Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Published Work

For the past few months, my focus has primarily been on publishing work with third party publishers. If you are interested in my work, here is my credit list under the name Jeff Gomez.

Published

AuthorSir Reginald Lichlyter's Guide to Magical Beers, Tankards, and other Inebrious Items (Items & Fluff, 15k wrd), Fat Goblin Games, 8/1/2015

EditorHeroes Wear Masks, Mission Book 1 (Adventure, 32k wrd), Avalon Games, 6/30/2015

AuthorCall to Arms: Powders and Dust (Items & Fluff, 12k wrd), Fat Goblin Games, 6/23/2015

Contributing AuthorWinged Cavalry (Character Class, 2k wrd), Flaming Crab Games, 6/6/2015

Contributing Author, Cultures of Celmase: Gnomes (Setting, 500 wrd), Wayward Rogues, 6/6/2015

AuthorGregor’s Portrait (Adventure, 2k wrd), Avalon Games, 4/26/2015

Contributing Author, Call to Arms: 10 Foot Pole (Items & Fluff, 1k wrd), 3/29/2015

Editor, Infinite Futures 2.0 (Alternate Pathfinder Ruleset/Setting, 100k wrd), Avalon Games, 3/1/2015

Author, Ruins of Gilead (Adventure, 15k wrd), Adventure a Week, 2/23/2015

Author, Jacob’s Tower, Levels 1-13 (Adventure, 93k wrd), Zenith Games, 1/21/2015

Author, Monster Hunter’s Guide to Vampires (Adventures/Sourcebook, 15k wrd), Avalon Games, 1/18/2015

In Production

Product Line Director, Shattered Earth (Setting/Alt Ruleset), Avalon Games, In Production

Co-Designer/DeveloperSteampunk Musha (Setting/Alt Rulset, 200k+ word), Fat Goblin Games, In Production

Author, Paris in the 20th Century (Setting, 11k wrd), Avalon Games, In Production

Author, Dragons Are Above My Pay Grade (Adventure, 10k wrd), Purple Duck Games, In Production

Author, A Tale of Two War Camps (Adventure, 6k wrd), Louis Porter Jr. Design, In Production

Author, Sage (Character Class, 5k wrd), Little Red Goblin Games, In Production

Co-Author, Smuggler's Run (Adventure, 4k wrd) Chaos Trip Studios, In Production

Contributing Author, Foes of Porphyra: Giants (NPC, 5k wrd), Purple Duck Games, In Production

Contributing Author, Shattered Skies Campaign Setting (Culture, 1.5k wrd), Wayward Rogues, In Production

Editor, Arcana, Western Reaches, (Setting, 90k wrd), Avalon Games, In Production

Editor, Heroes Wear Masks, Mission Books 2-6 (Adventure, 110k wrd), Avalon Games, In Production

EditorNova Blast Starfighter, (Ruleset, 6k wrd), Avalon Games, In Production

I will also be writing on Pixel Starships, an upcoming 8Bit Starship Management Strategy RPG!

If you have an interesting product that you would like me to work on, I'd be happy to hear it.  Shoot me an e-mail at zenithgames.blog@gmail.com

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Diceless Pathfinder: Example Combat

The following is an example combat between four iconics and an adult red dragon in the diceless system.  This combat could go down any number of ways depending on what the characters choose.  Here's one way.

Contestants

Adult Red Dragon: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/dragons/dragon/chromatic-red/adult-red-dragon  We are going to assume he has AC 33 with shield up.

Valeros Iconic Fighter: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/npc-classes/npc-codex-iconics/iconic-fighter/iconic-fighter-12

Seoni, Iconic Sorcerer: http://www.pathfindercommunity.net/iconic-characters/seoni---iconic-sorcerer/seoni-iconic-sorcerer-12 (Note that while the iconic wizard can pierce the dragon's SR, the iconic sorcerer cannot. So lets look at her for our example).

Lem, Iconic Bard: http://www.pathfindercommunity.net/iconic-characters/lem---iconic-bard/lem-iconic-bard-12

Kyra, Iconic Cleric: http://www.pathfindercommunity.net/iconic-characters/kyra---iconic-cleric/kyra-iconic-cleric-12

Pre-combat

Before battle, the Dragon casts haste and shield on himself.

Seoni casts overland flight on herself and both stoneskin and displacement Valeros, Kyra, and Lem.  She then hastes the group, and uses her scroll of protection from energy on herself.

Lem casts heroism on Valeros, Kyra, and himself.  He casts shield on himself.

Kyra casts fire shield and freedom of movement on herself.

Combat Starts

Lets assume the group is 30 feet south of the dragon.

Initiative is as follows: Valeros 19, Seoni 19, Lem 17, Dragon 15, Kyra 12

As soon as combat starts, everybody must make a save against frightful presence, but at DC 21 nobody fails (though Valeros is close - good thing for Bravery!)

Round 1

Valeros and Seoni delay, allowing Lem to start singing.

