Monday, September 29, 2014

Agathion, Lunula

The following creature was my submission for Here Be Monsters contest organized by Sword For Hire blog and Freelance Forge community. As it can be easily noticed by looking on Sword For Hire webpage I haven't made to the top five so I decided to show this monster here on my blog.

Each of the submissions had to be based on a request made in Pathfinder's Bestiary 5 Wishlist thread on Paizo messageboard — I went with Jason "Mikaze" Garrett's request for "octopus-based agathion (or any other celestial). The last part is the important one, because while I was writing this creature it morphed from agathion to azata because of two reasons:

1) There are two aquatic agathions already in Pathfinder Bestiaries (three counting Mikaze's aequoreal agathion from Wayfinder #8, with excellent picture drawn by Crystal Frazier, if I am not mistaken—there is no signature on the picture itself but I think that it was mentioned in thread about that Wayfinder issue) but no aquatic azata...

2) When I was writing this creature I felt that despite having an animal-based shape it's secondary to its freedom-loving nature. I felt nothing animalistic  about it, which I think is integral part of agathion nature.

The following part is in the form I sent as submission, without changes. I am pretty sure I would rewrite some parts, especially the description. I might work on this monster in the future to make it better—I think that very short description failed to capture both the essence of the monster and hearts of the judges.

The name of the entity itself is based on second part of greater blue-ringed octopus scientific name: Hapalochlaena lunulata.

Agathion, Lunula

This rainbow-hued octopus floats in the air, the shortest two of its eight tentacles ending with humanoid hands. Unlike mundane octopus it has human-like face in place of its beak.

Agathion, Lunula CR 10
XP 9,600
CG Large Outsider (aquatic, azata, chaotic, extraplanar, good)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Perception +24
DEFENSE
AC 24, touch 12, flat-footed 21 (+3 Dex, +12 natural, –1 size)
hp 126 (12d10+60)
Fort +4, Ref +13, Will +13
Defensive Ability price of freedom; DR 5/cold iron and evil; Immune electricity, petrification; Resist cold 10, fire 10; SR 21
OFFENSE
Speed 20 ft., fly 30 ft. (perfect), swim 30 ft.
Melee kiss +19 touch (gift of peace), 6 tentacles +18 (1d6+4 plus grab and pull)
Ranged 2 rainbow rays +14 touch (2d6 plus special)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (20 ft. with tentacles)
Special Attacks constrict (1d6+4), pull (tentacle, 5 ft.), rainbow pulse
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 12th; concentration +15)
At will—greater teleport (self and 50 lbs of gear only), remove fear
3/day—magic circle against evil or law (lunala’s choice), mass cure light wounds
1/day—break enchantment, raise dead, restoration
1/year—freedom
STATISTICS
Str 26, Dex 16, Con 20, Int 17, Wis 21, Cha 17
Base Atk +12; CMB +21 (+4 grapple); CMD 33 (can’t be tripped)
Feats Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Multiattack, Weapon Focus (tentacle)
Skills Bluff +18, Diplomacy +18, Escape Artist +26, Fly +24, Knowledge [history] +18, Knowledge [planes] +18, Perception +24, Sense Motive +24, Stealth +14 (+26 when motionless); Racial Modifiers +8 to Escape Artist, +12 to Stealth while motionless
Languages Celestial, Draconic, Infernal; truespeech
SQ amphibious
ECOLOGY
Environment any (Elysium)
Organization solitary, pair, or squad (3-6)
Treasure standard
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Gift Of Peace (Su) A sentient creature kissed by a lunala is given a vague but vivid vision of choice between peaceful existence and aggression. Creature that chooses peace is placed in blissful dream-like state while her body remains safe in temporal stasis. This effect lasts as long as the creature remains in contact with the lunala plus one round thereafter. A creature that chooses aggression is staggered for one round and remains sickened for as long as it remains in contact with lunala plus one round thereafter. A creature making the choice is fully aware of results of both choice.

Price of Freedom: A lunala can use its freedom ability as an immediate action to interrupt an effect that would bind, capture or otherwise restrain it. Whenever a lunala uses its freedom spell-like ability, it is forced back to Nirvana and put into a dream-like stasis similar to its own gift of peace for a year and a day, though.

Rainbow Pulse (Su): Once per day, a lunula can project a pulse of rainbow light as a standard action. A rainbow pulse is 60-ft. radius burst affecting all creatures within as if they were struck by a rainbow ray.

