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    Default Soulcrafting setting idea

    I've been a fan of the World of Prime concept- experience/levels/classes aren't abstractions but actual things since before Paizo even came out with PF.

    With experience being literally a precious commodity, the World of Prime isn't a setting with a lot of classes, because the time, money, and energy spent to create new classes could have been spent to level up and increase your superpowers and decrease the likelihood that one will die anytime soon.

    On the other hand, I've spent years buying a gajillion 3pp books with new classes for pathfinder.

    So here's my suggested variation on that theme.

    In this setting, I'll call it Gnosis for lack of a better name I can think of, beings have an innate ability to absorb residual soul energy when they consume the earthly vessel of the soul, then assimilate that residual soul energy into their own soul to grow it, when one assimilates enough of this residual soul energy, one levels.

    Intelligent beings also have this innate ability, but also developed alchemy to expand it- distilling the residual soul energy to make it a commodity that can be traded, sold, stolen, or given away, and researching how to manipulate the growth of the soul to impart specific abilities, aka classes.

    The first classes, therefore, were invented by 1st level characters with a single point in craft: alchemy.

    As people leveled up, those craft alchemy points rocketed up, making further research into new classes easier.

    Plus since classes are inventions, some cultures would independently develop identical or similar classes, in other cases different classes would fill the same niche. Some cultures would prefer psionics over magic, or sci fi technology crafter classes, whatever.

    So this setting would take the chassis of PF and make a spiritual alchemipunk setting out of it.

    So is there any glaring hole in my logic that needs to be pointed out to me?

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    I am always a huge fan of this kind of idea, and it kind of reminds me of Andrew Rowe's Sufficiently Advanced Magic and sequels. For those who haven't read it, it's litRPG, and to get "classes" you must climb a tower, many of the classes being different but similarly functional between nations.

    My only issue is tying it to Craft (Alchemy). By virtue of optimisation existing, surely most countries would tip resources into optimised alchemists to get the best classes. Also, it kinda opens up a mechanical way for PCs to go about creating their own classes wholesale, which feels like a can full of cans full of worms.

    I like the idea of it being alchemy though, so the only change I'd make would be to decouple Class!Alchemy and Game!Alchemy. Let the players still be able to train in it, know it, learn about it, etc., but take it out of the realm of a PC's skills and into a setting-related gimmick that the DM has waaaay more control over.

    For example, Scenario 1 would involve some finicky Bard or Rogue build that wouldn't even need much optimisation to start making its own classes.
    Scenario 2 lets you, for example, have a player be rewarded with training in Class!Alchemy or something, while letting you limit their powergaming.

    Overall, I love the idea, and am already wanting to make things in the setting.

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    Thanks for pointing out that series, I'll check it out.

    You should check out Heroes of Prime by MC Planck, my inspiration, it's available for free. It's the novels not the supplements that the author makes money off of.

    If you want to divorce alchemy from soulcrafting, you'll need to fiddle a bit, because as envisioned adventurers get most of their money from distilling the experience points out of dead monsters.

    So you'd need alchemists to sell vials of experience extraction or something.

    As for players creating classes, there is also the option to lean into it. Playmanga has a "build your own class with points" system, and the freeware Eclipse: Codex Persona also has a point system.

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    Ooh, I'll have to look into Heroes of Prime. And while those are cool ways to build classes, I think the issue with it would be more that most players probably won't want to delve into making a whole class, and those who do are gonna be very, very familiar with how to work the system.

    Maybe there's a midpoint somewhere for the skill stuff? Have something like "Class Alchemy" as a skill, keeping everything in line with heroes having a decent earning potential while limiting the use of existing material to superpower it.

    I'd be totally up for making material for this, especially given how easy it is to split up subsystems and things by just having different nations.

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    I never figured out the appropriate research rules for soulcrafting, to tell you the truth.

    I suppose various options from "You're okay with your players making up classes whenever they want" to "You really don't want your players to bother with it personally" would be appropriate.

    And please, feel free to share any material, I'd love to see it.

    For example, I was thinking that since extra hit points are literally superhuman tolerance for injury and comes with superhuman healing, the called shots and critical rules should reflect that.

    So I was thinking that as long as those extra hit points are there, all injuries are basically flesh wounds. With a called shot/critical strike you might stab someone in the eye or slit their throat, but it will just do extra damage. Maybe cause bleed damage.

    But at the end of the day, it can be slept off.

    If you whittle someone/thing down to their original, natural hit point total, called shots/criticals can have more severe results, lost eyes, concussions, broken bones, etc.

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    I'm a big fan of World of Prime as well and have plundered the book for a lot of things in my homebrew setting. You seem to be trying to address some of the same issues that I was, so I'll mention some of the solutions that I came up with.

