Order of Operations

April 17, 2020

Just a quick note today about Pathfinder Second Edition stat blocks. We now list a creature's equipment differently than we did before.

In short, it's strictly alphabetical. But it's alphabetical in a bit of a strange way. Let's say an NPC has the following items: a stunning snare, a moderate healing potion, a ring of climbing, +1 striking composite shortbow (40 arrows), +2 greater striking longsword, +1 resilient breastplate, 54 gold pieces, and an ivory bracelet worth 25 gp. 

The listing is alphabetical by the way the items are indexed in the book. Generally, that means ignoring runes on items (like the "+1" or "striking" or "glamered" for weapons or armor), and qualifiers of type (like "major" or "minor") and then alphabetizing. Since things like a "composite shortbow" are indexed under c for composite (and not by s for shortbow), you'll alphabetize them that way, too. 

This applies to mundane items, too; the ivory bracelet is, fundamentally, a braceletthat's its kind of thingso it would be alphabetized under b.

Finally, money always comes at the end, just like in Pathfinder First Edition.

So here's how the items above are properly listed:

Items ivory bracelet worth 25 gp, +1 resilient breastplate, +1 striking composite shortbow (40 arrows), moderate healing potion, +2 greater striking longsword, ring of climbing, stunning snare, 54 gp

(Another note: Pathfinder Second Edition always pluralizes those in-line headers, so it's "Items" even if there's only one thing listed.)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled non-technical programming!

 

Beware the Skulltaker!

April 15, 2020
For the news: my next adventure, the all-new "Night of the Skulltaker" is out.

You can get it here!

For some background: I wrote this adventure in just over 2 days. That's from jokey start to final layout and everything. (There were a few extra hours when I woke up, realized my Table of Contents wasn't right, and had to re-upload it in there, too.)

Here's how it got started.

Around Paizo, we joke with each other a lot. This hasn't stopped now that we're all working remotely; it just happens over ...
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Modifying Pathfinder Hazards

April 10, 2020

The Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide is out, and it provides several neat tools. One of these tools is the suite of instructions about how to build a hazard. These are more useful (and less labor-intensive) than they appear, because they also let you modify existing hazards to different levels. Let’s see how! 

First, let me take a classic trap, the poisoned dart gallery, from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook.

Poisoned Dart Gallery    Hazard 8

Complex, Mechanical, Trap

Stealth +16 (expert) or DC 31 (mas...


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Building a New Ancestry, Part 4 of 4 (Ancestry Feats)

April 8, 2020

I’ve been designing gyers, a new ancestry of honorable and reclusive vulture-people. I’ve finished everything but their ancestry feats, but those are the most in-depth part of the whole process! I’ve talked before about how there are certain low-hanging fruit of ancestry feats, like AncestryName Lore and AncestryName Weapon Familiarity, and I plan to use those to focus on gyer concepts, such as their reliance on shields. I flagged earlier that they should be able to change into vultures...


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Building a New Ancestry, Part 3 of 4 (Heritages)

April 3, 2020

I’ve been designing gyers, a new ancestry of honorable and reclusive vulture-people. I finished their introduction and base statistics, so now I’ll turn to their heritages. 
 

Heritages aren’t a thing in the Pathfinder First Edition version of gyerfolk, so that’s something to consider anew now. I could look at different kinds of vultures, maybe, or different habitats of vultures, but I think I want to try something a little bit different to differentiate their heritages: their hatching....


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Building a New Ancestry, Part 2 of 4 (Base Statistics)

March 31, 2020

Last time, I started building out gyers, a new ancestry of honorable and reclusive vulture-people. I finished their introduction to establish their flavor, so now I’ll turn to their base statistics. These are the rules that apply to all gyers, before adding in a heritage (next time!) and picking feats (the time after that!).

Base Statistics. Gyers have 8 Hit Points (the usual), Medium size (the usual), and a Speed of 25 feet and a fly speed of 30 feet (distinctly not usual). 

Now, for the abi...


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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 ...


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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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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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