Update on the Psychic

You can find a printer-friendly .pdf copy of the psychic class here. I hope you enjoy playing around with it as much as I have. Feel free to leave some feedback as you look it over and implement it in your game.

The following is a new version of the psychic class, adjusted based on playtesting and feedback from the Darkplane backers.

My goal with these changes is to beef up the class's core abilities (especially psychic attacks and spellcasting) and make the disciplines more balanced and flexible. The largest change has been to the Contact feature, which now is a way to detect sentient creatures, and no longer requires the caster to make contact before targeting a creature with a spell. That means the spellcasting is much less bogged down.

I've also increased the number of psychic devotions a character gets, and freed them up so that they're all available to every character. The highest tier (50-point) of each devotion, however, is reserved for psychics of the corresponding discipline.

Spotlight: Gauren and Iarmov in Exile

morvugol

Daemoth remained imprisoned in the Hiyorugh for years unnumbered. During this time his sons and their fiendish offspring dispersed across the four worlds, bringing misery and avarice in their wake.

Gauren and Iarmov, his eldest sons, sojourned in Morvugol, the planet farthest from the new-made sun. There the shadow-children of Ulmhasa dwelt in black jungles. Gauren disappeared on obscure paths through the wilderness, while Iarmov became a hidden terror to the sunless beasts as he hunted and raped them from his stronghold Throlugaur. By the falling of the stones of Daemoth, the shadow-dwellers that first inhabited Morvugol were mostly gone, displaced by the unspeakable fruit of Iarmov's loins.

When the stones of Daemoth fell across the four worlds, two shards landed in Morvugol. The first struck ground in the jungles near Throlugaur, and the second plummeted into Ulmhasa’s stronghold Ekhmarai, blasting the great city at its center and carving a deep pit at its heart. From this tunnel the pure shadow that brooded beneath Morvugol's surface erupted and awakened the primordial goddess of shadow from her wrathful sleep. When Ulmhasa claimed the stone of Daemoth, her power over the Primordial Realm was magnified. The dreams of all living things were shadowed by a great malice, and many souls across the four worlds turned from fitful sleep to waking death as Ulmhasa devoured their minds.

Sensing the great power that had arisen beyond his lands, Iarmov bore his own stone to the foundation of Ekhmarai. The black magma sat in steaming pools where it had erupted from the pit. Marveling at the scene, Iarmov was set upon by Imbakhao son of Ulmhasa, who slithered around his throat and caught him in a deadly grip.

Fat with her supper, Ulmhasa rose from the pit and tortured Iarmov, dipping him in the raw, black magma until his body was shriveled and his flesh covered in weeping sores. Iarmov's metamorphosis left him maimed, but not powerless. The elders do not record how, but the stone of Daemoth itself became a part of Iarmov's putrid form, and his power was only amplified.

A desperate duel laid waste to much of Morvugol as Ulmhasa and Iarmov struggled for control of the remaining stone. In the end, the second son of Daemoth was driven from Morvugol into the Darkplane, where his connection to the stone guided him to the Hiyorugh and a reunion with his father. Upon discovering Daemoth's prison, Iarmov set to work drawing out his father's essence.

The records of the elders tell that 7,000 years after Iarmov's maiming, the jharethil saw the sun darken and knew the Hiyorugh had returned. The colossal stone plummeted toward Vinramar and the heart of their empire. All that remained of Anarthos was obliterated, never to be rebuilt. Many thousands of jharethil were slain at its fall, and the wave of destruction tore across half the world. Nothing was left where Jharus once dwelt but a barren crater, which today men call Vitollos.

The fall of the Hiyorugh was only a herald of the vengeance with which Daemoth descended on Vinramar. Fetid aberrations followed him and infested the waters and deep places. The jharethil and their fey cousins were all but obliterated in a rancorous vortex as the souls of many living things were dragged howling from their bodies into the void. Daemoth’s victory would have been absolute but for the betrayal of his eldest son.

At his father's onslaught, Gauren emerged from the jungles of Morvugol and fought alongside his father. He brought no armies of his own, but had learned in his exile to bind the souls of the dead into his service, and thereby turn fallen enemies into soldiers. When the initial incursion was done and all the lands near Anarthos stood in smoking ruin, Gauren demanded Daemoth grant him a boon for his service. He coveted Atiakha, the daughter of the moon, who by force had borne Omuel and the daemons. As condition for his service, Gauren demanded Daemoth free the primordial and grant him her hand.

