Thursday, June 30, 2016

Buccaneers of Freeport: Gillslitter

When Green Ronin released Cults of Freeport and Buccaneers of Freeport, I helped write the web enhancements that provided True20 and d20 stat blocks for the NPCs described in those sourcebooks. These projects involved many interesting design challenges, such as how to model a crippled ogre's magically animated prosthetic arm. I'm perfectly satisfied with my original take on Gillslitter and his "toy" (for 3rd Era and for True20), but since then, the Pathfinder edition of the Advanced Bestiary has provided a limbjack template that fits the bill perfectly. That is why I've chosen Gillslitter as the first Buccaneers NPC to convert to Pathfinder.

In the stat block below, "IP" is Insanity Points. See Freeport: The City of Adventure for rules on insanity and madness. For details on the touched by Yarash indefinite madness, see the 3rd Era web enhancement for Buccaneers of Freeport.

XP 4,800
Male limbjack ogre fighter 4 (Advanced Bestiary 193)
CE Large humanoid (giant)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +4
AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 15 (+1 Dex, +6 natural, +2 shield, -1 size)
hp 84 (8 HD; 4d8+4d10+32)
IP 2; Madness sadism, touched by Yarash
Fort +12, Ref +3, Will +3; +1 vs. fear
Defensive Abilities bravery +1, limb defense
Weaknesses metal body
Speed 40 ft.
Melee +1 slam +14/+9 (1d8+8)
or Large heavy mace +13/+8 (2d6+7)
or Large serrated knife +13/+8 (1d6+7/19-20)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft. (15 ft. with Lunge)
Str 25, Dex 12, Con 19, Int 4, Wis 8/12, Cha 9
Base Atk +7; CMB +15 (+17 grapple or sunder); CMD 26 (28 vs. grapple and sunder)
Feats Cleave, Improved Grapple, Improved Natural Armor, Improved Sunder, Iron Will, Lunge, Power Attack, Vital Strike
Skills Climb +12, Craft (cooking) +1, Perception +4, Profession (fisher) +3, Swim +12
Languages Giant
SQ armor training 1, upgradable limbs
Gear limbjack arm (+1 slam), Large heavy mace, Large serrated knife (treat as kukri)
Special Abilities
Limb Defense (Ex) Against attacks specifically targeting Gillslitter's replaced limb, he gains DR 20/adamantine; Resist acid 30, cold 30, fire 30; SR 23.
Upgradable Limbs (Ex) The replaced limb's natural attack can be made into a masterwork weapon, constructed of special materials, or enchanted as a magic weapon. Costs are the same as for a Large longsword of the creature's size. (Gillslitter's arm gives him a natural slam attack that has been enchanted as a +1 weapon.)

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Games that I want to run...someday...

With very few exceptions (such as Green Ronin's Freeport: The City of Adventure), I prefer to create my own worlds rather than use someone else's. In my 30 years as a player and GM, I've created several different fantasy worlds (mostly for D&D, but also for BESM and GURPS), but I always have many more concepts for campaigns than I have the time to develop and run. A few of those ideas stick in my head to hopefully see use someday--usually years later.

One of these long-percolating ideas is "Time of the Tarrasque," which I've already mentioned in this column a couple times (here and here). We will finally be starting play on this new Pathfinder campaign sometime later this year, after I wrap up my current Freeport campaign and take a short break from GMing in order to recharge.

Here are a few more ideas I've had for future "homebrew" campaigns, with short blurbs and other comments.

Erebus (Ghosts of Albion [Unisystem])

The heroes are hot on the trail of a vampire lord, who has abducted a Protector for use in some vile ritual. When they finally track him to his lair in Greece, they discover that he has strange allies: tall, copper-skinned men dressed in exotic ancient costumes, whose bizarre magic uses unfamiliar runes. The vampire lord falls in battle, but not before his allies finish the ritual and vanish with the Protector. Who are these strange people, and where do they come from? What do they want with the Protector? And what does this all have to do with the recent earthquakes and outbreaks of monsters straight out of the Greek underworld?

