Monday, June 19, 2017

Gourmand Archetypes: The Confectioner

Recently I've been experimenting with expanding the Gourmand class I created for Pathfinder with a number of Archtypes. Here is the fifth, there shall be more to follow... 

This one borrows heavily from one of the very few cannibalism-specific archetypes published by Paizo the Gingerbread Witch from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures supplement. It also plays a bit on the idea of Mellification (or Honey-Mummies) which I have mentioned on this blog before.

An Archetype of the Gourmand class.
These lovers of sweets are also tempters, seducing or tricking others into joining them in their sugar-laced cannibalism, either as fellow partakers or perhaps as the main course.

Consume: In order to use his Consume ability, the confectioner must render the components of the creature’s body (grinding the bones to mix with flour, rendering the fat for shortening, etc) and bake them into a sweet treat of some kind. This is much more labor intensive than a typical Gourmand, taking 2d4 hours (instead of the usual 1 hour), and requires access to a ready supply of sugar, honey, or other sweeteners. A Confectioner does not gain creature loresight from consuming a foe.
This modifies the Consume ability.

Cauldron Cook (Ex): At 2nd-level, a confectioner gains the Cauldron and Child-Scent witch hexes. These function as a witch of the gourmand’s level. For the purpose of brewing potions, the Confectioner is treated as if he knew all 1st-level spells from the Witch spell list. At 8th-level this expands to include all 2nd-level spells from the Witch spell list, and at 14th-level this expands to include all 3rd-level witch spells. When brewing potions with his cauldron, he can create small candies, pastries, or similar edible items identical in effect and application to normal potions. At 11th level, he gains the Cook People hex.

Tricky Treats (Sp): At 5th level, a confectioner learns a unique ability that lets him create a piece of candy or a similar sweet as a full-round action. If eaten by the confectioner or a single creature she designates when she creates it, the sweet functions as either a single Goodberry or a Polypurpose Panacea (as determined at creation).

Anyone else that eats the sweet becomes nauseated (Fort DC 10 + 1/2 the gourmand’s level + the gourmand’s Charisma modifier negates); a creature nauseated by the sweet can attempt a new saving throw each round at the end of its turn to end this effect.

A confectioner can create a number of sweets each day equal to his Charisma modifier + his level. These sweets retain their potency for 24 hours and then turn to crumbs.

Horrible Hunger (Sp): At 17th level, a confectioner can affect a target as if she had cast Feast of Ashes on it (Fort DC 10 + 1/2 the gourmand’s level + the gourmand’s Charisma modifier negates). This hunger is so intense that any creature can offer the target food as a standard action and the target is compelled to eat it, as if the creature offering it had cast Beguiling Gift (DC as above). The Confectioner can use this ability a number of times per day equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1/day).

Cauldron Cook, Tricky Treats, and Horrible Hunger replace all instances of the Acquire Skill ability.

Mellify Corpse (Sp): Starting at 6th level, a confectioner can transform a corpse into an undead creature as per the spell Animate Dead by bathing the corpse in raw honey. This ability can be used at-will, with a casting time of 1 hour, and requires 250 gp (10 gallons) of honey per hit die of the undead to be created as a material component. Starting at 12th level, this ability functions as per the spell Create Undead.

At any time, the Confectioner may choose to feed on one of his Mellified Corpses. Each successful bite attack the Confectioner makes against a Mellified Corpse benefits him as per the Cook People hex. The first time the Confectioner feeds on one of his Mellified Corpses, he relinquishes control of that undead creature and it immediately becomes hostile (after the first successful bite attack against it).

This replaces the Acquire Feat abilities gained at 6th and 12th levels.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Some Thoughts on Slings

File under: Random rant about D&D things that bug me...

Disclaimer: I don't personally know how to use a sling, because they are hard, and that is the point...

Of all the weapons that appear in the D&D game, the humble sling may be the most mis-represented. This all probably started with G.G. making slings the only ranged weapon available to Thieves in AD&D, with an eye towards his own vision of Thieves as an 'urban' class -- despite the fact that slings are a very pre-urban weapon and traditionally associated with rural shepherds.

This carried over through many versions of D&D, and, mostly from the view of keeping the original Thiefly weapon selections the sling was classified as a "Simple" weapon in modern (3.x and later) D&D and given very low accurate range and low damage output. All of these things are just...wrong. The weapon described in the D&D game is clearly not a sling, it is a "slingshot" -- which is extremely anachronistic to most D&D settings since the slingshot did not (and could not) exist prior to the invention of vulcanized rubber (1839).

First, let's address the modern classification as "Simple" weapon. Excluding weapons which are simply thrown, ranged weapons in D&D basically fall into three categories: crossbows, bows, and the sling. The crossbow is fired by pointing it at a target, siting along the stock, and pulling a trigger -- the simplest possible method of attack. This is a simple weapon. The bow is similarly intuitive, knock, draw, release -- though it requires more practice to do accurately. This is a martial weapon.

