Playtest: Broken Chains

The Porphyra Roleplaying Game is coming along. The current document v.4 is sitting at 129 unedited pages. You can pick up v.3 for free over at Rpgnow and then wander over to my patreon to get in on the ongoing discussions.

Our current Pathfinder campaign has reached level 6. We have just finished the Trail of the Apprentice by Legendary Games and things went generally really when until the final battle. Our party has suffered some looses and now needs to regroup.


Final-Gnolls-C
Gnoll by Gary Dupuis

To continue our campaign, I am going to be adapting Broken Chains by Tim Hitchcook. Due to work commitments we will likely not be playing until at least the weekend of the 21st so I have time to work on my conversion notes. I’ll be posting my statblock conversions based upon v.4 of the rules over on the porphyra wiki. All the new conversions will be tagged with broken chains (bc) and porphyra roleplaying game (prg) if you want to search for the content by tags.

There should be enough in v.4 to let me test some of the ideas I have been bouncing around to playtest some of the things on the GM’s side of the screen.  I will post campaign updates the weeks we game to let you know how things are going.

Classes of Porphyra – Part III

In early 2014, Carl Cramer approached me about developing something called a Prestige Archetype. I had no idea what he meant initially. He described them as follows:


The goal when making these prestige archetypes has been to capture the flavor of the prestige class rather than to make an exact copy of how it would normally be. Attack bonuses, hit dice, class skills, spells, and class features have been unified and spread evenly over levels. This means that most prestige archetypes have their prestige abilities spread over the entire 20 level spread.

Unlike how prestige classes normally work, these archetypes have a few complete class abilities rather than many abilities limited to a low level. In some cases, you get the choice of one of several class abilities rather than stymied versions of all the abilities.

A prestige archetype generally has elements of one or more regular character classes, to represent how prestige prerequisites were met and character development after the prestige class has ended. Sometimes there is more than one class that naturally leads itself to a particular prestige class, which can lead to several different prestige archetypes for different combinations. A few are not built on a regular class, instead expanding the idea behind the prestige class to a full 20 levels.


Now I was originally quite hesitant on the prestige archetype concept when Carl first pitched it to me but he had brought me a number of interesting and successful things in the past so I thought I would take a chance. We launched the line with a subscription, which helped to offset the initial costs a bit. Now there are three volumes, a handful of psionics PAs, and a fourth line in development. But let us just consider what is out first.

Prestige Archetypes

The first prestige archetype series focused on the most traditional prestige classes from the 3.X era days. Sometimes, where alternate builds were appropriate there were appropriate two prestige archetypes were created.

Arcane Archer: Arcane archers deal death from afar, winnowing down opponents while their allies rush into hand-to-hand combat. With their capacity to unleash hails of arrows on the enemy, they represent the pinnacle of ranged combat. The arcane archer is a 3/4 BAB character built from a magus/ranger/wizard chassis. They have spellcaster from 0th to 6th level and pull their spells from the wizard spell list. They carry as spellbook and have an archery pool similar to the magus’s arcane pool.

Arcane Trickster: With their mastery of magic, arcane tricksters can make for even more subtle or confounding opponents than standard rogues. Ranged legerdemain enhances their skill as thieves, and their ability to make sneak attacks without flanking or as part of a spell can make arcane tricksters formidable damage-dealers. Arcane tricksters are 3/4 BAB characters built from the rogue/wizard chassis. The arcane trickster in all ways is your dual-class wizard, rogue.

Assassin: Assassins tend to be loners by nature, seeing companions as liabilities at best. Sometimes an assassin’s missions put him in the company of adventurers for long stretches at a time, but few people are comfortable trusting a professional assassin to watch their backs in a fight, and are more likely to let the emotionless killer scout ahead or help prepare ambushes. The assassin is a 3/4 BAB character built from the rogue class. It is a very traditional translation of the original prestige class. If you are looking for an assassin that takes more risks in terms of design Carl also produced the porphyran assassin for Assassins of Porphyra.

