Monday, September 04, 2017

Starfinder - Character creation 2

Since Kolrez is a mystic, alignment and deity are defining aspects of his character, so some thought has to go into making these decisions. I wanted Kolrez to be most at peace among the stars, so Ibra, god of the cosmos, seemed the best choice. Ibra is true neutral, so I decided Kolrez would be also.

At this point, I should say a bit about gods in Starfinder. Some of the gods are familiar from Pathfinder. These include Iomedae, Sarenrae, Desna, Abadar, Phaerasma, Zon-Kuthon and Urgathoa. Other Golarion gods such as Asmodeus, Calistria and Lamashtu still exist, though in different and less powerful forms. In addition, there are many new gods and goddesses, some adopting portfolios previously held by other gods of Golarion, while others are completely new such as Triune, god of artificial intelligence and Oras, god of evolution and natural selection. Although the Dark Tapestry, which played such a large, though indirect role in Iron Gods, is not mentioned by name, the Outer God, Nyarlathotep is now a core deity with responsibility for conspiracies and forbidden magic.

At 1st level, mystics select a connection, which is very similar to an oracle's mystery class feature from Pathfinder. A mystic selects only one connection which provides insight bonuses to certain skills, bonus spells and class abilities with increasing levels. For Kolrez, I choose the Star Shaman connection which gives him Piloting and Perception as associated skills as well as the Walk the Void (Su) ability, allowing him to survive exposure to vacuum without harm. As a 1st level mystic, Kolrez also gains Healing Touch (Su), allowing him to heal an ally up to 5 hp/level, once per day. Finally, like in Pathfinder, the character starts with a feat at 1st level. I choose Great Fortitude.

All that remains is to choose spells, skills and equipment and Kolrez is ready to go. Both the mystic and the technomancer have a 0-6 level spell table. Kolrez starts out knowing 4 0-level and 2 1-level spells. He also gains an additional one from his connection. He selects Mystic Cure and Lesser Remove Condition as his 1st level spells and gains Shooting Stars (Magic Missile for mystics) as his connection spell. This makes him a formidable healer with a bit of offensive magic thrown in as well. For skills, Kolrez takes Piloting, Perception, Sense Motive, Mysticism and Diplomacy. The skill list in Starfinder has a lot of overlap with Pathfinder, although there has been a fair bit of streamlining. For example, the Mysticism skill now incorporates both the Spellcraft and Knowledge (arcana) skills as well as any Craft skill needed to make magic items.


Sunday, September 03, 2017

Starfinder - Character creation 1

The much-awaited Starfinder Core Rulebook is finally available at your FLGS and I have my copy. This will be my first in a series of posts on the new game. I will be looking first at character creation. The first step in this process is to conceptualize your character and select your race, theme and class. Pathfinder players will certainly be familiar with race and class, but theme is something new.

Starting with races, there are humans, androids, two subspecies of lashuntas, kasathans, ysoki, vesh and shirrens. Anyone who has played the Iron Gods AP will have some familiarity with androids, kasathans and lashuntas, although the lashuntas have been altered somewhat. The ysoki are simply space-faring ratfolk. The vesh and the shirrens are your obligatory reptilian and insectoid races respectively. The other Pathfinder races such as elves, dwarves and halflings are not core races, but it has been hinted at that they will be introduced later*.

Classes are mostly self-explanatory. They are envoy, mechanic, mystic, operative, soldier, technomancer and solarian. The envoy is the party "face". The mystic and technomancer are the cleric and wizard respectively. The operative is the rogue, while the solarian is a sort of space monk, like a Starfinder jedi.

Themes are aspects of your character that reflect background and/or motivations. The options available in the core rules are ace pilot, bounty hunter, icon, mercenary, outlaw, priest, scholar, spacefarer, xenoseeker and themeless. Somewhat counterintuitively, there are no restrictions regarding combinations of themes and classes, so it is possible to have a priest mechanic or a mercenary mystic. Clearly some combinations will require exotic backstories. The purpose of themes is to provide a starting ability score bonus to one stat and a few minor boons to the character as he gains levels.

