Thursday, October 4, 2018

System Shock - Horror in Pathfinder

Darkest Dungeon © 2016 Red Hook Studios
It's October again, which means another great opportunity to discuss horror elements in Pathfinder. Today's System Shock entry features a robust chassis of horror rules for use in Pathfinder, designed to provide a unique roleplaying experience for GMs and players looking to add a little terror into their games. The rules presented in this article are a pastiche of the variant fear rules presented in Pathfinder RPG Horror Adventures as well as the old Ravenloft Core Rulebook from Sword & Sorcery Press. Additionally, elements from this system also are derived from the brilliant Blades in the Dark by John Harper. Together, these systems create a unique experience that can change the feel of a horror-themed Pathfinder game. If you use these rules in your own games, drop us a comment and let us know how it works!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Pop Creature - Blast Phantom

Twin Peaks: the Return (2017)
I was thrilled and captivated by the triumphant return of the cult classic Twin Peaks after more than two decades off the air. The most stunning and evocative episode is undoubtedly Part 8, which is an unfiltered trip into the nightmarish mindscapes of director David Lynch, beginning with the haunting appearance of the mysterious woodsmen, the fire-blackened creatures that are the topic of today's Pop Creature article. The episode alone is worth a watch for Lynch's masterful craft of surreal imagery and sound editing. The link above showcases one of the episode's most surreal moments, where we witness the birth of evil inside the atomic fire of a nuclear explosion.

While Twin Peaks builds its lore and universe with dense episodes and leaves much open to interpretation, the enigmatic woodsmen and their origin shown in Part 8 in the fallout of an atomic bomb was prime territory for reverse-engineering into an RPG. Imagining the woodsmen as parasitic repercussions of magical or scientific catastrophes keeps their otherworldly menace. Even if you're not a die-hard fan of Twin Peaks these enigmatic creatures from a distant plane should prove to be a harrowing encounter for any Pathfinder group, and maybe a gateway into the decades-long soap opera mystery fever dream that is Twin Peaks.

Take a look below to find out how these terrors translated to Pathfinder!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

System Shock - Mindcaller (Summoner Archetype)

By now you've possibly been living in the Upside Down if you haven't heard of the Netflix hit Stranger Things. This unabashed love-letter to tabletop gaming and the people who play it touches on formative experiences of some tabletop gamers who grew up in the 1980s. The breakout star of Stranger Things, Millie Bobbie Brown, plays the enigmatic child known only as Eleven. Eleven is possessed of unique psychic gifts and has an inexplicable connection to an otherworldly entity dubbed the "Demogorgon" by a local group of kids who take her in and try to unravel the show's core mysteries.

In trying to present the character of Eleven in Pathfinder, she could be seen as many different classes, from Occult Adventures' psychic and kineticist, to Ultimate Magic's summoner. But those classes are all part of, and not quite all of, Eleven's unique powers. In today's System Shock article we explore one possible interpretation for Eleven's unique powers and one possible explanation for her connection to the dreaded Demogorgon.

Travel into the Upside Down after the cut, and let us know your experiences with the mindcaller archetype for the summoner class!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

System Shock - The Scion

The Ultimate Intrigue Playtest. 
Recently, Paizo unveiled the public playtest for the Vigilante class. The vigilante (a part of the upcoming Ultimate Intrigue) is a bold new design direction for Pathfinder, introducing the concept of a modular class that through detailed customization during character creation can fill any number of roles in the party. Last year, when Paizo unveiled the Advanced Class Guide the Encounter Table took a couple of stabs at hybrid classes. Just like last year, the Encounter Table is taking a stab at modular class design with the scion class!

What you'll find below is a wholly new modular-style class that was conceived, designed, and edited in a span of just two days. The scion is an exercise in seeing what modular class building can be for Pathfinder and also served as a mental exercise in class design and concepting. The scion is a leader or leaders destined to step to the forefront of a society or organization they lead. Maybe you'll have a scion at your table soon!

If you use the scion in your games, let us know what you think in the comments section!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pop Creature - Fleshwarped Elder

Corypheus from Dragon Age: Inquisition
Before we get to the meat of today's very fleshy article, I just wanted to take the time out to let you know that I will be attending Paizocon 2015! Whether you're a long-time fan of the Encounter Table or just discovering it I'd be happy to meet with you and talk Pathfinder, I'm always interested in meeting new people, exchanging ideas, and making new connections!

Today's Pop Creature update brings to life the nightmarish antagonist of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the Elder One Corypheus. In this article you'll find everything you need to create a memorable villain like Corypheus in your own Pathfinder game. The Dragon Age video game series has popped up on the Encounter Table once before, but with the release of the stupendous Dragon Age: Inquisition it's high time to tap that well again.

The fleshwarped elder is a spin on the legacy of the corrupt darkspawn magisters from Dragon Age and are created with a tie-in to the broader lore of Golarion. Where the fleshwarped elders come from, how they were created, and what terrible plans they have are up to you as a GM. If you use this creature in your Pathfinder game, let us know how it went and what dread plans they're enacting!

Monday, October 27, 2014

System Shock - Technologist Archetype

Updates have been few and far between lately but the Encounter Table is still here! I've been working more steadily as a freelance author for Paizo and other 3rd-party publishing companies, so my time here is limited. Now that my current projects are under control I've had time to revisit some ideas I've had waiting in the wings. Updates will continue to be sporadic for the foreseeable future, but I haven't forgotten about the Encounter Table or its readers!

In today's update we delve into the Technology Guide and explore an alchemist archetype designed to survive in the harsh wastes of Numeria and salvage technological artifacts! Check out the technologist archetype after the jump.