Blood Mystic: The blood mystic has a unique palette of powers, and is able to both support her party and control the battlefield. Skimming across such a wide array of abilities forces the blood mystic to make many hard choices, both between what powers to seek in their blood and in how to use those powers. The blood mystic is a 1/2 BAB character build from the oracle and sorcerer to stand as a mystic theurge. It draws spells from both the cleric and the wizard list.

Chronicler: The chronicler’s missions often thrust her into the role of party leader, and adventures typically result from, and revolve around, her endless quests. Other chroniclers find themselves as sidekicks recording the adventures of their own chosen hero and comrades. The chronicler is a 3/4 BAB character built on the bard chassis. They have 0th to 4th level spells drawn from the bard spell list.

Dragon Disciple: With the magic at their disposal, dragon disciples can assume the typical role of a magic-user, hampering the movement of the enemy and hurling damage-dealing spells at their opponents. The dragon disciples’ draconic abilities make these versatile spellcasters even more formidable, as they use their breath, natural weapons, and flight to destroy their foes directly. The dragon disciple is as 3/4 BAB class with an enhanced Hit Dice build off of a magus and and sorcerer chassis. They are a spontaneous caster with spells drawn from the magus spell list.

Duelist: Duelists fight in the forefront alongside fighters, barbarians, and other melee combatants, deftly avoiding the blades of their opponents while expertly targeting their vulnerabilities. Duelists are full BAB bonus characters built off the fighter chassis.

Eldritch Hunter: Eldritch hunters are masters of the wild, alpha predators using both might and magic to establish their dominance.  The eldritch hunter is a 3/4 BAB variant of the eldritch knight PRC build with a ranger/sorcerer chassis. Spellcasting is spontaneous using the wizard spell list for 0th to 9th level spells but the spellcasting is slowed in its progression [does not reach 2nd level spells until 6th level). At very high level, they add in ranger spells as well.

Eldritch Knight: Eldritch knights master the abilities of both fighting and magic, hurling magic at the enemy one moment and hewing down their opponents with steel the next. They are just as comfortable in the thick of combat as they are casting spells at foes while remaining safely behind their compatriots. Their versatility makes them valuable allies.

Loremaster: Loremasters’ lives are spent in study, research, and fieldwork. While the first two lend themselves to the loremaster’s reputation as a bookish recluse, the latter oftentimes forces a loremaster to seek out the aid of adventurers who, through a mutually beneficial arrangement, might provide a degree of protection to the scholar while he seeks whatever knowledge he is after. For his part, the loremaster provides a wealth of information and arcane firepower to a party. The loremaster is a 1/2 BAB character built from a wizard chasis. They follow a fairly typical loremaster progression.

Mystic Archer: Mystic archers are superlative support characters, changing from archery to control or buffs and healing at a moment’s notice. The mystic archer is a 3/4 BAB character build from the druid and ranger classes as an alternate form of the arcane archer… more of a divine archer.

Mystic Theurge: The mystic theurge is a powerful component for any party, supplying magic for attack, defense, and healing. Mystic theurges travel the world in search of arcane and holy artifacts, magical lore, or divine revelations, and most have no qualms about teaming up with groups of adventurers so long as that group’s goals do not directly conflict with their own. The mystic theurge is a 1/2 BAB character with a cleric and wizard base. They draw spells from 0th to 9th on both the wizard and cleric lists. They possess the ability (a limited number of times per day to launch two spells as a single action).

Shadow Monk: Shadow monks are scouts extraordinaire but also warriors and mystics, able to shift from one role to another in the blink of an eye. Shadow monks are 3/4 BAB characters built from a monk base. They are one of three shadowdancer variants in the first collection.

Shadow Ranger: Shadow rangers make excellent scouts, as they are not bound to any one terrain and can move from shadow to shadow with impunity. They also make versatile skirmishers. Shadow rangers are full BAB characters built from a ranger base. They are the second of three shadowdancer variants in the first collection.

Shadowdancer: Shadowdancers adventure for a wide variety of reasons. Many adventuring parties find shadowdancers valuable members of their teams due to their incredible stealth and ability to surprise enemies with lightning-quick attacks where they’re least expected. For this reason, their services are often sought out by those groups in need of scouts or spies. Shadowdancers are 3/4 BAB characters built from the ninja alternate class. They are the final shadowdancer variant in the first collection.

