Strange Love (10 New PFRPG Classes You Might Have Missed)

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While we here at Lost Spheres are excited by the the recent release of the Shadow Weaver class, we would be pretty remiss if we didn’t call attention to some of the amazing classes that other Third Party Publishers have added to the game environment recently. With Starfinder, Starjammer, and a bunch of other amazing projects hitting the market it might be easy to miss some of these awesome shooting stars in the background:

10 New PFRPG Classes (You Might Have Missed):

  • Prodigy (Wayward Rogues) – Hybrid classes are very popular even a couple years after their release in the Advanced Class Guide. Few companies have explored the possibility of the occult classes quite as interestingly as Wayward Rogues has. The Prodigy is the seemingly unlikely hybrid of bard and spiritualist. Added to this is the classes assumption of the young template for the class. Instead of the tortured phantasm the child wunderkind has a muse companion driving them to artistic perfection. Fans of Childhood Adventures might find a perfect match for the support role here (or possibly even a melee companion). Oozing flavor and fun ideas.
  • Medic (Dreamscarred Press) – Originally part of their patreon offerings the Medic is a critical member for the Path of War family as that it is the first class to approach the healing role in that system. Far from being a clerical replacement, the medic has a movement focused style and really helps to create a healing character that is engaged and tactical. If you have enjoyed the martial maneuver mechanic and want to take a crack at the healing role look no further.
  • Warmonger (Little Red Goblin) – We have looked at fifth wheel characters before and considered the value of bards and other “buffing” support characters, but the warmonger falls more between the role of cavalier (mechanics) and barbarian (flavor). That said, it is not a hybrid really, rather having a number of warband and totem buffing effects that center on your “pahg” (basically your party). It walks a brilliant line between savage spirituality and tactical usefulness. Like the cavalier, the class is full-BAB and a significant combatant by itself.
  • Living Item (Rogue Genius/Four Horsemen) – Ever want to play the “One Ring?” Well now you can make halflings invisible and twist the weak-minded to serve you and your ring-ish agenda. This possibly one of the strangest yet often mused ideas I have seen and the rather audacious execution of the mechanics by the Four Horseman’s Stephen Rowe makes for a surprisingly playable character.
  • Feral Revenant (Necromancers of the Northwest) – The Necromancers have tackled vampirism before and lead the pack on balanced mechanics for adding the undead to a standard game. The feral revenant really represents their first offering to really get in touch with the idea of a savage vampire spawn. A spiritual cousin to the bloodrager, this full-BAB class is exactly what the doctor ordered for a primal blood-thirsty character. This class is just a single example of the classes “hidden” in their annual almanac series.
  • Elemental Host (Little Red Goblin) – This class again walks the line between others but like so much Little Red Goblin crafts, ends up being distinct an wholly its own. The elemental host ends up somewhere between kineticist and bloodrager having a sliding harmony and dissonance point mechanic that can result in devastating “crash” mechanics that represent backfires in your elemental bonds. Clever crash tactics can still turn benefit from this mechanic and if you enjoy effective resource usage this class might be a great fit.
  • Machinesmith (Louis Porter, Jr. Design) – This base class made its second appearance recently in a revised new release (of the Neo-Exodus Campaign setting) and remains among the top steampunk/tech classes in the extended Pathfinder environment. Despite its genre-bending nature, these classes depend on a tight family of supernatural abilities causing their mechani and weapons to fall on the magical side of the “hard” sci-fi divide. These abilities wouldn’t present too much difficulty converting to full “tech-only” versions but the default still feels at home in advanced swords & sorcery settings.
  • Yakuza (Legendary Games) – A clearer hybrid of the cavalier but with the ninja class, the Yakuza takes gang warfare to a new extreme of tactical interest. Combining sneak attack with gang teamwork feats and gang mechanic similar the criminal version of a cavalier order. Gang benefits suggest tactics and make the class ideal for multiple party members or NPC antagonists. Jade Triad members might make excellent additions to “Fear Factory” style parties.
  • Wonderworker (Wayward Rogues) – Another hybrid class this mash-up sports aspects of druid and wizard allowing for aspects both classes to simmer coming down out with two very unusual and fun offerings: A bond that can yield a magical beast companion and fused spells called “wonderworks” both of which offer relatively unexplored games space. Magical beast companions are smartly stat-ed to keep them in-line with other class features like eidolons  and druid bond animals but follow thematics allowing for more custom mechanics.
  • Vector (Little Red Goblin) – Again, Little Red Goblin brings down a VERY interesting and unique class centered on movement and kinetic energy manipulations. While again touching the edges of the aether based kineticist, the vector emerges with a bevy of interesting options for the class including “schools of thought” regarding the application of absorbed and applied kinetic energy. With individualized flairs the class weighs in as highly customizable and has great replay potential. Excellent for a rogue loving player looking for a new angle on things.

