Thursday, September 18, 2014

Celtris Tales: Small Packages Chapter 2 Marius

Small Packages: Marius

Marius didn’t like the idea of stopping over to trade at Fort Furthest. Most orcs found the sight of Luca bonded to Iz unsettling and while both brothers had a charming manner, a nervous orcs on the edge of a warzone could mean trouble. A low whine from Kane his riding wolf echoed the sentiment.

“They don’t like short folk in that Fort Luca,” Marius argued again.

“We don’t look like Halflings, Marius and I want to know what they know of the road ahead,” Luca replied again.

Marius thought about it again. Luca was wearing Iz at the moment and Iz made him about the size of a muscular human, excepting for the fact that Iz also had razor sharp claws, gills, and a crocodilian head. Iz was also translucent so Luca wore his large winter wolf pelt covering most of his body despite the heat. Luca chose Winter so he radiated a low degree of cold and his hair was a shocking mix of snow white, ice blue and hints of a deep purple. The clothing he wore under Iz was all about hiding the shape of his thin sickly body under folds of fabric.

Marius in contrast to his brother had orange hair as wild and bright as a fire. He was short but clearly muscular with wide shoulders and a nice tan. He wore heavy mail and an array of weapon handles jutted from various angles from his back and his belt.

One had to look carefully at the gnome brothers’ faces to see the resemblance. While Luca rarely smiled, when he did those who knew Marius would recognize it. Marius was always smiling. They both had dominant noses that anchored the face and ensured their potency to gnomish women. They shared sharp cheekbones and solidly proportioned chins. Marius chose to allow mutton chops while Luca remained more conservative and cleaned shaven.

On his chest, Marius wore a tabard with the canine face that was the symbol of loyalty, clasped hands echoed that sentiment as a symbol around his neck, and his sword arm had an armband with a rose symbol for beauty. Like all paladins he was open about his convictions and shared them publically, being an example.

Luca took care of Marius growing up when they were orphaned by a fire. Later Marius had to take Luca to different healers when the wasting sickness started robbing his brother of vitality. Luca was fierce and enriched his mind, with Marius’ aid he searched library after library seeking answers on his disease, and the type of magics that could cure it.

There was nothing Marius would not do for Luca. No challenge he would not overcome, short of betraying the Summer court. Keeping loyal to both was not easy, but convictions weren’t meant to be. Being a Paladin wasn’t meant to be easy either. Luca was frequently bitter and difficult, he resented needing Marius, and at times the feeling was mutual. Marius believed that the core of love was loyalty, of staying with someone through the hard times and being there even when they push you away. That within everyone there was beauty.

To Marius, his brother Luca had a beautiful mind. His brother had such a will that he made a better body for himself on sheer will and an innate talent for magic. He read dozens of languages and absorbed facts like a thirsty man drinks.

It was hard for others to understand why a paladin consorted with someone who used warlock magic and who called on an otherworldly Eidolon. Or why a summer gnome served and protected a winter gnome. Marius usually answered such inquiries with a smile and said: “when I was a child and I cried for my dead mother, Luca always read me my favorite story no matter how sick of it he got.”

In his reverie, Marius almost bumped into Luca who had stopped. His hand had reflexively landed on the handle of his re-hilted legion blade, as Marius looked for the threat. There was an acrid burnt smell that hung in the air.

“What, brother?” Marius inquired.

Luca pointed ahead, the orcs had burned a swath around their fort a half mile wide. The tall grasses that had straddled either side of the road abruptly ended and the earth was blackened with ash. The smell was that of a drowned fire, it was purposeful.

A hot fire of anger burned inside of Marius at the thought. The fort was a menacing mound of stone surrounded by a scar burned into the grassland. It spoke of something ugly about those that resided within those walls and offended the appreciation of beauty that ran deep to Marius’ core.

Marius was running with his weapon drawn before he realized he had spotted an orc with a torch.

With an act of will his own fire sprouted from the blade.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Celtris Tales: Small Packages Chapter 1 Luca

I would imagine that the first question all of you, our valued readers, are asking is "what is Celtris."  Without spoiling the whole kettle of fish, the answer simply put is that Celtris is a campaign world that I, Jeff Harris, started many years ago for the simply reason that I thought orcs deserved to not suck.  Little did I know that years later my friend and co-owned Frank Gori would take a shine to the world and end up helping me turn it from just a home brew into something much more.