(To be continued)…

Piggins of Porphyra

Porphyra is a world with two distinct types of land mass. There are the indigenous territories that have been present since the lost formation of the world in the age before the Elemental Lords and there are the Landed Territories. When aboriginal orcs and elves of Porphyra combined forces to call new Gods to the world to help overthrow the Elemental Lords, those New Gods brought pieces of their favourite worlds with them. These regions are known as Landed Territories.

From the Landed Territories come the Landed Races. There are dozens of races Landed on Porphyra that are similar to their indigenous cousins. One of these is the Landed Races of orcs (or Piggins as they are called by the indigenous).

Landed Orcs Racial Characteristics

  • +2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Int: Landed orcs are strong willed with strong devotion to physical fitness. They do not value formal learning systems or schooling.
  • Orc: Landed orcs are humanoids with the orc subtype. Landed orcs do not possess light sensitivity they have the day runner characteristic (see below) instead.
  • Medium: Landed orcs are Medium creatures and have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Normal Speed: Landed orcs have a base speed of 30 feet.

  • Darkvision: Landed orcs can see in the dark up to 60 feet.

  • Cornered Fury: When a landed orc is reduced to half its hit points or fewer and has no conscious ally within 30 feet, it gains a +2 racial bonus on melee attack rolls and to Armor Class.
  • Dayrunner: Landed orcs refuse to yield to any foe, including the sun. Some spend hour upon hour glaring at the sun until their ruined eyes acclimatize to bright light. Landed orcs with this racial trait take a –2 penalty on all ranged attack rolls.
  • Greed: Raiding is part of every landed orc’s education, as such they gain a +2 bonus on Appraise checks to determine the price of nonmagical goods that contain precious metals or gemstones.
  • Illusion Resistance: Landed orcs are not easily fooled by the coloured lights made by mages. They gain a +2 racial bonus on saving throws against illusion spells or effects.
  • Orc Ferocity: Once per day, when a landed orc is brought below 0 hit points but not killed, he can fight on for 1 more round as if disabled. At the end of his next turn, unless brought to above 0 hit points, he immediately falls unconscious and begins dying.
  • Resentment: Landed orcs resent their transport to the Patchwork Planet and they hold all other orcs and elves personally responsible. Landed orcs gain a +1 racial bonus on damage rolls against creatures with the orc or elf subtype.
  • Survivalists: Landed orcs have learned to thrive in all environments. They gain as +2 racial bonus to all Survival checks.
  • Languages: Landed orcs speak Orcish. Landed orcs with high Intelligence scores can chose from the following: Dwarven, Giant, Goblin, Undercommon.

Regional Guides of Porphyra Poll

It has been suggested by Perry that perhaps I should write one of the regional guides for Porphyra. Writing a guide of this kind is sort of out of the my wheelhouse because I usually perform conversions of older materials or work on mechanical bits. The Heroes of line has a significant amount of fiction writing as well as mechanical writing in it.

We have released nine regional guides so far:

That means there are roughly 30+ more regional guides to be developed. There are a couple that are earmarked or in some stage of development such as the Empire of the Dead and the Mist-Shrouded Isle of Erkusaa.

So I am looking for customer input on which of the following lands I should work on as a regional sourcebook. Leave your votes in the comment section of this page. I want to get started on this work by Sunday night. (Perry is not eligible to vote).

Here are my options:

Voting Opens Immediately. Voting Ends Sunday Morning (when I wake up). We will do a run off vote if there is no clear winner.

 

 

 

 

Project Selection

Office Work is a series of posts where I talk frankly about the work of Purple Duck Games including what goes on behind the scenes.

Lewis asked, “How you decide which products to move forward with. The balance between thing you know people are looking for & putting great ideas that might not be as popular forward.”

It can be really hard to decide what to go ahead with when publishing roleplaying games in support of other people’s systems. It is not uncommon to publish something that is profitable to have the finances to work on riskier projects. I do have a couple of handy rules that I use for greenlighting projects.

  1. Trust Your Freelancers Pet Projects

There are a number of freelancers that I have worked with multiple times. I rarely have to assign them work. Typically, they show up on my email with a document in hand with an intro that says something like, so I know we have never really talked about this but I’ve been working on this thing for a while and I think its really come together, are you interested. Some of our most consistent sellers have been created this way.