Friday, August 15, 2014

System Shock - Social Combat

Paizo's Social Combat cards for Pathfinder.
Paizo recently released their Social Combat card deck, featuring a quick and handy way to develop social encounters as something more than a single die roll. These cards are modeled after their Chase Card deck and present an interesting spin on social situations in Pathfinder. Today's System Shock article addresses my own interpretation of that very idea, a rules mechanic I've been tinkering with off and on for the last few years.

Originally developed long before the Pathfinder RPG was in production, my initial version of Social Combat wasn't too far removed from what you'll see below. However, some of the principals have been streamlined and molded to fit with Pathfinder's normal combat mechanics. The most important takeaway regarding today's article is that it isn't perfect—not even close. Social combat is a pet project of mine that may not ever really be 100%, it requires more testing than I and my own group alone can do, but my passion for developing a sub-system that takes the ideas of Diplomacy and Intimidate checks to a new level needed to be shared with the world, even if it might not be perfectly ready for prime time.

Maybe somewhere down the line, years from now, I'll have the time to fully develop this system into something more robust, or maybe a fan who reads this article will take the rules for social combat and develop something amazing in a direction I'd never have imagined. That's part of the beauty of 3rd-party publishing and the Open Gaming License—you develop a skeleton and others will put meat on its bones (or tell you the skeleton is broken!)

Let me know what you think of Social Combat in the comments section, or discuss it on the Encounter Table's Facebook page!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Interview - Mark Seifter

Paizo Designer Mark Seifter
This week the Encounter Table is fortunate enough to sit down with the newest member of Paizo's family, designer Mark Seifter. Many of you from the Paizo community will recognize Mark from his posts under the alias "Rogue Eidolon" on the Paizo forums. Mark talks about Pathfinder Unchained, his first days as a Paizo employee, a humbling encounter with Frank Mentzer, and much more! Check out the interview after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments section or on the Encounter Table's Facebook page!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pop Creature - Geth Individual (PC Race)

A geth platform from Mass Effect.
Back in December, when the Encounter Table was first getting its footing we did an article detailing the geth from Mass Effect as a Pathfinder monster. With Paizo's Iron Gods Adventure Path starting up in just a few short weeks, I thought it would be good to revisit the geth and present the other side of their proverbial coin: the individual.

In Mass Effect lore, the geth are a collective consciousness of millions upon millions of sentient programs downloaded into mobile "platforms", or bodies, which they use to interact with biological species. Mass Effect 2 introduced a unique geth named Legion who could exist apart from the geth collective and retain his higher cognitive functions, an "individual" even though he was comprised of a staggering amount of software cooperating as a whole. In Pathfinder, we're presenting the geth individual as a geth without the unique geth subtype, thereby depriving geth players of a dependency on their hive mind networking. While the geth are a powerful PC race (the construct type affords a plethora of immunities) they represent a fun and unique thematic opportunity to explore with a willing GM.

Maybe your geth in Iron Gods could be a stow-away from the now crashed Silver Mount, awakening in a scrap heap in Numeria without memory of where it came from and needing to become an adventurer to uncover the truth about their origins. Let us know how you use geth individuals in your campaign in the comments section, or check us out on Facebook!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part VIII: Fext

Tyranny of the Stars by Robert Brookes.
July continues to be a busy month for me as new opportunities come in and old projects reach their conclusion. This, as always, results in less updates here at the Encounter Table. I've been working closely with Raging Swan Press in the development of their Demiplanes product line, so I highly recommend you keep an eye out for The Frozen Cage when it comes out in September. Additionally I'm working on a project with Amber E. Scott that I can't wait to talk about more in depth. There'll be more on that as it becomes available for discussion!

This week the Encounter Table's serialized fiction, Tyranny of the Stars continues with Part VIII and delves below the city of Alkenstar on a mission to discover a fragment from Earthfall before the dreaded Anaphexia can get their hands on it. In this week's Between the Lines, at the end of the story, we delve into the fighting style of the character Patris' and give you options for how to blend combat maneuvers into other attacks.

Let us know what you think about the Encounter Table's fiction in the comments section, or check us out on Facebook!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Pop Creature - Gallow Walker

The titular creatures from Gallowwalkers.
It's not a surprise to most people who know me that I'm an avid watcher of bad movies, specifically bad horror and sci-fi films. The recently released (but long-troubled) Wesley Snipes' sci-fi/fantasy western Gallowwalkers fits squarely in the middle of my bad movie Venn diagram where terrible overlaps with fun. It's an incoherent, terribly produced, but at times surprisingly inventive romp involving some of the worst cinematography outside of the shaky-cam fights of a Doug Liman Bourne flick. That said, there's something inherently watchable about Gallowwalkers and part of that comes from the film's titular villains: skin-stealing undead born from the curse of a wrathful god. That's exactly the kind of stuff perfect for a tabletop RPG!

Today's Pop Creature article delves deep into the rancid pool of meat that is Wesley Snipes' Gallowwalkers, and comes up with a gem of a creature. Pop the gallow walker undead template into your Pathfinder game and introduce a face-stealing nemesis that yearns for the pleasures of life and escape from the eternal torment of death!

Let us know what you think of the gallow walker (or Gallowwalkers, if you dare sit through it) in the comments section!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part VII: Rendezvous

Tyranny of the Stars, by Robert Brookes
With Paizocon over things are returning to normal here at the Encounter Table. If you enjoy the work put out weekly here, please stop by and check out my latest work for Raging Swan Press: Village Backdrop: Hjalward and Demiplanes: The Twilight Demesne. Additionally, you can find some of my bestiary work in the Mummy's Mask: The Slave Trenches of Hakotep, out later this month!

