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Author Topic: Phoenix Familiar... what can be done and what shouldn't  (Read 1542 times)
Bhurano
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« on: November 13, 2012, 01:40:31 PM »

Hi there,

right now I am sitting at home ironing out the details for a Phoenix familiar. To a certain part the entry of the Eagle was my starting point.

I also gave the fiery little bugger Damage Immunity (Fire, Lethal) and Unlimited Spell Points. The Phoenix has more qualitys (like Regeneration I and Natural Defense [Fire] and firebased Death Throes.

The only thing that worries me is that the Damage Immunity (Lethal) might be to much and possibly also the infinite spell points.

Any thoughts on this? Do you allow Unlimited Spell Points in your Rounds in your Player's NPC's? Or is it to much.
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ludomastro
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2012, 03:12:53 PM »

For those NPCs that SHOULD have massive amounts of magic, evil cultists, wizards in towers or places of power, etc. I have used Unlimited Spell Points.  It fits the flavor without causing too many headaches.  For the opposition, I say, "Go for it!"

However, your choice of spells will be more of a deciding factor for a player controlled NPC.  A ton of Level 9 Save or Die spells will have a party nullifying effect.  The old hermit (a contact) who can cast illusions all day and night could be very useful for hiding when the needs arises.  A phoenix - depending on which version you are using - would most likely have healing spells so it might matter in combat.  BUT, outside of combat, go nuts.

I wouldn't give the Phoenix Lethal Immunity, but would probably add Story Critical as they never seem to die.
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Jackal_mkII
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2012, 03:40:14 PM »

For something that self-resurrects, Story Critical is good, as is Everlasting. I'll also agree that Lethal Immunity is a bit much.
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Sletchman
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2012, 07:58:58 PM »

Lethal Immunity is unbalanced, sure, but it also makes no sense.  In every story I can think of, Phoenixes can be both injured and killed.  Hell, death is the cornerstone of their entire mythology.  Everlasting, on the other hand, is absolutely written for the Phoenix.  They die, and next adventure they are reborn from the ashes.

Unlimited Spell Points is also totally random (and potentially extremely unbalanced).  Unless you're building towards a very specific source material that I'm not familiar with, they aren't wizards and don't go around casting spells.  Even building something like Fawkes from Harry Potter doesn't need Unlimited Spell Points - you give him some Natural Spells (Healing, and some stuff to bolster courage - maybe a reflavoured War Cry) and you're good to go.

Those are two things I would almost never allow a player to put on an NPC.  The first lets it just tank with impunity, and without fear (and combined with Agro feats, they can lock down entire fights).  The second can potentially make your PC spellcaster obsolete, and that is never a good thing.  Ever.
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2012, 10:00:19 PM »

This goes to an important question: What do you want this creature to actually do? What's the campaign flavor on it? I'm kinda with Sletch--most of these qualities don't feel especially phoenix-y. Do you want this creature to be a combatant? A buff machine? A healer? A plucky sidekick?
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paddyfool
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2012, 12:13:56 PM »

Stuff I like from the OP: Basing a Phoenix on the Eagle, giving it fire-based death-throes and fire immunity are very appropriate ideas (although the party may not thank you for the fire-based death-throes - it's an ability made out of horrible, horrible collateral damage.  Try to keep the damage low).  Natural defense (fire) and Regeneration I are also fine.

Stuff I like from other people's posts: Everlasting and Story-Critical are, in this instance, highly appropriate, as are the suggestion of War Cry & healing magic.  I'd also agree that you shouldn't go with lethal immunity or unlimited spell points, and that some idea of the general role you'd want this to fulfill in your party would be good to have.

Additional suggestions: change the type from Animal to Beast (phoenixes can often talk in various mythologies).  I haven't got my rulebook with me, but the level 0 light spell would be highly appropriate spell as well, as might some general nature-themed casting, and possibly Wits I (fairly sure that phoenixes are meant to bestow wisdom or something, and it could represent a familiar helping the wizard out with his spellcasting if you like).  Consider giving it the Aggro feats (flies in front of party, draws aggro, dies, sets enemies on fire) if that's the role you want.

And hey presto - you have an undying scout / suicide bomber / healer with other minor utility.
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SilvercatMoonpaw
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 01:49:32 PM »

(fairly sure that phoenixes are meant to bestow wisdom or something....)
That might be the simurgh.
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 03:39:07 PM »

I was thinking of suggesting the Beast-type while I was at lunch m'self. I like the Natural Spells pointed out over the Unlimited Spell Points as well.

Natural Defense (Fire) and Regen I make perfect sense to me. Death Throes does seem tactically risky to me, but then again, depends on how often one would expect it to come up. Purpose vs Practicality, I think.

