Building a New Ancestry: Gyers, Part 1 of 4 (Introduction)

March 29, 2020

I talked last time about what goes into a Pathfinder Second Edition ancestry, so today I’m building one. I decided to pull up my Pathfinder First Edition product, Run Amok Bestiary, and look there for a race to turn into an ancestry. There are two playable races in that product: ulqar (cannibalistic dwarves) and gyerfolk (honorable vulture-people). Since ulqar seem like maybe a heritage for dwarves rather than a whole new ancestry, I’m going to frame out the gyerfolk ancestry here. Their most obvious advantage is that they can fly, which no other ancestry in PF2 can do. I’ll be sure to address that in design. Let’s dig in!

Per the Run Amok Bestiary, Gyerfolk are stunted version of gyers, proud and wary vulture-people who live in insular desert communities, painstakingly craft shields that have a lot of cultural significance, and can change their shape into vultures. The word “gyer” is sort of akin to the German word for vulture. Gyerfolk hatch from eggs that a gyer had to abandon, and are therefore smaller (Medium in size rather than Large). Gyers harbor and train gyerfolk, but gyerfolk never attain the strength or magic of their larger kin. Truth be told, this was all just sort of a kludge because I couldn’t make gyers as tough as I wanted and still be a playable race, so I needed a “powered down” version for PCs. I called that weaker version the gyerfolk, with apologies to my friend James Case who dislikes the “-folk” suffix but whom I didn’t know when I wrote this book back in 2015. 

All this gyer/gyerfolk distinction isn’t necessary now. I plan to put all their cultural and rules stuff all together in a single ancestry, called gyers. I note for myself that changing shape into vultures is something they should be able to do at 13th level or so with an ancestry feat. PF2 is cool like that.

Anyway, here is my introduction for them, pulled significantly from the Run Amok Bestiary.

Gyers

Humanoid vulture-people with a proud sense of community and a wary nature, gyers are desert-dwellers with a mastery of the sky.

You Might…

* Keep watch for danger to any group you join, as a readiness to intercept danger is the obligation of any member of the group.

* Speak deliberately and frankly, so your intentions and desires aren’t misconstrued.

* Bristle when compared to a common vulture.

Others Probably…

* Envy your ability to fly.

* Assume you eat nothing but carrion.

* Consider you proud or even a bit haughty. 

Physical Description

Gyers are tall, powerful humanoids with the black wings and distinctive bald heads of vultures. Wary and alert, they are almost never seen without a shield in hand. They inhabit desert climates, roosting in sheltered valleys or in thick groves of trees. Gyer scouts patrol the skies far from their homes, sometimes in the form of giant vultures, to deter dangerous creatures or trespassers from entering gyer lands. 

Gyers have a life cycle much like vultures; they hatch from clutches of eggs and are dependent upon their parents for survival in their earliest days. They learn to fly shortly after they learn to walk, and commonly live to be 40 or 50 years old. 

Gyers have an exceedingly varied diet, as their desert homes often have little sustenance to offer. Although they possess the strong stomach acid and hardy immune systems that allows common vultures to eat carrion, gyers eat carrion only rarely. In fact, gyer consider ordinary vultures to be a bit of an embarrassment, like dirty and ill-mannered pets. Comparing a gyer to a common vulture is a grave insult certain to invite a challenge to a duel.

Society

Among their kind, gyers form small, tight-knit communities. Gyers value the safety of their kin over their personal welfare; a gyer’s greatest offense is to let another gyer come to harm when he could have prevented it. Gyer communities are typically 20 individuals or fewer. A community that grows larger often splits into smaller groups, determining which gyers must stay and which must leave by logical analysis rather than along nuclear family bonds. Gyer communities usually have two leaders: a chief scout called a kaliasah and a seer called a vakrah. Some kaliashahs and vakrahs are mated pairs or siblings, while others are proud rivals. The most talented kaliashahs can transform into vultures to more easily ply the skies, and the best vakrahs hold sway over death and life alike. 

Shields hold an important place in gyer culture. Gyer shields are painstakingly crafted, and usually formed of overlapping pieces of supple wood woven over a round, rigid frame and then lacquered. Gyers value their shields with a spiritual reverence, and even gyers who don’t know how to effectively use a shield in combat nevertheless carry one for devotional purposes. For a gyer, a shield is not mere armor but a symbol of vigilance, rigidity, and protection that reflects gyer cultural beliefs. Like their shields, gyers consider themselves ready to defend their kin at all times. They see a shield’s inflexibility as a representation of their strict honor code, from which no gyer may deviate without incurring shame or exile.

Gyers engage in limited trade with non-gyer desert outposts or trusted traders, offering their skillful crafts or information about the desert, but they prefer to have little interaction with non-gyers. Gyers located outside of their settlements, such as gyer adventurers, usually have a very serious reason for departing. Perhaps they are seeking a significant item or piece of information to return to their kin, or they may have been ostracized for some real or perceived violation of gyer honor.

