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About This Game

Cast the harrow cards and read your fate if you dare. Can you be the kingmakers between factions contending to defeat an ancient evil. Will the victory secure liberty, or only uplift the next tyrants? Combat and urban covert operations, in a gritty renaissance-era megalopolis, in a reduced magic world. Paizo 1e with Occult and Psionics. 5th level start. Rules adjustments especially put the spotlight on gunslingers, rogues, vigilantes, while nerfing the highest tier classes.

Game System

Pathfinder 1e

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06/21/2024

Detailed Description

UPDATE:

On June 21, I will freeze the character application folder.

I'll have Medusa announce two people for Squad Gamma on the 19th (2 days early), then the other 4 sometime after applications close. So, this gives a slight edge to players who have completed applications early and made more investment, while still leaving 4 slots for every contender.

Overview

Ysidra is the world’s greatest city, a sprawlingYsidera-HarborDistrictsmall.png.c851d795f0c51d1a22be39d7941caeea.png metropolis of districts, populated with a teeming diversity of races and religions. Boasting a population measuring into the millions, this metropolis is a mighty nation unto itself, considered the heart of civilization from time immemorial.

The Harrower Queen is a millenia old lich who tops an organized crime hierarchy that has held the Ysidra in an ancient grip of fear and corruption. She rules through manipulating and and steering layers of cults, organized crime families, and corrupt politicians. She is a diviner par excellence. She casts harrow-readings, she deciphers the entrails of her victims in her secret abattoirs, and she reads celestial signs. Long ago her grip over fate was ironclad; she read all men’s secrets and dictated the outcomes she wished. But society progresses, and for centuries her influence has been slowing decaying.

The world is changing. With rail lines bringing in crops and materials, with steamships crisscrossing the oceans in an abundance of commerce, and with a booming and increasingly educated populace, the city is steadily slipping from her grasp. New humanitarian philosophies, concepts of democracy and just rule, and burgeoning demands for freedom from bigotry of race, religion and class: these threaten her ancient grip of terror and coercion.

Can your squad of vigilantes and freedom-fighters contribute to a final tipping point? 

Your leader is the aristocratic Llwenda Grant, to polite society an aristocratic patron of arts and academia. She is pale of skin, tall, green eyed, with long tumbling curls of black hair. But she is secretly known as Medusa, running a secret organization of commandos and agents united in purpose to bring about the downfall of the Harrower Queen.  Medusa is a terrifying leader whose agents work in the lawless twilight, by means both fair and foul.

As you proceed, you must work with five factions: the government (with its sprawling political, military and bureaucratic wings), the three great religions, and the communist party. Each in its own way is visionary and idealistic. But their ideals are incompatible. Should one dominate and become a new tyranny, the bright young flame of freedom may be snuffed out.

(This image shown is Ysidra's northernmost Harbor District, the main expanse of the city is behind the viewer.)

Trigger warning: this is a story about heroes trying to make a difference in an work where the evil powers use historical evils (slavery, demagoguery, and bigotry over race, class and religion.) As freedom-fighters, you may face some dark things. I will try to be discreet and polite about ugly topics, but if you wish to avoid these themes then please choose another adventure.

Character Creation and Rules

Basic rules: Paizo + Psionics + Occult as found here: https://www.d20pfsrd.com/. Not restricted to PFS legal. No 3rd party content (except psionics and homebrew provided on these pages). No variant rules, except as specifically called out. When in doubt, show me the URL.

Some exploits that have level-disproportionate effects will be banned, if needed.

Characters start at 5th level, 20 point buy. Hit points = Max+3-3*level.

Starting wealth: 10,500gp. 1000gp toward consumables for each consumable creation feat you have (Scribe Scroll, Craft Potion, etc.). 2000gp toward items of the category covered by each Craft feat you have (including Gunsmithing toward guns). Bonus funds not used for the specified purpose are lost. Otherwise no pre-game crafting, no pre-game purchasing with any discounts. No pre-game mundane item crafting. No crafting of custom magic items before the game starts: I'll only make case-by-case decisions on specialty crafting later. No spell trigger items with caster level greater than character level. If a trait modifies starting wealth it applies only to the base wealth, not to any bonus wealth. Characters who start with more than 500gp forfeit half the surplus.