This week the Encounter Table's fiction serial Tyranny of the Stars returns from hiatus with the ongoing adventure of Aribessa, Father Czanis, Iosef, Patris, and Korva in the city of Alkenstar! Let us know what you think about the Encounter Table's fiction series here in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Spotlight - Detmer, Druma

Paizocon has ended and I'm back at home from a whirlwind experience in Seattle. I'd like to take a moment to thank the Paizo staff and the hordes of volunteers who helped make this year's Paizocon a success and made me feel remarkably welcome and among friends the entire time. Now that Paizocon has ended, the update schedule for the Encounter Table will gradually return to normal, including the next chapter of Tyranny of the Stars.

Today the Encounter Table premieres the second entry into its Spotlight series, focusing on a settlement on Golarion that has not yet seen official outlining in print. Detmer, the home of Druma's naval headquarters and shipyards is the focus of this spotlight, as well as the deep-dwelling terrors that lurk in the shadows of the city's dense political landscape!

Let us know what you think about this Spotlight article in the comments section!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

System Shock - Bezekiran (Monk Archetype)

Wayfinder #11 - Cover art by Nick Russell.
We're just a few days away from Paizocon 2014! The Encounter Table will be there Friday and Saturday, covering events and sharing surprises on our Facebook page! So please follow us on Facebook to keep up to date on all the goings-on at Paizocon and the big reveals at Saturday's Preview Banquet! Also debuting at Paizocon is issue #11 of the Wayfinder Fanzine! This issue's topic is the infernal empire of Cheliax, so if you cant get enough of diabolism, evil empires, and the people that are trapped in them we highly encourage you to head over to and check it out!

Today's System Shock article is a supplement to the upcoming Wayfinder #11, and details the bezekiran monk archetype, modeled after Master Soan from Paizo's Pathfinder adventure module, The Pact Stone Pyramid. The article also gives background on the origins of the bezekiran style and this history Chelish martial arts!

Let us know what you think of the article in the comments section or on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pop Creature - Esperi

Terra Branford's esper form in
Final Fantasy: Dissidia
Spring is drawing to a close and convention season is upon us! That means more time spent planning and traveling and less time spent developing. During the next few months, expect slightly fewer content updates from the Encounter Table. We'll still be continuing our spotlight series and fiction, as well as premiering a new Side Paths article series detailing short adventures that can take place between Pathfinder Adventure Path chapters. There may just be a larger gap between articles until we're clear of the hustle and bustle of convention season.

This week the Encounter Table takes a look at the Esper-blooded heroine of Final Fantasy VI, Terra Branford, in our newest Pop Creature article. Presented as an eidolon-blooded playable race, the esperi comes with alternate racial traits, a unique summoner archetype, and racial feats. Let us know what you think of the esperi in the comments section, or check us out on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Interview - Tim Brannan, Robert H. Hudson, and Morgan Boehringer

Strange Brew: The ultimate Witch and Warlock.
Cover by Peter Bradley.
This week the Encounter Table sits down with Tim Brannan and Robert H. Hudson, developers of the 3rd Party Pathfinder (and Castles & Crusades) book Strange Brew: the ultimate Witch and Warlock, currently funding for stretch goals on Kickstarter. We're also fortunate enough to be joined by Morgan Boehringer, developer of the stretch goal, Warwitches & Hexmavens. 

Take a look within and learn a little more about this highly ambitious 3rd party project and what lies in store for readers and backers!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part VI: Passage

Tyranny of the Stars by Robert Brookes.
This week has been a busy one for the Encounter Table, we have a new interview that will be coming out soon along with this month's Golarion Spotlight feature. There's also only three more weeks until Paizocon, and if you will be attending this year, signup for open events begins soon! Hop on over to to look at the events lists and make sure you sign up as soon as you are able to!

Today's new installment of Tyranny of the Stars introduces a solemn new character who will be joining the entourage in Alkenstar, and the Between the Lines article following this chapter introduces the apostate cleric archetype. Let us know what you think of Tyranny of the Stars and the apostate cleric archetype in the comments!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part V: Blood

Tyranny of the Stars, by Robert Brookes.
Paizocon 2014 is just a few weeks away and the Encounter Table will be there covering events and panels on our Facebook page. The Paizo website is accepting signups for Paizocon's lottery events until June 9th, so if you're going to Paizocon this year and would like to get in on some of the most exclusive gaming experiences the convention has to offer, check out their signup page. Make sure to like the Encounter Table on Facebook to get all of our updates from the floor of Paizocon in July.

This week Encounter Table Fiction continues the adventure of Patris and Aribessa in the clockwork city of Alkenstar in the latest installment of Tyranny of the Stars. In the Between the Lines supplemental article, we discover the power of the lost Rogarvian bloodline of Brevoy.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part IV: Marshal

Tyranny of the Stars by Robert Brookes
The response to the Encounter Table's first Spotlight article has been overwhelmingly positive. You may notice now that there is a disclaimer at the bottom of the site detailing the Encounter Table's compliance with Paizo's Community Use guidelines. If you're interested in developing your own blog like the Encounter Table and using Paizo's intellectual property, I highly recommend checking out the links there. I was also reminded by Paris Crenshaw, organizer of the Wayfinder Fanzine that issue #11, due to come out in July (in time for Paizocon) will feature a bevy of information about Cheliax designed by fans, for fans. If you enjoyed our spotlight on Senara, I highly recommend you check out Wayfinder!

Today, the Encounter Table's serialized fiction continues with Part IV of Tyranny of the Stars, advancing the story of adventurers in the dangerous Mana Wastes and the wasteland city of Alkenstar. Also, in today's Between the Lines article at the end of the story, we unveil the drunken gunslinger archetype.

