Saturday, April 18, 2015

Let's Roll: Nova, The StarCraft Ghost for Pathfinder

Building your heroes 10 levels at a time.

"Let's Roll" is a self-imposed challenge to build my (and your) favorite heroes in 10 levels or less. If you have a character you'd like to see developed, shoot me an email or check out the Kobold Company Facebook page to send in a submission!. 


One of my favorite characters for StarCraft has always been Nova, the Ghost who first aids, then hunts boot, she hates Kerrigan's guts. In this pathfinder conversion for Nova from Heroes of the Storm, I'm going to try and recreate all of her abilities in just 10-levels of advancement.

She is now a character in Blizzard's new "Heroes of the Storm" game and she's a lot of fun to play. That started me thinking, though, what would Nova look like in Pathfinder stats? Obviously there are some issues with the whole "high tech" genre vs. fantasy, but I still think I can make this work. So let's try it!

NOTE: "Let's Roll" is not a min/max character creation. It is a fun attempt to replicate hero characters from other games. Of course there are better feat choices (spells, traits, etc.), but those selected were chosen because, in my opinion, they best emulated the abilities of the hero. 

Let's Roll: Nova

Right out of the gate, I'm going a bit unorthodox. I want to simulate some of her tech with magic...she obviously has to have a rifle with which to snipeth her enemies too. For that matter, I have a set list of tech I want to replicate and I want to be able to use it often.

Let's take a look at some of that tech we want to replicate before we go into the final decision on the class(es).

Cloak: Obviously Nova's biggest asset is her ability to cloak and hide. This allows her to hide from enemies, cross hostile territory and set up perfect ambushes with her rifle. Cloak is probably the easiest of the tech abilities to replicate with magic. At low level we have Vanish which will get the job done well enough, but then Invisibility and Improved Invisibility at later levels pretty accurately replicate the ghost's ability.

Snipe: Well, this is is obviously where we need to have a rifle. With the musket, we have a ranged-touch weapon at the first range increment - and with the right selection of magic items and feats (such as Far-Reaching Sight or Deadly Aim), we can make the musket deadly indeed!

Holo Decoy: One of the new abilities Nova has in the Heroes of the Storm is grants her a body double that acts independently of her and "attacks" her enemies. While initially this decoy does no damage, Nova can eventually upgrade it to deal minor damage (25%) to the baddies. The immediate idea that comes to mind is obviously Mirror Image. This does a pretty decent job of the duplication bit, but doesn't really behave independent of Nova herself.

Pinning Round: Another new one from Heroes of the Storm, this one is tough. Believe it or not, it's also the ability I'm going to focus on. From a party perspective, I think it'll be where she can best help the party. There are plenty of movement hampering feats for the melee types, but not many for missile weapons. Fortunately, we're already considering taking Deadly Aim and one of the feats in that tree is Ranged Trip. She's not going to be very good at it without some significant effort at boosting it, but the ability is right there, staring us in the face.

Precision Strike: This is going to be a tough one. I don't really see Nova as a spellcaster, but there's not a lot of AoE damage abilities she can call down from the Heavens that isn't going to be magic. Since this is one of her two epic abilities, I will wait for later on this. The obvious choice is Flame Strike, but there is no way this build is going to get level 5 spells. This one may have to be left in the bin.

Triple-Tap: This is probably my favorite talent of Nova's in HotS. She locks-on to an enemy target and fires a three-round burst at them. Assuming the player is doing their job, this is almost always a kill-shot. This one is also pretty easy to get with Gunslinger too, since they have a 7th level deed, Dead Shot, that almost exactly replicates this. 

OK, so those are the elements we have to have in the build to match technology with our Pathfinder magic. Pretty excited up to this point since I have a good idea what I want to do. Stealth is a must, but we also probably need to focus a little bit on intimidate, and maybe a knowledge skill or two in order to make her useful to the party.

Human Musket Master / Ninja

I think at this point, as far as Pathfinder is concerned, Nova's going gunslinger and ninja, using ninja (and rogue) talents and/or feats to her HotS abilities. There may be a couple of other ways to get to the end-game we're trying to achieves, but with Gunslinger, She gets a rifle right out of the gate and can start the game with the ability to snipe.

