It has been a good number of months since we have discussed the latest Star Battles Space Battle Maps. So we thought we would share a whole bunch in one post. Check out these beautiful images you can have as the backdrop for your Spelljammer, Starfinder, Traveller, or any other space-themed role-playing game. Click on the image below to see a larger version of them.
These are just a few of all the Star Battles maps we have. Don’t see one perfect for your game? Check them all out at DriveThruRPG.
With the Book of Beasts: Arcanist Codex off to the editors, we should start talking about it. There’s still work needed to be done before it is ready for release, so we’re not going to talk about it too much yet. But it is time to start.
We decided to make a few additions in the arcanist stat blocks for this book from those found in the other Paizo books. The first you’ll notice in this one is the inclusion of touch and ray attacks in the weapon entries. Wizards, sorcerers, and arcanists have enough melee and ranger touch spells that I believe such entries are warranted for such spellcaster stat blocks. Unfortunately, I didn’t create the book where wizards and sorcerers are found, so I can only do so for the arcanists.
The second is the inclusion of the DC in the arcanist exploits listing even when no exploit we gave the NPC required a DC. We figured that if you decided to swap out one or more of the exploits we choose with an exploit that used a DC, we’d save you the math and calculate it for you. This way, you can get more use out of the NPC.
XP 200 Half-elf arcanist 1 LN Medium humanoid (elf, human) Init +1; Senses low-light vision; Perception +2
AC 15, touch 11, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +1 Dex) hp 7 (1d6+1) Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +2; +2 vs. enchantments Immune sleep
Speed 30 ft. Melee dagger –1 (1d4–1/19–20) or touch –1 touch (as per spell) Ranged acid jet +1 touch (1d6+2 acid) or ray +1 touch (as per spell) Special Attacks arcane reservoir (3/4), arcanist exploit (DC 12; acid jet), consume spells Arcanist Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +4) 1st (3/day)—adhesive spittleACG (DC 14), color spray (DC 14), mage armor 0 (at will)—detect magic, light, ray of frost, touch of fatigue (DC 13)
Before Combat The arcanist casts mage armor before entering a dangerous area. During Combat The arcanist relies on ray of frost and touch of fatigue, saving adhesive spittle and color spray for tough-looking enemies. Base Statistics Without mage armor, the arcanist has the following statistics: AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10 (+1 Dex)
Str 8, Dex 12, Con 13, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 15 Base Atk +0; CMB –1; CMD 10 Feats Expanded Preparation ACG, Skill Focus (Knowledge [arcana]) Skills Craft (weapons) +9, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +7, Linguistics +7, Spellcraft +7, Use Magic Device +6; Racial Modifiers +2 Perception Languages Aklo, Common, Draconic, Elven, Gnome, Sylvan SQ arcane training APG, elf blood Combat Gearpotion of cure light wounds, potion of sanctuary, wand of magic missile (6 charges); Other Gear dagger, ink, inkpen, masterwork weaponsmithing tools, parchment (5), spellbook which includes all 0-level spells and all prepared spells plus 1st—burning hands, 3 gp, 9 sp.
I was recently reading the CBR article titled 10 Harsh Realities of Rewatching the Lord of the Rings. If you haven’t read it, it is a solid read and very appropriate for today, when so many excellent shows and movies are getting negative reviews because they happen to be slightly different from works created years ago or cast members are of a different skin tone or the work features *gasp* a woman. Annalyssa Fincher rightly points out several harsh truths about this beloved trilogy. However, I do have some things I’d like to say where we differ. I am definitely not saying she’s wrong at all, but that my opinion differs from the author of the article.
1) It Was Right to Show the Ents as Taking as Needing to be Shown Why They Need to Go to War
In a world where a power-obsessed man sends an army to overthrow the government, there are many more who will sit in the side lines and not get involved because it does not concern them. Those on the sidelines need to understand that said power-obsessed person will never have any issue crushing those in the sidelines if it gets the power-obsessed person what they want. They will act as fast as trees run. They will watch and talk and never understood how the actions of the power-obsessed person will affect them. Those on the sidelines need to be shown how such a power-obsessed person will hurt them.