Lem starts singing Inspire Courage, giving everybody a +3 morale bonus on saves and a +3 competence bonus on attacks and damage.  He moves forward and to the right to make sure he's not caught in a fire cone, getting ready to get behind and flank the dragon.

Valeros runs up to engage.  With just a standard action vital strike he attacks at 40 vs the dragon's AC 33.  28 Damage.

Seoni casts chain lightning, which fizzles against the dragon's SR.  Damn!  Well, we won't be doing that again.  She flies up in the air to make sure she's not caught in a fire cone.

Dragon's turn! Valeros is dealt 4 fire damage from the aura. The party has already dispersed too much for fire breath.  At most, he can catch Valeros and Kyra, but Kyra clearly has some flaming aura already.  Full attack then!  He focuses on Valeros, his only target, and attacks at 37, 37, 37, 34, 34, 34.  - all above Valeros' AC.  Luckily displacement eats half of these and stones skin takes off a lot.  Only 21 damage!  The dragon starts sweating.  Firebreath next time.

Kyra, last of the lot, moves forward to attack.  She takes the opportunity attack, though displacement and stoneskin only bring it down to 6 damage.  She then swings her scimitar, now with +6 to attack and +5 to damage. Her attack is at 33, criting the dragon.  She deals 30 damage.  Now the PC's know the dragon's AC.

Round 1 HP:
Dragon: 154/212.  Valeros: 105/130. Seoni: 80/80.  Kyra: 99/105. Lem: 105/105

Round 2

Lem cast Grease on the ground beneath the dragon (now the dragon can't maneuver as well) and then moves around to flanking the dragon.  He takes the opportunity attack (with stoneskin and displacement, average 6 damage).

Valeros is now flanking.  With all of his buffs, he's got a mighty +8 to attack and +5 to damage.  He pulls out both his weapons and attacks at 40/40/35(crit)/30 with his long sword and 37/32 with his short sword.  That's a whopping 112 damage.  The maneuvering and buffs really paid off!

Seoni watches her buffs take their full effect, and she sees the dragon thinking about escaping. Not today.  She casts wall of force directly above the wyrm.  It's not flying anywhere without needing to get through her flankers.  She, in the meantime, flies out of the dragon's fire breath range.

The dragon bumps his head on the wall of force and realizes he can't fly away.  He can catch both Kyra and Valeros in his fire breath though. A DC 24 ball of fire rolls through the area.  Valeros only just saves due to his buffs, but he still gets hit for 36 damage.  Kyra just fails her saving throw, but her Chill Fire shield ensures she's only dealt 36 damage. His aura also deals his attackers 4 damage.

Kyra sees her chance!  Holy power floods the area, healing everybody 24 hit points. She then gets ready to start swinging if need be.

Round 2 HP:
Dragon: 50/212.  Valeros: 89/130. Seoni: 80/80.  Kyra: 83/105.  Lem: 101/105.


Round 3

Valeros obliterates the dragon.  The party celebrates their CR+2 victory and collects their rewards.

This seems like it would go down pretty much the same as a game with dice, except Seoni would probably keep trying (and likely failing) to break SR.  The result is much faster (I can see this combat taking maybe 15 minutes), and the results are based off of player and GM choices both before and during combat.



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Diceless Pathfinder

Dice have long been a staple of roleplaying games, but there's a lot to be said for going diceless.  Combat moves much faster.  Calculations aren't needed, and math is significantly reduced.  Misses encourage strategy and variation.  Skill is more important than luck.

Going diceless is remarkably easy.  Any time you would roll a die, simply replace it with the number from the following chart.

D20: +11
D12: +7
D10: +6
D8: +5
D6: +4
D4: +3
D3: +2
D2: +1

Thus, if you have a Reflex save of +5, your Reflex save is now 16.  If you CMB is normally +18, it is now 29.  If your weapon normally deals 2d8 +3, it now deals 13 damage.  If your fireball normally deals 10d6, it now deals 40 damage. You should feel free to precalculate and write these numbers on your character sheet to save time.

Example Combat


Blur, Displacement, and Random Tables

Rolls for which there are no possible modifiers should still use the appropriate die. This includes most random encounters tables, random loot tables, random weather tables, displacement, and the confusion effect.

"Roll Twice and Take the Higher Number"

There are a few effects that allow you to roll twice and take the higher number.  For d20's, add +3 to the standard result (14).  For d12 - d10, add +2.  for d8 - d2, add +1.

There are a few effects that allow you to roll twice and take the lower number.  For d20's, subtract -3 to the standard result (8).  For d12 - d10, subtract -2.  for d8 - d3, subtract 1.  d2 has no difference.

There are a few effects that allow you to reroll a die.  If you are trying to get a higher result, for d20's, add +2 to the standard result (13).  For d12 - d8, add +1.  For d6 - d2, there is no difference.