Stats (20 point build):

How about taking a look at stats? The musket master combined with ninja means I want a high wisdom and a high dexterityBasically, I want to hit often and have enough grit to use her special abilities. We'll take a hit with a low ki-pool, but there is only so much you can do with 20 points.

Strength: 8 - (-2 points)Total throw away stat that will not do anything for us.
Dexterity: 18 -  (10 points, +2 human bonus)
Constitution: 12 - (2 points) We'll throw a couple points in here for Fort saves.
Intelligence: 10 - (0 points)  Rogue gets a bunch of skills, plus the human bonus. Good to go here.
Wisdom: 16 - (10 points)  Need this for the Musket Master and for Will saving throws
Charisma: 10 - (0 points) Nova is a big smart-ass. Ninjas benefit from a high CHA, but no points.

That covers the stats. Not incredibly diverse or spread out, but trying to create a hero archetype with 20-points ain't easy. We'll have a +2 to hit and a +4 to grit, plus some bonus spells along the way. Looking good so far!

Level Advancement

Let's talk about how we want to start Nova out and how she'll progress in order to fit the bill we've laid out here.

Level 1 - Musket Master (MM) 1
 - Musket Master is the obvious choice for Nova. Uses a rifle, gets free Rapid Reload and treats a musket as a one-handed firearm for purposes of reloading. She can also increase the range of the musket by 10' just by spending a move action to aim. Perfect for a sniper.

There are several routes with regards to Traits we could take and could be argued for under the right circumstances (Defensive Strategist or Paragon of Speed, to name a couple), but in the end I went with two traits that would allow her to be stealthy and fast.

 AC:14 | HP: 12  |  Grit: 3
 BAB +1 | Fort +3 | Ref  +6 | Will +3
 Abilities: Deeds, grit, gunsmith
 Traits: Black Sheep (Bitter Nobleman), Veteran of Battle (Act during surprise round, +1 init)
 Feats: Gunsmithing (B), Rapid Reload (Musket)(B), Deadly Aim, Point Blank Shot
 Deeds: Dead-eye Shot, Steady Shot
 Skills: Acrobatics (8), Intimidate (4), Perception (7), Stealth (9), Survival (7)
 Notable Equipment: Battered Musket, Cartridges, Paper (20),  Cartridges, Entangling Shot (5)

She gets rapid reload for free as a musket master; she takes deadly aim for a +16% damage bonus, and point-blank shot because...reasons.

I hate taking Point-Blank Shot since she's a sniper and should be FAR from combat...but it's a prerequisite for nearly everything (sounds like a 3PP challenge to me).

Also, taking some paper cartridges and entangling shot cartridges at 1st level is the poor mans way of emulating some of Nova's abilities early. With the cartridge and Rapid Reload, she can reload her rifle as a move action. Just be aware of the increased misfire chances!

Level 2 - Ninja 1 Getting into the good stuff now. Shooter baseline is accomplished - now it's time to start working towards some of those special abilities.
 AC: 12 | HP: 18 |  Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 1
BAB +1 | Fort +3 | Ref  +8 | Will +3
Abilities: Poison Use, Sneak Attack +1d6
 Skills: Acrobatics (9), Bluff (4), Disable Device (8), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (8), Sense Motive (7), Stealth (10), Survival (8), Use Magic Device (4)
 Gold: 1,000gp
 Notable Equipment: Replenish paper shot as needed
At 2nd level, still relying mostly on the musket master, but we'll get there. 
Level 3 - Ninja 2
 AC: 17 | HP: 24  |  Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 1
 BAB +2 | Fort +3 | Ref  +9 | Will +4
 Abilities: Ki Pool (1), Ninja Trick
 Talent: Vanishing Trick
 Feats: Combat Reflexes
 Skills: Acrobatics (10), Bluff (5), Disable Device (9), Intimidate (5), Knowledge (Local)(5), Perception (9), Sense Motive (8), Stealth (11), Survival (8), Use Magic Device (5)
 Gold: 3,000gp (+2000gp)
 Notable Equipment: Daredevil Boots (1,400gp), Mithral Shirt (1,100gp)

 Nova is fast - really fast. I'm on the fence here with getting Improved Initiative - but since we're getting other ninja talents that will fit her HotS talents, I think it will be ok. Combat reflexes is a necessity to make sure she really has a good Pinning Shot ability (as we'll soon see). Nova just needs to make sure she stays out of melee.