Rainbow Ray (Su): A lunala can project beams of rainbow light from its hands with 60 feet range. Any creature struck by one of the rays immediately receives another saving throw (if one was allowed to begin with) against any spells or effects that possess or exercise mental control over the creature (including enchantment [charm] effects and enchantment [compulsion] effects, such as charm person, command, and dominate person). This saving throw is made with a +2 morale bonus, using the same DC as the original effect. If successful, such effects are suppressed for a number of rounds equal to the lunala’s Charisma bonus (3 rounds for typical lunala). This spell does not expel a controlling life force (such as a ghost or spellcaster using magic jar), but it does prevent them from controlling the target.

A lunala is entity of benign chaos, champion of freedom and individual choice restrained only by compassion and empathy. Sometimes lunalas are mistaken for an exotic agathion, which happens from time to time because of their animalistic appearance. While they don’t seem to mind this, they always try to correct whoever made that mistake believing that knowledge is important component of being able to make free choices.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fantasy Races: Xenopi

Xenopi

Xenopi are strange, but generally gregarious and friendly octopus-like beings. Amphibious in nature, xenopi prefer shallow warm seas, warm swamps, and tropical jungles and avoid cold or dry environments. Unlike many sapient races, xenopi are hermafrodites, without tendency to perceive world in dualistic categories typical to dually gendered species. Xenopi have very casual approach to their sexuality, mating, and reproduction — they are equally happy with long passionate caresses and with matter-of-fact rubbing of secondary tentacles with friendly members of their species. Fertilized eggs hatch into plankton-like larvae that are occasionally released in salt water around xenopi settlements. Growing larvae are mostly ignored by xenopi and tread like a part of local fauna until their bioluminescent glands develop enough to communicate. Interestingly, all xenopi seem to share inherent understanding of written form of Aklo language, allowing them to communicate as soon as their glands develop, which occurs before development of full sapience. Sub-sapient near adults gravitate towards the nearest xenopi community where they observe, mimic adults, learn, and sometimes even complete simple tasks. During this phase they are treated more like animals — domesticated pets at best, or pests at worst, until they achieve full adulthood, full intelligence, and master ability to communicate and understand complex abstract ideas.

As mostly aquatic species, xenopi never developed native metallurgy or other fire-based technologies, instead relying on coral shaping, bone carving, harvesting chitin, and breeding specialized plants, oozes, jellies, and other invertebrates for their purposes. Jungle and swamp communities also invented their own strain of mostly organic-based alchemy. Despite their path of development, xenopi sometimes use metal tools and trinkets acquired from land-dwellers through barter for their own exotic products, but never become dependent on them.

Physical Description: A xenopi looks like a fur-covered octopus, with two long manipulator tentacles, two shorter tentacles that act both as secondary manipulators and sexual organs and four medium length tentacles that are primary used for locomotion. The fur is actually a unique skin growth instead of mammalian hair and contains luminescent glands capable of showing complex patterns, including letters, sigils or even simple pictures. Because of the role of the glands in xenopi communication, they avoid wearing clothing, unless they deliberately try to blend in with humanoid races.

Society: Because of the way they reproduce xenopi lack any sort of family or blood bonds, instead viewing all the adult and near adult individuals of their race as a distant kin. Lack of inherent bonds and weak sense of ownership makes xenopi communities very flexible — individuals move between roles, functions, and communities, according to their desires, plans and sense of need. Xenopi communities are functionally cooperatives that rely on individuals volunteering to take specific functions, possibly with duplication of roles if multiple xenopi desire specific function. While the communities are efficient and reasonable in use of available resources, including unwillingness to waste them, they do not feel tied to place, and are willing to relocate to different place if the local resources are depleted, or threats overshadow benefits of the resources present.

Relations: For a bizarre alien race, xenopi are surprisingly friendly species, deeply interested in other races — too interested for the more wary humanoids. Many subtle and not so subtle differences in their biology, culture, and outlook make the interaction awkward or even outrightly creepy. Xenopi often misunderstand or misinterpret humanoid customs, such as equating shaking hands with mating, children with pets or pests, and completely failing to discern between stronger and weaker relationships, and higher and lower ranks.

Alignment And Religion: Without innate sense of possession selfishness and greed are rare traits among xenopi — occasional evil xenopi tend toward callousness, ruthlessness, or outright cruelty instead, with last being often flavored with morbid curiosity. While xenopi are naturally predisposed toward sharing and generosity, their lack of understanding of humanoid races tempers their compassion. Additionally they do not seem to understand forgiveness, being merciless toward those who hurt them — rarely however, being unjustly and excessively vengeful. Most of xenopi gravitate toward neutral with mild good and chaotic tendencies, with lawful and evil alignments being rarer. Xenopi do not worship deities — they are aware of existence of uncaring elder gods, whose power they occasionally tap, while trying to avoid drawing their attention at the same time. A very few chose to follow the younger deities, seeing them more akin to allies than patrons to be served. Even a smaller number of xenopi are nihilists actively serving (or at least believing they serve) the Great Old Ones and trying to gather attention of those unspeakable entities and call their spiritual or physical presence on unprepared worlds.