PC races are exclusively: Catfolk, Dwarf, Gnoll, Goblin, Halfling, Half-orc, Hobgoblin, Human, Monkey Goblin, Orc, Vanara. Race is irrelevant to alignment; these are people not monsters. If mixed blood, you can take cosmetic fluff from your secondary race, and count as of that race too for all prerequisites including favored class bonus.  There will be game specific racial traits to reflect how each of these humanoids fits in Ysidra. See here for more about the Harrowed City races.

Classes:

  • Check out the Harrowed Gunslinger, with over 100 deeds and feats and options that let other classes interoperate with it, it is an essential part of this game world. (Note that most gunslinger archetypes are allowed, but some are obsolete or banned. See that page.)

  • All available classes and what religions/supernatural affinities they have is on the second post here.

  • Banned classes: paladin, antipaladin, summoner, and mesmerist are banned, more for thematic reasons than anything else.

  • Banned archetypes: any that add Sneak Attack to a non-rogue class are banned. Druidic Herbalism is banned.

  • Unchained classes are in use.

  • Nature classes (Ranger, Druid, Hunter)  are allowed but may not fit. The Urban environment is divided into 3 terrains (Low, Medium, and High class). 

  • Highcaster nerf. If a class allows spells above 6th level, then 1/3 of your class levels (rounding down) must be in classes that do not stack with that class's spellcasting ability. This rule also applies to psionic classes that reach 9th level powers, namely: Psion, Tactician, Vitalist, Wilder.

  • The Harrower prestige class prerequisite is only 2nd not 3rd level spells.

  • Rogues: once a good class, but outclassed as the game evolved around them, here is our "rogue rescue package."

  • “Trapfinding” is banned for all but Rogue, Investigator and Cryptic. Magic traps are routinely cloaked against Detect Magic & similar magic effects. Master trap makers have learned how to make their traps trace magic to its source. Find Traps & similar magic can be counter-measured, making the old fashion what of detection and disarming vital.

  • A rogue can change the ability used for 2 skills.

  • Non rogue archetypes with sneak attack are banned, making rogues more unique. Gear that voids sneak attacks is rare/expensive.

Alignment: respect and work with your team, don't be a psycho.

Religion is homebrew and critically affects spellcaster classes. Each religion has exclusive access to one style of magic: Arcane, Occult, Psionic and Divine. You can only use magic of one style. Pay attention because a broad swath of abilities are exclusive to each of the first three.

  • Aetherism / The Celestial Sovereigns. The Arcane faith:  exclusive access to all forms of planar magic (including monster summoning). Divine classes (clerics, etc) of this religion cast Arcane magic. 

  • Spiritalism / The Harrowed Faith. The Occult faith: exclusive access to all forms of necromancy/communing with the dead, and to druidism. Exclusive access to druidism and shamanism. (The Harrower Queen is worshiped by some in this faith, but the majority would oppose and detest her.)

  • Triapsyism / The Psychic Unity. The Psionic faith: exclusive access to all forms of reading and changing minds. Clerics and such do exist in this tradition but they use psionic rules for casting.

  • The Narrow Way / The Path of Light. The Divine faith: Cannot use magic to directly harm, cannot use dark, chaos or evil magic. +1 CL using healing, light, law, good magic. Banned from using piercing or slashing weapons (so no firearms).

  • Agnostic. None of the above. You can use items, gear and abilities of all styles freely, but you can’t level up in any spellcasting class.

See here for more details on the religions.

Skills:

  • Used: Background skills; Skill Unlocks, Occult Unlocks

  • Knowledge (local) has a different sub skill for Low, Medium, and High class districts.

  • Social skill will be against increased DCs and may have limited affect against relatively higher level targets, to compensate for Pathfinder allow incredibly large stacking bonuses to skills.

Feats:

  • Banned: Leadership, Flanking Foil, Tumor Familiar, Sacred Geometry. Also, try to avoid exploits lest they unbalance yourself relative to a team.