Daemoth was enraged at the request. He opened his maws to consume his insolent son, but Gauren and his bound souls resisted. When at last the traitor was taken, Daemoth's rage was turned from Vinramar and he abandoned his conquest. Gauren was carried to the ruins of Maromutalcoth and dismembered in punishment for his treachery.

— From The Stonewar: An Assembled History by Bram Genning

Variant Backgrounds: Explorer, Mechanic, Politician, Scientist, etc.

The following is a batch of variant backgrounds I've been including in the options I present to my players: mechanic, politician, explorer, hunter, professor, and scientist.

VARIANT GUILD ARTISAN: MECHANIC

Art by  Michele Frigo

Your craft is the building and maintenance of machinery. Your experience might involve gunsmithing, steam engines, gas lamps, blast furnaces, printing presses, threshing machines, or industrial mills, drills, and pumps. With the right resources, you can build and maintain these types of post-industrial machinery. Your hands are strong and careful, and you have plenty of experience getting them dirty. Rather than a guild, you belong to a union or society dedicated to technological progress. Such societies are the rivals of artisan guilds, whose members tend to be displaced by industrial machinery. Perhaps you’re a factory inspector, railway engineer, or a firearm manufacturer.

Choose tinker’s tools, carpenter’s tools, or smith’s tools for your artisan’s tools. Your skill proficiencies are Investigation and Perception, and if you wish proficiency with vehicles (land), vehicles (water), or firearms may replace your additional language.

VARIANT NOBLE: POLITICIAN

In a constitutional society, the influence of committees and parliaments rivals that of the aristocracy. Though many politicians are of high birth, many come from more humble roots. The most successful are shrewd and cunning leaders. Perhaps you are the prefect of a small city who rose to political prominence, or a calculating senator poisoning your way to the top of the food chain. If you wish, you can choose the People Person feature below instead of Position of Privilege.

PEOPLE PERSON

You have a natural aptitude for remembering people. If you’ve met someone in person, however briefly, there’s a good chance you recall significant details about them. Maybe you never forget names, retain a clear memory of something they explained to you, or perhaps you notice details about their appearance that no one else would focus on. Even years later, these details stay with you.

A good number of politicians began their careers with an interest in law. You might choose to switch out Position of Privilege or People Person for the lawyer’s feature Legal Training, especially if your political position involves legislation.

  d6  Personality Trait

  1. I get excited when I’m in the public eye or given attention.

  2. I’m flirtatious with most people, and it seems to get me places.

  3. My words are calculated very carefully, especially when a group of people is listening.

  4. There’s only one life to live. Why should I waste it in ceremonies and meetings?

  5. Government is meant to protect the simple pleasures of life, like drinking and wenching.

  6. I’ve got all the answers.

  d6  Ideal

  1. Protection. Power and authority exist to defend the weak and downtrodden. (Good)

  2. Influence. I’m always looking for opportunities to do a favor, and get one in return. (Neutral)

  3. Obedience. The law is the law is the law. To be civilized is to follow rules to the letter. (Lawful)

  4. Might. It makes right, and I prefer to have the bigger stick. (Evil)

  5. Accountability. The world is full of people in high places hiding their mistakes. (Chaotic)

  6. Liberty. No one tells me how to live my life. (Chaotic)

  d6  Bond

  1. My political career was backed by an influential organization, and now I can’t get free of their control.

  2. I managed to book a meeting with one of most important people in the nation. Now what do I say to them?

  3. No one knows it yet, but I have the perfect answer to a widely misunderstood political issue.

  4. People from my hometown or constituency won’t stop coming to me with their problems.

  5. I recently lost incriminating evidence that someone might use against me.

  6. I have a valuable connection in espionage or private detective circles.

 d6   Flaw

  1. Everyone has a vice right? Well, I’ve got them all.

  2. Crime pays. Weekly, in fact, if I turn a blind eye.

  3. I always say what I think I’m expected to say.

  4. When it comes right down to it, I’m apathetic about most parts of my life.

  5. The better part of valor is making a deal with the enemy, offering up my friends if need be.

  6. Beneath all the speeches and rhetoric, I’m pretty unintelligent.

VARIANT OUTLANDER: EXPLORER

Some wander the wilds in order to civilize them. They make and maps trails, develop relations with native cultures, and bring evidence of these achievements back to their homeland. Many of the same skills are shared between explorers and other outlanders, but their goals tend to be quite different. You might have set out to prove a geographical hypothesis, been hired to create a trail between two distant cities, or perhaps you’re looking for a mythical site rumored to be hidden in the wilderness.