Now nearly 20 years after I started creating Celtris it has become a major project for TFPC games.  In the not so distant future we hope to be able to share Celtris with the much greater gaming community, and will likely be doing so in a way that is rarely seen but hopefully greatly appreciated.  But while there is still a ton of work to do before that auspicious time, we at TFPC would like to introduce the wider gaming public to Celtris with a short fiction series based in our conjured world.

Thus begins "Small Packages" by Frank Gori.  Also keep your eyes peeled as a new chapter of this fine tale will be added each week here on The Flying Pincushion blog, and both Frank, I, and the rest of the TFPC staff hope you enjoy this look into the world we have created, a world called Celtris.

Small Packages: Luca

Luca awoke with a familiar sickening panic. His eyes scanned the area for Marius on reflex to see if the fool had fallen asleep on watch again. Sometimes his eyes would meet his dutiful brother’s and Luca would feel a pang of fleeting remorse, then the routine would take over.This time his eyes found Marius' back which was just as well. Luca kept to his rituals and ran a mental inventory, confirming that he could still feel and move all his extremities.  The wasting sickness stalked him like a thief, halted but never cured. If it returned he’d typically lose grip first, then his limbs, his ability to eat, to speak, and ultimately to breathe. His mind would remain sharp as his body became an inert prison. It was a terrifying sickness.

On an intellectual level Luca knew his brother would never fall asleep on watch again, it simply was not in Marius’ character to be so careless. The paladin had not tried dwarven spirits before that night and he only had a normal tankard full. Not only had Marius apologized, he had sworn off drinking all together. Luca just couldn’t help resenting his dependence on Marius.

The healer's amulet had halted the wasting sickness seven years ago, Luca’s slow appointment with invalidity and death had been forestalled, but his brother knew as well as he did that without more potent magic, Luca was living on borrowed time. The disease was still inside of him and could be triggered by any number of environmental factors.

A magic belt lent Luca the strength to move without assistance, though not without pain, and he was clumsy. Another magic trinket reduced Luca’s need to sleep and entirely removed the need to eat. It meant that once he merged with his Eidolon, he need not dismiss it to take a meal, or take a trip to the jakes. It meant that the amount of time a child could overpower him was reduced to two hours and a little over a minute every day.

A silent act of will and a single murmur of Iz’s name, would summon the otherworldly being that Luca wore like armor. When joined with Iz’s body his mind was no longer locked into a prison of weakness, ruin, and pain. Despite its fragile appearing translucence, Iz’s body moved with speed and power. It was almost enough.

Luca didn’t like to think about women, or more specifically one woman. There was no point in pursuing something that is so far out of reach, and she had married a few years ago. Nothing is more haunting than a kiss. Even one given out of pity.

Luca banished that line of thinking and focused on the body he had shaped with the force of his will and the bond with an otherworldly presence. When he was one with Iz he could feel the faint glimmer of a mind that was somehow distant yet content to be joined. To be whole was joy for both.

Luca rose, “get some rest Marius, tomorrow we leave this easy road for a war zone.”

Marius hunkered down with the wolves. Barely articulating a “thanks brother” before falling into a deep slumber. Like many traits Marius took for granted, Luca envied him for his ability to simply carelessly sleep. Luca’s mind was usually too loud and it took a good half hour to quietly sort his thoughts. He loved his brother, needed his brother, envied his brother, and hated his brother all at once. Cold reason battered away a deadly urge. It would be so easy.

Luca fled that line of thinking and got moving to check his trap lines. Luca left little to chance and set an elaborate series of warning and snare traps. The snares usually caught small game and served a secondary function in that they could trip up a stealthy approach if they went unnoticed. Then there were the dagger rakes, step on one of them and a dagger rose rapidly to stab the victim in the leg, they were outlaid in a secondary circle. Marius learned the pattern the hard way after a couple incidents.

On an intellectual level Luca knew that his brother was actually of about the average intelligence level, but he could not help finding fault in his brother’s mental abilities. Both brothers had their mother’s charm and looks, but Luca seemed to inherit all of his father’s magus wit while Marius just had his physical grace.

Luca avoided the subject of their parent’s death. Marius remembered the fire if not the cause. The failed rebellion of Lesh didn’t have a right side and telling Marius what happened would just repurpose him from useful to a creature of vengeance.

