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!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Behind the Scenes: TFPC and Friends

 By Richard Litzkow

What makes a kickstarter successful, is it the idea being pitched, the person or team behind the idea, or some combination of both?

I got to wondering about this as I watched the Potato Salad kickstarter reach 11 days left having raised $61k. It seemed remarkable that this kickstarter; created as a joke, could raise so much money. But other kickstarters like Non-Player Cards with much longer term use only just having reached 60% of it’s target goal.

I stumbled onto the Non-Player Cards kickstarter by accident while searching the RPG section of kickstarter. As a game master by day and developer for The Flying Pincushion by night i’m always on the hunt for tools that enhance my ability to provide immersive, detailed games for my players. This, of course, also helps inspire my writing. I’m used to using tables to find random personality traits, but a kickstarter that promised to bundle decks of cards into categories like Name, Profession, Personality, Traits and so on sounded fascinating. With one draw from each deck a unique NPC for any occasion can emerge ready for use in any fantasy setting.

But I was wary, i’ve backed RPG kickstarters before and for all the love poured into them by their creators, many fall to pieces when exposed to the reality of deadlines and logistics. I’ve backed indie RPG bundles by auteur developers that i’ve had to pay for postage twice for and still not received the full pledge, i’ve backed other games where i’ve worked with artists to have scenes drawn from my games - but never seen more than the finished pdf, there have been RPGs i’ve backed by veterans of the industry that due to bad luck have fallen through and ruined their creator’s lives. Kickstarter is harsh, the products that make it through do so on the strength of their creator’s planning and preparation.

The only way to find out whether the creators of the Non-Player Cards kickstarter had the wherewithal to see the project to completion was to look for transparency. So I sent Andreas Walters the project lead of Non-Player Cards a message and asked a few questions.

I wanted to know what sort of team he commanded, the sort of professional skills he was bringing to the table and what plans he had for logistics if the project saw fruition.

Andreas was kind enough to answer my questions; as it turns out he works by day in local government for the San Francisco Transportation Agency, specifically on accounts and planning. A job he explains that is one part cat herding to several parts logistics and systems maintenance.

But he stresses, that he is also a gamer, specifically a GM who loves D&D and still reminisces about 3.5. He explained that he prefers to run intricate games, heavy on plot and character with unexpected twists added liberally for good measure. The idea for a card based system to create quick NPCs came to friend and him whilst they were plotting out a new set of tables, and after much discussion and planning they decided that the idea was worth pitching to the public - Non-Player Cards.

He hopes that the project will, if it gets it’s funding, see the light of day and be available to order online, as well as be available to retailers down the track. But the funding goal is to establish the groundwork, create the product and manufacture it small scale before expanding it.

When the group did the budget for the kickstarter they investigated closely the process of printing and shipping as well as the associated costs. A professional skill, Andreas informs me, is key to his real life job.

This is frankly the sort of thing I want to hear from a kickstarter creator, it’s not enough that they have a love of their project, but that they have the business skills to plan ahead. It also doesn’t hurt to be willing to engage in discussion with members of the public who are on the fence about backing the project.

While only time will tell how the Non-Player Cards project turns out, they have my money and support. If you think the project is worth investigating I suggest looking it up here

Sunday, July 20, 2014

From the Vault: From our cold dead hands


Presented here is an alternate rules system for firearms that address some of the more common gripes with the Gunslinger class. The leadership here at Flying Pincushion Games acknowledge that there is some controversy with the rules particularly the “touch AC” rule. Some of us are of the opinion that it ain’t broken, so we did not include it in Into the Breach Gunslinger.

That said, the rules here are carefully balanced and well executed. Our editor Taylor Hubler did a fine job and we believe these rules deserve consideration, particularly if your GM doesn’t allow the normal rules and as a player you would like to stick to your guns.

To put it bluntly from this editor magic still wins...

-Frank Gori, Creative Director of Flying Pincushion Games

Alternative Firearm Rules

By: Taylor Hubler

Not everyone believes the firearm rules in Pathfinder are balanced, and there is some evidence that this is true. For example, touch attack armor class doesn’t scale in level while the base attack bonus does, and there are some issues with action economy. As a result there are some people looking for alternative rules, which we are providing here.

The following places firearms at about the same level as other ranged weapons. The bow is still the king of the full attack, but firearms should out perform them as single shot weapons. This is going to be especially true once the dead shot deed is available. There are wide variety of suggested changes to the rules, but they don’t need to be taken as a whole. GMs should feel free to pick and choose which alternative rules to use with their game.

Firearm Rules

Firearms work differently from other ranged projectile weapons—they instead use the following rules.

Firearm Proficiency: Those not proficient with firearms only have a -2 penalty to attack with firearms but take twice as long to reload them. If they reload a firearm, the misfire value increases by 4.

Capacity: This works as laid out in the original rules with one exception. If an early firearm has multiple barrels it takes an attack action to fire each one individually. Advanced firearms that have multiple barrels that can be fired together will say so in their individual weapon descriptions.

