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What Your Undead Army Says About You
My Pathfinder 2e group is playing Kingmaker right now and have decided that their first decree is that all funerals end in cremation. This way they don’t have any problems with the undead. Ignoring the prospect of ghosts, banshees and others incorporeals, it got me thinking about about what an undead army says about a necromancer. So here are my thoughts.
Ya BASIC! All you’ve got is what any other necromancer can do. There’s nothing special about you. Not only that, you don’t mind the smell of rotting flesh. You probably don’t shower much and hang out with zombies because they’re the only one that will hang out with you. Zombies don’t argue back and you can’t handle independent thought being anywhere near you. You’re just an internet troll with more drive.
Congratulations. You have a sense of smell. You can’t stand that icky rotting flesh. So you’re as basic as the zombie-wrangler but with a weak stomach and maybe a healthy respect for germs. You like your minions inconsequential and disposable. What you can’t accomplish with intelligence, you do with numbers. You want your enemies to pay but you don’t have the magic to do it yourself so you have your skeletons do it for you. You are just a loser.
Skeletal Champion/Zombie Lord
Welcome to your first step beyond the basic. You still lack imagination about what you can do with your necromantic powers but at least now you have something around you to tell you that you are making a stupid mistake by attacking the town when adventurers are nearby. Whether you are smart enough to listen to such advice is still up for debate.
You think of yourself as a conductor of the symphony of screams coming from your horde. You delude yourself into thinking that your ghoul army likes you and wouldn’t eat you given their first chance. You see yourself as more cunning and vastly more powerful than those zombie and skeletal army wimps. Sadly, you are wrong about all of that.
You would be the loneliest person at the S&M party, if had ever gotten invited to one. The one that got away from you, you’ve preserved to be with you, whether they consented to this or not. You have a real problem with no meaning no and will do with others as you see fit. You also have an unhealthy fascination with pyramids and people named Ramesses.
PF2e: Wand of Enduring Heroism
One of the things I noticed about speciality wands in PF2e is that they are very evocation focused. This makes sense because they’re easy. Fireball, just add persistent fire damage. Magic missile gets extra missiles. But what about other schools of magic, they deserve wands with cool additional effects.
As such, I wrote a few. Today, we’re sharing one such wand. Here we’re got the wand of enduring heroism. We hope you enjoy it.
Be sure to check out our Pathfinder 2e products at DriveThruRPG, the Open Gaming Store and Paizo.com
Wand of Enduring Heroism Item 8+
Enchantment Mental Magical Wand
Usage held in 1 hand; Bulk L
This ash wand is scribed with runes and a simple drawing of a humanoid.
Activate Cast a Spell; Frequency once per day, plus overcharge; Effect You cast heroism of the indicated level. Additionally, the target gains the indicated number of temporary hit points. These temporary hit points refresh each round at the start of the target’s turn.
Type 3rd-level spell; Level 8; Price 520 gp; Hit Points 3
Type 6th-level spell; Level 14; Price 4,200 gp; Hit Points 6
Type 9th-level spell; Level 20; Price 63,000 gp; Hit Points 9
Craft Requirements Supply a casting of heroism of the appropriate level.
5e Creative Commons: It’s a Trap!
I’ve heard enough people say something to the effect of, “If you’re so concerned about the OGL, just use Creative Commons.” My answer has steadfastly been, “No, I’m not going to publish with it.” I’m frequently met with confusion by that. So I’m going to explain some.
Why The OGL Was Good
First some background. The OGL was good because you can say certain things are open and certain things are closed. This means that when I create a product, I determined what can be used by other companies and what can’t. Many publishers uses this to great effect, declaring proper names closed but the game mechanics open. This means if I create the spell Quelf’s Acid Bolt, I wouldn’t have to create an entire separate document to let other companies use the spell Acid Bolt. But another company would have to shift through ever single part of the spell to determine what can and cannot be used. This is more time intensive (read: hard work) for the one that wants to use the spell in their product, but the spell is still available to those that want to use it.
