Converting Pathfinder spells to Dragon Hack, part 1

This is the 1st in a (very) irregular series of posts setting out some thoughts on how we might convert some Pathfinder spell effects to the Dragon Hack mod. This post is primarily about stats and laying the groundwork… I don’t have any answers – yet!

In the PF core rulebook there are 623 spells; DA has 56 in Sets 1 and 2. For reference these are broken down by school of magic like this:

Abjuration          73
Conjuration        103
Divination           50
Enchantment      60
Evocation            81
Illusion                47
Necromancy       61
Transmutation   143
Universal            5

and by class like this:

Bard          163
Cleric        235
Druid        168
Paladin     45
Ranger      51
Sorcerer   395
Wizard      397

Clearly it will not be possible to convert all the PF spells – it would take ages! (Or AGEs even… ha ha!) We should also consider the number of spells available to mages: At 20th level a PF wizard with high Int could probably have access to 40 spells per day (about 4 each of spell levels 0 to 9) – about 10% of the total available to him. A Dragon Hack mage of the same level might have between 13 and 20, depending on talents and specializations. (Interestingly this is similar to a 4th ed character, which has about 17 powers at level 30, discounting racial and feat powers.) One could take this “10%” figure to arrive at a final spell list of 150 to 200 spells or so, roughly 3 to 4 times the size of the current Dragon Age list. Still quite a lot.

Of course, the DH mage can cast as his spells as long as he likes as long as he has the mana for it. But if you were to merely transfer the spell list “as-is” he would have nowhere near as much choice – it has to be cut down somehow.

The first thing we can do is concentrate on spell effects, i.e. don’t have spells that simply duplicate effects but at higher levels. So Cure Light Wounds and Cure Critical Wounds are basically the same; Charm Monster and Mass Charm Monster should be the lumped together;  Restoration, Greater Restoration and Lesser Restoration likewise; Summon Monster I to IX ditto. Applying this “filter” brings the total number of spells down to 539, which unfortunately is still quite high.

Some other possibilities for reducing the number of spell effects to convert include:

  • There are buffing spells for each ability, like Cat’s Grace, Bear’s Endurance etc. These should be fairly easy to convert (see Heroic Offense, for example).
  • A number of spells are effectively Arcane Lance (Magic Missile, Acid Arrow etc). These could be emulated by having magic school talents allow the mage to add that damage type to their Arcane Lance (e.g. Journeyman Primal allows your Arcane Lance to do Fire damage etc).
  • Some effects can be granted by the various degrees of the magic talents. There isn’t much scope for this, but you could save maybe 10 or 12 spells that way. But this would be a good way to simulate cantrips.
  • Following on from the first “filter”, there are many similar effects under different names. Heal, for example, has the same basic effect as Cure Light Wounds. Many of the Divination spells are similar in nature, just varying in degree of effect.
  • Alignment spells (Detect Good, Detect Evil etc) could be combined into “Detect Enemies” and so on.
  • Some spells have the same effect but applied to different types of target, e.g. Hold Person, Hold Monster etc. These could be combine into a single “Hold Creature” spell.

Finally for this post: should we retain the Dragon Age magic schools, or switch to the PF ones? To be honest, I’ve never thought that PF or D&D wizards identified themselves by school particularly, although PF wizards can choose preferred schools. So I’d say we keep the Dragon Age ones and – very broadly – map the PF ones as follows:

Creation: Conjuration, Transmutation, Abjuration
Spirit: Divination, Enchantment, Illusion
Entropy: Necromancy
Primal: Evocation

However, “Entropy” is not really a PF/D&D term. I’d suggest calling it “Destruction” or “Necromancy” just for flavour. Similarly “Primal” is fine as a school, but it could easily be split into “Nature” and “Elemental” if there are enough spells. Druids could then pick one as of these as a preferred school, for example. It would also necessitate an additional Magic talent, which could allow more flexibility.

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Changelings

A description of changelings for AGE of Eberron/Dragon Hack. Notice the cunning way in which I’ve avoided having to create a background table for them!

Changelings are subtle shapeshifters capable of disguising their appearance. They evolved through the union of doppelgangers and humans, eventually becoming a separate race distinct from either ancestral tree. They do not possess the full shapechanging ability of a doppelganger, but they can create effective disguises at will. This ability makes them consummate spies and criminals, and many changelings live up to that potential.

If you choose to play as a changeling, modify your character as follows:

  • Add 1 to your either you Dexterity or Cunning abilities.
  • You gain the Communication (Disguise) ability focus.
  • You receive the Novice degree of the Racial Talent: Changeling.
  • You do not have a standard background, but may roll on the background table of any country of origin you choose, even if you do not conform to its stereotypical race or class. However, you always gain the ability increase and ability focus listed above, not that from the chosen background.