 Ki-Pool lets her spend one point to gain a 20' movement boost - this is a great way to mimic her ability to move quickly while stealthed!

 With the Vanishing Trick, she gets her Cloak feature pretty early on. Awesome. She needs several other Ninja Tricks to really get that HotS feel, but she's well on her way.

 Finally, daredevil boots give her the ability to get out of combat quickly by avoiding attacks of opportunity as she makes good her escape.

Level 4 - MM 2
AC: 18 | HP: 31 |  Grit: 3
BAB +3 | Fort +5 | Ref  +11 | Will +5*
Ability: Nimble +1
Stat: +1 Dex
Skills: Acrobatics (11), Bluff (4), Disable Device (10), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (10), Sense Motive (7), Stealth (12), Survival (8), Use Magic Device (5)
 Gold: 6,000gp (+3,000gp)
 Notable Equipment: Potion of Invisibility (3; 900gp), Potion of Cat's Grace (3; 900gp); Cloak of Resistance +1 (1,000gp)

Not a lot going on at level 4 - but she does get Nimble +1 giving her a bonus to her AC. In theory, she should be staying way out of combat, but not going to balk at anything granting AC.

Level 5 - MM 3
 AC: 19* | HP: 34  |  Grit: 3
 BAB +4 | Fort +5 | Ref  +11 | Will +6*
 Deeds: Gunslinger Initiative, Fast Musket
 Feats: Quick Draw
 Skills: Acrobatics (12), Bluff (4), Disable Device (12), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (11), Sense Motive (8), Stealth (13 +5)*, Survival (8), Use Magic Device (6)
 Gold: 10,500gp (+4,500gp)
 Notable Equipment: Mithral Shirt +1, Shadowed (4,750gp - assuming there is change left over from previous levels)

OK, I'm going to get some grief for not getting Precise Shot at this poing - I can hear heads exploding already. The -4 to hit someone in melee is a problem, but since she's using Touch AC within the first range-increment, I'm comfortable enough without it.  Nova is a sniper - this build is intended to keep her out of combat and as far from the bad guy as possible. Period.

Plus - With Gunslinger Initiative she now has a +7 initiative (+4 dex, +1 trait, and +2 Gunslinger), can act during a surprise round, draw her musket as part of her initiative check, and reload her musket as if it were a one-handed firearm. I am really itching for Improved Initiative, but there's just no room.

This, combined with paper cartridges means she's reloading as a free-action (Full-Round -> Standard Action w/ Rapid Reload -> Move Action w/ Fast Musket -> Free Action w/ Paper Cartridges)

This is exactly where we want to be...going fast!
Level 6 - MM 4
AC: 19* | HP: 41 |  Grit: 3
BAB +5 | Fort +6 | Ref +13 | Will +6*
Abilities: Bonus feat
Feats: Ranged Trip (+8*)
Skills: Acrobatics (13), Bluff (4), Disable Device (13), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(4), Perception (12), Sense Motive (9), Stealth (14 +5)*, Survival (8), Use Magic Device (6)
Gold: 16,000gp (+5,500gp)
Notable Equipment: Musket +1 (2,000gp), Beneficial Bandoleer (1,000gp)

Ranged Trip is a combat trip maneuver at -2 CMB, using dex instead of str. If she is successful, she both deals damage and trips the target. Without any other bonuses, her CMB for this attack is +8. Not shabby, but not great. Another option here would be to go with Rapid Shot, but with this build, I wanted to excel at Pinning Shot rather than getting multiple shots per round.

Also, with the new bandoleer, she can load her rifle as a swift action 1/round!