I decided to try out the character creation procedure by making a kasathan spacefarer mystic named Kolrez. After making those preliminary decisions, it is time to get to the number-crunching. The point buy system is a bit different in Starfinder as compared to Pathfinder. You start with straight 10s, then adjust your ability scores based on race and theme modifiers. Kolrez gets +2 STR and WIS and -2 INT for being a kasathan and +1 CON for being a spacefarer. So his starting ability scores are: STR 12, DEX 10, CON 11, INT 8, WIS 12, CHA 10. You have an additional 10 points to spend on a 1-for-1 basis, although no ability score can exceed 18 at this point. Note that ability modifiers are the same in Starfinder as Pathfinder. With that in mind, I distribute my additional points to improve CON, INT, WIS and CHA as follows: STR 12, DEX 10, CON 12, INT 9, WIS 18, CHA 12. You cannot transfer points from one ability to another.

Next, we look at hit points (hp), stamina points (sp) and resolve points (rp). Stamina points represent general toughness. They are lost first and relatively easy to recover. Hit points indicate actual capacity to endure injury. Resolve points represent willpower and are used to activate certain class features and regain resources such as stamina. None of these points are rolled, all are fixed based on your character race, class, ability modifiers and level. At 1st level, Kolrez gets 4 racial hit points and 6 class hit points for a total of 10 hps to start. At 2nd level and each level beyond, he only gets the 6 class hps. Stamina points are based on class and CON modifier. Kolrez starts out with 6 class sp and 1 CON sp for a total of 7 sp. Finally, resolve points are equal to half your level (minimum of 1) + modifier of your key ability score. Since Kolrez has WIS 18, he gets 4 + 1 rps.

In my next post, I will discuss class features of the mystic, gods and alignments.


*Edit: There is a section in the back of the core book which provides some information on Pathfinder races for those wishing to use them to make Starfinder characters.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Iron Gods - The Divinity Drive 1

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign - spoilers ahead.

The party headed up to a cavern known to both Casandalee and the Technic League that provided entry to the buried spaceship. Zernebeth could only provide limited information as to current League activities within the structure since Zaidow had been very secretive and his only confidants were now deceased. Still, the company was confident they could handle whatever lay ahead.

That confidence would be tested almost immediately, however. As they passed through a glaucite door in the wall of the cave, they entered a large assembly bay. Awaiting inside was a fully-functional annihilator robot. The annihilator immediately attacked, strafing the company with its twin chain guns. As the party scattered and dove for cover, Smangtooth charged forth. What followed was a display of martial prowess that will go down in the annals of Golarion lore. Braving the annihilator's plasma lance, Smangtooth darted beneath the massive robot. Her chainsaw cut deep into its structure, overcoming first its force field and then its armour-plating. The adamantium teeth ripped at its interior components, cutting power conduits and overloading circuits. Before it could respond, a second slash of Smangtooth's chainsword cut through its tail, severing the plasma lance. As it staggered and collapsed, Smangtooth thrust her chainsaw once more into its smoking ruin and the annihilator was destroyed.

With confidence at an all-time high after Smangtooth's victory over the annihilator robot, the company moved on. They would soon encounter a small group of Technic League operatives led by a technomancer named Sila Desaulis. She explained that her group had become trapped here when some force had taken control of all the robots in the ship. The exit was blocked by the annihilator robot and a large section of the deck was being irradiated by lethal radiation. She was happy to hear that the annihilator was destroyed and she was eager to leave. She offered the group a gravitic key which they could use to start up a graviton reactor that the annihilator had been guarding. It would allow them to power up a monorail transport to explore deeper into the ship.

The group took to the monorail to a deck called Habitation Pod 1. The deck appeared to be a self-contained jungle environment, complete with appropriate flora and fauna as well as flowing water and high humidity. As they exited the monorail station, they were immediately set upon by several dwarf-like humanoids (lashuntas) riding dinosaurs. Though tough, the lashuntas were quickly dispatched. The party moved on, bypassing a small village with more lashuntas and eventually arrived at a water-pumping station. Inside, they found a service elevator which they took to another deck.

This new location turned out to a recreation deck. After battling several viper vines in an overgrown section of a park, they entered a market square. Dozens of humanoids wandered about talking idly to one another in small groups. Though at first glance they appeared human, upon closer inspection, they were revealed to be androids. They made brief acknowledgements of the party and would reply if addressed, but they seemed remarkably unperturbed by the rough-looking adventurers that just appeared among them. They also offered little insight when questioned, mostly referring repeatedly to someone named Deacon Hope and some future event they called the "Great Advent to Come". Although they did notice a small number of the androids seemed to pay a bit more attention to them than the rest, there was little to alarm the group and they quickly got bored.

