fighter to grow wings. They gave the barbarian bloodline-like powers making it more akin to the bloodrager. The cavalier received can turn his mount into a more dangerous animal. A paladin gains some ranger-like abilities, and the list goes on and on. Then Paizo released a number of new classes that never got hybridized with those classes previously released. This is one of the many ideas I have while working on this new series of archetypes for the ACG.

Today I bring you the animal shaman. We take the shaman class and mix in a little of the shifter. While the shaman does not fully shift into the form of another animal, those who take this archetype do take on aspects of an animal, letting them gain some of the creature’s advantages. This is a fun little archetype and we hope you stick around for more like it.

To help us keep making Pathfinder 1e products, download our existing PFRPG books, whether they are monster books, adventures, expanded races, or other class options. Download them today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, the Open Gaming Store, and Paizo. If you prefer print, you can find our books at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and Amazon.

Animal Shaman

Most shaman speak to the spirits that are all around them. Some shaman, however, not only speak to the spirits around them but let them fill their bodies, taking on a small aspect of their power and nature.
Associated Class: Shaman
Replaced Abilities: Hex (4th, 10th, and 16th levels only)
Modified Abilities: Spirit (1st level only)
Spirit: The animal shaman must choose the Nature spirit at 1st level.
Animal Aspect (Su): At 4th level, an animal shaman gains her first aspect—a category of animal to which her body and soul have become supernaturally attuned. She can shift into her
aspect’s minor form (see Aspects in the animal shaman class in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness, Chapter 1) for a number of minutes per day equal to 3 + her animal shaman level. The duration need not be consecutive but must be spent in 1-minute increments. Shifting into a minor form is a swift action, while ending the effect is a free action that can be taken only on the animal shaman’s turn.
As the animal shaman gains levels, she gains more aspects; she gains her second aspect at 10th level, and a third aspect at 16th level.

Pathfinder 1e: Dark Soldier

Image by Matt Bulahao

The dark folk have not gotten much love. These underground dark reflections of the humanoid races rarely held the spotlight. So I am going to work to fix that. Below is a new entry into the society of of the dark folk, the dark soldier. These fighting legions keep their people safe from the greater dangers of the underground world, be they monstrous in origin or other humanoids. While open warfare is a rarity among the dark folk, dark soldiers frequently serve as body guards for the dark guildmasters protecting them from assassination attempts.

If you need more darkness-themed monsters in your game, check out the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane, on sale now at DriveThruRPG. Check out all of JBE’s Pathfinder 1e titles while they are 40% off their regular price at DriveThruRPG. Download now.

Dark Soldier CR/HD 3

Init +1; Perception +8 (see in darkness)
Size Medium; Speed 30 ft.


Defenses

AC 17 (touch 12, flat-footed 15); Fort +7, Ref +5, Will +2; CMD 18
hp 40
Weakness light blindness


Attacks


Melee 2 short swords +6 (1d6+4/17–20)
Ranged dagger +4 (1d4+8/19–20)
Attack Options critical striker, poison use, stun attack (Fort DC 7, stunned for 1 round, success negates); CMB +6


Statistics


Utility Spells at will—darkness, detect magic
Str +4, Dex +1, Con +2; Intimidate +11, Perception +8, Stealth +8
XP 800; CN humanoid (dark folk)


Special Abilities


Death Throes (Su) When a dark soldier is slain, its body combusts in a flash of bright white light, leaving its gear in a heap on the ground. All creatures within a 10-foot burst must make a DC 12 Fortitude save or be blinded for 1d6 rounds. Other creatures of the dark folk subtype within 10 feet are blinded for 1 round on a successful saving throw, due to their light blindness. The save is Constitution-based.

Pathfinder: Even More Android Favored Class Options

The Book of Heroic Races Advanced Compendium did an excellent job of expanding options for 12 races that do not get nearly enough love. However, that book covered classes up to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide. For the classes beyond that book we have the Book of Heroic Races Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness. Both the Advanced Compendium and the Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness are on sale right now at DriveThruRPG. Grab them both right now at the above links before this sale ends.

To share what is inside the Book of Heroic Races Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness, we’ve got favored class options for androids right here. Check them out now.