Level 7 - MM 5
AC: 20* | HP: 48  |  Grit: 3
BAB +6/+1 | Fort +6 | Ref +14 | Will +6*  
Abilities: Musket Training (+Dex to damage)
Feats: Improved Trip  CMB: +12 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (15), Bluff (4), Disable Device (14), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(5), Perception (12), Sense Motive (9), Stealth (16 +5)*, Survival (8), Use Magic Device (7)
Gold: 23,500gp (+7,500gp)
Notable Equipment: Musket +1, Shock (+6,000gp), Belt of Incredible Dexterity +2 (4,000gp)

Just one feat and another level and Ranged Trip is now pretty formidable.

Not to mention....Holy Crap...she now adds Dex to damage with her muskets!
Level 8 - Ninja 3
AC: 21* | HP: 54  |  Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 1
BAB +7/+2 | Fort +7 | Ref +14 | Will +7*
Stat: +1 / Dex (22)*
Abilities: No Trace +1, Sneak Attack +2d6
CMB: +14 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (16), Bluff (5), Disable Device (15), Intimidate (4), Knowledge (Local)(6), Perception (13), Sense Motive (10), Stealth (17 +5)*, Survival (9), Use Magic Device (8)
Gold: 33,000gp (+9,500gp)
Notable Equipment: Save the coin.

No Trace is an OK ability, but nothing stellar. Not a lot going on this level.

Level 9 - Ninja 4
AC: 21* | HP: 60 |  Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 2
BAB +8/+3 | Fort +6 | Ref +15 | Will +6
Abilities: Ninja TrickUncanny Dodge
Feats: Fury's Fall (add DEX bonus to CMB for trip - yes it stacks)
Ninja Trick: Shadow Clone
CMB: +21 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (17), Bluff (6), Disable Device (16), Intimidate (5), Knowledge (Local)(7), Perception (14), Sense Motive (10), Stealth (18 +5)*, Survival (9), Use Magic Device (10)
Gold: 46,000gp (+13,000gp; 22,500gp total from last level)
Notable Equipment: Sniper Goggles (20,000gp)

 I took Fury's Fall here over Greater Trip because it re-adds her +6 DEX bonus to her CMB for tripping. If your GM pushes back on it stacking, have him read through the attached thread (above) on Paizo about the logic behind it. Fury's Fall is intended to add both STR and DEX -or- two stat bonuses. We're just adding DEX twice.

With the ninja trick and feat next level, I would definitely encourage picking up Greater Trip, but for now, I want to make sure she can even pull off a ranged trip in the first place - give her the additional +6. Bloody brilliant.

 Also, at long last we get our hands on an ability that perfectly replicates Holo Decoy in Shadow Clone. It sucks she had to wait so long to take it, but it's in there before 10th, so I'm happy.

 Finally, if she scrimps and saves, we'll pick up a pair of Sniper Goggles. This makes Nova just plain lethal at any range since she can now apply her sneak attack damage at any range. If she's within 30', it's an extra +2 damage per sneak attack die. Brutal. 
Level 10 - Ninja 5
AC: 21* | HP: 65 |  Grit: 3 | Ki Pool: 2
BAB +8/+3 | Fort +6 | Ref  +15 | Will +6*
Abilities: Sneak Attack +3d6
CMB: +22 Ranged Trip*
Skills: Acrobatics (18), Bluff (7), Disable Device (17), Intimidate (5), Knowledge (Local)(8), Perception (15), Sense Motive (10), Stealth (19 +5)*, Survival (10), Use Magic Device (12)
Gold: 62,000gp (+16,000gp and 2,500gp from last level)
Notable Equipment: Far-Reaching Sight (4,000gp), Musket +1, Shock and Distance (+10,000gp)

 Conclusion: By level 10, we have achieved the cloaking ability (to a certain extent with a Stealth up to +28), her snipe ability (range touch AC with 1d12+7+3d6 sneak attack), her pinning shot, her quick movement (Ki Pool +20 movement), and her Holo Decoy.

 We still have to get a better Cloak ability (ala Invisibility), but Vanishing Trick fits the bill well enough and there are always potions to bridge any gap. Also need to find something for Precision Strike. However, at level 10, I'm fairly satisfied with the thematic feel of this character.

 In the surprise round, she can draw her loaded weapon as part of her initiative, full-round attack action (shoot to trip +22 (+23 within 30') / 1d12+1d6 (shock) + 3d6 (Sneak Attack) +11, swift reload with Bandoleer, shoot to trip +22 / 1d12+1d6 (shock) + 3d6 (Sneak Attack) +11). I'd say I'm happy with that.