Let us know what you think about Tyranny of the Stars and the drunken gunslinger archetype in the comments section!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spotlight - Senara, Cheliax

Today marks the first in the Encounter Table's monthly "spotlight" series, focusing on a settlement or site of interest in Golarion that has not received an official gazetteer entry. This series is designed to provide Gamemasters with all the information they need to run adventures at the spotlight site and to integrate the spotlight location with any established lore.

This month's spotlight, the city of Senara, comes to us courtesy of fan commentary and request. Take a look below and let us know what you think of this article series and what you'd like to see explored next in the Encounter Table's spotlight!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

System Shock - Magic Corruption

Hawke from Dragon Age 2 utilizes blood magic—one example of the
ways magic can be a corruptive force.
While the approach of summer means vacations for many people. The Encounter Table, however, is gearing up for a busy summer of new Pathfinder content. In just a few days we're launching our Golarion Spotlight article that presents a full gazetteer of a location on Golarion not yet touched in published products. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for the Encounter Table's upcoming live Paizocon coverage the week of July 4th as well!

This week's System Shock article presents the Encounter Table's take on the iconic notion of magic as a force of corruption, presenting an alternate magic system where magic can twist the mind and body of those that attempt to harness it's power.

Let us know in the comments what you think of this article!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part III: Forthright

Tyranny of the Stars by Robert Brookes
Today on the Encounter Table we continue following the adventures of Aribessa and Patris in Tyranny of the Stars. The Between the Lines section after the story includes rules for a new model of clockwork construct designed for simple, manual labor with a skillful twist. This option presents a low-cost and low-power construct for PCs interested in having clockwork companions at lower levels of play.

Let us know what you think of Tyranny of the Stars in the comments section!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Interview - Owen K. C. Stephens

Owen K. C. Stephens
It's been an exciting week at the Encounter Table and I'm proud to showcase our newest industry interview today. May has a lot of new developments in store for this site and I can't wait to get them all out to you. Next weekend will be the first installment of the Golarion Spotlight feature, showcasing a fully detailed gazetteer of a site on Golarion with color maps, NPC stat-blocks, and more. So keep an eye out, and don't forget to like the Encounter Table on Facebook.

This week the Encounter Table is thrilled to be joined for an interview by the new lead developer of Paizo's Pathfinder Module line, Owen K. C. Stephens! Owen talks with us about getting into the RPG industry, offers up advice to prospective freelance writers, talks about the future of Super Genius Games, and teases a Starstone Cathedral megadungeon.

Read on to find out more!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pop Creature - Xenomorph

The xenomorph from Aliens vs. Predator
May 12th marks the passing of visionary artist H. R. Giger, renowned for his groundbreaking design of the titular creatures from the Alien franchise. As a fan of both Giger's work and the Alien series, today's Pop Creature article is dedicated to bringing these horrifying creatures into the Pathfinder system. Many others before have tried their hand at adapting these monsters to tabletop games, but this article is more about commemorating a beloved creator than breaking new ground.

Let us know what you think about the xenomorph in the comments section!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part II: Feint

Tyranny of the Stars, by Robert Brookes
Given the positive response from yesterday's introduction to the Encounter Table's new fiction serial, I've decided to share a second installment from Tyranny of the Stars today, which also includes a Pathfinder game mechanic pulled directly from the story. Let us know what you think of the Encounter Table's fiction in the comments below!

The Encounter Table is also looking for feedback on its Pop Creature articles. Is there a specific creature from popular media (television, books, video games, etc.) that we haven't covered and you'd like to see? Let us know in the comments!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fiction - Tyranny of the Stars, Part I: Contract

Tyranny of the Stars by Robert Brookes
There's a lot going on behind the scenes at the Encounter Table this week. Among which I'm working on our next interview which should run next week if all goes according to schedule. But more importantly, today the Encounter Table introduces its new fiction feature!

This weekly article will feature serialized stories set in the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. At the end of each installment is a new game mechanic or rule for Pathfinder either seen or referenced in that week's serial. The first story, Tyranny of the Stars, will take us across the Mana Wastes in a journey to uncover secrets lost during the war between the kingdoms of Nex and Geb. 

If you are interested in getting your own Pathfinder fiction serialized on the Encounter Table, please reach out to the Encounter Table at with your pitch.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pop Creature - Sandman

The Sandman, from FOX's Sleepy Hollow
It's been a busy couple of weeks for me, as evidenced by the lack of an update last week. I'm in the process of developing special project for Raging Swan Press, putting the finishing touches on Aspects of Axis, prepping for a new interview to be featured here soon, and some other things I can't quite yet talk about. But, I've dusted off one of my long-standing "to-do" entries for Pop Creature for you!

This week's Pop Creature delves back into my love for FOX's Sleepy Hollow TV show. Full of humorous writing, just the right mix of drama and camp, and—most relevant—fantastic creatures! Today I'm focusing on the Sandman, a fiendish servant of the demon Moloch from episode 3 of Season 1, "For the Triumph of Evil." Modified for Pathfinder, the Sandman becomes a mythic devil in service to Hell, punishing those who dare break Hell's infernal contracts. To use this creature you'll need Paizo's Mythic Adventures, so be sure to get yourself a copy or check out their PRD.

Let me know what you think of the Sandman in the comments section!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Pop Creature - The Infected

One of last year's most spectacular console titles was Sony's The Last of Us, a story about survival in a post-apocalyptic world where the (very real) fungus Cordyceps militaris branched off from insects and arthropods to humans, bringing about the end of society. The primary antagonist in The Last of Us (unless you count humanity itself) are known as "the infected." The infected are the remnants of humanity that are ravaged by the cordyceps fungus, which has taken control of their nervous system and turned them into self-propagating spore colonies with one, singular purpose: reproduce.