Leaving the square, they found a holotheatre. Perusing the selection of available holovids, they found little of interest, although it was clear most of the library had been rather crudely deleted. Looking around, they found a passage to a backstage area. What they found was a nightmarish abattoir of humanoid body parts and viscera strewn about and arranged in a depraved artistic display. A pair of interlocutor kytons, attended by a pair of sacristan kytons were adding to the carnage. The disgusted company slaughtered the vile fiends. They would also find a shrine to Unity and an android creche guarded by more kytons and a particularly powerful kasathan fighter who wielded two chainsaws. With the minions destroyed, it was time to find this Deacon Hope.


Monday, August 14, 2017

Iron Gods - Palace of Fallen Stars 4

We continue with our Iron Gods campaign - spoilers ahead.

With the party refreshed and prepared, and the dybbuk still weakened by the previous battle, round two turned out to be anti-climactic. The dybbuk was quickly dispatched and the company was ready to take on the Technic League. They located the secret door to the tunnel and made their way to the Technic League compound. After dispatching a couple gearsman battleguards manning the entrance at the other end of the tunnel, they began searching for a stairwell leading up.

Following a brief, but tense battle with a pair of tarry demodands in a geothermal reactor room, they found a stair. It led up to the courtyard of the complex. They used dimension door to cross the courtyard without drawing the attention of several human and robotic sentries and slipped in through the main door of the Technic League headquarters. Through scrying and communication with Zernebeth, the company had a pretty good idea of the layout and made a rapid advance toward the main tower where they expected Ozmyn Zaidow to be found. They battled several gearsmen and a powerful iron golem, but it only took a few minutes to make the top of the tower.

Smangtooth broke through the door and Ghartone, Ozmyn and a myrmidon robot awaited.

The mymidon blasted away with its laser rifle while its quantum lashes slashed at Smangtooth. Ghartone supported the robot with fire bombs and Ozmyn cast spells while invisible. Ozmyn quickly found himself out of allies and temporarily blind. He had no choice but to teleport away.

Frustrated by the escape of their quarry, the party set about looting Ghartone's remains and Ozmyn's chamber. After a couple of minutes, the party heard the sound of screaming from the stairwell. Following the sound, they burst into Zernebeth's chamber. Ozmyn had returned and he'd brought allies. A woman and several kytons surrounded Zernebeth, preparing to kill her while Ozmyn watched and waited for the party. Most powerful of the kytons was an interlocutor named Krimox the thrice-flensed. He was a collaborator with the woman, Gryne Rasik, another captain of the Technic League and ally of Ozmyn.

Early on, the fight went well for the party. Smangtooth's chainsaw and Nils' laser rifle managed to gravely wound the kytons and Ozmyn. However, that allowed Rasik to successfully affect Smangtooth with a flesh to stone spell. There was a moment of shock as the half-orc barbarian turned into a fierce-looking statue. The desperate battle resumed around the petrified half-orc; laser fire, slashing claws, blades and spells. In the end, the company prevailed, Ozmyn Zaidow was slain and Zernebeth was rescued. With cooperative leaders on the throne of the Black Sovereign and in the office of commander of the Technic League,the party was now ready to take the fight to Silver Mount and the mad godling, Unity.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Iron Gods - Palace of Fallen Stars 3

We continue with our Iron Gods AP - major spoilers ahead.

Among the belongings acquired from the Technic League captain killed in the ambush at the Night Market was a commset. The commander of the deceased captain, seeing that a dangerous new player had arrived on the scene, decided to use the commset to contact the party. She turned out to be Zernebeth, the recently-deposed leader of the League, someone desperately in need of allies at the moment. Seeing an opportunity to reclaim her position, she made a deal with the party, offering her assistance (or, at the very least, acquiescence) for whatever the party was intending, in exchange for removing Ozmyn Zaidow, the current leader of the League. Realizing how much easier it would be to take on Unity without interference from the Technic League, the party agreed. During the discussion, Zernebeth mentioned a secret entrance to the League compound from a tunnel under the palace. Since the Mockery had already explained how taking down the Black Sovereign would disrupt the Technic League as they struggled to regain control of Starfall, it became clear that their next step would be an attack on the palace.

