Wielding Wonders in Pathfinder

Now that I’ve got a better feel for the Wonder Wielder, I’ve bee tinkering with porting it over into Pathfinder.  It’s admittedly significantly slower going as there are a whole different set of assumption to balance against.  Here’s what I’ve got written up for the base feature.

Collector of Oddities

You have a knack for finding unusual items with strange powers.  Three of your starting items gain the ability to conjure or act as another piece of equipment.  For each of these item, roll 1d12 to determine what it creates or emulates:

  1. acts as alchemist fire
  2. conjures marker dye
  3. acts as 50’ of silk rope
  4. acts as bodybalm
  5. acts as a medium tent
  6. acts as a guard dog
  7. conjures up to 20 javelins.
  8. acts as a rapier
  9. acts as a smokestick
  10. acts as a heavy steel shield.
  11. acts as a potion of Resistance.
  12. acts as a potion of Guidance.


You can personalize this list at character creation to reflect the character’s tastes and interests.  However, once set, entries can only be changed during down time or from level progression.  For each entry, you can have it act as an item of up 25 gp or conjure up to 20 gp worth of items.  Past 1st level, this price cap improves to 5 * class level * (character level + 5) for emulating items and 4 * class level * (character level + 5) for conjuring items.

An item that “acts as” another either changes its form or creates an attachment that lets it mimic the emulated item’s function.  If the emulated item is consumed or destroyed on use, so is the item with this power.  While acting as another item, the item can not be used for it’s original purpose.

Conjured items are sustained by the item that created them and will fade in 1 round if taken more than 5’ from the item that created them.

In either case, you may keep a power on for up to 8 hours.  After that that time, power can not be used again for 1 hour, plus the amount of time you had it active.
Should an item empowered by this feature become lost, broken, or unusable, your fortunes will guide you toward a replacement item of the DM’s choice, usually within the hour.  Until the you gain a luck bonus to attempts to find and acquire possible replacements equal to the number of items to be replaced.  This bonus does not trigger if you can regain the item easily without conflict in a reasonable time frame, such as if it’s lent to an ally or being repaired or appraised.  Should you sell the item, you must buy the replacement.  The replacement need not be the same value as the lost item and its special power should be randomly rolled as per the original item.

Published in: on February 24, 2016 at 7:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Extraordinary Arsenal Revision

We’ve gotten in a couple playtests on the Wonder Wielder and it’s working well.  In the last session, they used Fortunate Packing with an animated weapon to keep track of a fleeing thief while they chased them on an alchemically fueled vehicle.

That said, we have done some tweaking, mostly to the extraordinary arsenal.  The first change was deciding what happens if someone counter attacks a hack and slash made by an animated weapon.  From there, I’ve mostly tried to trim things down and use more general guidelines.  It’s a bit of a shift given the more precisely defined mentality of games like D&D and Pathfinder, but a welcome on.

In any event, here are the revisions for the arsenal, as well as Reliable Armament.

Extraordinary Arsenal

Your collection has grown to include some items that aid your attacks. You start with 2 weapon enhancer items.  For each, roll 1d8 twice to determine which two enhancements it provides.  If you roll the same number twice, you may choose the second enhancement.

  1. Versatile: Add a range tag of your choice to the target weapon.
  2. Animated: The weapon can be released to fly as you direct it.  Treat it as having a +1 Str and Dex modifier while doing so.  If struck while flying, it will only move toward you until tended to.
  3. Puissant: Raise your stat modifier for this attack to +2 or deal +1 damage.
  4. Explosive: Attacks with this armament affect everyone in reach of the initial target.  If the weapon does not have near or far tags, you are not affected by the attack.
  5. Lingering: The attack leaves behind dangerous residue that deals 1d4 damage to any who come in contact with it if they don’t take immediate action to protect themselves.
  6. Concussive: Add stun and forceful.
  7. Vicious: Add messy and +1 damage.
  8. Spectral: Add ignores armor.

Choose the form each enhancer takes.

  • An item you could draw from your adventuring gear without needing to roll.
  • A portable mundane item worth 2 coins or less.
  • A pack of ammo.

Choose what attacks each enhancer can be used on.  Only one enhancer can be used per attack.

  • Attacks made with the enhancer.
  • Attacks made with an item or body part the enhancer has been applied to.

Each enhancer has 3 uses.  If the enhancer is a weapon, you can make unenhanced attacks with it without expending a use.  When an enhancer is lost or out of uses, you can spend a few minutes rummaging through your belongings and expend a use of adventuring gear to replace that item.  Reroll and reselect all features for each such replacement.