Kineticist: Add +1/3 point of damage to air element blasts that deal damage.
Medium: When gaining a taboo, the medium can use spirit surge without incurring influence an additional +1/4 time per day.
Mesmerist: Increase the number of mesmerist tricks the mesmerist can use per day by +1/3.
Occultist: Gain a +1/2 bonus on Spellcraft checks to identify the properties of magic items and on Use Magic Device checks to use scrolls.
Psychic: Add one spell known from the psychic spell list. This spell must be at least 1 level lower than the highest spell level the psychic can cast.
Shifter: Add +1/4 to the shifter’s nanite surge bonus when used on attack rolls with natural attacks.
Spiritualist: Add +1/6 to the bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting effects granted by the shared consciousness ability.
Vigilante: Gain 1/6 of a new vigilante talent.

Pathfinder 1e: Dragon Fist

Last week we posted a new swashbuckler archetype. We’re going to try to continue with this by posting a new Pathfinder archetype every Monday. We’ll be focusing on the newer classes (those in the Advanced Class Guide, Occult Adventures, Ultimate Intrigue, and Ultimate Wilderness), but we’ll be posting some archetypes to the older classes as we think them up. Today we are giving the brawler class a bit of a dragon theme with the Dragon Fist archetype. Not only that, the table found here can be equally applicable to sorcerers, bloodrager, and dragon disciples. I must admit, I was rather disappointed that the table for the bloodrager bloodline was not updated to include more dragon types. Well, we did it for you here. Happy gaming.

As always, support us bringing you new Pathfinder material by downloading our books at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, the Open Gaming Store, and Paizo. If you prefer print, you can find our books at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and Amazon.

Dragon Fist

The blood of a dragon flows through you, making you a superb combatant.

Associated Class: brawler

Replaced Abilities: Unarmed strike, awesome blow, improved awesome blow

Modified Abilities: AC bonus, brawler’s strike, modified ability name (note: sort them by level, also note, the difference between these and replaced abilities is if the name of the ability changes)

Dragon Blood (Su): The power of dragons flows through you and manifests in a number of ways. At 1st level, you must select one of the dragon types. This choice cannot be changed.

Dragon Type Energy Type Breath Shape
Black, Brine, Copper Acid 60-foot line
Blue, Bronze Electricity 60-foot line
Brass, Infernal, Solar, Underworld Fire 60-foot line
Cloud, Dream, Sky, Time Electricity 30-foot cone
Crypt, Umbral Negative Energy* 30-foot cone
Crystal, Havoc, Sovereign Sonic 15-foot cone
Gold, Magma, Red, Sea, Vortex Fire 30-foot cone
Green, Nightmare, Rift Acid 30-foot cone
Lunar Cold 60-foot line
Silver, Void, White Cold 30-foot cone

* harm to living creatures only; this does not heal undead creatures.

Claws: Your nails grow and harden into claws. The damage you deal with your claws is the same as the brawler unarmed damage except it deals slashing damage.

AC Bonus: At 4th level, the brawler’s skin begins to grow scales in patches, granting a +1 natural armor bonus to AC. Also, you gain resist 5 against your energy type. At 9th, 13th, and 18th levels, your AC bonus increases by 1 (to a maximum of +4 at 18th level) and your energy resistance increases by 5 (to a maximum of 20 at 18th level).

Brawler’s Strike (Ex): Unlike other brawler’s, a dragon fist drips acid, scorches flames, tingles with electricity, or freezes with a touch. At 9th level, her claws are also treated as the energy type that matches the dragon type chosen with the dragon blood ability. The rest of this brawler’s ability affect her claws but otherwise remains unchanged.

Breath Weapon (Su): At 16th level, you gain a breath weapon. This breath weapon deals 2d6 points of damage of your energy type per sorcerer level. Those caught in the area of the breath receive a Reflex save for half damage. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 your dragon fist level + your Charisma modifier. The shape of the breath weapon depends on your dragon type (as indicated on the above chart). At 16th level, you can use this ability twice per day. At 20th level, you can use this ability three times per day.

Dragon Form (Su): At 20th level, you can choose to take the form of your chosen dragon type (as form of the dragon II, but with good maneuverability). You can use this ability once per day.

Pathfinder: Luckstealer Sword Archetype

Recently asked on Twitter and Facebook what 1e Pathfinder classes need more options. Replies came back and the answers were overwhelming. We are glad to see so many Pathfinder 1e fans still interested in the game, and we are here for you. Since your replies, I came up with this little archetype for swashbucklers. My editors haven’t polished this yet so please do not consider this final.

As always, support us bringing you new Pathfinder material by downloading our books at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, the Open Gaming Store, and Paizo. If you prefer print, you can find our books at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, and Amazon.