    I wanted to have a "younger" world, one where everything hasn't already been settled/conquered/researched, but one that still had access to all the resources that I have access to. What I decided to do was restrict base class selection to be made from any of the Core, Base, and Alternate Classes on the PFSRD, as well as restricting feat and spell selection mainly to Core. Normally that would suck (from my perspective) but I added this trait...

    Spoiler: Esoteric Knowledge
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    Esoteric Knowledge - Select one class/PRC from an alternate source (Pathfinder, 3.5, 3PP, extremely well done homebrew, etc.). You can now freely select this class/PRC upon level up or teach it to others (even if you have yet to take a level in the class yourself). This trait is not considered to be part of any trait category and can be selected multiple times.

    Alternatively, this trait can be used to select spells (two per selection) or feats, either two specific feats or a feat tree (select a feat to unlock and you unlock all feats that use it as a prerequisite). You may also use this to select a Martial Tradition (from Spheres of Might) so long as you qualify (are level 1 and have all martial/1 exotic/etc.). If you can already select a martial tradition then Esoteric Knowledge allows you to create your own. Martial traditions created this way are not mutable and will maintain their selections when taught to others. Keep this in mind if you are trying to cherry-pick for a character.

    This can also be used to gain access to specialist knowledge that might otherwise be restricted, like how to make Orichalcum (see Practical Enchanter p.154), Rune Weapons (limited magic weapons, see Practical Enchanter p.202), being able to make weapons/armour with a Template (DMGII p.273), etc.

    Note that Esoteric Knowledge is not required for any feats based on your class features from that class' base book (so a Spheres of Might Striker can select Extra Striker Art, Extra Combat Talent, or Combat Sphere Specialization without research or this trait). Talk to me about specifics. The purpose here is not to add a trait tax to every little thing, but to provide access to all the exotic weirdness of 3.P while having a justification for it still being weird and exotic.


    Considering some of the other things I have set up, characters can have up to @7 traits if they really want to so this provides a lot of potential versatility (in addition to the normal trait-based goodness) for most characters without succumbing to the dangers of unrestricted choice paralysis. Esoteric Knowledge isn't the only way to get access to these things either. Just about everything is available for research as well. I use the research rules from The Practical Enchanter (as well as the magic item creation rules, and consider most of what is in the book to be Core for resource selection as well) and equivalent spell level is equal to 5+number of prerequisites (Eldritch Heritage would be researched as if it was a 8th level spell due to its three prereqs). Research libraries will be built up separately for spell/feat/class research as per Practical Enchanter. Feat research is measured in weeks, class research is measured in months and there is an additional cost in Tael of half the normal research cost per day for any class research. This Tael cost is not affected by modifiers to research cost (such as doubling or halving for bonuses or penalties).

    My goal here is to have three tiers of power; gold, useful in paying armies and running kingdoms; xp, for leveling and magic; and knowledge, the ability to gain access to more esoteric and niche sources of power that can tip the balance. I got the drive to incorporate the third from reading Sepulchrave’s Tales of Wyre and noting how the Wizards in that game had a loose alliance/fraternity/truce based almost solely on the usefulness of spell trading, and wanted to broaden the opportunities for that sort of interaction. This also encourages useful downtime as even the martials now have something interesting to do while spellcasters acquire new spells or make new magic items. Combining that with the Dominion rules from ACKS and you can have the basis of a really interesting campaign that can span an epic amount of time.

    Now it can make sense for only one family in the immediate campaign world to have a martial lineage that can produce Crusaders. For a single monastary to be the only known place to learn to be a Psionicist, or for a single dwarf clan to be the only place to have figured out how to make a Dragonmech, and perhaps not be very good at it, or to have a secluded family be known for beating the royal tax collector to death with his own horse because grand-pappy was a Terramach and he passed it on. You can now have nice things in the world without having to explain why those things haven't replaced everything else.

    Thoughts?
    Last edited by Quarian Rex; 2019-10-23 at 03:25 AM.
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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    I like Practical Enchanter too.

    I figure someone would come up with yoga fighters at some point in Gnosis. :)

    Now let me reiterate that I intended for Gnosis to be a modular setting, so DMs and players can add what they think would be fun and not worry about the rest.

    So going over your rules, the only thing that stands out is the "5+ number or prerequisites" for class features.

    A twentieth level capstone being as easy to research as the first level class features of the same class seems odd, and their are capstones that don't rely on any prerequisites.

    Other than that, it seems fine to represent a time or place where soulcrafting is still a burgeoning art. So yeah, I like it.