 My thoughts on further advancement:

 11th level: Musket Master (6); Nimble +2 Feat: Precise Shot
 12th level: Musket Master (7); Deeds: Dead Shot (aka Triple-Tap), Targeting, Startling Shot
 13th level: Musket Master (8);  Feats: Rapid Shot (B), Greater Trip
 14th level: Ninja (6); Ninja Trick: Fast Stealth
 15th level: Ninja (7); SA +4d6, Feat: Improved Initiative

 She needs to get to 7th level Musket Master in order to get the Dead Shot deed. I would probably knock those two levels out at 11th and 12th just to get them out of the way and gain access to Dead Shot as quickly as possible. From then on, it's Ninja all the way in order to continue to get Sneak Attack damage for her kill shots.

 So 15 levels to really get what I wanted out of this build. Still, with the 10 levels given, I'm very happy with with way she turned out!

Notes and considerations on future abilities:

 Future Ninja Tricks:
  •  Deadly Range - increase her range on sneak attack first by 10', then 5' each additional increment. Get her out of combat and keep her out. Since she already has the Sniper Goggles, this can be set aside for the time being.
  •  Fast Stealth - one of Nova's upgrades as she progresses during HotS is moving faster when she's cloaked. Between Fast Stealth and spending ki to gain that +20' speed boost, she mimics this pretty perfectly. 
  • Stealthy Sniper (Advanced Rogue Talent) - Since ninjas may take take ONE Advanced Rogue Talent, this is absolutely the one I would recommend. Reduce the post-shot stealth check from -20 to -10? Heck yes!
Future feats:
  • Greater Trip (an additional +2 to CMB for trip attacks AND forces an Attack of Opportunity on those she trips!)
  • Improved Initiative - She needs to be faster, ensuring she goes first in those surprise rounds. It's annoying that we can get it in the first 10 levels, but without triple-classing, it's not possible.
  • Obviously, Point Blank Shot is probably next on the feat list. It's annoying, but required for a lot of future feats. 
  • Trick Shooter - Gain another +2 to CMB for ALL ranged combat maneuvers (if you should decide to get another one in the future, that is) AND she can deal no damage to the target, if required. 
  • Covering Fire - Use the aid another action with a ranged weapon to give your ally a +2 AC?  For flavor purposes, this just fits the traditional sniper build absolutely perfectly.
  • Far Shot - Decrease the range increment penalty from -2 to -1. She needs to stay out, far out. Combine this with a couple levels of the Deadly Range ninja trick and now she's really looking like a sniper.
  • Bullseye Shot - Spend a move action to gain a +4 to hit. Nova is all about that knockout shot. Making sure she hits is a good thing. 
  • Shot on the Run
    • Parting Shot - Nova needs to stay out of melee, period. This feat tree gives her options when the enemy isn't cooperating. She withdraws and take a shot at the guy trying to attack her.
  • Clustered Shot - Calculate all damage together before applying DR. This is big at later levels and combines great with the 7th level Dead Shot deed!!!!
 There are just a couple of ideas on how to take this class to 20. Hopefully you enjoyed walking through this as much as I enjoyed creating it! I appreciate you taking the time to read through it!

 Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below or at Kobold Company on Facebook.

*Stats marked with "*" reflect magic items worn.

KC Rift is a long time gamer, role-player, and computer nerd. In addition to his day-job, he moonlights as a freelance writer for Total Party Kill Games - His current published works include "The Deductionist" and "The Feybinder".

Thanks to John Reyst - This was created using:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The NEW Boba Fett revealed in the Star Wars Force Awakens trailer

The second Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer came out today and it's a DOOZY!

Did you know it had Boba Fett in it??? The announcement (or hints of an announcement) have already been made they will be spinning off a Boba Fett movie (along with a Rogue Squadron movie), so it stands to reason we'd see him in this movie!! We all know he was more than capable of escaping the Sarlacc Pit!

We have Vader, Storm Troopers, Star Destroyers, Sith, Jedi, TIE Fighters, TIE Pilots, more X-Wings, more of the Millenium Falcon, HAN SOLO AND heard it here first, BOBA FETT! More on that below, but check out some of the screens from the new Teaser/Trailer #2!