Reliable Armament

You’ve acquired an item you can fall back on when your armory runs dry.  Add an enhancer with unlimited used to your Exceptional Armory. You can choose one of that item’s enhancements instead of rolling for it.

Published in: on February 19, 2016 at 3:49 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wielding Wonders in Dungeon World

I’ve recently been tinkering with a class inspired by a combination of magic item wielding  heroes of folks tales and The Dying Earth, tinkers with packs full of useful items, and the occasional oddball walking armory character.

Seeing as it’s a light and flexible system, I’ve tried my hand at adapting the idea to Dungeon World first.  So far it’s been working pretty well as my oldest likes coming up with new devices the character can pull out of her pack.  Here’s what the start of the class looks like.  Advanced moves are still in progress, but I suspect a pet based move will catch her interest.

Wonder Wielder

There are so many fascinating things in the world.  So much knowledge scattered to the winds to be gathered, so many secrets known by so few.  A fair portion of that is lost or may soon be.  But perhaps by studying what others left behind you might recover some of those secrets.  Even after all these years many of those forgotten relics hold up remarkably well.

Let others horde their coins.  You’ll simply claim a trinket here, an apparently broken device there, and before they know it you’ll be in command of powers rarely seen, much less understood.


Halfling: Lansley, Brigby, Kallia, Nani

Human: Roderig, Colwin, Ignatius, Elsa, Winfrey, Catalina


Inquisitive Eyes, Distracted Eyes, or Astute Eyes

Unkempt Hair, Styled Hair, or Bound Hair

Pocketed Clothes, Colorful Clothes, or Common Clothes

Lean Body, Stout Body, or Flabby Body


Your maximum HP is 6+Constitution.

Your base damage is d8.

Starting Moves

Choose a race and gain the corresponding move:


When you offer one of your own belongings in trade take a +1 to parley or supply.


When you assemble a makeshift item from odds and ends, you may ignore 1 tag or take a +1 forward to the first use of that item.

You start with these moves:

Collector of Oddities

You’ve taken in keen interest in certain items.  Choose a look:

  • Ancient
  • Alchemical
  • Mechanical
  • Inscribed
  • Otherworldly
  • Ceremonial
  • Unassuming

You start with adventuring gear with that look. All such gear functions normally though it may have an unusual form or means of operation.

When a piece of gear granted by this move is lost or becomes unusable, hold 1. When you search an area or container with unknown contents you can restock your adventuring gear, regaining 1 use per hold spent.

Fortunate Packing

When you rummage through your adventuring gear for a useful item, state what you want the item to help you achieve and roll+Int:

  • On 10+, expend a use of adventuring gear.  The GM will tell you what item you find.  The item will always bring you one step closer to your goal, but the GM may declare the item has limited uses, limited duration, or is difficult to move after use.
  • On a 7-9, you gain the item, but choose two:
    • It’s not immediately obvious how this item can help.
    • The item is unreliable and may malfunction  if precautions are not taken.
    • You need more than one person to operate it.
    • The item is slow, dangerous, or must be applied.
  • On a miss, no gear is expended, but you can not use this move for that goal again until you restock your adventuring gear.

Extraordinary Arsenal

Your collection has grown to include some items that prove useful in combat. You start with 2 armaments that match the look of your Collection of Oddities, each with 3 uses and a 1 weight. For each item, roll 1d8 twice to determine the enhancements it provides.  If you roll the same number twice, you may choose an enhancement instead.

  1. Versatile: Add a range tag of your choice to the target weapon.
  2. Animated: The weapon can move and even fly under it’s own power.  You can use your action to make it attack while doing so.  Treat it’s stat modifier as +1 for such attacks.  While holding or attached to the weapon, you can invoke this enhancement for a +1 attempts that involve running fast and jumping far.
  3. Puissant: Raise your stat modifier for this attack to +2 or deal +1 damage.
  4. Explosive: Attacks with this armament affect everyone in reach of the initial target.  If the weapon does not have near or far tags, you are not affected by the attack.
  5. Lingering: The attack leaves behind dangerous residue that deals 1d4 damage.  On a hit, the damage is dealt at the end of the target’s next turn if not removed.  On a miss, the residue clings to nearest surface and damages the next creature to touch or step on it.
  6. Concussive: Add stun and forceful.
  7. Vicious: Add messy and +1 damage.
  8. Spectral: Add ignores armor.