The next day, they made their move. The main hall of the palace was open to the public and so they entered to do a bit of scouting. After wandering about aimlessly and unchallenged for a few minutes, they decided to initiate a confrontation (a fairly typical modus operandi for the company). They approached a pair of guards claiming to be on a diplomatic mission and seeking an audience with the Black Sovereign. When one of the guards left to inquire as to the availability of the Black Sovereign, Nils took it upon himself to go invisible and surreptitiously follow. Nils followed the guard upstairs, noting the presence of many guards including a squad of hill giant shock troops. The eventual destination of the guard was not an audience with the Sovereign, but rather, the office of the guard captain, a man named Ghartone. It was a name the party had heard before, a captain of the Technic League. Ghartone was consulting with a small group of robed clerics of some sort and told the guard to report back that the Black Sovereign was currently unavailable.

Meanwhile, another group of black-cloaked clerics attacked the rest of the party in the main hall. They made short work of them, and upon closer inspection, it was revealed that they were oracles of Zyphus and all were aged men. After a good laugh about a bunch of Zyphus-worshippers tripping on their hems and falling on Targus' sword (Zyphus being the god of accidental death), they reunited with Nils and headed off in search of Ghartone and the Black Sovereign.

There were many battles as they fought their way through the palace; palace guards and battle mages, hill giants and even a catoblepas. But eventually they found themselves in the main throne room. Arrayed against them were numerous guards, including elite gargoyle troops as well as Kevoth-Kul, the Black Sovereign, Tek Mekul, his cousin and second-in-command, Kul-Inkit, the Sovereign's Consort and Ghartone with a pair of gearsman battleguards. Smangtooth, sensing an opportunity for a grand gesture and knowing something of the ways of barbarian cultures, challenged the Black Sovereign to a duel. Kevoth-Kul could not refuse and the battle was on. It was a hard fought contest and both combatants suffered grievous injuries as sinew, flesh and bone gave way to great sword and chainsaw. When Kevoth-Kul fell, there was a moment of silence as the shocked onlookers stood in disbelief. Then Tek Mekul stepped forth and congratulated Smangtooth. He said Smangtooth would have the honour of selecting the successor from the qualified candidates, himself or the Sovereign's Consort. Smangtooth hesitated as she wanted to claim the crown for herself. The guards began to decide among themselves who they supported and in the absence of a clear successor, they sought to force the issue. The guards began to fight among themselves and during the chaos, Ghartone ordered his battleguards to fire upon Kul-Inkit.

One rocket struck the consort and knocked her down. Seeing this, the party knew that Ghartone (and by extension, the Technic League) wanted Tek Mekul to take the throne. Therefore, they decided to aid Kul-Inkit. They directed attacks at Ghartone and the gearsmen, while Kul-Inkit fought Tek Mekul. When the smoked cleared, Tek Mekul lay dead next to his cousin, the gearsmen were smashed and Ghartone had escaped in the confusion. No doubt, he would return to the League to report on the events that had occurred on this night.

The next day, the party took advantage of the chaos gripping the palace and the city itself to search out the dungeon and find the secret tunnel to the League compound. While down there, they uncovered the treasure room. Though somewhat depleted, it still held much wealth and Smangtooth (still grumbling about not ascending the throne the night before) cleaned it out completely. Moving on, they came upon a great inverted ziggurat which contained the remains of all the previous Black Sovereigns. They began searching this great chamber for a secret door when the restless spirit of the first Black Sovereign attacked. Given the power of the person in life, she returned as no mere spectre, but rather, a true undead horror, a dybbuk. The party fought hard, but the pain touch of the dybbuk was a fearsome attack and the incorporeal nature of the monster made it difficult to damage. Still, they were close to defeating it when it succeeded in casting dominate person upon Smangtooth and ordered her to kill Nils. Nils went invisible and fled the palace with Smangtooth in hot pursuit. For two days, the cat and mouse game continued through the streets of Starfall while riots raged around them. It was only after several attempts that Hala was finally able to successfully cast break enchantment and free Smangtooth from the domination. Time for a reckoning with that dybbuk.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Iron Gods - Palace of Fallen Stars 2

We continue with our Iron Gods adventure path - spoilers ahead.