I like this idea. I may have to borrow this concept one day.  Wink
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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 04:15:45 PM »

Death Throes makes sense and seems cool, tactical risk/reward being told to sod off.
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Bhurano
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2012, 02:00:22 PM »

Ok, first off thanks for the feedback. I hit a wall during designing the Phoenix. Since Damage Immunity (Lethal) and Unlimited Spellpoints are horrible ideas I kicked them out of the concept. The idea to change the creature type to Beast is also pure genius. I myself was deadset on using Elemental. But taking Beast freed up points and makes much more sense in the overall theme of the Phoenix. Thanks for helping me out with the little bugger. Smiley

When it comes down to his role I would say: 1. A plucky sidekick for a mage 2. Useful in and out of combat (mostly scout high up), but not a killing machine like a freaking grizzly (currently having one in the round... it's a terror).

Some points might be juggled around... especially Attack, Defense and Resilience could probably be lower.

Phoenix (Tiny Beast Flying/Walker - 90 XP):
Attributes: STR 10, DEX 14, CON 10, INT 10, WIS 14, CHA 10
Size: Tiny (1x1, Reach 1)
Speed: 100 ft; winged flight and 20 ft; ground
Statistics: Init II, Atk V, Def V, Res V, Health III, Comp -
Skills: Acrobatics II, Notice IV, Search IV
Qualities: Damage Immunity (Fire), Darkvision II, Death Throes (Fire), Everlasting, Story Critical, Improved Sense (Sight), Natural Defense (Fire), Natural Spell (Cure Wounds IV, Mass; Heal; Regeneration; Sunlight II; Warcry), Regeneration I, Feats (Fast Flyer, Charging Basics, Charging Mastery), Tricky (Called Shot)
Attacks: Bite I (dmg 1d4 fire, threat 18 - 20), Talon I (dmg 1d3 fire, threat 20)

The groundwork for the whole Phoenix is as said the Eagle entry in FC. The rend ability of the eagle was something I hadn't points leftover for... but I don't think that it is absolutely necessary. I jacked up some Statistics (Atk, Def, Res). Defense could probably be a bit lower. Attack on the other hand seems right in conjunction with "Called Shot". When it comes to the qualities I went bonkers. Grin His natural spells are renamed or tweaked. The Cure Wounds IV, Mass spell (Song of the Phoenix) should affect ANYONE who can hear it - friend and foe alike. Heal and Regeneration (Tears of the Phoenix) are effects of the Phoenix tears, Warcry is just renamed (Phoenix Shout) and the Sunlight II (Cleansing Fire) spell should go off with the Phoenix as the center of the spell.

I don't know if Death Throes is itself an advantage or an disadvantage... but I find it fitting, especially because I see the Phoenix as a bird on fire all the time. Smiley That's not necessarily grabbed from the myths, but just rule of cool. Also who needs a torch as a wizard... let the little buggar zip around. It's what he does in combat anyway, zipping in and out of his foes range and killing them (very, very probably) slowly.

If I had more points to spent, I would add one of the "Wits" Spells, probably either "Wits II" (Guidance of the Phoenix, the phoenix strokes someone with his feathers and imparts "Wisdom", probably only WIS and none of the others) or "Wits II, Mass (should be spell level 7, and again it should affect ANYONE who can hear it). In a best case scenario taking both would be perfect. Keep in mind, the stats of the Phoenix are for a really powerful familiar... I think I can't squeeze anymore points in it, seeing that all feats of the Mage must be Spellcasting Feats to obtain the Familiar and power him... on the other hand it makes for one scary powerful mage. Grin

I hope that I covered everything. So what do you say to this draft of the Phoenix? Especially the part about the spells and their tweaks.
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2012, 08:37:46 PM »

90 XP is pretty mighty for a sidekick. If it was me, I'd try really hard to find a way to get this to 55-60 xp. Some thoughts, in no particular order of importance (or quality):

Why regeneration when the point of the creature is that it dies and comes back (i.e. everlasting/story-critical)?

Why Darkvision II? Why not swap that for Devoted: Path of Light I and let him glow all the time if he needs to see?

Why three or four big-time power spells? Isn't Heal sufficient for Phoenix tears?

That speed feels a little out of control. You're spending like 10 points on speed--is that essential?
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 11:43:23 PM »

You may find the last page or two of this thread helpful wihen dealing with critters designed to be a PL.

http://www.crafty-games.com/forum/index.php?topic=4086.0
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Sletchman
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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2012, 01:43:16 AM »

To get 90 xp your player needs to have 12 Spellcasting Feats (in addition to Familiar Basics).  The only way to get that many is to totally cripple your spellcasting ability by only ever taking a feat for Circle of (Whatever).  He's better off having a normal 50-60xp familiar and having useful spellcasting.  It literally requires a 20th level character to pull off without losing your higher level spells.