Once the enhancements are determined, choose how the armament operates. Regardless of the method chosen, only one set of enhancements can be applied to a given attack.

  • The armament is a weapon (choose the hand, close, or near tag) or ammo and enhances attacks made with it.
  • The armament is a pack of thrown weapons, where each use destroys the thrown item to release the enhanced attack.
  • The armament is a worn item that creates a weapon with the enhancements.
  • The armament is an applied item that enhances the weapon it’s attached to, be it manufactured or part of the user’s body.

If at any time one of your armaments is lost or out of uses, you can spend a few minutes rummaging through your belongings to expend a use of your Collection of Oddities and gain a new armament.

Reliable Armament

You’ve acquired an item you can fall back on when your armory runs dry.  Add an item to your Exceptional Armory. You can choose one of this item’s enhancements instead of rolling for it.  So long as perform routine maintenance on the item, it does not have limited uses.


Choose an alignment:


Use a questionable device to improve the lives of others.


Uncover information on the origins of an unusual item or a forgotten people.


Give yourself over to the use of cruel or questionable device.


Your load is 12+Str.  You carry your collection of oddities, 3 items in your exceptional arsenal, and dungeon rations (5 uses, 1 weight).  Choose your clothing:

  • Leather armor (1 armor, 1 weight)
  • stylish clothes that match the look of your collection

Choose one:

  • Bag of books (5 uses, 2 weight)
  • Poultices and Herbs (2 uses, 1 weight)
  • Halfling pipeleaf (0 weight) and Bandages (3 uses, weight 1)


Fill in the name of one of your companions in at least one:

__________ has shown an interest in some of the things I carry.

__________ recognizes something I’ve found but refuses to speak about it.

I’m sure I can convince __________ of the safety and efficacy of my inventory.

__________ has something I’d love to study.

Published in: on February 15, 2016 at 10:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Role Review

I was poking around the homebrew forum over at Giant in the Playground when I noticed this post on role design for a custom system inspired by 4th edition D&D.  I got a into how each of the roles turned out and what functions they ended up serving, so I figured I’d relay that here.

Strikers in 4e are the only strictly offensive role in game as their focus is strictly on reducing the enemy team’s time to defeat. They are especially good at delivering damage precisely where they want it. This makes focusing fire easier for them as well as making them good at landing finishing blows. Note that high offense and ease of targeting are independent but synergistic features, with ease of targeting often being accomplished by some combination of ranged attacks and mobility.

Leaders in 4e help their group stay at full strength by helping allies recover, acting as a kind of life line for those running out of hit points. This helps mitigate focused fire somewhat as it let’s the group shift defensive resources to anyone who’s being focused on. Since the need for this is small when the party is at full health, leaders often have secondary jobs as well. If fully defensively oriented, their secondary focus will be on providing protection to mitigate damage before it happens. If they’ve got a somewhat more offensive bent, they’ll act as an enabler, making allies better at performing their jobs.

Defenders in 4e actually seem to have discouraging focused fire as their unofficial job. Their high hit points and defenses make them unappealing focus targets. By itself, this would just result in their allies being taken out first. However, their marking mechanics let them counter that by making themselves more appealing targets to an enemy of their choice. In effect, this lets them peal a specific foe of the group that might be trying to achieve focused fire. The selective nature of marking and punishment mechanics make them less “everyone attack me” like classic “tanks” and more about making sure attacks are distributed around the party so nobody falls. From there, they tend to mirror leaders somewhat by either proactively setting up protective measures or increasing their offense. The main difference being that these defensive and offensive boosts tend to be self oriented as opposed to the leader’s more ally oriented focus.

4e controllers are bit of mess in that their focus is split between acting as artillery and manipulating the opposing side’s options with few class features directly supporting either. Granted, either of those can be made to support the other. For example, if the character was primarily artillery they might want strong manipulation options as back up plan for when limited targets cuts their total damage output. On the flip-side, area attacks can be used to discourage grouping, making it a situational way of altering enemy plans. From what I’ve seen, the online community tends to favor the focusing on the manipulation side, with the artillery side mainly used as a way to distribute control effects over multiple enemies. One side effect of the system is that “minion popping” became a secondary job of the role due to the availability of multi-target powers for this role. It’s interesting to note changing enemy plans overlaps with defender’s deciding who attacks them, which lead to occasional comments about defenders being a specialized type of melee controller.