Luckstealer Sword

Luckstealer swords are swashbucklers that have no luck of their own. Instead they have to steal the luck from their opponents, dooming those that oppose them.
Associated Class: swashbuckler
Replaced Abilities: Charmed life
Modified Abilities: Panache
Panache: Unlike other swashbucklers, a luckstealer sword starts each day with 1 panache, although her normal maximum is still her Charisma modifier. A luckstealer sword can regain panache in the following additional way:
Setup: Each time the luckstealer sword performs an action that grants a bonus to an ally’s attack or penalty to an opponent’s defense—such as using the curse bringer ability, taking the aid another action, grappling an opponent, or helping a rogue perform a sneak attack—she regains 1 panache point.
Curse Bringer (Su): At 2nd level, a luckstealer sword’s attacks opens their target up to other attacks. Three times per day as an immediate action after successfully attacking a living creature, she curses the attacked creature with a –1 penalty to all saving throws until the start of the luckstealer sword’s next turn. At 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the penalty increases by –1 (to a maximum of –5 at 18th level). At 10th level and 18th level, the number of times she can do this per day increases by 1 (to a maximum of 5 times per day at 18th level).

5e/Pathfinder/13th Age: Guide to Minions

In a previous post, I wrote up a guide to mini-bosses. The thing about mini-bosses, they’re nothing without those to boss around. Today we are following that post up with the group that makes the last group possible: minions.

Minions come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of willingness. While fantasy and science fiction races that are weak, selfish, and not particularly clever are typically seen as the normal minion groups, always remember the Empire in Star Wars treated Wookiees as minions and that species is anything but weak or selfish and Chewbacca proved they are quite clever. So what makes a minion a minion?

1) Minions are Controlled in Some Fashion

Whether it is a psychic link that takes over a mind or a security of a regular pay check, the mini-boss gives orders and the minion follows. That at the end of the day that is what makes a minion a minion. Does that make most of the civilized world someone’s minion? Yes actually it does. However, I am not advocating you overthrow your boss. Remember it is both the organization treats those minions as well as those outside the organization that determines whether the company is evil or not. A lumber company that hires orcs and hill giants as a way to give them honest work as opposed to raiding human villages, gets all the appropriate permits in an above board fashion, works with the local fey to remove select trees with their permission, and hires orcs to guard the logs on their way to the mill still uses minion even if those minions are working for a good company. Compare that with the human only lumber company that bribed officials to work a section of forest right next to the good company. They attack the fey and fight the hill giants and ogres whenever they leave the human permitted area and enter the other company’s territory prompting both to defend themselves and possibly attack back. Not only does the human company fail to plant new trees but they also try to steal the felled trees from the other lumber company. This company as well uses minions. The first one controls their people with a regular pay check and a desire to be law-abiding citizens; the second controls their minions through a desire for violence and quick cash.

While the word minion has negative connotations, it covers employee, freelance contractor, slave, indentured servant, thrall, and many others just to name a few. Use the full breadth of the term to give real variation to your organizations, evil or otherwise.

2) Minions Fill a Variety of Roles and Can Be Found at Every Level

Frequently, I hear the question, “Why doesn’t [insert name of ultra high level NPC in the setting] just take care of this minor problem?” The answer is simple: they can’t handle everything. Take a modern world variation of that problem: if you have a question on your taxes, do you go to the best accountant in the world or do you go to the local accounting firm and ask someone there (an accounting minion to use a gamified term)? The best in the world is busy handling other cases that can pay more. Instead, we get it handled by an accounting minion. Now if you start a business and it becomes rather sizable, you’ll need higher level accounting minions. You wouldn’t ask them to do plumbing work because they do not fill that role. You would need a minion that is trained in plumbing.

Same is true for fantasy games. Kobolds are the go-to minions when mining, gnolls when taking slaves, hobgoblins when needing military like precision, goblins for random violence, and orcs when slaughtering people indiscriminately. Each of these has their own role. So why not just have a higher level one handle this? Well the higher level hobgoblin is training the next group of recruits, the higher level gnolls are working their connections to sell their slaves, higher level kobolds are scouting out potential caves to mine, and on and on. The higher level ones have better uses for their time than to do the same thing as their lower level compatriots.