There are a few effects that allow you to reroll a die.  If you are trying to get a lower result, for d20's, subtract -2 to the standard result (9).  For d12 - d8, subtract -1.  For d6 - d2, there is no difference.


Optional Rule: Similar Subsequent Saves

There are a few effects which require the same subsequent save to be made over the course of several rounds.  The most obvious example is poisons, which you must make the same DC save against until you succeed, but there are also many spells such as hideous laughter (for which you get a second attempt to save) and suffocation.  In Pathfinder with dice, these effects often rely on luck to get the weak out.

In these cases, each subsequent save is made at a cumulative +1 bonus to a maximum of 19.  Thus, a rogue suffering from a deadly poison would "roll" an 11 on the first round, a 12 on the second round, a 13 on the third round, etc...


Criticals

No dice means no luck, and no luck means no criticals.  If you aren't rolling, you obviously can't roll a 20 or a 1.  So how do we determine criticals on attacks?  There are three methods to consider.  My personal recommendation is #2.


Critical Method 1: No Criticals

There aren't any criticals.  This goes in line with the general philosophy, but changes the balance of the game a bit.  To accommodate for this weapons that have a crit range of 20/x3 or 19-20/x2 gain a +1 bonus to attack.  Weapons that have a crit range of 20/x4 or 18-20/x2 gain a +2 to attack.  Improved Critical, keen, and similar effects double this.

Unfortunately, effects that occur on criticals just won't happen.


Critical Method 2: Lucky Hits are Criticals

Critical Failure: Missing the target number by one (an attack of 29 against an AC of 30) results in a critical failure (unless you use crit cards or similar, there's no difference between a miss and a critical failure).

Critical Success (20): Hitting the target number on the nose (an attack of 30 against an AC of 30) results in a critical success for weapons with a critical range of 20.

Critical Success (19-20):Hitting the target number on the nose or one above (an attack of 30 or 31 against an AC of 30) results in a critical success for weapons with a critical range of 19-20.

Critical Success (18-20):Hitting the target number on the nose or one or two above (an attack of 30, 31, or 32 against an AC of 30) results in a critical success for weapons with a critical range of 18-20.

In this option, a target cannot be subject to a critical hit more than once a round - all subsequent criticals are just hits.  Creatures may choose to forgo their critical for a hit if they think a stronger critical is coming up.

There is  some gaming that can be done here.  For example, if a barbarian with a crit range 20 weapon is attacking at 32 against AC 30, he can ask his buddy to move out of flanking to get that sweet spot.  However, this requires planning, strategy, and knowledge, which should all be rewarded.


Critical Method 3: Powerful Hits are Criticals

Critical Failure: Missing the target number by ten or more results in a critical failure (an attack of 20 or less against AC 30) (unless you use crit cards or similar, there's no difference between a miss and a critical failure).

Critical Success (20): Getting ten or more over the target number results in a critical hit (an attack of 40 or more against AC 30).

Critical Success (19 - 20): Getting nine or more over the target number results in a critical hit (an attack of 39 or more against AC 30).

Critical Success (18 - 20): Getting eight or more over the target number results in a critical hit (an attack of 38 or more against AC 30). 

In this option, a target cannot be subject to a critical hit more than once a round - all subsequent criticals are just hits.  Creatures may choose to forgo their critical for a hit if they think a stronger critical is coming up.

Whereas criticals are usually an equalizing agent, this places even more power in the hands of those who can hit well, and even less power in the hands of those who can't.  It also encourages people not to use the lowest parts of their iterative attacks.


Effects of Going Diceless

Increased Strategy and Teamwork: Consider a game of Pathfinder with dice.  Your barbarian moves up to attack the orc.  He rolls an 11, adds his attack bonus (+6) for a 17 ... and misses the orc.  What does he do next?

If you are like virtually every other player out there, your next turn is going to be the exact same.  You've invested into hitting things after all. Maybe it was the roll.  You'll stand in about the same spot, roll the same die, and hope for a higher number.  Not much strategy there.

With diceless Pathfinder, you know that unless the situation changes, you won't hit the orc.  You won't just stand there like a numbskull and swing away again.  Instead, you'll look around and try to think of something new and creative.

Perhaps you'll move into flanking for next turn.  Perhaps you'll try to trip him.  Perhaps you'll make an intimidate check to lower his saves.  Perhaps you'll grab a handful of sand and try to blind him. Perhaps you'll convince the bard to aid another and help you get a hit.  Perhaps you'll beat a hasty retreat.  Whatever you do, it won't be just another swing (and possible miss).

Faster Combat: No dice means combat will go incredibly quickly.  There is no calculation to do, and no time spent rolling dice.  Turns can be as short as "24 to attack," "That's a hit," "18 damage," with no calculation or dice rolling to slow things down.

Reduced Math: Math is reduced to small modifiers, subtracting damage, and determining whether one number is bigger than another.  Gone are the days of 24 + 17 attack rolls, or adding together 13 d8s for a dragon's breath.  All of these numbers should be pre-calculated. Going diceless is perfect for those who really hate the math aspects of the game.

