CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Character 87 - Mahita

This week’s random rolls left a lot of room to work with. There is so little written on the Impossible Kingdoms of Vudra, and I even got to invent a war. But looking at our character it was almost obvious that I was going to have to go with a wisdom-based caster, but I had to find something that would make use of her high strength and constitution. My initial thought was ranger, but in the long run I decided the intrinsic connection to the Matra river was important and made her a river druid. So I introduce you to our Vundrani halfling and steward of the river.

Mahita


Halflings were never native to Vudra, but as the people of Avistan began to build trade routes through the Impossible Kingdoms many of the sailors who plied those routes were halflings. Some of those little folk set up homes in Vudra, although their numbers are still few and far between. Like many other halflings who latch on to the human cultures in which they live, these Vudrani halflings would adopt some of the native culture’s traditions.

One of these groups of halflings went back to their forebearer’s itinerant ways and they became nomads of the great Matra River. They lived off of barges and brought trade goods up and down its banks. As the story goes: Early on in their time in Vudra the leader of the group, a charismatic hafling named Urly, saved a Vudran princess from drowning. The Rajah wished to give him a reward -- lands and a title -- but the halfling wanted to continue to ply the river. So the Vudrani ruler made him the prince of the section of the Matra River that ran through his kingdom.

Generations later the river dwelling halflings still claim that section of the River as their own. They are the only halflings with hereditary titles in all of Vudra. The current Prince of the River is a man named Nadish, having adopted Vudrani names over the generations. Nadish has five children including a daughter named Mahita.

Mahita took after her father in that she loved the river. Everything from the water to the banks held her interest. She wanted nothing more than to see her family and her river prosper. Like most of the halflings in her group she paid homage to the goddess of the river, Matravash, but unlike many others The Wide Water also spoke to her. Over time this connection would grow and she would become a druid of the river, but her first contact with the spirit of the river was to warn her of the coming war.

The Matra had been essential to trade in Vudra. Each Rajah controls the part of the river that traverses his domain. However, everyone wanted to claim the river trade for themselves. Backed by the Rajahs of their domains individual trading companies began sabotaging each other. Fighting would break out in tiny skirmishes until those who used the river for illicit trade got involved. Full on war between trading companies (that could be disavowed by the Rajahs) broke out.

The Prince of the River did his best to keep his own people together and protect his portion of the river. Unlike many of the other river traders he was a noble and this was his domain. Although his Rajah could not intervene, the prince knew it was his duty to keep his land – or water in this case – safe. Mahita would join in her father’s plans, along with her then lover Nikattah.

During the fighting of what would become known as the Undeclared War, the Prince of the River’s forces would most often clash with the river smugglers who sought to take advantage. Mahita and her partner hated these men for the dishonor they brought to the river. In a ruse to root out information about the smuggler leader’s plans the two girls would try and tempt the River Rats into divulging these secrets. Mahita, never the best people person, failed but had no qualms about trying. Nikattah was better at it, but not good enough to go undetected and sadly the River Rats killed her, leaving Mahita to mourn her lover’s loss.

The Undeclared War would end in less than a year. There were many casualties and bad blood left between those who had to continue to trade with each other. The River Rats suffered a terrible blow from the fury of Mahita and the forces of her father, the River Prince. The smugglers are now all but known in the prince’s territory for fear of deadly reprisal.

Even the great goddess Matravash saw the valor in her halflings and especially Mahita who had heeded her warning well. The Wide Water gifted Mahita with magics and a deeper connection to the waters her family had plied for generations. Even one of the creatures of the Matra, a river otter, presented itself to her as a companion. She named it Nik after her lost love.

With three older siblings, Mahita realizes that as much as she loves the river and her people, she will not be the next Prince of the River. So for now she has decided to take to traveling, to get to know the entire length of the waters of which Matravash has made her a steward. With Nik at her side and the knife given to her by her companion’s namesake, she heads off into the wider world.

How did you flesh out your halfling? What class did the she choose? How did your halflings get to Vudra? When did her family become nobles? What war did she witness?

Bringing these characters to life is a second full-time job. A pledge of as little as one dollar a month on Patreon or a one-time donation to my paypal can help keep the lights on while I concentrate on producing new content for you.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mind Over Matter

The Use of Teleport, Mind Reading, and Scrying in Your Games

As much as I enjoy Pathfinder, high level play can make being a GM some what harder. After you’ve set up your bad guy and their plans you think of all the fun the players will have rooting out your plot over time, finding your bad guy, and getting to him. Along comes your high level casters and they mind read the bad guy’s minions, scry on the big bad, and then teleport to him and ignore all the other stuff you set up. It can become quite frustrating. So how do we work around this stuff, without making the player’s feel like they’ve wasted their spells?