TLDR: The OGL is good for products that you want to share only parts of your product, but not all.
What Creative Commons Does Well
Creative Commons (CC) is excellent for sharing stuff on the internet. Podcasts you want to post to your site, music you want to share, images, blog posts, etc. The most restrictive Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives), still let’s you post it to your website for all to download with no fear of consequences. Without CC, this is called piracy.
How a Publisher Would Use CC
The point of using the OGL for a publisher is two fold: the ability to use material created by other publishers and to let other publishers use your material. Replicating that in CC is one of two ways: declaring your product as Attribution only (maybe Share Alike) or creating separate product that is Attribution only (or Share Alike again). (Full disclosure: if it is Share Alike, you have to make your product Share Alike as well.) Otherwise, there is no way for other companies to use content I create. The first means I cannot protect any part of my work from other companies. To reference the above example: everyone can use Quelf. The latter means every product has to have an SRD. That’s extra work for small publieshers. Both scenarios are bad.
How is This a Trap?
Here’s the thing I’m not seeing anyone talking about. Imagine you’re Wizards of the Coast a second. A bunch of publishers start using CC to create 5e products. So you gather up a whole bunch that are Attribution only/Attribution, Share Alike and republish them in a print book, no pdf for sale. How much did it cost them to create that book? Nothing for the writing.
Pause there a moment. Doesn’t using other people’s work without paying them sound familiar to anyone? Like OGL 1.1. Because that is exactly what it is.
Back to the scenario again. How much is Wizards going to make compared to how much it costs them to make? Quite a bit. It might even be one of their most profitable books compared to cost. It is one thing when a small publisher does it because their sales are not going to hurt the larger entity. When a large publisher does it, they devour sales from smaller companies.
Let me expand on that some. That adventure you worked so hard on that you released as CC-AT-NC-ND (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives) can be shared far and wide without you making more than a few sales on it. That campaign setting you put two decades worth of work into that you published via CC-AT (Creative Commons Attribution) that you wanted others to add on to, anyone can just republish their own modified version without paying you a cent, including Wizards. Even if it is Share Alike, that just means that Wizards has to release your work under Share Alike. But do they care; they didn’t take the time to create it in the first place.
So again, Wizards management wants to get people to create books for them for free while stomping small publishers. This is Plan OGL 1.1 and this is still the plan today. The D&D SRD in Creative Commons is a Trap.
PF2e: Baby Owlbear
Owlbear are freaking dangerous to normal folk. Baby owlbears are adorable AF. If YouTube existed in a fantasy world, you know there would be people that are torn apart by adult owlbears while trying to get videos of their babies. With that in mind, we present to you a baby owlbear for your game. Enjoy.
Baby Owlbear Creature 1
N Small Animal
Perception +9; low-light vision, scent (imprecise) 30 feet
Skills Acrobatics +3, Athletics +10, Intimidation +6
Str +4, Dex +0, Con +4, Int –4, Wis +2, Cha +1
AC 16; Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +7
Speed 25 feet
Melee [one-action] talon +9 (agile), Damage 1d6+2 piercing plus Grab
Melee [one-action] beak +9, Damage 1d8+2 piercing
Adorable Screech [one-action] (auditory, emotion, fear, mental) The baby owlbear makes the cutest little screech that disarms its prey. Each creature in a 30-foot emanation must attempt a DC 16 Will save. Regardless of the result, creatures are temporarily immune for 1 minute.
Critical Success The creature is unaffected.
Success The creature is stupified 1.
Failure The creature is stupified 2.
Critical Failure The creature is flat-footed for 1 round and stupified 3.
Gnaw [one-action] Requirements The baby owlbear has a creature grabbed with its talons. Effect The baby owlbear attempts to disembowel the creature with a beak Strike. If the Strike hits, the target must attempt a DC 18 Will save.
Critical Success The target is unaffected.
Success The target is sickened 1.
Failure The target is sickened 1 and slowed 1 as long as it remains sickened.