Alignment and Religion

Gyers prefer to live within their traditional honor codes and societies. Most gyers are lawful, and are about evenly split between those who are lawful good and those who are lawful neutral. Only those gyers raised outside their culture expectations are chaotic. Most gyers revere spirits of the air and of their ancestors, and they meditate upon their shields to establish a religious connection with these spirits. Wicked spirits that linger—such as ghosts—are of particular anathema to gyer religion.

Names and Language

Gyer names tend to have harsh consonants they can easily form with their beaks. The most common vowel sounds in their names are, by far, a and e. Common is the language most frequently spoken in gyer communities near non-gyer lands; gyer communities in the deep deserts usually speak Auran. Lacking the right vocal structure to utter the long vowels in many Auran words, gyers have a distinct accent in Auran that other Auran-speakers can identify right away.

Sample Names

Dahyek, Eksel, Galluk, Imak, Kavek, Magiak, Vakki, Veskia

 

The Pathfinder Ancestry Checklist

March 25, 2020

By now, word’s gotten out that we’ve done something brand new in the third volume of the Extinction Curse Adventure Path, Life’s Long Shadows: we’ve presented a brand-new, complete, playable ancestry. Shoonies are small, dog-faced people who like simple, pastoral settings and hard work. Normally fishers and farmers rather than adventurers, you nevertheless have everything you need to play a shoony adventurer. 

Speaking as the developer: new ancestries take up SO MUCH SPACE, guys! Back ...


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Behold the Alien Codex!

March 14, 2020
In the frenzied run of projects at the end of last year, I added even more fun to the pile by jumping in and providing some Starfinder development work for Legendary Games's mammoth Alien Codex. It's right here!

Now, I only saw piecemeal bits of this massive book, developing a few parts of a few chapters. I didn't see the whole thing in its entirety until just a few days ago when I got my contributor copy. And it's really neat! I already knew there would be fun toys for players, like the Overw...
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Tiffany, Forks, and Doorknobs

March 9, 2020
Writing fantasy games, or fantasy fiction of any kind, sometimes requires a look back into history. I've done a lot of research into medieval flour mills, funerary customs, ancient cartography, and all sorts of other topics that would puzzle anyone reviewing my search history.

For the most part, writing for fantasy is about avoiding anachronisms that take your readers out of the moment. Sometimes, though, you hit items that seem to break that.

My favorite example is the name Tiffany. This seems...
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Topping 150

March 5, 2020
I've been doing some updating of my site, primarily including a more robust and complete set of my "Other Works" and providing links to my Pathfinder Second Edition adventures released through Rogue Genius Games. Combined, these products total 145 published credits to my name. This list includes my work as a freelance developer, but it doesn't include projects I develop on a day-to-day basis as part of my job with Paizo for the last couple of years. Perhaps, for completion, it should include ...
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Monster Relationships with Spellcasting

February 24, 2020
Hey, I'm leaving shortly for a two-week-or-so vacation; this is my last post until early March.

I previously described how you can fiddle with Pathfinder Second Edition monsters' levels, but one of the things to keep in mind is their spellcasting. This is good to keep in mind even if you aren't adjusting the monster levels, because it's a valuable window into how heavily the monsters rely on their spellcasting.

Monsters in Pathfinder Second Edition have two kinds of spellcasting: Innate and The...
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Creating the Psychic Spell List

February 22, 2020

Psychic powers are a staple of science fiction. Many sci-fi games have a psychic powers or even a whole psychic class. Starfinder only sort of does, in that many mystic and technomancer powers feel kind of psychic-y. There’s a phrenic adept archetype and a few psychic power feats, but there isn’t anything that just says “here’s what a psychic gets.” It strikes me that there must be some better spell list that’s something between the mystic’s and technomancer’s (with some of th...


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Stripping a Starfinder Monster to Its Gears

February 19, 2020

Today, I wanted to give you a bit more use out of your Starfinder monster books. There are a ton of monsters available in Starfinder, with three Alien Archivebooks and even more monsters in the back of every adventure path volume. If you need more to prepare for a session, it’s easy to make them; the tables at the back of the first Alien Archiveallows you to quickly build a monster based on its role (combatant, expert, or spellcaster) and the Challenge Rating (CR) that you need. But if your...


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Monsters That Should Not Be

February 13, 2020
We have a lot of neat internal tools at Paizo. These include spreadsheets to let us know what parameters new Pathfinder Second Edition monsters should meet to be appropriate for their level. (This information is going to be in the upcoming Gamemastery Guide for everyone to see, although in a table form, not a spreadsheet.) These spreadsheets are fun to manipulate, and my friend James Case is a wizard at such things. He invented a very rough tool to translate monster stats to different levels:...
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Dungeon Mapping Practical Advice

February 11, 2020
This mini-series of suggestions started with what tools you should have to drawn dungeon maps and how to concept the map as a flowchart. Here are some practical tips to render your map into a final product to go to a cartographer. Most of these are "consider X, but also Y," and it's important to maintain a balance between conflicting considerations.