If the idea of new classes appeal to you, don’t miss the secrets of duality and half-realized dreams exposed in Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver now on RPGNow, DriveThruRPGPaizo.com and  the Open Gaming Store.

Disclaimer: No one at Lost Spheres is directly affiliated with any of the above Third Party Publishers. Our opinions are NOT their opinions and are formed as end-users of paid versions of all of the above products. We have received no compensation for these opinions.

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Me and My Shadow (Shadow Weaver is out on the OGS!)

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Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver is out on the Open Gaming Store!

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The time is now to get caught between the coming dark and fading day! The Shadow Weaver is a new base class designed by David N. Ross (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Intrigue, Player Companions) with a focus one duality, perception, and the nature of reality itself. The supplement includes the shadow weaver’s features:

  • Empowered use of your own shadow as a spell repository and powerful magical silhouette, capable of extending magic’s longevity or lashing out a disbelievers.
  • Perspectives that shape how each shadow weaver approaches their quasi-reality shaping and illusory masteries.
  • The increasing power of duality allowing the shadow weaver to shape oppositional energies and balance life and death.
  • Expanded shadow magic spells with over 50 new tiered shadow spells allowing mastery of near any false reality.
  • New feats for the class and rules for umbral magic (including source mechanics for Book of Beyond: Liminal Power).

If the secrets of duality and half-realized dreams have your attention, you can get Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver now on RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, and Paizo.com and now on the Open Gaming Store.

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Be Your Shadow (Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver is out at Paizo.com)

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Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver is out on Paizo.com and RPGNow!

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The time is now to get caught between the coming dark and fading day! The Shadow Weaver is a new base class designed by David N. Ross (Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Intrigue, Player Companions) with a focus one duality, perception, and the nature of reality itself. The supplement includes the shadow weaver’s features:

  • Empowered use of your own shadow as a spell repository and powerful magical silhouette, capable of extending magic’s longevity or lashing out a disbelievers.
  • Perspectives that shape how each shadow weaver approaches their quasi-reality shaping and illusory masteries.
  • The increasing power of duality allowing the shadow weaver to shape oppositional energies and balance life and death.
  • Expanded shadow magic spells with over 50 new tiered shadow spells allowing mastery of near any false reality.
  • New feats for the class and rules for umbral magic (including source mechanics for Book of Beyond: Liminal Power).

If the secrets of duality and half-realized dreams have your attention, you can get Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver now on RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, and Paizo.com soon on the Open Gaming Store.

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Shadows of the Night (Classes of the Lost Spheres – Shadow Weaver is creeping its way out…)

cropped-shadowweavercoverpromo.jpgSoon.

The release of Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver is spreading through the edges of the internet right now. The culmination of designer and author David N. Ross’ fulfillment of a nearly impossible shopping lists of requests the class dares to imagine dark and hidden realities and render them a real as deadly steel.

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In worlds where psions are the undisputed masters of Astral quintessence and the energies of the mind, sorcerers are the scions of Elemental bloodlines ancient and powerful, and clerics draw forth the powers of the Outer worlds; what does the universe present for the illusory deceits and rippling half-reality of the Shadow Plane?

Nothing? No One?