Both David N. Ross’s Random Encounters Remastered line and Carl Cramer’s Prestige Archetypes line started as these sorts of books. Initially, I didn’t have a lot of faith in either of these initial projects but I took a risk on them and they have turned out well.

So when Carl Cramer approaches me about a Duckfolk book for Porphyra.  Now, I doubt that it will be as successful as Prestige Archetypes but Carl has earned the right to pitch pet projects for our publication.

    2. Trust your Editor

Perry Fehr is the primary editor for Purple Duck Games. He has had his hands into everything Purple Duck for at least the last five years. He is the primary archetict of the Lands of Porphyra Campaign setting and works to keep things reasonably consistent. The Lovecraft Fantasy Gaming Toolkit was rescued from oblivion by Perry.  It was an older project that went through many hands and was generally in a pretty disorganized shape. Perry took the document, reworked it, rewrote some, and expanded it a lot more… and then I continued to bury it for almost a year. If Perry hadn’t nagged me about the book on a regular basis it would have never seen the light of day. I was so concerned about this book and how it would be received that I was willing to just take a loss on it an never publish it.

That would have been a mistake. Reviewers and customers both agreed on that. Its sales have dropped off (probably do the influx of other mythos support available) but it was more than worth finishing.

Perry sometimes notices the value in things that I overlook.

3. Trust your Market(s)

Some markets are better than others. There are many Pathfinder supplements that I have not broken even on. There is not a single DCC book that hasn’t broken even for me. So when it comes to DCC, I have published everything I could have for it. I suspect MCC may treat us the same way as well. So we have been actively recruiting more writers for both Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics.

   4. Timing is Everything

Particularly with Pathfinder-related content it is important to get your work out there first. When the Occult Adventures book came out there was a lull in Pathfinder Support from 3PPs, traditional companies like Rite Publishing and Rogue Genius Games had backed away from immediately supporting Paizo’s newest thing. I do not know for certain why that gap in support existed but it did exist. I looked at the Occult rules and immediately knew that I did not get the intracies of the classes (probably still don’t), so I recruited an expert.

Checking out the Paizo boards, I saw that Ehn Jolly had wrote a Kineticist class guide. So I approached him to write Kineticists of Porphyra. Kineticists sold very well due to the quality of the work and due to the lack of competition in that arena. Customers were looking for more ideas in this area and we were one of the first products to address that need. (Ehn Jolly is an excellent self-promoter as well).

   5. It Is Okay To Build a Line

Some products sell okay. They don’t sell great… just okay. And sometimes you might be tempted to end a series at the first book. The thing is when a second book comes out, there seems to be sense within customers that if a new volume comes out then the early volumes must have strongly warranted it. When Purple Mountain VII: Domain of the Hidden God came out we saw an uptake on previous volumes. There are customers that will by part 7 (having read no others) and then go back and complete their collections. Much like how new customers to Caster Prestige Archetypes has lead to bumps in sales of Prestige Archetypes and Warrior Prestige Archetypes. You do not need to build on indefinitely though, you need to recognize when the market has finished with a concept.

   6. No One is Infallible

There are projects that I have greenlight that I thought were going to be failures that were successes, and projects that I was sure were going to be successes that never amounted to anything.

I think at the end of the day, you just need to produce the kind of books you want to create.

Glerps of Porphyra

Glerp
A glerp is a class of sentient oozes that is easily affected by elemental energies. They seem to have sprung naturally from the elemental chaos of the NewGods War.

Glerp
Languages one elemental tongue
Ecology
Environment any
Organization solitary or pool (2-5)
Treasure 1d3 glerp fragments
Special Abilities
Acid (Ex) A glerp’s acid does not harm metal or stone.
Coalescence (Ex) Glerps rest in an inactive form, and undetectable, of miniscule droplets expressed over a large area. When a creature approaches into its blindsight, the glerp coalescences into an active form as an immediate action.
Death Throes (Su) When killed, a glerp pops in a 10-foot-radius burst that deals 1d6 points of glerp damage per 4 HD (DC 10 +1/2 Hit Dice + Con modifier; Reflex half).
Glerp Damage (Ex) Glerps deal acid damage but can become attuned to any other type of energy damage (cold, electricity, fire, force, radiation, or sonic). Glerps gain the damage type of any energy damage they receive. This attunement lasts 1d6+2 rounds.
Leaping Charge (Su) Glerps can leap 30 ft. as a charge action that draws no attacks of opportunity.