The human suffering in The Last of Us is underscored by the visible suffering of the infected themselves. Some who—fleetingly—still have control of themselves are tortured by their very existence. Bringing creatures like that into Pathfinder was an obvious decision, but developing them outward from the original design was also a strong intention. While the cordyceps infected shown in the game are relegated to humans alone (though concept art for cordyceps infected animals was made in pre-production, they had to be cut) the infected featured below can come from any corporeal, living creature capable of being ravaged by disease.

If someone would like to do fanart of cordyceps infected monsters, I'd love to see it and will gladly showcase it here!

Enjoy the cordyceps-related nightmares below, and let us know what you think of them in the comments!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

System Shock - The Vanguard

The vanguard class overview from
Mass Effect 2.
You may have noticed a subtle change to the Encounter Table this week. As a part of the ongoing improvement and development of this blog, the encounter table can now be found at instead of its old Blogger address. More changes to come!

Last week, as a part of our celebration of People of the Stars being announced, the Encounter Table detailed how to bring the asari race from the Mass Effect series into Pathfinder. This week the Encounter Table takes a look at one of the most iconic character archetypes from the Mass Effect series: the vanguard.

Presented below is the Encounter Table's take on a Pathfinder class built around the core concepts of the vanguard. It is a highly-mobile front-line class that delivers devastating charge attacks and channels kinetic energy to protect themselves and enhance their damage-dealing capabilities. Let us know what you think of the vanguard in the comments!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pop Creature - Mummy Lord

The Mummy's Mask, Part 2: The Empty Graves,
by Crystal Frasier
Innumerable pieces of fiction include mummies as antagonists. From Karl Freund's 1932 classic The Mummy and on to more contemporary titles. Today's Encounter Table entry is inspired by one specific fictional mummy, Akmodan II, from the classic horror-inspired video game Castlevania. In Castlevania, Akmodan II is but one of Dracula's many undead servants standing in the way the game's protagonist on their way to slay the king of vampires.

With Paizo's The Mummy's Mask Adventure Path moving into Part 2 this month, I thought I'd offer up a variant of the traditional mummy found in Pathfinder based loosely on Akmodan's incarnations throughout Castlevania history along with some unique twists on mummy lore garnered from across popular fiction. This entry includes a bestiary entry for a mummy lord, as well as the mummy lord template.

If you use this undead antagonist in your Pathfinder games, let us know how in the comments!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Interview - James Jacobs

Iron Gods part 1: Fires of Creation
Paizo recently revealed support books for their upcoming Iron Gods Adventure Path, the Technology Guide and People of the Stars. This came hot on the heels of an official blog post revealing the authors for Iron Gods and the titles of each of its six parts. I'm beyond excited to see all of this information coming out now and my anticipation for the release of Iron Gods has simply blown up!

The Encounter Table is fortunate enough to have been able to sit down with Paizo's Creative Director James Jacobs, the mastermind behind Iron Gods, to talk about the upcoming sci-fi/fantasy Adventure Path as well as his history with RPGs as well as a few glimpses into the future.

Please note, portions of this interview discuss the plot elements of Iron Gods and contain spoilers about the identity of the Adventure Path's antagonists.

So read on, if you dare, and discover the secrets of the Iron Gods!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pop Creature - Asari

People of the Stars by Paizo Inc.
This week Paizo announced — and almost had people thinking it was an April Fool's joke — two new publications in support of its upcoming Iron Gods Adventure Path. One book of particular interest to me is People of the Stars. This product will delve into the extraterrestrial races found in Golarion's solar system, and some from beyond. In celebration of this book's announcement, I've decided to dip back into a trusty old well of creativity for today's Pop Creature article: Mass Effect.

In the spirit of the Iron Gods Adventure Path and People of the Stars, the Encounter Table presents rules for playable asari characters in Pathfinder. This unique, monogendered alien race is fames for their exploration, long lives, and ability to intermingle with the genetics of other species. See how they translated to Pathfinder below, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Pop Creature - Handyman

In-game poster of a Handyman from
Bioshock: Infinite.
As noted in the last update, I've recently jumped on the Bioshock: Infinite bandwagon, albeit belatedly. The game's ability to capture the imagination with both twisted storytelling and superbly rich visuals is likely to blame for the sudden influx of Bioshock-related updates here. In the next update we'll be stepping away from Bioshock to tap an altogether different well, but for now, enjoy the stemepunk-themed update.

Today's Pop-Creature article features one of the hulking automatons from Bioshock: Infinite, the handyman. Encountered early in the game, the handyman is both a terrible war machine and a terrible tragedy as an unwilling fusion of man and machine, tormented by its own existence.

Friday, March 28, 2014

System Shock - Vigors

The Devil's Kiss vigor advertisement from
Bioshock: Infinite. Image courtesy of the
Bioshock Wiki.
2013 was a banner year for gaming, both on the table and off. It's no small surprise that I'm as big a fan of video games as I am tabletop, and I was even fortunate enough to work in the video game industry for a few years doing concept art and content design. Video games are as much a part of my life as tabletop games are, and typically I'm pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to playing new titles. That said, occasionally a great game slips through the cracks and I wind up being pretty late to the party raving about it. That time, readers, is now!

Last week I was gifted Bioshock: Infinite for my 33rd birthday, a visually stunning game with a mind-warping story that travels time and dimension. You've probably heard about it or even played it yourself by now, but if you've been living under the same rock I'd been under I highly recommend you give it a try, if not for its gameplay than it's twisty and engaging story and fantastic visual design.

Today's Encounter Table entry comes with a healthy dose of Bioshock: Infinite inspired whimsy and presents a new type of imbibed magic item created with the Brew Potion feat: Vigors!

So step right up and try an effervescent vigor and let me know what you think in the comments! Maybe it will conjure a spirit to clean your house! Maybe it will summon a gentle spring breeze to cool you off! Maybe it will reduce your enemies to smoldering piles of ash and bone!