Mind Reading


Casters get their first “mind reading” spell at the second spell level (so around third or fourth character level). Detect thoughts allows you to read surface thoughts. The next big “mind reading” spell is seek thoughts. Let’s say you have a group of the villain’s minions that you’ve captured. And you pick one randomly to interrogate but his mind seems resistant to your efforts. But what about everyone else?

Seek thoughts allows your player to scan the vicinity for anyone who is thinking about a question or topic you have in mind. Ultimate Intrigue has a side bar that tells us that seek thoughts doesn’t tell us who is thinking a thing just that someone in the group is. So you can't look at a group of half dozen people and say that one guy is thinking about it. You can say one person in the group is thinking about it, or a few people are thinking about it, but you cannot pinpoint who it is.

On their own they're not too incredibly powerful, but any good player will combine these spells with asking questions, trying to lead the NPC to think about the things they want answers to. Now NPCs can get a will save to avoid having their thoughts detected altogether, but there are no actual rules for not thinking about something. So how do you get the NPCs to think about what the players want them to without it becoming a constant GM telling them no because he thinks it makes the plot too easy?

As I started writing this article the topic came up in my group’s Skype chat. Literally I was halfway through this section when I was met with a lot of new ideas. So here are some of those ideas: A second will save may be in order not to think about something. A bluff versus a sense motive check (a little oversimplified) could certainly do the trick. Both of these ideas are simple, but personally I don’t think they speak to the complexity of the situation

What I’ve come up with and what I think I’m going to use is this: It’s three rolls -- which may seem a little much but it works so that the GM doesn’t always say he's not thinking about the topic the players are trying to find out about. The obvious first roll is the save for the spell. If the target succeeds on this there’s no point in the rest. The second roll is to determine if he’s aware he is being lead to think about something. If it’s this roll is against the caster, the spell says you roll sense motive at a DC 25. If it’s not the caster I’m going with an opposed sense motive roll vs the interrogator's bluff roll.

The final roll for actually resisting is a bit more complicated. If target don’t know its being led, the interrogator rolls bluff roll vs a will save that the target automatically take ten on. I did some calculations and barring modifiers at level 13 a good base will save with iron will and a good wisdom modifier versus a good interrogator without any feats or traits to add to bluff only needs to roll a 4 or better to lead his witnesses thoughts. All in all pretty balanced. If one knows one is being led the target instead rolls their will save instead of taking ten. And there can always be modifiers, what those modifiers are will be up to the GM. Stress, what would happen if they let the information slip, being schizophrenic, anything, but I recommend not letting your modifiers not add up to more than +/- 10.

These rules assume that the NPCs aren’t just randomly thinking about these things to start. There is always the chance of that happening. For the most part this will be GM fiat, sometimes I want to give out some information and sometimes I want to make them work for it. But if you want a roll to determine if the person just happens to be thinking about it when the spell is cast the caster can roll a caster level check versus the opponents will save +10.

There are many other things to consider though, like what an individual person knows. For the most part minor minions aren’t going to know the big plan. Depending on how secretive the bad guy or organization is the rank and file members may only know about their own group and safe house. Paranoid bad guys may even go so far as to misinform their lower ranked followers. Mind reading Bob might get you one answer, while mind reading Larry may get you another.

You also have to define what a surface thought is. Is it just text like reading a novel? Or is it more like a children’s book, a series of images that make up the story? Are thoughts more a set of feelings or are feelings included? Or are thoughts a huge jumble of words, images, and feelings? If thoughts in any way include words, what happens when the person’s native tongue is not something you speak? I know I think in English but what if the NPC thinks in Derro and you don’t speak Derro?

Detect thoughts also doesn’t work through. 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt blocks the ability. Super paranoid baddies may wear a lead helmet to keep their thoughts from being read. I am now picturing them wearing lead versions of tinfoil hats. You’re welcome.

Scrying


Scrying is thwarted quite a bit more easily than mind reading. As the NPCs level, if they are casters or have access to magic through an ally, they gain spells that disrupt scrying at about the same level the PCs gain access to scrying. Nondetection at spell level 3, Mage’s Private Sanctum at spell level 5, and Mind Blank at spell level 8 all do the job quite well. But all those spells are for wizards mostly. What about clerics? Spell Immunity and greater spell immunity make clerics immune to a specific spell, one for every four levels.