Consider Reality, But Only a Little Bit. Its important that you consider real-world aspects of the creatures who live in your dungeon. Where do th...
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Designing Dungeon Maps as Flowcharts

February 4, 2020
When designing a dungeon map, you should first start with a flowchart. Draw each room as a small circle or little box, and then draw all the connections to each other room. Make this a solid line if it's an easy passage, or a dotted line if there's something tricky about that passage (such as it's behind a secret door, or needs to be cleared of rubble, or must be opened with a special key). You'll end up with more lines than circles or boxes, and that's just fine; this initial exercise is to ...
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Tools for Mapping

January 25, 2020
We've been talking a lot about mapping here in Paizo: what makes a good encounter-level map (like a dungeon, or a starship) and what doesn't. Most of us spend time redrawing at least some maps we get it, and doing that well is important. After all, we don't want to replace a map that isn't in good enough shape to go to a cartographer with a different map that isn't in good enough shape to go to a cartographer, but for different reasons. So we've been talking about standards.

To be clear, this ...
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The Hidden Bestiary!

January 21, 2020

I’ve got a point to make about something tricky in Pathfinder, but first let me give you three new statblocks for mythological creatures.

Nephilim

Giants descended from deities in ancient times, nephilims are all but extinct today. They resemble enormous, noble humanoids with feathery wings, handsome features, and a crown of bone horns growing from their heads. Masters of magical essences and the arts of war alike, nephilims are gracious in peace and fearsome in battle.

Nephilim Hero Cr...


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Looking Over Changes: The God-Host Ascends

January 14, 2020

One of the most exciting times for a freelancer is seeing the final product of the work you wrote. For me, there’s something indescribably satisfying about holding something in my hands that has the words I wrote on a printed page. This is also a good time to look over the product and see what your developer and editors changed! This helps you align future work to what they want.

First and most importantly, realize that not every change is due to a mistake. A freelancer can do everything abs...


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Placing Art

January 9, 2020

I talked a lot in my last two blogs about all the things to do with adventure text when you’re done with it. One of the last steps I do here at work when I’m done developing an adventure is to write up an “art brief.” This is the direction for the pieces of art to appear in the text. There are a couple things to keep in mind when doing this, and I’ll talk about the first one today: where to place your art in the adventure. 

Note that you’ll be ordering art before you layout your ad...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 28 of 28

January 1, 2020
I'm finally at the end, both of this project and of the year (and the decade)! There are dozens of teeny steps I've taken with my final text, and I still have more to do, but I wanted to lay them out for you to answer the question: "I've written an entire adventure path, now what?"

Now, it's got to get into a publishable product people can buy and use and play. If you're freelancing for another company, you just send it in and your job is done. If you're publishing it yourself--like I'm doing-...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 27 of 28

December 19, 2019
Okay! My writing is done, and I have two more things to share on this whole project. The first is what to do when the writing is done, and the second is a bit about layout. So now I know that there are 28 points in this whole series, and I'm declaring myself too lazy to go back and add "of 28" to all the prior posts!

Completing the writing doesn't mean you're done! You should aim to complete a freelance writing project at least a few days before your turnover date, so you've got some time to d...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 26

December 17, 2019
And that's it! Below are my last two chapters, Chapter 15 and Chapter 19. They're very different! One has a bargain with a lich gone wrong (which ends in a fight with the lich on the heroes' side) and the other has the heroes quashing evil in more discrete adventure locations than I've used in any chapter thus far. 

So, now, if you go back through all my blog posts, you'll have every chapter of an entire adventure path. But I intend to make this much easier on the reader and compile it all tog...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 25

December 12, 2019
Part 25, already? Wow, this has been a much longer road than I initially thought. But I'm almost done!

It should be clear by now that adventures (like most movies, and most books) aren't simply written from beginning to end in a line. There's a lot of jumping around. A case in point is today's adventures, which include the finale for this adventure path even though I'm not wholly done with the middle bits (although I have more middle bits to share, too).