Friday, March 14, 2014

System Shock - The Exalt

The Advanced Class Guide playtest.
Today's Encounter Table is the second look into custom hybrid classes, the likes of which will be featured in the Advanced Class Guide. The exalt, featured below the break, is a class dedicated to mastering a single weapon that its wielder forges a strong bond to and blends elements of the fighter and monk core classes to achieve this effect.

The Advanced Class Guide will feature the duelist, a hybrid class that combines the fighter and gunslinger into a light armored front-line combatant and shares similar design space with the exalt. You can get a preview of the swashbuckler in the Advanced Class Guide Playtest, available for free at

Next week the Encounter Table breaks out the pop creature articles once more!

Speak your mind about the exalt in the comments below, or join the Encounter Table at its discussion thread on the official Paizo forums!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

System Shock - Cantor

The Advanced Class Guide playtest from Paizo Inc.
With Paizo's RPG Superstar competition having ended and Victoria Jaczko crowned champion, there's now more time for production of articles here at the Encounter Table. Wanting to kick things off again with a bang, this week's article is a fully designed "hybrid" class like those soon to be featured in the Advanced Class Guide.

Below the jump you'll find the cantor class, a hybrid of inquisitor and bard designed to play the role of a religious mystic that can blends the bard's versatility and party enhancing features with the inquisitor's divine spellcasting and martial focus.

Let us know what you think about the cantor in the comments!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Interview - Jim Groves

The Mummy's Mask, Book I: The Half-Dead City.
It's been a busy week for me, as you've probably been able to tell by the absence of Encounter Table updates. Paizo Publishing's RPG Superstar 2014 is in full-swing, and I've been devoting my full attention to the competition. This year has been a fantastic experience, and I'm proud to be competing alongside some amazingly talented writers. If you get a chance, head on over to Paizo's RPG Superstar site and see what it's all about.

Today, the Encounter Table brings together something really special. I've had the opportunity to sit down with freelance writer Jim Groves, author of The Shackled Hut and The Demon's Heresy, and many more 3rd-party publications. Jim was kind enough to share some of his time to discuss the upcoming 1st book in the Mummy's Mask adventure path, The Half-Dead City as well as his experiences growing up as a roleplayer and much more. So sit back and enjoy the Encounter Table's first ever interview with author Jim Groves!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pop Creature - The Sylvari

The sylvari from Guild Wars 2.
What a wild week it has already been! Right now I'm in the middle of working on a freelance assignment for Crystal Frasier's Rogue Genius Games, as well as preparing for a pair of interviews that will appear here on the Encounter Table—though more on those at a later date. 
Right now, some of you may be aware that I've been selected to the Top 32 of Paizo Publishing's RPG Superstar competition. I'm competing alongside some of the brightest undiscovered talent for the reward of writing a full 64-page adventure module (or the runner up prize of a Pathfinder Society Scenario). 

So, for the next few weeks, updates from the Encounter Table may be a bit thinner than usual as I focus my efforts on these projects. That said, I've got something special for you all! 

Today's Pop Creature article comes from one of the few massively-multiplayer RPGs I've really grown to love: Guild Wars 2. While I don't really have the time to run around busting heads with my engineer anymore, I do hold a singular adoration for their wonderful races and finely crafted lore. So today's article goes out to the enigmatic sylvari race, presented—not as a bestiary entry—but as a playable race using the rules for race creation found in the Advanced Race Guide. You may also notice a shout-out to a certain mythic creature introduced in the recent Bestiary released.


Friday, January 17, 2014

System Shock - (Product Preview) Aspects of Axis

A marut caste knight of axis;
art by Robert Brookes
Before I get into today's System Shock article, which comes straight from the pages of my upcoming Pathfinder project, Aspects of Axis, I thought I'd poll you readers about what you might like to see in upcoming Encounter Table articles. I've had some requests come in by email for the Mass Effect races to be represented in Pathfinder using the system built into the Advanced Race Guide. I've also had more than a few people ask me to stat up some of the races from Guild Wars 2 in the same vein. What would you be interested in seeing from a Pop Creature article? Additionally, are there any kinds of Pathfinder game subsystems or new rules you'd like to see addressed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below, or shoot me an email and let me know what you think.

Today's System Shock article can be found, along with some of the new inevitables mentioned in its text, in the upcoming Aspects of Axis. The Knight of Axis is a pretige class themed directly off of the Hellknight prestige class found in Pathfinder's Inner Sea World Guide. The Knight of Axis was developed from an in-game notion that perhaps the Hellknights weren't the original practitioners of their craft, and that the founder of the Hellknights may have based his teachings on an older, different order.

After the jump, that hypothetical organization of knights in service to Axis' laws is presented. It mirrors the same framework of the Hellknight prestige class, but its abilities are less diabolically themed. Let me know what you think about this preview in the comments!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pop Creature - Thresher Maw

A thresher maw on the world of Edolus, as seen in
Mass Effect. Screenshot courtesy of the Mass Effect Wiki.
Today's Pop Creature entry concludes our week-long desert themed excursion in preparation for the upcoming Mummy's Mask adventure path from Paizo. This entry details a creature from a media source the Encounter Table touched on a few weeks back, the Mass Effect universe.

In Mass Effect, the thresher maws are alien creatures that populate distant worlds by seeding highly resistant spores that develop into their voracious progeny. With the advent of space travel on worlds populated by thresher maws, these creatures spores have been pollinated by travelers across many worlds beyond the desert wasteland of their origin. As such, it isn't hard to imagine one of the many extraterrestrial visitors to Golarion unintentionally (or perhaps intentionally) seeding the world with a thresher maw or two.