If you want to have a little fun with your players, False Visions will show a scryer the equivalent of a major image. The normal version can be tied to any location but the greater versions can tied to an individual and move with them wherever they go. This can lead to some interesting mistaken pieces of information retrieved by the players.

But what about those NPCs that can’t cast spells themselves you ask? Magic items are the obvious answer. The Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location, or a Ring of Counterspells loaded up with scry will keep you from being found. The one mundane thing people forget is that lead stops scrying period. Any big bad worth his salt that has had to face casters with scrying before will line his inner sanctum at the very least with lead.

Teleportation


So your players have found the bad guy and they want to teleport directly into his inner sanctum. Or maybe they’ve had one encounter and they want to teleport out to heal up and come back the next day. There are a lot of ways teleporting can ruin a perfectly good adventure but it’s not as powerful as people give it credit for.

First off if you scry the bad guy – assuming his lair is not lead lined – you cannot just teleport to that location. Even if you know the complete dimensions of the room and all the objects in the room, you actually have no clue where the room is. Without this knowledge you cannot get to that location. Even if, say, you knew a room was in a house but you didn’t know where it the house it was, trying to teleport there would be incredibly risky or impossible.

Then, of course, if your bad guy is a spellcaster he may have magical means to be able to stop teleportation. Teleport trap is a handy little spell that lets you divert to another specific area with a medium range. And it works on those teleporting both into and out of the area, denying both immediate entrances and quick escapes. Although there is a will save, this only stops them from being shunted to the new location, the teleport spell still doesn’t take them away from the area and is wasted.

Finally there is the hidden clause most people forget that some call the “volcano hideout clause.” Areas of strong physical or magical energy may make teleportation more hazardous or even impossible. So, locations such as the aforementioned active volcano, hurricanes and tsunamis, intense lightning storms, and other such extreme natural phenomena can outright stop someone from being able to teleport.

Places that house many powerful magical devices, portals to other planes of existence, or just rooms with many magical spells cast on them may hinder teleportation as well. It’s up the GM to determine what constitutes “strong” magical energy. Again there is a fine balance between challenging your players and thwarting them at every turn.

So there you have it, some interesting tidbits about the spells that a lot of GMs say ruin high level play. Do you use these spells as a player? How has your GM allowed them to work or not work? As a GM how have you adjudicated these spells in the past? Where is your fine line between a challenge and denying your players use of some fun and interesting abilities?

The CRB has let you in on my thoughts without the need for intrusive magic. If I’ve helped you expand how you think about these spells as either a GM or a player please consider becoming a contributor. Monthly donations of as little as one dollar can be made to my Patreon. A one-time donation can easily be made to my Patreon. A one-time donation can easily be made to my Paypal. Every bit helps me keep the lights on so I can concentrate on bringing you the content you deserve.

The CRB has been growing as a community on social media. Please join us on FacebookGoogle+Tumblr, and Twitter. My inbox is open on all forums for questions, comments, and discussion. If you don’t want to miss a beat make sure you sign up to have the CRB pushed directly to your e-reading device with Kindle Subscriptions through Amazon.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Random Roll 87 - The Randomness

Halflings in Vudra, you don’t say. This character is interesting on so many levels not the least of which is that before adjustments both of the stats that halflings get a bonus in were the two lowest and the one that halflings get a negative in was the highest. So this really was not your stereotypical halfling right from the get go. The most fun part of the background is going to be figuring how her families are nobility if they are part of a travelling band or caravan. All in all some really good stuff for which you will just have to stay tuned to see me pull together.

Gender: Female
Race: Halfling
Nationality: Vudra
Age:  26
Height: 2’ 8”
Weight: 27lbs
Alignment: Lawful Neutral

Str: 14
Dex: 11
Con:  15
Int: 11
Wis: 14
Cha: 10

Homeland: Traveling Band or Caravan
Parents: Both of your parents are alive.
Siblings: You have 5 biological siblings.
- biological older brother
- biological older sister
- biological older sister
- biological younger sister
- biological younger brother
Circumstance of Birth: [Noble Birth] You were born to privilege among the nobility. Unless one of your parents is the regent, your family serves a higher-ranked noble but lesser nobles serve your family in turn.
Parent's Profession: [Gentry] You are the child of a minor lord, lady, or noble with an income, hereditary land such as a manor, and titles. You likely grew up in a manor and your parents were paid tribute by peasants. Your parents serve a higher baron, count, or duke.
Major Childhood Event: [The War] You grew up against the backdrop of a major military conflict that affected much of your childhood world. You became accustomed to a short food supply, living in occupied territory, and moving from place to place. Several of the people you knew in your childhood were lost in the war, including members of your family.

