Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mega Preview: Pagan Weapons and Leather Clones

Today I thought I’d do a mega-preview of my next two upcoming projects. Right now, I’m waiting on one piece of art for Culture of Choice- a new cover by Amanda Webb- and I’ll finally get this long awaited sourcebook out. In the mean time I’m adding bits of content here and there. Hopefully I’ll have the final art next week and have the book out next weekend. I’m disappointed a bit with my output this year- lots of various personal difficulties and problems cropped up, and my focus on bigger projects has meant instead of 30+ small books, I’ve done about 15 big ones.

By the way, the cover I’ve talked over with Amanda should be more than worth the wait. Since this is a full revision to Pathfinder, I’ve just got one thing to say. Remember Dr. Julie Riddle, the iconic Midwife from the Otherverse America Unlimited Edition cover….she’s now a spellcaster.

It’s going to look pretty fucking awesome.

Anyway, today I wanted to preview two things: the full Ancient Weapons feat tree from Culture of Choice as well as a couple other feats, and then the new Leather Clone race from the still unnamed Heavy Future Racial Sourcebook. I also want to showcase John Picot’s art work on that one. I referenced the artwork of 70s/80s painter Tom of Finland, and John perfectly captured the look I was going for. Lots of fun.(While I own the John Picot artwork and you'll be seeing it in the book, the top image of the high-tech spellcaster is just something I found on line and stuck in my 'inspirations' folder.)

Anyway, first up is The Ancient Weapons feat tree.
This is an iconic Choicer feat tree, which is probably going to be common among a lot of melee builds. It dates back to the Neo-Witch Guardian class I did for Skortched Urf Studios in 2007, and shapes a lot of how I see Choicer warriors fighting. When I was first designing Otherverse America, I wanted to take a cue from anime and cross-genre games like Rifts or Shadowrun, and make melee combat a viable option and stylistic choice despite the prevalence of various kickass guns. To that end, I designed these feats, and similar combat feats used by Lifer characters, to bring swords, fists and staves to the battlefield.

The Pentacle Shield trait/feat tree is a nice counterpoint, and gives Choicer characters some of the neat defensive abilities I’ve mentioned they have  in the fiction.

1.      Ancient Weapons – Simple Weapons Proficiency, BAB +1, Knowledge (religion) 1 rank
a.       Aradian Toxin – BAB +3
b.      Broom Witchery – Ancient Weapons or Weapon Focus (Staff)
                                                   i.      Agile Broom – Broom Witchery
                                                 ii.      Shield of the Witches – Broom Witchery
                                                iii.      Witch Flight – Broom Witchery, character level 5th

2.      Pentacle Barrier – Pentacle Shield trait
a.       Pentacle Umbra – Pentacle Barrier, character level 5th

Pentacle Shield (Faith Trait)
Ability Type Spell-Like
Requires any pagan patron deity
You can summon a gleaming shield of translucent red and gold energies that takes the form of a glowing pentacle. You may use shield of faith as a cleric of your total character level once per day.

Agile Broom – Combat
You use your broom with the grace and flair of an Olympic pole vaulter or gymnast.
Requires Broom Witchery
Benefit When you have any staff or besom in hand, you receive a +4 equipment bonus on Acrobatics checks. While using Acrobatics to cross narrow or uneven surfaces, you retain your DEX bonus to AC and are not considered flatfooted if your staff or besom is in hand.
Ability Type Extraordinary

Aradian Toxin – Combat
The Covenant claim the legendary Aradia, messiah of witches, fought against the Dark Ages church with blade and poison. They named their capital for the fearsome witch-assassin, and their greatest warriors can also imbue their blades with lethal psi-toxins.
Requires Ancient Weapons, base attack bonus +3
Benefit By expending psionic focus while wielding any weapon for which the Ancient Weapons feat would apply, you coat the blade with psi-created poison. The blade remains poisoned for a 1d4+1 rounds once this feat is activated.

