Monday, February 17, 2020

Robbing Pathfinder - Combat Styles - Bear Crane Dragon

For awhile now, I've had this daydream that a lot of Pathfinder material could be converted to slightly simpler rules-systems where I would feel more able to use it at my table. I like the idea of Pathfinder. It's one of my favorite D&D 3.75 editions (although Monte Cook's Arcana Unearthed might be my favorite). It's full of fun ideas, and it has lots of bold flashy art. Yes, it seems to largely be a game of fantasy superheroics, but so does most D&D, and in PF that means there are lots of interesting options for customizing your character.

My only problem with Pathfinder, really, is that its complexity means that neither I nor anyone I play with feels comfortable trying to run the thing. Which I don't mind, really, but I wish I had a way to use some of the cool character ideas that it includes. Hence my daydream of conversion.

So this is something of a thought experiment or proof-of-concept, to see if I can take something from Pathfinder and rewrite it so that I can use it. I want to start with the "combat style" feats that were introduced in Ultimate Combat. Each of these is a series of three feats that define a specific fighting style. One really obvious use for these is additional Mighty Deeds of Arms that DCC warriors could learn. Another possibility is as GLOG spells for characters like the adept class from A Blasted Cratered Land, or one of the muscle wizards from Goblin Punch or Ten Foot Polemic or Remixes and Revelations. In both cases, combining the feats into a single Deed or spell should hopefully provide some nicely variable results.

Sajan the Monk by Wayne Reynolds

Pathfinder Combat Style Feats as DCC Might Deeds

Boar Style - The warrior bites and scratches her opponent, tearing skin from flesh and flesh from bone, emerging red in tooth and claw. Although the style rewards a brawler who abandons herself to bestial fury, its moves were once carefully refined to inflict maximum horror and break the enemy's morale. Boar style is typically unarmed, but it can be enhanced with flensing knives, or by wearing cat-claws or metal teeth (as daggers). Its techniques are sometimes known to Orc bosses, Beastmen champions, and Hobgoblin sergeants.

A warrior can learn boar style by expending at least half her Intelligence or Personality score while in the throes of battle rage, by stealing a blood-soaked idol from the sacrificial altar of a tribe of humanoid berserkers, or by slaying a Giant Boar (combat statistics as Ogre) and eating its heart.

3 You bite and tear at your opponent. They must make a DC 10 morale check or flee in terror from your ferocity.

4 You bite and tear at your opponent. The wound bleeds freely, and your opponent suffers 1d3 damage each round until they use an action to staunch the wound.

5 You bite and tear at your opponent, dealing an additional 1d6 damage. They must make a DC 10 morale check or flee in terror from your ferocity.

6 You bite and tear at your opponent, dealing an additional 1d6 damage. The wound bleeds freely, and your opponent suffers 1d3 damage each round until they use an action to staunch the wound.

7+ You rip and tear, bite and gouge your opponent, dealing an additional 2d6 damage. Your opponent must make a DC 14 morale check or flee in terror from your ferocity. The wound bleeds uncontrollably, and they suffer 1d6 damage each round until they use a full combat round to staunch the wound.



Crane Style - The warrior stands on one leg, finding her center and balance like a reed that sways in the wind. Allowing her enemy to approach, she batters away her opponent's blows as a bird buffets the air with its wings. This is a measured and cerebral style that turns an opponent's strength against them. Crane style might be unarmed, or might utilize a quarterstaff or shield (shield bash deals 1d3).

A warrior can learn crane style by surviving a fight because her opponent fumbled what would have been the killing blow, by discovering a long-forgotten monastery among the mountain peaks, or by defeating an Air Elemental or an enemy wizard's Invisible Companion.

3 You sway to turn the force of your enemy's blow back upon them. The next attack that hits you, you automatically deal your current weapon's damage to the enemy who hit you.

4 You bend to redirect your enemy's strike against their own allies. The next attack that hits you also deals its normal damage to another opponent.

5 You bend and sway to absorb your enemy's might and turn the force of their blow back upon them. The next attack that hits you deals only half damage. You automatically deal your current weapon's damage to the enemy who hit you.

6 You bend and sway to absorb your enemy's might and redirect their strike against their own allies. The next attack that hits you deals only half damage to you, and also deals its normal damage to another opponent.

7+ You bend and sway, absorbing your enemy's might, turning the force of their blow back upon them, and redirecting their strike against their own allies. The next attack that hits you deals its minimum possible damage to you, and also deals its maximum damage to another opponent. You automatically deal your current weapon's maximum damage to the enemy who hit you.



Dragon Style - The warrior invokes the spirit of the dragon - her mind filled with the dragon's philosophy, her body emulating the dragon's movements, her heart aspiring to imitate the perfect being. Empowered by her own belief and ambition, the warrior is imbued with the nobility and sovereignty, the savagery and ferocity of the living dragon. Although rare, dragon style is sometimes practiced by entire tribes of Lizardmen and Kobolds, whose community life is devoted to reverence and awe for their sacred ancestor.