  • At creation, take either the Elephant in the Room Feat Tax Fix, or a bonus Feat + a bonus Trait.

Traits:

Other miscellaneous changes:

  • Multiclassing: Fractional base bonuses are used

  • Large, or obviously magical, companions are banned. Doesn't fit the covert ops theme.

  • Used gear sells for 25%, not 50%.

  • Retraining is allowed; no trainer needed; but cost is 3x listed.

Major changes around Gunslingers and classes sharing resource pools.

  • Interoperable Grit, Panache, Luck, Ki, Inspiration. These powers are all interchangeable in a common pool. You may benefit from multiple ability score boosts to this pool but only if the ability scores providing the resource are different. It is intentional that these generally lower tier classes upset the apple cart somewhat dislodge what are traditionally the higher tier classes.

Firearms rules:  Guns are everywhere and firearms are a critical part of the environment. Read the firearm rules here, and consider the Harrowed Gunslinger which replaces the Paizo Gunslinger, and has 100+ deeds to choose from. Also be aware of Campaign Feats, which make firearms accessible to all classes.

FAQs: Q: Do I have to read the whole OOC starter thread? It's long! A: No, all decisions that came out of discussion are in the rules, in their right places. Other FAQs are here.

GunslingingConstructs.png.5e5354dc134117bc75384bbfb1457f0c.png

  1. What's new in this game
  2. Creation Three of the major belief systems attribute the creation of the world to the powers they believe in: the Arcane, Psionic and Divine religions make conflicting claims. The Spiritalists and Agnostics lack a coherent creation story, varying by tribe, group or individual. Cycles of Kadaba The Triapsyist Faith believes that history moves in cycles, with the Inspirit, then Undersoul, then Overmind being dominant each for phases of 1.71 billion years. A cycle of Overmind ascendancy began about 10000 years ago, coinciding and driving the rise of civilization. -1M years: Epoch of Mystery : Time of the Progenitors / Forerunner / Old Ones Little definitive is known of the time one million more years ago. Some scholars claim that there were pre-existing races and civilizations. Some elven traditions claim that they still carry the blood of those came from Places Beyond. Others point to a time when gods walked the earth. -1M to -100k years: The Epoch of Dreams For much of the last millenia, the world was a place of fey spirits and primaeval animals. There was no civilization. The boundary between the earth and a world of dreams was thin. Humanoid tribes were few, and lived in primitive tribal states. -100k to -10k years: The Occult Era In this time, tribal people grew in numbers, and they worshipped spirits of the earth. Ancestor worship and nature worship (druidism) predominated. The power of these new ways lead to the extinction of most megafauna, and the faerie folk retreated to isolated places or back into their adjacent realms. The earth belonged to humanoids. People lived as hunter-gathers, with agriculture and village life becoming established in this time. Of all the earth's races, only elvenkind had civilization. It was elvenkind who precipitated the end of the era. Their scholars discovered ways to communicate with beings of other planes of existence. Whether they were seeking enlightenment, beauty, power or rulership: they made bargains of blood and souls. In a short span of several hundred years, a variety of elven empires blossomed and spread. However, as they had made pacts with Outsiders of conflicting agendas, the elven wars lead to a shattering of civilization. One one the larger elven cities became the foundation of what would eventually become Ysirdra -10k to -1312: The Arcane Era, with -9714 years ago becoming the Common Year This period was a time when many of the humanoid tribes came to worship Outsiders. A diversity of religions, nation-states and empires blossomed across many continents of the earth. Progress was rapid, as ideas and some colonists came from extra-planar sources. The Arcane Era saw the Occult powers lose their dominance. The region around Ysidra counts is Common Year starting with the founding of the city. Since 1CY, this region has been the hub of many kingdoms and empires. At some point in this Era, the Narrow Path appears, preaching monotheism and radical holiness. It remains a minor influence, but it is gradually growing, paradoxically thriving and spreading the most when it is persecuted. In CY 5012, the Harrower Queen set up in Ysidra. Since then, she has sometimes ruled openly, but most often been a power behind thrones and empires. The Arcane Era came to a crashing halt when Triapsyism exploded across the earth. In a few short decades. Triapsyism spread and conquered one of the larger northern hemisphere continents, and their war-vessels first reached Ysidra shortly before the start of what has been a prolonged clash of civilizations. CY 8402 The Age of Conflict The last 1312 years has been a time marked both by the multi-way clash of difference civilizations and belief systems, but also the steady accrual of knowledge, technical know-how, and systems of governance. Ideas from diverse sources have been cross-fertilizing, and the world is changing unpredictably. CY 9714 The Present Day