Influential Associate: [The Lover] You had a romantic connection in your adolescent years, and this person deeply influenced your personality. Perhaps this was a first love, a casual partner you grew close to, or the one who got away. The experience bolstered your confidence in romantic interactions even though you often find your thoughts still straying toward that special someone from so long ago.

Conflict: [Seducer] You tempted or manipulated someone to act in accordance with your whim, careless of whether it was in their own best interests.
Conflict Subject: Gangster or underworld figure.
Conflict Motivation: Hatred or Malice.
Conflict Resolution: [No Guilt] Either guilt is for the weak, or you know you made the right decision. You might not openly brag about your part in the conflict, but you don’t deny it when confronted either.
Deity/Religious Philosophy:Matravash

Romantic Relationship(s): [A Few Significant Relationships] You’ve tried to make deep connections with individuals on several occasions, but it’s never worked out.
Drawback: [Attachment (Object)] You are attached to a precious possession with immense sentimental value and significance. Without it, you are no longer yourself and are prone to suffer from depression, moodiness, or aggressive behavior.

(Trait) Charming
(Trait) Friend in Every Town
(Trait) Influence
(Trait) Kin Guardian
(Trait) Rich Parents
(Trait) Vagabond Child
(Story Feat) Deny the Reaper
(Story Feat) True Love
(Drawback) Attached

In the comments give us your ideas for how to make this into a fully realized character? What class would this character take up? How is he a noble with lands if her family are part of a caravan? What are a group of halflings doing in Vudra? Which conflict has she witnessed? And don’t forget to stay tuned Friday when my background hits the CRB. 

The CRB not only brings you the creative content you desire but makes you look inside for your own creativity. If you feel both inspired and pushed to created please consider supporting your favorite content provider – that’s me right – by pledging as little as $1 on my Patreon or making a direct donation to my Paypal.

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Snakes, Why'd It Have To Be Snakes

The Scaled of Nalinivati

Many of the ascended deities came from human stock; Aroden, Cayden, and Irori to name a few. But in the far Eastern realm of Tian Xia one of their deities ascended from the serpentine naga. Before rising to divinity she carved out a nation for her people and created a servitor race in the nagaji, who she later gave free will as a god. So today we look at Nalinivati, the Tian deity of fertility, nagaji, snakes, and sorcery. Here are three possible sects for use in your games.

As always, let us imagine we are sitting at our theoretical gaming table. Our imaginary GM sets out the rules for the game that we will play. In this game, we are to make a follower of Nalinivati. The character does not need to be a divine caster, just a devotee of The Serpent’s Kiss What character do you make?

For more information on Nalinivanti:
Nalinivati’s Pathfinder Wiki Page 
Nalinivati’s Archives of Nethys Page 

The Serpent’s Nest


Although a majority of her worshipers are nagaji, there are pockets of other followers of Nalinivati around Tian. One such sect, The Serpent’s Nest, has followers in small towns all over the country. The Serpent’s Nest is a group of midwives who aid in everything from conception through postnatal care. The sect uses both mundane and magical means to facilitate all aspects of childcare.

Clerics, sorcerers, and bards make up a bulk of those who once adventured and settled down to become members of the sect. Many more of the group’s members are just adepts and experts who specialize in medical care. There is no specific entry rites to join the sect, just willingness to aid mothers and would-be mothers. Many seek acceptance into the group after losing children of their own so that others do not need to feel their pain.

The Scaled Sentinels


Nalinivati is consider both the mother of the naga nobility in Nagajor and the creator of the nagaji race. A group of all female nagaji sorcerers have both dedicated themselves to The Serpent’s Kiss and to defending her children, the royal naga. The Scaled Sentinels are considered elite guards and every naga ruler keeps at least a few on retainer if nothing else as a sign of their status.

All of the nagaji who make up The Scaled Sentinels are female, just as the rulership is matriarchal. Each one is a sorcerer as well, with the abberant, arcane, and serpentine bloodlines being the most popular. Some of the members will also learn a martial form, usually becoming an eldritch knight, or an monk fighting with the UlarTangan style.

The Envenomed


Worship of the Serpent’s Kiss is uncommon outside of Tian but not unheard of. The most common place to find devotees of Nalinivati beyond Tian-Xia’s borders is the Impossible Kingdoms of Vudra. Although the naga of Nagajor insist that their kind spread out from Tian, it is rumored that the nagas came from Vudra first and snake cults are not unheard of there. The Envenomed is a secretive cult of assassins whose signature is death by poison.