Hints scattered through a dozen traditions and many spells allude to a greater truth, a master unseen but from the corner of the eye or the flicker of a shadow by an owner unmoving. Illusionists whisper of a power glimpsed in the edges of their trickery. The tilted perspective of one who knows the worlds half-formed and has the Will to drive them to fullness.

The shadow weaver is that one. A master of self-enforced realities and perspectives bent toward the end of design over the drudgeries of truth. As varied as the wills they command, witness a brief glimpse into the world of the masters of illusory writ and worlds imagined.

Welcome to the Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver!

A new base class for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, the shadow weaver puts the power of the Shadow Plane’s quasi-reality in your hands! Through the power of Perspectives, each shadow weaver gains unique abilities from expanded spell access to the ability simulate psionic powers! Over 50 new spells usable for the class and other classes like specialist illusionists or those from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Occult Adventures rulebook.

If the secrets of duality and half-realized dreams have your attention, you can get Classes of the Lost Spheres: Shadow Weaver on RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, and soon Paizo and the Open Gaming Store.

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Shadow of the Day (Shadow Planar Displays of Psionics – Visual)

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In  our most recent release, we explore the possibility of planar Source Origins for various psionic characters. Among those empowered are those that gain psionic ability from a connection to the quasi-reality and echoes of the Shadow Plane. While players are always encouraged to customize displays for their psionic abilitiies we thought some inspiration for [Mental, Shadow] psionics was in order, today we look at Visual displays:

Visual Displays

The following displays apply to Shadow Origin powers that carry a visual display type.

  • The manifester’s body glrows translucent and looks like faintly colored crystal or  glass.
  • The shadows spin wildly  shifting and lengthening around the manifester.
  • The manifester’s eyes deepen to a pitiless black, making the manifester seem hollow within.
  • The manifester’s hands or head deepen to ebon or fade to gray taking on the appearance of burned out coals.
  • The manifester’s aura seems to shine while areas around them darken..
  • The manifester seems to replicate shimmering into dozens of flickers before resolving into the singularity of one at the powers manifestation.
  • All sources of light seem to shift hue, such as torches, or even the sun causing things to take of etheric or sickly colors. This does not cause any negative effects for those with light sensitivity.
  • All sources of darkness gains crisp boundaries and seems to writhe as if living.
  • A halo of reverse script appears swirling around you, perhaps spelling out secrets to those who can invert is swirling text quickly enough before they shift.
  • Light gathers to bright sparkling points, darkening the spaces between given the imagery of a star-field dancing around the  manifester.
  • The manifester fades to a black silhouette in which jumping arcs of energy struggle to escape until finally bursting the darkness to stream toward a target..
  • Shades of fallen friends and loved ones materialize near the manifester or target..
  • Black arteries of pulsing power lift from the darkness nearby to feed their energies into the manifester.

Psionic Paths is part of the Book of Beyond WIP subcription and is also available separate;y at: RPGNowPaizo, and the Open Gaming Store on d20pfsrd.

Pre-order with the Book of Beyond WIP subcription (already including 4 other products!) or see our other products (like Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres) at: d20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.

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Ease My Mind (Book of Beyond: Psionic Paths is OUT!)

BOB - Psionic Paths Cover Teaser Smaller.jpgThe final installment of the Book of Beyond subscription is OUT! Over 50 new psionic powers combining the spell interactions, planar manipulation and the Source Origin mechanics from Book of Beyond: Liminal Power. Psionic Paths is part of the Book of Beyond WIP subcription and is also available separate;y at: RPGNowPaizo, and the Open Gaming Store on d20pfsrd.

Pre-order with the Book of Beyond WIP subcription (already including 4 other products!) or see our other products (like Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres) at: d20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.

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Dirty Little Secret (Secrecy in RPGs)

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Recently a friend asked us, “As a PC do you enjoy keeping secrets from other players?” We offered up some answers and seemed to have some disagreements about the nature of secrecy in RPGs. Not 24-hours later another GM lamented in a popular forum that his gloriously prepped  mega-session was “ruined” when his players surprised him by being a secret party of demon cultists. We were a bit floored by the behavior, and again some disagreements formed over the nature and appropriateness of secrecy in RPGs.