If you put this burrowing terror up against your PCs let us know in the comments how they handled the encounter!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pop Creature - Deathclaw

A deathclaw from Fallout: New Vegas.
"Big! Big! The size of three men! Claws as long as my forearm! Ripped apart! Ripped apart!"

Day 3 of Encounter Table's desert-themed series comes from one of my favorite post-apocalyptic computer RPGs, Fallout. While it feels like the original game was released more than a thousand years ago, my love for it and its sequels is quite strong yet! The above quote, from the first Fallout references today's Pop Creature — the deathclaw — who graces our front page courtesy of a screenshot from the latest offering in the series, Fallout: New Vegas.

The deathclaw is a magically engineered killing machine that could be found in any arid or mountainous environment when the PCs least expect it. If you surprise your PCs with a deathclaw, share your story in the comments below!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

System Shock - The Living Mirage

The Mummy's Mask, Book 1: The Half-Dead
City, by Jim Groves.
The cover image today comes from Paizo Publishing's upcoming first installment of the Mummy's Mask, "The Half-Dead City," written by Jim Groves. In part 2 of Encounter Table's desert-themed week, we take a look at the living mirage; a prestige class that blends illusion magic and martial arts to create a fighting style based on the hazy heat mirages of the desert. The living mirage should fit right in among the PCs or NPCs of your Mummy's Mask campaign as ally or adversary.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

System Shock - The Sandshaper

Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the
This month Paizo is giving us a look at some of the desert nations of Garund with its latest Player Companion: People of the Sands. This prelude to the upcoming desert-set adventure path The Mummy's Mask details the nations of Rahadoum, Thuvia and Osirion as well as its peoples and magical traditions. In addition to these books, Paizo Fans United will be publishing Wayfinder issue #10, featuring a plethora of desert-themed supplements for your Mummy's Mask campaign and beyond.

My excitement levels for The Mummy's Mask are reaching critical levels and in order to join in on the tomb-crawling, desert-exploring fun I thought I'd share a few desert-themed articles over the next two installments of System Shock and Pop Creature!

These pieces were originally going to be submitted to Wayfinder for issue #10, but had to be put on the back burner well beyond the submission deadline due to other obligations and holiday-related shenanigans. Now that the holidays are over and my plate has started to clear up, I'll be putting the finishing touches on the remainder of these articles.

Today, we'll be taking a look at the sandshaper summoner archetype. Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Art - Aspects of Axis

Aspects of Axis fan-made companion.
Cover art by Carolina Eade.
Today I thought I'd share some finalized character vignettes from my upcoming Aspects of Axis project. The cover art, headlining this post, is courtesy of the wonderful Carolina Eade and features the Pathfinder iconics Merisiel and Kyra in a frantic battle with one of the new inevitables revealed in the book, the Aevarut. The art after the jump is courtesy of the stupendous Alena Lane! I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

System Shock - Combat Climb

Wander climbs a colossus in Shadow of the Colossus.
It's a feat practically as old as storytelling itself: the daring hero climbing up the body of a towering monster to deliver the killing blow. Over the years, tabletop RPGs have developed different ways to represent this stunt, but both Pathfinder and its ancestor Dungeons & Dragons have both struggled to provide rules for characters to emulate this heroic act.

My inspirations for this article stemmed from two sources. One was Dragon Magazine issue #306, which included an article called "Power Fantasy" by JD Wiker. In this article, Wiker presented rules for "cinematic combat" like swinging from a chandelier and throwing an opponent. These were elements I'd always wanted to include in a game, yet found the core rules of d20-based games lacking in representation of them. The second inspiration originated roughly around the same time; a video game published by Level-5 called Shadow of the Colossus (also known as Wander and the Colossus in Japan.) In Shadow of the Colossus, the hero was a boy and his horse who traveled together across a vast countryside in search of colossi to take down by climbing, running and vaulting all over them to strike at the vulnerable points in their stony armor.

Evoking the feeling of Shadow of the Colossus is easy in Pathfinder, thanks to the universal Combat Maneuver Defense rules. This simplification of the old opposed roll checks from 3.X D&D makes it a simple matter of making a single check to perform a list of combat maneuvers. Below I've outlined a new combat maneuver called a Combat Climb, allowing characters to spring into action and clamor up and around on gigantic opponents. With Bestiary 4 out now, introducing the titanic Kaiju creature subtype, this sort of cinematic combat is delivered right on time.

Feel free to share your own stories of characters successfully (or unsuccessfully) battling atop gigantic, moving beasts in the comments section below.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pop Creature - Kee-Oth

The demon Kee-Oth from Adventure Time season 5,
episode 41: The Pit
Another Encounter Table entry, another Adventure Time inspired creature!

I just can't help myself but find scads of inspiration from Cartoon Network's Adventure Time with Finn and Jake. Today's Pop Creature comes from a recurring adversary on the show, Kee-Oth, a demon once defeated by Jake's father and bound to a sword. The concept of stealing a demon's blood, forging it into a sword, and then using it to have sway over said demon is a great idea and fits perfectly into the concetps of Pathfinder. In fact, it was such a straightforward concept that I was sure I'd be able to find it already done. Imagine my surprise when I didn't really discover anything that quite fit the bill!

This article presents three new goodies for Pathfinder: Firstly, the stats for the type of demon Kee-Oth is, a Nar-Babau (a more powerful version of the standard babau, focused directly on blood-related powers). Secondly, the stats for a demon blood sword. Then lastly, the rules for demon forging, allowing you to make your own demon-bound weapons to enslave your enemies.

These rules come right as Paizo is coming in on the final chapters of its Wrath of the Righteous adventure path. Take a look within, and maybe you can find a way to interject a demon like Kee-Oth or a demon blood sword into your own Wrath of the Righteous game!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pop Creature - The Geth

"We are all geth."
Legion, from Mass Effect 2.