The sect includes both martial and magical members. Rogues, monks, and fighters make up a core of the martial arm of the sect. They use a fighting style similar to UlarTangan which mimics the movement of snakes. The magical arm of the sect are wizards, sorcerers, and magi who specialize in poison spells. There is also a group of alchemists dedicated to concocting the most lethal and hardest to detect poisons.

Some deities slither into the hearts of her followers. Who is your disciple of Nalinivati? Why have they chosen to dedicate themselves to The Serpent’s Kiss? Where does their devotion to this Tian deity come from? Let me know in the comments.

If the CRB has helped you take a closer look at those inspired by the divine, please consider showing support and become one of my patrons by donating to my Patreon or making a donation to my Paypal. Looking for more out of the CRB? Then you’re in luck! FacebookGoogle +Tumblr, and Twitter all have a CRB presence. And if you’re as impatient as I am, have the CRB pushed directly to your Kindle with every new post by signing up for Kindle Subscriptions.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Character 86 - Borgo Blackscale

Illustration by Luis Perez
Snakes. This week our random rolls really gave us the opportunity to get serpentine. We had a half-orc who follows the goddess of the naga and all things snake-like. He was big but not strong, hefty but not durable. Although touched by divine power at birth and the fact he at one point died really spoke to a divine class, his low wisdom made that impossible. We had to make do with a high intelligence and a high charisma. So to that end I kept to the basics and went with the sorcerer class. But how did I tie it all together? Let’s find out.

Borgo Blackscale

Borgo Blackscale was born to a small enclave of orcs living in the swamps of the Hooktongue Slough. His tribe had lived in the area for a few generations after fleeing Numeria. Upon their arrival they had come to follow a water naga who used the area they were dwelling as her summer home. If they served her she promised to protect them from the boggards and trolls that infested the area.

The orcs became a serpent cult, serving the naga and paying homage to the goddess of her kind, Nalinivati. Occasionally the naga would bring other followers, lost mainly, to the little village and one of these men would become Borgo’s father. When the half-orc was born he was blessed by the shaman and came into the world with a crack of divine energy.

The cult was pretty self-sufficient, most of what they needed could be found in the swamplands. The group would occasionally need to hire out to run off particularly foul beasts when the water naga was in her winter home, and a mercenary crew arranged to come through around that time every year. The band was small but effective and always dealt fairly with the orcs. Borgo was always keen on the mercenaries being able to travel where they wanted when they wanted, and he respected them for their fairness with his people.

Growing up Borgo wanted the freedom that the mercenaries had, although he quite misunderstood what kind of responsibility freedom meant. He wanted to be an outlaw like tales he heard of famous other ne’er-do-wells in the River Kingdoms. He even went so far as to rob a young wizard who was travelling the waterways near the swamp. But the use of violence to threaten another never sat right with him so he never told anyone although, he regrets it deeply.

Illustration by Luis Perez
On his fifteenth birthday Borgo was officially inducted into the cult. As all who had come before him, the rite of passage was a trial by snake bite. The snakes they use usually didn’t give more than an allergic-like reaction but Borgo went into shock and died. His passage over to the other side was brief, but long enough to give the boy – now a man – a new outlook on life. His emotional changes were also accompanied by physical changes, which included a patch of black scales on his chest.

Between being touched by Nalinivati at birth and his near death experience, something awakened inside of him. The touch of the serpent in his blood allowed him to force his will upon the world in strange new ways. When the water naga returned in the summer she found the young boy struggling to manifest his power and she trained him. She taught him that his powers came from within and showed him how best to force them into existence. For this Borgo would always love his mentor although he knew she would never reciprocate.

When she could teach him no more she suggest that he do as she did; head out into the world and explore, although never forget about home. So Borgo packed his things and made plans to set out into the world. His plan is to travel for a year and then return home and share his experiences.

So what became of your half-orc? What class did the he choose? How did he die? Why did he rob a spellcaster? Who was the mercenary that influenced him?

Bringing these characters to life is a second full-time job. A pledge of as little as one dollar a month on my Patreon or a one-time donation to my paypal can help keep the lights on while I concentrate on producing new content for you.

The CRB has been growing as a community on social media; please join us on Facebook,  Google+Tumblr, and Twitter. My inbox is open on all forums for questions, comments, and discussion. If you don’t want to miss a beat make sure you sign up to have the CRB pushed directly to your e-reading device with Kindle Subscriptions through Amazon.

The character illustration was created by the fine artist Luis Perez. You can find him on TwitterTumblr, and on Instagram at luisperezart