Initially, the poison acts as either large scorpion venom or small centipede poison, chosen at the time you activate this feat. When you reach 10th level, you may also choose to manifest deathblade poison instead.
 Ability Type Supernatural

Ancient Weapons – Combat
You have extensively trained with a variety of weapons, chosen for their symbolism, all of which have an important place in pagan myth and history.
Requires Simple Weapons Proficiency, base attack bonus +1, Knowledge (religion) 1 rank
Benefit You are proficient with the following weapons. You may use any feat or ability requiring an atheme with one of these weapons instead.
  • All hand axes, flails, longswords, combat besom, kama, kris, kukri, scythe, scimitar, staff, spear
Ability Type Extraordinary

Broom Witchery – Combat
You have dedicated your young life to protecting Wicca as a faith, and the Covenant as a nation. You use occult combat techniques based on old witchery, and are a firm believer in hereditary witchcraft- you have a personal witch heritage going back several generations, and grew up proudly pagan. Many Gardnerian heroes choose this ability.
Requires Ancient Weapons or Weapon Focus (staff or besom)
Benefit When fighting with any staff or besom you gain a +1 shield bonus to Armor Class per five character levels. When taking the total defense action with any staff or besom in hand, you gain an additional +2 deflection bonus to Armor Class.
Ability Type Extraordinary

Pentacle Barrier
Your belief-driven defenses are reliable and easily activated.
Requires Pentacle Shield trait
Benefit You may use your Pentacle Shield trait at will, as a spell-like ability, as a cleric of your total character level.
Ability Type Spell-Like

Pentacle Umbra
You can extend your belief-driven defense fields over enormous areas, using psi-tech similar to the force domes that protect Choicer abortion clinics.
Requires Pentacle Barrier, character level 5th
Benefit Once per day per five character levels, you can generate a massive protective forcefield as a standard action. This forcefield remains in place once established until its HP is depleted, its duration expires, or you choose to dismiss it. You do not need to maintain concentration on the forcefield once it is established.

The forcefield is a glistening, half sphere of orange and crimson force, etched with pentagram motifs in golden lightning. It has 100 HP plus +10 HP per character level, and recovers 10 HP per round if damaged. It is immune to all forms of energy that allow specific energy resistance but allows light and visual effects to pass through and is not airtight. You can extend the forcefield to cover a maximum radius of 100 ft + 10 ft/level to a height of up to 30 ft + 5 ft/level. When you construct the field, you may designate airlock style apertures in the field, which you may open or close as a purely mental action. It remains active for 1 minute per level.

If the field is destroyed prior to dismissal or its expiration, you must succeed at a DC 18 WILL Save or be stunned for 2d4 rounds; success indicates you are merely stunned for one round.
Ability Type Spell-Like

Shield of the Witches – Combat
Though your besom is only a thin shaft of wood an inch in diameter, you can take cover behind it as if it were a solid stone redoubt.
Requires Broom Witchery
Benefit You can drop prone and claim cover from your besom or staff as a move equivalent action. At 10th level, you gain the ability to either claim cover from your staff/besom as an immediate action, or gain improved cover as a move equivalent action.
Ability Type Supernatural

Witch Flight – Combat
You’ve learned the secret of imbuing your besom with strange energies that allow it to defy inertia, gravity and most other physical laws.
Requires Broom Witchery, character level 5th
Benefit With a ceremony requiring eight uninterrupted hours of prayer, meditation and weapons training, which requires  the expenditure of 500 gp worth or ritual items. At the end of this ceremony, you bind to a specific besom or staff. This ritual can also be used to replace a lost or destroyed staff or besom.

This besom or staff acts as a +1 dancing staff as well as an immovable rod.  The ritual besom’s enhancement bonus increases by +1 per four character levels, and at 10th level also acts as a broom of flying with an upgraded, non-tactical flight speed of approximately 700 mph. These abilities only function when wielded by you, and the besom is treated as an ordinary staff by other characters. The besom cannot simultaneously be used as a rod, staff and broom.
Ability Type Supernatural

Now, let’s take a look at the next preview, the Leather Clones of Heavy Future. As I said, the artwork of Tom of Finland, and the view of late 70s gay culture it presented are the genesis of the race. Leather Clones were a cultural template in the first draft of Heavy Future, but I decided they had enough unique abilities and a neat enough racial backstory they worked well as a stand alone race.