Having already struck a blow against the Technic League, the party knew they would have to keep the pressure on. If the League had time to prepare, they would become too formidable to attack. The Mockery suggested striking at the Black Sovereign. The Technic League kept the king docile and easily manipulated by supplying him with intoxicants produced from various chemicals collected from Silver Mount. The rebels had learned that an alchemist named Doc Hellbroth had been hired by the League to concoct the drugs. Doc Hellbroth operated a drug den called the Red Reaver which posed a tempting target. If the party could take out Doc Hellbroth, it would disrupt the drug supply. The Black Sovereign would be become uncontrollable until the Technic League could secure a new supplier, a great distraction to be sure.

The party arrived at the Red Reaver the following day. A Tian women named Saoria greeted them and offered a variety of intoxicants for their pleasure. They requested a tour of the place which she willingly provided. She soon suspected they had not come for drugs, but cared little for her employer and allowed them to go about their business without raising an alarm. Eventually they made their way to the lab where Doc Hellbroth was hard at work. He had a clockwork golem standing at the ready to deal with intruders. Hellbroth satred lobbing bombs at the party while the golem slashed away. For a short while, the alchemist inflicted some damage on the party, but Augusto was able to gain control of the golem temporarily and the tide of battle turned. With the defeat of Doc Hellbroth, the party was able to interrupt the drug supply to the Black Sovereign and gain control of his alchemy and cybernetics labs as a bonus.

The next day, they got a call from the Technic League.


Monday, May 29, 2017

Iron Gods - Palace of Fallen Stars 1

We continue our Iron Gods campaign - as always, spoilers ahead.

The party now had Casandalee. The device they had recovered contained her consciousness and allowed her to communicate. She implored the company to make haste for the hateful AI called Unity grew stronger with each day. It intended to achieve godhood and bring about the end of all biological life on Golarion.  They decide to head back to Torch to plan their move.

After consulting with their old friend, Khonnir Baine and gleaning everything they could from Casandalee and Therace, they decided that they would need to take on the Technic League in order to get access to Silver Mount and bring the fight to Unity. It would not be easy and some preparation was in order. The last few adventures had netted them quite a horde and it was time to liquidate it. Most of the group headed south to Absalom, the one place outside of Numeria where they could sell high-tech items, thereby avoiding the eye of the League. Smangtooth, however, had other ideas. She had selected a number of cybernetic devices to be her share of the loot and desired to find someone willing and able to install them. That meant heading to Starfall alone.

Smangtooth sought to make contact with black marketeers as she was sure the Technic League would seize her cybernetics if they found out about them. Unfortunately, Smangtooth is not skilled such activities, preferring to pound on problems until they stop moving. A treacherous innkeeper and an encounter with a couple of gearsmen later and Smangtooth found herself on the run and forced to lay low.

Luckily, Smangtooth's confrontation with the Technic League came to the attention of the Mockery, a rebel movement working to oppose the League and restore the throne of the Black Sovereign to a suitable ruler. Smangooth spent some time with the rebels. They provided access to a cyberneticist who installed her components and provided time for the rest of the party to conclude their business and meet up in Starfall. With the party reunited, they were ready to start harassing the Technic League. The Mockery leader mentioned that a particularly powerful technology was going on auction at the next Night Market, an illegal black market that meets at random locations to avoid League spies. He had go information to suggest the League knew about and would make an attempt to recover the item. The League would probably send a pretty high-ranking agent on the mission, a tempting target for the party.

The party laid in wait when a man named Baron Drund arrived with a collection of items for sale, including something in a locked box. Within minutes, a hooded figure with a pair of bodyguards arrived. The figure approached Baron Drund and requested to look in the box. As the party members approached from the shadows, a negotiation proceeded between the hooded figure and the Baron. As they got closer, they could hear the exchange. The musical cadence of the hooded figure's voice indicated that she was a bard using her abilities to convince the Baron to surrender the item for free. The bodyguards noticed the party members and the battle was on. As the various merchants scattered, the party engaged the bodyguards. The hooded figure revealed herself. Her eyes glowed with a weird internal light as she moved about, using her inspire courage ability and swinging her monowhip. She and her bodyguards fought hard, but they were unprepared for such an onslaught. She was cut down before she could dimension door away. Inside the box was a Mk II cortex gun, a potent item indeed. The party returned it to the Baron as a show of good faith and the Technic League was deprived of a powerful lieutenant. The dogs of war have been unleashed.