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Flinn_Furious
2015-08-21, 12:22 AM
Magic items are a set in stone part of leveling in Pathfinder. They're absolutely necessary at higher levels, especially for classes that rely on whacking enemies for damage. But a lot of times, implementing magic items can definitely break the illusion and flow of a game. Now I know they have an item less system based around levels, but that takes quite a bit of wonder away from the game. So, as both a fix and neat campaign idea, I've decided to create the monster devouring magic system. By absorbing the essence of a monster, either by eating it's flesh, taking it's soul, or simply defeating it in battle, players can choose to activate that monsters abilities. It's a fairly common concept in videogames, but not so much in table top.

Alright, monster abilities break down into 7 different slots. No monster has more than one option for each slot and most don't have an option in every slot. Players can either mix and match abilities or use a singular monsters, depending on your preference. No player should have more than one ability in single slot.
Offensive Abilities- These are natural attacks, breath weapons, poisons, and any way the creature deals damage.
Defensive Abilities- These are natural armor bonuses, regeneration, resistances, and damage reduction.
Utility Abilities- These don't provide flat bonuses in combat, but can alter battlefields or offer non-combat solutions. Spider webbing, tremorsense, clairvoyance, and any abilities that don't fit into other categories.
Movement Abilities- These are flight speeds, burrow, swim, and teleportation.
Power Abilities- These are straight boosts to ability scores.
Skill Abilities- These are feats and skill bonuses.
Spell Abilities- These are supernatural or spell like abilities the creature possesses.

If you want to use this system and create new monster abilities, there are a couple things to keep in mind. Just because it's stated that way on the monsters stats doesn't mean you should use it that way for the ability. Most monster abilities are too powerful for players and should be toned down. At will spells can be reduced to 3/day, blindsight can be reduced to 20 ft or less, and regeneration can come with certain caveats. In addition, it's a good idea to make sure players know they can't abuse the system. Summoning and then cheesing a powerful monster to death shouldn't be rewarded.

Here are just a few examples, spread out amongst both types and challenge rating.

Carbuncle, CR 1 Magical Beast
Utility Ability, Fatal Faker- This allows you to teleport up to 30 ft away and leave a copy of your corpse in your place.
Skill Ability, Iron Will- Gain the Iron Will feat.
Spell Ability, Jump- 3/day cast Jump on self.

Cold Rider, CR 8 Fey
Offensive Ability, Ice Glaive- Gain a +2 Icy Burst Glaive that only functions for you.
Defensive Ability, Ice Armor- Gain a suit of +8 ice platemail that doesn't impair movement.
Skill Ability, Mounted Fighter- Gain the Mounted Combat, Ride By Attack, Spirited Charge, and Skill Focus Ride feats.
Spell Ability, Phantom Horse- Cast Phantom Horse at will. Horse only allows you to ride on it.

Keketar Protean, CR 17 Outsider
Offensive Ability, Warp Wave- As a swift action charge your attack with the Keketar's Warp Wave ability.
Defensive Ability, Amorphous Anatomy- Immune to critical hits and precision damage.
Utility Ability, Reshape Reality- Once per day use Reshape Reality as per the Keketar's ability.
Movement Ability, Teleportation- Cast Greater Teleport on self once per day.
Power Abilities- +6 Strength, +4 Constitution, +4 Wisdom
Skill Abilities, Planar Traveler- +15 to Swim, Diplomacy, Bluff, and Knowledge Planes.
Spell Abilities, Chaos Hammer- 3/day cast Empowered Chaos Hammer as a spell like ability.

Kamai
2015-08-21, 11:34 AM
As a question, how far do you imagine this system replacing magic items? Right now, it doesn't seem like this aids much with the boring numbers magic items, which are frankly the ones that need eliminated and compensated. Since most of the slots that have required numbers would fit in defensive slots, I wonder if this could be solved by having multiple defensive slots, and leaving access to things like Natural armor bonuses, resistance bonuses, and deflection bonuses as a second option tied mainly to CR, but with themed boosts.

Using the Cold Rider as an example, he'd have a second defense boost:
Defense: Gain a +2 resistance bonus to all saves. Increase this bonus to +4 against cold effects.

