Friday, June 13, 2014

Tales from the Cutting Room: Good Stuff Not to be in Celtris

By Jeff Harris

This race came out of a certain Star Trek TNG episode and the quote "Ugly bags of mostly water." Alas some changes to the pending Celtris campaign setting meant that psionics just were not going to work, and as a consequence the psionitrix race fell to the the cutting laptop floor.  However that does not mean the psionitrix must suffer in darkness.  

For your reading and gaming pleasure, TFPC's blog presents, the Psionitrix. 

Table: Random Starting Ages
75 years
+1d4 years (76-79 years)
+1d6 years (76-81 years)
+2d6 years (77-87 years)
1 This category includes barbarians, oracles, rogues, and sorcerers.
2 This category includes bards, cavaliers, fighters, gunslingers, paladins, rangers, summoners, and witches.
3 This category includes alchemists, clerics, druids, inquisitors, magi, monks, and wizards. 

Table: Random Height and Weight
Base Height
Height Modifier
Base Weight
Weight Modifier
10 in. diameter.
+1d4 in. (11 in. - 14 in. diameter)
20 lbs.
     +2d6 lbs.
   (22 - 32 lbs.)
9 in. diameter
+1d2 in. (10 in. - 11 in. diameter)
15 lbs.
    +2d4 lbs.
  (17 - 23 lbs.)

It is unknown how or when the psionitrix first came to be, but given their suspected great longevity it is likely in the distant past.  Psionitrix are can be mistaken for strange but normal crystal formation, as they often live among their unintelligent counterparts.  It is exceedingly rare to come into contact with a psionitrix as they avoid most organic humanoids.  They will normally only reveal themselves to other psionic beings, and even this is rare.  Also, because of their unique physiology, they do not build great cities or farm the land as other races do.  Psionitrix tend to settle anywhere there is abundant sunlight and few other intelligent creatures.  Some go as far as to found their circles among natural crystal formations to better disguise their presence from others, and perhaps out of a strange sense of guardianship over their mindless cousins.

Physical Description Psionitrix are composed of many crystals radiating out from their center in every direction creating a roughly spherical shape. Psionitrix are made up of hundreds if not thousands of individual crystals both large and small. They can be of any color, but most commonly they are clear or smoky gray much like quartz.  Psionitrix constantly shine with an inner light and sparkle as if in sunlight even in complete darkness.  Because of their crystalline nature psionitrix grow slowly and can live for hundreds of years. 

Society Psionitrix society is quite different from many humanoid ones.  Because of their limited needs, they usually live in natural caverns and crags or other secluded natural locations.  Normally these settlements, called circles, are made up of between twenty and fifty individual psionitrix.  The circle is lead by the eldest psionitrix, usually but not always, who is of a psionic class.  This leader is referred to as the central, and is supported by the inner circle, which is made up of the eldest from among the protector, sculptor, scholar, and stonekin sub-circles.  Each of these sub-circles is responsible for a different aspect of psionitrix life.  Protectors defend the circle and its home territory.  Sculptors ensure the circle has access to sunlight and create any item a circle member might need.  Scholars record the circles history, philosophies, and often practice the Unseen Way or the Art.  Lastly the stonekin tend to the needs of the circles home territory and its recourses, and the preservation of its natural state. 

Relations Psionitrix tend to avoid contact with organic creatures, however meetings do occur between them and humanoids.  Dwarves do come across psionitrix in their delving, and meetings between the two races seldom go well, as the dwarves often mistake psionitrix for unintelligent but unique crystal, and harvest them as such.  Because of this, psionitrix settle well away from dwarven populations and are suspicious of them as a whole.  Conversely other psionic races and creatures find it somewhat easier to deal with psionitrix, as they are more open and forthcoming with those who also practice the Unseen Way.  Psionitrix are often on good terms with other lawful or neutral beings whom also posses the earth sub-type. 

Alignment and Religion Psionitrix tend towards neutrality, lawful neutral or true neutral being most common, as their society is orderly but takes little notice of the endless conflict between good and evil.  However psionitrix can be of any alignment as they show a range of personalities and outlooks just as all sentient races do.  Religion also varies but nature worship (green faith) or worship of earth deities is most common. 

Adventurers It is even rarer still to encounter a psionitrix as a lone adventurer than it is to meet one at all.  Sadly when a psionitrix is found away from the circle it most often means the circle is broken and its members dead.  Because of their social structure lone psionitrix feel the need to “fit in” to a hierarchy and work towards common goals.  Once a Psionitrix see’s their fellow adventurers as their new circle, they tend to become quite attached and willing to fight to defend them.  It can take quite some time for a psionitrix to accept organic circle mates, but their loyalty is unyielding once they do so.