The snares yielded four rabbits, Luca would skin and cook one for Marius before dawn, he casually tossed the wolves one each raw. Less time wasted that way.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tales from the Back Room: Into the Breach the Cavalier

The next offering of TFPC is nearly complete, Into the Breach: the Cavalier.  Stay tuned to the TFPC blog for things like discussions and sneak previews of the upcoming book.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Recession Reviews - Thunderscape the World of Aden Campaign Setting

Review written by Richard Litzkow

Thunderscape the World of Aden Campaign Setting
Written by: Shawn Carman & Rich Wulf (Kyoudai Games)
Page Count: 227
Throw Away Pages: 8 (2 cover pages, 1 toc page, 2 backer list pages, 1 OGL page, 2 Index pages)
Golden Pages: 11 (Races), 73 (New Classes and Alternate Classes), 5 (New Feats and Skills), 47 (Cosmology and Geography), 29 (New Equipment and Rules), 11 (New Monsters and Antagonists) total 179

Cover price: $19.99
Price per page: $0.09
Modified price per page: $0.09, cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages = modified price per page
Crunch to fluff ratio: 1.32 to 1
Our rating out of 10: 9 (highly reusable classes, feats, new equipment and races. Concepts like the Fallen class and it’s versatile and clever approach to combat, or the Ferran race are things that have been largely missing from core Pathfinder and are worthy imports into any home-brew or established campaign setting - either wholesale or with minor tweaks).

For nearly a thousand years the world of Aden knew peace, technology and magic flourished and the realms grew rich and fat. Then one day, with no warning the sun disappeared and the world was plunged into darkness – as if someone had switched off the light. And in this darkness emerged the Nocturnals – the nightmares of every sentient living creature made real, and though the darkness lasted only a short time when the sun appeared again the Nocturnals were still there. Killing, feasting on an unsuspecting world – millions fell, others gave in to the madness and terror giving their souls over to it to become another horror. 10 years after the Darkfall the world struggles grow against a land overrun and tainted by the Nocturnals.

This is the premise for Thunderscape the World of Aden a godless world where magic and technology are synonymous. The book features all new classes, races, feats, other uses for skills and an entire section to new mecha-magical equipment and the rules surrounding it.

It also adds a terrifying new monsters, and an even more horrifying template – Nocturnal, that allows you to turn old monsters into new sinister specimens for your party to fight.

There are 7 new races in the Thunderscape campaign setting as well as the classic Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Half-Elves. Many of these new races are evolved forms of classic fantasy races. Goreaux are hyper intelligent goblins, Jurak are more civilized descendants of Orcs, Faerkin are gnomes who have crossbred with fey to such an extent that they often manifest outwardly fey traits. Rapcians are almost a south american themed lizardfolk. The new original races are the Echoes – featureless humanoids with an inky exterior that can adopt the shape and features of the deceased. The Illithix Exiles, a insectoid species with the hybrid features of bees and ants and the Ferran. The Ferran are a species of anthropomorphic animals, with three different racial packages – Ferran Predator, Brute or Sneak allowing players to decide what category their Ferran wants to come from. Mice Ferrans are probably sneaks, likewise Foxes, but there are no hard restrictions.

The classic fantasy races listed follow many of the original tropes, Elves as aloof and distant, Humans as versatile. Dwarves get a new backstory though, originating beneath the earth they eventually dug to the surface whereupon they believed themselves to have 'dug into heaven', fully three quarters of the race went back underground decrying those that stayed as heathens and waging a secret war on them.

Racial abilities are fair and balanced, with interesting note to the Jurak who gain a bonus to damage against any foe that has injured them within 3 rounds. Echoes likewise must make poppets incorporating material from the deceased they wish to appear as.