Racial Talent: Changeling

Novice: You have the power to alter your form. As a Major action you can take on the form and features of another humanoid creature. Your clothes, armour and equipment do not change. If anyone has a reason to suspect your true nature (e.g. you are imitating another person) they must make a TN 15 Perception (Seeing) test to realize it. You also gain +1 to Communication (Deception) tests.

Journeyman: You are experienced at blending in to other cultures. You gain one language of a culture or nation you have been exposed to or lived in. Your shape change ability has become well practiced: the TN to see through your disguise is now 17.

Master: Your shape change ability is instinctive: you can change form as a Minor action. It has also made your body supernaturally malleable: you can change your height to impersonate small creatures (such as gnomes and halflings) and beings such as goliaths. You also gain +2 on any attempt to escape bonds or grabs.

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Background: Breland

Here’s a background for Breland. A lot more choice for non-humans here!

The industrial capital of Khorvaire, Breland is best known for the cosmopolitan city of Sharn, the largest settlement on the continent and one of the major ports along its southern coast. Breland is also the gateway to the mysterious continent of Xen’drik.

If you choose to play a Brelander, modify your character as follows:

  • Add 1 to your Communication. Breland is an educated nation with a (limited) parliament.
  • Pick one of the following ability focuses: Communication (Persuasion) or Dexterity (Crafting).
  • Choose your race: human, gnome,  half-elf, elf, or dwarf.
  • Choose your class: cleric (of the Sovereign Host), fighter, rogue.
  • Roll twice on the Breland background table.

Breland

2D6 Benefit
2 +1 Constitution
3 – 4 Focus: Cunning (Engineering)
5 Focus: Strength (Driving)
6 Focus: Cunning (Historical Lore)
7 – 8 +1 Strength
9 Focus: Strength (Smithing)
10 – 11 Focus: Cunning (Evaluation)
12 +1 Cunning

 

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Background: Karrnath

Right – here’s an Eberron background: Karrnath! As I mentioned in a previous post the way this would work is as follows: if you want to play a Karrnathi and gain the benefits of the Karrnath background then you have to conform to the race and class stereotypes. You could, of course, opt to use the standard dwarf and human backgrounds if desired. And if you wanted to play, say, an elven ranger from Karrnath then you’d have no choice but to use the appropriate elven background. Note that the ability increase and focus choices override that of the normal race background, but not those that might be granted by a racial talent. 

The reason for doing it this way is to allow for stereotypical characters, but not lock anyone out of an unusual combination. The preferred races and classes from the 3.5 Eberron Campaign Guide were used to generate the stereotypes…

The mostly human residents of Karrnath are among the most sophisticated and cultured people of Khorvaire. They played a major part in the Last War and are still reeling from their losses. Karrnath makes extensive use of corporeal undead as soldiers, still marching to the command of Karrnath’s king and generals.

If you choose to play a Karrnathi modify your character as follows:

  • Add 1 to your Strength.
  • Pick one of the following ability focuses:  Strength (Heavy Blades) or Cunning (Military Lore).
  • Choose your race. You can be either a human or a dwarf.
  • Choose your class. You can be a cleric (of the Blood of Vol, or of the Sovereign Host), a fighter, a sorcerer, or a wizard.
  • Roll twice on the Karrnath background table.

Karrnath

2D6 Roll Benefit
2 +1 Constitution
3 – 4 Focus: Cunning (Military Lore)
5 Focus: Communication (Persuasion)
6 Focus: Cunning (Historical Lore)
7 – 8 +1 Strength
9 Focus: Cunning (Arcane Lore)
10 – 11 Focus: Dexterity (Riding)
12 +1 Magic
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Shifters

OK, here’s my take on the Shifter in the AGE system. Most shifters gets +2 to certain tests when were-mode (or shifter mode). This may seem a lot but remember that this is not a permanent feature! 

Shifters, sometimes called “the weretouched,” are descended from humans and natural lycanthropes, now nearly extinct on Khorvaire. Shifters cannot fully change shape but can take on animalistic features – a state they call shifting. Shifters have evolved into a unique race that breeds true. They have a distinct culture with its own traditions and identity.

If you choose to play as a shifter, modify your character as follows:

  • Add +1 to either your Strength or Dexterity abilities.
  • You can speak Common.
  • You gain the ability focus appropriate for your chosen shifter trait.
  • You receive the Novice degree of the Racial Talent: Shifter.
  • You can roll twice on the background table for your country of origin, or on the general shifter table below. Note that if you choose a country for your background then you may change the ability increase you received above to match that background if you meet the country stereotype. However, you must take the ability focus granted by your shifter trait: after all, you can take the shifter out of the wild, but you cannot take the wild out of the shifter!