Names Psionitrix names when translated into spoken language tend derive from the individual’s coloration and sub-circle.  For example a luminescent green stonekin circle druid might be called Jade Tender or Emerald Sheppard, where as a deep blue protector fighter might be Bold Sapphire or Azure Everwatch.

Racial Traits
  • +2 Intelligence, +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, and -4 Strength: Psionitrix are smart, quick, and wise, but their small size and ectoplasmic limbs makes them weak.
  • Aberration: Psionitrix are of the aberration (earth) subtype.
  • Small: Psionitrix are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus on attack rolls, a –1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks, and a +2 on Fly checks.
  • Natural Levitation: Psionitrix have a natural fly speed of 40 ft. (good) If using ectoplasmic limbs to walk, their land speed is 20 feet.
  • Vibration Sight: Psionitrix have tremor sense 60 feet.
  • Naturally Psionic: Psionitrix gain the Wild Talent feat as a bonus feat at 1st level. If a psionitrix takes levels in a psionic class, he also gains the Psionic Talent feat as a bonus feat as well.
  • Psionic Aptitude: When a psionitrix takes a level in a favored class, he can choose to gain an additional power point instead of a hit point or skill point.
  • Alien Makeup: The strange appearance and nature of the psionitrix can affect the reactions of those nearby. A psionitrix takes a -2 to all charisma based skill check when dealing with non-psionic organic races.
  • Photosynthetic: A psionitrix does not need to eat as organic creatures do, however in order to maintain their existence; a psionitrix must be exposed to sunlight for at least 3 hours each day.  A psionitrix still must rest as normal to regain power points or spells and avoid fatigue.
  • Ectoplasmic Limbs: Psionitrix have the ability to create humanoid limbs from ectoplasm, appearing as semi-transparent and often the same color as the psionitrix. As long as the psionitrix has at least one power point in reserve they may create up to two limbs in any combination they wish.  These limbs remain unless destroyed or the effect is ended by the psionitrix.  Additionally if the psionitrix spends one psionic strength point they may create an entire humanoid frame from ectoplasm, this ectoplasmic body lasts for one hour.  This duration can be extended for one more hour per additional psionic strength point spent.  The psionitrix’s ectoplasmic limbs and frame are ectoplasmic psionic constructs and follow all the rules and restrictions of such. 
  • Crystal Body: Because psionitrix are of a crystalline nature, they gain natural armor +4 but also are vulnerable to sonic damage.  Psionitrix are also subject to spells, spell-like abilities, and special abilities that specifically affect stone or crystal.  Also due to a psionitrix’s crystal nature they have a natural slam attack of 1d3+Strength, this slam is considered bludgeoning and piercing damage and a crit range of 20x2.
  • Languages: Psionitrix do not communicate as organic beings do, as among themselves they use a complex series of lightning fast flashes to convey ideas.  They however also have natural telepathy and may communicate with any intelligent creature that posses language within 100 ft. of themselves. 
Psionitrix Racial Feats:                                                                                                            

Crystal Armory (Combat, Psionitrix)
Some psionitrix have learned that their own bodies are the best weapon of all.
Prerequisites: BAB+1, Str 12, Psionitrix
Benefit: This feat allows you to as a standard action create weapons directly from the crystal of your body.  Creating a weapon in this way does not provoke attacks of opportunity.  By spending one psionic strength point you may sculpt from your body any melee weapon you are proficient with.  The weapon is part of your body and remains in its current from until destroyed or the effect is ended.  The weapon is in all ways identical to the normal version of the same weapon save that any sunder damage taken by the crystal weapon is subtracted from your hit points and do not add to your weight carried for the purposes of encumbrance.  The weapon created has the hardness, hit points, and special affects/restrictions of common crystalline weapons. The weapon is size small, and follows all normal rules regarding applying feats, applying spell/psionic effects, reach, and combat maneuvers.  Even if the weapon created can normally be thrown, (such as a dagger), you may not use it as a thrown missile weapon unless you have the crystal missiles feat. You may manifest a weapon in your “off hand” in this way as well, and suffer all penalties for doing so and apply all feats normally.

Crystal Missiles (Combat, Psionitrix)
The hard and sharp crystals of your body make excellent projectiles, and you have learned to use them as such.
Prerequisites: BAB +1, Psionitrix, Dex 12, Psionitrix
Benefit:  You have learned through long hours of practice to sacrifice a little of yourself to create thrown missile weapons or ammunition from your crystalline body.  You may create any missile weapon ammunition or thrown weapon you a proficient with, and do not need to have limbs to wield it normally.  Because these missiles are created from the crystal of your body, they have the hardness, hit points, and special affects of common crystalline weapons and ammunition.  Each time you use this feat you take one point of damage and in exchange receive 10 thrown missile weapons or arrows/bolts/sling bullets that you may use normally.  These projectiles function in all ways like a normal weapon of the type, including provoking attacks of opportunity when appropriate, reload times, and applying feats or spell/psionic effects.  When using bow, crossbow, and sling type weapons, only the ammunition is created from your substance. All missiles created using this feat appears to fire directly from your body without need for a visible launcher or limb to throw them.  It should be noted that in the case of thrown weapons that may be used in melee, you must have the crystal armory feat in order to use them in that way.  You may automatically apply your strength modifier to arrows and sling bullets as if fired by a mighty weapon keyed to your current strength score.    