A warrior can learn dragon style by failing her saving throw against a dragon's breath and surviving, by establishing a hoard of unspent coins worth at least CL x 1000 gp to sleep within between adventures, or by intercepting a rival adventuring party of would-be dragonslayers and taking the dragon's revenge upon them.

3 The spirit of the dragon surrounds you like an aura. Your attack deals +1d damage, and you roll +1d on your next saving throw against magic (usually d24).

4 You strike like the slap of a dragon's tail. Your enemy must make a DC 10 Fortitude save or drop everything they're holding and roll -1d Action Dice until the end of combat (usually d16).

5 The spirit of the dragon surrounds you like an aura. Your attack deals +1d damage, and you roll +1d on your next saving throw against magic (usually d24). Then you unleash the dragon's roar. All your enemies roll -1d saving throws (usually d16) and their ACs drop by half until the end of combat.

6 You unleash the dragon's roar. All your enemies roll -1d saving throws (usually d16) and their ACs drop by half until the end of combat. Then, you strike like the slap of a dragon's tail. The enemy hit by your attack must make a DC 10 Fortitude save or drop everything they're holding and roll -1d Action Dice until the end of combat (usually d16).

7+ The spirit of the dragon surrounds you like an aura. Your attack deals +2d damage, and you roll +2d on your next saving throw against magic (usually d30). Then you unleash the dragon's roar. All your enemies roll -2d saving throws (usually d14) and their ACs drop by half until the end of combat. Finally, you strike like the slap of a dragon's tail. The enemy hit by your attack must make a DC 10 Fortitude save or they drop everything they're holding and roll -2d Action Dice until the end of combat (usually d14).

Crane Style by Dmitry Burmak

Pathfinder Combat Style Feats as GLOG Spells

Boar Style
R: touch, T: creature, D: 1 attack

Your biting, clawing attack deals [sum] damage to your target. The target must Save or become frightened and try to run away. An additional [dice] opponents also test their morale. The bleeding wound you inflict deals an additional [dice] damage to your target every 10 minutes until they receive medical treatment, typically in their own lair.

Some monsters' bodies have magical (or toxic!) properties when eaten. When you attack a creature with Boar Style, you may choose to consume 1 serving of its flesh. If you rolled doubles or triples, you automatically eat a serving.



Crane Style
R: self, T: self, D: [dice] enemy attacks

Your bending, swaying defense protects you from the next [dice] attacks that hit you. Set aside the Magic Dice used to cast Crane Style; none of them will return to your MD pool until after they are expended. The [dice] and [sum] devoted to this spell will diminish as its MD are expended.

When an attack hits you, the damage of that attack is reduced by [dice]. Then select one of the Magic Dice used to cast Crane Style. If the original damage of the attack is more than the amount showing on the chosen MD, you push the blow partially aside, and the attacker also deals [dice] damage with their current weapon to another opponent. If the original damage of the attack is less than the amount showing on the chosen MD, you reflect the blow back on the attacker, dealing [sum] damage with your current weapon to them. Finally, expend the chosen MD normally.



Dragon Style
R: self / 30' cone / touch, T: self / [dice] creatures / 1 creature, D: 10 min / 10 min / 0

The spirit of the dragon surrounds you like an aura. You unleash the dragon's roar and strike like a tail slap. This spell has three distinct effects: the first affects only you, the second targets multiple opponents at missile range, and the third affects a single opponent you strike in melee.

Until the end of combat, you have advantage on Saves, and all your attacks deal [dice] additional damage.

[Dice] enemy creatures are shaken with fear by the roar. They suffer [dice] damage immediately and have disadvantage on Saves until the end of combat.

Your stunning attack deals [sum] damage and causes your target to drop everything they're holding, to be too confused to cast spells, and to suffer disadvantage on all rolls until the end of combat.

Dragon Disciple Prestige Class by Jason Engle

Director's Commentary

Boar Style, Boar Ferocity, Boar ShredWhen I opened the first summary description, I almost immediately regretted my decision to take this on. "Unarmed strikes deal bludgeoning or piercing damage." Oh, come on! Work with me, Paizo! Give me something, give me anything, that I can actually carry over into a system that doesn't care quite so much about damage types!

Fortunately, I kept reading, and there is more there, both in the overall description of the style, and in the complete rules text for the feat. My initial fears may have been a little bit of an overreaction. There are some additional effects to draw on, but what helps at least as much are the descriptions of what you look like, how you learn this, and how you can improve.

For the DCC Deed, I decided to use combine the three effects to produce an A, B, AC, BC, ABC pattern. Obviously, the A effect is the weakest and the C effect the strongest, so I had to think about which should be which. I suppose the platonic ideal combat style Deed would have five different effects, but this seems fine for now. Also DCC spells typically have a top effect that's quite a bit more powerful than the ones that came before it, and I wanted to include that feel here to emphasize the specialness of these moves.

It might be interesting if a Warrior had to "spellburn" Personality or Intelligence to use a style Deed, or if they risked some kind of "disapproval" if they roll low. The point of putting a cost on using one of these moves would again be to help it feel a little more special, and to justify them being a bit stronger than other Deeds.