No More Eventual Criticals: You'll never hit an enemy with an AC of 100, no matter how much you roll.  Likewise, a character attacking at a +100 will never miss.  This is not only realistic, it also encourages strategy.  You've got to find another way of dealing with the problem than throwing dice at it.

Decreased Chance: Combat will be based entirely on skill, and not on luck.  It becomes impossible to blame or credit the die with a loss or a win.  Victories are that much more satisfying knowing that they were earned.

On the flip side, chance can be fun, and rolling high is enjoyable.  However, by keeping criticals we can keep most of the thrill of the seemingly random failure or success.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Races of Pathfinder: Shabti

Shabti
Shabti are "immortal facsimiles of death obsessed nobles," human-like outsiders that are made to take the godly judgement for human error.  Their traits are interesting from a flavor perspective, but not terribly interesting from a mechanical perspective.

Racial Traits:
Ability Scores: +2 to both Constitution and Charisma with no penalties is probably the best part of this race.  These are broad bonuses that a range of classes can take advantage of.

Type: Shabti are outsiders, meaning they are immune to any spell that targets humanoids.  While this will exclude some buffs, by and large this will help you avoid some enemy spells.

Size: Medium - nothing special here. 

Speed: 30 ft. - again, average.

Darkvision: Yay darkvision!  See in the dark!

Immortal: Shabti can't age, even though spells with aging effects affect them as normal.  Fine, but likely to not come up in and practical sense in a campaign.

Immune to Undeath: Shabti are immune to undeath.  Again, not terribly likely to come up in a campaign.

Resist Level Drain: Shabti are immune to energy drain.  This is far more likely to be relevant, but still isn't terribly.

Past Life Knowledge: Treating all knowledge skills as class skills is pretty nice, particularly if you are an intelligence based class.  It makes skill monkeying a heck of a lot easier.

Shattered Soul: Shabti more difficult to raise.  This is far more likely to happen in a campaign than aging into death, and outweighs the previous unlikely bonuses.  Still, it's not too likely in and of itself.

Spell Like Ability: Suggestion: Suggestion is a reasonably high level spell as these things go, being a level 3 wizard/sorcerer spell.  It's a multi-use spell that you will find a time for from level 1 to 20.  I'm not sure what the DC of this is though.

Classes: 
With pretty broad, un-mechanically-interesting abilities, the only real trait that we have to discern the Shabti's suitability for classes are his ability scores.
The charisma casters, such as the Sorcerer, Summoner, Oracle, and Bard, all benefit from both Charisma and Constitution Bonus.  Clerics, Paladins, Ninjas, and many Cavaliers benefit from both as well.  The Mysterious Stranger Gunslinger can make use of Charisma as well, and won't turn down a chance for more Constitution.
Besides that, basically everybody benefits from the extra constitution.  There's no reason you can't make a good Barbarian, Monk, Fighter, Druid, Rogue, or Magus.  Only the Witch, Wizard, and Alchemist fall on the second tier, but only because they don't make as much use of either ability score.

In short, the shabti are extremely bland from a mechanical perspective.  Play them for the flavor, not for the interesting perks they might give to optimization.


Races of Pathfinder: Orc

Orc
Orcs are your proto-typical bruisers, big, dumb, and exceptionally strong.  Hated and feared for their barbarism, orcs make great melee characters, but not much else.


Racial Traits:
Ability Scores: Orcs get +4 to Strength, but suffer a -2 penalty to Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.  The strength bonus means a strong low level start, but you'll be constantly lacking in the skills department, as well as having a slightly weaker Will save.  Still, if damage dealing is the only thing you care about, it's hard to beat.

Size: Orcs are the same size as humans.

Speed: Orcs have the standard 30ft base movement speed.

Orc Ferocity: This trait allows an orc to keep fighting as if disabled  after being taken below 0 hit points. This can be excellent at low levels, when it essentially adds a huge percentage to your HP, but it dwindles in usefulness as the levels go up.  For a Cleric, Paladin, or other healing class, this can be invaluable since you can use that standard action to heal yourself.

Weapon Familiarity: Orcs gain automatic proficiency with two very nice martial weapons, the greataxe and the falchion. If you’re going to be playing a class that only gains simple weapon proficiency, this can be a huge boon for you, but if you’re going to be a Fighter or any other class that gains martial weapon proficiency, trade this out for something better.

Darkvision: Darkvision is way better than low-light vision, because realistically most DMs don’t really worry about lighting conditions except for darkness. This is a great ability to have.

Light Sensitivity: Light Sensitivity is a minor but pervasive penalty, that will provide annoyance for a good long time.  Luckily, if you aren't a ranged character you can easily trade it out for Dayrunner.