So today we have some of our secrets to tell you…

Secrecy in Table Top RPGs

“There’s always another secret.’ -Kelsier”

Brandon Sanderson, The Final Empire

Secrecy is tricky business at the gaming table. A lot of the enjoyment of role-playing games (particularly fantasy or superhero RPGs) is the sense of increased personal power relative to a players “real life” power. We have talked about scarcity reactions, power dynamics and fear being driving forces in design and balance criticism for a gaming system. And as many authors and game designers have posited, secrets have power too. So when we are talking about secrets we are talking about some of the most central concepts of why someone even games in the first place.

As a discussion of power dynamics, we immediately have situations of varied secrecy between players and the GM. You could say it is “have and have-nots”, but not every group has the same rules about secrecy. All roleplaying games do have one secrecy factor the same however…

The GM is a liar.

A secret is:

“Secret – se-cret (noun): something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.”

– suggested Google definition

From the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook:

“Think of it as a cooperative storytelling game, where the players play the protagonists and the Game Master acts as the narrator, controlling the rest of the world.”

The “rest of the world” is pretty big.

If a secret is an unknown thing, then the GM by virtue of all questions unasked, vistas un-described and challenges unconquered is a keeper of secrets. The principle power of the GM position and its vaunted “Rule Zero” might is in the basis of this informative relationship. Even the results of an action are a secret until the GM confirms them. As such the player will always have secrets kept from them for moments at the very least.

So at the heart of secrecy in RPGs lies the power of the GM. And we will see that secrecy ALWAYS interacts with it. Different types of secrecy react differently in the gaming environment. Let’s look at a few.

Types of Secrecy in Tabletop RPGs

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. I mean everybody. All of the people in the whole world, I mean everybody — no matter how dull and boring they are on the outside. Inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds… Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands, maybe.”

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 5: A Game of You

Secrets in RPGs can take as many forms as there are characters to hide them multiplied by the number of characters that they can be hidden from. Add to this the layer of metagame at the table and even more secrets can happen as that Player Characters AND Players become involved in the secrets. However, some patterns do emerge:

  • The Undiscovered (World from Player Characters, GM from Players) – This is the information the characters haven’t found or encountered yet. This is the core balance of the storytelling game. The GM knows, the players discovers. In terms of power dynamics, this is the “current of secrecy.” It supports a consistent empowerment of the players and their characters through moments of thrilling discovery. Disruptions to this current are often the most dangerous things that can happen in a game. GMs would do well to try to develop cues to distinguish this process from other more specific forms of secrecy.
  • The Biased Source (GM to Player Character) – The GM is all things the players aren’t and that includes people. People who lie. People who are dumb or wrong. People that have made oaths not to reveal things. As the voice of all of these people, the GM is regularly going to be lying or hiding things from the player characters. Hopefully not always (see below). This information and “current” of secrecy follows the same flow as “the Undiscovered” and tends to reinforce a story’s narrative momentum while adding texture and fun complexities.
  • The Controlled Release (GM to Player Character from Other Characters) – Generally, this pattern of secrecy is mostly a storytelling device and more about dramatic tension in the normal “current” of secrets. A single or small group of characters is given information they have likely reasons to contain or control the distribution of. This has some immediate effects. By moving PCs into the flow of secrets, they gain power. Players tend to like this. It is a great way to make a mechanically deficient character feel more substantial. However, if this pattern is too consistent with any single character, other players will likely have disparity and scarcity reactions becoming negative with the secret-hoarding character (and player).
  • The Hidden Background (Player Character from Other Characters) – Generally these flavorful nuggets become the stones in our secret river of power, adding charming burbles and maybe even exciting rapids to the story. GMs are involved in these secrets and often support them in the overall flow of secrecy. They tend not to be obstructive to the over all flow of secrets or power and often are rewarding in moderation to the entire table as discovery eventual releases stored power differentials. A character who overuses or has drastic secrets can become a blockage and derail a story. Be cautious of peer resentment both in-party and out of game.
  • The Invisible Laws (Player to GM from World) – These secrets are more akin to preferences or game options in a video game. These are player requests that the GM accounts for that are not overt knowledge of the world. “I really want my paladin to get a holy avenger if I create one” or “I hate rats, please don’t have us fight them” are examples of these secrets. They are player inclusive and empowering but not necessary to have overt in the world (or even to other Players.)
  • The Secret Origin (Player Character from GM) – Notice this one being in red? It is because secrets kept from the GM are dangerous. Going counter to the normal flow of power and information in the game, these secrets cannot help but be disruptive. In a cooperative game, a secret from the GM is a secret from the world. This is a pretty big issue because the world holds no verity for the secret. This can result in characters who effectively are mentally ill, self-deluded or otherwise excluding themselves from reality. Many players invent incongruous or secret backstories for their characters but generally speaking this runs counter-collaborative storytelling and can damage the game’s overall narrative. Imagine not telling gravity your weight.
  • Player from GM (Also Called Lying) – Unless a group has established permissions for player deceptions against the GM, it is probably best to assume the GM should know nearly any game relevant information. A GM is only as good as their information. It is impossible to achieve consent with an ignorant party. This can lead to very bad incongruity in the game space if the GM only has partial information for a game. Cooperative remember?