Advanced Ectoplasmic Limbs (Psionic, Psionitrix)
Varied and wondrous are the forms of nature, and you have mastered the art of sculpting your ectoplasmic limbs into more than just humanoid arms and legs.
Prerequisites:  One other psionic feat, Int 12, Psionitrix
Benefit:  You may create two tentacles, two clawed or taloned limbs, a tail, a fanged maw, a horned head, two pincers, or four hoofed legs.  These limbs follow all the same rules as normal ectoplasmic constructs, but do grant you the corresponding natural attack or attacks for the limb(s) created; the damage is that of a small creature.

Advanced Ectoplasmic Body (Psionic, Psionitrix)
Your control over hour ectoplasmic from surpasses all others, as you can craft a body to mimic nearly any organic creature.
Prerequisites:  Advanced Ectoplasmic Limbs, Int 14, Psionitrix
Benefit:  Using this feat when you create an entire ectoplasmic body, that body may be of any type, such as quadruped or serpentine, or in a combination of body types to form a hybrid.  Additionally if you spend 2 psionic strength points instead of one the ectoplasmic form you create allows for forms as per alter self.  Maintaining this ectoplasmic form requires you to spend 2 psionic strength points per hour instead of one.

Solar Meditation (Psionic, Psionitrix)
The sun is more than just sustenance to you, absorbing its rays can restore your psionic strength as well.
Prerequisites:  Two other psionic feats, Int or Wis 16, Psionitrix
Benefit:  During the three hours each day you absorb sunlight as others eat meals, you gain not only sustenance as normal, but also twice your class level or hit die worth of psionic strength points, up to your normal max.  You receive a third of this total pool rounded down at each “meal” during the course of the day.  Unless denied sunlight specifically during a given part of a day this repast occurs when others break trail bread and chew jerky.

Solar Channeler (Psionic, Psionitrix)
You have learned the coveted secret of using the solar energy within you as a potent weapon.
Prerequisites:  Solar Meditation, Int or Wis 18
Benefit:  A number of times equal to 3+ your manifestor stat bonus per day you may unleash some or all of the psionic strength points you have received from your “meals” as a ray of yellow flame.  This ray deals 1d4 fire damage per psionic strength point spent and affects creatures that are sensitive to light as if it were bright sunlight.  This ray has a range of 30 ft. and requires a ranged touch attack.  Through the solar meditation feat these point are built up over the course of a full day, and you may not use psionic strength points not gained from solar meditation in this way.  Also you may only spend points you have already added back to your total, this pool should be noted separately, but you still may use these psionic strength points normally if you wish.

Deep Crystal Body (Psionic, Psionitrix)
Your crystalline body channels psionic energy easily as you are made of what organics call deep crystal.
Prerequisites:  Crystal armory, crystal missiles, power point reserve of 4 or greater
Benefit:  Your slam attack and all weapons you create from your body function as the deep crystal special material.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Questions About Class: the Witch

Image by Ines-Ka

Welcome back readers! Here is another entry in our Questions about Class series, this time focusing on the witch. As you may (or may not) know, Flying Pincushion Games is releasing the next book, Into the Breach: The Witch so we thought it was a good time that I, Kiel Howell, sit down with fellow Pincushioneer Taylor Hubler to talk about the class.

KH: First of all, thank you for taking the time to sit down and answer these questions!

TH: You are welcome kind sir!

KH: Can you give the readers a little about yourself and your role at The Flying Pincushion?

TH: I was raised on tabletop games of all kinds and started playing tabletop RPGs nearly fifteen years ago. Because I was too poor and there wasn’t a dedicated game store in my area I ended up writing all of my own material until I ran Pathfinder’s adventure path “Kingmaker.” Even then I did considerable amounts of customization to it and shared it online. Frank saw it, liked it, and we have been collaborating off and on since. When he started up Flying Pincushion I slaughtered my way into the copyeditor position and I recently took charge of some of the format, templates, and styles used by FP.

KH: Ok, the witch. I have to admit, I’m a fan of the witch but I don’t actually understand exactly what they are and what their role is. Are they some sort of half-druid and half-sorcerer?

TH: No, that wouldn’t be a fair assessment. Witches are like the anti-bard, but are full casters with a narrow spell list. They focus mostly on enchantment and necromancy, but have bits of other spell schools as well. They are the best debuffing class you can play, which really plays well with their role in literature as well.