And before anyone says anything, I am commenting on an article about a movie only and not making any comparisons to the current political situation. None whatsoever. “The closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm.”
2) Frodo was Never the Hero. Sam Was.
Frodo was brave and constant. He carried the burden that are at his soul and was slowly wasting his body. However, those qualities does not necessarily make one a hero. Sam was the true hero of the story. Sam always had Frodo’s best interests at heart. Frodo sent him away, but Sam came back because he knew that Frodo would need him. When he thought Frodo was dead, he carried the Ring. When he discovered that he had erred in his assessment of Frodo being dead, Sam went after him. And then there’s the unforgettable line, “I may not be able to carry the Ring, but I can carry you.” Sam is the true hero of the story.
Frodo is the person slowly dying of cancer. Sam is the spouse that stays by their side until death.
3) There Should Have Been More Women and a Variety of Skin tones
This last one needs to be said by as many white guys as possible. Well, here’s one. The Lord of the Rings has an excessive number of men with a skin tones from European descent in the trilogy. There is absolutely no reason why it could not have had a larger diversity of actors. Heck, the trilogy used local talent from New Zealand and there are actors of indigenous descent there as well as Pacific Islanders who call the island nation their home. Women playing male elves may even work better than men playing those roles.
As much as I love Sean Bean and David Wenham in their respective roles, imagine Boromir and Faramir being played by Samuel L. Jackson and Lawrence Fishburne. “Give me the Ring, motherf***er,” “Frodo is the One.”S
Seriously though, the trilogy needed more diversity and I am glad the new series is correcting.
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Earlier this week, we shared the PF 1e version of the fallen angel. As we embrace 2e more, we converted this fan favorite monster to the new edition. We hope you enjoy it. Share this post on your Twitter and Facebook pages and tell your gaming friends to check it out.
Fallen Angel Creature 19
Rare NE Medium Fiend Perception +33; darkvision Languages Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; tongues Skills Acrobatics +31, Deception +33, Intimidation +37, Religion +31 Str +10, Dex +5, Con +6, Int +5, Wis +5, Cha +7 Items +2 strikingwounding scimitar
AC 43; Fort +35, Ref +32, Will +29; +1 status to all saves vs. magic HP 398; Weaknesses good 20 Doubter’s Aura (aura, divine, enchantment) Any creature within a 30-foot radius of a fallen angel must succeed at a DC 38 Will save or take a –2 status penalty to its Armor Class as well as on attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks for the next hour. For that duration, creatures that failed the saving throw must attempt an additional Will save each time they attempt to cast a spell or use an ability that deals good damage. Creatures that succeed against the initial saving throw are immune to this ability for 24 hours.
Speed 40 feet, fly 75 feet Melee 1 unholy scimitar +36 (evil, forceful, magical, sweep), Damage 2d6+28 slashing plus 1d6 evil and 1d6 persistent bleed damage Divine Innate Spells DC 41, attack +33; 8thdispel magic, harm, plane shift (self only), spiritual epidemic, vampiric touch; 4th dimensional anchor (at will); 2ndinvisibility (at will, self only); 1stdetect alignment (at will, good only) Doubting Strike 1 Requirement The fallen angel hit a foe earlier this turn with a weapon Strike. Effect The fallen angel makes a weapon Strike against the foe. On a success, the foe must succeed at a DC 38 Fortitude save or becomes stupefied 2. On a critical failure, the foe is stupefied 3 instead. Unholy Armaments (divine, evocation) Any weapon gains the effect of an unholy property rune while a fallen angel wields it.
Recently, I was in Fantasy Grounds Fridays. Among the things I was asked about was AI artwork. Naturally I thought of a better answer then minutes after it ended. I still stand by my answer that there might be a backlash by a major publisher that goes all in early on. But there’s more to the story than that.