It’s funny, my revision of the Black Tokyo races emphasizes the whole concept of cultural templates and the modularity that comes with it (plug template A into race B into class C) but I’m basically deleting the concept in Heavy Future. For some reason, the idea of a bunch of human subraces with major mechanical and game play differences seems right for a factionalized and grungy future in a way modular templates anybody can take doesn’t. Maybe it’s the starkness and divisiveness of the choices, it certainly seems like gritty 70s.

Size, Type and Subtypes
Summed Up In One Sentence….
Leather Clone
Medium Humanoid (human)
All male race of muscled gay clones from a hotly radioactive Frontier system

Leather Clone
Medium Humanoid (human)

Leather Clones are muscular, hyper-sexual, aggressive and proud spacers who utterly reject The Command’s stifling conformity and tepid, tech-enhanced quasi-sexuality in favor of the wild nights under the open stars and the embrace of equally masculine space-men. Instantly recognizable in their crotch hugging leather pants and chrome armor, Leather Clones cultivate a tangible aura of strength, masculinity and honor. They are also, proudly, openly and emphatically gay as fuck.

The Command and the Imperial Church of the Galaxy does everything possible to keep Leather Clone culture off the radar and in the closet. Leather Clones living openly in Command Space face every kind of discrimination and Command military harassment Earth’s bureaucrats can dream up, so most Leather Clones make their living prowling Free Space and the Frontier. Most are space pirates, Space Mafiosos, mercs, salvagers, free traders, or simply explorers- a few are heroes.

Leather Clones are big, brawny evolved homo sapiens males. They work out constantly, and what nature can’t give them, they acquire through black-market genemods and hyper-steroid treatments. Leather Clones are a vain people, peacocks in leather and chrome. They cram their massive musculature into tight fitting leather pants, biker jackets and leather vests, all topped off with gleaming chains and studs. Most mature Leather Clones universally favor thick handle-bar mustaches, and darker skinned Leather Clones adopt bushy, impudent afros.

Since the race perpetuates itself by innovative cloning processes, the faces tend to be similar, but Leather Clones distinguish themselves with their wild hairstyles, unique accessories and irrepressible personal style. Though the aesthetics are a bit different, most Leather Clones have a wardrobe that would make a Pacifican drool with envy.

Leather Clones are native to the Starburn System, which got its name from its dangerously unpredictable and lethally radioactive star. The fearsome sun is known to locals as “The Ripper”- often anthropomorphized as a cosmic demon of flame, and celebrated in murals and the full back tattoos favored by Leather Clone pilots.

Starburn is the closest thing the galaxy’s Leather Clones have to a birth-system, and is the center of gay life in the 46th Century. The spray of superheated asteroids and lethal, bullet-sized micrometeorites garlanding the inner solar system, and the dangerous solar storms keep the Command Navy at arm’s reach. Free from outside interference, the Starburn evolved into a free living, hard working and harder partyin’ slice of Free Space. Its citizens are leather daddies and drag queens, iconoclasts, rock stars, hard core spacers and the occasional Cosmic Satanist, and that’s just how they like things.

Sex, Drugs and Violence
Leather Clones like sex more than a Pacifician porno star, they just like it with other Leather Clones. Leather Clones prefer strong, assertive men as lovers- they’ve got no time for twinks or queens. Leather Clones More than a few have kids from a previous hetro romance, but most sustain their race through…what else?...cloning.

The genelines of great Leather Clone heroes are used as the basis for the next generations. Children are raised semi-communally, with young Leather Clones living with different sets of uncles, picking up different skills and talents, for a few months out of each year. Leather Clones are fiercely protective of their sons, and tend to be over protective of young spacers in general, regardless of gender, species or affiliation.

Politics & Culture
There’s been a quiet war brewing between The Command and the Starburn System for centuries. The Command has done everything possible to eradicate the homosexual human subspecies, up to and including actively impeding research into a cure for a lethal new space plague sweeping the system. The Starburn System is under a near constant military interdict, and depends on smugglers and Free Spacer captains for contact with the outside galaxy.

The Leather Clones are on pretty good terms with everybody else feeling the Command’s boot on their throat. Starburn has strong diplomatic relations with Pacifica, with the Outlaw Sex Station network, with various Free Spacer fleets, and with several Afro-Futurist colonies, provided they don’t have problems with the Leather Clone lovestyle.

