Cornerstone Talent: Aberrant Bloodline, Advantage Dice System

A couple years ago I converted the aberrant bloodline to a cornerstone talent. This was implemented in the d20 model, and the advantage dice system works quite a bit differently.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Aberrant Bloodline

I’ll start by looking at the aberrant bloodline, as presented in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook.

Aberrant

There is a taint in your blood, one that is alien and bizarre. You tend to think in odd ways, approaching problems from an angle that most would not expect. Over time, this taint manifests itself in your physical form.

  • Class Skill: Knowledge (dungeoneering).
  • Bonus Spells: enlarge person (3rd), see invisibility (5th), tongues (7th), black tentacles (9th), feeblemind (11th), veil (13th), plane shift (15th), mind blank (17th), shapechange (19th).
  • Bonus Feats: Combat Casting, Improved Disarm, Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Iron Will, Silent Spell, Skill Focus (Knowledge [dungeoneering]).
  • Bloodline Arcana: Whenever you cast a spell of the polymorph subschool, increase the duration of the spell by 50% (minimum 1 round). This bonus does not stack with the increase granted by the Extend Spell feat.
  • Bloodline Powers: Aberrant sorcerers show increasing signs of their tainted heritage as they increase in level, although they are only visible when used.
    • Acidic Ray (Sp): Starting at 1st level, you can fire an acidic ray as a standard action, targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. The acidic ray deals 1d6 points of acid damage + 1 for every two sorcerer levels you possess. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier.
    • Long Limbs (Ex): At 3rd level, your reach increases by 5 feet whenever you are making a melee touch attack. This ability does not otherwise increase your threatened area. At 11th level, this bonus to your reach increases to 10 feet. At 17th level, this bonus to your reach increases to 15 feet.
    • Unusual Anatomy (Ex): At 9th level, your anatomy changes, giving you a 25% chance to ignore any critical hit or sneak attack scored against you. This chance increases to 50% at 13th level.
    • Alien Resistance (Su): At 15th level, you gain spell resistance equal to your sorcerer level + 10.
    • Aberrant Form (Ex): At 20th level, your body becomes truly unnatural. You are immune to critical hits and sneak attacks. In addition, you gain blindsight with a range of 60 feet and damage reduction 5/—.

I’m most interested in the bloodline powers. The bloodline skill is likely to be applied as a talent die but is otherwise of little interest right now. I’ll probably use the feats to round out any gaps or weak-looking tiers, but unless there’s something that seems very relevant I’ll mostly ignore them. The spells are useful as an indication of the types of magic used, but I’m likely to not have specific spell definitions so the spell list itself is probably not important.

From the previous conversion I mapped the first-level bloodline power to the Expert tier, third-level bloodline power to the Heroic tier, ninth-level bloodline power to the Master tier, fifteenth-level bloodline power to the Champion tier, and the twentieth-level bloodline power to the Legendary tier. I see no reason to change this, but I’ll probably need to change the expression of the bloodline powers.

Bloodline Powers as Echelon Talent Tiers

The bloodline powers are the key element here, so I’ll start with them.

Expert Tier: Acidic Ray

  • Acidic Ray (Sp) Starting at 1st level, you can fire an acidic ray as a standard action, targeting any foe within 30 feet as a ranged touch attack. The acidic ray deals 1d6 points of acid damage + 1 for every two sorcerer levels you possess. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier.

I don’t really have ‘touch attacks’, but a low-level ranged attack power is still pretty good. I’ll give it an attack bonus but reduce the damage a little, but drop the uses per day limitation.

  • Acidic Spray (V) Once per round you can spray a jet of acid within close range, with a cornerstone bonus to attack. This does 1d4 points of acid damage.

This gives me an idea for the Basic tier as well:

  • Acidic Secretion (X) Once per round you can secrete acid as part of an unarmed attack, with a cornerstone bonus to attack. This does 1d4 points of acid damage.

I don’t see a need to increase the damage with tier, but might change my mind. The attack bonuses for these attacks can stack with common talents.

Heroic Tier: Long Limbs

  • Long Limbs (Ex) At 3rd level, your reach increases by 5 feet whenever you are making a melee touch attack. This ability does not otherwise increase your threatened area. At 11th level, this bonus to your reach increases to 10 feet. At 17th level, this bonus to your reach increases to 15 feet.

This turned out simpler than I first expected. Though I like the image of not just long limbs, but freakishly bendy and stretchy limbs.

  • Rubbery Limbs (H) You can treat melee range as immediate range. You get a cornerstone bonus to grapple checks.
  • Rubbery Limbs (P) You can treat reach range as melee or immediate range.