Alternate Race Traits:
Dayrunner [Light Sensitivity]: Light sensitivity is a pain in the ass. It's only a -1 penalty, but given that you'll likely spend much of your campaign outdoors during the day, that penalty can really accumulate.  Dayrunner lets you trade it out for a -2 penalty on ranged attack rolls, which is great if you don't make ranged attacked!  Plus, the flavor is hilarious: "Orcs refuse to yield to any foe, including the sun.  Some spend hour upon hour glaring at the sun."

Feral [Weapon Familiarity & Language]: The bonuses here, survival as a class skill and +1 to attack and damage while at negative, are pretty minor.  However, what you are trading in can be made pretty minor too. If you don't use an orc weapon, and you have another way of getting languages, then its something to consider.

Smeller [Ferocity & Weapon Familiarity]: Scent is a nice ability, but I consider Ferocity to be much stronger, especially at lower levels.

Squalid [Ferocity]: A +2 bonus against nausea is wonderful in and of itself, but you also get a +2 bonus against sickened and disease.  Squalid will have much better longevity than ferocity, and getting nauseated mid-combat is really unfortunate.

Classes:
Given that the orc suffers from a -2 penalty to all mental stats and a +4 bonus to strength, an orc's favored classes isn't exactly shocking.  The orc is going to excel in any straight melee class, and lag behind in with spell casters.  I won't bother going through the classes in depth, but fighters, barbarians, cavaliers, and rogues are all prime candidates.  Because of Scarred Witch Doctor archetype the witch is pretty tasty as well, as documented below.

Racial Favored Class Bonuses:
Alchemist: Adding +10 minutes to the duration of mutagens is fine, but it can really just be managed with better mutagen use.  It's not likely to be relevant.

Barbarian: More rage rounds means more BARBARIAN SMASH, which is exactly what you want to do.

Cavalier: +1 to CMB with bull rushes or overruns is far too situational to be of any use.  Stick with something useful.

Druid: This is an interesting one, +1/2 to damage dealt by your animal companion's natural attacks.  If you've got an animal companion with plenty of natural attacks, this can add up.  Definitely worth considering.

Fighter: With orcish ferocity, adding 2 to your Constitution for the purposes of dying at negative hit points is really interesting.  On the one hand, it's double the number of hit points you can get from a normal favored class bonus.  On the other hand, you could wind up with 40 extra hit points to go through disabled vs 20 extra hit points to go through not disabled.  If you have some way of healing yourself (unlikely as a fighter), then this is a great choice for tanks.

Ranger: Extra hit points for your animal companion means it’s less likely to die, so that’s always a good thing.

Summoner: Extra hit points for your eidolon are always a good choice, so this one’s a keeper.

Witch: Extra spells for your familiar is nice, but you can always add them from a scroll or a wizard's spellbook by tossing cash at them.

Racial Archetypes:
Dirty Fighter (Fighter): I like this archetype because of the versatility that the Dirty Trick combat maneuver affords you, and Fighters get a lot of feats so you can pick up a lot of Improved and Greater combat maneuver feats as you gain levels. Dirty Trick is actually a fantastic maneuver, allowing you to inflict one of several debilitating statuses to an enemy for one or more rounds, and the best part of this archetype is that at 9th level you can start using dirty tricks as attack actions rather than Standard actions, meaning you can do multiple dirty tricks per round. The ability to eventually apply two conditions to a foe that you target with Dirty Trick after level 13 is also REALLY good. If you’d like to build a character who kicks dirt in someone’s eyes to blind them, then smacks the sides of their head to deafen them and finally kicks them right in the nads to sicken them, this is the archetype for you!

Scarred Witch Doctor: You get to use Constitution as your casting stat (though RAW it doesn't give you extra spells based on Con). This means every time you boost your casting stat with belts, spells, mutagens, rage, etc, you also gain hit points! It is also much easier to find ways to boost Constitution than Intelligence, so you’re going to be able to boost your Hex DCs much more often and much higher than other Witches of the same level. Finally, the Fetish Mask ability is wonderful, allowing you to add magic properties to the mask as if you had the Craft Wondrous Item feat. You could make your Fetish Mask into a Medusa Mask for only 5,000gp, or a Kybwa’ka War Mask for only 1850gp!  The only issue here is that your racial stat bonuses don't allow you to boost Constitution right off the bat, and you likely waste that +4 Strength while regretting the loss of Wisdom and Intelligence. Alternatively, use that +4 Strength to become a reach melee witch!

Prestige Classes:
There aren’t any orc-specific or human-specific prestige classes, but there is one prestige classes that an orc can really excel at:

Eldritch Knight: The orc is in a good position to become an Eldritch Knight for one reason alone: the Scarred Witch Doctor archetype. The reason this works so well is because you will continue to get to use your Constitution score for your casting stat, even after taking levels in this prestige class. Every level will give you new spells per day AND a full BAB progression, which is just awesome. I recommend taking a single level of Urban Barbarian (to gain Controlled Rage, which you’ll use on Con every time) and then take Scarred Witch Doctor for 5 levels, then jump into Eldritch Knight for 10 levels, then go back to Scarred Witch Doctor. By doing so, at 20th level you’ll have a BAB of +15, you’ll be a 18th-level caster which means you’ll be able to cast 9th level spells, and when you use Controlled Rage to add +4 to your Con score, you’ll get a boost of +2 to hex DCs (note that the intent of Controlled Rage seems to be that things that require concentration, like spellcasting, can be done while using the ability, but I think some GMs would still rule against being able to cast while raging).  Alternatively, stay on with the witch until 6th level for another hex.