There are 9 all new core classes to play as, Arbiter, Entomancer, Fallen, Golemoid, Mechamage, Seer, Steamwright, Thaumaturge and Thunderscout. Very few of these will feel familiar, one could loosely compare the Mechamage to a Wizard but the focus on building familiar-esque golems and modifying them is a big enough difference to be worth read over a few times.
    The Arbiter is an Int based shield and weapon fighter with rogue like elements thrown in with their 'Strategic Maneuvers' picked every 2nd level after 3rd level.
The Entomancer is almost a sort of totemic druid that venerates insects, they too chose at every odd level an insect themed power from a series of lists including 'The Way of the Mantis', 'The Way of the Bee'. While they can take powers from any list they can only access the greater powers by having a certain number of abilities from within a single Way.
    The Fallen is perhaps one of the most unique classes to Thunderscape, they are those people who have been corrupted by the Darkfall but are often the anti-heroes that use their sinister powers to fight the darkness. From the 1st level of the Fallen class a player must choose one of 6 'Stigmas' (Befouled, Behemoth, Horror, Incinerator, Madcap and Seducer) these stigmas mark you are tainted but are also your source of power. As you level up you gain powers associated with the stigma you chose and each functions differently.
    As a class the Fallen is about combination, a default ability native to any Fallen is the ability to inflict a form of psychic torment on an opponent as a swift action. Opponent so marked save vs a status effect (like Shaken) and whether they save or not against the status effect are marked as 'tormented'. Tormented subjects take additional damage from the Fallen and are subject to a variety of other effects based off that mark.
    An example would include the Madcap stigma ability to be invisible to any tormented foe, allowing a Madcap to use another ability to inflict an area effect burst of torment so that a room full of enemies cannot see him until either the tormented condition runs it's course or he breaks the invisibility by attacking – at which point he becomes visible to that particular victim.
By far this class is one of the most clever in the entire book as each stigma has different ways of inflicting area affect torment as well as offering other unique debuffs that go along with their tormented condition.
    The Golemoid is another thoroughly unique class, they represent people who have either willingly or unwillingly become hosts to mechamagical implants (called manite implants) that reduce their life-span but become a part of them. As they level so given over to this magic they begin to grow new implants, shedding their organic heritage to become living constructs.
Almost all of their implants function off a grit like system called 'Steam' gaining an amount equal to their Level + Constitution modifier. This spendable resource allows them to activate many of their implants or gives them the ability to detect magic, buff their AC for a round, help them make acrobatics checks or break objects.
    Similar to a fighter the Golemoid chooses early on a specialty, in this case a form of combat. Steam powered weaponry, ranged combat or natural weapons. Their implants reinforce these decisions with a Gunner specialty Golemoid likely taking an internal ammo belt and finger guns for an optimal build. But implants are not limited by specialization allowing the player to customize as they see fit.
    The Seer is another original class, functioning as a close range bard who altered reality around her with her prophetic auras. Many of these auras allow a save, and an enemy that saves can be forced to make another save if they leave and re-enter the aura. Possibly subject to abuse by Seers who dance backward and forward to trigger a new save. The auras are unique offering things like 'decrease the amount of healing an enemy receives by the Seer's Wisdom modifier, while increasing ally healing by the same amount', or even allowing her to give additional actions to allies with her new but limited spell list.
    The Steamwright is another new class, as cutting edge techno-mages they invent volatile gadgets that only function a certain number of times per day but offer a fair bit of bang for their buck. These inventions can be modified, limited by whether it is a primary or secondary invention and by the class level of the Steamwright. Inventions include new weapons; like the Belcher (cone effect elemental damage), Grenade Launcher (the envy of alchemists everywhere) or even small auto Turrets. Utility inventions include rocket packs, translation goggles, trap detectors and so on.
    In addition Steamwrights may over-charge their weaponized inventions adding a pool of damage dice that they must declare beforehand. A Steamwright with a grenade launcher by level 5 could in theory deal 2d10 + Int mod AoE with an additional 2d8 firepower damage. In addition to deploying an auto turret that fires independently for 1d8 + Int mod. In terms of game-play balance Steamwrights pose a bit of a balance issue, outclassing all other similar level classes in raw damage even with a limited number of uses per day.
    After the Steamwright is the Thaumaturge, a reimagining of the Magic of Incarnum supplement for 3.5. The Thaumaturge has a deliberately abominable stat line, because all their power comes from drawing about legends and their aspects. These change your base saves, BAB and even give you temporary hit points. A Thaumaturge might never be able to cast spells but if you need a stand in Fighter, Rogue or Ranger then they are the Swiss army knife of classes.
    Finally the last new class is the Thunderscout, and one that impressed me least. They are small vehicle driving rangers meet 3.5ed Scouts and for certain nations they fit well with the fluff, so they make sense contextually. But mechanically compared to any of the other new classes they are far more boring. They get spells earlier but a limited selection and they are designed as swift moving vehicular ranged support. They don't have the interesting combination build up tool box the fallen have, or the customizability of the Golemoid. They don't bring highly modified golems to the party, or super-tech inventions. They aren't as flexible as the thaumaturge and they don't buff their allies as well as the Seer. Thunderscouts are a great fluff class and mechanically they are what Rangers dream of being but that doesn't make them as interesting – only competent.