Victorian Theosophy and Classical mythology collide! If I ever do run this, it will have to wait until after I finally wrap up "The Kynthiad," the Greek myth-based BESM game that I run for my wife. There are a couple of specific elements that I have deliberately avoided using in the Kynthiad so that I don't steal any thunder from my plans for "Erebus."

Leonardo's Legacy (system to be determined)

Leonardo's war machines have changed the face of battle in Renaissance Europe, but now the Maestro has died under suspicious circumstances. His proteges in art, engineering, science, and other fields must solve this mystery, and if necessary, avenge their teacher. These investigators must navigate a perilous course through political and religious intrigue in the very period that gave us the adjective "machiavellian."

This is probably the oldest of the campaign kernels I'm discussing here, but it's also the one for which I need to do the most research--both on the Renaissance in general, and on possible game systems to use. None of my previous campaigns have given vehicles, mass combat, or intrigue such a central place as this one will, so I need to find a system that handles them all well--and that won't have too steep a learning curve for me or my players.

The Naughty List (Fate Core)

Monsters have always been among us, but the growth of the internet has made it impossible for humans to ignore their existence any longer. In order to monitor the nonhuman population, two new government agencies were created: Monster Immigration and Customs Enforcement (MICE) and the Secretary of Police for Underworld Denizens (SPUD). One of SPUD's functions is to license bounty hunters who track down and capture monsters who have committed crimes. Of course, not everyone who hunts monsters has a SPUD license, which means that sometimes the hunters become the hunted!

This idea came about from a discussion with my wife and a mutual friend who wanted an occasional, small-scale, comedic game to fill gaps in our regular gaming schedule. They worked up characters for it: a Valkyrie and a Succubus who can pass for human, and who moonlight as unlicensed bounty hunters. I decided to set the game in the Christmas-themed tourist town of Santa Claus, Indiana, which in this alternate reality is the actual home of Kris Kringle and his massive toy factory. We never went farther than this, but it's a back-burner idea for something to try when the holidays roll around and we can't get all of the regular group together.

* * *

I also have a number of ideas for live-action role-playing scenarios that I want to write and run someday, but those will have to wait for another column!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Creatures of Freeport: White Gorilla

The mega-adventure Black Sails Over Freeport introduced many new monsters, including the intelligent white gorilla (page 229). This weeks' column provides a Pathfinder conversion for that creature, as well as the new Brachiate feat (page 129).

XP 1,200
Usually LE Large monstrous humanoid
Init +2; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +9
AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 15 (+2 armor, +2 Dex, +4 natural, -1 size)
hp 42 (5d10+15)
Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +5; +1 vs,. disease, poison, and mind-affecting
Speed 30 ft., climb 15 ft.
Melee 2 claws +10 (1d6+6), bite +5 (1d8+3), or
club +10 (1d8+6), bite +5 (1d8+3)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks rend (2 claws, 2d6+9)
Str 22, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 10
Base Atk +5; CMB +12; CMD 24
Feats Brachiate[B] (new feat; see below), Lightning Reflexes. Skill Focus (Perception), Toughness
Skills Acrobnatics =10, Climb +14, Intimidate +8, Perception +9
Languages Common
Environment any land
Organization troop (4-9), band (10-100), or tribe (40-400)
Treasure NPC gear (leather armor, club, other treasure)

A white gorilla stands about 8 feet tall and weighs from 700 to 1,200 lbs. They are intelligent, highly organized creatures, and are proficient with simple weapons and light armor. Most white gorillas advance as warriors.

While white gorillas prefer to use manufactured weapons, suppressing their more volatile animal heritage, they can rend an opponent with their claws.

White gorillas are most commonly encountered on mysterious tropical islands, far from the usual sea lanes. They enslave members of smaller races to do much of the unpleasant labor required to maintain their primitive civilization. 

New Feat: Brachiate (General)

By swinging from tree branch to tree branch, you can move easily through forests and jungles.

Prerequisite: Natural climb speed

Benefit: In forest terrain, you may travel above the ground by swinging from tree branch to tree branch. This allows you to travel at your base land speed, ignoring movement penalties from undergrowth, fallen logs, and other ground-level obstacles. You must use your climb speed (or an Acrobatics check to jump) to increase your altitude above the forest floor.

Normal: See the Core Rulebook 425-426 for rules for moving in forest terrain.