Long term, I feel that AI art might be an alternative for stock art. The role of stock art is to be artwork is that it is quality art that at an affordable price that is used by many publishers. AI art doesn’t need to be used by many publishers since it is generated by a computer. So these two roles are compatible. Considering that you get much more influence in the appearance of an AI image than a stock image, the art will fit what you’re trying to create more, rather than fitting your work with your stock art.
My first attempts at AI art produced some excellent images. However, they’re not what I would consider usable. Specifically, they lack faces. Perhaps it is my skill with the platform instead of the platform itself. Having said that, the interface does not feel friendly, but that will improve with time.
Having said all that, I don’t believe it will replace commissioned artwork for one simple reason: ownership. A number of characters I use in my artwork, I own. So if I want an image with my characters, I am going to commission it. It helps to keep a consistent look across my products and I can get the exact image I want, instead of merely having influence like with AI art.
One of my favorite monster creations is the fallen angel. Angels do not see enough play in D&D-based games since most games involve players killing evil creatures. Being good servants of good deities, angels don’t get killed much. A fallen one is always going to be a tragic story. Do they kill one who has done so much good in the past? Do they try to redeem them, setting them back on the path of goodness? What price will they have to pay for the evil acts they committed? It brings up a whole host of questions that must be answered. We hope that this creature finds its way into your games.
XP 204,800 NE Large outsider (evil, extraplanar) Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +42 Aura aura of lost devotion (60 ft., DC 26)
AC 32, touch 13, flat-footed 28 (+9 armor, +4 Dex, +10 natural, –1 size) hp 322 (28d10+168) Fort +22, Ref +20, Will +16 Defensive Abilities angelskin; DR 15/good and silver; Immune acid; Resist cold 10, electricity 10, fire 10; SR 30
Speed 40 ft., fly 80 ft (clumsy) Melee+3 flaming burst keen falchion +34/+29/+24/+19 (2d6+9 plus 1d6 fire/15–20 plus 1d10 fire) Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. Special Attacks confusing touch (DC 30) Spell-Like Abilities (CL 22nd, concentration +24) At will—aid, cause fear (DC 13), dispel magic, invisibility (self only), plane shift (DC 19), remove disease 1/day—death knell (DC 14), symbol of pain (DC 17), unholy aura (DC 20)
Str 18, Dex 18, Con 22, Int 17, Wis 24, Cha 14 Base Atk +28; CMB +33 (+35 disarm, sunder); CMD 47 (49 vs disarm, sunder) Feats Alertness, Blinding Critical, Cleave, Combat Expertise (-8/+8), Combat Reflexes, Critical Focus, Flyby Attack, Great Cleave, Improved Disarm, Improved Initiative, Improved Sunder, Power Attack (-8/+16), Skill Focus (Intimidate), Stand Still Skills Acrobatics +35 (+39 jumping), Craft (any one) +34, Fly +25, Intimidate +39, Knowledge (planes, religion) +34, Perception +42, Sense Motive +42, Stealth +31 Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Common, Dwarven, Elven, Infernal SQ suspicious
Environment any Organization solitary Treasure standard (+5 hide armor, +3 flaming burst keen falchion, other treasure)
Angelskin (Su) The skin of a fallen angel has yet to fully absorb the taint of evil. Whenever a fallen angel is the target of a spell or supernatural ability, such as smite evil, that deals additional damage to or has additional effects against evil creatures, there is a 20% chance that the fallen angel is affected as if it were a neutral creature.
Aura of Lost Devotion (Su) Any creature approaching a fallen angel finds its conviction shaken. Any creature that comes within a 60-foot radius of a fallen angel must succeed at a DC 26 Will save or suffer a –4 penalty to its Armor Class as well as on all attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks for the next 2 hours. In addition, creatures that failed the saving throw cannot use extraordinary, spell-like, or supernatural abilities that require dedication to a cause or a deity (such as divine spells, a paladin’s smite evil, or a cavalier’s challenge) for these 2 hours without an additional Will save. This save DC is Charisma-based.