    After the new classes there are explanations for how all the old classes fit in, including a bunch of new archetypes to make regular classes work in Thunderscape. This is also where the first mention of godless clerics and paladins come up. See if Thunderscape ever had deities, then they aren't there now. The World of Aden lives and dies on it's inhabitants, divine spellcasters still power their spells through faith but no-one is answering any calls when they try to start up a conversation.
    Additionally we learn that Detect Good/Evil, etc spells only function on the supernatural. Monstrous Humanoids, planar beings, all detect as an alignment, but ordinary beings don't. This is because as a setting Thunderscape focuses on surviving and thriving in a world being devoured by nightmares. Mundane evil is as invested in their own survival as they are mostly avoiding corruption and losing their mind. This means that a game revolves less around party alignment and more about prevailing what ever the cost.
    An important note though about the base classes in Thunderscape, guns in Thunderscape are treated as highly common to the point where many of the base classes gain a firearm proficiency or two, the twist is that guns, work like bows. So Gunslingers are problematic as many of their abilities function on hitting touch still. Either you nerf them, or you let them out class almost every other class.
    The new feats are all fairly standard, with exceptions like the feat Studied that grants additional free skill points base on your current level and gives you 1 additional skill point each level thereafter. This could be prone to abuse, but it also indicates that the writers wanted characters not to ignore skills as is commonly a problem.

    The remainder of the book covers a detailed historical timeline of the setting, a large section dedicated to each of the countries and a section dedicated to new weaponry and rules. Including the effects of manite implants on living beings – a fascinating read and delightful new mechanic. The Bestiary section is only 11 pages long and could do with more substance, and after that the index section (along with the original table of contents) is all nicely hyper-linked – like all proper pdfs should be, allowing easy navigation of the book.

    At the end of the day I love this book, it is well thought out and while there are minor editing oversights (some inconsistent phrasing of pathfinder core rules) or omissions in detail (regarding the new spells for animating constructs) the editing and presentation of the book are superb. The art is a bit of a mixed bag with many internal chapter pages having gorgeous tableaus but other art being markedly less high in quality (most commonly in the races section).

Friday, July 25, 2014

New Mods for the Gungineer!

First of all, let me say that I'm genuinely humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response to the Gungineer alternate class. It was fun to make and I hope it will be equally fun for all of you to play. In response to the requests of two reviewers, I've decided to make a number of new mods for your gun freely available here on the blog. This is the first of two planned installments. Have a mod you wish existed? Talk to us over here or in the comments. Don't know what I'm talking about? Buy a copy of Into the Breach: Gunslinger at Paizo, d20PFSRD, or DriveThru.

Edit: I wasn't happy with the balance of harness mount or moderately self aware and flash-bang launcher was missing a pair of sentences. These have been edited since original publication.

1-Point Mods

Net Launcher (bottom rail): This launcher works as the net exotic weapon, except that the launcher propels it 20 feet and it always takes 4 rounds to refold and reload the net launcher.
Smoke Launcher (bottom rail): You may fire a small black bomb which erupts in opaque smoke as a standard action at a point designated within 30 feet. The smoke spread to fill a 10 foot radius area and obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. A creature within 5 feet has concealment. Creatures farther away have total concealment (50% miss chance, and the attacker can't use sight to locate the target). The smoke persists for 1 minute but a moderate wind disperses the fog in 1 round. The gungineer may fire a number of smoke bombs per day equal to 1 + her Intelligence modifier. This modification may be selected if the named gun has the bomb launcher modification even though they occupy the same slot.

2-Point Mods

Bayonet Launcher (bottom rail): This modification can hold a single dagger. The dagger may be used in melee as though it is being currently wielded. In addition, you may launch it in place of a ranged attack with the named gun with a range of 30 feet. This works as a normal thrown weapon attack except that you add your dexterity bonus to damage instead of strength. Reloading the bayonet launcher is a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity.
Taser (bottom rail): As a standard action, you may fire a sharp, pronged lead as a ranged touch attack with a range of 15 feet. On a successful hit, you deal d8 non-lethal electric damage. If the target takes any damage from the attack it is staggered until the end of your next turn. The leads must be carefully rewound inside the launcher, which takes a full round action that provokes attacks of opportunity.