Adventurers: Xenopi are naturally inquisitive race, often adventuring in search for lost or new knowledge, but they seem to lack greed for physical possessions beyond things that are or might be actually needed. Physical violence is avoided unless needed, except by the rare cruel xenopi, but even those try to be indirect. Most adventuring xenopi are spellcasters of some sort, with wizards and alchemists being the most common, with many magi and witches mixed into the blend. Some represent more exotic disciplines of magic, such as sorcerers, summoners, and oracles.

Personal Names: When interacting with other races, xenopi respond to being named by their favorite color (or combination thereof) and geometric patterns, like Blue-Triangle, Green-Dot-In-Yellow-Circle or Red-Purple-Green.

Full Names: Xenopi real names are untranslatable series of Aklo sigils that can be only vaguely approximated with sounds humanoids are capable of issuing.

Xenopi Racial Traits

Ability Scores: +2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, -2 Dexterity. Xenopi rubbery, boneless bodies are very resilient and their alien minds are highly analytical but their tentacles lack precision and coordination of humanoid hands.

Type: Xenopi are Aberrations with aquatic subtype and amphibious quality.

Small Size: Xenopi are Small creatures gaining +1 size bonus to attack rolls and AC, -1 size penalty to CMB and CMD, and a +4 size bonus to Stealth checks.

Slow Speed: Xenopi have land speed of 20 feet.

Darkvision: Xenopi see in darkness up to 60 feet.

Amphibious: Xenopi are amphibious beings capable of breathing air and water with equal ease.

Bioluminescence: Xenopi have bioluminescent glands spread over their bodies allowing them to glow with light comparable to torch. Xenopi can change the exact color of the glow, reduce its brightness or suppress it completely with a free action. Xenopi control over bioluminescent glands allow them to communicate inaudibly by displaying Aklo symbols on their bodies.

Climb: Xenopi tentacles and suckers grant them climb speed of 20 feet and +8 racial bonus to Climb checks.

Non-humanoid: Xenopi shape is distinctly different from that of humanoid races. Xenopi require custom made gear costing twice as much as humanoid gear.

Swim: Xenopi have swim speed of 30 feet and +8 racial bonus to Swim checks.

Languages: Common and Aklo. Xenopi with above average Intelligence can select from Abyssal, Aquan, Protean, Terran, and Undercommon.

Alternate Racial Traits:

Pygmy Xenopi: A minute strain of xenopi is Tiny instead of Small and has -4 racial penalty to Strength score.

Xenopi Racial Feats
Xenopi can select following racial feats enhancing their racial abilities:

Luminous Bond
Your close companions share your bioluminescence.
Prerequisites: Xenopi, bioluminescence racial trait.
Benefits: Your animal companions (or mount that works like animal companion), eidolons, familiars, and similar bonded companions grow bioluminescent glands like yours. If you posses a bonded item gained via arcane bond feature, or black blade feature you can make it glow with light, as per cantrip of the same name, at will. Additionally, whenever your form is changed by a polymorphy effect, you can opt to manifest bioluminescent glands on your new form.

Luminous Ink
Some xenopi learned how to excrete a small amount of bioluminescent fluid from their glands.
Prerequisites: Xenopi, bioluminescence racial trait.
Benefits: You can draw ink from own glands that will glow with pale bioluminescence for 24 hours. Signs drawn with this ink are clearly visible in darkness but are not strong enough to provide any sort of illumination. Once per day you can draw a vial of more potent ink that can be used to leave mark glowing with strength of light spell for 24 hours. It can also be used as an additional material component for any spell with light descriptor or one that creates magical sigils, glyphs, symbols or writings, applying Extended Spell metamagic feat to the modified spell for free. Collected ink loses its special qualities after 24 hours.

Luminous Mark
Your marks are imbued with your own luminescence.
Prerequisites: Xenopi, bioluminescence racial trait; challenge, smite evil, quarry, or similar ability to mark an enemy.
Benefits: Subject of your challenge, smite evil, quarry or similar ability is outlined with pale light resembling faerie fire for one round per character level.

Favored Class Options:
Xenopi can select following options for their favored class bonuses.

Alchemist: +1/6 of an alchemist discovery.

Barbarian: +1 feet to climb and swim speeds while raging.  In combat this option has no effect unless the barbarian has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Bard: +1/6 to the number of people that can be affected with fascinate bardic performance.