    I want Gnosis though, to be versatile enough that one can also play in a civilization in which soulcrafting is such old hat that people can just download classes off the internet. "At high enough level I can wear a Balor as a skinsuit? Monstrous Armiger here I go."

    There is a starfinder conversion book and other rules for extremely high tech Pathfinder, I figure any culture that can take soulcrafting to the stars so that an Elf can go where no Elf has gone before is probably pretty advanced soulcrafting wise. :)

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    Quote Originally Posted by StSword View Post
    So going over your rules, the only thing that stands out is the "5+ number or prerequisites" for class features.

    A twentieth level capstone being as easy to research as the first level class features of the same class seems odd, and their are capstones that don't rely on any prerequisites.

    Other than that, it seems fine to represent a time or place where soulcrafting is still a burgeoning art. So yeah, I like it.
    Slight misunderstanding there. At no point would I require someone to separately research every class feature. That would add so many complications, dead ends and progress blocks that I wouldn't even know where to begin. The research is just to unlock the class/PrC. After that class features are gained through leveling as per norm. Remember, this is using the research rules in Practical Enchanter, so researching a new base class being equivalent to a 5th level spell only taking 30 times as long, costing 30 times as much and having an equivalent xp cost to develop are enough maluses to explain why every class hasn't already been researched.

    This is deliberately designed to be as modular as I can possibly make it, allowing access to everything without having to deliberately incorporate everything into the game, yet still permitting said incorporation depending on (N)PC action. Purchasing traits and doing research aren't necessary if you can find someone to teach you. This just provides far more options for access.

    As for the Gnosis setting as presented, it's fine but undeveloped. Essentially you have just done a slight reskin of Tael , made making xp externally portable only through alchemy (which could be a pretty big deviation from World of Prime since xp not being innately portable may greatly hamper xp tax collection, a cornerstone of kingdom building), and declared an intent to make class research explicitly possible (instead of just a fluff explanation as in World of Prime) but haven't presented any ideas of how to accomplish that yet. I'd suggest that you give some consideration as to how you actually want to accomplish that mechanically.

    We both seem to have a fondness of kitchen sink fantasy, I was just detailing how I've chosen to accommodate all of the weirdness without forcing me to make the world unrecognizable but still allowing it to be reshaped by the (N)PCs. I'd be interested to see what solutions you find.
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    Thumbs down Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    Yes, I'm well aware it's hardly fleshed out. Which is why this is in homebrew and not worldbuilding. :)

    Speaking of which, there was a bit of lore from Lost Spheres that I felt would make sense to include.

    In World of Prime, the souls are the power source.

    But for example there's a pathfinder book that converts the psionic classes into ki using spellcasters.

    Since I want Gnosis to be a place where that sort of thing isn't so strange, I thought the Lost Spheres Source Origins fluff would make such things make more sense.

    So converted for the Gnosis setting, soulcrafting works in large part by causing the souls to resonate with planes of existence, allowing the character to draw energy from those planes.

    So divine, arcane, and psychic magic are different because they use similar but not identical techniques to channel energies from different planes of existence.

    Arcane usually from the elemental planes, psychic magic usually from the etheral or astral, and divine generally from the outer planes.

    So the ki using spellcaster Psion and the psionic power point using Psion would be the result of different resonances being applied to fill the same niche.

    The material plane is an acceptable source for power, and is the go to for martials and technology user classes that don't stray into other things.

    The Matrix style downloading of skills, feats, and combat proficiency that BAB increases would show would come from resonance to the Akashic realm of all knowledge that exists somewhere in the Astral.

    These techniques can be complementary, ala the synergy based feats from Lost Spheres, or applied to another, such as the Arcforge feat that allows one to build a scientific item as a magic item or vice versa.

    If one wanted, of course.

    Does this make sense, or do you folks feel it's just unnecessary?

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    While I like the idea of opening things up, I always felt Lost Spheres' way of describing the sources was pretty limiting, and at the same time way too general.

    Let's take Divine magic coming from the Outer Planes. Depending on your cosmology, that's anywhere from a handful to sixteen or so planes, each with minimum twice that many gods on them. Just saying "Divine" and leaving the rest to be little more than fluff seems weak to me. I always preferred something like Spheres of Power's drawbacks, though maybe not with the mechanical requirement. Give you building blocks to define how you get your power, rather than an umbrella category. With something like that, you could distinguish between someone who eats angel feathers to gain their powers and someone who sacrifices body parts to an eldritch horror to glean power, rather than just calling them both "Divine".

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    Omoikane13, that's fine, but Source Origins are about where the power comes from, what you are talking about is how the character gets the energy, and that would be covered by class features or casting traditions. Someone wants to make a casting tradition or class that gets Divine power by eating Outsiders, more power to them.