[Note: This feat originally had no prerequisite as presented in Black Sails. However, it seems most appropriate to limit it to natural climbers.]

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Pathfinder Bestiary: Thaneguard

The dwarven race is justly famed for its master craftsmen. Likewise, dwarven spellcasters produce powerful magical items as well as arcane constructs to help protect their people. One such magical invention is the thaneguard, or construct armor, which is designed to protect spellcasters as it quickly conveys them around the battlefield.

The following stat block converts the thaneguard, from Green Ronin's Hammer & Helm: A Guidebook to Dwarves (pages 61-62), to the Pathfinder RPG.


This tall machine of wood and metal is vaguely humanoid in shape, with powerful-looking arms and legs. Instead of a head, its torso has a space large enough for a man or dwarf to sit inside. Straps and levers can be seen within.

XP 800
N Large construct
Init +0; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +0
AC 16, touch 9, flat-footed 16 (+7 natural, -1 size)
hp 52 (4d10+30)
Fort +1, Ref +1, Will +1
DR 5/magic; Immune construct traits
Speed 40 ft.; cannot run
Melee slam +8 (1d8+7)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Str 20, Dex 10, Con --, Int --, Wis 11, Cha 1
Base Atk +4; CMB +10; CMD 20
SQ carry rider
Environment any land
Organization solitary or accompanied by dwarves
Treasure none
Special Abilities
Carry Rider (Ex) A thaneguard can hold one Medium--sized creature of roughly dwarf-shaped physiology.

A thaneguard is a Large humanoid-shaped construct built to hold one Medium-sized humanoid inside (the "rider"). With no Intelligence, thaneguards are little more than animated conveyances.

First built by dwarf wizards long ago, thaneguards serve as transportation and protection for elite dwarf spellcasters. The wealthiest dwarven cities and nations field units of thaneguard-equipped cavalry, but these cadres are rare and never large. Many thaneguards are built by clerics to demonstrate the might of the dwarven gods of artifice.

The spirit of a willing dwarven ancestor is bound to the thaneguard's frame in order to animate it. These spirits are not undead, but their faint connection to the Material Plane makes the thaneguards more tractable than many golems.

In combat, a thaneguard has the straightforward approach to combat typical of constructs. When threatened, they simply close with the enemy and start bashing. However, a thaneguard may bear a rider who directs its actions. The thaneguard obeys simple commands from its rider, and obey without question, making them ideal protection in battle.

Riding a Thaneguard
Maneuvering: A rider uses the Ride skill to control a thaneguard as though it were a mount. Operating a thaneguard follows the normal rules for mounted combat, including making concentration checks to cast spells if the mount moves more than its speed, and penalties to ranged attacks while the mount is moving. Being mindless, thaneguards are never frightened by combat; the rider never needs to make a check to control the mount in battle. A rider can make a Ride check (DC 5) to guide the thaneguard while keeping both hands free, allowing normal spellcasting and attacking. Although a thaneguard can make charge attacks, it cannot run fast enough to allow a rider to deal double damage with a lance, as do horses and other common mounts.

Arcane Spell Failure: A thaneguard confines its user much like a suit of armor. The rider suffers a 20% chance of arcane spell failure, which stacks with any arcane pell failure chance from armor and shields.

Cover: A thaneguard providers the rider with cover, giving a +4 cover bonus to AC and a +2 cover bonus to Reflex saves. An attack that misses the rider within the margin provided by cover hits the thaneguard, provided that the attack is at least equal to the construct's AC.

The thaneguard's body is constructed of wooden and metal panels over an iron framework.

CL 5th; Price 8,000 gp

Constriction Requirements
Craft Construct, animate objects*, bull's strength, mount; creator must be at least caster level 5th; Skill Craft (metalworking) DC 15, Craft (woodworking) DC 15; Cost 4,000 gp.

* Casters using the new spells from Hammer & Helm may substitute animate large object for this requirement (see below).