3-Point Mods

Flash-Bang Launcher (bottom rail): The gungineer may fire a bomb which detonates brightly as a ranged touch attack at a target within 30 feet. Creatures that are struck are blinded for 1 minute unless they succeed at a Fortitude save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the gungineer’s level + her Intelligence modifier). Creatures within 10 feet of the target are dazzled for 1 minute unless they, too, pass a fortitude save. This is a light effect. The gungineer may fire a number of flash-bangs per day equal to 1 + her Intelligence modifier. This modification may be selected if the named gun has the bomb launcher modification even though they occupy the same slot.
Harness Mount (grip): The named gun is mounted on your shoulder, attached to a harness worn over clothes and armor. You may fire your named weapon with one hand as the harness takes care of the rest. It also provides a +10 bonus to your Combat Maneuver Defense against attempts to disarm you of your named gun, though its position is somewhat vulnerable and sunder attempts against the named gun gain a +2 bonus on the CMB check. Removing and putting on the harness is a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity. Attacks with the named gun are now resolved against touch AC in the first and second range increments. This modification is only available for two-handed named guns.
Spiked Net (bottom rail): This launcher fires a net made of cruelly spiked steel chains. It works as the net launcher 1-point modification except that a target struck takes 2d6 piercing damage when struck and an additional d6 piercing damage for each round it is entangled. If the target escapes the net, the chains remain on the ground adjacent to the target taking up a 10 foot by 10 foot area which counts as being covered in caltrops.

4-Point Mods

Gravity Distortion Ray (bottom rail): This intricately fluted attachment alters the gravity experienced by a target as a standard action ranged touch attack with a range of 30 feet. The mod has a number of charges equal to the Gungineer’s Intelligence modifier. For 1 charge you may cause a struck creature to be staggered under his own increased mass for d6 rounds when the effect fades. For three charges, the target is pinned, finding it difficult to move under the extreme gravitational forces being exerted upon it. For five charges, you may force a creature 100 feet into the air before reversing the gravity again to pull them down. This deals 10d6 damage. flying creatures are not immune to the effect, nor do abilities such as the monk’s slow fall class feature or featherfall overcome the relentless pull of gravity. You must have the Magical Power modification to use this modification.
Saw Blade Launcher (barrel and chamber): Replacing the traditional barrel with a wide chute and the chamber with a stack of circular saw blades, yields a bizarre but deadly weapon. The named gun deals slashing damage and has a critical threat range of 19-20 and a critical modifier of x3. You must have the Steam Power or Alchemical Power modification to use this modification.

5-Point Mods

Moderately Self Aware (grip): A crystalline memory cortex is mounted atop the named gun and a number of grasping legs replace the grip. This makes the named gun an intelligent item with an Intelligence score of 10 and the Speech and Senses (60 ft.) abilities. Although it lacks a traditional grip, the legs constrict around your wrist allowing you to fire it as normal. You may also place it as a sentry. It cannot move on its own or reload itself but can shoot with an attack bonus of +5. It does not have a Dexterity score nor does it have any feats. If someone else attempts to hold the named gun without your permission, autonomous defenses activate, which may be a small shock, extruded spikes or something else, and the person holding it must succeed on a Reflex save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the gungineer’s level + her Intelligence modifier) or drop the named gun immediately. The named guns sense also warns you of danger granting you uncanny dodge. If you already have uncanny dodge from another class, you automatically get improved uncanny dodge instead.
Thermodynamic Water Chamber (Chamber): This chamber forms metastable, high pressure bullets of ice that deal half cold and half piercing damage. Additionally, it has a number of charges equal to twice the gungineer’s Intelligence modifier. These charges are replenished once per day. For one charge, you may spray a multitude of icy filaments in a 30-foot cone as a standard action. Creatures caught in the cone take normal damage from the named gun and gain the entangled condition. A successful reflex save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the gungineer’s level + her Intelligence modifier) negates the entangled condition but not the damage. For two charges, you can create a sheet of ice as the Ice Plane version of wall of ice using your gungineer level as your effective caster level. For three charges, you may fire a blast of super-heated steam in a 60- foot cone as a full round action. The steam deals 10d6 fire damage. The resulting cloud of steam remains for 3 rounds dealing 5d6 fire damage to anything inside, though it may be harmlessly dispersed by a strong wind. Although it deals fire damage, the steam cannot light objects on fire. For four charges and as a full-round action, you may encase a target within 30 feet in a solid block of ice with a successful ranged touch attack. The target takes 5d6 points of cold damage (Fortitude DC= 1/2 the gungineer’s level + her Intelligence modifier halves the damage). If the target fails its save, it is paralyzed and unconscious but does not need to eat or breathe while the ice lasts. The ice has 20 hit points; destroying the ice frees the creature, which is staggered for 1d4 rounds after being released.