Instead of a musical instrument, you’re proficient with vehicles (land), vehicles (water), or navigator’s tools. You can replace one skill proficiency with either the History or Nature skill. If you wish, you can use the Local Guide feature instead of Wanderer.

LOCAL GUIDE

Your connections with the local inhabitants of a wild region provide you with a guide who knows the roads you mean to take. He or she warns you of the dangerous aspects of the journey, advises you on the best ways to forage for food and water, and can bring you to key landmarks in the area. If you pay a modest fee, the local guide might even agree to carry your equipment and hunt for you.

VARIANT OUTLANDER: HUNTER

Not every wilderness-dweller is concerned with the lay of the land. Hunters focus on the creatures that live in the outlands, using the senses and skills of a predator to track their game. While their motives vary, the best hunters share a deep respect for the majesty and power of nature and its beasts. You might be the last true hunter of your tribe, a lone archer living off the land, or a hired gun who keeps the bears and wolves from hampering an expensive expedition.

If you wish to be a hunter, you may replace your musical instrument proficiency for proficiency with the poisoner’s kit. You gain the Tracker feature instead of the Wanderer feature.

Tracker

You know what beasts are native to an area, and you can identify their movements well enough to find one of a given type by tracking for 3 hours of downtime. You can’t use this feature to find a particular creature, but you can discover likely dens and hunting patterns of local beasts within half a day’s journey of your camp.

VARIANT SAGE: PROFESSOR

You have chosen to dedicate yourself to formal research and instruction in a chosen field. As part of an institution for higher learning, you’ve read most of what there is worth reading in your area of specialty. Prospective students who have heard your name come to you with questions and favors. When you choose this background, choose a field to determine which skill proficiencies will replace the sage’s, or roll a d20 and consult the following table.

 d20 Academic Field    Skill Proficiency

  1. Anthropology        History, Religion

  2. Arcane Studies      Arcana, History

  3. Archaeology          History, Investigation

  4. Architecture           History, Investigation

  5. Art History             History, Religion

  6. Astronomy             Arcana, Religion

  7. Biology                  Nature, Survival

  8. Chemistry              Medicine, Nature

  9. Economics             History, Investigation

  10. Engineering            Investigation, Perception

  11. Government           History, Insight

  12. History                   History, Insight

  13. Literature               History, Insight

  14. Languages              History, plus two additional languages of                                  your choice

  15. Mathematics           Investigation, Perception

  16. Medicine                Medicine, Survival

  17. Mythology             History, Performance

  18. Philosophy             Insight, Persuasion

  19. Psychology            Insight, Persuasion

  20. Theology               History, Religion

VARIANT SAGE: SCIENTIST

Scientists study nature, hoping to solve its puzzles one by one and form a better understanding of the physical world. True scientists know, however, that every question answered brings two more to light. Whether privileged thinkers in the public eye or secretive madmen, scientists live on the cutting edge of progress, hoping curiosity will lead them to the next great discovery. Roll on the table below to determine which proficiencies will replace the sage’s. Add the corresponding tools to your starting equipment as well.

  d6  Scientific Field Skill Proficiencies           Tool Proficiencies    Languages

  1. Astronomy          Arcana, Investigation       Navigator’s tools       One of your choice

  2. Biology               History, Nature                Herbalism kit

                                                                              Poisoner’s kit

    3.  Chemistry           Medicine, Nature             Alchemist’s supplies

                                                                              Poisoner’s kit

   4.  Engineering         History, Investigation      Tinker’s tools

    5.  Geology               History, Nature                Mason’s tools            One of your choice

    6.  Physics                History, Perception                                             Two of your choic

Monster: Olkyari, the Unnameable Casket-Bearer

OLKYARI

Syrikhali folk legends tell that olkyaris are the rotting pits of dead stars, left too long in the fetid heavens before they were cast down to Vinramar. The jharethil called them the Unnameable Casket-Bearers—sentient receptacles for some long-misplaced relic from the Darkplane. Their original charge forgotten, they crop up now and then, hunting for creatures to imprison in their extradimensional innards.

Living Wormholes. An olkyari is an orb of absolute darkness about the size of an orange. It might be easy to miss one in a shadowed alleyway, but those who do see the olkyari never forget the dread of it, nor the absolute stillness with which the patient spot stares at them like a hole in the fabric of reality.

Olkyaris each contain a demiplane into which they can absorb other creatures. The size and complexity of the demiplane depends on the age of the olkyari and how many creatures currently reside in it. A younger olkyari's innards are the size of a small room, but the demiplane of an olkyari that has absorbed thousands of creatures over eons is essentially infinite.