Racial Feats: 
Beast Rider: This feat is a great choice for a multiclass character who is planning to go into the Mammoth Rider prestige class. Since you can take this feat at 7th level, this will allow you to use a more exotic creature as your mount three levels before you can begin taking Mammoth Rider levels (10th level minimum), and you can treat your druid level as up to two levels higher (up to your maximum level) for determining the powers and abilities of your new mount. Combine this with Boon Companion, and you can have a full-strength mount or animal companion with up to six class levels that don’t normally increase your animal companion’s abilities! 

Blood Vengance: This feat allows you to go into a rage-like state if one of your allies is knocked unconscious or killed, which is pretty cool. Note that it says you MAY enter the state, so you’re not going to be forced to do it if the situation wouldn’t warrant you doing so. It’s important to be aware also that this won’t work for summoned creatures, or for companion creatures (except at very low levels) because the ally has to have at least the same number of hit dice as yourself.

Born Alone: This feat really would only be useful if you have a huge Constitution bonus. A few temporary hit points usually aren’t going to make a huge difference, especially as you get to higher levels, so I’d say you’re better off picking up Toughness instead.

Brutal Grappler: This one lets you combine your grappling efforts with an ally at the same time, allowing both of you to deal damage automatically. You also are treated as aiding each other on the grapple, gaining a +2 to CMB checks. If you and an ally both have a decent CMB, this one could definitely be worth it. The only bad thing is that both of you need to take it, as it’s a Teamwork feat.

Bullying Blow: If you’re building an Intimidate-based build, you might want to consider this one, as it lets you intimidate an enemy as a free action after you hit them. The only bad thing is you can’t use it with a full attack action.

Deathless Initiate: This is the first feat in a fairly in-depth line that will eventually keep your orc from dying after hitting 0 hit points, allow him or her to keep fighting well past 0, and negate critical hits. However, there’s a serious feat tax for this one, as it requires both Diehard and Endurance.

Deathless Master: If you’ve invested in Deathless Initiate, you’ll likely want this one too, as it allows you to keep taking actions after hitting 0 hit points without taking a hit point from each action. The feat tax keeps piling up, though.

Deathless Zealot: This is a nice capstone for the Deathless line of feats. You essentially force all of your enemies to reroll any critical hit confirmations they make against you, and forcing rerolls on your enemies is always excellent.

Destroyer's Blessing: A sundering Barbarian would gain a lot from this feat, but any other character will find it lacking.

Ferocious Action: This is a good choice if you’re going to invest in the Deathless feats above or Ferocious Resolve below, because you won’t be staggered when you’re under 0 hit points, and if you’re raging there’s really no penalty to using this feat. I like it.

Ferocious Resolve: This is a different way to continue fighting after you’re reduced below 0 hit points, and it requires much less feat investment. Combine this one with Ferocious Action to keep fighting until you’re dead as a doornail without being staggered.

Ferocious Summons: For a summoning-focused caster, this is a seriously awesome ability, especially at lower levels. You’re essentially giving every summoned creature an additional 10+ hit points, by allowing them to fight past 0 hit points, though they do become staggered.

Ferocious Tenacity: Here’s another way to keep yourself alive when norally you’d be dead. In this case, when you’d normally be killed by hit point damage, you can instead expend rage rounds to reduce the damage. Pretty cool!

Fight On: And here is yet ANOTHER way to keep from dying after you hit 0 hit points. This one gives you a number of temporary hit points equal to your Con bonus when you’d normally be knocked out. However, this feat is not nearly as powerful as the others I’ve just talked about, so stick with the Ferocious line of feats above instead.

Fire God's Blessing: A single point of healing when an enemy takes fire damage isn’t a huge bonus, but if you plan to set your enemies on fire a lot it’s almost like having Regeneration, which is pretty nice. 

Foment the Blood: This would be a really cool ability if it worked for all of your allies, but sadly this will only give damage and critical hit bonuses to orcs and half-orcs, so unless you are in a party with all-orcish blood, this probably isn’t worth your time. However, if you’re a GM writing up an encounter with a band of orcs, make sure to give the cleric this feat!

Gore Fiend: This is a great option for a orc Barbarian, especially if you often use weapons with a decent critical range. It gives you an extra round of rage every time you confirm a critical hit with a melee weapon OR a crit is confirmed against you, which probably happens more often than you realize.