On a side note, things have been pretty busy over here.  I started a new job in a new city this year, which is admittedly part of why posting has dropped off.  That being said, things are getting a bit more stable now so as time frees up I may start putting more things up here.

Published in: on January 7, 2016 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Fortified Mastery Update

Hi folks.  There’s been a lot of changes this past year, including moving to another state.  However, last christmas I did get enough down time to start a new project.

The action-rpg “Titan Quest” has long been a favorite of mine that I find myself returning to often.  This winter, I finally took the plunge and started on a mod to shore up the weaker skills in the game and support more varied builds.  I actually got most of that done over the winter break and am now working on more systemic issues for a second pass.  The full discussion can be found here.  Up to date download links can be found on that page as well as my portfolio page.

That isn’t to say I’m not still doing some table top tinkering.  In fact, I’ve been introducing my eldest to the hobby.  She’s already played a little Risus and Gamma World, so I’m considering streamline some other systems and letting her have a run at those.  Hero Kids has been very solid on that front and a lot of fun to boot.

Published in: on February 25, 2015 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Warrior Gambits

I’ve been mulling over martial encounter powers lately. While encounter powers are good at varying actions between rounds, they do encourage throwing out your strongest stuff until you’re down to grinding away with at wills.

On approach I came up with the use of “gambits”. Basically how they’d work is you’d declare them when making a weapon attack. If the attack hits, you get a minor perk and a free secondary attack based on the gambit used. It the initial attack fails, the target instead gets a bonus to defend against further that gambit for 1 round, as they’re on guard against it.

That should create an interesting flow overall. At around 50% accuracy, the player would be looking at a 50% chance of needing to change gambits, 25% chance of an at-will level hit, and a 25% chance of an encounter level hit. I’d have to work out the numbers, but that does seem to be a workable approach. Give the player 3 gambits to start and they’ll have a choice each round even when a gambit is down.

One potentially issue I see is that the chance of heavy hits gets really badly hit by low accuracy. To counter that, I might add a “feint” option. If you take that, a miss triggers the secondary attack instead of a hit. The result would be higher accuracy at the cost of removing the chance to double hit.

4e Adaptions: Damage Fixes

One of this problematic points in 4e is that anything that allows multiple attacks to the same target within a round are extremely effective damage dealers, to the point they tend to hedge out other options. This is largely due to the fact each such attack effectively multiply static bonuses to damage rolls, which make up the bulk of damage totals at higher levels.

This imbalance has been a bit of a mixed blessing due to the hit point inflation enemies get at higher levels. I’ve run some numbers and a fight that takes around 4 rounds at heroic tier can stretch out to 8 to 9 rounds in epic due to this inflation.

As such, I suggest the following two pronged attack to reduce the effectiveness of these multi-strike attacks without having high level fights drag to a crawl.

Tap Capping Damage Bonuses

The Rule: Once a bonus to damage rolls has been applied to a target, that bonus can not be applied to further damage against the target until the start of the attacker’s next turn. If multiple attackers share the same bonus, track this separately for each attacker.
The Reason: Looking over the damage entries for multi-strike and off action attacks, it looks like the designers largely ignored any bonuses to damage rolls. Most multi-strikes do a comparable number of damage dice to powers of similar levels. The dice are just distributed differently. This rule prevents multi-tapping of damage bonuses to bring those powers on par with their single strike, standard action counter parts.
Gameplay Effects: Resetting bonuses at the start of the turn favors attacks that happen during the players turn, with each following attack having less of a chance of gaining the damage bonus. One problem with this rule is it also reduces the potency off opportunity attacks. This is mitigated somewhat by opportunity attack specific damage bonuses. However, to counter this more strongly you’d want..

Reduced Hit Point Scaling

The Rule: Monster gain half the normal hit points per level. This does not effect the base number of hit points they get.
The Reason: As mentioned earlier, fights in epic can easily double in length with applying damage bonus multipliers. Halfing the hit points from levels counters that effect, keeping fights at more reasonable time frames without damage abuse.
Gameplay Effects: With reduced hp, an at level fight in epic will often be over before at will come into play (barring characters who focus on them). However, that’s not necsessarily a bad thing and overuse of at-wills can make combat more tedious.

Published in: on June 3, 2014 at 6:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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4e Ability Score Progression

I’ve noticed some issues with ability scores in 4e D&D. Here are a couple suggested fixes to help smooth things over.