Confusing Touch (Su) As a standard action, a fallen angel can make a melee touch attack against a creature, damaging its ability to recognize their friends and foes. Upon a successful touch attack, the creature must succeed on a DC 30 Will save or become confused (as the confusion spell). This effect lasts for 6 rounds, and the affected creature is permitted a new saving throw each round. The save DC is Charisma-based and includes a +4 racial bonus.
Suspicious (Ex) The DC of a Diplomacy check to change a fallen angel’s attitude is increased by +10. All failed Diplomacy checks decrease the fallen angel’s attitude by two steps.
As one who has seen many edition changes and been a veteran of a few edition wars, I have seen much, argued with many, and witnessed the result of all that effort. So in an effort to have a much smoother transition this time around, I have three things that everyone should keep in mind going forward.
1) Those That Disagree With You Are Not Your Enemy
I cannot stress this one enough. Anyone that disagrees with you is not your enemy. Treat them like you would another gamer at your table. Be nice to them. Show them the same respect that you would like to be treated with. Their opinions are formed from a culmination of their experiences, just like yours are. If someone wants something different out of D&D than you do, that’s ok. They are entitled to their opinion. Maybe the final result will be something closer to what you want; maybe it will be closer to what they want. Heck, maybe the designers will go with something totally different. We don’t know. But treating someone as the enemy can have rather hurtful consequences on real people. All concerning a pretend world. Keep that in mind when discussing the playtest on the internet.
This goes double for the way you treat employees of game companies, such as Wizards of the Coast. These are people that make an awesome game. The last thing any of us should want to do is to stifle their creativity by treating them poorly. In a world where doxxing, Gamergate, and far worse are realities, this needs to be said and kept in mind by everyone. Treat everyone like you treat your fellow gamers at your table.
2) The Playtest Version Will Be Different Than the Final Version
The playtest version is going to introduce some new and exciting concepts to the game. Some of these will absolutely work as is or need slightly tweaked before they are added to the game. Others will be great ideas that just don’t have the right feel. This is a normal and natural part of the playtest process. Express your opinions in the various surveys and online forums without hurtful language or treating anyone poorly. Again, others are not your enemy. If enough people agree with your point of view, changes will be made. The playtest version you have in front of you may be changed in a month. So keep a longer-term viewpoint in mind.
3) You Probably Won’t Like Every Change
The final version will be a mix of excellent and frustrating. Unfortunately, no two people will agree on what is excellent and what is frustrating. Myself, I feel that 5e spellcasters have too few spells. Others will argue they have an excessive number of spells. Some want more choices in their subclasses. Others want subclasses eliminated. However, I am confident that the final result will be fun for many, many people. If you find that you are not one of those people that enjoy the new edition, you still have all your 5e books, and you can keep playing that edition.
I really can’t help myself from making monsters, especially when it comes to the amazing art of Gary Dupuis. Take today’s monster, for example. Putting yourself in the shoes of the person in the foreground, you can’t help but feel tiny in comparison. We hope that this monster works in your game.
Rare CN Gargantuan Elemental Cold Water Perception +19; darkvision, water sense Languages Aquan Skills Acrobatics +25, Athletics +22 (Swim +28); Stealth +20 Str +7, Dex +8, Con +5, Int –1, Wis +4, Cha –2 Water Sense The panlong has imprecise tremorsense to detect the vibrations of creatures touching the same body of water within 120 feet.
AC 32; Fort +22, Ref +27, Will +16 HP 218, regeneration 30 (fire or not touching water); Immunities bleed, cold, paralyzed, poison, sleep Water Redirect R Trigger A ranged attack on the panlong is hit by an attack, the panlong can see the attacker, and a +2 circumstance bonus to AC would turn the critical hit into a hit or a hit into a miss. Effect The watery body of the panlong flows out of the way, granting a +2 circumstance bonus to its Armor Class against the triggering attack. This turns the triggering critical hit into a hit, or the triggering hit into a miss.