Accurate use of a sling requires the user to stand 60-degrees off from their target (rather than pointing strait at them), nest the bullet, rotate multiple times to generate speed, then release at exactly the right moment in the arc to send the bullet towards the target. Because of the rotation of the sling, any minor variation (early or late) in the release timing will result in missing the target entirely. This is not intuitive, and requires much more training and practice than accurately using a bow. While the sling may have been "common" in ancient warfare, it is by no means "simple". In sufficiently early settings where they were in major use the sling might be considered a "Martial" weapon, but, by virtue of difficulty of use, should probably be classified as "Exotic".

Secondly, there is the issue of range. Pathfinder lists the sling's range as a 50-ft. range increment (compared to 100 ft. for a longbow or even 60-ft. for a shortbow). Procopius's "Wars of Justinian", the writer implies that the Roman slings had greater range than the bows used by the Huns, and other ancient writers repeatedly stress the slings advantage of range over bows. Modern tests have shown that, with a high trajectory, a sling can have an effective range of more than 1200 feet (a range only matched in testing by high draw-weight, high trajectory composite bows). Weapons in Pathfinder can be fired a maximum 10 range increments, which, if we go by the 1200-ft. number, puts the range increment for a Sling at 120-ft. (rather than a mere 50-ft.) which fits with accounts of it out-ranging a bow.

Then there is the matter of damage-output. 3e D&D and Pathfinder list the sling's damage as a meager 1d4 (less than a thrown club -- which is less dense, fast, or aerodynamic than a lead sling bullet). Everyone is familiar with the story of David and Goliath (a boy taking out an armored giant with a single well-placed sling bullet) -- but that can be easily written off as a critical hit / divine smite / etc. However, the late Roman writer Vegetius gives an argument that slings, in general are more devastating than bows (in addition to the better range), writing in his "De Re Militari":
"Soldiers, notwithstanding their defensive armour, are often more annoyed by the round stones from the sling than by all the arrows of the enemy. Stones kill without mangling the body, and the contusion is mortal without loss of blood."
Numerous accounts of both men and beasts (lions, bears, etc.) being slain by a single (long range) shot from a sling exist. Implying that the weapon is at least as deadly as a bow or crossbow. Both bows and crossbows deal 1d8 damage in D&D, so it stands to reason that a sling bullet should deal at least that much.

Further, Vegetius writes:
"There is the greater reason for instructing all troops, without exception, in this exercise, as the sling cannot be reckoned any encumbrance, and often is of the greatest service, especially when they are obliged to engage in stony places, to defend a mountain or an eminence, or to repulse an enemy at the attack of a castle or city."
So, you've got a weapon that weighs practically nothing, fits in your pocket, has near infinite readily available ammunition just lying on the ground (though cast lead bullets are better), can be rapidly manufactured from simple materials, has range better than a bow, and is just as deadly (if not moreso) than other available ranged weapons. Why would anyone use anything else?

Because (and this gets back to the first classification point), it is hard to learn to use. Slings are an Exotic weapon, that takes extra training (read Feat or Proficiency slots) to learn to use effectively. Any random yokel (Thief, Wizard, etc.) can't just pick this thing up and use it with any level of success.

So, for you Pathfinder playing people, here is the corrected entry for the weapons table:

Ranged Weapons
CostDmg (S)Dmg (M)CriticalRangeWeight1Type2SpecialSource
Sling--1d61d8x3120 ft.--BPRG:CRB

If you need mechanical justification for why it's "Exotic" despite having damage output set at the same as a bow. (1) The range is longer. (2) It costs nothing and weighs nothing (which is a huge advantage in resource-strapped campaigns).

Gourmand Archetypes: The Monster Chef

Recently I've been experimenting with expanding the Gourmand class I created for Pathfinder with a number of Archtypes. Here is the fourth, there shall be more to follow... 

Themes of cannibalism and eating intelligent monsters to gain their powers show up here and there throughout Pathfinder products. While Dreamscarred Press's Path of War: Expanded does not have any rules specifically oriented towards eating-as-power, it does introduce (in some detail) a martial order dedicated to cooking exotic monsters -- which closely mirrors some of the ideas presented in the Gourmand class. This Archetype modifies the Gourmand to fit the Ordre des Repas Exotiques and uses rules from Path of War and Path of War: Expanded.

An Archetype of the Gourmand class.
“I swear to be a true and faithful artist—to never compromise my vision because of petty traditions or banalities, and to accept and learn from the mistakes I place on the plate. I will not waste the beasts I hunt, nor tarnish the names of my fellow Chefs without just cause, and may my faithless tongue choke my unworthy throat if I am false.”