  3. Unfortunately my workload increased to the point that I won't have time to devote to this app (as awesome as this game and setting are). You can archive/delete this app
  4. Yep, understood. I have made the changes in the character sheet so ready for review again.
  5. When posting in a racial language, use the following mapping: Catfolk: French Dwarf: German Gnoll: Swahili Goblin: Filipino (Tagalog) Halfling: Dutch Hobgoblin: Japanese Human: English Monkey Goblin: Indonesian Orc: Turkish Vanara: Hindi
  6. Okay, thanks! ... Huh, I gotta admit that's an interesting view of things, but makes sense, thanks.
  7. The urban environment is divided into low class, medium class and upper class regions and each of them counts as a completely different terrain such that an ability that triggers for one does not trigger for the other. So, you need to specify one of the three. (As this is a 100% urban game I've chosen to partially nerf urban experts. I'm motivated by example of Wrath of the Righteous, that split demons into 3 separate favored enemy groups.) This post identifies the districts: The main adventures will be evenly split between low, medium and high districts. There will also be side expeditions that people take on as singletons or pairs, so you could preferentially operate in your favored terrain in some side quests.
  8. In six days, I will freeze the character application folder. I'll have Medusa announce two people for Squad Gamma on the 19th (2 days early), then the other 4 sometime after applications close. So, this gives a slight edge to players who have completed applications early and made more investment, while still leaving 4 slots for every contender.
  9. I am assuming "Upgrading Items" is allowed: -- and I tend to interpret that fairly liberally. A wand at X charges could be upgraded to Y charges via using the Craft Wand feat, costing (Crafting Cost) * (Y-X)/50.
  10. If this goes well and I like the system, I have ideas for two follow-on games in the same world. One would start at 1st level and be the Shackled City Adventure Path -- but with humanoid opponents bearing firearms. The other would be 12th level+ and an adaptation of the Planar Sphere from Baldur's Gate 2. For example, if we complete this game at 8th level, I may offer a +4 level skip ahead and a new high-level campaign. Anyway, that's likely 1+ year off any I may change my mind or just be too busy to pick up any other games.
  11. Max+3-3*level : 1) calculate your hit points as if you had rolled the maximum on each die. (Add your Con bonus HOP, FCB HP, Toughness, etc. as normal.) 2) add three to that 3) subtract three times your character level. So, if you are starting at 5th level, it is Max HP - 12/
  12. Just going to drop the here. I'll work on the backstory and character template tomorrow. If someone else has the Engima Trait, I'm willing to change it to something else, but I'm honestly thinking that my character will be a complete amnesiac, so I figure Engima works perfectly for them.
  13. Posting here to express my interest in the game. Currently planning on playing a pure Gunslinger going down the Sniper/Overwatch route. Absolutely plan to go for Squadsight if I get chosen and level up to level 7. I do have a question however. In the Firearm thread, this is stated: But as far I am aware, wands can't be recharged? So what's going on here? Edit: Also I will say, I'm deeply impressed by the Harrow Gunslinger and the Deeds. Not just because a lot of time and effort was put into it, but despite the fact this game is going to end at level 8 (if the Bigger Picture is anything to go by), you made sure to flesh out the mid-and-late game of the Gunslinger, so kudos on putting in so much work Edit 2: Can someone explain to me how HP works please? Max+3-3*level is just, confusing to me.
  14. I think with regards that discussion it should also be kept in mind these skill capabilities aren't linear as the characters go up in level. At 5th everybody is asset limited both in skill points and items, it makes a lot of sense to have specialists for each role, typically few people are going to have more than one +5 item at best and so forth. Characters become more rounded at 7th and 8th level when they can look to fill in holes, and then head off into specialist's territory around 10th level when UMD starts to kick in more.