Speed 10 feet, swim 50 feet; gliding swim Melee 1 water claws +24 (agile, cold, magical reach 10 feet), Damage 2d8+7 bludgeoning plus 1d8+5 cold Crushing Wave 3 (cold, primal); The panlong crashes down on all targets in an adjacent 20-foot-by-20-foot area, dealing 5d8 cold damage (DC 29 basic Fortitude save). Creatures that fail the saving throw are also knocked prone and slowed 2. Gliding Swim When swimming underwater, the panlong ignores difficult terrain and gain a +2 circumstance bonus to avoid attacks of opportunity. Hydroblast 2 (cold, primal); The panlong sprays a blast of freezing cold water that deals 13d6 cold damage in a 50-foot cone (DC 29 basic Fortitude save). Creatures that fail the saving throw are also slowed 1 until the start of their next turn. It can’t use hydroblast again for 1d4 rounds.
When someone says a gaming product is compatible with another, my default assumption is that you can use that product with something else without a hiccup. This is the flavor of compatibility another publisher strives for when making products for another’s game, such as my own company. This kind of compatibility is best for a single edition of a game. All parts are designed to work together with a minimum of issues. If customers experience issues with a “compatible product” they start to associate the company that produced the product with negative feelings, which never helps sales. A seamless product is what I call 100% compatibility.
All of those assumptions go out the window when you are talking about a different edition from the same company. When you are talking about a new edition, your biggest competition is your own past products. Wizards has to show that the new edition is superior while being familiar. That is a very delicate tightrope to walk. Here, being slightly different—or 90% compatible, as I think of it—has real advantages for the company producing the game. By being highly recognizable, using the same basic game engine with some tweaks, means that customers are familiar with it so there is less of a sense of having to learn a whole new game. This means the hurdle of selling a different game to the same customers is easier to pass. But by saying that the more problematic areas of the game have been smoothed over demonstrates its superiority. These are the hurdles the new edition has to meet.
From this level of compatibility, you can expect to use monster books and adventures with little difficulty. Some of the skills may be changed, expanded, or consolidated, or some numbers are tweeked. Maybe a Con skill of Endurance will be added. Maybe Nature will be changed to Primal. Maybe Athletics and Acrobatics will be consolidated. Maybe the proficiency bonus will be changed from +2 through +6 to +1 through +5. Who knows. Either way, you know that you can just look at the book and still use it, even if you have to make some minor changes. As such, selling the new edition becomes a matter of convenience more than anything else. It uses all the new skills and the new numbers without an issue. This is the level of compatibility of D&D 3.0 and 3.5.
At an 80% compatibility level, you start to add new systems to the game. Maybe the game adds a way for all characters (not just those with certain class abilities) to just pick up some sand and throw it in the monster’s eyes to blind them for a round or to use a flying kick to knock someone prone. Here, you can still look at the monster stat blocks and use it, but you are going to be missing some key details. The differences will be noticible. Also, this is where customers start to have a valid argument that the new edition is not as compatible as they were promised while still being very familiar. This is the level of compatibility of D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder 1e.
Anything below 80% compatibility is what I call “flavor compatible.” Here, you can use the plot of the adventure or the description of the location but not much else. This is the level of compatibility between D&D 1e and 3e and 4e; from a system point of view, they are not compatible at all. However, you can still use the same adventures, as long as you have the current monster book and take the time to change over the traps and anything other bit of system used.
Where do I expect Wizards to go with 6e? Well, I believe Wizards learned their mistake with 4e to not remake a popular system from the ground up, and the first playtest document is largely similar to the current edition. So I would expect to see something between 80-90% compatibility during the playtest and something very close to 90% compatible as a final version. It is far easier to decide some change went too far and pull it back than it is to determine that you did not go far enough.
So do not worry about the change in edition. I expect it will be a good process with a solid final version when it is done.