Monster Chefs are the founders and masters of the Ordre des Repas Exotiques. The warrior-chefs of the Ordre des Repas Exotiques consider themselves artists without peer. Ambition drives them to seek out legendary monsters and otherworldly horrors as tests of their might, and to prepare such beasts as culinary delights not known in this world or any other. Each challenges her peers to outdo their latest accomplishment, and together they spread through the world looking to immortalize their name on a plate.

The Chefs of the Ordre des Repas Exotiques work with a fervor that borders on insanity. Each looks to push the limits of cooking into new and exciting places, and to push their own personal limits against tougher challenges, mightier foes, and deadlier hunts.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Monster Chefs are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light armor, but not with shields. This replaces the standard gourmand weapon and armor proficiencies.

MaĆ®tre de l’Ordre: Starting at 1st level, a Monster Chef of the Ordre des Repas Exotiques gains an insight bonus on all Knowledge checks made to identify creatures equal to 1/2 his Gourmand level (minimum +1), and can make such checks untrained. In addition, the Chef is immune to the effects of ingested poisons, and cannot contract diseases by eating or drinking tainted faire (she may still contract diseases in other ways).
This replaces Gourmand’s Gluttony.

Consume: Because of their emphasis on seeking out only the most exotic of faire, a Monster Chef’s consume ability does not work on any creature with the Humanoid or Animal type.
This modifies the Consume ability.

Maneuvers: A Monster Chef begins his career with knowledge of three martial maneuvers. These maneuvers must be selected from the Steel Serpent discipline and any one other secondary discipline of his choice. If the associated skill of his selected secondary discipline is not on his class skill list, he gains it as a class skill.

Once the Monster Chef knows a maneuver, he must ready it before he can use it (see Maneuvers Readied, below). A maneuver usable by Monster Chef is considered an extraordinary ability unless otherwise noted in it or its discipline’s description. A Monster Chef’s maneuvers are not affected by spell resistance, and he does not provoke attacks of opportunity when he initiates one.

The Monster Chef learns additional maneuvers at higher levels, as indicated on Table: Archetype Maneuver Progression. The maximum level of maneuvers gained through Monster Chef levels is based on his full Gourmand level, according to the standard rules for martial adepts, rather than the limits indicated on the table. A Monster Chef must meet a maneuver’s prerequisite to learn it. See the Systems and Use chapter in Path of War for more details on how maneuvers are used.

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even numbered initiator level thereafter (6th, 8th, 10th, and so on), the Monster Chef can choose to learn a new maneuver in place of one he already knows. In effect, he loses the old maneuver in exchange for the new one. He can choose a new maneuver of any level he likes, as long as he observes the restriction on the highest-level maneuvers he knows; the Monster Chef need not replace the old maneuver with a maneuver of the same level. He can swap only a single maneuver at any given level. A Monster Chef’s initiation modifier is Charisma, and each Monster Chef level is counted as a full initiator level.

Maneuvers Readied: A Monster Chef can ready all three of his maneuvers known at 1st level, and as he advances in level and learns more maneuvers, he is able to ready more, but must still choose which maneuvers to ready. A Monster Chef must always ready his maximum number of maneuvers readied. He readies his maneuvers by practicing and meditating on his cooking skills for ten minutes. The maneuvers he chooses remain readied until he decides to practice again and change them. The Monster Chef does not need to sleep or rest for any long period of time in order to ready his maneuvers; any time he spends ten minutes practicing, he can change his readied maneuvers.

A Monster Chef begins an encounter with all his readied maneuvers unexpended, regardless of how many times he might have already used them since he chose them. When he initiates a maneuver, he expends it for the current encounter, so each of his readied maneuvers can be used once per encounter (unless he recovers them, as described below).

Monster Chef’s are driven and inspired by the taste of exotic meats. A Monster Chef recovers a single expended maneuver any time he succeeds on a Bite attack against a creature other than an Animal or Humanoid. If the Monster Chef successfully uses his Swallow Whole attack on a creature with a type other than Animal or Humanoid, he regains a number of expended maneuvers equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1).

Stances Known: A Monster Chef begins his career with knowledge of one stance from either of his disciplines. At 4th, 7th, 11th, and 13th levels, he can select an additional stance to learn. Unlike maneuvers, stances are not expended and the Monster Chef does not have to ready them. All the stances he knows are available to his at all times, and he can change the stance he is currently maintaining as a swift action. A stance is an extraordinary ability unless otherwise stated in the stance or discipline description.

Unlike with maneuvers, a Monster Chef cannot learn a new stance at higher levels in place of one he already knows.

A Monster Chef’s martial Maneuvers and Stances replace all instances of the gourmand’s Acquire Class Feature ability.