Alternate Animate Object Spells
Hammer & Helm introduces several arcane variants of the animate objects spell (pages 67-68). These new spells have a casting time of 1 round, and may animate a single object of the spell name's size or smaller (minimum size Tiny), but otherwise work exactly as the animate objects spell. The spells are as follows:

  • Animate Small Object: sorcerer/wizard 1
  • Animate Medium Object: sorcerer/wizard 2
  • Animate Large Object: sorcerer/wizard 3
  • Animate Huge Object: sorcerer/wizard 5
  • Animate Gargantuan Object: sorcerer/wizard 7
  • Animate Colossal Object: sorcerer/wizard 9

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Advanced Bestiary: Baregara-Possessed

The Advanced Bestiary includes several templates to represent being bonded in some way to different races of outsider, including a demon-possessed template (page 69). During the "Gorilla Island" adventure that I'm currently running for my Pathfinder Freeport group, I created a variant on the demon-possessed template adapted for the chaotic evil outsiders known as baregaras (Bestiary 3 34). Now that the party has survived the encounter for which I built it, I can share that template and stat block here.


Baregaras are not demons, but are closely related enough to use the demon-possessed template (Advanced Bestiary 69) as a starting point for a new bonded outsider template. Treat baregara-possessed as the demon-possessed template with the following modifications:
  • Challenge Rating: +3
  • Damage Reduction 10/good
  • Spell-like Abilities: 
    • 3/day--dispel magic
    • 1/day--quickened hold person
  • Abilities; +4 Strength, +2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution.

XP 12,800
Female baragara-possessed high girallon cleric 3
CE Large magical beast
Init +8; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, scent; Perception +12
AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+3 Dex, +6 natural, -1 size)
hp 108 (10 HD; 7d10+3d8+60)
Fort +14, Ref +9, Will +7; +4 vs. poison
DR 10/good; Resist electricity 20
Weakness spell vulnerability
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
Melee bite +19 (1d6+8), 4 claws +16 (1d4+8 plus rend)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks channel negative energy (3/day, 2d6, DC 11), destructive smite (5/day, +1 damage), fury of the Abyss (5/day; +1 attack, damage, CMB, and -2 AC for 1 round), monstrous challenge (1/day), profane attacks (+3d6 damage vs. good), rend (4 claws, 1d4+6)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +12)
3/day--dispel magic
1/day--summon (level 4, 1d4 dire apes 25% or 1d2 girallons 17%), quickened hold person (DC 15)
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 3rd; concentration +5)
2nd--bull's strength[D], cure moderate wounds, death knell
1st--deathwatch, doom[D], entropic shield, shield of faith
0 (at will)--bleed, detect poison, guidance, resistance
D domain spell; Domains Demon [Evil], Rage [Destruction]
Str 27, Dex 17, Con 20, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 11
Base Atk +9; CMB +18; CMD 31
Feats Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Intimidating Prowess, Skill Focus (Perception), Toughness
Skills Climb +16, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (religion) +3, Linguistics +3, Perception +12, Stealth +5
Languages Abyssal, Kech
SQ aura, possessed (baregara)
Gear amulet of mighty fists (+0 thundering), wooden unholy symbol (Gral-Bara)
Special Abilities
Monstrous Challenge (Su) See the baregara ability
Possessed (Su) See the demon-possessed template
Spell Vulnerability (Ex) See the demon-possessed template

Kadriku is a high girallon, a rare mutant with increased Intelligence (see Bestiary 154). She has been attempting to recruit the girallons and kech (Bestiary 3 167) of Gorilla Island into her cult so that she can purge the island of lesser beings such as the mostly peaceful vanara (Bestiary 3 280).

This priestess serves Gral-Bara, the Demon Lord of Apes. who resembles a fiendish girallon. His few clerics are usually high girallons, but he has also gained some followers among kech who have abandoned their race's nature-based religion. Clerics of Gral-Bara may choose the following domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Strength, and War. Allowed subdomains include: Blood, Demon, Fear, Ferocity, Rage, and Tactics. Gral-Bara's favored weapon is claws; clerics without natural weapons gain Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat.

During the adventure, the party managed to track Kadriku to her lair and fight their way through her kech and mobat sentries and ceustodaemon bodyguard (Bestiary 2 42, 65). After facing her and finally slaying her, a bloody mist arose from her corpse and coalesced into a baregara. This final battle was even more difficult (CR 12), but the crew of the Growler prevailed.