Shifter

2D6 Benefit
2 +1 Willpower
3 – 4 Focus: Cunning (Natural Lore)
5 Focus: Perception (Searching)
6 Focus: Communication (Animal Handling)
7 – 8 +1 Constitution
9 Focus: Perception (Tracking)
10 – 11 Focus: Strength (Climbing)
12 +1 Perception

 

Racial Talent: Shifter

Novice: Pick a shifter trait from the Shifter Trait table. By using an Activate action you can enter shifter mode and gain the powers of this trait. Although you do not become a true were-creature in shifter mode, your natural animal features become more pronounced. These bonuses stack with other bonuses from, e.g. ability focuses. You can maintain shifter mode for a number of rounds per day equal to 4 + your Constitution. You can also see in low light levels and your attacks are unaffected by this level of illumination.

Journeyman: Your animal senses are sharp. You gain the Perception (Smelling) ability focus. In addition you can maintain shifter mode for a number of rounds per day equal to 6 + your Constitution.

Master: You can maintain shifter mode for a number of rounds per day equal to 8 + your Constitution. In addition the ability increase gained in shifter mode increases from +2 to +3.

Shifter Traits

Beasthide: You gain the Constitution (Stamina) focus.  When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Constitution, and 2 points of natural AR. This does not contribute to armour strain when casting magic.

Cliffwalk: You gain the Strength (Climbing) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Dexterity and +2 to all Strength (Climbing) tests.

Dreamsight: You gain either the Communication (Animal Handling) or Perception (Empathy) focuses. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Willpower and +2 to all Communication (Animal Handling) and Perception (Empathy) tests.

Gorebrute: You gain the Strength (Might) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Strength, and grow powerful horns that can be used as natural weapons when making a charge attack. If you successfully hit a foe with a charge using your horns you do penetrating damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength. You cannot be wearing a helmet to use this ability.

Longtooth: You gain the Strength (Jumping) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Strength, and grow long fangs. These give you access to the bite stunt. This costs 2 stunt points and does an extra 1d6 damage to the target.

Longstride: You gain the Constitution (Running) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Dexterity and your Speed increases by +4.

Razorclaw: You gain the Dexterity (Initiative) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Strength and sharp claws. These are natural weapons causing 1d6 + Strength damage and can be used as single or dual wielded weapons under the appropriate weapon style.

Swiftwing: You gain the Dexterity (Acrobatics) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Dexterity and grow leathery flaps of skin from your arms. This grants you flying at a Speed of 10 + Dexterity. You cannot be wearing medium or heavy armour, or holding anything in your hands, to use this ability.

Truedive: You gain the Constitution (Swimming) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Constitution, and can swim at a Speed of 10 + Dexterity. In addition you can hold your breath for as long as shifter mode lasts.

Wildhunt: You gain the Perception (Tracking) focus. When in shifter mode you gain +2 to Constitution and +2 to all Perception (Seeing and Hearing) tests.


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AGE of Eberron plans

I am, like many of us, eagerly anticipating Josh Jarmon’s upcoming Dragon Hack playtest document. Josh’s work is based on Pathfinder, and I had an idea to do a similar mod for 4th edition D&D because I was keen on porting the Eberron setting to Dragon Age. After some thought, I realised that there was no point in re-inventing the wheel – especially as there is more 3.5 edition stuff for Eberron than 4th, and 3.5 is close enough to Pathfinder to make no odds (for my purposes anyway!).

Instead I hope to add to Josh’s work by contributing Eberron specific races, backgrounds classes, talents and specializations. So in the next few posts I plan to issue (as draft, of course) the following:

  • Races: changelings, kalashtar, shifter and warforged. These will have racial talents and a default background.
  • Classes: artificer. This will probably have to wait until I see how Josh has approached magic.
  • Backgrounds: one of the features of Eberron is that nation often matters more than race. So I plan to complement Josh’s more generic fantasy backgrounds (which I believe will be along the lines of city elf, forest elf, city dwarf, mountain dwarf etc) with ones specific to certain countries. You can choose these backgrounds if your race and class meet the general stereotype of the country. For example, Valenar is basically a nation of elven warriors. So if you have an elf fighter you can get ability increases, focuses etc based on the Valenar background. You can certainly play a dwarf Valenar if you want to, but you’d have to choose a more general background instead.
  • Dragonmarks: You know, these look a lot like talents…
  • Psionics: this is certainly a feature of Eberron but I don’t really want to create a parallel magic system. I haven’t decided exactly how to do this, but it will either be similar to the improvised magic system on Dragon Age Oracle, or an extension on Josh’s ideas for a monk’s Ki Pool that you access from a talent.

Anyway, that’s the plan – we’ll see how far I get! First up: shifters…

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AGE of Conan modification, draft version

Well I’ve finally managed to put this together! I’m publishing it as a “draft, version 0.1” as there are a number of things I want to add (including poisons, alchemy, mass battles, organizations and a bestiary). But I think there’s enough there now to get some useful feedback. Please note that none of this has been tested yet, so, err, be kind!

Here is the PDF: AGE of Conan – v0.1.

Posted in AGE of Conan, Dragon Age | 13 Comments