  15. I'm aware of it but it still doesn't change the fact that Vetis could be the best lockpick and trap disarmer in the city but someone with better perception, as you said, is at least when it comes to traps, more important. Which does make, at least for me, interesting duality. If you don't raise both skills in tandem you can have a guy who could disarm the trap getting blown up by one because he didn't spot it and a guy who spots it can't proceed because he can't disarm it if it's a, say, a vault hence just a one way in. Now, an argument could be made that a guy who disarms the traps also unlocks the doors so he adds that bonus too, and that places things somewhat in equilibrium. Is it enough though? I guess it can depend on beforehand preparation and the layout of the level. Having a stealth level with a multitude of both would be a challenge, having a break-into house filled with locked doors but no traps because it is regularly walked through the area, or finally assault onto a fortified position that has a line of traps before strongpoints with people (like now you'd have a minefield before trenches). All three are possible scenarios we could find ourselves and depending on previous preparation and team composition each mission could be infinitely easier or harder. No argument here that in the cat-and-mouse game of a guy who disarms a trap and trapmaker, perception plays a greater role. But as I said jokingly, and now I guess more seriously. Having on point a guy with superb perception with a guy who deals with traps and doors behind him is not an unheard-of military strategy. Same as the guy who disarms traps can open the doors, the guy with eagle eyes can spot much more than just traps, enemy patrols, easier routes etc. The two in my head are kind of a pair like a triggerman and a spotter in a sniper team. It makes logistical sense too, allowing one to place more points into perception while the other can do the same with disable object. Not completely ignore complimentary skill but invest less in it than primary so you are not completely useless if your spotter to trap disbler bites the dust. You can serve as redundancy and still complete the objective. That would be my, wordy, view on the matter if I would to speak on it seriously.
  16. Despite the name, trapfinding is more important for disarming traps than finding them. Anyone can spot a trap, all trapfinding does there is give you a small bonus to your check. But you can't use disable device on a magical trap unless you have trapfinding.
  17. It is odd to be more concerned about finding a trap than disarming it, Vetis will find some eagle eye and have them walk in front with him going 10 ft behind with their tools 😂
  18. I'll declare Kazuk ready for review at this point . In terms of the build going forward Kazuk would get his Inquisitor level for the favoured enemy 'undead' as behoves a Harrower hunter, then back to Ranger. I'd had a lot of to and fro regards his campaign trait. Enigma would also work for him but a little wary of that and my later application - that might be a one off/party and didn't want to directly compete with specific other applicants. Well that and didn't really want to lose True Strike 🙃 I see the starting Overview splits terrains. Not sure how that works with the Urban ranger Community and follow up boots of friendly terrain - I guess that will come out of the wash. If you do want me to define specific city regions, Kazuk will go middle for his community and low for the boots.
  19. And if our dear GM relaxed the requisites to trapfinding Kazuk would be more than ready to go straight out of the box 😜
  20. As far as I am concerned I have no particular problem to solve right now. Several players have either adapted their PCs for trapfinding or indicated that they would do so if they are a candidate an a gap remains.
  21. Are we still waiting for an application with Trapfinding? I can try and convince someone from my other game to throw an application in the ring.
  22. Replaced MWK Rapier (his secondary melee) with just Rapier which gave me 300 Gp, then with that bought Disguisable Thieves Tools for 190 Gp (basically masterwork Thieves tools that give +2 to Disable device but also give +4 to Sleight of Hand if someone tries to find them. Now left with 110 Gp. There is a breakdown in my thread under Equipment. So now his Disable Device is 13 until someone takes the tools from him. 13 is not bed his 3rd highest skill I think. Perception at 8 remains to be seen will be enough for traps, but again someone with higher perception might be on the team too. I figured Vagabond Child is a fitting trait for an orphan who bounced from temple to temple until he was old enough to earn his keep and for someone who basically either paid for lessons or copied others for most of his mundane skills. And as you said it fits the character I was a bit surprised it wasn't part of his standard kit. But there we have sorted trap defusing, and lock picking part. Spoting of either still stays up in the air until tested.
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