Leather Clones identify themselves with Americanized Terran names, universally male, and with an alphanumeric code identifying their birth batch. Some might adopt a feminine persona for drag entertainment, but most consider this purely a working, artistic identity and rarely identify as female.

Example Names: Brock X-2251, Kyle NCC-204, Freddie 1976-M, Tom F-1N2L

Leather Clones begin play speaking Galactic Common and one Earth language of choice, usually English or Spanish. Leather Clones with high INT scores can choose any language as a bonus language, except secret languages like Druidic.

Leather Clone Racial Traits
All Leather Clones share the following racial traits.

Size and Type
Leather Clones are Medium Humanoids with the Human subtype. As Medium creatures, Leather Clones receive no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
Ability Score Modifiers
+2 STR, +2 CON, -2 WIS.
Leather Clones have bodybuilder physiques, but they tend to be impulsive, occasionally shallow and way too prone to falling for a sob story or a pretty face.

Muscle Up (SU)
When exposed to any effect that causes a temporary enhancement to their STR or CON scores, the Leather Clone adds additional duration to the effect. This extended duration is based on the Leather Clone’s total character level. This applies to potions, spells such as bull’s strength or bear’s endurance, or class or racial abilities that temporarily increase physical ability scores. The effects of these increases are not cumulative, use the best one.

First level: add 1 minute to the effect.
Third level: add 10 minutes to the effect
Fifth level: add 30 minutes to the effect
Tenth level: add 1 hour to the effect

Normal Speed (EX)
Leather Clones have a base land speed of 30 ft.

Human Blood (EX)
Leather Clones count as human for all effects related to race.

Leather Astronaut (EX)
Leather Clones are adept pilots and extremely comfortable on the grungy side of the galaxy. They receive a +2 racial bonus on Pilot checks and Knowledge (local) checks.

Leather Lust (EX)
Leather Clones like nothing better than a strong man. Leather Clones add their potential romantic partner’s STR modifier as a circumstance bonus on sexually oriented Bluff and Diplomacy checks made against male humanoids and monstrous humanoids, as well as Perform (sexual) checks. For instance, if a Leather Clone is attempting to talk Thom Starseeker (with a STR modifier +2) into bed, he would receive a +2 circumstance bonus on Bluff or Diplomacy checks to do so.

Powerful Build (EX)
Leather Clones’ have bulging, genetically engineered muscles that provide them with the Powerful Build racial trait.

Leather Clone Alternate Racial Traits
There’s a lot of hab-domes, radiation shielded stations and asteroid bases scattered through Starburn, each with their own ways of doing things. Leather Clone culture is a lot less monolithic than the Command imagines.

Ain’t Human, Am Evolved (EX)
Human Blood, Human Subtype
A few Leather Clone bloodlines have gone full on post-human, bigger than the norm and distinguished by bright blue or metallic bronze dermis. The Leather Clone’s type becomes Monstrous Humanoid and he loses the human subtype.

Big Bear (EX)
Muscle Up
The Leather Clone’s even burlier and hairier than the norm, just a wall of gene-sculpted muscle. The Leather Clone’s racial ability score modifier to STR increases to +4 and his racial ability score modifier to CON increases to +3.

Leather Activist (EX)
Replaces: Leather Lust
The Leather Clone’s going to wake up the galaxy to the quiet little genocide the Corporation Command’s trying to commit against Starburn. The Leather Clone receives a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Perform checks made against characters or audiences hostile to the Command.

Leather Engineer (EX)
Leather Astronaut
The Leather Clone’s more at home in a starship’s engine compartment than on the bridge or cruising the bars. The Leather Clone receives a +2 racial bonus on Craft (mechanical) checks and FORT Saves made to resist radiation.

Space Hardened (EX)
Powerful Build
The Leather Clones’ tissues have been genetically hardened against the rigors of space. The Leather Clone is immune to radiation and environmental heat and cold. He does not gain the No Breath racial quality, but can survive in space indefinitely with only a breathing mask and oxygen tank.

Virility (EX)
Leather Astronaut
The Leather Clone is a rock hard ramrod of a man, always ready for action. The Leather Clone receives Gifts of Ecstasy as a racial bonus feat. Additionally, the Leather Clone is immune to permanent drain to his CON or CHA scores, and treats drain to those scores as temporary ability damage instead.

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