Cavalier: +1 feet to the mount's climb and swim speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the cavalier has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Cleric: +1 to healing and damage received by aberrations from the xenopi channel energy.

Druid: +1 feet to the climb and swim speeds of summoned creatures. In combat this option has no effect unless the druid has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Fighter: +1 to the fighter's CMD when resisting grapple or trip attempts.

Magus: +1 foot to reach of magus touch spells. Does not increase threatened area.

Monk: +1/2 feet to reach of unarmed strikes, rounded down to a nearest multiple of five feet.

Oracle: +1/4 to caster level of spells and spell-like abilities with water descriptor.

Ranger: +1/2 bonus to Constitution checks and saving throws when resisting high pressure, suffocation, and environmental effects caused by aquatic environment.

Rogue: +1 foot to racial climb and swim speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the rogue has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Sorcerer: +1/4 to caster level of spells and spell-like abilities with water descriptor.

Summoner: +1 foot to the eidolon's swim and climb speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the summoner has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Witch: +1 foot to the familiar's swim and climb speeds. In combat this option has no effect unless the witch has selected it five times (or another increment of five).

Wizard: +1 to caster level checks made to penetrate Spell Resistance of aberrations and creatures with aquatic or water subtype.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Wayfinder #11

Another middle of the year and another Wayfinder is here!

This time, the theme is Cheliax. An empire that turned to diabolism after their patron deity Aroden unexpectedly died...

Obviously, I had to submit a devil for such an issue: a physician devil that uses its healing skills and aura that corrupts natural healing abilities to tempt mortals into purchasing its services. The other monster of my design that can be found inside is dreadling — a hafling-blooded monstrosity stalking the nights and feeding on fear.

There is more, however, as this time I wrote an actual article... Ok, well, an excuse for pushing more crunch actually, presenting a number of feats and rogue talents related to devils, trickery, and cruelty of the Empire Of Devils...

The next issue is dedicated to Ancient Egypt Osirion. Deadline looms in less than two months. I would like to have some extra time, though.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Magia i Miecz, The Triumph!

I have already >posted< about Magia i Miecz magazine revive being >crowdfunded<...

When all the dust settled, Magia i Miecz ended with nearly 100.000 zloty gathered — 394% of funding threshold that was initially set at 25.000 zloty, with 1357 backers.

Fifty thousands threshold was warranty to publish revived Magia i Miecz for two years — one issue every quarter for a total of minimum of eight issues. Of course if the magazine will reach the point of self-sustainability it will go on.

I am waiting to see the first issue. My backer level gives me a pdf of the first two issues... I don't think that I will buy paper version of further issues, sticking to a handful of tamed electrons. Easier and more portable, especially with tablet.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Magia i Miecz

I mentioned in previous posts an old non-functioning RPG magazine Magia i Miecz (Sword And Sorcery, literally Magic And Sword). Magia i Miecz ceased to be published in 2002 if I remember correctly.

Recently, a new publisher entered into a license agreement from the old publisher and resorted to crowdfunding (using Polish website wspieram.to, similar to Kickstarter) to gather funds necessary for publication of the first four issues. Gathering required amount of money took whole five days. There is still 28 days until the closing of crowdfunding and lots and lots of rewards to be unlocked...

If you have Polish speaking (or at least Polish-reading) gamer friends show them this website: >Projekt Magia i Miecz<.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Obsidian Apocalypse

With some delay I would like to direct your attention to a setting released in December by LPJ DesignObsidian Apocalypse.

Obsidian Apocalypse is a post-apocalyptic fantasy world that was devastated by meteor strike. Depending upon the GM choice, the meteor could cause one of the four described cataclysms: Infernus Risen – angels and demons have been brought to this world and engage in battles all over this world; World of the Elder Gods - The meteor is actually a prison from unusual monsters that breaks open and escapes to this world; Pandemic Contagion - A super powerful virus begins infecting, mutating and killing people of this world; and World of the Undead - undead raise due to the necromantic energy in the meteor.

Watch out for The Voiceless!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Twenty Years Of Gaming

I became rpg designer, game master, and player (in that specific order) twenty years ago. I don't remember exact time but it was spring on 1994... Certainly after February, most probably late March or early April. As I mentioned before in one of my early posts, I designed a role-playing game before playing one. I also GMed before I played.

Twenty years later I am still willing to play, GM, and design as I was at the beginning. The style probably changed with experience, I had my ups and lows, but I expect that I will stick to this hobby until the end of my life (or at least until I get mentally impaired by old age to a degree preventing any level of lucidity).

I am working on increasing designer part of my gaming life, and intend to keep it so. How well it will go, we'll see.