Screeching Advance [two-actions] (auditory, emotion, fear, mental) The owlbear makes an Adorable Screech and Strides twice. All creatures within 30 feet of the owlbear at any point during this movement are subjected to the effects of Adorable Screech.
PF2e: Spells at 1st Level – Fixing the Elemental Bloodline Sorcerer, Part 2
Every sorcerer gets 3 bloodline spells at 1st level: a cantrip, a focus spell, and a 1st level spell. Let’s take a look at the sorcerer with the elemental bloodline and see how it can be improved. The cantrip does a spell attack dealing damage, the focus spell does a spell attack dealing damage, and the 1st level spell does a Reflex save, dealing damage. One of these is exactly like another, and all three are heavy on the dealing damage.
Something here needs to be brought back to the drawing board. It is good to have an attack cantrip to use over and over again. And since the 1st level spell uses a save instead an attack, it is best to keep that as well. So the best of these to completely rewrite is the focus spell. So here’s my suggestion. This goes hand in hand with the change we made last time.
Elemental Protectors Focus 1
Uncommon, Abjuration, Aura, Sorcerer
Cast (1) somatic
Area 5-foot-radius emanation centered on you
Duration sustained up to 1 minute
You emanate a shimmering aura of your element, protecting you and your allies within. You and any allies in the area gain a +1 status bonus, depending on your element. Air is to AC against ranged weapon attacks as the wings blow such missiles out of the way. Earth is to AC against melee weapon attacks as pebbles fly around, providing a defensive screen. Fire is to Reflex saves, as the flames quicken their movements. Water is to AC against magical attacks, as the water partially absorbs the magic as it passes through the area. Additionally, you and your allies gain resistance 1 to your element.
Each time you Sustain the Spell, the emanation’s radius increases by 5 feet, to a maximum of 30 feet.
Heightened (+1) The resistance increases by 1.
PF2e: Fixing the Sorcerer Elemental Bloodline, Part 1
In my Kingmaker home game, my wife is playing an elemental sorcerer and I have to say, it sucks. Like a a whole lot. So over the course of these series of blog posts, we’re going to pick it apart and make a better one.
Today, we’re going to start with something easy: Elemental Type. The core book Sorcerer bloodline does one of two types of damage: fire and bludgeoning. What a great way of saying, “Fire is cool, everyone else can suck it.” So here’s my first modification.
Choose the type of elemental that influenced your bloodline: air, earth, fire, or water. If your element is air, you wield the power of storms and strike your foes with lightning; if it’s earth, you toss huge chunks of granite, a sharp piece of obsidian, or a handful of sand; if it’s fire, you incinerate your foes with flame; and if it’s water, you command droplets of the deep seas to steal the warmth of others. For air, all marked spells deal electricity damage. For earth, all marked spells deal either bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, your choice when you cast the spell. For fire, all marked spells deal fire damage. For water, all marked spells deal cold damage. You replace any existing elemental traits with the trait of the element you chose.
My Evolved Opinion on Pathfinder 2e
When the Pathfinder 2e Playtest launched and later the Pathfinder 2e game launched, I tried PF 2e and my opinion at the time can be summarized as, “It is a good game but not the game for me. I prefer the game engine that I have been playing and working with for the past 15-ish years.” Like many of you, I’ve played many games during the pandemic but the majority of them were D&D 5e, mostly because it was easy to find players for online games. Then a little over a year ago, our group switched to Pathfinder 2e. I liked the game but I still felt more comfortable with 1e.
Then during the whole OGL fiasco, I had an unrelated conversation with one of my players. I was explaining a rule (5-foot step) when I realized that my explanation was just a guess based on 1e and I didn’t know the 2e rule. So I looked it up and realized that I was right.
[T]he designers took great pains to make sure that what you could do in the previous edition, you can do in the current and they still feel the same. If anything Pathfinder 2e is better executed.
