Saturday, May 19, 2018

Starfinder: Creature Creation

For the last couple of days, I have been playing around with the creature creation rules in the appendices of the Alien Archive book. I decided to have a go at recreating a babau demon for Starfinder. The first step is to select an array. You may choose a combatant, expert or spellcaster array. Since the babau is described as an assassin demon, I chose the expert array since it would require a fair number of skills. The babau is a CR 6 monster in Pathfinder, so that is what I used to acquire EAC, KAC, HP, save modifiers, skill modifiers, ability modifiers and number of special abilities from the array. This results in somewhat lower ability modifiers than the Pathfinder babau and an oddly high Will save, but otherwise reasonable results. We have the option to switch save modifiers to better match the creature concept, so I switch Fort and Will.

Next steps are creature type and subtype grafts, in this case, outsider and demon. The former provides darkvision and some save and attack bonuses, while the latter provides certain immunities, energy resistances and the ability to summon allies. Skipping over class and template grafts, we get to the assignment of special abilities and promptly crash into a brick wall. The Pathfinder babau has a number of abilities not covered under its grafts, including spell resistance, damage reduction, spell-like abilities, natural weapons, multiattack, feats and its unique protective slime ability. However, a CR 6 monster only gets two special abilities according to the array. I believe there is some sort of error here, since there are plenty of monsters in the Alien Archive with far more special abilities than are indicated in the arrays. So, I decide to drop the multiattack, since the babau prefers to use melee weapons anyway. I also drop the feats and spell-like abilities (except summon which is granted by the demon graft). I keep the SR, DR and protective slime ability from the Pathfinder stat block.

Demon, Babau  CR 6
XP 2,400
CE Medium outsider (demon)
Init +1; Senses darkvision 60ft.; Perception +13

Defense  HP 80
EAC 18; KAC 19
Fort +11, Ref +5, Will +5
DR 10/cold iron or good; Immunities electricity, poison;
Resistances fire 10, cold 10, acid 10; SR 17

Speed 30 ft.
Melee spear +15 (1d6+11 P) or claw +15 (1d4+11 S)
Spell-Like Abilities [CL 6th]
1/day - summon allies (1 babau 35%)

Str +5; Dex +1; Con +3; Int +0; Wis +0; Cha +2
Skills Stealth +18, Acrobatics +18, Athletics +18,
Sense Motive +13
Languages Abyssal, Celestial, Draconic, telepathy (100 ft.)
Gear cold iron tactical spear with durable fusion

Environment any
Organization solitary, pair or gang (3-6)

Special Abilities
Protective Slime (Su) A layer of protective slime protects a babau's skin. Any creature that strikes a babau with a natural attack or unarmed strike takes 1d8 points of acid damage from this slime if it fails a DC 18 Reflex save.

Overall, it seems to be a reasonable build. The protective slime ability loses some of its effectiveness because the hardness of advanced materials used in Starfinder is too high to be damaged by the acid. Also, the loss of many of the spell-like abilities did nerf the creature a bit. I might be inclined to give some of those back. One weird observation I did make, the choice of how to assign the ability modifiers seems to have very little effect. The save and skill modifiers are set independent of the ability modifiers that apply to them. Only the damage bonus to melee attacks and initiative modifier change depending on ability modifier assignment. It certainly speeds things up, but is somewhat counterintuitive and makes the assignment of ability scores rather pointless.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Starfinder: Earth and the Cthulhu Mythos

As we prepare to start our first Starfinder campaign in a few weeks, I have been thinking more about the Starfinder setting. There are a lot of pretty cool things in there and I will talk about a few of my favourites in later posts. Right now though, I am going to discuss the planet Earth and its place in the Starfinder universe. We know that Earth exists in the Pathfinder universe. There are at least two APs I am aware of in which characters either travel to Earth directly or encounter evidence that ties to Earth. The version of Earth described in these examples is not necessarily our own, but it is certainly a reasonable facsimile with historical figures, places and events in common with our world.

This relationship becomes more interesting when you consider that the Cthulhu Mythos is very real thing in the Pathfinder/Starfinder universe. This implies that the authors of the Mythos; H.P. Lovecraft mainly, but also August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, Ramsay Campbell and others, exist in the universe and that, rather than being fiction writers, they are actually seers and oracles. Their writings are not merely pulp stories, but are, in actuality, prophecies. So consider for a moment, the number of Great Old Ones who slumber in the dark recesses of our world. Cthulhu sleeps in the city of R’lyeh, somewhere in the depths of the South Pacific. Tsathoggua languishes deep under the American plains in the lightless cavern of N’kai. Ithaqua stalks the Arctic wastes and Gla’aki watches from a murky lake in the Severn valley of Gloucestershire. Still others, Atlach-Nacha, Zoth-Ommog, Y’golonac, Einhort, Cthylla and Ghatanothoa may be found hidden away in forgotten tombs underground or deep below the waves. Most of the Great Old Ones on Earth came from elsewhere and many are imprisoned by the Elder Gods, awaiting a time when “the stars are right” to escape their incarceration.

Now, consider that the period of “present-day” Golarion corresponds to the time when WWI is being fought on Pathfinder Earth. I won’t spoil where this information comes from, but suffice to say, a little research into Pathfinder APs will reveal it easily enough. This would also be the time that Lovecraft began his writing career. At this point, we come to “the Gap”, the millennia-long period of lost memory that even the gods won’t discuss. All we know is that some time during that period, Golarion disappeared, to be replaced by Absalom station. We do not know when this period began in the time reckoning of old Golarion, but it is intriguing to consider that a connection between the Gap and some cataclysmic event leading to the escape of so many Great Old Ones, as foreseen by the great oracle of Providence. It should be noted that Nyarlathotep is now a core deity in the Starfinder universe. What role did the Crawling Chaos play in the events obscured by the Gap to earn such a prominent place in the new order?