Range and Penetration: Defenses, whether manufactured or natural, provides less of a protection against the force of a bullet at short range.

Early Firearms: Those proficient with early firearms treat range increments differently from normal. The first range increment for a one handed firearm gains a +2 to attack, while a two-handed gains a +4, with a cumulative –2 penalty for each full-range increment after that. Thus the second increment for a one handed would have no bonus to attack, the third a -2 penalty, and so on. Early firearms have a maximum range of 5 increments.

Advanced Firearms: Those proficient with advanced firearms treat range increments differently from normal. In the first range increment a one handed firearm gains a +4 to attack, while a two-handed firearm gains a +6, with a cumulative –2 penalty for each full-range increment after that. Thus the second for a one handed would have a +2 bonus to attack, the third no bonus, and so on. Advanced firearms have a maximum range of 10 increments.

Loading a Firearm: The basics here are the same as the rules already established.

Early Firearms: Early firearms are muzzle-loaded, requiring bullets or pellets and black powder to be rammed down the muzzle. If an early firearm has multiple barrels, each barrel must be loaded separately. It is a standard action to load each barrel of a one-handed early firearm and a full-round action to load each barrel of a two-handed early firearm. It takes three full-round actions by one person to load a siege firearm. This can be reduced to two full-round actions if more than one person is loading the cannon.

Fire while Prone: This is the same as established in the rules with the exception that you gain a +2 circumstance bonus to ranged attacks with a firearm. (Crossbows should probably also gain this bonus.)

Criticals: Change firearm critical ranges/multipliers to 19-20/x3.

Alchemical Cartridges: The the change in reload time would have the move action changed to a
swift action.

Double Barreled Pistols and Muskets: For these early firearms, it takes an attack action to fire each barrel. The barrels cannot be fired together in the same shot.

Dead Shot Deed(I suggest making this into a feat that works in the following way.)
With steady aim and a keen eye you are able to make every shot count.
Prerequisite: grit class feature or the Amateur Gunslinger feat, Point Blank Shot, base attack bonus +7.
Benefit: At 7th level, as a standard action, you can take careful aim and pool all of your attacks potential into a single, deadly shot. When you do this, you shoot the firearm at a single target, but make as many attack rolls as you can, based on your base attack bonus plus any extra attacks you gain from feats, spells, or abilities. You make the attack rolls in order from highest bonus to lowest, as if you were making a full attack. If any of the attack rolls hit the target, your single attack is considered to have hit. For each additional successful attack roll beyond the first, you increase the damage of the shot by the base damage dice of the firearm. For instance, if a 7th-level gunslinger firing a musket hits with both attacks, she does 2d12 points of damage with the shot, instead of 1d12 points of damage, before adding any damage modifiers. Precision damage and extra damage from weapon special abilities (such as flaming) are added with damage modifiers and are not increased by this deed. If one or more rolls are critical threats, you confirm the critical once using your highest base attack bonus –5. For each critical threat beyond the first, you reduce this penalty by 1 (to a maximum of 0). You only misfire on a dead shot if all the attack rolls are misfires. You cannot perform this deed with a blunderbuss or other scatter weapon when attacking creatures in a cone. You must spend 1 grit point to perform this deed.

Improved Dead Shot Deed
With greater concentration you are able to really make your shots count, hitting your target exactly where you need to.
Prerequisite: Dead Shot Deed feat, base attack bonus +12
Benefit: When you use the dead shot deed you can spend more grit to multiply the damage modifier by the number of successful hits with this deed. The cost to use Dead Shot increases to 2 when it is used in this way.

Greater Dead Shot Deed
You are a master of the single shot, using impressive aim to hit the most damaging locations of your target.
Prerequisite: Improved Dead Shot Deed feat, base attack bonus +17
Benefit: When you use the dead shot deed you can increase the grit cost to multiply precision damage and extra damage from weapon qualities by the number of successful attacks. The grit costs to use Dead Shot increases to 4 when it is used this way.

Far Reaching Sight
Instead of having the attacks resolve against touch attacks AC, if you use a full-round action to attack with the dead shot deed you gain a +2 bonus to each attack and a +4 bonus to damage for each success.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Questions about Class: The Gunslinger

Image by Frederic Remington

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

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

JL: Happy to help, as always.

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

JL: I’m the balance and mechanics editor, I write when ideas strike me, and I was the lead developer for our gunslinger book. I’m also a husband, father, and have some shiney degrees but that’s boring.

KH: It’s time to get to the tough stuff. The Gunslinger. I’m not sure there’s a more heated debate than guns and fantasy...except maybe the Eastern vs. Western thing. What is this class and what is your stance on guns in the fantasy world?

JL: The gunslinger is the consummate firearms professional with a big splash of spaghetti western tossed in, anachronistic though it may be. I’m not at all hacked off about guns in my fantasy like some people are. Looking at it from a societal point of view, it had to happen. Certainly in a society with magic scientific research is going to be stifled somewhat but it won’t be eliminated. There are bound to be those who don’t have access to magic because of geography (mana wastes and other magical dead zones) or because of a lack of aptitude but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be stupid or lack initiative or skill. Guns are bound to be created even in a fantasy world for the same reasons there were created in our world.