Grudge Fighter: For any melee character who doesn’t rage and doesn’t have a Bard in their party, this is an excellent choice, since rage and bardic performances are the main sources of morale bonuses, and who doesn’t like to wreak vengeance on an enemy who attacked them?

Horde Charge: This is a teamwork feat meant to allow an orc raiding party to all charge at once, gaining bonuses to attack. If you do have multiple characters in your party who charge and attack at the beginning of every combat, this might be worth it, but it’s generally tough to convince other players to take Teamwork feats. This would be much better for an Inquisitor or Cavalier who can either use a Teamwork feat on his own or grant its benefit to all his allies, respectively.

Ironguts: A bonus to saves against the nauseated and sickened condition can definitely come in handy, but a bonus to only ingested poisons isn’t that exciting, since most poisons you’ll encounter will be either injury-based or inhaled. A bonus to Survival to find food for yourself will also hardly ever come up.

Ironhide: Most characters will be searching high and low for AC bonuses that don’t cost an arm and a leg at higher levels, so gaining a natural armor bonus of even +1 is probably worth a feat for many characters. Note, however, that if your class has a feature that gives you natural armor bonuses (like the Alchemist or the Druid), then this will NOT stack with those other bonuses. It WILL stack with an amulet of natural armor, however.

Keen Scent: The scent special ability is neat, but often misunderstood.  It will let you detect the presence of invisible creatures, but not pinpoint their location unless they are adjacent to you. Very situational.  Note that you'll also need 13 Wisdom for this feat, which makes it very difficult for an orc to get.

Orc Weapon Expertise: This is an odd feat, letting you choose one of several different combat bonuses that only work if you are wielding a weapon with “orc” in the name that you are proficient with. Sadly, there is only one weapon that fits this description, the Orc Double Axe, so this feat really isn’t useful unless you’re building a character focused completely on using that weapon.

Razortusk: Gaining a bite attack can come in really handy for a melee character, especially one who deals sneak attack damage, as it gives you one more source of sneak damage when you’re flanking someone. 

Resilient Brute: This is just one more feat to add to the list of “ways to not die as an orc”. Once per day you can change half the damage from a critical hit to nonlethal damage, which can be really helpful if you’re fighting some huge bad guy who deals massive damage. 

Resolute Rager: When you’re raging this feat lets you get an additional save vs. a fear effect, however you already get a nice bonus against fear effects while raging, so honestly I can’t really see anyone spending a feat on this one, even though I generally like abilities that give you rerolls. 

Reverse-Feint: This is excellent for a high-AC, high-damage melee frontliner, as you essentially leave a gap in your defenses, hoping that an enemy will try to hit you, and when they do you can use an immediate action to hit them back with a +2 to your attack bonus. The only complaint I have about this feat is that it uses an immediate action, which means you won’t have a swift action in your next turn, and a lot of character builds nowadays are planning swift actions on most turns (I’m looking at you, Mythic Playtest).

Smash: If this feat let you ignore 5 points of hardness on constructs also, it would be much better. As is, if you plan to smash down a lot of doors, this might be for you, otherwise it’s not worth your time.

Smell Fear: This feat is a trap, as far as I’m concerned. With scent, you essentially never need to make a Perception check, with the way the Stealth rules currently work. This means that a +4 bonus to identify creatures that are scared by scent is basically meaningless!

Surprise Follow-Through: This feat and its improved version really make a Strength-based Rogue a viable option. Opponents that you Cleave (after the first hit) are flat-footed against your attacks, which means you get to deal sneak damage to an enemy you cleave into after the first! Very cool, though very feat intensive..

Surprise Follow-Through, Improved: This does exactly the same thing as Surprise Follow-Through but lets you use it with Great Cleave, causing all enemies after the first that you Cleave into to be flat-footed.

Sympathetic Rage: This feat is VERY similar to Blood Vengeance, except that you get to enter a rage-like state anytime you’re adjacent to your raging Barbarian friend, and since this will hopefully happen a lot more often than one of your allies getting knocked out, I’d pick this one over Blood Vengeance. However, it’s sort of a double-edged sword, because if your Barbarian ally needs to move away from you, you become fatigued like a normal Barbarian would pretty much instantly.

Tenacious Survivor: Once again, a feat that keeps you from dying. Are you sensing a theme, here? This one keeps your spirit in your body for a short time, allowing your party healer to bring you back from the dead, but you do gain a negative level from doing so as if you had been resurrected, so you’re gonna hope you never have to use this one.

Thrill of the Kill: Another feat giving you extra rounds of rage, this one lets you gain a rage round anytime you knock out or kill an opponent. Combine this one with Gore Fiend, and scoring a critical hit that kills an enemy will give you TWO rounds of rage, which is pretty awesome.

Trap Wrecker: This feat reminds me of Order of the Stick, because I could just imagine Belkar deciding to smack a trap with a sword instead of using Disable Device. The benefit here is that you can literally smash a trap instead of disabling it, though there’s a good chance you will spring the trap and take damage. However, this is so incredibly flavorful and awesome that I just have to give it a high rating.