    Anyway, one of the things I wanted to make possible is Gnosis is for the "standard classes" to be a cultural artifact.

    Take the Ancient Greeks, as an example, they thought of magic not as it's own distinct thing, but as a skill level. Blacksmiths could forge lightning bolts, doctors could resurrect the dead, musicians could have magic music, mathematicians who were good enough at math could teleport.

    So in the culture of "Argos," Fighters and Rogues would make sense, but so would Athletes who are superhumanly good at sports, Calculators who can win fights by doing the math in their head, Healers who can perform medical miracles without divine intervention, technology based classes (it's not like there aren't plenty of 3PP choices), Artisans who are just good enough crafters to make magic items, and Spheres of Power style magic, with casting traditions based on that skilled casting drawback so there is magic music et al.

    Depending on which third party material one is open to using, magic as skills becomes even easier. Alt Paths-Skills has epic achievements for skills, including crafting magic items out of intangibles like lightning or concepts like Death or the color Purple. Mythic Skills, meant mostly for mythic characters has rules for non mythic characters to get in on the fun. And one of the alt path books has an optional rule, which could also be accessed via feats, for characters to be able to cast spell-like abilities from skills. So someone good enough at stealth could turn invisible, someone good enough at handle animal could speak with animals, etc.

    Speaking of mythic, I thought what might make sense in the cosmology of Gnosis. A basic premise of Gnosis, I feel, is choice. People choose to be a dragonblooded sorcerer, or become a cleric. Gods have choice too.

    Deities can piggyback on the connection soulcrafting gives one to the planes, channeling their own power into the character, making a mythic character.

    These characters are held in high esteem, not only because of their personal power and possibility for even greater personal power down the road, but if a deity saw fit to bless such a character, there's always the possibility that the deity will send clerics, avatars, demigods, miracles, or servitors.

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    On a slightly different topic for the Gnosis setting, I was thinking about religion.

    I wanted to keep the idea from World of Prime in that there are Old Gods and New Gods, "old gods" being entities that were born deities, and New Gods being entities that ascended to divinity through soulcrafting.

    At what point an entity goes from mortal with class levels to deity I think should be left to DM preference, if one is using the Legendary Levels books for example that cut off would be at level 31 for example.

    I picture gods in Gnosis being "too big" to be involved directly as in physically entering the material plane and the like. Not that gods can't make avatars as proxies, empower divine casters, send servitors, perform miracles, or the like.

    Being limited to indirect access, I figure deities, by and large, being a little less finicky than gods are generally portrayed- most deities are just fine with a cleric who sees the relationship as transactional- Cleric as a job rather than as a calling. Clerics can get money, spells, social standing, there are worse jobs.

    If using the Godling classes, it's not a matter of heritage but adoption, just like becoming a sorcerer of whatever bloodline is a matter of choice not nature. A Godling is someone who chose to remake themselves as the child of a deity.

    In Gnosis, I see alignment being about affinity for a plane, just as knowledge reflects connection to the Astral Plane's akashic records. What someone dies, all things being equal, the soul will float to the appropriate outer realm, like attracting like, spiritual gravity. So the detect alignment spells detect the resonance with the appropriate planes.

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    Default Re: Soulcrafting setting idea

    Having just read Ty Hulse's Mythology Manual, I decided to change up the cosmology of this setting hack a bit.

    In standard dnd/PF games, gods are distant vastly powerful entities.

    That's not really how gods are usually portrayed in folklore though.

    Norse gods got kidnapped and extorted.

    At least two Greek gods got injured in the Trojan War.

    And more than one culture had God-Kings.

    The Mythology Manual had such an alternative that Ty Hulse gave an explanation I thought could work in Gnosis.

    Divinity is a Template that comes from having extra souls, called Numen.

    Numen cover the usual deity stuff- seeing over worshipers, acting as conduits for divine spells, mythic power, etc.

    Numen also act independently, which can help explain a god's schizophrenic behavior.

    A god can be the patron of both sides of a war, a god can be the patron of both merchants and the thieves that prey upon them, and similar arrangements.

    This separation divorces the divine duties from personal power. Thor could support 20th level clerics, even 30th level clerics if one uses the Legendary Levels rules from Little Red Goblin Games, while personally Thor couldn't tell a spell from a hole in the ground.

    So I was thinking in a Gnosis game, then, the relationship between gods and their leveled supporters would be symbiotic.

    Deities other than the advantages of their template, get their abilities from their class levels like everyone else.

    That does leave me wondering how to work in Ascension ala the World of Prime, where those who gain enough class levels achieve apotheosis. That is a handy way to handle the limit on leveling.

    Any thoughts?

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