Friday Review: Laying Waste by TPK Games, A Critical Hit to the Awesome Center of

Massing a huge 162 pages, Laying Waste is an enormous revamp of rules for critical hits in Pathfinder. The books starts with the new rules which essentially replace the confirmation roll and normal, boring damage multiplication with a severity roll and a host of potential effects based on the severity and damage type of your weapon.

All the possible crits have a save to reduce or eliminate the status effect. The save gets harder as your severity worsens as does, obviously, the effect. A light braining staggers for d2 rounds unless you make a DC20 Fortitude save. A moderate braining is staggered for d3 rounds and the severe version deals additional damage along with d3 rounds of the staggered condition. In each case, the DC gets harder by 5 as well. Even if your passes the save associated with the crit, they are still saddled with some bonus damage. The bonus damage varies from 2d6 with a x2 crit to 5d6 on a x5 weapon. This is a nice system that means a dagger to your kidney (or whatever strange organ drives your renal system) hurts just about as bad as a greatsword, which, while not necessarily going to make a simulationist happy, makes those that love variety in weapons ecstatic. Status effects caused by crits have conditions under which they can be healed. Rest or curative magic are generally there but in most cases you can also make a Heal check. Heal. It’s a skill. It’s between Handle Animal and Intimidate on your character sheet. You can be forgiven for not knowing it’s there; until now there hasn’t usually much reason to take it. I’m so pleased that this undervalued skill gets a real reason to exist in this ruleset.

After pages and pages of bashing, slicing, dicing, and otherwise mauling with criticals, comes ten or so pages of critical themed feats. There’s a lot of good stuff here like Sneaking Strike which causes opponents who take a crit from a rogue to become flat-footed until the end of the rogue’s next turn, a great way to get more sneak attacks in. There are achievement feats and mythic feats to be had here and a lot of neat things to do with combat maneuvers.

Then we have the archetypes. This is where I suffer from some disappointment. As the focus of this book is on critical hits, I can kind of understand why there aren’t archetypes for the sorcerer and wizard (although it seems like one that changed elemental damage into a physical damage type and did something with these rules is an easy fit) but not having a single archetype for the paladin, cleric, bard, druid, or any of the base classes means this whole section has limited value for me. What’s there is cool and chock full of flavor, though. The pressure point master is inspired and the scoundrel, mockingbird, disembowler, and urchin knight are great, too.

Next are the rules for fumbles, separated into melee, ranged, and natural attack fumbles. I’m a huge fan of these. In my group, some fights are just done by story and the dice are left to rest for a time. Inevitably, my players mix failure into their success and get thrown across a room, trip on a rug (which otherwise tied the room together), or simply stare dumbfounded at the unfolding horror of an elder god before the tentacular alarm clock wakes them up. But this never happens when we roll the dice. Misses are set aside and damage from the hits tabulated. The fumble rules give us the opportunity to force these situations into the dice rolling and enhance our stories. If I were an alchemist I’d take the vestigial arm discovery just to give this three thumbs up.

The remaining 30 or so pages are given over to appendices covering rules for called shots, armor as damage reduction, healing and scars, spells, magic weapon and armor abilities, a short bit of prose and a Laying Waste Iconic NPC.
I give this book 4.5 out of 5. The rules are pretty great. The fact that there’s an Android app for Laying Waste crits is great. the lack of variety in the archetypes section is an absolute travesty (figuratively speaking; literally speaking it’s more of a bummer).

Buy it on Paizo, d20PFSRD, or DriveThru.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Hex Gunner Bundle

Times are tough, so we at the Flying Pincushion will help where we can by providing bundles.

Here's a link to what we are calling the hex gunner bundle which includes our witch and gunslinger books!