I also decided to include a bit about how a Warrior could learn each Deed, which is something I first tried when I wrote for David Coppeletti's Class Alphabet, (expected publication date TBA). For these, I thought there should be a way to learn each style by having a particular experience during a fight, a way to "quest for it" on an adventure, and a way to learn it by fighting a specific monster.

For the GLOG spell version, I decided to just pile on all three effects to create a single spell. In terms of the damage dealt, this is like a variation on Magic Missile, and I'm okay with that. Magic Missile also hits automatically, and this one you have to land a punch first, so I think it's alright to add a little more power as a reward for making the hit. Also, since food-based campaigns seem to be relatively common among GLOG players, and since this is a bite attack, I added a culinary effect at the end.

Crane Style, Crane Wing, Crane Riposte - The original version is about reducing the attack roll penalty and increasing the AC bonus for "defensive fighting," and getting bonus counterattacks against an enemy who attacks you but misses. Neither DCC nor GLOG has a defensive fighting option, and reducing penalties isn't super interesting. What DCC does have already is a Mighty Deed that increases Armor Class, so I thought it might be more interesting to turn this into Damage Reduction instead. Having decided that, it's obvious that the counterattacks should happen if your opponent hits you, rather than if they miss you.

For the GLOG version, I realized I could make the spell feel a bit more cerebral by making the caster choose whether to deflect the attack onto another monster or reflect it back at their main opponent, so now you have to think about how to use up each Magic Dice you assigned to the spell, by picking whether to spend one that's higher or lower than the incoming damage. Since doubles are always bad in GLOG spellcasting, discarding a dice that has the exact same number as the damage roll does nothing. As you spend the dice, the power of the spell gets reduced too, so it's not like you're repeatedly Magic Missile-ing your opponent at full strength.

Dragon Style, Dragon Ferocity, Dragon Roar - Of these three, this was the hardest style to work with, because the mechanics are so gamey, and it's not necessarily that easy to visualize what's supposed to be going on. It kind of reminds me of a combo attack from a fighting video game. For the DCC version, I tried to avoid having to keep track of modifiers by using dice-size increases and decreases, which is a fairly standard mechanic for that game. For the GLOG version, I just awarded advantage and disadvantage on the rolls. That's also helpful because a lot of GLOG mechanics are roll-under, and this way you don't have to worry about subtracting a bonus or adding a penalty or whatever.



Overall, I think this went pretty well, although it took slightly longer to write than I'd hoped. Still, it's the kind of thing that makes a nice mental palette-cleanser in between other kinds of writing. There's no shortage of interesting Pathfinder content that could be converted, so I'll probably do more posts like this in the future.

8 comments:

  1. Big fan of two things here: 1) I really like martial arts as GLoG spells (and I tried to make a GLoG monk class that operated like a differentiated caster). 2) I like having classes be unlocked by taking a special action, aka, defeating and eating a giant boar's heart WITH THE CAVEAT THAT these details are left up to the GM and are hidden from the PC. Otherwise, PCs start thinking up "builds," which I've really gotten tired of. If the GM can seed rumors in the game world where a strong orc chieftain says, "I learned these techniques by eating a boar's heart" and that triggers a new quest for the players, great.

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    1. I suppose I think of the conditions for learning each style as little adventure seeds. Whether the judge builds them up into complete adventures, or dangles them as hooks for players to pick up on, or discards them in favor of something else is up to the individual judge, and should be informed by their relationship with their players.

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  2. I quite enjoy the idea of borrowing or rescuing these sorts of fantasy superpowers and feats from the crunch heavy systems. My own take has been twofold:

    A) Using feats and such as templates for sub classes with abilities and bonuses that accrue at fixed levels of advancement: much like the AD&D paladin or monk (both of whom would be recast as types of fighters in this system).

    B) Offering magic manuals of arms or other tomes that allow a PC to exchange XP (1,000 x current level say - which is significant) for several levels to learn different tiers of the skill/feat. So your fighter might be a level behind the rest of the party, but can do so wicked weird feat thing.

    Anyway, cool stuff - I must go dig through pathfinder splatbooks now.

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    1. Those are both good ideas.

      Having special classes that learn certain abilities automatically is an easy way to get special powers into the hands of the players, as you say for monks and paladins, but even for wizards and clerics, who usually DON'T have to discover each new spell as treasure in order to learn them as they level up.

      And the book idea kind of simplifies the process. It is a bit tricky thinking up so many ways that characters could learn these styles ... and I have no guarantee any judge would ever use them in their specifics. "You find a book as treasure, if you study it, you'll learn something cool" is the OTHER way wizards learn spells, and yeah, like a nice standard way to deliver other superpowers.

      For what it's worth, while I'm writing the DCC entries so that any warrior COULD learn them, I'm also kind of imagining a "brawler" class who learns martial arts automatically as they level up.

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  3. Implementing PF style feats as secret knowledge using the deed die is brilliant. I think I might just drop that in as is into some other non-DCC game, deed die and all.
    Makes them more interesting than how I would have done it, just the go find some secret knowledge and it can be used.

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    1. Thanks, Ian! And you're right, you could easily drop either version, really, into the game of your choice. Special techniques can get special mechanics, that much, I'm pretty sure, is allowed.

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