KH: Why does it require a new class to make this work? Would it have been better to make stats for guns and an archetype of the fighter (complete with grit feature) rather than a whole new class?

JL: That’s like saying why have a ranger when you can make a fighter archetype with a pet dog. But it is interesting because gunslinger was almost an alternate class of fighter. For those that weren’t around during playtesting, that’s how it was first presented. There’s a certain point when you’ve replaced so many abilities with an archetype that it’s a new class and a certain point where you’ve replaced so much that you can’t even call it an alternate class anymore. I think this is one of those instances.

KH: What exactly is the grit pool?

JL: The grit pool is a recharging bunch of points that let you do some of the swankiest things in the class. The fact that they recharge when you kill an enemy or score a critical hit means that you don’t have to hoard them all day but you don’t usually have so many that you can nova every fight either. Pool mechanics are a good limiter of powerful abilities and the number of points you get or how they do or do not come back helps to balance particularly powerful abilities.

KH: Deeds are interesting, and I can see what they are. As basically extraordinary abilities...aren’t these a little limiting in the types of Gunslinger characters there can be?

JL: I don’t disagree with that. Mostly we followed Paizo’s lead here and stuck with extraordinary abilities, especially in deeds but just because you’re shooting a gun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have supernatural or spell-like abilities. The black powder knight has lay on hands and divine bond like a paladin. The wyrd hunter gets some supernatural deeds and two of our three prestige classes are designed to blend spell casting and guns.

KH: I’ll ask the dreaded question, what are your thoughts about targeting touch AC? Would you change it?

JL: It’s not an easy call. Guns are different from bows in fairly fundamental ways and deserve to have their own mechanic. I’m not 100% certain that this mechanic is the best one but I also couldn’t point to another that makes me happy.

KH: I know a lot of folks point to armors as being an important thing in stopping bullets…

JL: I did a substantial amount of research on the force and penetrative power of early guns back when we started this book. Period armor generally maxed out around 2mm thick and half that in some areas of the plate. It couldn’t be thicker without increasing the weight beyond what was comfortable (or at least as comfortable as plate ever got). Wheellock, flintlock, and matchlock weapons all were capable of penetrating 2mm or more of steel from as far away as 30 meters or nearly 100 feet. Some were even capable of piercing 2mm of steel from 100 meters away. Early bulletproof armor from the mid-1600 had to be made from two or more layers of steel.

KH: Would you have added more types of firearms, instead of just having simple and advanced? Aren’t there some in-between steps?

JL: Why didn’t you pitch that idea before we went to print? There are definitely tables out there that accept guns but only the early ones. The number of early guns and the lack of diversity of tech level doesn’t allow for a lot of advancement.

KH: The class in and of itself seems pretty simple. Not very many class abilities aside from deeds, but they are a full BAB progression. Does full BAB make sense for this class?

JL: It garners you more iterative attacks and when you strike against touch AC, even a small bonus gets you dividends. But it’s not a requirement by any stretch. Our alternate class the gungineer has 3/4 BAB and classes like bard and inquisitor can rock a gun pretty nicely, too.

KH: Back to the guns themselves. The Gunslinger starts with a battered gun...but why? What is that supposed to represent?

JL: Balance. It’s so that you don’t start with something you can sell for a bundle of loot. Sort of silly way to go about it but I guess all level 1 characters should be a bit battered at that point.

KH: You have some metallurgic experience in real life, right? How does the class and treatment of guns in Pathfinder sit with you overall?

JL: Not a bit of experience but you don’t get a masters degree without picking up some tricks on good researching. Guns in Pathfinder are not meant to make a simulationist happy. Early firearms were complicated and finicky and frequently quite inaccurate. But that’s not terribly fun. Who wants to hire a guy to stand next to you with a parasol in case it rains? Who wants to spend 50% of their turns missing completely?

If I was going to make any changes I’d probably assess a penalty on shots after the first one to represent recoil and make bullets and gunpowder cheaper.

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

JL: We don’t ban the class at our table but I know it gets banned by other folks. Some people are allergic to peanuts. You can’t blame them for not wanting peanut butter in their chocolate.

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

JL: Use one the of archetypes or prestige classes in our book! Seriously, though, I’d say not to trust too much in your d10 hit die and make some point buy available for Constitution. The effective range of your gun is also within the effective range of a severe beating so make sure you can weather it. Spend a fortune on Dexterity since it goes to your attacks and damage, not to mention AC and skills. You can get by with just a 14 in Wisdom in a 20 point buy or even a 12 if you’re being raked over the coals in a 15 point buy. But do be sure to snag a headband when you can. Grit has lots of useful functions and it’s fun to shoot the sword out of someone’s hand with the targeting deed or blast your way through a locked door with Utility Shot.

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

JL: My pleasure, Kiel.

You can find our Gunslinger book for sale at Paizo, and it should be up soon on d20 and DrivethruRPG.