On top of this, a player might fall in love with certain effects. For example, he might really want that Icy Burst glaive. However, he'd have to give it up eventually due to numbers, unless he could subsume a more powerful Fey or [cold]-subtype creature into the effect. In this case, I'd envision that instead of having the effects of the later CR 14 creature, he could say that his Cold Rider is more powerful, and change that to a +3 Icy Burst Keen Glaive. The combination of this would make it closer to the auto-upgrading system, and may make it more complex, but done right, it could be awesome.

It may be worth also having a second offense slot, so a weapon with needed bonuses doesn't override "cool" attack features.

SkipSandwich
2015-08-21, 05:23 PM
I've personally been toying with the idea of eliminating all forms of non-consumable permanent magic items by making every character into a semi-Akashic gestalt (Incarnum) (only class features/essentia, no skills/saves/bab). Right now i'm trying to figure if it would be simpler and more flavorful to make your choice of soulmelding style intrinsic to the character (chose one progression at character creation, that's the one you use from then on), or tied to class level (spellcaster levels grant Vizer-style melding, and so on).

faustin
2015-08-21, 05:29 PM
Why not replacing the "souls" of the monsters for magical components from their bodies, for alchemical preparations (potions, pills, oils, unguents, etc...)?
That of course would create a demand for such products, and several ethical implications in the setting as a consequence, like "is ok eliminating hundreds of specimens of a endangered specie to cure an epidemy in your city? what if they are half-sapient?".

Man, Im thinking in The Witcher all over again :smalltongue:

Flinn_Furious
2015-08-21, 06:29 PM
As a question, how far do you imagine this system replacing magic items? Right now, it doesn't seem like this aids much with the boring numbers magic items, which are frankly the ones that need eliminated and compensated. Since most of the slots that have required numbers would fit in defensive slots, I wonder if this could be solved by having multiple defensive slots, and leaving access to things like Natural armor bonuses, resistance bonuses, and deflection bonuses as a second option tied mainly to CR, but with themed boosts.

Using the Cold Rider as an example, he'd have a second defense boost:
Defense: Gain a +2 resistance bonus to all saves. Increase this bonus to +4 against cold effects.

On top of this, a player might fall in love with certain effects. For example, he might really want that Icy Burst glaive. However, he'd have to give it up eventually due to numbers, unless he could subsume a more powerful Fey or [cold]-subtype creature into the effect. In this case, I'd envision that instead of having the effects of the later CR 14 creature, he could say that his Cold Rider is more powerful, and change that to a +3 Icy Burst Keen Glaive. The combination of this would make it closer to the auto-upgrading system, and may make it more complex, but done right, it could be awesome.

It may be worth also having a second offense slot, so a weapon with needed bonuses doesn't override "cool" attack features.

So essentially make all bonuses scale with HD and add flavor to those abilities? That would be a bit more work, but is definitely doable. So how about a single monster system, acting more like levels in a Savage Species monster class than anything else, but all monsters would go up to level 20. Now that I think about it, that's essentially what the Unchained automatic bonus progression does.

Once again using the Cold Rider as an example, here is a quick write up of that class. There's one simple bonus every level, +2 ability score bonuses every 3rd level until 9th when it switches over to +4, and basic defensive boosts every 4th level. I didn't add actual write ups for the obvious boosts.

1st- Icewalking
2nd- Mounted Combat and Skill Focus Ride feat
3rd- +2 Con
4th- Gain suit of icy plate armor. Does not impede movement
5th- Improved Icewalking
6th- +2 Str
7th- Gain Improved Initiative, Spirited Charge, and Trample feat
8th- Armor gains +1 bonus.
9th- +2 Cha
10th- Gain +2 Icy Burst Glaive
11th- Cast Chill Metal, Ghost Sound, and Phantom Steed at will
12th- Change +2 Con to +4
13th- Armor gains slick and additional +1 bonus
14th- Glaive changes to +2 Keen Icy Burst Glaive.
15th- Change +2 Str to +4, +1 to Con, Dex, and Wis
16th- Armor gains cold energy resistance
17th- Cast Freedom of Movement and Ice Storm 1/day
18th- Change +2 Cha to +4, +1 to Con, Dex, and Wis
19th- Armor gains improved cold energy resistance and improved slick
20th- Glaive changes +2 Keen Icy Burst Impact

Icewalking- Ice does not impede your movement or count as hindering terrain for you.
At 5th level you may climb up Ice as if you had a climb speed.
Both these bonuses apply to any mounts you are currently using.

Going by this new system I'd like to introduce just some basic monster types, such as Ooze, Swarm, Elven, Golem, Dragon, etc.