That was when a revelation hit me: Pathfinder 1e and 2e are largely the same game. Sure the underlying math is wildly different, but the feel of the games, what you can do, the tactics of given characters remains largely unchanged. Or rather, the designers took great pains to make sure that what you could do in the previous edition, you can do in the current, and they still feel the same. If anything Pathfinder 2e is better executed. Pathfinder 2e has many more options for characters to pick from, allowing for a much easier time of trying to make the character that you want to play.
I’m going to date myself with this analogy but it is like the switch over from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X (or macOS, as it is called today). OS 9 was built on the original Mac OS engine while OS X was a Unix-based system. However, Apple programmers worked hard to make that the new version would work seamless for Mac fans instead of having them to learn a whole new system and possibly switch to a PC. For the record, I’m a PC guy, but I had quite a few Apple-enthusiast friends around that time that wouldn’t stop talking about it. You know who you are and I still love you.
Off of that bunny trail. I just want to give the designers of the game their props. They earned it. Pathfinder 2e is a worthy version of the game that I am happy to play, GM, and create content for. If you are still playing Pathfinder 1e, I recommend giving it another look.
No matter what you play, happy gaming.
My team and I have had a long, hard discussion over the weekend and in the end, we all agreed on one difficult truth: we do not trust that Wizards of the Coast will stay true to their word or won’t try to somehow undermine the OGL at some point in the future.
That in itself is not the difficult part. The difficult part is what it means for our company going forward. In short, we are officially done working on OGL projects. Our current production schedule is slow. Very slow, infact. So we cannot trust that when we begin a project that the landscape will not have changed by the time we finish. That is not a situation we can work with as a company. Wizards did the damage to the OGL; it cannot be undone, in our opinions.
So what are we working on? Short term: we are working on Pathfinder Infinite projects surrounding PF2e Kingmaker. This is where our company began, so we are returning to our roots. Long term, who knows exactly. We anticipate working under the ORC License, possibly working with Chaosium’s BRP, maybe with Green Ronin’s AGE System, or one of the others. No matter where we go, you can expect excellent work from us, bring your game our own brand of weirdness and awesomeness.
We are excited for this future and hope you will join us.
PF 1e: Necromancer’s Hammer
One of my favorite characters I ever played was Lyle, a halfling necromancer that hates undead. He excelled at taking down ability scores and using many unconventional spells to great effect. This would have been a spell he would have loved to use.
Necromancer’s hammer was originally in the Inner Sea Magic Player Companion and was named for a major necromancer in the setting. That is just one of the 26 books with all the spells within incorporated into the Book of Magic: Spell Codex 3. A total of 166 spells from various sources all in one place.
Download the Book of Magic: Spell Codex 3 at DriveThruRPG and coming soon to the Open Gaming Store, and Paizo.
School necromancy; Level arcanist/sorcerer/wizard 4, spiritualist 4, witch 4
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M (a leather glove coated in dried embalming herbs)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect sphere of undead remains composed of 3 or more destroyed undead
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw none; Spell Resistance yes
When you cast this spell, you draw the remains of nearby destroyed undead together and fuse them into a mass of flesh and bone you can then hurl at any foes within range. Three corpses within range of the spell are required for the spell to function. Necromancer’s hammer can be directed to attack one foe within range per round as a move action. It uses your caster level as its base attack bonus, modified by your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma modifier (whichever is highest). On a hit, the corpse hammer deals 1d6 points of damage per three caster levels (to a maximum of 6d6 points of damage).
Necromancer’s hammer also has secondary effects based on the nature of the three bodies you use to create it. If the majority used to create necromancer’s hammer (at least two) were skeletal, the jagged bits of bone cause the corpse hammer to deal slashing damage and increase necromancer’s hammer’s critical threat range to 19–20. On the other hand, if the majority were fleshy (at least two), the increased mass causes necromancer’s hammer to deal bludgeoning damage and increases its critical hit damage to ×3.
Undead that have been destroyed by positive energy or a similar effect that does not leave a corpse, like a disintegrate spell, cannot be used to form a necromancer’s hammer.