War Singer: There are two reasons to take this feat, #1 being if you find your Bard in the midst of an epic battle fairly often, as it doubles the range of your bardic performances if there are at least a dozen creatures battling nearby, and #2 being if you fight a lot of orcs (or half-orcs, or Sorcerers with the orc bloodline, etc.)



Races of Pathfinder: Gillmen

Gillmen
Gillmen are gilled human who were once, essentially, from Atlantis.  They function just fine on land - as long as they get their daily dose of submersion.

Racial Traits: 
Ability Scores: Gillmen gain +2 Constitution and +2 Charisma, but lose -2 Wisdom.  This prepares them to be charisma casters or paladins.

Type: Gillmen have the aquatic subtype, meaning little except they have some unique interactions with a few spells and abilities.

Size: Gillmen are the same size as humans.

Swim Speed: Gillmen move at the same speed as humans on land, and have a base Swim speed of 30 feet.

Enchantment Resistant: Gillmen gain +2 against enchantment spells and effects.  Against aboleths this changes to a -2 penalty, but that's probably not going to come up too often.

Water Dependent: This is in some ways the definitive ability of the race.  A Gillman must submerge himself in water at least once a day, or die within 4d6 hours (on average 14 hours).  There are a number of ways to deal with this but all of them can be taken away with a short prison stay or bad luck.  The most obvious way is to stay near water at all times, but this isn't always feasible.  Next, simply have the ability to (or have a good friend who can) cast create water and get into a bath.  You can also get a decanter of endless water, or fill up a bag of holding with a large quantity of water, to be poured out whenever you like.

Ambphibious: Gillmen can breath both water and air.  This is likely to come up at least a few times in any campaign, and certainly more frequently in an aquatic campaign.

Alternate Race Traits:
Riverfolk [Water Dependent]: Vulnerability is pretty terrible, especially against the most common energy type.  If you take this, you will die from the odd fireball. Stick with water dependent.

Slimehunter [Enchantment Resistance]: Trade in your +2 bonus against enchantment against everything except abolish to a +2 bonus against just abolish.  Gag.

Throwback [Swim, Amphibious, Water Dependent]: This basically undoes a lot of the gillmen's abilities, trading out the swim speed an amphibious to get rid of water dependancy.  Basically all you are left with is enchantment resistance and the ability score distribution.  Why not just pick another race?

Classes:
Gillmen make for great charisma based Casters and Charisma dabblers, and their aquatic abilities are good for anyone.  The Oracle, Summoner, and Sorcerer are all good choices from a straight casting perspective. The Paladin can also make great use of the Constituion and Charisma bonus, and his abilities somewhat mitigate the Wisdom hit.  The Bard is another great choice.
The Ninja, Mysterious Stranger Gunslinger, and many Cavaliers can also make use of the Charisma, but are hit by a low Will save.  Luckily, the bonus against enchantment is a help.
Beyond that it's pretty middling.  Barbarians, Fighters, and Rogues all benefit from the Constitution bonus, but not much else.  Wizards, Witches, Magus, and Alchemists suffer no real bonuses, but no real penalties either.  The Cleric enjoys the Charisma and Constitution, but a -2 penalty to your casting ability score hurts.
Last, we have those who rely on Wisdom to get around.  There is no incentive to play a Druid, Inquisitor, Monk, or Ranger outside the Constitution bonus, but at that point you are really clutching for straws.

Racial Favored Class Options:
Fighter: +1 to your CMD against any two combat maneuvers is pretty strong.  Trip and grapple are good choices, as those come up far more than any other.

Rogue: 1/6 of a rogue talent is great, netting you an additional three rogue talents across 18 levels.  Far better than the alternatives.

Sorcerer: One of the biggest weaknesses of the sorcerer's spellcasting is the number of his spells known.  This option shores this up nicely.

Wizard: On the other hand, Wizards can easily learn new spells. Skip it.

Racial Archetypes:
Eldritch Raider (Rogue): The Eldritch Raider is a rogue with magical trappings.  You get at will use magic device, which is good but somewhat redundant if you have somebody else who can cast it, and you gain a reasonable bonus to use Magic Device, which can be very useful if you are that kind of rogue.  For these, you give up trap sense, a rogue talent, and 2 skill points per level.  You also gain access to cast a few 2nd and 3rd level spells a day with a pretty heavy investment.  There's nothing particularly wrong with the bonuses this archetype gives, but I would definitely not recommend the magic rogue talent tree.  If you like these capabilities and flavor, and don't need the sneak attack, then consider an archeologist bard instead.  They can make better use of your charisma in any case.

Racial Feats:
Unusual Origins: Your divination spells manifest at +1 caster level, and once per day when immersed you can cast augury.  Divination spells usually don't rely much on caster level, but  daily augury if fun.  It's flavorful and interesting, though not too mechanically useful.  Worth a shot if you are into that kind of thing.