That line, spoken by the character Legion, from the video game Mass Effect 2 is now among some of my favorite lines in science-fiction. The wonderfully produced Mass Effect series introduced me to the swarm-intelligence of the geth. While they are, on the surface, analogues for a lot of Sci-Fi's most notorious robotic antagonists, the geth maintain a unique design aesthetic while drawing you into their society. Your window into their struggle for independence, acceptance, and individuality is through Legion, a geth designed to interact with and observe organics, capable of operating on his own instead of amid the hive-like machine intelligence of his networked people. Legion gives us a view into a wholly alien mindset, and one that is difficult to shake years after the fact.

Today's Pop Creature is one of those things that's been rattling around in my head for a good, long while. It's also one of the most singularly challenging entries I've done yet. Converting a race of intelligent constructs with a swarm-based intelligence into the Pathfinder rules set wound up being a lot more to chew on that I anticipated, and this entry you're reading was initially intended to be the introductory Pop Creature article, but was put on the back burner when I realized how much of an undertaking it had become.

The introduction of the robot subtype in the Inner Sea Bestiary helped pave the way for this article. While the geth still were a tricky act to pull off, James Jacobs' creation helped set the expectations for how robots should behave in Pathfinder. While the geth remained a challenge thanks to the way the Intelligence score is linked with skill ranks and skill ranks with hit dice, I had a solid foundation to start with.

After the jump, there's a wealth of geth-related information, from the geth subtype to individual stats of geth units ready to be inserted into your Pathfinder games to surprise and antagonize. Later on, I intend on designing a playable geth race using the rules from the Advanced Race Guide, but that's a little ways down the road from here.

For now, take a while to enjoy the geth and let me know in the comments what you think of the geth subtype and the mechanics for swarm intelligence.

System Shock - Mythic Patrons

The Outsider, as seen in one of
Sokolov's paintings in Dishonored. 
One of the best video games I've played in 2013 was Dishonored by Bethesda Softworks. Dishonored is a marvelously addictive stealth/first-person shooter set in a wonderfully visualized steampunk world that feels remarkably lived-in. While not particularly long, Dishonored (and it's from-the-villain's-perspective DLC, Knife of Dunwall) is relentlessly engaging and is one of the few games where I eagerly scramble around for bits of in-world lore tucked away in dark, dusty corners.

Dishonored most central figure, aside from the masked protagonist Corvo, is a mysterious figure of inscrutable agenda known only as the Outsider. It is via the Outsider that Corvo obtains an array of supernatural abilities that allow him to exercise his revenge of the people that wronged him. It was this premise and the Outsider's unique gift of supernatural power to Corvo that plucked my developer strings and made me question how something like the Outsider and Corvo's relationship could be represented in Pathfinder. It wasn't until the Mythic Adventures sourcebook came out that I had the answer for that handed to me.

As io9 recently stated in their review, Mythic Adventures is a "game changer" for Paizo and Pathfinder. Now, characters have access to a wholly new array of potential powers and abilities, many of which would feel right at home in the world of Dishonored. However, while there were some spells that could grant limited mythic power to an individual, there wasn't quite anything in that master/apprentice or patron/benefactor vein.

So, naturally, I saw that as a challenge!

System Shock is a series of articles drawing on wide-ranging sources of inspiration to create new rules systems for use in Pathfinder. Every system shock article will present a new way to use pre-existing rules from Pathfinder.

Today's System Shock article is a rules subset of Mythic Adventures whereby you become a mythic patron, bestowing power on others who can do your bidding in the world!

(Christmas Bonus) Pop Creature - Cathari

Lord President Rassilon, a Time Lord, from the Doctor
Who Christmas Special, the End of Time, Part 1.
This Christmas evening I sat down and watched the Doctor Who Christmas Special, as has been a yearly tradition for me for a long, long time. I'm a big fan of Doctor Who, dating back to my childhood when the mere opening theme would instill me with a perplexing mix of dread and excitement. For those unfamiliar with the property, it's a long-running British sci-fi television show on the BBC that started in 1963 and has been running (with a few notable hiatuses) for 50 years. In fact, the show just celebrated its 50th anniversary this November.

For a long time, a race inspired by the Time Lords of Doctor Who have graced my gaming tables in one form or another. In the spirit of Christmas, and since I'm still operating on a post-Christmas Doctor Who high, I thought I'd share how this race shakes out at my table in Pathfinder for all of you. The cathari are a powerful race (roughly 24 RP by the Advanced Race Guide's charts) and don't fit into all kinds of campaigns. But for GMs interested in emulating a character similar to the Doctor, these might just do the trick.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pop Creature - Blightburn Zombie

The Ooze Monsters from Adventure Time Season 5,
episode 42, James.

I love Adventure Time. If you somehow haven't given a chance to one of the most cleverly written and surprisingly sentimental cartoons of the last decade, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. Beneath the show's deceptive, saccharine exterior is a rich tapestry of coming-of-age stories set against a surprisingly grim post-apocalyptic landscape. 

Today's Pop Creature entry comes courtesy of one such post-apocalyptic element that is something I've wanted to recreate in Pathfinder for a while: the goo monster. First seen in the tragic and amazing episode, "Simon and Marcy," the goo monsters are horrible radioactive nightmares that evoke zombie-like reactions. The first time I saw these critters I thought about the blightburn sickness from Paizo's Kobolds of Golarion. The fusion of shambling zombies and radioactive nightmares seemed like something perfect for a Pathfinder game. 

Below, I've adapted the goo monsters from Adventure Time as the dreadful blightburn zombies! Hopefully these horrifying creatures find their way into your own Pathfinder games.