Pitfalls of Secrecy at the RPG Table

“You have to be a bit of a liar to tell a story the right way.”

Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

While we have looked at some of types above and mentioned a few specific issues around them, in-game secrecy has other pitfalls worth discussion. Some of these are specific to one of the above categories but most are applicable to many:

  • Creatures of Habit – Like it or not, as humans we make associations and see patterns. Too many or over-present uses of secrecy will form response at the table. Erosion of player trust, paranoia, and even out of game resentment can occur from over use of secrecy in-game. GMs can develop tools promoting openness and disclosure to combat this, but at the very least they should be mindful of their reliance on secrecy. Too much betrayal (even by NPCs)  will have consequences.
  • Unseen is Unseen – Too many secrets can mean story that NEVER sees the light of day. A barbarian’s secret years as a slave don’t matter if no one ever learns of them. The Shadow War between the rogues and assassins in a city is irrelevant if no PC ever hears about it. Players and GMs both need to learn the art of the reveal, and possibly even contingency plan for times when revelations don’t go as scheduled.
  • Revealed is Revealed –  Especially with “the Invisible Laws” but with any secret, revelation is a thing of power. A planned reveal of a great holy sword might be lessened if the party learns it was a player request from the beginning of the game. Similarly, a player knows any consent requirements revealed for another player and may utilize that information in other settings, “Darcy is afraid of rats? Cool I will put a rubber one in her work-locker…” Reveal secrets responsibly.
  • Story Stallouts – If players sit too long on a “Controlled Release” secret or a PC thinks a revealed piece of the “Undiscovered” might be dangerous, a story might seize up as secrecy blocks its own flow. Since this is again a power dynamic, players will almost instantly begin to feel helpless, confused and even sometimes stupid. Pretty much everything they try to get away from by gaming. This danger needs to be planned for and secondary points of discovery are always a good idea with an important secret.
  • Islands of Isolation – PC versus GM secrecy, tight “Controlled Release” information and other breakdowns of secret exchange can also breakdown party dynamics, player to player trust or story involvement as a whole. Players engaged in these secrets often pursue single character game time (split the party, or force divided storytelling) and otherwise diminish group play. GMs and Players both are well served to take steps to prevent and discourage character behavior that is overly isolating.

Pitfalls aside, secrets can enhance storytelling and empower otherwise disenfranchised players and their characters. Great secrets and stunning reveals make for memorable game experiences. Most players enjoy becoming part of the conspiracy to weave a great story, but remeber–caution is never a bad thing when weighing the worth of a secret to the overall health to the whole of the game.

Want to know some of our secrets? The Book of Beyond WIP subcription is full of them! Get the Book of Beyond WIP subcription (already including 4 products!) or see our other products (like Mythic Paths of the Lost Spheres) at: d20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.

 

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