So when you get to a higher level, you need new minions to fight. Demons, devil’s, undead, and giants are the classics. Unless you are playing a convention/organized play-style game where one session has nothing to do with the other, these higher level minions are working towards the same end (if a different aspect of the overall plan) as those same low level minions. Why would the giants and devils be working towards the same ends as the kobolds and gnolls? The simple answer is ‘because the big boss of the whole campaign is all having them work towards a single goal.’ While you could train up a bunch of orcs to do your bidding instead of working with a number of different groups, it would be much simpler to take advantage of some other group of minions’ natural strengths when they lend themselves to solving a particular problem. Just like you don’t ask an accountant to do plumbing, you don’t ask a goblin to solve a problem that a requires patience and planning, things devils excel at. So change up the monsters you are using as minions to fulfill a different aspect of your big bad’s overall plan.

3) Minions Have Similar Stats, Despite Being Individuals

Minions are a collection of individuals. Each one has different stats if you wanted to take the time to create unique stats for each. However, minions can instead be represented by a single stat block. Sure, that single stat block is not going to catch the nuance of one loving to solve true crime mysteries while another appreciates listening to music, but if all you are having them do is fight the PCs, then those abilities don’t really matter. Making a minion stat block that presents average stats for a group saves considerable time.

Back to that accounting example for a second. All those accountants at the tax firm can be represented by a single stat block. You don’t need to assign stats for their individual hobbies and other life events unless it is somehow relevant. You’ll need their ability to crunch numbers and use their stapler offensively. Maybe wield a letter opener if you want to be cute about it. Remember these are supposed to be average stats for the group, not specific stats for everyone. Making a single stat block for the whole group doesn’t prevent you from making a single stat block for a specific accountant. So you can have a stat block for the NPC that discovered the company’s fraud and became the whistle blower. Had that NPC not done that and just stayed another face in the crowd, they would still be just another minion with the same minion stats. As always, the Order of the Stick has a great comic that exemplifies what it is like going from a minion to a named NPC.

Quick tangent here: feel free to change the stats of any monster in the monster books. If the book says a lizardfolk has 5 hit dice (as an example), feel free to make it 3 if it fits your needs that way. Five is just an average. Maybe this tribe is composed of young lizardfolk. Maybe they’ve been starved or are sickly. The book has average stats. Raise or lower them as your game needs. This goes doubly true for specific NPCs instead of minions. Individuals can vary widely from the average of their kind. Just remember to change its level of difficulty to match the new stats.

Speaking of monster books, be sure to download our monster books for Pathfinder 1e, DnD 5e, and Mongoose Traveller 2e.

Christmas in July Sale 2019

It’s the middle of summer. The temperature is murder. In about a month, it will be time for new role playing groups to form and for existing groups to get back together and roll some dice. So now is the time for you to grab some of the best PDFs on the market at 25% off their regular price over at DriveThruRPG. What better place to start than with Jon Brazer Enterprises’ Pathfinder, D&D 5e, 13th Age, and 1e Mongoose Traveller books. All the books you have been wanting are now on sale. Grab them now for this awesome price.

Traveller

All of our 1e Mongoose Traveller books are on sale. for 25% off. Grab the Vehicles of the Frontier, Mech Squadrons, Fighters and Small Ships, and of course the d66 Compendium. See all of our other 1e Mongoose Traveller RPG books we have for sale right here at DriveThruRPG. All of these books and more you can treat yourself to right now at a great price.

Fifth Edition

We have an awesome group of Deadly Delve adventures available for Fifth Edition for 25% off during the Christmas in July Sale. Check out our 1st level adventure Doom of the Sky Sword, 2nd level adventure Rescue from Tyrkaven 7th-8th level adventure Reign of Ruin, and 15th-18th level adventure Temple of Luminescence. Prefer to make your own adventures? Grab the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods. Are you a player? Grab the Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 and Player Races 2. Get all these and more for Fifth Edition.

Pathfinder 1e

Sticking with Pathfinder 1e? Here are some awesome options you shouldn’t pass up while they are on sale. Want to play a new race? Grab the Book of Heroic Races Compendium and the Advanced Compendium for even more options. Play a spellcaster? Check out the Book of Magic: Signature Spells 2, 7 Spellcaster Feats, Patron Hexes, Insurgency of Summer, and Pirate Spells. Need modules beyond the low levels? Check out the 9th level Deadly Delves adventure The Gilded Gauntlet, 11th level adventure The Chaosfire Incursion, 12th level adventure Nine Lives for Petane, and 16th level adventure The Dragon’s Dream. There is lots more for Pathfinder on sale now.

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