Now that I can see the whole shape of th...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 24

December 10, 2019
Another chapter! I realized that although I'd given the stat block I intend to use in Chapter 17 (which details the final confrontation against the devil cult), I never actually got around to writing up that chapter. So I did so, and here it is. It's the longest by far (nearly 1,000 words over my 1,500-word limit), and that's for three reasons. First, I wanted to build in a plot reason to confront the pit fiend other than "we just don't like pit fiends running around doing their evil," so I c...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 23

December 5, 2019
Here's another chapter! With this, I'm 70% of the way done. I'm starting to feel less like I can pick whatever I'd like for a chapter (as was the case for the first two chapters I wrote, 3 and 16) and now feel like I need to be building the right connective tissue. The plot threads are all coming together now. For example, at the end of Chapter 9, the heroes know their villain (Treerazer/Treereaver) and his location (the Heartwood), and want to go there. I have to get across that the Heartwoo...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 22

December 4, 2019
It's easy to put mazes in an adventure, but it's really hard to do it well. You can have an intricate maze as a map, but that becomes tedious to draw and boring to navigate. Worse, it doesn't feel particularly immersive for the players (as opposed to the characters), since the players can see the whole maze from a superior top-down perspective at all times. 

The best mazes in adventures give the players the wait-where-are-we-now feeling that their characters should have, and that usually means...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 21

November 27, 2019
I've been doing a lot of skipping around in my adventure path writing; to be honest, the very fact I've given myself some direction for chapters 12 through 15 has made me feel like I can tackle those a little later. So I've got chapters 9 and 18 to post today.

But first I wanted to talk about maps! I discovered an excellent cartographer named Dyson Logos, who has a ton of maps on his site at dysonlogos.blog. Many of his maps are free for commercial use (which is great for me!), although he has...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 20

November 25, 2019
I'm taking a close look at the mid-levels of my adventure path, particularly the events of chapters 11 through 15 or so. I sort of just threw chapter numbers on the map, but I want a way to link them together. You'll remember the lower levels are about "experiencing weird stuff" and "figuring out what's going on," so by these mid levels the heroes should be in the "doing something about it" phase.

But doing something can be really simple ("go to location X and do a thing") or very complex ("he...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 19

November 15, 2019
Hard to believe, but I'm just about halfway done with my full 2E AP. I've now got a good thread of story and I've dropped a lot of locations, but I don't feel like I can tie down the second half without making some map decisions. I need to know where in the Northfells the rest of the action is going to occur. Looking over the map and what I've got so far, I see a few changes I need to make. I should have a few more small forests near the "starter towns" of Fallinghollow and Jannasthorpe. I al...
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Getting the Most from Monster Damage

November 13, 2019

I've stepped briefly away from the Heartwood Blight Adventure Path for another project (see here), but I'll turn back to it soon enough. In the meantime, though, I had a good conversation to bring here.

I’ve been working with a new-ish freelancer on monster design for Pathfinder 2nd Edition. His narrative prose is very strong, and his monster design is good, but I recently talked with him about his monster’s damage, and I thought it would be good to share this.

His monster, which we’ll ca...


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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 18

November 5, 2019
This adventure path has been rolling along consistently in the design process: I think about where I need the story to be, look at monsters available for the chapter's level, list out 12 encounters in a variety of themes, write up the 1500 word (or so) adventure, then seed in the right amount of treasure for the level. Repeat over and over!

I knew I wanted to get back into the forest threats for the 7th level adventure, and I have my eye on that scrap of forest at the eastern edge of my map. I...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 17

October 31, 2019
Warning! This post is long, because it includes 10 percent of an entire adventure path!

Last time, I talked about how I had to do some creative thinking to fill out the 17th level adventure. In building the 5th level adventure, I found I had way too much cool stuff I wanted to pack in. A hobgoblin/barghest thieves guild, a sinister alchemist, and salt miners all working for the secretive devil cult, plus a raid on the devil cult in the Owlbear House, and mind-controlling vampires, and plots ag...
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I'm Writing an AP in Front of You, Part 16

October 30, 2019
I've been working on a couple different components of my adventure path at once: the pieces that are urban and focus on the devil activity. This is something of a side quest; the main thrust of the adventure path is about evil fey and demons, after all. But a devil-focused, urban, intrigue-based subplot allows players who really like that type of adventure to shine, and gives the whole adventure path some variety.

I've been specifically working on the 5th-level adventure (which introduces the ...
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Sparwell Lodge is Here!

October 25, 2019
My second Pathfinder Second Edition product with Rogue Genius Games is now out! You can get it right here. It's called the Ghosts of Sparwell Lodge, a haunted-house adventure for 4th level characters. This is a reworking of my Pathfinder 1st edition adventure Six Griffons Haunt (my first Run Amok Games product!), which is itself a reworking of a D&D 3.5 edition adventure I wrote called The Haunted House of bin-Khadij. Each time the adventure has grown and been refined a bit more, and I'm very...
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About Me


I'm Ron Lundeen, developer for Paizo, Inc., active gamer, and RPG freelancer. I've recently had products in print for Paizo, Wizards of the Coast, Raging Swan, Open Design, Headless Hydra Games, and Rite Publishing. I'm still taking freelance writing assignments, but also focusing on writing for Run Amok Games.


 

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