KH: What’s the deal with their familiar?

TH: Well, the familiar is pretty much like a wizard’s but also doubles as the spell library. In myth and folklore this was the case as well. It used to be thought that the familiar, such as a black cat, would be possessed by a devil and whisper dark secrets to the witch. Paizo did pretty well with capturing the witch from folklore by having something similar.

KH: Is a male still a witch or are they a warlock?

TH: You still write witch under the class section of the character sheet. However my real life witch friends would say that males are supposed to be called warlocks. I honestly don’t care and treat nearly all class names as flavor more than mechanics and have played male witch characters that referred to themselves as tricksters.

KH: Does it matter what kind of familiar you choose? Are there benefits or detriments to certain types?

TH: Totally. Opinions do vary but most people will say that you want to pick either a familiar that gives a boost to initiative or one that can use magic items like a wand or potion. They are living spellbooks, so you should keep that in mind as well. A familiar that you can keep out of danger is a good idea. Other than that, they are just like a wizard’s familiar and carry all the same benefits and drawbacks.

KH: When I think of a witch, the first thing that comes to mind are stories like Hansel and Gretel. Pathfinder’s witch class is more than that though?

TH: Totally, because when Paizo designed the class they wanted to cover a broader scope of literature and folklore. For example, you can see sixteenth century folklore of the Salem witch trials, witches from Grimm’s tales, and a bit of asian folklore witch as well. In fact, most cultures around the world have a form of witch that follow similar themes. Typically a female but can also be male, listens to spirits or devils that could be good or evil, has the power to curse or bless, and usually knows secrets that scare other people. There is also a great deal of cannibalism when it comes to evil witches in folklore.

KH: Let’s talk about hexes for a moment. What are they and why do they seem so powerful?

TH: Hexes are supernatural powers that set the witch apart from other classes. They allow the witch to do all those cool things witches do in folklore. Smell children, make gingerbread men from people, put people to sleep, make them feel weak, and mostly just make someone have a really, really bad day. What sets them apart from spells is that you don’t have to prepare them and most of them are once per target. There is some argument that a few of them, like slumber, are too overpowered because there isn’t a level limit and most creatures or NPCs are going to be susceptible to it. However, most claims are made without looking at the whole picture and often use best case scenarios.

KH: Let’s switch gears for a second and talk about Patrons. So these are...what?

TH: In folklore, the devil or the spirits were patrons to the witch. A witch had to learn their powers from a patron of some sort, be it a devil or a possessed animal. In the game patrons are left very, very open. They can be any being that is capable of granting power. Sadly, the mechanical benefits are just a list of bonus spells, and I would have loved to have seen more done with this piece of legend. You can totally play without having to flesh out who your patron is. I had a character with an illusion goddess as a patron. A friend of mine had a devil. My wife’s witch never had one fleshed out.

KH: Back to Hexes, what are the Major and Grand Hexes? Are they potentially overpowered, kind of like the concerns with the slumber hex but on a bigger scale?

TH: Major and Grand hexes are just hexes you gain at higher levels. I haven’t come across anything that suggests that they might be overpowered but Ice Tomb needs some serious errata and there are a few that could be considered underpowered for the level you take them. The Summon Spirit grand hex certainly is potentially powerful, but you get it at level 18 and the wish machine strategies that use it are either going to be laughed at by a GM or made really expensive.

KH: What is your favorite witch you’ve made, seen played, or want to make out of the stuff presented in Into the Breach: The Witch?

TH: Favorite played was my ratfolk witch Cosimo. He really messed people up and the party really loved having him around when he wasn’t being stupid dodgy and creepy. I really wanted to be able to play a scarred witchdoctor with barbarian levels, and that is the reason behind my own prestige class in the new witch book we have done. Something that allows for a bit more frontline presence but is still a witch at heart.

KH: Have you ever had to ban or have you seen the class banned at a table?

TH: Nope. And I think it is silly to do so unless you can prove that the class, or any ability it has, is outshining the rest of the table. I don’t think anyone who looks at the big picture can do so. Slumber is something people often point at and cry foul. However, if you really understand it and you play your game smart it is actually one of the weaker witch abilities. I almost never used it in higher levels, for example, because there were so many other options that were just better. For example, hold person or hold monster have similar save DCs and can’t be stopped from a minion kicking the target. Also, there were plenty of times where I could have used it because the enemy was severely debuffed but I switched targets because my party members were going to kill the target in that round anyway. Sometimes overkill on one target means you are behind in defeating another.

KH: What is your advice for building a successful witch?

TH: Read lots of guides. I wrote one called “A Witch's Guide to Shutting Down Enemies.” There are lots of others that have great advice as well.

KH: Thank you for taking the time to have this chat Taylor!

TH: Thank you as well!