Even if it's a Personal Lieutenant that you're just referring to as a Familiar, that's 8 Style feats - which again, is going to be pretty much all of a characters resources (so poor spell DCs and minimal trick access).  In fact, for a Mage, getting 8 Style feats might be near impossible.  You either need to be 18th level and spend every single feat you get, or be 12th and have feat exchange in play and spend every single feat you get.  Doesn't seem worth it.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2012, 01:44:47 AM by Sletchman » Logged
paddyfool
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2012, 06:14:15 PM »

I like the rebranding of spell names, and I can see the overall theme you're building towards - fun, although I also see the points raised in criticism.  And I'm sufficiently egotistical to be gratified that you liked the Beast suggestion.

If I had more points to spent, I would add one of the "Wits" Spells, probably either "Wits II" (Guidance of the Phoenix, the phoenix strokes someone with his feathers and imparts "Wisdom", probably only WIS and none of the others) or "Wits II, Mass (should be spell level 7, and again it should affect ANYONE who can hear it).

Thanks for the nod, although I was originally thinking more of an Int boost (to represent a familiar helping the wizard its attached to with more difficult spells) or a Cha boost (to represent a familiar giving its master's spells a tiny bit more punch).  (Although being unfamiliar with the Familiar feats, I don't know whether there's any stuff to represent this kind of thing less clunkily already).

Why regeneration when the point of the creature is that it dies and comes back (i.e. everlasting/story-critical)?

A good point... I take back my initial support for regeneration.

Quote
Why Darkvision II? Why not swap that for Devoted: Path of Light I and let him glow all the time if he needs to see?

Genius idea.

On the whole, building a 90 xp version for what the phoenix might ultimately develop into as a character hits 20th level or so is fine, but for most games you'll also need to build the lower xp version which might ultimately develop into that.  So... seconding some earlier suggestions, you'll want another version that's cut down to the basics.  Maybe something like this?

Young phoenix (Tiny Beast Flyer/Walker 55 XP):
Str 10, Dex 12, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10;
Size Tiny (11, Reach 1);
Speed 60 ft. flight, 20 ft. ground;
Init II; Atk III; Def III; Resilience II; Health III; Comp I;
Skills: Acrobatics II, Notice IV, Search IV;
Qualities: damage immunity (fire), death throes (fire), devoted (Path of Light I ), everlasting, improved sense (sight), natural spell (Cure Wounds I), story-critical;
Attacks/Weapons: Bite I (damage type: fire), Talon I (damage type: fire)

EDIT: As the character with this familiar gains levels, they can then boost it with whichever of the better stats or NPC qualities from the 90 XP version they like (sometimes trading out a lesser ability for an equivalent superior one, e.g. swapping out Cure Wounds I for a better healing spell).  Should be straightforward enough.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2012, 09:12:20 AM by paddyfool » Logged
Bhurano
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2012, 03:38:18 PM »

Thanks for the help, guys. Smiley

@Gentry

Your idea with the Path of Light is pure genius... just have to second that.

The speed of the Phoenix included the Feat "Fast Flyer" it's listed in the Stat Block but I didn't pointed that out in the speed entry. Sorry. It will most likely be kicked out to save XP. As is Regeneration I... another thing I had my mind set to and wouldn't want to give up... but your are right, it seems silly on a Phoenix.

The chosen spells on the other hand - taking a cue from Morgenstern here - will be swapped out from weaker to stronger ones... mostly because I play in a group where in combat no punches are pulled... and the phoenix is ultimately and hopefully my panic button if the group is caught between a rock and a hard place.

@Sletchman

I think you talk about the specialized caster classes... when it comes down to taking classes. The normal Mage has 5 Bonus Feats and at least 7 normal feats - depending upon campaign qualities... his circle of power ability isn't influenced by it. Nevertheless the Phoenix will be quite likely loose some XP overall, since I had time to sit down and work out the complete background for the char.

@Morgenstern

The idea to introduce several fixed tiers of advancement for an Animal/Beast NPC is awesome. I'll have to talk to the guys to see if it flys with them.

@Paddyfool

I would go out on a limb here and say that I would - just me, mind you - limit the Wits Spell for the Phoenix to ONLY WIS. Seeing as it would fit into the whole Simurgh mythology, in which he is believed to impart insight... it could help while negotiating with a bullheaded or stubborn crowd/person or helping by shaking off outside influences.
Just ignore also the fact that I add in some very heavy duty spells into the phoenix for very selfish reasons and rule of cool (Tiny creature of unspeakable doom). Grin

The Familiar Basics Feat - per GenCon Preorder - allows you to share a spell with your Familiar and it conveys some advantages upon the familiar. I don't know more than that.

And your Young Phoenix makes it into my Monster Manual... just have to talk with the guys how the little guy should advance step by step.

I tip my hat to all of you guys for all the help. Smiley
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