Hunters in Shadow. Even those encompassed by an olkyari never truly understand its motives. Their blasphemous perception of reality is likely so foreign to the understanding of natural creatures that to know its mind would be death.

Still, olkyaris are not the most intelligent of creatures, and their behavior seems to emulate that of a simple apex predator. It hovers menacingly in dark areas, waiting for unsuspecting creatures to approach. When its chance comes, the olkyari projects a long, barbed tendril from the dark orb which snags victims one by one. Once they are worn down, these unfortunate souls are absorbed into the olkyari's extradimensional gullet.

Bearers of Hidden Worlds. The creatures that live within the olkyari's extradimensional gullet quickly settle into organized societies. They are deeply convinced that their lives are normal, that the olkyari is their divine benefactor, and that only hard work will make them happy. This is convenient for their host, which is fed and invigorated by any energy expended within the demiplane. The more populous and active its prisoners, the stronger and more potent the olkyari becomes.

The physical nature of the olkyari's demiplane is as varied as the absorbed creatures that inhabit it. The environment and terrain tend to reflect the olkyari's mood, if such an incomprehensible creature can be described as having moods. Indeed, it can use its actions to innately cast the control weathermirage arcane, and project image spells at will to target any area within its demiplane—although it can't concentrate on more than one at a time, and it can't perceive what's happening within itself without the use of project image. Some olkyari aggressively police their demiplanes.

Although an olkyari isn't automatically aware of what's happening inside it, it can sense a relative drop or rise in energy. If the demiplane's population shifts up or down by one-third, the olkyari will know. Similarly, the creatures within its gullet can't suddenly cease working without their host feeling it.

Despite occasionally bizarre conditions, the societies that form among creatures absorbed into the olkyari are industrious. They often find ingenious and absurd ways to employ scant natural resources and found objects to support life in the demiplane. The charm over these creatures has them completely convinced that life couldn't be better (as long as they stay busy).

An olkyari with no creatures absorbed is theorized to have a demiplane measuring 10 feet in each dimension. This cube doubles in size each time a creature is absorbed, making it about 1 cubic mile at 10 occupants, 31 miles at 15 occupants, and more than 1 trillion miles at 50 occupants. After absorbing 70 creatures, the demiplane is the size of a large galaxy. Once it reaches 100 occupants, it is basically limitless. At such a vast size, the olkyari's demiplane might contain its own stars, planets, and galaxies.

This logic has led some astrologers to the conclusion that all of existence is in fact the gullet of a single, unimaginably ancient olkyari whose demiplane is so infinite that it has lost touch with the minds of its occupants. If true, such an epiphany would be of little comfort.

Follow these instruction to alter the basic olkyari below into a more mid-range version (raising its challenge rating to 10).

  • Double the olkyari's hit points and speed
  • Add a +2 bonus to its AC, attack rolls, saving throw DCs, and its Dexterity and Constitution modifiers
  • Increase its regeneration to 10 hit points per turn
  • Increase the number of creatures it has absorbed to 5d100
  • Change its death burst to deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage for each 100 unconscious creatures that are vomited when it dies
  • Change the damage dealt by its Barbed Tendril to 35 (6d8 + 8) and the damage dealt by Absorb to 53 (10d8 + 8)

Magic Item: Andelbrand's Nest

Andelbrand's Nest

Wondrous item, very rare

This crystalline nest is three inches across and sits comfortably in the palm of the hand. If you put your ear to it, you can hear hundreds of voices arguing in a din of shrill whispers. It was made for Andelbrand, the bastard king of Dorgard, by an elf witch whose name is lost to history. The stories tell that Andelbrand spent all his time with the ancient witch, who fawned over him as a surrogate mother and showered him with sorcerous gifts. When his queen committed suicide, he announced to the kingdom that he would take the elf-crone as his bride. That night, the commoners stormed the castle and burned him alive with his betrothed.

When you cast find familiar through Andelbrand's Nest, the familiar emerges from the nest in one of the following forms: a swarm of bats, swarm of cats, swarm of insects, swarm of poisonous snakes, swarm of quippers, swarm of rats, or swarm of ravens. The familiar swarm can spend 5 feet of movement to break up to five individuals away from the swarm, which use the statistics for a single creature of that type (bat, cat, raven, etc.). All of your familiars act on the same turn, and you cannot have more than twelve familiars divided from the swarm at once.