Here appears to be a great view of an (Imperial?) base complete with stormtroopers and a new imperial design - with what appears to be some sort of leader-type fella in the background.

We also have a great action shot of our two new heroes Finn and Rey with the new (astromech?) droid, BB-8 - complete with a TIE fighter bearing down on their position (top left).

Alas, poor Vader...I know him well, Skywalker. SOMEONE goes back to the pyre site and picks Vader's helmet out from the debris!!

Who do we have here? Our new Sith? I'm not sure, but it sure looks a HELL of a lot like Lord Vindican from Knights of the Old Republic!! Is this a TRUE Sith??

Lord Vindican in his armor (minutes before his death by Darth Malgus)

Lord Vindican, true Sith, during his last fight with the Jedi.

At any rate - the similarities are there, but everything is pure speculation at this point. 


...getting back to the TRAILER....

The new TIE fighters have a reversed color scheme from the traditional "gray with black solar panel wings" we've known for over 30 years. I don't hate it...just not sure why the need for a change. It's reminiscent of the way the 90's Batman movies kept changing (and getting shittier) as time went one with more and more neon lights (I'm talking about YOU, "Batman and Robin"..../puke)

Oh God... 

TIE fighters ALSO now have turrets. Pay close attention to the first pic with the very familiar and world-recognized geometric window pattern. In the above pic, we see the new design for the twin-ion engines and the lasers obviously firing to the rear. (By the way, if you've seen this clip, it's pretty clear the pilot in that thing is DRUNK!! LOL)

Lastly (before Boba), we have this INCREDIBLE shot of a wrecked X-Wing in the foreground and the titanic derelict of an Imperial-II class Star Destroyer. This shot is gorgeous. 


OK, so here we are at the end of the post! I submit to you that one of the BIGGEST "Easter Eggs" in the new Teaser/Trailer #2 is the appearance of none other than BOBA FETT himself! I am basing my hypothesis on two separate lines of the thought here. First and foremost is the appearance of the mysterious individual in the trailer, himself and the OTHER is the history of the Storm/Clone Trooper armor.

We'll start with the latter and work our way up out of this Sarlaac Pit. The original concept of the armor for the Republic's shock troopers was designed by a Mandalorian, Jango Fett - and as we all know - Boba's father. It was made from 22 different pieces of armor and bore a striking resemblance to the Mandalorian armor:

 Original, Phase I Clone Trooper Armor 

 Compared to the Mandalorian warrior battle-ratter, it's pretty obviously  a derivative. 

 With that little nugget out of the way, let's take a look at two images from the new Teaser/Trailer #2!

Here's a screen shot of the new troopers again. White armor, check. Definitely a Stormtrooper. Standard issue rifle with no stock - almost pistol-like. Other pics show a comparatively long barrel too.

Wait just a tick...what or who do we have here? Looks like a Stormtrooper, but the armor is reflective or even silver.

The helmet is two-toned, but it's hard to tell exactly what colors are represented - there is clearly different colors on the parietal portions of the helmet compare to the top.

The rifle is NOT standard issue; it has a stock, a similar scope, but a shorter barrel. It looks a LOT like Boba's iconic rifle.

He also has a lot of "tricks" on his utility belt too. Way more than the Stormtroopers do in the video.

Lastly - he has what appears to be a red and green cape!

Boba Fett's original gun - all updated and modern for the new movie (above)

Boba Fett in all his glory. Similar pose to the one above. 

I am hypothesizing that we are looking at the new armor Boba Fett is going to ride into this new movie with! We KNOW the original Clone Trooper armor was designed by a Mandalorian - we know they're expecting to roll a spin-off movie - and the appearance of this mysterious stranger fills the final checkbox of character rolls we would expect to see in the movie following the RotJ - we have the Sith Lord, we have Luke and Leia, Han and Chewie, we have our new heroes, we have the Stormtroopers, we have the droids...all we need is the bounty hunter.

EDIT and UPDATE: Turns out that's Captain Phasma...and a female. So NO, not Boba Fett. LOL. Still, it was fun putting this together!