Normally you have to be at immediate range (“same square”) as your opponent to make unarmed attacks or attacks with light weapons. Rubbery Limbs at the heroic tier allows you to do this at melee range (“adjacent square”) without penalty, and Rubbery Limbs lets you do so with reach. Someone pokes you with a longspear, you can slap him in the face or stab him with a dagger.

I think I’m going to have to grant a cornerstone bonus to Climb checks. I can’t be bothered to turn it on at a specific tier, so I’ll just say it’s there the whole time. The difference at lower tiers is not terribly big.

  • Alien Climber (*) You gain a cornerstone bonus to Climb checks.

Champion Tier: Unusual Anatomy

  • Unusual Anatomy (Ex) At 9th level, your anatomy changes, giving you a 25% chance to ignore any critical hit or sneak attack scored against you. This chance increases to 50% at 13th level.

“Critical hits” are a function of the number of successful rolls in a check. A cornerstone penalty to attacks made against the character can reduce the number of successful checks (thereby reducing the number of stunt points that can be spent on critical effects). Make this an inflicted cornerstone disadvantage (i.e. a disadvantage that applies against opponents) on the talent.

I think also a cornerstone bonus against poison and disease, to reflect the unusual anatomy.

  • Unusual Anatomy (*) You gain a cornerstone bonus to saves against poison and disease.

This is all passive and situational. They’re all defensively useful, but kind of unexciting. I’d like something else here. I might increase Acidic Spray or something.

Paragon Tier: Alien Resistance

  • Alien Resistance (Su) At 15th level, you gain spell resistance equal to your sorcerer level + 10.

Trivial: Cornerstone bonus against magic. Reasonably applies at all tiers.

  • Alien Resistance (*) You gain a cornerstone bonus to saves against magic.

Again, passive, defensive, useful, boring.

Legendary: Aberrant Form

  • Aberrant Form (Ex) At 20th level, your body becomes truly unnatural. You are immune to critical hits and sneak attacks. In addition, you gain blindsight with a range of 60 feet and damage reduction 5/—.

Just as Unusual Anatomy, turned up a bit, plus blindsight and damage reduction.

  • Aberrant Form (L) You are immune to critical hits and sneak attacks: all margins of success of attacks against you are negated. You gain blindsight 60 feet and damage reduction 5/—.

That’s a first pass, but let’s see what it looks like altogether.

Aberrant Bloodline Cornerstone, First Pass

Now that I’ve got all the pieces figured out, let’s see what they look like together.

Aberrant Bloodline
  • Cornerstone Advantage Climb, Grapple, Knowledge (Dungeoneering), Magic Resistance, Saves vs poison and disease.
  • Cornerstone Disadvantage Attacks made against this character.
  • Acidic Secretion Once per round you can secrete acid as part of of an unarmed attack, with a cornerstone bonus to attack. This does 1d4 points of acid damage.
  • Acidic Spray Once per round you can spray a jet of acid within close range, with a cornerstone bonus to attack. This does 1d4 points of acid damage.
  • Rubbery Limbs You can treat melee range as immediate range.
  • Acidic Jet Once per round you can spray a jet of acid within medium range, with a cornerstone bonus to attack. This does 1d8 points of acid damage.
  • Rubbery Limbs You can treat reach range as melee range or immediate range.
  • Aberrant form Margin of success of attacks against you is reduced by 100%; you are immune to critical hits and sneak attacks. You gain blindsight 60-feet and damage reduction 5/—.

Closing Comments

This is a first attempt at converting the aberrant bloodline to an Advantage System cornerstone talent. I’m not entirely comfortable with it because it seems to tread on several other talents.

Of course, it’s possible those other talents are actually underpowered or should be made part of what others talents provide.

This is a surprisingly utilitarian bloodline. It gives some nice defensive bonuses (magic resistance, saves vs poison and disease, and reduces margin of success of attacks against you). The long limbs are potentially quite useful at times, allowing you to make melee attacks (including unarmed attacks — handy when your hands drip acid) and perform tasks while standing where normal people couldn’t reach what you’re working on. The attack powers are really the least part of this, even though you get them first.

Master tier looked a little empty, all you got was a reduction of margin of success of attacks against you. A little bit nice to have, but not exciting or really in line with the benefits either side. I added a more powerful version of acidic spray, allowing you to go to medium range instead of close range and doing a little more damage.

I wonder if it’s worth granting ‘rubbery skin’ as a natural armor element and replace the damage reduction 5/— normally granted at the legendary tier, and the blindsight with some other kind of perception bonus (ability to see magic? or planar effects?) I’m definitely tempted to remove the bonus to Knowledge checks.

Okay, I’m more comfortable with it. It undoubtedly needs refinement, but I can take this to the table.

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