Medium Glerp (CR 3; XP 800)
N Medium ooze
Senses blindsight 60 ft.; Perception +9
Defense
AC 7, touch 7, flat-footed 7
(-3 Dex)
hp 50 (4d8+32)
Fort +10, Ref -2, Will +3
Defensive Abilities blind, coalescence; Immune ooze traits
Offense
Speed 20 ft.
Melee slam +5 (1d8+3 plus 1d4 glerp)
Special Attacks death throes (W-DC 19), leaping charge
Statistics
Str 14, Dex 4, Con 24, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +3; CMB +5; CMD 12 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Great Fortitude, Toughness
Skills Perception +9, Survival +9


Large Glerp (CR 5; XP 1,600)
N Large ooze
Senses blindsight 60 ft.; Perception +13
Defense
AC 8, touch 6, flat-footed 8
(-3 Dex, +2 natural, -1 size)
hp 116 (8d8+80)
Fort +13, Ref -1, Will +6
Defensive Abilities blind, coalescence; Immune ooze traits
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +11 (2d6+9 plus 1d6 glerp)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Special Attacks death throes (W-DC 23), leaping charge
Statistics
Str 22, Dex 4, Con 28, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +6; CMB +13; CMD 20 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Power Attack, Toughness
Skills Perception +13, Survival +13


Huge Glerp (CR 7; XP 3,200)
N Huge ooze
Senses blindsight 60 ft.; Perception +17
Defense
AC 10, touch 5, flat-footed 10
(-3 Dex, +5 natural, -2 size)
hp 198 (12d8+144)
Fort +13, Ref -1, Will +6
Defensive Abilities blind, coalescence; Immune ooze traits
Offense
Speed 30 ft.
Melee slam +18 (2d8+15 plus 2d4 glerp)
Space 15 ft.; Reach 10 ft.
Special Attacks death throes (W-DC 27), leaping charge
Statistics
Str 30, Dex 4, Con 32, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +9; CMB +21; CMD 28 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Bloody Assault, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Power Attack, Toughness, Weapon Focus (slam)
Skills Perception +17, Survival +17


On Porphyra
Within the Trade Consortium of Blix there is an active market for glerp fragments that can be used as supplemental spell components for spells that deal energy damage. A glerp fragment is worth roughly 25 gp.

Spell-in-a-Can Items

Some designers have a severe aversion to spell-in-a-can type magic items. I understand the thinking behind that aversion, but there are so many good spells created for Pathfinder that I think we could benefit from a few more spells-in-a-can like the following items for warrior classes.


Bracers of Heavy Shots

Aura faint transmutation; CL 1st

Slot wrists; Price 8,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.

[Description]

Each of these purple bracers is marked with an image of a basllista. After being worn for 24 hours, these bracers place the wearer under a constant gravity bow effect in which the weight and density of arrows or bolts fired by the wearer is increased. All shots deal damage as if the weapon were one size larger.

[Construction]

Prerequisites Craft Wondrous Item, gravity bow, crafter must be proficient in bows or crossbows; Cost 4,000 gp


Bracers of Mighty Strikes

Aura faint transmutation; CL 1st

Slot wrists; Price 8,000 gp; Weight 1 lb.

[Description]

Each of these blue bracers is marked with an image of a great sword. After being worn for 24 hours, these bracers place the wearer under a constant lead blades effect in which the momentum and density of melee weapon strikes is increased. All melee weapon attacks deal damage as if the weapon were one size larger.

[Construction]

Prerequisites Craft Wondrous Item, lead blades, crafter must be proficient in bows or crossbows; Cost 4,000 gp


Both of these items are fairly low cost and can provide a noticable advantage to martial classes in terms of damage.

When we are talking about design aversions, I personally hate recursive spells.