Rounded Growth

The Rule: At every level the player would gain +1 to 2 ability scores, they instead gain +1 to all ability scores.
The Reason: Only increasing 2 abilities at 6 different levels puts the modifier for those two 3 points higher than any other score. Since the boosted abilities are usually the character’s strongest, this widens the divide between high and low scores even more as the character progresses. That in turn makes it harder to set a worthwhile DC for even two character with similar training but different ability priorities. Due to difficulty scaling, this has the net effect of making characters worse at everything else outside their focus as they reach higher levels. This rule change still keeps the range between high and low scores, but keeps that gap from widening at higher levels.
Gameplay Effects: While this does make higher level characters better overall, it’s mostly an increase in versatility over raw power. It doesn’t make them better at their strong suits, it just keeps their weaknesses from getting exaggerated at high levels.

Practiced Growth

The Rule: When you get a chance to raise all ability scores by 1, you can forgo raising one scores that’s at 9 or higher to raise a second score by 2. The score being increased this way can not be raised beyond 19. If the ability is used by one of the character’s powers or trained skills, raise the maximum to 21. Increase these limits (including the minimum score) by 1 for each previous time all scores could be raised by 1.
The Reason: This one is actually meant to counter the dominance racial ability modifiers often have on race selection. By giving races without a bonus to their primary ability the chance the catch up at higher levels, we can hopefully reduce the prominence of those bonuses a bit.
Gameplay Effects: The net effect should be pretty mild. In general, it’s roughly equivalent to letting the player swap their racial ability score bonus to a different stat at a certain level.
There is one possible side effect of combining this with Rounded Growth in that a player could choose to go with lower starting score to get more efficient use out their point buy. If that’s a big concern, consider limiting how many times this option can be selected.

Published in: on May 21, 2014 at 1:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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4e Option: Expanded Defense

One of the interesting features of 4th edition D&D is how it pairs abilities to determine defenses. The nice thing about this is that you only need to pay attention to 3 ability scores to have well rounds defenses. The downside is if your two highest scores are in the same pairing, you’ll have weaker defenses than some one with the same values in different score. This means things like being strong and tough, smart and graceful, or wise and charming poor choices, despite being good thematic combos. To help address this, I present the following feat.

Expanded Defense
Heroic Tier
Benefit: Select two of your defenses when you take this feat. You can use the lowest ability modifier assocaited with first defense as the ability modifier for the second defense you chose.

For example, if some one wanted to play a strong and tough warrior type, they might pick fortitude and will with this feat. That would let them use the lower of their strength or constitution modifier as the ability modifier for their will defense in place of their wisdom or charisma modifier.

Since this is essential a bug fix feat, DMs may even want to provide this as a free feat. It’s main effect is to let you swap a score into another pairing, so it’s impact is fairly low outside of shoring up certain ability score combos.

Published in: on April 24, 2014 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Character Creation and Twists of Fate

I’ve been thinking about randomized character creation lately. It seems to me the most enjoyable part of that is ending up with something unexpected. I’m less interested in gambling on the character’s power level than I am in being given a handful of interesting traits an potential hooks.

After a bit of tinkering, here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Start each character with a luck pool that can be spent on rerolls.
  • Roll up some “twists of fate” for the character. These can include background elements, talents, flaws, personality traits, special events, and so on. I’m probably start with 3 twists per character.
  • Players can spend luck to reroll any of these twists.
  • If the player isn’t satisfied with their rerolls, they can spend a little select a twist. I’d likely put a “once per character” limitation on this. That way if the player has a concept they really want follow they can push for it, but they’d still need to leave some element up to chance.

So the final results would be that if a character leaves their initial rolls as is, they get to go into play with a full pool of rerolls. On the other hand, if they want to pick and choose their traits, they have some leeway to do so, at the cost of having fewer rerolls during play. Hopefully that’s a good level of enticement toward leaving things to chance. I want to encourage players to stick with their rolls as those random traits can help the player explore new character concepts they might not normally go with. On the other hand, making the reward overly potent can penalize existing character concepts and encourage fudged dice rolls.

As for the twists themselves, I’m thinking of covering a wide range of traits, but building some flexibility into each one. For example, a species / racial twist might give you an advanced trait package if you pick that species or let you act as a hybrid if you pick a different one. I’d also like to have flaws a possible twists. However, to avoid the issue of randomly rolling a weaker character, I’d likely go with a Fate like approach and have flaws benefit the character after they’re turned against them.

Published in: on August 19, 2013 at 5:43 am  Leave a Comment  
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